It was immediately obvious that Mrs. Jarvis was a no-nonsense kind of woman, which was something that I found I could only admire. It was also obvious that she was a woman who might well be a force to be reckoned with, which I quickly figured she would need to be with a son like Andy Jarvis, and for that reason I knew I would need to respect her.
I had no idea just how much she knew about her son’s activities, but I figured she was a smart woman and judging by her comments I also figured that she would have to have a pretty fair idea that her boy was up to no good.
‘Do you know where we might be able to find him?’ I asked, just as Helen and the Inspector joined me.
‘To be honest, I haven’t seen him in days,’ she replied. ‘Though he rarely tells me what he’s doing anyhow. You could check with that little tart of a wife of his . . . although I suspect you’ve already been there . . .’
I nodded and said, ‘We caught her just as she was rushing off to some function.’
‘Ahhh . . . yes, I remember her saying something about going to a luncheon and art auction fundraiser by the harbor this week. All very posh. Don’t ask me what it’s for though . . . I can’t keep track of all the so-called important causes she gets herself involved in.’
‘And is Andy likely to go to any of these functions?’ I urged.
‘Sometimes, perhaps. But not often,’ she replied, before then turning her attention back to her work, having, I think, just realised that she may have said too much.
Helen pulled one of her cards from her pocket and passed it to the woman. ‘If you see him, could you ask him to contact us please?’ Helen requested. ‘There’s a matter that we would like to talk to him about.’
‘And do you really think he’ll do that?’ Mrs. Jarvis asked, with a wry smile.
‘One can only hope,’ Helen replied. ‘One can only hope.’
The two women looked at each other warily, as if each was appraising the other. I quickly realised that if push came to shove, and these two ever went head to head, then that would be one cat fight that I would hate to be in the middle of . . . or perhaps one that I would hate to miss.
‘I know that he’s no saint,’ Mrs. Jarvis offered, ‘but he is my boy.’
‘Yes, he is,’ Helen simply replied, before turning and starting back toward the car.
I said my thanks to Mrs. Jarvis and then fell in behind Helen and the Inspector, who I noticed was grinning when he glanced back in my direction.
Nothing was said until we reached the car, when the Inspector asked, ‘So, we got what we needed after all, eh. How do we find out where this auction is being held?’
‘I’ll put a few feelers out,’ Helen replied, as she pulled her phone from her pocket and pressed a few buttons.
I was beginning to understand that there was much more to Helen than meets the eye. She seemed to have contacts everywhere, and from all walks of life. How she managed that I wasn’t quite sure, but I knew that if I intended to survive in this job I would need to watch her carefully and I would need to learn her secrets.
‘Hey doll,’ I soon heard her say. ‘Do you know anything about a fundraising art auction of some sort being held somewhere on the harbour today?’
The Inspector and I were both listening carefully.
‘Darling Harbour? I guess that could be it . . . . . Yeah, some charity thing, I think . . . . . . Fantastic! Thanks doll.’
She disconnected then slipped her phone back into her pocket, while grinning at us.
‘There’s a fundraiser for a special needs school in the Blue Mountains being held at the Darling Harbour Convention Centre. Invitation only. Two hundred dollars a plate, with an auction of artwork as well, some of which has been produced by the students themselves. Apparently they are amazingly talented and the social set just love them.’
‘Let’s get going then,’ the Inspector ordered. ‘Maybe we can nab him before they serve dessert.’
* * *
After a quick trip across town we came to a stop as near to the front entrance of the venue as we could get, but still in a No Parking zone. Helen placed an official looking sign on the dashboard, facing out so that any parking inspectors would be able to view it, then the three of us headed for the front doors.
Lining the street and the entrance there were numerous signs and banners, all relating to current and future events, and once inside the venue we soon found that these continued. We quickly found our way to the large, extravagantly decorated hall where today’s event was taking place. Along one wall there stood a row of artworks, all on their own easels, while around the room there were shimmering balloons and streamers and banners.
It looked to me like there was several hundred people sitting in groups around tables, chatting, eating and sipping on wines, while on the stage at the front of the room it appeared that the people there were readying themselves for the start of the auction.
A waiter asked us if he could be of assistance, but Helen simply flashed her badge at him and said we were looking for someone. The waiter quickly disappeared, though I noticed him moments later talking to another staff member and looking our way.
