I followed Casey through the dimly lit and musty smelling cleaner’s room, dodging mops and buckets and shelves piled high with cleaning chemicals, until we reached another door on the opposite wall.
‘Where does this lead to?’ I asked him.
‘Outside . . . eventually,’ he said, with a grin that contained more than just a hint of mischief.
‘Oh, this’ll be good!’
‘You’ll see,’ was all he could say.
The door opened easily, revealing what looked to be a long tunnel, which was dark apart from the odd weak light that seemed to appear at irregular intervals. There was also a constant hum that seemed to be carrying back to us, though what its source was I could only guess.
‘This part’s easy. There’s a landing, but then you’ll need to climb down a ladder,’ Casey said as he stepped through into the tunnel and beckoned me to follow, and so follow I did, while pulling the door closed behind me.
When we reached the bottom of the ladder he set off along the tunnel without even a pause or glance back over his shoulder, simply expecting me to keep up, which ordinarily wouldn’t have been a problem had we not been in near darkness. As my eyes adjusted to the light, however, I found it much easier going and keeping up with him proved to be hardly a challenge.
It was obvious that the tunnel was for here for a reason, but just what that might have originally been I had no idea. It was about four feet wide and high enough for me to walk with having to stoop, while the walls and floor appeared to be grime covered sandstone – the most common building material available in the Sydney area from settlement right through until the turn of the last century.
When we came to what I thought was the first light in the tunnel I found myself quite surprised when it actually turned out to be a round metal grate with holes in it, which appeared to be set into the footpath running alongside the street. I stopped and looked up through the holes and could see people walking above me. It was then that I also suddenly realized what the incessant hum was that was we could hear; it was the sound of traffic.
‘Figured it out yet?’ my guide asked.
‘Yeah. We’re under the footpath outside the courts,’ I replied. ‘And that noise is the traffic on Elizabeth Street, if I’m not mistaken.’
‘I kinda thought you weren’t just a pretty face,’ he cheekily replied.
‘So, where is it we’re going,’ I asked him.
‘Museum Station, then out to Hyde Park,’ he simply replied. ‘It won’t take long. Come on.’
As I continued walking I felt my phone begin to vibrate in my pocket, so I pulled it out and checked the caller ID, before hitting the button to connect.
‘Where the fuck are you?’ Helen demanded. ‘I’ve just been bailed up by Huey, Dewey and Louie in here . . . and they were looking for you as well. Barrett said he’d been really looking forward to meeting you!’
‘Fuck, knowing what I know now, that just makes my skin crawl,’ I replied.
‘What do you mean by that? And like I already asked you, where the fuck are you?’
‘We got away,’ I replied. ‘And we’re heading for Hyde Park.’
‘What do you mean . . . we?’
‘It’s a long story, but you’ll be pleased to know that I’ve found what we’ve been looking for . . . the missing link in this case.’
‘Jesus, Rick. Now you are talking riddles. Just what are you on about?’
‘The witness we need who can put it all together for us . . . linking Barrett, Azzopardi and Ryan to Jarvis, and others. We’re right about the two cops . . . they’ve been Jarvis’ go-to men.’
‘A kinky old perv who likes to be called Headmaster and whip young boys and make their arses bleed when they don’t do what he asks.’
‘Sweet Jesus. Are you sure?
‘Yeah, the kid is right beside me.’
‘Where are you?’
‘On the way to Museum Station. Can you head over the road to Hyde Park. Wait for us somewhere close to the Anzac Memorial. We won’t be long . . . apparently.’
‘Are you telling me another one of Jarvis’ kids has got you by the short and curlies?’
‘I guess that’s one way of putting it,’ I chuckled. ‘And you better call the Inspector too. Somehow we need to fill him in and figure out where we go from here,’ I added, before disconnecting.
‘You’re not in trouble are you?’ Casey asked, sounding concerned.
‘No, mate. This whole Jarvis thing just seems to be getting more and more complicated each day, but now that we’ve found you and you’ve told me what you have already, well, now it’s all starting to make sense. If you’re happy to talk to me and my partner we’d like to get a statement from you, then we’ll put you somewhere safe, like we have with Shane and Jimmy. They won’t be able to touch you there.’
