Sunday was the City to Surf. Every one of the Sydney Bin Raiders, apart from Cherry, participated regularly in fun runs. (Even Cherry had run in her younger days, before her arthritis became too debilitating.) Young Sean went in his first fun run when he was only three years old, and this was his second attempt to finish the big one. Running regularly kept the group fit, and it provided them with a skill which had often proven to be helpful in their peculiar lifestyle. Greg and Diane had demonstrated that - at Buy-Rite - earlier in the week. None of their running times were sensational in sporting terms, but they were good enough to occasionally pick up minor trophies at country competitions. This was due more to faithful training than to natural ability.
In bigger competitions like the City to Surf, they rarely bothered to pay the huge entry fees. Organisers, who looked on fun runs primarily as fund-raising events, regarded the practice of dodging fees as unthinkably low. But for a group who had no visible means of support, who regularly scrounged food from supermarket rubbish bins, who picked up furniture from throw-outs left on the kerb, and who thought nothing of breaking the law to paint graf fiti on a sacred Australian beach, jumping into the City to Surf without an of ficial number on your chest was as inconsequential as brushing your teeth.
"We're poor, and we're proud of it," Dave would often say. He taught that the only way to overcome greed was to overcome one's fear of poverty. "Some people fear poverty because they fear starving to death," he said, "but in an af fluent society like ours, what people fear more than starving is to be looked down on by the horrible 'Joneses'.
"People will literally sacrifice their lives and the lives of their loved ones before they would risk of fending public opinion," Dave maintained. "That's what keeps soldiers going of f to war, and it's what keeps their parents encouraging them to do it."
The bin raiders in Sydney, and their sister cells in other cities around Australia had chosen to confront the stigma associated with being poor. And they did so with great flair. They believed that survival was not only possible without working for money, but also that such a lifestyle would ultimately result in a wealthier society and happier individuals. Dave and Greg both carried a few extra pounds on their bodies as proof that at least they were not going hungry as a result of their chosen way of life.
Thousands of runners crowded dangerously close to one another at the crush near the start of the City to Surf. Dave, Greg, Juan, and Anna were part of the crowd that swarmed into William Street from a side street shortly after the starting gun went of f. The four bin raiders would be timing themselves, and turning of f before they reached the finish line anyway, so an of ficial start was not important to them. But Diane and Sean started far back in the main crowd that lined up on William Street. Sean had a slim chance of being the youngest to finish, so he and his mother had put in of ficial entry forms.
Sean covered the first few kilometres ef fortlessly, as he was drawn along by the excitement of the crowd. At the start of the long hill winding up toward Vaucluse, he settled down to a walk. Diane strolled along beside him, of fering encouragement and drinks of cordial. Sean chatted as he walked, as though he was just out for a stroll.
"Mummy, why are those men dressed like that?" he asked, as "Nuns on the Run", a promotional team for a sports store, jogged past them.
"They're just trying to be funny," explained Diane.
"Can I dress funny next time?" asked Sean.
"You can if you like," said Diane. "But I think it would be hard to run in those long dresses they're wearing, don't you?"
"Yeah, prob'ly," said Sean. "Can I have another drink?"
Just as they were reaching the top of the hill, Sean announced that he was through. He didn't want to go any further.
"But we're almost there, Sean. Look, you can see the beach from here! It's almost all down hill now." Diane's voice bubbled with exaggerated enthusiasm, but it also betrayed her own disappointment that Sean should be wanting to stop so close to the finish.
"I don't wanna run no more," Sean whined "I'm tired. Can Daddy come and pick us up?"
Diane made a few more attempts to urge him on, but to no avail. They sat and waited for a recovery vehicle to take them to the finish line. "Maybe next year," she thought to herself.
It would have been nice if he could have been the youngest to finish, she thought, but it wasn't worth the risk of turning him of f fun runs altogether through too much pressure.
The run finished at Bondi. Sean, who was fully revived by the time the recovery vehicle dropped him of f at the beach, went for a splash in the icy cold water with Juan and Greg, before they all returned to the base. He did, however, fall asleep on the way home.
Cherry met them at the front door.
"We've had visitors," she said. "The police just left half an hour ago. They were looking for Dynamite."
"What for?" asked Dave.
"Buy Rite is pressing charges. They had a search warrant and found some of the food that Diane and Greg picked up on Wednesday. They took it as evidence. Di is supposed to report to the station as soon as possible."
"She will. She will," said Dave. "But first we need to sit down and discuss this."
When they were seated in the lounge room, Dave asked the obvious question: "How did they know to come here?"
"They must have traced her through the van," said Cherry. "They asked if she owned a white Hi-Ace, and they had the registration number."
Diane, who had been ready to take on the world when she first met Ganley Toogood a few days earlier, was more subdued now. "Can they take Sean away from us?" she asked.
"I don't think they'd take Sean over a little thing like this," said Dave. "They'll probably fine us, and that'll be the end of it."
Dave turned to Cherry, "What did they say she was being charged with?"
"Theft," said Cherry.
"Was anyone looking for me?" asked Greg with keen interest.
"They didn't mention it. I don't think they know who you are," said Cherry.
"It's probably best if you just stay out of sight until this is cleared up," Dave added.
"She can plead not guilty," suggested Greg. "It's not like she really stole anything… it was just rubbish."
"A lawyer could give us a better idea," said Dave. "But fighting the charge would take a lot of time. Wouldn't it be easier to plead guilty and get it over with?"
Cherry, who was always more nervous than the others about police actions, piped in: "That bloke from the Brisbane group pleaded guilty and he still got of f on the grounds that it was too trivial to worry about."
"I think God wants us to use this to get the message out," said Juan, who was thinking deeply about the implications of the charge. "Persecution is the best time to preach the truth."
Juan's expression was, as usual, deadly serious Under normal circumstances, Diane would have leapt at the opportunity to face the courts. As it happened, her enthusiasm had been dampened somewhat by concern over her husband's dream about Sean; but she could still see the truth in what Juan was saying.
"Juan's right," she said. "Sooner or later we're going to have to take a stand. Maybe this is the time to do it."
A short while later, she and Juan were seated in front of a police sergeant at the Redfern police station.
"I don't suppose you would like to tell us something about the chap who was with you," queried the of ficer after he had taken down Diane's particulars.
"Not until I've had some legal advice," said Diane.
They waited around for more than an hour until a date could be set for her appearance, and for bail papers to be drawn up. Diane was to appear on Thursday morning. She could either plead guilty then, or ask for a hearing date. She had until Thursday to make up her mind.