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   Then one of the other officers dropped the bomb. `You know,' he began

   casually, `we're also raiding your parents' house ...'

  

   Anthrax freaked out. His mum would be hysterical. He asked to call his

   mother on his mobile, the only phone then working in the apartment.

   The police refused to let him touch his mobile. Then he asked to call

   her from the pay phone across the street. The police refused again.

   One of the officers, a tall, lanky cop, recognised a leverage point if

   ever he saw one. He spread the guilt on thick.

  

   `Your poor sick mum. How could you do this to your poor sick mum?

   We're going to have to take her to Melbourne for questioning, maybe

   even to charge her, arrest her, take her to jail. You make me sick. I

   feel sorry for a mother having a son like you who is going to cause

   her all this trouble.'

  

   From that moment on, the tall officer took every opportunity to talk

   about Anthrax's `poor sick mum'. He wouldn't let up. Not that he

   probably knew the first thing about scleroderma, the creeping fatal

   disease which affected her. Anthrax often thought about the pain his

   mother was in as the disease worked its way from her extremities to

   her internal organs. Scleroderma toughened the skin on the fingers and

   feet, but made them overly sensitive, particularly to changes in

   weather. It typically affected women native to hot climates who moved

   to colder environments.

  

   Anthrax's mobile rang. His mother. It had to be. The police wouldn't

   let him answer it.

  

   The tall officer picked up the call, then turned to the stocky cop and

   said in a mocking Indian accent, `It is some woman with an Indian

   accent'. Anthrax felt like jumping out of his chair and grabbing the

   phone. He felt like doing some other things too, things that would

   have undoubtedly landed him in prison then and there.

  

   The stocky cop nodded to the tall one, who handed the mobile to

   Anthrax.

  

   At first, he couldn't make sense of what his mother was saying. She

   was a terrified mess. Anthrax tried to calm her down. Then she tried

   to comfort him.

  

   `Don't worry. It will be all right,' she said it, over and over. No

   matter what Anthrax said, she repeated that phrase, like a chant. In

   trying to console him, she was actually calming herself. Anthrax

   listened to her trying to impose order on the chaos around her. He

   could hear noises in the background and he guessed it was the police

   rummaging through her home. Suddenly, she said she had to go and hung

   up.

  

   Anthrax handed the phone back to the police and sat with his head in

   his hands. What a wretched situation. He couldn't believe this was

   happening to him. How could the police seriously consider taking his

   mother to Melbourne for questioning? True, he phreaked from her home

   office phone, but she had no idea how to hack or phreak. As for

   charging his mother, that would just about kill her. In her mental and

   physical condition, she would simply collapse, maybe never to get up

   again.