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The Sydney Dolphin Connection

The Sydney Harbor Bridge

We are one desire with our skin raised as many mouths.

A dream is coming true.

A comet sings up to the stars and bursts into a giant red flower with long spiral yellow and white petals. The flower booms an earth shattering blast over the calm harbor and vanishes. Four more comets streak into the sky.

Classical music blares from outdoor speakers at the Sydney Opera House. Its modernistic series of interlocked domes is lit by 100,000 watts of searchlights. It manages to look remarkably like a trio of giant white sea turtles frozen in a three-way midnight sex orgy. On the hill across the bay tiny black figures scurry around, lighting off the most impressive fireworks display I've ever seen.

I look around nervously. In the reflected light of the sky fire, I can see about 500 power and sailing yachts anchored in the bay with us, directly under the exploding fireworks. Almost everyone is drunk out of their skulls.

I shudder to think what would happen if one of those firebombs landed in the middle of the close-packed fleet. Some men are shouting - or maybe singing - on a boat deeper inside the pack. They fire off a red parachute flare and within minutes a police patrol boat hovers nearby, loud-hailering "There will be no firing or setting off flares unless you are in dire distress. Severe penalties will be imposed on violations." And, in case this is too difficult for the pickled brains, the cop bellows "Knock it off in there you bloody idiots!"

Moira has 15 people aboard including the whole Hooker family and the Polish Ambassador. David brought along plenty of booze and everyone but Freddy and me is liberally plastered and having a magnificent time. The fireworks increase in volume and frequency until they fill the sky with bursting stars, pinwheeling shrieks, and thunderous blasts. Astonishingly, they double in number again lighting up the whole sky. And it goes on and on....the fireworks smoke forms a colossal cloud over Sydney, swirling in multicolored triumph in the lights of the city. I can make out David's towering office building in the massive downtown center.

On Monday, David Hooker took me to Hooker House, a skyscraper dedicated completely to Hooker Real Estate. I was duly impressed. We xeroxed the manuscript of Dolphin and I gave him a copy. In the afternoon, Stewart called and invited me to drop by to meet some people. Freddy and I borrowed a car and drove to the address. It was a comfortable, but not fancy, home in one of Sydney's suburbs. Inside, scattered around, we met Brian, Lee (Movie Producer and manager of a well known movie star), Stewart (Editor and producer of Simply Living Magazine), Tony (Art Editor of Simply Living), and a few other people whose names I have forgotten. Stewart, Lee, Brian and Tony talked about the dolphin book and the potential of making a movie out of it.

Stewart was a thin, nervous man in his mid thirties. He had long, scraggly hair. His hands shook. My first thought was he had a drug problem and indeed, the air in the house had a sweet, rich smokey smell.

Lee was a relaxed, good looking, big man: neat, well dressed, soft spoken. All of them seemed slightly remote, unfocused. They asked questions and I told them about who I was and tried to find out if Simply Living was, indeed, going to use the Kaleidoscope article I wrote.

Stewart and Lee each wore a tiny golden dolphin pin but they would not talk about it. The Dolphin Cult is apparently a secret and privileged society.

I arrived ready to join a clique of like minded men, but got the distinct feeling, from the very start, they felt I was an invading and even threatening influence. I wasn't sure if it was drug paranoia or if I said or did something wrong.

Stewart, finally focusing on my confusion, took me aside and said, "Estelle called me yesterday."

"Who? Oh, right. Estelle." I wondered where she fit in.

"How well do you know her?" He asked, looking remote, almost asleep.

"Uh, well, I only met her once. She called up out of the blue and came for a visit in the Boathouse a couple of weeks ago. She struck me as an enormously energetic woman, burning with dolphin enthusiasm."

"She said she was your agent. She's a, uh, retired PR lady." Stewart's face says he does not like her at all.

"Well, she's not my agent. I just met her one time." The atmosphere warmed perceptibly and Stewart made a hand signal to the others. Lee and Tony came over to join us.

"She calls herself the "Rainbow Lady" and has a following of kooks who wear "We are One" T-shirts with a big bulls-eye on the chest." Stewart clearly had no love for the "We are One" cult, either.

"She has occasionally been a bit of a pain in the ass," Tony chimed in. They were all really concerned about the Rainbow Lady.

"She reminds me of a cross between a chipmunk and a hippopotamus," drawled Lee with one arm thrown casually over the shoulders of a lovely young lady (who turned out to be 15 years old and was not his daughter).

In my usual shy way, I told them about myself and the dolphins. I mentioned the Whale saga in the Solomons, the wild dolphins in PNG, the calling of the dolphin mind luring me to Sydney, the moment off Gladstone when I mind-merged with a dolphin, the discovery of Simply Living and their dolphin projects, and my delight at finally meeting them.

"What about Peter the dolphin guru?" I ask. The atmosphere frosted up again. I dropped the subject.

As Freddy and I were leaving, Lee pronounced, "We'll do your movie." We walked out into the night with joy in our hearts.

Celine and her Father came back from their holiday in Bali this morning and I gave them a copy of the final Dolphin manuscript. He says he will publish it.

The New Years Eve fireworks blast away the stars and all bodes fabulously for Moira here in Sydney Harbor.

