Forum Archive Index - April 2003
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[sharechat] LTI - 'Out West' (7) "Hart transplant for Good-man"
In April 2003 Graeme Hart, driving force behind former listed company 'Rank
Group', and now major shareholder and chairman of Australian spice maker 'Burns
Philp', tightened the noose on his takeover target: Australasia's leading
food company 'Goodman Fielder' (formerly 'Goodman Fielder Wattie'). Ninety
of shares had been acquired, the threshold needed for compulsory acquisition of
rest of the business. Hart's final act would be to take control of the
business on the
ground. To do this he would need to oust the well thought of but now
chief executive, Tom Park.
The doors of the saloon swung open, in an entrance that commanded the attention
even the most introspective poker player. There were three tables worth of
faces of anonymous stubbly cheeks, half hidden by a protective fist of cards
whispy haze of cigarette smoke. A sudden silence, and a dozen pairs of eyes
focussed intently on that hat. It was a wide brimmed white felt hat and it was
to the floor with a pair of cream cowboy boots. The top of the boots ran
outside a pair
of chocolate coloured suede mole-skin pants. Those pants carried just enough
to show that this was a man of action. Tucked into the top of those pants was
collared shirt, perfectly tailored around a tight muscular torso. Between the
top of that
shirt and the hat was a face: stoic, chiselled and tanned, yet with a hint of a
grin. The poker eyes had now dropped down to a lower level and were focussed
new arrival's belt. It rode on his waist slightly askew, pulled down by one
of the biggest
and shiniest silver six shooters you would ever see. That gun could only
belong to one
man- 'The Hit Man'. The countenance that radiated that warm yet slightly
grin was indeed Graeme 'Hit-man' Hart, food magnate and the town's richest son.
The intrusion at the saloon wasn't exactly unexpected. Word was out that
Bar at the town up the road had been given a good chewing over by "the Hit-man".
Hart had come a long way since leaving home at age seventeen with only a
and a will to party. He had come into money hunting outlaws and picking up
government bounty. Leaving out the native indian, Hart was the best tracker
state. He could follow a man's prints for miles. And he had the uncanny
knowing just when to pounce on his victim to maximize his profit and minimize
Hart used to describe himself as a 'government printer'. That was the least
way he could think of to talk about his career over a pint of beer! But with
plenty of state
money in his back pocket it was soon time to move on to bigger game.
Hart hit upon the idea of selling his tracking stories as a book. He
appointed an agent
in every little town in the state, and soon there wasn't a cowboy in the county
copy. But you could tell where the brains were in this operation. Hart had
the wit to
bank the profits, while his agents barely made a bean. History has branded
"the Wit" and those hapless booksellers as "Witfools".
As that chapter in "the Hit Man's" life closed another opened. Hart was after
a little more
spice in his business life. He found it in a seedy character, a man by the
name of Burns
Philp. Burns talked big and his game was 'double or nothing' poker. But
clever as 'hit-man Hart' was, there was a day when the cards just didn't go his
was an afternoon, five years or so back when the townspeople had found 'the
lying face up and badly hurt on the main street. There were bullet holes in
and he was bleeding profusely. A duel of wills had always been on the cards
two high rollers Hart and Philp were working with each other. Hart had been
full of Burns Philp lead! Fortunately the town doctor was an expert in
burns. In what must be some sort of miracle both body and the buddies were
up. 'The hit-man' learned a big lesson from that near death experience.
From here on
in, he and Burns Philp would be inseparable: one team working together!
Hart's love affair with food had grown after he had opened a small corner milk
was built up 'from the ground' or as the Mexicans would say 'from terra'. But
made a good entree, Harts latest visit to his home-town was because he was in
of a tasty main course.
Back in the saloon, Graeme hit-man Hart was about to hear a familiar voice.
"Pretty fancy garb for a grocer hit-man!"
The hit-man turned to his left. There behind one of the more bristly chins
poker chairs was the familiar visage of David "Haggis" Hearn. They called
Haggis" because there wasn't a sight vile enough in all the old west, to turn
Hearn was the rough, tough previous manager of the biggest food store in the
indeed the state. That same store that was now the object of Hart's quest.
to prominence after he rolled Mike "the Nugget" Nugent as head of the store.
of "The Nugget's" grand plan to sell gold(en margarine) in Asia and Europe
Haggis Hearn came from a background in biscuits. He was the sort of man who
call a spade a scone. When Hearn first arrived to manage the biggest baked
emporium in the town his first words were:
"What's that 'Great Fxxking Warehouse'". The name, albeit contracted to the
less colourful 'GFW' stuck.
After his seasons in the sun, Hearn had retired from the business to enjoy
the spoils of
his years of labour at the now renamed GMF ( Grand Miller's Food-emporium ).
the 'Champion' 'Flame' had withered. Hearn was on the way down from the
his career. Had Hearn chickened out? Perhaps that is too harsh a judgement.
Haggis knew that his multi-terraced voluminous lower torso had seen too many
beach summers for him to be regarded as a credible threat to the trimmed tanned
Hit-man Hart, acknowledged the "Haggis" with a nod and a chuckle. But as the
continued to scan the saloon, right hand poised menacingly above the handle of
gun, his cheesey grin became a cold stare.
