By Mark Peters
is a fictional story which contains scenes depicting sexual acts between
males of different ages.
all those who are reading this story on Nifty I encourage you to visit
their home page ( www.nifty.org ) and make
~ Chapter Twenty-One ~
did they find him?' I asked Helen.
that pub where we all went the other day for lunch?
There's a park not far from there which backs
onto a bushland reserve. Some bushwalkers found him this
god! I'm so sorry,' I repeated. `I guess this
surely blows any suggestion of it being a coincidence
right out of the water.'
she replied. `But we're still no closer to finding
out who . . . or more importantly, why?'
you're right. I'm going to head over to the school
after lunch and see what I can find out about some of
the old teachers and staff . . . see if anyone knows
where some of them might be now.'
not really sure. There are a couple of names that keep
bobbing up in conversation, but neither fits the
description of my Sydney stalker.'
it won't hurt to cover all of our bases. I guess
looking for anyone that does happen to resemble your
stalker is the first thing to do, but also check and see
if there were any teachers or staff with records for
anything resembling a sex offence. If anything untoward
happened with any of the other kids, maybe there are
still some old teachers there who might open up to you,
especially given what you went through back then
I've already started going through some of our old
school yearbooks, and Marty also kept a pile of photo
albums filled with stuff he took around the school, so
I'll trawl through those as well. Oh, and I just had a
thought about what you might be able to do with IA and
to Megan and Cathy. If Megan works for a law firm
perhaps someone there could take Casey on as a client,
pro-bono of course, just to protect his interests. Maybe
it would be a legitimate way for you to sneak him in and
out of their offices, without anyone else knowing, and
then get IA to hold the interview there?'
could work. Thanks. I'll let you know if they go for
the boss also had a message for you,' she added.
said you don't have time to go surfing up there . . .
you've got work to do.'
looks like he already knows me too well,' I joked.
had a fair bit or experience handling newbies like you.
He can read you like a book! Oh, and we should have
copies of all the case files here today relating to
Martin's death, so they'll be waiting for you for
when you get back.'
And how did the boss take it when you told him I was
was fine. Actually, I think he half expected it,' she
laughed. `He can read you like a book, remember?'
we disconnected I looked across at Beth and Tom, who
were both studying me intently. I knew that from my
conversation with Helen I must have given away
sufficient information for them to conclude there had
been another murder, or something similar, so I decided
I needed to fill them in on what had happened.
guess you've realised by now that there's been
another body found?' I said quietly, to which they
both nodded. `And it's exactly the same MO as for
Martin's death and Alexis, from earlier this week.'
was this also somebody you only met this week?' Tom
he was. So that rules out any chance of Alexis' death
being a coincidence. One of the projects that our
Inspector has had us working on is a last minute
inclusion of a float in the Mardi Gras, representing the
police force. The guy who was killed has been helping us
out with the design and painting of the float. His name
was Jimmy Tan and he was another one of Helen's
seems to have a lot of friends out there,' Beth
she does, but it's . . . it's kind of complicated.
She seems to have made a habit of cultivating those who
have been in trouble at one stage or another into useful
contacts. Some people would look at them as being
snitches, but it's not like that. She actually cares
about these people, and seeing them get their lives
straightened out, so if they occasionally help her out
with tip offs, then what harm can come of it? We all had
lunch together the other day when we got Jimmy and some
of his friends involved with the float project. After
that first day, though, he seemed to simply vanish.'
no!' said Beth. `How must poor Helen be feeling?'
upset,' I replied. `But this sort of thing comes
with the territory when you're a cop. She also knows
better than most as to not only what some people in this
world can be capable of, but also just how fragile life
can be, where death can be just around the next corner
for any of us.'
how do you feel?' Tom asked me.
guilty as hell,' I answered honestly. `Jimmy was a
nice guy. I have no idea who this bastard is yet who is
doing all this, or what the hell his motive might be,
but somehow or other, whether I like it or not, I'm a
part of his sick plan. I don't like that. But what I
especially don't like is the fact that innocent people
who, up until just a few days ago had never even heard
of me, seem to be paying the price for having done no
more than simply shaking my hand. It makes me sick to
the stomach just thinking about it.'
how are you going to stop him?' Beth asked.
really don't know the answer to that, Mama. If we knew
who he was we would at least have something to go on,
but without knowing that I'm at a loss. Somehow we
need to flush him out . . . or just hope that he slips
was about then that Shane and Jimmy reappeared at the
doorway, both looking rather nervous, as if they
weren't quite sure what they should say or do next.