Just then one of those on the stage tapped on the microphone, as if to test whether it was working, then cleared his throat, before beginning a spiel about the reasons they were all here today and that he hoped everyone would dig deep into their pockets for such a worthy cause. It was while this was going on that I continued to scan the room for Andy Jarvis’ wife, finally spotting her blue dress and hair-do at a table about half way between the stage and where we were standing.
To her right sat a well dressed man, smiling and chatting with the others around him. With his fancy suit, dark complexion and perfect hair he looked every bit the successful businessman. After having studied his file back in the squad room, however, I knew at a glance that this was the guy we were after.
I gently touched Helen on the elbow and when she looked my way I pointed toward the table where the Jarvises were sitting. She looked that way and nodded once she had spotted them also.
‘And so, ladies and gentlemen, without further ado,’ the MC offered, ‘I would like to hand you over to our guest auctioneer for today, Stephen Phillips of Harbourside Realty.’
The room broke out in subdued applause as the two men shook hands, before the auctioneer stepped up to the microphone.
‘Thank you, Hans,’ he said. ‘It’s an absolute honour to be able to help out today with this wonderful cause. As you can all see by the offerings in your printed catalogue, we have an amazing display of talent on show here today, not only from some of the finest artists in our fair city, but also from some of the incredibly talented students from the Three Sisters School, the organization you are here to support today.’
Continuing on with his speech he went through the conditions of the auction, which, from the few auctions I had ever seen appeared to be standard practice, before then saying, ‘And so, that now brings us to the start of the auction, and lot number one, a watercolour landscape, painted by well known Katoomba based artist, Thomas Bowen. The work is titled ‘Sisters at Sunset’ and as you can see by the image displayed on the screen behind me, the subject is the beautiful Three Sisters rock formation and surrounds. The framed artwork measures approximately thirty six inches by twenty four. Now to get the bidding started, who will give me five thousand dollars for this magnificent piece?’
Personally I thought he was aiming a bit high by trying to attract a bid of that amount, but I guess stranger things have been known to happen at auction sales. When no one came forward with a bid, as I thought might happen, the auctioneer soon started coming back in price, one thousand dollars at a time, before eventually, at the two thousand dollar mark, someone was brave enough to enter the fray.
‘Thank you madam. We have a bid of two thousand dollars . . . right here in front . . .’ he boasted. ‘Now, can I get two thousand five hundred?’
A man off to my right raised his hand, which then seemed to open the flood gates, as the bids started coming in quickly. It wasn’t long before the price was at four thousand five hundred dollars, with the woman who had started the bidding being the one who had raised her hand once more.
‘Do we have five thousand? Asking now for five thousand dollars for this magnificent watercolour . . . Is that a bid sir? Yes! Five thousand we have, with the man on our left . . . now asking for five thousand five hundred . . . How about it madam? Come on, you’ve come this far . . .’ he urged, directing his plea toward the woman who had kicked off the bidding.
I looked in her direction and noticed her shaking her head slightly.
‘Come on, it’s only another five hundred dollars, and you know it’s for a fantastic cause.’
A ripple of laughter seemed to echo around the room, but the lady held firm.
‘Alright then, this is your last chance. Going once, at five thousand dollars . . . going twice, at five thousand dollars . . . going . . . is . . . is that a bid madam?’
We all looked back toward the woman who had been bidding and saw her nodding.
‘Well now, I’m bid five thousand five hundred dollars on this spectacular Thomas Bowen watercolour, to the lady in front. Do I hear six thousand?’
The man who had been bidding sat there shaking his head. It was obvious that he had gone as far as he intended.
‘I can’t tempt you, sir?’ the auctioneer begged, receiving yet another shake of the head. ‘Well then, I’m bid five thousand five hundred dollars . . . and if there are no further bidders . . .’ he said, inserting long pauses to try drawing things out, while dramatically holding the gavel high. ‘We’re going once at five thousand five hundred dollars . . . we’re going twice at five thousand five hundred dollars . . . third and final call at five thousand five hundred dollars . . . and SOLD, to Marsha Grimaldi out in front,’ he said, while bringing the gavel down hard on the lectern. ‘Congratulations and thank you Mrs. Grimaldi!’
The crowd burst out into applause as she accepted congratulations from those sitting around her, before the auctioneer cleared his throat once more.
