The sight of fifty 100-dollar notes arranged neatly on the kitchen table was "a bloody awesome spectacle" according to Mick who aimed the camera several times and took a number of photographs from different angles. "I've never seen so much pulchritudinous loot at one time!"
Then Mick gathered his share and secured the wad with an elastic band. "It even smells good! Which reminds me, what's for dinner?"
"Is that all you ever think about?"
"No--but... don't ask."
Dickson phoned the young owner of the surfboard for sale and arranged to collect it the following morning before school. Then he sent Mick shopping for various pizza toppings and Lebanese bread.
After the meal, the boys took a walk along the deserted beach as the pinks, reds, golds and purples of sunset slowly faded from the pale blue sky. "What are you thinking?" Mick asked as he studied a shell.
"A front-load washing machine."
"A what? What's wrong with the one you've got?"
"This whole Fink business is like watching all the clothes tumble around and around. Know what I mean? It's like a vertical whirlpool--I'm not focusing on anything in particular--there's way too much happening all at once."
"Washing machines work in cycles, mate--just hang around for the spin dry to finish."
"Not a bad analogy, Mick," the blond laughed.
Next morning, following Dickson's chat with Paul as the boy delivered the newspaper, the Suzuki buzzed into life and headed for Diamond Beach. The school boy who answered Dickson's knock at the door was about 15 years old, with shaggy light brown hair that featured sun-bleached straw-colored streaks. "You're here for the board," he smiled and revealed a set of silver braces. "It's in the garage."
Upon inspection, Dickson noticed a few minor dings which he figured could be repaired easily enough--otherwise the board was in good condition. "Are you willing to negotiate?"
"Nope. There's another guy interested."
"I see. It'll cost $10 for materials to fix these dings."
"That's why I'm selling it cheap."
"You're a pretty cluey businessman for a young bloke."
"My dad's a sales manager."
Dickson reached for his wallet and produced a fifty dollar note. "Deal."
Mick had already arrived at the beach house by the time Dickson returned. "Needs a little work," he said as he carried the board down the hall, "but it's cool. Your turn to cook breakfast--scrambled eggs and sausage."
Dickson spent the morning fixing the surfboard dings with resin filler, hardener, laminating resin, acetone, glass cloth and sandpaper. By lunchtime, the basic work was done and ready to be left overnight to harden before the final sanding and waxing.
"Why not? They're my specialty," Mick grinned as he handed one to Dickson.
"You better get married, mate, or you'll starve to death."
Dickson ignored the remark and eagerly sank his teeth into the toasted bun and frankfurter topped with sweet mustard sauce. "Mmmm, pretty good, actually. You wanna make two more?"
"So what happens with the surfboard? Are you gonna wait till Paul's birthday?"
"Kind of--he can ride it in the meantime but I won't tell him it's his till the big day. Yeah? He can use my old board today while the repairs are hardening."
Dickson, Mick and Paul were already surfing when Cody arrived and paddled out to join his friends. By 5:30 the foursome was back at the house and showering under the outside hose. "Did you guys see me in the green room?" Cody asked. "Wow, man, what an outtasight ride! Awesome!"
"Missed that one," Dickson smiled and winked at Mick.
"Yeah, right, you guys are just jealous."
Paul was due home, so he bade farewell and pedaled furiously down the road while Cody stayed for a juice and a chat. "There's something I wanna tell you guys," Cody said as they sat on the front verandah, "but I'm not sure you wanna know about it."
"That's what I'm worried about--you'll probably shoot me for snooping."
"Doris asked me to lay some mouse traps in the ceiling--she doesn't like to use poison bait."
"That's not snooping."
"Well, while I was up there with the flashlight and the traps, I saw a black box thingy and thought it was some kinda alarm or whatever, but it wasn't. It was a DVR--digital video recorder, and guess what it was attached to?"
"The spy camera?"
"Yeah, so ... well, I got kinda curious."
"You better not tell us any more, Cody."
"Okay," the mop shrugged and gazed out to sea.
"So you checked out the disk at home, right?"
"You said I better not tell you any more."
"Strictly speaking, yes, but ... if you're sure it relates to our investigation, then I suppose..."