They were both wearing jeans and t-shirts with rock
bands on the front . . . Jimmy apparently liked the
shirt, while Shane had grabbed the Cold
Chisel one. Dressed like this, the two of them
looked every bit the sixteen year-old kids they were,
but I was beginning to worry for Tom and Beth,
especially if the boys' musical tastes were anything
like their taste in clothing.
on in, boys,' Beth said to them. `It's all
. . . are you sure?' Shane stammered. `We're so
sorry if we upset you.'
it's fine, really. I was just a little shocked when I
saw you standing there . . . you just looked so much
like Martin, especially because of what you were
sorry . . . I didn't mean to . . .' he began to say,
but we could all hear the quiver in his voice and see
the trembling bottom lip.
a flash Beth was on her feet and had her arms wrapped
around him, while at the same time making soothing
sounds in his ear.
. . . it's okay, Shane. There's no need for you to
be upset,' we heard her say. `You really weren't
. . .'
Beth scolded. `Otherwise I might just start telling
you to "toughen up, Princess," instead! That's what all you young
people say these days, isn't it?'
that both Shane and Jimmy gave a snort and a chuckle.
They were suddenly looking at Beth in a whole different
wrong? Can't the old chick be hip?' Beth teased
them, which only served to totally crack up both of them
and get all of us laughing along.
the laughter finally subsided I said to them, `All
right, you pair. I think it's time I took you both
shopping . . . that's if Beth will let us borrow the
car. We'll grab some lunch downtown, Beth, then after
that I'll need to visit a couple of places and do some
work before Adam arrives.'
while you're working this afternoon then, the boys can
help me with getting the boat into the water,' Tom
course . . . that is unless you have a phobia about
getting wet?' Tom replied.
no! You can count us in!' said Jimmy.
what I thought!' Tom chuckled.
was a small shopping centre in Stockton, which wasn't
too far away from Tom and Beth's, so that's where we
headed in Beth's little Ford. There weren't any
major national retailers close by, but we didn't have
any problem finding what we needed amongst the smaller
local stores we found there on Mitchell Street. Socks
and jocks, some toiletries and a bag to keep them in,
plus a baseball cap and a pair of sunglasses for each of
the boys, all of which still made a healthy enough dent
in my wallet.
at their rather well worn joggers I figured they would
probably also need some new shoes, but decided to leave
that for Beth to organise once the Inspector was able to
arrange some sort of funding or allowance for their
we were heading back to the car I happened to notice an
electronics shop and so I made a bee-line straight for
now?' Jimmy asked.
don't want you guys to be out of reach of either me or
Helen, or Tom and Beth for that matter, so I'm going
to see if we can get one of those cheap pre-paid phones
for you,' I said. `We'll add all our numbers in so
you can contact us if needed, or if we need to contact
you in a hurry.'
do you think you can you get us a number for Casey
too?' Shane added.
see how we go,' I answered. `We might just have to
wait until things settle down a bit first, though.'
right then,' Shane replied, although sounding a little
worry, mate,' I reassured him. `It's just that
shit is about to get real, especially concerning what
happened to Casey and who did what to him. Right now the
important thing is to ensure that the police have all
the information they can get from Casey, so they can
make the right decisions about what to do to those
people who abused him. He's going to be interviewed
today, as far as I know, so I suspect that arrests will
be made and charges laid within days.'
you think they'll go to jail?' Jimmy asked.
certainly hope so, Jimmy. Thanks to the help of all
three of you these pricks should get exactly what they
crims already in jail don't like it when cops get
thrown in with them, do they?' Shane mused.