‘I . . . I guess,’ he replied quietly.
‘I know that what Jarvis was doing was bad enough,’ I said, while placing a hand on his shoulder as we walked along, ‘but even apart from that there’s a lot more at stake here. I can even understand how and why kids like you and Jimmy and Shane get caught up doing what you do . . . I mean, we all have to survive as best we can, right? But any bastard that whips kids just to get their jollies . . . especially if he is a cop . . . well, he’s got to be seriously fucked up. It’s only a matter of time before something gets out of hand and it goes too far . . . so that’s why we need help to stop it from happening again.’
For a little while we walked along the dark tunnel in silence, before he eventually spoke again. ‘You’ll never do that, you know!’ he offered.
‘Stop it from happening again,’ he answered.
‘Why do you say that?’ I asked, while stopping us both.
‘Well, for every kid like me who runs away from home there’s always a guy like Jarvis who is ready to grab him and use him, either for sex or for making money from him, one way or another.’
‘Yeah, that’s true, I guess.’
‘So even if you stop one Jarvis, and save them kids, there’ll always be another kid like me running away from home, and there’ll always be another cunt like Jarvis ready to use and abuse him,’ he sniffled.
‘True, you might be right about that, Casey, but just remember that there’ll always be a cop like me trying to save the arse of kids like you, and while we might not get every Jarvis that is out there, or be able to save every kid who needs help, we certainly won’t stop trying.’
In the dim light I could see him look up at me, his eyes reflecting the only light available.
‘Thank you, Detective Cooper,’ he said to me, in a voice that I could tell was clouded with emotion.
‘Just call me Coop,’ I said to him. ‘And you’re more than welcome, Casey. That’s what I’m here for.’
Then, without saying another word he threw his arms around me and hugged me.
* * *
Once we got moving again it didn‘t take us long to reach Museum Station, even if we did have to climb up and down a few more ladders, walk along a few more darkened tunnels and endure the noise and vibrations of a train that felt as if it were about to burst through the walls and mow us down.
‘So, do you do this often?’ I asked as we descended the last ladder, finally emerging from total darkness into an almost equally dark alcove at one end of a quiet platform at Museum Station.
‘Sssshhh. Just got to watch for the security,’ he hissed as he peered out along the platform.
‘Casey, I’m a cop. I could tell them I’ve just arrested you.’
‘Nah, that wouldn’t work. Then you’d have to hand me over to Transit security,’ he said, with that mischievous glint to his eye having returned. ‘We’ll just wait ‘til the coast is clear,’ he added, while continuing his inspection.
When the coast was indeed clear he motioned for me to follow him, then as casually as we could we walked out onto an almost empty platform and headed toward the steps that would lead us out into the morning sunshine, and where Helen would hopefully be waiting.
‘So,’ I said once more, ‘do you do that often?’
‘Every now and then,’ he replied. ‘You’d be surprised at the places you can hide out under the city if you really want to. There’s dozens of tunnels and heaps of people who call them home.’
‘What about the people who maintain the underground?’ I enquired. ‘Don’t they have trouble keeping clear of those?’
‘The underground is a big place. There’s plenty of room for everyone. You want me to give you the full tour?’
‘Maybe later,’ I replied, as we joined passengers from other platforms and began our climb back up to ground level.
We emerged at one corner of Hyde Park, and not too far from what looked a popular little café and outdoor dining area, then began to make our way along one of the wide concrete paths that led from each corner into the centre of the park, where the Anzac Memorial proudly stood.
‘So, can I ask you something?’ I said as we dawdled along in the late morning sunshine.
‘That depends,’ Casey replied.
‘You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to, but what happened to make you come here and fend for yourself on the streets?’ I enquired.
For a long while he said nothing, as I noticed his face cloud over with what must have been painful memories.
‘I’m sorry,’ I said.
‘Don’t be,’ he said quietly. ‘It’s not your fault my dad pissed off and my mum remarried an arsehole! I guess the simplest answer is . . . it was easier . . . at least to start with.’