"No, I'm not sure about that--I don't know if it relates."
"Can you tell us who was in the footage? Doris or Horace?"
"Horace and ... somebody." Dickson and Mick waited impatiently for Cody to continue without being prompted. After what seemed an agonizing age, he added nonchalantly, "I don't know the other guy."
"Guy?" the wide-eyed duo chorused.
"You're surprised? I've always thought Horace was gay--sort of--but I never suspected he was a pedo. I mean, the other guy looked younger than sixteen, if you know what I mean. He was a hottie as well, hehehe."
"So that's what Bob Down meant when he said `if only Doris knew he was a...' and stopped short," Dickson concluded. "Cody, for Christ sake what did you do with the damn disk?"
"Put it back in the DVR. I told Doris I had to split for a while--about half an hour."
"Did you copy it?"
"No. Anyway, guys, I'd love to hang here but I got homework to do! My dad's mad at me as it is."
Dickson took Cody home on the Suzuki, then returned to the beach house, stopping on the way for groceries. "I've been thinking," Mick said as his mate joined him on the front verandah with a beer. "We still don't know whether Doris is spying on Horace or if Horace gets off on watching his ... whatever."
"I suspect the latter; Doris is not technically minded. What puzzles me is that if Bob Down knows about Horace's `other' life, what does that say about him?"
"The business trips?"
"Yeah--most likely business with boys, but if Bob knows about it... well..."
"This whole Fink thing gets more confusing every bloody day. On the other hand, Dicko, that might explain who the attacker was in Horace's hotel room and why Horace remains tight lipped about the whole affair."
"So I guess we can rule out Ian Ajit as a suspect."
"Seems that way. Are you gonna include all this stuff in your report?"
Dickson stared thoughtfully at the horizon and took a swig of beer. "I dunno, Mick. It's all getting a bit nasty. What do you think?"
"Doris pays us to investigate."
"But how would she feel if she was aware of the fact that Cody saw the video?"
"Maybe you could leave that part out of the report."
"Yeah, right--how do I explain how we got the info? Hang on a sec..." Dickson punched Cody's number into his cell phone. After a five-minute conversation with the spiky mop, Dickson ended the call and turned to his partner.
"You're a genius, Dicko! But ... I'd hate to be Horace when Doris discovers all this shit about him. How could she live with a dude like that? And sleep in the same bed? Yucko schmucko."
"Like you said, she pays us to investigate--what choice to we have?"
"What's for dinner? I'm famished."
"Burgers with the lot."
While eating, the boys watched the 7 o'clock news. "Same old, same old," Mick commented between mouthfuls. "We live in a crazy world."
"We live in a crazy `hood."
"Too true. Do you think we're crazy--you and me?"
"One of us is."
Later, Dickson found it impossible to sleep, tossing and turning as his mind raced. He placed his hands behind his head and stared into the darkness of his room, listening to the relentless pounding of the surf which dominated the stillness of the night. After some minutes of contemplation, he threw off the covers and sat naked on the verandah. `How can there be billions of stars?' he wondered. `Who or what is out there?' However, answers were not forthcoming and the lad finally resigned himself to accepting the undeniable existence of mystery--and that some things would forever remain so despite human attempts to explain them.
"What is the purpose of my existence?" he asked.
And the invisible inner voice replied: "There's a reason for your existence but why should there be a purpose?"
"There has to be!"
"Who says? What is the purpose of seed?"
"That's all I am? A seed? Are you telling me that procreation is my only purpose? I have no desire to marry and have kids."
"In that case, Dickson, if you truly need a purpose it's up to you to create one--don't expect it to be offered to you gratis."
"Up to me?"
When Dickson inspected Paul's surfboard next morning he was happy with his work and gave it a final fine sanding followed by a full wax. "Good as new," he said to himself when the job was finished.
"What's for breakfast?" Mick asked as he appeared on the verandah.
"I don't understand why you're not grossly overweight."
"Gimme a break, mate, I'm flat out just keeping myself adequately fed! Besides, it's all in the genes--my dad is pretty fit for his age as well. So..."
"Bleh. How about those American thingies--potato thingamajigs. Hash something."
"Browns. Sure, here's the recipe--you want `em you make `em--enough for two."