mate, they don't,' I answered honestly.
hope they die,' Shane spat.
you didn't see what they did to Casey. We saw his arse
bleeding . . . we held him as he cried himself to sleep
some nights . . . so for that, we hope the cunts really
get just what they deserve, Shane. I can promise you
this time we had reached the electronics store and so we
went inside. I headed straight for the sales counter,
behind which a pimply faced, young guy was standing
there and looking bored. From somewhere beneath his mop
of dark hair, which was in desperate need of a trim, he
asked, `Can I help?'
do you have in the way of cheap pre-paid phones?' I
depends on what you need it to do,' he replied, while
brushing his long fringe to one side, revealing piercing
blue eyes. `Just the basic ones for calls and text
only start at around sixty dollars. But if you want
extra features, that's when the prices start to
dollars sounds fine,' I said.
network do you want? Telstra or Optus?'
gives broader coverage.'
Telstra it is.'
took us over to a display stand near the back of the
store and proceeded to point out the models which would
meet the requirements. One was an older style black
phone, very plain and boxy looking, while the other was
a much more stylish, bright red flip phone, which
apparently also came in white, yellow or purple.
boys, which one do you fancy?' I asked them, although
I was fairly certain that I already knew which one they
smiled and pointed to the red phone.
like it's the red one,' I said to our salesman.
`How easy is it to set up?'
you need is access to the internet and a driver's
licence,' he replied.
don't have web access where I'm staying,' I lied.
`Any chance you can set it up for us?'
a quick glance around, no doubt to make sure his boss
wasn't close by, he nodded and said, `Sure. Do you
have your licence with you?'
pulled out my wallet and handed him my licence, then was
about to hand him my credit card as well, when I had a
sudden thought. What if Azzopardi and Ryan, or any of
Assistant Commissioner Barrett's other henchmen were
already keeping an eye out for us? Perhaps the credit
card wasn't such a good idea after all?
minutes later, after handing over some cash, we walked
out of there all set up and ready to go, so we set off
in search of some place to satisfy our growing hunger.
was nearing one o'clock when we made it back to Tom
and Beth's place, and when we got there Tom was just
backing his four-wheel drive out of their yard. I parked
Beth's car on the side of the road and we walked to
where Tom had stopped in their driveway and was now
just going around the back to hook the boat trailer
on,' he said to us. `How about you boys drop your
stuff inside and meet me in the back yard?'
thing!' Jimmy replied, before the pair of them ran up
the driveway to the house and through the front door,
their bags of shopping swinging wildly around.
sure seem keen!' Tom laughed.
don't think they've been in a situation for a while
where someone actually wants to do something with them,
other than use them for sex, of course. I think
they've been forced to grow up far too quickly and
they missed out on a lot of stuff that boys get to do
with their parents or brothers. And let's face it,
they're still not much more than kids themselves, so
who can blame them for taking the opportunity to just be
a kid again?'
know, Rick. Kids all seem to be growing up so fast these
days, and it's because they have to, just like these
two have had to do, so I don't think it'll do them
any harm to catch up with some of the childhood they
lost, do you?'
at all,' I replied. `In fact, it's kind of
refreshing just seeing them act their age for a
and from what we heard last night, the chance to be a
kid again and interact with adults in what we would call
a normal situation,
is something they haven't had the opportunity to do in
quite a while.'
think if we just let them find their feet again,
they'll surprise us all.'
already surprised us, lad! Or hadn't you noticed?'
he chuckled, as he started up the Toyota once more and
continued backing out onto the road.
access the grassy strip of land between the houses and
the river it was simply a matter of driving to the last
house and then turning off the main road and onto a well
worn track, which led around behind all the houses and
eventually stopped at the far end, close to the boat
ramp. Every house in the row had a gateway from their
back yard out onto The
Pitch, as it was often called -- so named as it
served so regularly as a cricket pitch for the locals --
and it was a common sight seeing vehicles with boat
trailers coming and going on almost any day of the week.
