As the Harley thundered out of sight, the boys returned to the task of filling their saddle bags and backpacks with groceries. "Bob knows something about Horace's business trips," Mick said.
"Whatever it is, he's not about to dob in his mate," Dickson commented, "and he's certainly not the type I'd choose to mess with."
Guests began to arrive at 12.30pm; first Cody and Mark, then Doris in the company of Tony Spiropoulos, followed by surprise guest constable Clive Farrell who apologized for gate crashing the barbecue. However, Dickson and Mick made him welcome and insisted he stay.
"I wish you hadn't done that," Doris told Dickson quietly. "Farrell knows my husband and he's probably wondering what I'm doing here with Tony, not to mention you and Mick."
"You're Cody's neighbor, right? And Tony is Cody's friend, right? Cody invited both of you to the barbie separately, right?"
"He did? Oh, I see! Yes, he did--of course--separately. Silly me! I'll just have a word to Cody to make sure he understands."
Farrell was introduced to Spiropoulos by Dickson as `our bee person'. "Have you tried Tony's honey? It's awesome!"
"So is this," Tony smiled as he reached into his Esky and handed a jar to Dickson. "It's honey mustard sauce for the steaks--home made, of course."
"What's in it--apart from the obvious?" Farrell asked as he checked the label and read the ingredients. "Oh, I see--Dijon mustard, honey, parsley, vinegar, chilli, peppercorns--sounds great!"
When Clive Farrell was introduced to Cody and Mark by Doris, she made sure to refer to him as `constable' in order that the boys were aware of his profession. "Just call me Clive," the cop smiled and offered his hand to the teens. "I'm out of uniform and not here to arrest anyone."
"Would you?" Mark asked.
"Depends on the circumstances. That's quite a handshake you have there, Mark."
"So, if someone here were to, say, smoke a joint...?"
"They wouldn't smoke it in front of me. Besides, smoking dope isn't a crime in itself. If a person carries a commercial quantity and/or sells it, then it becomes my business. Why do you ask, Mark?"
"Are you into surfing?" Cody interrupted as he shook Clive's hand, hoping to lighten the tone of the conversation. And from that point on, the topic of surfing became the focus. Mark, disinterested in airs and floaters, turned his attention to Doris who was not only the lone female at the gathering but also a very good looking woman.
"Where's your girlfriend?" she asked.
"Out with her girlfriends doing the hen's only thing."
"So you're at a loose end?"
"In more ways than one," the handsome lad grinned. His less than subtle remark prompted Doris to seek immediate refuge in introducing Mark to Tony.
Cody, meanwhile, was curious about Clive's profession. "I guess you get asked this question all the time, but what's it like to be a ... police officer."
"You mean a copper? I love it, it's very satisfying. A bit like surfing in a way, hard work but rewarding."
"In what way?"
"Keeping crooks off the streets, settling disputes, helping little old ladies."
"Isn't that a little like being a dog catcher? They'll never run out of stray dogs."
"True, but imagine if there were no dog catchers."
"You seem like a pretty normal sort of bloke."
"Why shouldn't I be?"
"I dunno... kinda like inviting a priest to a wild teen party, hehehe. No one can swear."
"Cops tend to socialize among themselves, Cody, not exclusively but mostly."
"Like we're the enemy or something?"
"I've been a cop for only a couple of years but I'm aware of the unease a cop creates among the general community."
"Like a teacher patrolling the school grounds."
"Yeah, something like that... or the tax man at a business meeting. Do you have any plans for the future?"
"Marine biology--I love the sea and everything in it. I'm sure I was a dolphin or something in my last life. What do you think you were?"
"Good question, mate. Maybe a leper, hahahaha!"
As the afternoon drifted along, Dickson eventually seized the opportunity to speak with Doris, alone. "Did Horace mention the success or otherwise of his business dealings in New Zealand?"
"He rarely talks about his private business with me."
"Do you find that odd?"
"Not really. I don't talk with him about my life either."
"What on earth do you talk about?"
"Whatever is in the newspaper or on the tele, local goss, things that don't relate specifically to either of us as individuals. Actually, Dickson, I prefer it that way. The last thing I want is to be bored to tears with the reasons for his regular trips. I'm just thankful for the long absences."