‘And now we move onto lot number two in your catalogue, an acrylic painting by Celia Wood, one of the many talented young students who attend the Three Sisters School,’ he said, as the image on the screen behind him changed. ‘This painting is titled Child’s Play, and as you can see by the image we have on display it is a vibrant depiction of life in the school playground. Now, who would like to start the bidding? Can we start at two thousand dollars?’
I looked up at the screen and studied the painting. It showed a group of children playing and was certainly colourful and vibrant. I was also struck by the amount of detail that it contained, right down to the smiles on the kid’s faces and the small white flowers growing alongside a path, along which two small boys were running. It certainly didn’t look to be something that had only been painted by a school student.
‘Do we have one thousand five hundred, then? Asking one thousand five hundred . . . okay, can we try one thousand? Does anyone have one thousand dollars for this lovely painting?’
‘Five hundred,’ someone close to the front of the hall called out.
‘Thank you. We have a bid of five hundred dollars. Any advance on five hundred? I’ll take two fifty if you like!’
When someone on the other side of the room raised their hand the auctioneer pounced.
‘Seven fifty I have! Asking now for one thousand dollars! Does anyone have one thousand dollars for this fine work?’
Gradually the price started to increase, by two hundred and fifty dollars at a time, until the bid was standing at seventeen hundred and fifty dollars. At that point it seemed to stall, no matter how hard the auctioneer tried to tease another bid out of the audience.
‘Okay then, with no further bids, we’re going once, at seventeen hundred and fifty dollars . . . going twice at seventeen hundred and fifty dollars . . . three times at seventeen hundred and fifty dollars . . . and SOLD, for one thousand seven hundred and fifty dollars, to Craig Cainero on behalf of the Sydney Children’s Hospital! Congratulations to you, and well bought!’
Once more the crowd broke out into applause as those sitting at the table of the winning bidder offered their congratulations to him, before the auctioneer moved on to the next lot.
Looking at both Helen and the Inspector I was curious as to what they had in mind with regards to arresting Jarvis, who seemed to be quite enjoying himself with the other guests at their table. They both seemed quite content to sit tight and wait for the right moment, but even I knew that sooner or later we would need to make a move, and preferably before he got wind that we were here and ready to pounce.
Helen must have sensed my eyes on her, as she turned to look my way. Raising my eyebrows I silently posed the question that was in my mind.
‘I don’t want to make a fuss,’ she said quietly. ‘If he gets up to go anywhere we’ll grab him, otherwise we might just wait until they finish. If the time it took for the first few lots is anything to go by, it shouldn’t take them that long. Just keep an eye on him and be ready to move.’
‘Okay,’ I replied.
By this time the auctioneer was calling for bids on the next lot, which was an impressive oil landscape of the rugged gorges in the Blue Mountains, by an artist who was supposed to be world famous.
He had tried starting the bidding at ten thousand dollars, but was now coming down by one thousand at a time. When he eventually reached the figure of three thousand dollars I noticed a hand in the crowd shoot up, which I soon realised belonged to the wife of Andy Jarvis.
‘This could be interesting,’ Helen remarked.
‘Thank you madam. I have a bid of three thousand dollars on this beautiful Edward Marconi oil painting. Do I hear three thousand five hundred anywhere?’
At the table right in front of where we were standing there was an animated discussion taking place between a couple, which we could easily tell was regarding this painting.
‘Just do it,’ the man said, and so his companion quickly raised her arm.
‘Thank you, we have three thousand five hundred, at the table down the back,’ the auctioneer cried.
Not to be outdone, Mrs. Jarvis raised her hand immediately.
‘Now we have four thousand dollars. The bid is back here in front.’
The woman in front of us raised her hand once more.
‘Four thousand five hundred, we have. The bid is out the back!’
‘Can you see who is bidding?’ we heard the man in front of us ask his companion.
‘It’s that Christina Jarvis woman,’ the woman spat.
‘Oh, in that case . . . just keep bidding,’ the man sniggered.
Helen and I glanced at each other and grinned. It appeared that it wasn’t just Andy Jarvis who wasn’t all that well liked.
It was just then that we noticed Christina Jarvis look our way, obviously trying to see who it was that kept bidding against her. Judging by the shocked expression on her face, however, I don’t think she had expected to find the three police officers who had visited her home earlier that day to be standing right behind her main competition in this auction.