I followed the boys out to the back yard we found Tom
was just reversing his vehicle through the back gate,
lining it up with the trailer and the massive sailing
boat that was perched upon it. Much to my surprise he
backed in perfectly to align the tow ball on his vehicle
with the hitch on the trailer.
done that before,' I gently teased him, as he climbed
out of the vehicle.
once or twice,' he replied.
sure is big,' I remarked as I ran my hand along the
sleek white fiberglass hull of the boat.
seems that way at first, but once you're on board
you'd be surprised how often you find yourself wishing
it was bigger,' he laughed. `You'll see what I
mean when you spend a night on her, or when you're out
on the water and some racing yacht comes cruising by,
with the skipper looking down his nose at you with what
can only be described as contempt, and they leave you in
was all I could say in reply.
haven't you got work to do?' he admonished me.
`Just leave the launching to us and you go do what
you've got to do. I'll take the boys for a motor up
and down the river and have them back safe and sound in
time for you to get all set up for tonight.
and if you need to plug the computer back in the network
cable is still there, leading into the hub in my office,
so just plug it back in. And if you have any issues with
connecting to anything with Martin's old computer you
can use mine if you need to look anything up or access
emails, or whatever.'
sounds great, Tom. Thanks.'
a nod he turned his attention back toward the trailer
hitch and started winding down the jockey wheel to lower
the hitch onto the tow ball, while the boys watched him
keen as I was to see the boat find its way into the
water I knew I had other things I needed to do, so I
left them to it and made my way back up to the house,
where I found Beth in the laundry, running some of
Martin's clothes through the washing machine, to
freshen them up and get rid of the fragrance of moth
was holding one of his old rugby jumpers in her hand and
just gazing off into space, no doubt daydreaming about
days gone by.
was on the tip of my tongue to say something, but in the
end I decided to leave her to her memories and crept off
down the hallway to the bedroom, quietly closing the
door behind me so that I could minimise distractions,
before then turning my attention to the contents of
was particularly curious to take a look back through
Martin's photo albums, not only to reminisce about
some of the things we got up to, but also to see if any
of those photographs which were taken around the school,
or at school events, might contain images of anyone
resembling our chief suspect. I didn't know if it was
going to prove to be a waste of time, or not, but I knew
that I had to take a look at least.
the next hour or so I flicked through the pages of his
most recent albums, which were easy to recognise as he
had carefully labelled the front of each one with dates
and details of what they contained. Carefully I examined
every photo for that familiar face which was now seared
into my memory, but he wasn't to be seen anywhere
amongst the school athletics or swimming carnivals, or
excursions, or stage productions which Martin had so
meticulously recorded. Even so, I still found myself
immersed once more in the memories of those events; the
horsing around on the school oval or at the pool, the
rare tender moments we managed to salvage for ourselves
on the school excursions, and the camaraderie associated
with putting together a production like Joseph
and the Amazing Technicolour Dream Coat. There were
certainly some great times had by all in those last few
years of school, and I wasn't surprised at all that I
found myself wiping away a few tears, especially after
coming across a couple of photos of him, which I had
taken using his own camera.
closing the last of the albums I had selected, I was
still none the wiser. Sadly, there was nothing in them
that I could see which could provide me with anything
new in the way of clues.
yearbook I had been perusing the previous night was
still sitting on the bedside table and so after
returning the albums to the shelves I picked it up and
flipped through to the pages I had previously been
looking at. The photo of the art class that I had seen
last night seemed the best place to start, and so I took
a closer look at that, in particular the two people who
seemed to constantly be popping up in my thoughts: Mr
Corcoran and Joshua Bell.
