Roy Barton was a living legend out in Western Australia, a diver who discovered a sunken galleon complete with a vast treasure in gold ducats only to have the proceeds ripped off by the government, his lover and his friends. Now a movie is to be made about his life and Draper, a down and out writer, is commissioned by some shonky producers to prepare the filmscript, working directly with Barton. Day by day, Barton’s story unfolds to Draper. It is plain that the authorities have seriously abused their powers to separate the explorer from his treasure, twisting the law, fabricating false documents and backing it up with continual police harassment, but in the end High Court findings have vindicated Barton, and the government have been ordered to return the treasure. Instead, they have resorted to even more intense harassment. Along the way there are many tales of adventure to be told, a classic yarn of treacherous beautiful women, ruthless villains, of storms and sharks and tragedy; but the most amazing thing is that it is all true. Or is it? As the telling of the story of Barton’s life of triumph and betrayal proceeds, Draper begins to discover anomalies; the nuts and bolts of the tale just don’t quite fit together the way they ought to. Draper begins to realise that Barton is a bitter man profoundly deranged by his experiences. He decides to search for the truth, uncertain whether Barton is an extraordinary charlatan, or a man so devastatingly wronged by government, lovers and friends that his mind has become twisted, both of which seem equally possible. He discovers plenty of evidence to support the basic story - court findings, newspaper articles, public records, eye-witnesses accounts - but still the contradictions grow. And not just in the story, but also in the narrator, who is rapidly losing his grip on reality. Troubling and violent scenes occur in which the Barton completely loses control and Draper realises that he is under police surveillance himself. Then Draper’s inquiries in turn begin to feed back, effecting not only the direction of the screenplay but also exacerbating Barton’s condition until, in the end, the writer effectively tips his subject over the brink, and finds he has himself become Barton’s ultimate, and most disastrous, betrayer.
About Barry Klemm
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Published October 8, 2012
by Rundog Publishing.
Literature & Fiction.