There was no doubt that she saw us there and recognised us, as she immediately spun around and leaned over toward her husband, whispering something into his ear. He looked our way, and even at this distance we could see him visibly pale as the realisation that we were onto him came into his mind.
‘Better get ready,’ Helen said to us.
‘I’ll take the left side of the hall, and Cooper, you take the right,’ the Inspector stated.
‘Yes sir,’ I replied.
Jarvis leaned in close to his wife and said something to her. I could see her nodding
All this time the auctioneer was still trying to do his job and sell a painting, but seemingly he had come to a standstill while Christina Jarvis was otherwise distracted. Just as he was about to say, ‘Third and final call,’ Christina raised her hand once more.
‘Thank you madam. The bidding is now at five thousand dollars, down here in front. Do we have five thousand five hundred anywhere?’
Immediately the hand of the woman sitting near us shot up.
‘Out the back, we have five thousand five hundred. Thank you, madam. Can we get to six thousand?’
Christina Jarvis swiftly raised her hand again.
‘Six thousand we have, ladies and gentlemen! Do we have any advance on six thousand dollars?’
‘Go on woman . . . keep bidding!’ the man sitting at the table close to us urged his wife. ‘We can’t have those two upstarts getting the better of us!’
His wife raised her arm once more and the bid was raised by yet another five hundred dollars, only to be countered again and again as the two women began to trade blows; much to the delight of all those in attendance, judging by the ooh’s and ahh’s that echoed around the room.
By the time the bidding reached ten thousand dollars it was obvious to everyone that there was more to this bidding war than just a desire to own an Edward Marconi artwork, and yet, as enthralling as this battle was, I knew that we weren’t here for the entertainment either.
All the while I kept my eyes on Andy Jarvis as he stared at us with open malevolence. We were the enemy, and right now we had him cornered, like a fox caught in the hen-house. It wouldn’t be long now before he had to make a move. He knew it, and we knew it. The question was, just what would he do?
As the bidding war climbed just that little bit higher the attention of almost everyone in the room was focused on the two women and the auctioneer standing between them. As such, most of the people in the room would have hardly noticed when Andy Jarvis got to his feet and began to scurry away between tables, after having furtively glanced around looking for the nearest door with an Exit light glowing above it, which just happened to be down the right hand side of the hall.
‘Looks like it’s showtime, folks!’ Helen said as she started toward him, walking straight up the central aisle in the direction of their table, while I started walking briskly around the wall, outside the perimeter of the tables.
Jarvis was dodging between tables, which slowed him down slightly, but he still had a good head start on both Helen and me.
‘The bid is with the lady out the back,’ I heard the auctioneer say. ‘Going once, at twelve thousand five hundred dollars . . .’ he called.
I looked across the room toward where Christine Jarvis was now standing, her mouth agape and oblivious to whatever else was happening around her, as we closed in on her husband.
‘Going twice, at twelve thousand five hundred dollars . . .’ the auctioneer called. ‘For the lady down in front, this is your last chance madam,’ he added.
Christina Jarvis looked like she was in another place altogether as she continued to ignore him.
‘Third and final call, at twelve thousand five hundred dollars . . . going . . . going . . . GONE!’ he cried, as he slammed his gavel down on the rostrum. ‘Congratulations and thank you to the Singleton family on their outstanding purchase!’
Once again the crowd broke out in applause, just as Andy Jarvis reached the last table before the exit door. I glanced back at the centre of the room where Christina appeared to have finally been roused from her daze, by the noise, no doubt. She looked about her, appearing slightly confused, before it appeared that she finally realised what had happened; that she had lost the bidding war, and was quite possibly about to lose her husband. How she would react to that I couldn’t be sure, but right now I had something of greater concern to worry about.
When I looked back at Jarvis I noticed him stumble noticeably, almost as if he had been tripped by someone at the table. It slowed him down just that little bit, which allowed me to break into a run as he opened the door. By the time I too had reached the door and followed him into the corridor outside he only had a small start on me, but I could see by the look of fear on his face as he glanced back over his shoulder that he knew he was in trouble.
I quickly narrowed the gap and was close on his heels when he swerved to one side and started down another corridor, managing to leave an upturned cleaners trolley in his wake, which I was able to jump without breaking my stride. Looking up ahead as I raced after him I could see a doorway with a window in it, and beyond that was daylight, and what appeared to be a car park. If he managed to get outside anything might happen, so I needed to stop him before he reached the door if I possibly could.