‘Easier than having a roof over your head and being fed three times a day?’ I asked, quite surprised.
‘I got that anyhow,’ he pointed out. ‘When Jarvis found me and took me in I thought I’d made the big time. All I had to do was give a guy a blow job every now and then . . . which I already liked doing anyhow . . . and in return I got a warm place to sleep, money for food, I didn’t have to go to school . . . I had it made!’
‘But that was just to start with?’
‘What happened next?’ I prompted.
‘One day he took me to meet this guy. I recognized him from on the telly . . . like one of them news shows. Then Jarvis left me with him . . .’
‘He wanted more than a blow job, didn’t he?’
We stopped walking, and with blood-shot, tear-filled eyes, he nodded.
‘What did he do?’ I gently asked.
‘He . . . he raped me,’ Casey whispered.
Without caring who might be looking on, instinctively I pulled him to me and hugged him, holding him close as he sobbed in my arms, his body racked with emotion.
‘Just let it out mate. It’s not going to happen ever again,’ I cooed, and so, right there in the middle of Hyde Park, with people walking by and giving us all sorts of odd stares, he did just that.
* * *
Helen found us there a few minutes later. I saw her out of the corner of my eye standing back and looking concerned, yet filled with compassion.
I heard her words from earlier in the week ringing in my ears, ‘Rule number one. Don’t get involved with them. They’ll wrap you up so tight that you won’t be able to breathe,’ but who wouldn’t be able to feel compassion for someone like Casey, or Jimmy, or Shane, especially after all that they had been through in their short though eventful lives.
When Casey’s body eventually stilled and he had recovered some composure I asked him if was okay. He stood back and nodded, then wiped the tears from his eyes, before we both turned to look at Helen as she stepped in closer, handing Casey a can of Coke and me a bottle of water.
‘Here, I thought you guys could probably do with these,’ she said.
Casey looked at me with a questioning look on his face, but I simply nodded to let him know it was okay.
‘Thank you,’ we both replied.
‘Casey, this is my partner, Detective Wheeler,’ I then said.
‘Hi there, Casey. Is this guy looking after you?’ she responded.
‘Yeah, he is thanks.’
‘Geez, will you look at you pair. You two could nearly be brothers, you know that?’ she offered. ‘A pair of blonde-haired, blue-eyed cuties.’
Casey and I looked at each other, then he let out a giggle.
‘What’s so funny?’ I asked him.
‘I had a big brother, and he didn’t look nothing like you.’
‘Had?’ I prompted.
‘Yeah . . . he was killed in a car accident when I was little. That was one of the reasons my dad ended up leaving . . . he wasn’t able to deal with it very well.’
‘Oh, I’m sorry to hear that,’ I said.
Casey simply shrugged. ‘It was a long time ago and he was a lot older than me, so I didn’t really know him that much.’
‘So, what have you guys been talking about?’ Helen asked.
‘How about we find a seat in the shade and we’ll fill you in on the story so far?’ I suggested. ‘Then maybe young Casey here can tell us the rest of the story as well.’
With Helen leading the way we left the pathway and headed for a picnic bench in the shade of one of the huge old Moreton Bay Fig trees in the park, with Casey sitting down beside me while Helen sat opposite us.
‘Casey, do you mind if we record this, so we can play it back to our Inspector? Then we can work out what the best way is to handle it all,’ Helen asked.
‘I . . . I guess not,’ he answered.
She pulled her phone from her pocket and scrolled through to find the voice recording device on it, then pressed a button, before sitting it on the bench right in front of Casey. He looked at it for a moment, before simply shrugging.
‘What have you got in mind?’ I asked Helen.
‘I’m thinking I should call Cathy again,’ she replied.
‘Who’s Cathy?’ Casey asked.
‘A friend of mine who Jimmy stayed with while we were trying to get things sorted. It’s better if we can get you guys hidden and out of harm’s way, if you know what I mean.’
‘What? Like to stop anyone from getting to us?’
‘Yeah, something like that,’ Helen answered. ‘You won’t be able to do much good if you end up dead.’
