Dusty Dexter PI: episodes 126-130
Dusty Dexter PI is a continuous novel by Jan Richards. You can read a new instalment each weekday in your local paper, or catch up on the week's happenings online each Saturday.
Episode 126: No praise for initiative
Red's not happy. She’s banging on and on about how I put us in danger, she’s just not seeing the big picture.
I bet Charlie never harangues the Angels for "not disclosing essential information about your intended activities" or "needlessly and wilfully endangering another operative in the field".
No, he’d hand out praise for showing initiative, acting on instinct. Getting the job done!
After all, single handed, I uncovered an international drug smuggling syndicate. It’s not like anyone got hurt, except Janet, and it’s not my fault she can’t walk across a bit of coral.
The trip home went to plan.
We spent the morning in hiding - actually we spent it lying under palms around the pool. Then Peter delivered us to the airport.
There’s no reason to think Clay and Captain Randy know we’re alive.
Peter said My Third Wife had sailed after taking supplies onboard.
Back in Brisbane, I took Janet to the hospital. While we sat in the emergency room Janet ignored me and played with her iPhone - probably restructuring her diet and exercise program.
They took X-rays and scans which showed a fractured bone in her foot, she’s wearing a purple moon boot and will be for about six weeks.
She’s not happy.
Red has nominated me as her driver until she can get back behind the wheel. The wheel of the brand new Yaris she hasn’t taken delivery of, yet.
Red’s still ranting. She points her finger at me, and I refocus on the conversation.
"To top it off I had a call from the Private Investigators course. As your supervisor I was asked to explain why you hadn’t submitted an assignment for the past THREE MONTHS. Dusty?"
I’m sick of being the bad guy. "What did you tell him?"
"I said I would ask the student to explain the situation to me so I could get back to him." She looks at me expectantly, head to one side, eyes small slits.
"I’ve been busy, trying to rebuild my business, as well as help you with an investigation."
"You won’t be helping with any further investigations until, as your supervisor, I see some evidence that you are working on the Certificate."
I don’t know what’s got into her. It was the perfect operation. We know who the bad guys are, they told us themselves, all the cops have to do’s pick them up.
Red stands. "Tomorrow morning, both of you, my office. I’ll take you over to see Stern."
I wave Janet goodbye, she hobbles back to the couch. I drive home.
Senior Sergeant Stern has been on my mind. There’s a note from him, tucked behind the wisteria which holds together the balcony railing.
It reads: Patch up job. The whole railing is rotten. Don’t lean on it! Call me when you get back.
It’s late, but I wouldn’t mind a few words with Hank before Red marches us into his office. I also wouldn’t mind picking up where we left off on Saturday.
Episode 127: Dusty and Hank…
Hank answers the phone.
"Heard you had a swim."
News travels fast. "Only ten ks. We’re highly trained athletes." Well, Janet is.
"See you fixed the railing." Casual. Fixing railings isn’t part of my plan for Hank.
"Whole thing’s buggered."
"Wanna come over?"
I’m still damp from the shower when he knocks on the front door, six-pack in hand. We take beers out to the balcony.
Hank explains the state of the railing, the timber decking. Points out that the balcony has been extended several feet further than the roof line, means when it rains and the guttering leaks, the timber gets soaked. Says that’s why it’s rotten.
I know, I live here. And I like it the way it is. I’m not interested in the Bob the Builder stuff.
"Wanna hear about the shark?"
"Can’t believe you swam 10ks in the fucking Pacific Ocean."
"Didn’t have much choice. It was the sharks or Clay, Captain Randy, Pat and their guns. Lesser of two evils."
"Shark stalked you?"
"Did a couple of sweeps. Huge bastard." I hold out my palm, fingers spread, "Eyes that big. Nudged me on the thigh, like being hit by a brick. Thought the next sweep would be the last. Must have scared him off. Never came back."
He looks at my legs, feet on the table. "Thighs look pretty good to me."
Things are going well.
"Did you phone the number I gave you for the Vanuatu police?"
No. How to explain that? "From what I learned the local cops weren’t that useful when it came to Captain Randy and his activities."
The cordless rings, I ignore it, let it go to the machine.
