THIS is part three of the latest in the Dusty Dexter short story series by Sunshine Coast author Jan Richards. This particular story finish Monday. See below for a summary of the main characters.
Missed the start? You can catch up here
HANK strides towards them, grabs the iPhone, then pulls the cameraman's arm behind his back. Cops converge.
The big bloke pulls out of a cop's grip. "Was a joke!"
"Some joke. Bloke's dead."
The others. "No he's not." "Was alright when we left him, bit shaken up, that's all."
I add. "And he's not even Mr Hetherington."
The big bloke says to one of the others. "You said room 5."
"Was room 5."
Schoolies converge. Shivering now, wet and traumatised. One says: "Mr Hetherington's room five in the Science block. Mr Smith's room 5 in Arts."
That simple. That stupid.
Hank. "Who's behind it?"
They understand they're not heroes any more, You Tube stars. Might be in serious trouble.
Cops pull off the balaclavas.
"Know these blokes?" I address the Schoolies.
One of the girls says, "That's Zane's brother."
Hank. "Zane here?"
Everyone looks around. No sign of Zane.
Hank. Voice of authority. "He here earlier?"
"Yeah. With the rest of us. He didn't do anythin'."
I ask. "Zane in Mr Hetherington's class?"
"Yeah. Topped the school in IT."
Not as smart as he thought he was. Should have done the job himself, not got his brother to do it.
Hank to the ringleader. "Zane put you up to this?"
Not so tough now.
Let's find Zane.
The cops walk the kids, minus balaclavas, towards cop cars.
I'll bet Zane was here, waiting for his fifteen minutes of fame. I reckon once he realised they got the wrong guy, and that Mr Smith was dead, he scarpered.
"Anyone got Zane's number?"
Course they do. Several phones appear.
"You." The girl who told us Ringleader was Zane's brother. "Ring him."
It goes to message bank. "Zane, it's Cindy, at the beach. Cops are here, they wanna talk to you." Then she adds.
"Cool video. It's viral."
"Cool. Except that Mr Smith is dead."
Red's been on the outer, taking it all in. She grabs me by the arm.
She pulls me away from the crowd, whispers. "I'm thinking they gotta be connected. My blackmail case and the video. Same school, same kids."
She continues. "What if it wasn't an accident?"
"They thought it was Mr Hetherington, were surprised when we said it wasn't."
"Yeah, they did. But Zane knows Mr Smith."
"And the students know about Mr Smith's heart condition."
"And Mr Smith's being blackmailed."
"Mmmm…" I'm not getting it.
"Work with me." She pulls off her glasses, pulls a cleaning rag out of her pocket, breathes on the lenses, wipes.
"Say young Zane's our blackmailer. Mr Smith says 'no' to the blackmail, like I suggested. Zane's pissed off, puts together the gig to get back at Mr Smith. Gives them the wrong room number on purpose."
"Dunno that do I."
"Zane's a genius. Topped the school in IT. Why would he wanna blackmail a teacher."
"What's Mr Smith teach?"
Yes Mam! I head back to the girl who knows Zane and his brother. "Hi there, what's your name?"
"Cindy." She's not thrilled to be centre of attention.
A smile. "Just a minute, please Cindy." If you don't come with me I'll grab you by your wet school uniform and drag you over to Red.
"I know you're upset."
Tears flood down her face. Very upset, or just a teenage girl.
"Can you tell me, was Zane a genius at English too?"
She snorts. "Zane could design a website, but he couldn't spell for nuts. Mr Smith failed Zane in English." Then she adds. "Mr Hetherington, he's leaving. Setting up an IT business."
I smile my thanks.
Website. I turn back to her. "Zane have a website, blog, Facebook page?"
"Course." Said with a contempt. "All of 'em."
I nod, return to Red. "We have a motive, for Mr Smith, not Mr Hetherington. Failed Zane in English."
Red waves over Janet. "Zane Thompson. Find him on Facebook, whatever."
"Prime suspect. Need to know what he's thinking."
Janet gets to work.
I'm, putting it all together. Zane uses his brother, the muscle, and a few friends, to scare Mr Smith, the teacher who failed him. Maybe he's also Red's blackmailer.
He muddies the water by having his goons refer to Mr Smith as Mr Hetherington, the teacher who gave him the good grades. Probably teacher's pet, even wants to impress Mr Hetherington. Too messy, I'm not buying it.
So what's he get out of this, Zane? He knows it'll be traced back to him. Wants it traced back to him. But he's not involved, not at the scene. So what happens to him?
He gets a viral video on YouTube. Probably a job with some international company looking for young IT geniuses. It's some addition to his CV.
DON'T MISS THE SENSATIONAL ENDING OF THIS DUSTY DEXTER YARN FROM 5PM MONDAY
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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