‘Jarvis!’ I yelled at him, while doubling my efforts, in the hope that he might look back at me and slow just that fraction. For that same reason I didn’t dare do that myself, to check on where Helen and the Inspector might be. It was all up to me.
Of course, he never looked back, but at least I could see that I was gaining on him, and by the time we reached the doorway I was breathing right down his neck and had him well and truly covered.
Jarvis hit the door, and at first it refused to budge. As I reached him I collided bodily with him, and with our combined weight and force the door burst opened, sending us both sprawling onto the concrete path outside.
Jarvis tried to struggle free of me, kicking at me while I had hold of one of his legs, but when I was able to reach up and grab hold of one of his arms, then improve my grip on him and force him to roll over onto his front, before twisting his arm sharply behind him, the struggle became rather short lived.
‘Andrew Jarvis, you are under the arrest for the assault of Shane Leggatt, and the murder of Gregory Walls,’ I declared. The look he shot me was one of total disbelief, as if he thought there was no way possible we could know about his involvement in any such crimes.
‘You’ve got nothing on me,’ he sneered, having quickly recovered his composure.
‘We’ll see about that,’ I shot back, just as Helen and the Inspector arrived to help me drag him to his feet, both of them gasping for breath.
* * *
Before long we were back at the station, with Jarvis safely secured in an interview room on the lower level of the building, just cooling his heels while awaiting the arrival of his legal representative.
His wife had arrived at the station quite soon after us, demanding to see her husband and be told of what was happening, which only served to heighten tensions. Currently she was waiting in the reception area, pacing up and down, agitated and talking on her phone.
We had tried talking to Jarvis briefly, but were only met with a stony silence, so nothing further was going to occur, it appeared, until the esteemed Roderick Carlton QC had arrived and had been given the chance to talk with his client. It appeared that Andy Jarvis was pulling out all the big guns on this one.
‘Don’t worry,’ the Inspector said to Helen and me as we stood watching our guest through the mirrored windows of the interview room. ‘He’s not going anywhere today, no matter what his silk thinks.’
‘I wish I had your confidence, sir,’ Helen dryly remarked.
‘Warwick Cooke is already gathering the troops,’ the Inspector offered. ‘We already have sufficient evidence to hold him, and charge him, and no judge in their right mind would grant him bail . . . not that there will be a bail hearing today anyhow. They will try it tomorrow, of course, but Warwick will vehemently oppose bail and outline the brief of evidence that is stacking up against our friend, as well as emphasise to the judge that Jarvis would be a flight risk.’
‘And if he happens to get a friendly magistrate?’ I ventured. ‘Or they try talking to someone higher up in the force?’
‘Like a Deputy Commissioner, perhaps?’ the Inspector prompted, offering a wry smile as he did so.
‘You said it sir, not me,’ I replied.
The Inspector simply smiled and gave me a pat on the back. ‘You’re obviously a quick learner, Cooper,’ he said. ‘I’m sure you’ll figure it all out as we move forward.’
‘Thank you, sir. I think.’
‘I do expect that I’ll receive a call from higher up at some stage today,’ the Inspector added. ‘In fact, I think I’m actually looking forward to it.’
‘Why’s that, sir?’ Helen enquired.
‘Because just depending on who makes the call might answer a lot of questions,’ he replied. ‘And besides, any chance to make Barrett squirm, even just a little, simply shouldn’t be passed up.’
‘You don’t like the Assistant Commissioner then, sir?’
‘Let’s just say, Cooper, that we have some history,’ he offered, before turning his attention once more toward the petulant and somewhat restless figure sitting behind the glass.
Shortly afterwards there was a knock at the door and a uniformed officer entered.
‘His QC has arrived, sir,’ the officer said.
‘Very good. Show him in to the Interview room,’ the Inspector replied.
‘A QC?’ stated Helen. ‘That’s a bit of overkill isn’t it?’
‘Obviously our Mr Jarvis only does things in style,’ the Inspector noted. ‘You two go and introduce yourselves, then give them a few minutes together. After that, you can go at them. I think I’ll just sit back and enjoy the show. Just remember to stick to the facts. We have our witnesses and statements, and that’s all we need for the moment . . . unless of course you can get Jarvis to admit to everything straight up . . . which funnily enough I don’t think is going to happen, do you? Carlton will try and call your bluff and tell you that our evidence isn’t worth the paper it’s written on, but we know better. Jarvis will be charged and he can stay here tonight, in the lock-up, and a bail hearing will be arranged for tomorrow.’
