THIS is the latest episode in the Dusty Dexter short story series by Sunshine Coast author Jan Richards. This particular story will continue Sunday and finish Monday. See below for a summary of the main characters.
WHAT I want to know is, "Where's Mr Hetherington?"
Red. "Good question."
These clowns couldn't even get the right guy.
I ask Red. "Did you see the body?"
"So how'd you know it was your client?"
"Police radio, said it was a teacher, Mr Smith, details of the scene."
"So Mr Smith is your client, the dead guy. But these kids were after Mr Hetherington."
Red looks at me, respect.
Wish she'd just let me do the job instead of whinging about me studying the PI certificate.
I continue. "So we've got a dead Mr Smith, who was being blackmailed. And a live Mr Hetherington, who should be strapped to a chair in front of his classroom starring in a YouTube video."
"So, shouldn't we find Mr Hetherington? Before the Goon Squad realise they've got the wrong guy, go looking for him."
"Cops can look after that. I'm on Mr Smith."
That's no fun, he's already dead, I wanna find the other guy.
Wonder if I should have a word to Hank - jeans on his hips, iPhone to his ear, eyes on my cleavage.
Thing is, I've been avoiding this moment, the Hank moment.
Not sure whether I want to rekindle the Hank-Dusty relationship. Sure, the sex was great. But I'm not up for a bloke who wants to fix my broken railing, re-timber the deck.
Soon he'll be painting the walls, fitting out a nursery. No way.
The YouTube video is played and replayed. Wet kids in school uniforms huddle over phones. Some cry.
"Mr Smith, he was my favourite teacher."
"He always used to stay back and go through stuff with you."
"He had respect."
The discussion continues.
Red's phone rings. She steps away, but I can hear the wailing from the other end of the line. Mrs Smith, no doubt.
The kid in the red mankini's disappeared.
Hank wanders over, slim hips, firm thighs under his jeans, T-shirt taut across his chest. Man who'd do a mankini justice, not that he'd be seen dead in one.
"Hank, long time no see."
"Dusty. Finished the PI course yet?"
Bastard. Bet he's been talking to Red. Between them I'll never get to work a case.
They don't get it, I solved my first case, one they couldn't solve. I might as well be a professional. I've proven myself.
Man up Dusty, show him what you can do. "Reckon we need to find Mr Hetherington, before those kids realise they got the wrong teacher."
"Mr Smith was a client of Red's, being blackmailed."
Something new Dusty. "Those blokes, the ones in the video, they're not students."
"Reckon you'd be right."
"Someone put them up to it."
He's listening, smirk in the corner of his mouth.
"Gunna tell me who Dusty? Solve the case for me right now?"
"I'm workin' on it."
Hank's phone rings.
Red placates Mrs Smith.
Janet phones the office.
I work my way through the throng of schoolies and parents.
A school boy nudges his mate, "That's the 'ho flashed her tits at us."
I give them a look that shuts them up, then I front them. "I'm Dusty Dexter Private Investigator. Know anything about this?"
"Know Mr Hetherington?"
"Yeah. Good teacher. IT."
"Tough, but good."
One of them giggles. "Small dick."
"Have some respect. Bloke's dead."
"Yeah. Now do you know something about it?"
Heads shake. "No."
I walk on.
Think. Mr Smith gets tied up, while being filmed, has a heart attack, dies.
But the kids who do the deed think he's a Mr Hetherington. They didn't want to kill him. They wanted to send a message. Maybe they don't even know he's dead.
Bloody kids with their YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, filming themselves doing stupid things. A video that's going viral, every kid's dream.
Maybe that's all they wanted.
Mr Smith thought it was real - so real he had a heart attack. He was already being blackmailed, had something to hide.
What if they'd got the right guy, Mr Hetherington? How would he have reacted?
I'm thinking about this when one of the kids says. "Great rack."
Another. "Show us your tits."
I walk away, look for Hank.
He's still on the phone, but his eyes are on me. I sashay over - tempted to flash my tits, for his personal satisfaction, resist the impulse.
He hangs up. "Found Mr Hetherington?"
"No. I've been thinking."
"Should have been studying. Haven't you got the PI exam soon?"
Give me a break.
I explain my theory about the video, still playing on every iPhone in the vicinity.
He listens. "Prank gone wrong? Bit farfetched."
"Maybe they were put up to it, didn't know Mr Hetherington, or Mr Smith. Make it more real. Maybe some other kid's behind it."
He pulls out his phone. Dials. "Found Mr Hetherington?" A pause. "Find him."
The kids I flashed walk past, "Show us your tits."
Hank glares, pulls out is badge.
They move on.
Note to self. Possibly a good idea to keep your shirt down, Dusty. You're a professional now.
As I consider this a group of kids walk towards us, five of them, in balaclavas. One out front, his iPhone filming their entrance.
DON'T MISS THE NEXT INSTALLMENT OF DUSTY DEXTER FROM 2PM SUNDAY
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictiously and any resemblance to any actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely accidental.
Website and blog: dustydexterpi.com
author's facebook page: facebook.com/jannyrichards
dusty's facebook fan page: Dusty-Dexter-PI-Her-First-Case-by-Jan-Richards
NEW TO DUSTY DEXTER? HERE ARE THE MAIN CHARACTERS
DUSTY Dexter's a private investigator, well she will be, if she ever does the study. Dusty reckons on-the-job training's more important, so she's determined to prove herself and crack another case.
Besides, after she cracked her last case, and made prime-time tv, in a bikini, she's famous.
Janet Jones, journalist, is Dusty's best friend, although most of the time she's not sure why, especially when Dusty involves her in her schemes.
Janet thinks she's an investigative reporter, and she's always on the lookout for her next front-page story.
Red's an ex-cop with a secret, and she's Dusty's boss. She's five foot nothing and 50 kilos but she's got attitude, and a gun. As far as Red's concerned Dusty's not getting another case until she finishes the PI course.
Hank, senior sergeant Stern to you, is always the first man on the scene when there's a body.
He's got a soft spot for Dusty, he even did some handywork around that dump of a house she lives in. They're having a stand-off, and he's not sure why.
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