I had said to Beth, Mr Corcoran just didn't fit the
profile of the guy who I thought was stalking me in
Sydney, who is of course my main suspect in this whole
sordid affair, and looking at this photo once more I
still couldn't see anything that could change that
opinion. The only thing that I could see in common
between Corcoran and the stalker were that they were of
similar height and they both had dark hair.
on the other hand, was something of an enigma, with his
photo giving me a different image of him to that which I
had stored in my mind. But he too failed to fit the
profile. He wasn't tall enough, for starters, and as I
remember him, with his stocky, athletic build from all
those years of sports, that seemed to put him at odds
with the profile as well.
these two individuals were the only ones I could recall
ever doing or saying anything of a sexual nature around
either Martin or me, so they had to be the natural
starting point for my enquiries. For starters, I felt I
needed to check into where both of them were these days,
even if only to finally eliminate them from my list of
suspects. I was hoping that a visit to the school that
afternoon, hopefully sometime after classes were out,
might be able to supply some contact information that
would point me in the right direction.
I now began to wonder, if these two individuals
weren't to be considered suspects, then who else could
it possibly be?
the back of the yearbook was a group photo, taking up a
full page, of all the staff that worked at the school
for that year. It was another or Marty's images,
having gathered everyone on the steps to the chapel,
with them all appearing to be smiling and happy; after
all the end of the school year was just around the
have to admit that I struggled to remember the names of
some of the teachers, in particular those I'd hardly
ever had any contact with, but once again there was
nothing in the smiling faces that gave away any clues
then to the pages showing the headshots of our class I
started scanning through those, trying to remember as
much as I could about each of them, although once again
that was something which proved more than just a little
bit difficult, as I actually knew very little about many
those hopeful faces, all ready to kiss their final days
of school goodbye, seemed far too content with the
world. None gave any indication that their smiles were
masking murderous thoughts. Even Josh Bell seemed
carefree and happy, and nothing like the self-centered
hypocrite I knew him to be.
through these faces I found it difficult to imagine any
of them being the face of a killer, yet I knew that it
was more than likely that it was one of these
individuals, whether a staff member or student, who had
been holding the knife which had been plunged repeatedly
into Martin's body. I just couldn't get away from
that thought . . . especially
after that nightmare I had endured last night. My mind
kept going back to the night of disturbed sleep and the
images which seemed to have been burned into my mind.
it been Martin himself who had pointed me in the
direction of those visions, somehow offering me some
kind of a clue, or was that just my mind playing more
tricks on me, yet again?
I sat here now looking at these faces and remembering
what the night had brought me, I began going back over
everything that I could remember, but as hard as I might
try, nothing new seemed to come of it.
was stumped, and I knew it, and so now was the time to
start digging a little deeper in order to find just what
secrets some of these smiling faces were hiding.
through the gates of Waratah High School a short time
later I was confronted by the sight of the white cross
at the end of the driveway, causing my stomach to
suddenly tie up in knots and my heart to skip a beat in
me that cross will be forever associated with the death
of Martin, and after having seen it again last night in
my dreams, to me it now seemed to have taken on an even
more menacing presence.
I reached the end of the driveway, after having dodged
students and staff still making their way from their
final classes for the day, I turned and headed for the
car parking area, then pulled into the first available
space. I sat there for a few moments, just watching the
passing parade of kids, all eager to get home, while
remembering all too easily just what it was like for me
. . . that relief of having the last class finally done
for the day, and the freedom that follows, giving you
scant few hours to do whatever it was that you wanted to
do of an afternoon, before having to be home to comply
with what your family demand. That time was precious and
memorable and . . . ours. God, how I missed that!
out of the car I headed for the administration building,
unsure of who or what I might find there. A few students
looked at me warily as I passed them, but when I pulled
open the main door and stepped inside I was pleasantly
surprised when the familiar face of Rosie looked up from
looked at me with a puzzled expression for a few
moments, but then I saw the recognition dawn across her
face, and she quickly got up and came around to the
front of the reception counter, giving me a hug and a
kiss on the cheek.
god, Rick, you look all grown up now,' she teased.
you don't look a day older, either,' I replied.