"Where is Pistol Park?", boomed the hit-man. He was Earnest, A dam's suddenly
breached earth-bank being an apt metaphor for this sudden release of pent up
No-one said a word. But a dozen pairs of eyes stared out over the saloon
doors to the
GMF building across the street.
Out the back of the GMF store, there was a corrugated iron equipment barn.
Hold up in
the barn, full of blacksmith's equipment, wheat threshing machinery and cattle
gear was the current manager of GMF, Tom 'Pistol ' Park. No mean
himself, Park had heard about the overthrow of his backers back east. The
knew that soon, very soon, the hit man would come looking for Park. But the
was Park's baby. Pistol Park was not the sort of man to be run out of town.
Park cut a deal with the hit-man? Or would any deal only be cut by
parking Tom's pistol in a pool of his own blood? Park knew that many of his
staff had resigned and got out of town, jobs thrown away in anticipation of a
blood bath. Still, Tom Park wasn't called 'Pistol Park' for nothing. And
had been on the wrong end of lead before.
It was the crackle of gravel on the alley along the side of the equipment barn
alerted Tom 'Pistol' Park to the fact that 'he' was coming. There was no
spring in those steps, and no accompanying social chatter of shop staff either.
footsteps, slow deliberate and heavy. And the footsteps were coming closer!
up his position behind a couple of cast iron milk churns, and drew his weapon.
was a solid thump followed by the cracking then crumbling of the barn door's
latch. A heavy cream cowboy boot had kicked and shattered the door open.
Park's lips tightened. He could hear something. There were more footsteps,
shallow whispering, of many hushed voices.
"Get back to the saloon", boomed the voice of the Hit-man. "This is going to
More muffled voices, but this time in retreat.
Silence again, but now standing between the shattered hinges and door catch in
space of the mangled doorway was the silhouette of a single man. Park
his face but the cream boots and the crowning cowboy hat left him little
doubt as to
who was the face under the brim . The hat was white, a white that was now
the colour of the eyes of Tom 'Pistol' Park! Park aimed his revolver and
fired in the
direction of that imposing silhouette. The bullet missed, sailing right over
the head of
his opponent. Now Tom Pistol Park saw the flash of the silver gun in the
hands of the
hit-man. Blam, crash , clatter as a bullet first struck and then ricocheted
off the milk
churns, behind which Park was crouched. Then there were more bullets, four ,
Bullets were seemingly being fired randomly to his left, to his right and above
cacophony of sound, a short symphony under the silver revolver's baton,
again and again across tin walls. A former quiet shed had been transformed
sonorous resonant hell . Then Park let out a screaming piercing wail and
What seemed like an eternity, but in fact must have been no more than twenty
passed. Park opened his eyes and there Leaning, Towering above him was the
athletic figure of the Hit-man!
The Hit-man extended his arm, pointing the barrel of his pistol right at the
centre of the
forehead of Park, laughed, but then quite suddenly tossed his weapon onto the
Now he extended his hand to Park.
"Get up my old mate, well played and a good show!"
The two men embraced, patting each other heavily on their respective backs as
chuckled together quietly. It was clear that the plan had worked and the
were oblivious to the deceit being weaved by the two protagonists. The whole
been woven weeks previously like twisted spaghetti encircling then baffling
meat-ball town dwellers.
"Have you got the bread?" proffered Park. " I let most of the Quality Bakers
go just as
"It's all here, a cool 2.5 million in Diamond", said the hit-man.
"I'm sorry that you have to leave town and never show your face here again, but
you will find this adequate compensation!" added Hart.
Pistol Park closely inspected his booty, while Hit-man Hart stepped back and
his pocket-watch from his waist-coat.
"Six hours before darkness Tom, before I can sneak you out of town."
grumbled the hit-man.
"Make for the Noosa Heights area." "The rancher will be expecting you."
I've arranged things."
"And don't worry, I'll see you get a fitting 'funeral' here tomorrow." added
He winked at his management mate, even as he scanned the shed for sufficient
and heavy objects, so that those carrying the coffin would have no idea that
carrying the body of a man.
Both men chuckled together, then there was a pause while both men took stock of
"I hear you have plans when you get to the coast?", said Hit-man Hart in a
"Indeed I do, and I have built a prototype", confirmed Park as he gestured to
comrade in corporatism to come down the back of the equipment shed, where he
small work bench.
Wide eyed Hart stared at the piece of machinery on the bench. There was a
fresh from the GMF bakers oven, on a support. Above the support were six
kitchen knives mounted together yet spaced in parallel so they could slide as
backwards and forwards . There were twelve tiny pulleys, and a piston and
that would turn a round and round motion into an in line movement. Lastly
there was an
associated set of reduction gears and in the middle of the outermost of those a
Park started winding the crank handle. After no more than eight to ten turns
roll was sliced into seven equally sized perfectly formed pieces!
"Of course, the whole point is to do this same operation on fully sized loaves
of bread, in
bulk.", said Park.
"But this little working model proves my point, a world first in baking
beamed the now exuberant ex-store manager.
"I even have a mate back in the first world."
"A well connected fellow by the name of the Earl of Sandwich who is willing to
project." triumphantly added Park.
Not often lost for words, Graeme 'the Hit-man' Hart could only gasp as he
"My old mate, that's the greatest idea I've seen since er, since er...."
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