‘Yes sir,’ Helen and I both answered.
* * *
Sitting in on the interview proved to be an interesting exercise, as the smooth talking Roderick Carlton QC tried every trick in the book to get Helen to admit to us having flaws in our case. She was more than ready for him, however, and while at times I found myself beginning to get hot under the collar, Helen quite remarkably kept her cool. I have to say that I was actually quite impressed with how she handled it all.
In the end the esteemed Roderick Carlton QC departed without his client, who we promptly led into the inner sanctum of the station for processing. Here he was officially charged with the two crimes we had arrested him for, murder and assault occasioning actual bodily harm, then he was fingerprinted, his possessions bagged and he was then led away to the cells, where he would spend an evening in the company of whatever other miscreants we happened to collect between now and tomorrow’s bail hearing.
As I watched the door to the lock-up close behind Jarvis and the constable taking him away, I felt an enormous relief wash through me; a satisfaction that we had finally been able to take a person who had been doing untold damage to an untold number of children, off the streets.
Looking across at Helen I could see by the expression on her face that she too was feeling the same way. Some might have called her expression smug, but only another police officer could know the satisfaction that she would be feeling right now.
She looked my way and found me grinning at her.
‘Feels good, eh?’ she remarked.
‘Yeah, it sure does. But I know it’s still not over yet.’
‘No, mate. It’s really only just begun. But at least for now he’s where he should be, and that’s all that really matters at the moment.’
‘So, what about tomorrow? Do you still think we’ll be able to whisk the boys away?’
‘I’m counting on it. We’ll have to see what time the bail hearing is set for, as we’ll need to be there . . . or at least one of us should be there . . . so I guess we’ll just have to play it by ear.’
‘That sounds reasonable,’ I replied.
From there we made our way up toward our squad room, noticing that the Inspector’s door was opened as we passed it and he was on the phone. When he spotted us he waved us in, but continued talking.
‘Yes, Assistant Commissioner, I understand fully. Wheeler and Cooper have followed all the protocols and the case appears quite solid,’ the Inspector calmly remarked, while holding the receiver just a little away from his ear, so that we might be able to hear some of what was being said.
‘They’ve got it wrong. They must have,’ we heard the voice screech. ‘The force will be made a laughing stock over this. A total laughing stock . . . and if that happens all your arses will be on the line. Have you got that, Richardson?’
‘Yes sir. Loud and clear sir!’ the Inspector replied, then promptly disconnected, as a huge grin appeared across his face.
‘You enjoyed that didn’t you, sir?’ Helen chuckled.
‘I cannot tell a lie, Wheeler,’ he grinned. ‘By the way . . . that was the second call I have received. The Commissioner himself called just prior to that. He was sounding concerned, and quite tense.’
‘That’s rather interesting,’ Helen opined.
‘That’s what I thought too,’ remarked the Inspector.
‘It sounds to me like someone is getting nervous,’ I offered.
‘Yes, Cooper. I totally agree,’ the Inspector replied. ‘And unless there’s something to hide, why would that be the case?’
‘You realise, sir, that this could open a whole new can of worms . . . and who knows just where it might end,’ said Helen, to which the Inspector simply nodded.
It was now getting late in the afternoon and so we left the Inspector and walked into the squad room, which we once again found empty. Helen collapsed onto her chair and leaned forward over her desk, cradling her head in her hands.
‘You okay?’ I asked her as I sat down opposite.
She looked up and then leaned back in her chair. ‘Yeah, I think so. We did well today, but as I said earlier, it’s really only just begun.’
‘We’ve got Jarvis, and for the moment that’s all that matters, isn’t it? Once we know we’ve got him locked up as tight as a drum after tomorrow’s bail hearing, then anyone else who gets caught up in the whole saga is just a bonus, isn’t it? The more people like him that we have off the streets the safer this city, and the lives of kids like Shane and Jimmy, becomes. And if the others are in as deep as we think, then they are just as bad as him, so they deserve everything they get too.’
‘And to hell with the consequences?’