"I don't mean to be too inquisitive, Doris, but don't you ever question--at least in your own mind--the fact that the business trips never result in any new business?"
"Why should I? To be brutally honest, I don't give a damn. Besides, the last thing Horace needs is a nagging wife. He would interpret that as meddling."
"You're not even privately curious?"
"Perhaps a little now and again, but I'm also aware of the consequences of knowing more than I should--or need to."
"That I might loathe him even more than I do now."
"What prompted you to visit him in Auckland hospital?"
"His reaction if I'd chosen not to perform my wifely duty."
"So you would have preferred to stay home?"
"You're the detective, Mr. Bottoms."
When Paul arrived later in the afternoon for his surfing lesson, Doris and Tony decided to leave, which was the perfect excuse for the rest of the guests (and hosts) to head down the beach to the surf. Everyone except Mark, who preferred to body surf, rode boards, each taking a turn to teach Paul a few new tricks.
By the onset of sundown, only Dickson and Mick remained at the house. Clive Farrell had offered Cody and Mark a lift, complete with surfboard, into town.
"That was quite a day," Mick commented as he and his mate cleaned up the yard in preparation for the kitchen detail. "And Tony's steak sauce was awesome! By the way, Cody said something interesting today."
"The Fink's bedroom."
"Bloody hell, don't tell me Cody's been snooping around Doris' bedroom!" Dickson led the way into the house as the boys carried various items into the kitchen.
"Nope, nothing like that. You know that local painter bloke--the one who drives that old red Holden van with the wide wheels and V8? He's doing some work at Cody's place and they got to talking. Seems the painter worked on the Fink house a while back. He was painting the bedroom ceiling when he noticed something. It was a miniature camera lens. So he checked another part of the room and saw a miniature microphone."
"Are you serious?"
"That's what Cody told me."
As Dickson began to wash the dishes, he took a moment to ponder the revelation. "So who was responsible for the installation of the spy equipment, Doris or Horace?"
"Has to be Horace. I guess he wants to keep a check on his wife's activities when he's away on business... or whatever he's away on."
"Or he gets a buzz outta watching his own performance."
"Or someone else's."
"I wonder if... I wonder if Doris and Tony Spiropoulos...? Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"
After such a big lunch, neither boy was hungry so they settled for roast beef sandwiches and a beer. "Jeez, did you notice the way Mark turns heads?" Mick asked. "When he stripped off for the surf, I could hardly believe his definition--cut and chiseled like you don't see very often."
"He works out--three hundred sit ups and three hundred push ups every day. He's also a boxer. He mentioned all that stuff when he was here last."
"Narrow hips, tight buns..."
"Cut it out, Mick."
"You sound like you've got the hots for that guy."
"I only have eyes for you, Dicko."
The boys took their sandwiches and beer to the front verandah where they discussed the possible ramifications of Cody's revelation about the spy equipment in the Fink bedroom. "If the murder of Horace Fink is, as Doris insists, inevitable, what on earth has the camera got to do with it?"
"Maybe it hasn't--like I said, Horace is just keeping an eye on his missus."
"Or is she keeping an eye on him?"
"I dunno, mate, but I'd love to get my hands on that video... if it exists. You know something, Mick? I can't help thinking that a murder is inevitable, but not necessarily the murder of Horace."
"One of his enemies."
"And who is the potential murderer? Horace?"
"It's a possibility."
"That's the damn trouble with this bloody case... way too many possibilities. It's like trying to back the winner of a horse race."
"And if you were a betting man...?"
"I reckon the most obvious and logical scenario is that Doris and Tony form a pact to bump off Horace. Doris gets the money and Tony gets to marry her. Simple."
"Not really, put yourself in Doris' shoes... figuratively speaking, of course, hahaha. Doris hires you and me to investigate various suspects in the hope that we will discover evidence that takes the heat and focus off her plot with Tony. Yeah?"
"It's a possibility."
"STOP SAYING THAT! It's more than a possibility, it's a probability. Think about it, Sherlock, who has the most to gain from Horace's murder?"