The fireworks stop, abruptly. The silent dark sky is as arresting as the blasts. "Wow!" I say to Freddy, "That was by far the best orchestrated and most effusive demonstration of fireworks I've ever seen."

Ursrula and the Ambassador are gaily singing a Polish Folk-Song at the top of their lungs while everyone else is singing something Australian. Actually, nobody seems to be singing the same song. Freddy and I, anticipating the rush of drunk sailors, get busy. We turn on the navigation lights, fire up the diesel and hoist the anchor. We are underway before anyone else and gaze back contentedly at the motley fleet as it begins to unwind in utter confusion. The scene dwindles in our wake.

"Are you sure the drawbridge will open at 3 A.M.?" I ask David.

David Hooker just smiles and says, "Don't worry Ricky, I stopped by this afternoon to give the bridge tender a case of Johnny Walker Black Label Whiskey. I'm quite sure he will open the bridge for us."

The bridge lifts into the new year night even before I blast my horn. It's all so simple when you have money and know how to use it.

The Dolphin Book

Freddy next to a statue of DNA in the nucleus of downtown Sydney.Keven and his associates gather in their conference room and the meeting begins. I give a brief run down of the dolphin book, describing it as "a Jonathan-Livingston Seagull type of book about a dolphin's mystical discovery of the essence of life."

When I finish my briefing nobody comments on the content or worth of the book. The discussion turns immediately to marketing and the format. "You can't market an idea," Keven announces, "there has to be a product. We'll block out a dummy like we did for the Maquarie Dictionary. First we settle on the size of the book and then we make up a cover. We make up two pages of text and then have enough copies made to fill the cover and bind them in. This will give us a dummy looking just like the finished product."

The group discusses paper weight, color of the cover and texture, and settles on 50 illustrations, 124 pages of text, square format, large print with special type.

The meeting adjourns for lunch and Keven takes me to a small restaurant near his suite of offices. I like Keven, a good looking, middle-aged man with sandy hair and a honey-smooth baritone voice with just the right Aussie accent. He drives a Mercedes and lives, with his charming wife and children, in a fine home in one of Sydney's wealthier suburbs.

He is a very impressive guy. Before he set up his business, he was a major figure in Paul Hamlyn Publishers. His first major deal was the orchestration of a picture book called "The Greatest Island", a pictorial presentation of the coastline of Australia taken from three seaplanes as they circumnavigated the sub-continent. He also sold the TV rights to it and made quite a nice bit of change.

Keven will be going to the U.S. shortly to organize a similar venture there, flying sea planes around the coastal areas and waterways of America. The book - already dummied - will be "From Sea to Shining Sea". His most recent publication is the Maquarie Australian Unabridged Dictionary. Keven is big time.

As we order and begin our lunch I keep thinking the whale/dolphin mind or the Moirae or whatever was working overtime when Keven's daughter came along on our Earthwatch Expedition in PNG.

"We will get you a one million dollar advance on royalties," Keven breaks into my thoughts, "plus 50% of the profits on the world publishing rights, film, and TV rights. I will be your agent and publisher."

My lunch sticks in my throat. A million dollar advance? My eyes bulge greedily while I work madly at swallowing without coughing.

"That will surely attract sales," I manage.

"You bet," Keven smiles, "It worked for Thorn Birds. We'll work up a contract after lunch."

After I make extra copies of the manuscript on Keven's copier, I stop by his office to collect my copy of the contract. Keven is on the phone, talking to someone about the Dolphin book. He does not see me standing there when he says, "What? Well, I've looked it over. It's all gobblygook to me, but you should meet the guy."

My God! It's exactly what the I Ching said would happen. As far as the publisher is concerned, it doesn't matter what the book says, it matters who I am. My personality is all that counts.

I return to Moira shaken and overjoyed. As I walk into Le Bateau Chateau, David's name for the boat house, the phone rings. It's for me. A drunken woman's voice says I must go to Koolengetta to see the dolphins surfing there. "Now don't you think of moving to Australia permanently," the voice slurs, "You'll be sorry, you know." I hold the phone away from my ear and look at it while the small voice goes on and on from the ear speaker. Who the hell is it? How does she know about me?

Freddy and a friend show up. They have been shopping for shower curtains while I met with Keven. Out of the blue Celine says "Stewart seems to think you are a threat to his plans."

"Huh? Why should I be a threat to his plans?" I remember Tony Gordon saying, "Stewart is having problems right now. Overextended. Trying to set up multimillion dollar deals and forgetting the need to keep Simply Living magazine on the production line." But I don't see what he thinks I have to do with any of this.

Celine adds, "He's planing to make a movie about dolphins, kind of like yours, but he hasn't got the details worked out yet."

"That's funny", I'm getting concerned. I told Stewart and Lee the whole story line of the Dolphin book, "Last time I talked with Lee he outlined the movie they were going to make and it was nothing at all like mine. Their story was about an extraterrestrial being called the Silver Surfer who comes to Earth to save the dolphins and whales because he likes them. They were working up an anti-gravity machine to float the silver surfer on his magic surf-board."

"Well, they seem to be rethinking that," Celine responds.

Could they be pirating my ideas? Why would they do that when I'm more than willing to work with them? Why haven't they talked to me? I called them the other day and Stewart said Lee was "out on the lake in a row boat, just sitting there."  Why should they see me as a threat?


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