`It's good to see you again, Rosie.'
you too. How are Marty's mum and dad doing? I
haven't seen them in such a long time.'
they're fine,' I replied. `Time tends to heal a
lot of wounds, and they are coping as well as you could
what about you? How are you coping?'
getting by,' I answered.
pleased to hear that,' she said, while giving me a
gentle pat on the arm. `I must say you look quite
smart in your suit and tie. What are you doing with
yourself these days?'
hold of my jacket I pulled it back slightly to reveal
the badge which was hooked to my belt. Her eyes widened
as she recognised it, then she must have also realised
just why I was here.
so it's you who was coming here to see Mr
Cunningham?' she asked. `We had a call earlier from
the local detectives office to say that there were
further investigations being made into Martin's case,
and that we were being asked to provide assistance by
providing staff and student records. I didn't quite
expect it to be you who would show up, though.'
that'd be me. There's been a new development, so
we've started looking into things once more.'
I so hope that you can catch whoever it was who did that
to Martin. It was such a shocking thing.'
certainly not going to argue with you on that one,
come through and I'll take you to Mr Cunningham's
office. He's been expecting someone.'
you very much, Rosie. I'd appreciate that.'
her down the hallway from the reception area she took me
to an office that was all too familiar to me, outside of
which sat the same chairs I had sat in often enough
while I was a student here. After knocking gently on the
door, Rosie opened it and showed me inside, where we
found the equally familiar figure of Jack Cunningham
sitting behind the polished oak desk.
my lad, what a pleasant surprise. It has been quite a
while,' my old school principal said to me, while
getting up from his desk and coming around to our side,
his hand outstretched. `To what do we owe the
pleasure?' then adding, `Thank you Rosie, that will
smiled and left us, quietly closing the door behind her.
you've been expecting me,' I answered, as I shook
the offered hand. The quizzical expression on his face
told me he didn't quite get what I was meaning, so I
pulled the badge from my belt and showed him.
Lord,' he gasped. `Who would have thought it?'
I asked him.
sorry, Rick, I just didn't ever see you as being a
potential police officer. You must be doing a fine job
to have become a detective already. Congratulations!'
you. It has been a lot of hard work, but the occasional
lucky break hasn't hurt.'
you're involved in Martin's case? How did that come
about?' he asked, as he offered me a chair, then sat
back down behind his large desk.
has been a development, so we're going back over
your superiors have contacted us and asked for access to
our records, and of course, we're only too happy to
help out in any way we can. We've started by pulling
the files of all staff and students who were here that
year, and you can certainly go through them all if you
would like, but I think there might be a couple of them
in particular which might be of some interest to you.'
do you mean by that?'
superiors,' he said, `were particularly interested
in anyone who may have had any, let's say . . .
indiscretions . . . which were of a sexual nature, and
so we've pulled those files first.'
you saying that there were sex offenders here at the
time . . . either on the staff, or amongst my class
was another . . . incident . . . in the final year you
were here,' he replied. `And yes, it was between two
of your school mates,' he added, while passing two
buff coloured folders across his desk to me. I noticed
that he had left another folder sitting there in front
the two offered folders I quickly looked at the names on
the tags at the top of them and immediately recognised
one, but the second name meant nothing to me, and I
guess my expression showed that.
you can see, one of those files belongs to a young man
who was in your class. If you don't recognise the
second name, however, it was because he was from a
couple of years below yours and Martin's.'
the top file I quickly noticed a bright yellow post-it
sticky note sticking out to one side, and so I flicked
through to that page. It was an official school Incident
Report Form, dated several months before we had sat our
final exams. Scanning down the page it gave the details
of what was deemed a sexual assault, but in reality was
little more than two school boys being caught in a room
with their pants down. I couldn't ever recall any word
of this event having taken place that year, and the file
showed that no action was taken at the time, other than
an official warning being issued to both of the boys
involved, a copy of which was also included in the
younger boys file.
the other file?' I asked, pointing to the one still
sitting upon Cunningham's desk.
involves an incident which occurred in the year
following . . .' he said, hesitating slightly before
passing the file over to me.
looked at the name and immediately my heart skipped a
that file I found several colourful post-it notes
attached to various pages throughout the file, which I
quickly skipped through to and read their damning
contents, before looking up at him in amazement.
afraid it's impossible to say if this is in any way at
all related to what happened to Martin, but one never
quite knows what to do in these situations.'
|To be continued...|
(c) 2015 Mark