Red’s voice. "And another thing. Do you think I’m stupid? I can see through you, Dusty. I know you’re trying to lure Hank in with your pumped-up tits and your fuck-me looks. He’s not your type. Try to behave like a professional tomorrow."
"Think she’s a bit pissed with me."
He grins. "I know what you’re trying to do, Dusty Dexter. With your pumped-up tits and fuck-me looks."
I stand, place the beer on the table. He follows suit.
"I’m a bad girl."
"Not my type."
I grab a handful of Billabong t’shirt, pull him to me.
We lean back onto the table. I sit, wrap my legs around his thighs, and we kiss, warm wet lips and tongues. Then he lifts me, lies me back on the table, climbs on top of me, but the table lists under our combined weight, then the supports give way.
It settles at a forty-five degree angle, the two of us in a heap.
"Place is falling apart."
We find our feet.
"Couch might be a better option."
"No. Right here."
He removes the shorts I pulled on minutes earlier. I unbutton his jeans, ease them over his butt, let them slide down his thighs.
We don’t exactly discuss the operation in Vanuatu, but I think he’ll see my side of the story.
Episode 128: Janet, colour coordinated with the moon boot
Janet has colour coordinated with the purple moon boot. Purple Nike sports top, white and lilac print board shorts, and one half of a pair of runners. She meets me at the front gate, seems to be getting used to the crutches.
I lean over, open the door, smile. The kind of smile you wear after a night of carnal knowledge, the same smile she was wearing on Tuesday. She recognises it.
"You called Hank."
"What of it?"
"Red’s going to be pissed."
"Red’s, already pissed. Besides which, I’m not going to tell her. Are you?"
I’ve got the top down, Janet pushes the front seat back as far as it will go, manoeuvres the boot into the foot well, wedges the crutches between the seats.
"Let’s stop for coffee first."
I park in the disabled spot out front of Seachange, make a big deal out of opening the door for Janet. Help her get the boot onto the kerb, lever her out, then hand her the crutches.
Maria rushes over, gives her a big hug, gives me a hug, looks at the boot. "It’s so good to see you both. Red told me all about it."
She puts her arm around Janet’s shoulder, helps her to a table.
"It’s not like it’s not broken."
"It’s a tarsal fracture!" Janet’s face turns crimson. "It’ll take six weeks to heal! Minimum."
Maria signals for coffees, sits. She looks at the boot again which gives Janet an opportunity to relate the story - how we were abandoned at sea, the swim, the shark, and the coral.
I always come out looking like the bad guy.
"Janet, you didn’t mention how you tried to shoot Randy." I laugh, "First she left the safety catch on, then the gun wasn’t loaded."
"I was protecting us."
And she comes out looking good, yet again.
"You were a blubbering incoherent mess."
I give up, see Evan coming out of the convenience store, paper under his arm, wave.
I want to talk to Evan, make sure the job offer still stands.
Considering how we parted, I’m extra nice. Need to let him know I was just doing my job. "Good to see you, Evan. How’s business? We just got back, I’ll have that proposal for you in a day or so. Been thinking of some great ideas. Soon as we finish up with the case."
He sits, greets Maria, asks Janet how she is.
Once the pleasantries are over I jump in. "Punters still lined up outside Shark Central?"
He’s wary. "Biggest week ever."
Maria. "Between the shark attack and the triathlon we’ve been flat out."
Evan looks at the moon boot. "Heard the holiday was eventful."
I fear Janet’s about to launch into the story again, jump in. "Evan, how about I drop in this afternoon, after we go over the investigation with the cops, discuss a few things, before I finish the proposal."
"Ok. Few things we need to sort out."
Episode 129: Dusty explains the operation
I've only been to the police station twice, after I was arrested for Thommo’s murder, and after we walked into the undercover operation. It’s nice to be on the right side of the law.
I anticipate the force will see things differently to Red, they’ll see how much work I’ve done. How all they have to do now is wait for the bad guys to come to them.
Hank gives me a look that says, "just a few hours ago we were having sex".
That’s good, but I want him to think with his head not his dick. And I don’t want Red catching any looks.
It’s my show.
I go through the story, start with Captain Randy’s website and how I figured he was involved with the drug smuggling.
Then the days on the island. How we found the boats in the harbour, paddled over, talked to the crew member.
