“He realised that the trappings his old life didn’t matter much”
for a quiet meal, a huge contrast to the wild times he’d had at the restaurant in his previous life.
After an overseas holiday, the couple settled into country life. Fraser wanted the contentment he’d found labouring on his friend’s property after leaving jail.
At a time when he might have been gutted with remorse at all he’d lost, he realised the trappings of his old life didn’t matter much. Only his children mattered, and the few friends who’d seen something worth salvaging in the wreckage. Now there was the woman who had taken a punt on him, too.
The couple are keen cooks. Visitors get marmalade and relish. Fraser rummages through a drawer searching for the certificate to prove they have won a Royal Melbourne Show sauces and preserves category.
They even created their own label. “We called it Bright Futures,” says Allen. So far, she adds, the name seems about right.
It has taken years for memories of prison to fade. Not all do. Once, in the garden at Port Phillip Prison, Fraser saw Dupas and another sick killer uncover a nest of baby mice. The pair grabbed the wriggling pink bodies and hacked them in half with secateurs, laughing like the psychopaths they are.
Sometimes he runs into a familiar face from his time “inside”. One day not long ago, a young man approached him while he was filling his car at a service station in inner-suburban Melbourne. Fraser admits rolling his eyes and thinking, “Here we go – some bloke who’s seen me in jail is going to put the bite on me.”
He was only half right. The young man had been in jail with him – but he didn’t want to “snip” him for money. All he wanted was to thank him for something Fraser had forgotten.
At Fulham, Fraser had been the “prison listener” – an older, wiser prisoner the staff relied on to speak to troubled inmates. The former prisoner reminded Fraser that he had taught him the alphabet, then how to sound letters into words. It was the start of his learning how to read and write, which meant that when he left prison he was able to pick up the basic education he had missed as a child.
It wasn’t much, just enough to change his life. He had never gone back “inside”. He just wanted Fraser to know that.