‘The only consequences will be their actions coming back to bite them on their arses! Sure, there may be others who will be affected by what they’ve done, but they should have thought of that before they started using these boys for their own gratification.’
‘So . . . what’s our next step then, hotshot?’ she challenged.
‘We just need to join the dots and find the physical link between Jarvis and those we think are associated with him.’
‘And at the moment the only links we have are Shane and Jimmy . . .’
‘And Gus, once we’ve caught up with him. And any other kid from Jarvis’ stable that we can get to roll over, now that Jarvis is where he belongs.’
‘It sounds almost too easy, when you say it like that,’ she grinned. ‘But right now I’m stuffed. It’s close enough to home time, what do you say to a drink down on the corner?’
I glanced at the clock on the wall and saw that it was after five, then thought for a moment.
‘Actually, would you mind if I take a raincheck?’ I asked. ‘I have a few things I need to do and some calls to make.’
‘Sure. I’ll catch you in the morning then.’
‘Yeah. Will do.’
* * *
As I left the station a short time later, with the late afternoon sun forming long canyons of shadow as it began to dip behind the city’s skyline, I decided to spend a little time clearing my head and thinking things over before heading home, and so I headed off in the general direction of Hyde Park. I wasn’t even sure why, but I hoped that maybe strolling through the place, or sitting beside the fountain might help me relax a little while I gathered my thoughts.
Fishing my phone from my pocket I checked my messages and saw that I had a couple of missed calls from Adam, plus a couple of text messages from him.
Adam. The other person that was now a part of my life and who I knew I couldn’t ignore, but right now I couldn’t handle facing.
Pressing the speed dial button I called his number. He picked up on the second ring.
‘Hey! Are you okay?’ he asked, the urgency in his voice apparent.
‘Yeah, I’m fine,’ I replied. ‘I’m sorry about earlier, but it’s been a crazy-arsed day. On top of what happened this morning, we arrested Jarvis this afternoon.’
‘Fantastic! So, where are you? Have you left the station? I’ll come and get you.’
‘Yeah, I’ve finished, but . . . but would you mind if I just had a quiet night on my own tonight? I don’t think I would make very good company tonight . . .’
‘You’ve tried that excuse before,’ he sighed.
‘True, but this time I really just need some time to myself, if that’s okay? I have some thinking I need to do, plus some arrangements still to make so I can get the boys safely out of harm’s way.’
‘Are you absolutely sure?’
‘Yeah. I’m pretty sure,’ I replied. ‘You don’t mind, do you?’
‘Nah . . . provided you don’t fob me off again tomorrow.’
‘I promise. Tomorrow night, I’m all yours.’
‘It’s a date,’ he chuckled. ‘Stay safe, buddy. And if you change your mind, or you need someone to talk to at one o’clock in the morning, or anything, you know where to find me, all right?’
‘I do. And thanks. I can’t even begin to tell you how good it is to know you’re there for me.’
‘You can count on me, Rick. You know that, don’t you?’
‘Yeah. And thank you.’
By the time we had disconnected I had reached the corner opposite Hyde Park and was standing in line behind the afternoon pedestrian traffic, waiting for the lights to change so we could all cross the road.
There was so much spinning around in my head that I was having trouble keeping it all straight. Looking around me at the other people standing close by I couldn’t help but wonder what might be going on in their heads as well.
There was a young, well dressed office worker whose expression was a scowl. A girl in her early twenties who was chatting to a friend on her phone and laughing, her long brown hair being teased by the afternoon breeze. An elderly couple who looked like they were straight off the farm, gazing around them and looking up at some of the nearby tall buildings, as if they were visiting the city for the first time. A couple of kids with skateboards, chatting animatedly about the cool jump that one of them had nailed that afternoon.
I wondered what their lives were like . . . what their problems were? Or what their hopes might be? Or their dreams?
Had any of them been accused of murder lately? Had any of them violently lost someone they cared for?
It was still a mystery to me how the world worked, and I guess it always would be. I just hoped that somehow, someday I would be able to make a difference in the lives of people just like these.
When the lights changed and our small gathering crossed the road I headed into the park, making my way with the rest of them along the path that ran from corner to corner of this oasis of green which stood amidst a concrete jungle. When I spotted a bench that was still bathed by the late afternoon sun I went for it, settling myself down on the weathered timber to watch the passing parade and gather my thoughts.