‘So that’s why you want to record this? Just in case someone gets to me?’
‘No, mate,’ I interjected. ‘We’ll put you somewhere safe, just like we did Jimmy, and no one will get to you. This is just so we can let our Inspector and the Police Prosecutor know exactly what has happened, without us taking you anywhere near a police station, for now at least. We can also use it to get a statement typed up for you to later sign, provided you’re happy with how we put it in writing.’
‘Oh. Okay then, I guess.’
‘How about you start by telling Helen what happened to you and how you ended up with Jarvis?’
Just like with Jimmy and Shane it took him a little while to open up, but once he did it didn’t take long to bring Helen up to speed, at least to the point where he had been raped the first time by the television news man. We could tell that he was still hurting, but deep down I think he was glad that he could finally talk about it with someone who recognised the act for what it was.
‘What about after that?’ Helen asked gently.
Casey downed the last of his Coke then looked from me to Helen and back to me again.
‘Go on,’ I urged. ‘It’s okay, mate.’
Casey looked down at his hands, which were clasped together on the table in front of him.
‘I stayed with him that night . . . and he fucked me two more times . . . then Jarvis picked me up the next morning. I saw the guy slip Jarvis an envelope. Jarvis opened it and I could see it was full . . . like there was a thousand dollars or something in there. Jarvis said something like “Same time next week?” and the guy nodded. And that was the start of it.’
‘Did Jarvis give you anything from the envelope?’ Helen enquired.
‘A lousy fifty bucks! That arsehole takes my virginity and rips me open, and all I get was a lousy fifty bucks!’
‘What happened the next week?’ I asked.
‘The same thing, well, at least on the first night. Then the next day a friend of his showed up.’
‘Do you know who he was?’ asked Helen.
‘Yeah, I know both their names,’ he said, then proceeded to tell us, which produced one of Helen’s familiar long and low whistles as a reaction.
‘They took turns with me then. They even took photos,’ he said quietly, while at the same time wiping his eyes with the back of his hands.
‘I’m sorry Casey. I know this isn’t easy,’ I said to him.
‘It’s okay,’ he sniffed. ‘You know, you’re the first people I’ve ever told this too. I tried telling Jarvis, but he just laughed and told me to toughen up, and after that I just didn’t think anyone else would care, or even believe me.’
‘We believe you, Casey. And we’re going to do everything we can to help you, and also make sure these pricks get put where they deserve to be,’ Helen reassured him.
We gave him a few minutes to gather his thoughts before we continued.
‘So, after that, how did you meet the cops?’ I asked him.
‘He came one weekend to the TV guy’s place. The TV guy used to like sharing me around, so that’s how the kinky cop got me. At least by now I was used to being fucked, so it wasn’t as bad as it had been to start with, but it was still pretty nasty.
‘I found out later, from Jarvis, that the cop wanted me all for himself . . . he had this thing for cute blondes you see . . . so he told TV guy that he couldn’t have me any more . . . and if he caused any trouble he would get the cops onto him for fucking kids, so that was the last time I saw the TV guy.
‘After that the cop’s gorillas would take me to and from his place. It wasn’t his house . . . coz he has a wife and kids . . . but it was a unit or something on the north shore. Sometimes it was just through the day, but other times it was overnighters, and each time the gorillas would collect an envelope with cash in it to give to Jarvis, while I would get nothing.’
‘Christ, talk about being used and abused!’ Helen spat.
‘What about what he would do to you . . . the cane or the studded belt . . . what was that all about?’ I asked.
‘He liked to pretend he was the Headmaster and I was a little school boy. Role play, you know? I had to call him Headmaster and he even had a little boy’s school uniform for me to wear.’
‘How old were you?’ asked Helen.
‘Fourteen,’ Casey replied.
‘And when you were raped the first time?’ I asked.
‘Fucking hell!’ I spat. ‘So this has been happening for what . . . about three years now?’
Casey nodded and hung his head down, almost as if he were ashamed to be admitting that.
‘What about the role play?’ Helen urged. ‘What would he do?’