How he told us the boat was due to depart for Mooloolaba.
I tell them about my conversation with Reg, Randy pulling the gun on Mel, and how she thought he was picking up drugs out at sea.
Hank asks lots of questions. A detective inspector, McKenzie, sits in, stomach rolling over his trousers.
I’m going to forget about the evening swim to the boats in the harbour, but Janet brings it up.
So I explain how it was too dark to confirm anything, but I was sure the boat was full of drugs. And I was right, Clay said so himself, and the boat’s on its way here. Should be here Monday.
Unfortunately we don’t have the name of the boat, it was on the photos Janet took, which Clay erased.
Finally, I’m onto the trip out to sea on My Third Wife, and Clay hiding downstairs.
I give Janet her claim to fame, tell them about how she grabbed the gun, tried to shoot Randy.
Red looks surprised, even impressed.
The detective inspector doesn’t interrupt, just raises an eyebrow and adjusts himself.
I go through the conversation on the boat with Clay.
How he admitted to running drugs around the Pacific for years, what a good earner it was. How Thommo got agro and shot Manny. That it was Smart who drove me and Janet off the road. Then how Marty had to die because he was stupid - left that book out for me to pick up with all the contacts and information in it.
I mention how they threatened us sexually - which is not exactly the way it happened but Janet doesn’t interrupt and they all look appropriately disturbed.
And I explain how I negotiated for us to get off the boat, swim rather than stay on board and get assaulted then shot.
At this point Hank interrupts, explains to the detective, he’s from Brisbane, that we are experienced ocean swimmers.
The detective shakes his head, adjusts himself again.
"We’re alive. If we’d stayed on the boat we’d be dead."
He nods, acknowledgment, not agreement.
Episode 130: The detective sums up
Hank encourages me to continue. I don’t like the detective, don’t think he’s taking me seriously.
I’m about to tell him about Janet and me attacking Captain Randy and Clay and Pat with the capsicum spray, and the taser. Decide not to mention it since I’m not supposed to have them, and it probably doesn’t look good. It’s not like they’re impressed about Janet and the gun. So much for self defence.
Janet sits, mouth shut, the moon boot balanced on a chair, like some giant purple reminder of the outcome. It’s not like she’s paralysed.
It takes hours. We get instant coffee and pre-packaged sandwiches.
After the first run through Hank asks more questions, we give more answers. Go over and over the same ground.
Then the inspector leans forward, forearms on the table, and sums it up.
"We have a boat we don’t know the name of, possibly arriving Monday, possibly carrying drugs."
No one corrects him so he continues.
"We have two men who may be drug runners who have disappeared into the Pacific Ocean."
Again no one corrects him, again he continues.
"We have three dead men. One shot and thrown into the ocean - apparently because he wasn’t happy about having his luxury cruiser used to courier illegal substances and who was then attacked by a shark. Another shot, on the same luxury cruiser, possibly because he stuffed up shooting and adequately disposing of the first body. And another shot and then dropped into a shark tank where he was attacked by sharks, but not completely consumed, as was perhaps hoped. "
He pauses, belly squashed against the interview table.
"And this information supplied by two women who are not police women, or even private investigators, but a journalist and a public relations consultant. Two women who allege they were threatened at gun point in an incident with no witnesses, on a boat they willingly boarded. One of whom admits to attempting to shoot one of the men, a man who is now missing, but says the gun was not loaded. These women then claim to have jumped into the Pacific Ocean and swum 10 kilometres over a period of several hours, during which they fought off a tiger shark."
I don’t like the way he’s making it look. I’ve put a lot of work into this, he’s another Red, not a big picture man.
I decide to give him the benefit of my exhaustive knowledge of the case and advise the next move.
"Smart’s the key. He’ll be waiting for the boatload of drugs. I bet he’s also in contact with Clay and Captain Randy. He’s the one you should be watching."
The detective inspector stands and hands the folder to Hank.
"It’s all yours. Keep an eye on the Smart character. Keep an eye out for a boat. Contact me if you come up with anything."
He looks at me and Janet, hikes up his trousers, smirks.
"It’s been a very entertaining morning, girls. I’ll see myself out."
Next week: Dusty and Janet are told to stay out of sight. As if.
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