THIS is the part two of the latest in the Dusty Dexter short story series by Sunshine Coast author Jan Richards. This particular story will continue Saturday and Sunday and finish Monday. See below for a summary of the main characters.
Missed the first chapter? You can catch up here
I GLIMPSE a flash of red, the mankini, point.
Red races after him, shoulders aside dripping teenagers their arms around each other, hugs, kisses, tears.
A girl with wet hair, wet uniform, wet lips wraps her arms around a uniform cop, kisses him. He gently pushes her away, gives her a smile, front of his pale blue shirt now dark with seawater.
Janet comes to tell me the news.
"Dead teacher, gunna call it in, get it up on the web."
Janet thinks she's a big-time investigative reporter, since she got her break.
She forgets it was my case, me who did all the real work, the dangerous work, all she did was write a story.
"Red's chasing down the kid in the mankini, might be a link."
I point. Red's on the beach, sand kicking up behind her, charges towards a group of chanting Schoolies.
The kid in the mankini sees her, makes a break. He's young, fast, but Red's determined. She launches herself, grabs one of the mankini shoulder straps. It pulls back like a rubber band, then snaps, the kid lands on the sand, exposed, hands grip the ripped red lycra around his privates.
She frog marches him across the sand, up the steps to the cops.
Janet and I stand close. Janet, spiral notebook, pen at the ready.
Red: "So where'd you get the mankini?"
Kid, after a pause: "Someone gave it to me."
Red: "Sure. How many'd you buy? One for you one for the teacher?"
Kid: "Dunno what you're talkin' about."
Red to the cops. "You want him? Might be able to give us something."
The cops don't look too sure.
The kids are dispersing, settling into small groups, thinking about the next item on the school's-out-for-good agenda.
Then Janet's iPhone beeps. She swipes, taps, reads. Turns the phone on its side, taps again. The look on her face tells me this is something I want to see.
It's a YouTube link, she taps play.
A class room, students in uniforms, ski masks over their faces.
Janet. "Red. You wanna see this."
Then more phones beep. A cop's phone, Red's phone. A parent.
The video's called School's Out Forever, and it's going viral.
The kid, shreds of his mankini still clasped to his groin, shakes off Red's grip, pokes his head over Janet's shoulder.
Five males, six, I'm guessing, including the cameraman.
Walk into a classroom, empty except for the teacher, who backs into a corner pulls his phone out of his pocket.
His voice, stuttery: "I'm calling the cops."
"Shit." The kid in the mankini. "Idiots."
On the screen. The biggest kid steps towards the teacher, gently takes the phone from his hand. Then he drops it on the floor, stamps on it.
Teacher. "Don't hurt me."
Around us people glued to their phones.
One balaclavad' kid grabs the chair from behind the teacher's desk, sits it in front of the classroom. Another dumps a backpack, unzips, empties the contents on the floor.
The camera zooms - gaffer tape, a sign, a red mankini.
They've planned this.
One kid, in a hoodie, back to the camera, stands at the door. Lookout.
The teacher edges around the corner of the room, looks like he's trying to make a break, but the big guy puts out a hand.
Teacher stops dead.
Then the balaclava gestures, with his pointer finger.
The teacher tries to shrink into the wall.
"Come here." Deep voice. The kind of voice you obey.
The teacher moves forward.
Nothing. Total silence.
"Do I have to ask again?"
The teacher removes his shirt, hangs it over the back of the chair. He pulls trousers off, over his shoes, folds them.
"Just get it off. All of it."
He pulls a singlet over his head. He's wearing Y-fronts, his socks.
He pulls down the Y-fronts.
The student with the backpack hands him the mankini - toothy smile through the hole in his balaclava.
The teacher holds it like he doesn't know what it is, so the student grabs it back steps into it, over his uniform.
Grabs his crotch, thrusts.
They all laugh, except the teacher.
He pulls it off, hands it back. Meekly the teacher complies.
The teacher shits on the chair, hair spouts from all edges of the mankini. He holds his knees together.
Another student gets the gaffer tape, pulls his legs apart, tapes his hairy calves to the legs of the chair.
Another student hangs the sign around his neck. It reads: Watch me on YouTube.
"Why are you doing this?" The teacher's voice wavers.
"Your gunna be famous."
Sweat runs in rivulets down the teacher's face. Skin the colour of an over-ripe tomato.
The teacher mans up. "They'll find you all. You'll go to jail."
The big bloke walks up to him, snaps the shoulder strap of the mankini. "You don't know who we are. Do you?"
Teacher shakes his head.
Deep voice gets down on his haunches, puts one hand on each knee. Big hands, dark hair on the tops, ham fists.
"We're delivering a message." He massages the teacher's knees.
"You'll find out."
The teacher winces, pain in his face. "I'll pay the money."
"What money? We don't want money. We just want the- "
Lookout yells. "Time to get outta here."
Deep voice orders, "Get the stuff." Then to the teacher. "You're on YouTube…Mr Hetherington."
A squeak. "I'm not Mr Hetherington."
The teacher convulses. "Need my pills."
He convulses again.
"Shit." A different voice. "Looks like he's havin' a f.....g heart attack."
Deep voice. "Let's get outta here."
The video stops.
Silence, as people watch the last of the video, then a female student cries out. "It's Mr Smith. He's got a heart condition."
Red, under her breath. "Not any more he hasn't."
DON'T MISS THE NEXT INSTALMENT OF DUSTY DEXTER FROM 2PM SATURDAY
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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