Despite the endless shuffle of people through the park I found it quite peaceful here, even soothing, while from time to time I also found myself chuckling at the many different types of people amongst the passers-by. If nothing else, however, that short time spent in the park helped calm the turmoil and uncertainty that had been plaguing me, finally helping me to see things more clearly.
It was then that I finally realised that despite the obstacles I was facing I had actually been given an opportunity to do just what I had set out to do when I joined the police force; to make a difference.
Kids like Shane and Jimmy and all the others who had been caught up in Jarvis’ business were about to be freed from his grasp and be given a new start in life. And beyond that, maybe, just maybe, following what happened to Alexis, there was a chance also of Martin’s killer being found . . . whatever future dangers that may entail.
When I added it all up, along with the fact that I now had a guy like Adam in my life, I figured I really didn’t have anything to complain about. Life might not always give us what we want, but it also shouldn’t just be about me. Sometimes there are other, more important things at stake, but if along the way I could find some happiness as well, then that would make life that little bit sweeter.
And so, with that thought in my mind, and as early evening began to settle over the city, I left my seat behind and set off down the road. There was some news I wanted to pass onto someone.
* * *
It wasn’t far to the hospital, so with a renewed spring in my step I headed off in that direction, while rather enjoying the evening walk.
The streets were still quite busy, as I dodged between office workers heading home, tourists and the occasional street urchin, who would usually scurry away when they saw the badge I had hanging off my belt. I paid them all little attention, however, as tonight I only had a single goal in mind, and that was to pass the news of the day onto Shane.
When I reached the hospital I climbed the steps and then entered the front doors, before making my way up to Shane’s room. The corridors were well lit, and with visiting hours still in full swing there were quite a few people about, so when I reached the police officer still sitting outside where Shane was domiciled and showed him my badge, I was rather surprised to find the room in near darkness.
I stopped and leaned against the door frame, letting my eyes adjust to the dim light. Through the window I could see the brick wall opposite bathed in a pale light, which reflected into the room, silhouetting the apparently sleeping form on the bed in front of me. As I became accustomed to the light I saw the body on the bed move, rolling over toward me and propping himself up on one elbow.
‘Who’s there?’ I heard Shane ask.
‘It’s only me, Shane. Detective Cooper.’
‘Hey Coop! What brings a nice guy like you to a dump like this?’ Shane chirped as he sat up and switched on a light behind his bed.
‘I was just in the neighbourhood,’ I shrugged.
‘Yeah, I bet you say that to all the boys.’
‘Nah, not all of ‘em,’ I replied, which earned a quiet chuckle for a reply. ‘Mind if I sit for a while?’
‘Be my guest,’ Shane answered, patting the edge of his bed.
As he scooted over a little I perched myself on the edge of the bed and sat facing him.
‘I have some news for you,’ I offered. ‘Thought you might like to hear it first hand.’
‘What kind of news?’
‘We arrested Jarvis this afternoon. Right at this moment he’s sitting in the police lock-up at the station.’
‘Are you for real?’
‘Yeah mate. The bastard is finally off the streets . . . thanks mainly to you and Jimmy. He tried to run and I had to crash-tackle him . . . almost took me back to my school days playing Rugby League,’ I teased.
‘That would have been pretty cool to see,’ he said quietly, before then turning away from me and staring off out the window, his mind wandering off into the night.
I gently placed a hand on his knee and he turned back to face me again. I could see the trail of a tear running down his cheek, reflecting what little light there was that was coming through the window.
‘Are you okay?’ I asked.
At first he didn’t reply, but then he looked down at my hand for a few moments, before finally placing one of his hands over mine.
‘I . . . I just didn’t think it would ever happen,’ he said. ‘I just thought we would all be trapped there . . . working for him forever.’ His voice sounded shaky, as if he were having trouble holding his emotions in check, but given the circumstances I for one could forgive him that.
‘No, mate. It’s all over and hopefully, after tomorrow, we’ll have you and Jimmy far away from here, at least for the time being, and you’ll be able to get a fresh start.’
It was then that it all finally seemed to hit home for him and he totally lost it. Shane threw himself at me, wrapping his arms tightly around my shoulders and sobbed uncontrollably against me.
All I could do was wrap my arms around him and hold him, as the built up hurt from years of being neglected, and of being used and abused, burst forth like a torrent.