‘He would make up things . . . like saying I didn’t do my homework, or he imagined I peed myself in class, or I was caught doing something or other. It was all bullshit, of course, but it was all the excuse he needed to whip my shorts down and cane my ass, or use the belt. I’ve even got scars to prove it.’
I don’t know about Helen, but I was beginning to feel like throwing up. This kid had been getting this treatment for three years now, while Jarvis made a packet off him and Casey was lucky if he got a place to sleep.
‘Couldn’t you have left?’ Helen asked. ‘Just run away again?’
‘I tried . . . twice . . . but they always found me. Jarvis owned me and there was no way to get away . . . unless I . . .’ he stated.
‘Unless you what?’ Helen asked.
‘Unless I . . . I threw myself off the bridge . . . and don’t think I didn’t think about it!’
We all sat there in silence for a few minutes, while Helen and I digested what we had been told. Here was a kid who had been to hell and back, and yet he was still here to tell the tale.
After a while I started putting together everything that Shane and Jimmy had told us alongside everything that Casey had now told us as well, and I found myself puzzled.
‘There’s one thing I don’t get,’ I mused. ‘Shane said he could ID the big-wig cops and others who were Jarvis’ clients because they were on TV. But when the cops went to see him in the hospital he didn’t know who they were, or that that they were Jarvis’ men. It wasn’t until today that we knew that.’
‘Oh, that’s easy. Those two never came around near us at the house . . . they used to just do whatever the Headmaster or Jarvis told them to do, so he’s probably never even seen them.’
‘And what about the Headmaster? Do you know who his name?’ I asked.
‘Yeah, his name is Barnett, or Barrett, or sumpin like that. He’s like a commissioner or some big-wig.’
Helen and I exchanged knowing glances.
‘Would Jimmy or Shane have ever seen him in person?’ Helen enquired.
‘I doubt it. He only likes blondes, so they would have never been taken to meet him. There was only ever a couple of us that he . . . errr . . . liked to use.’
‘But Shane says they can recognise him!’ I urged.
‘Yeah, some of us others would have pointed him out on the telly, I reckon. We were always telling each other if we saw one of our Johns on TV. It was fairly common.’
When the silence stretched out once more Helen reached over and turned off the recording feature on her phone, then picked it up and held it in front of her, as if deciding what to do next.
‘Well?’ I asked her. ‘Where do we go from here?’
‘I called the Inspector earlier, and he was going to talk to Warwick. I think our best bet for the moment is to hide him away at Cathy’s, like we did with the others, then take it from there.’
‘Casey, there are things that we need to do, like get your statement typed up and have you sign it,’ I said to him. ‘And we’re probably going to need to get you to talk to our Inspector and the Police Prosecutor as well . . . he was the guy in the court room this morning who asked the judge to deny bail to Jarvis . . . did you see him there?’
Casey nodded his understanding.
‘We need to have everything spot on if we’re going to go after these cops,’ Helen added. ‘And it might take a little while for us to do some more investigating.’
‘How long?’ he asked.
‘I don’t know, mate. But we’ll look after you while it’s all happening. Now, what about you? What do you want to do once this is all over?’ Helen enquired.
‘What are Jimmy and Shane doing?’
‘They’re going to stay with some friends of mine for a while,’ I answered. ‘They’ll be safe there until a trial happens, then they’ll start new lives of their own, far away from Sydney.’
‘I like that idea . . . you know, getting away from Sydney. Will I be able to see them before they go?’
‘We’ll make sure you do. And afterwards, once the dust has settled and you’re all safe and sound, if you all want to stay in contact we’ll make sure that you can do that.’
‘Where were you from, before you came here?’ Helen asked.
‘Up bush. I think I’d like to go back there one day.’
‘What, back to you mums place?’ Helen asked, sounding surprised.
‘Nah. But dad had a brother, on a farm. From things what mum said I’m pretty sure he’s gay . . . maybe he’ll let me go there for a while?’
‘We’ll see what we can do for you, mate,’ I promised.
* * *
From Hyde Park we returned to Museum Station, taking great care to make sure that we weren’t being followed; just in case we had been spotted in the park.
Helen called Cathy to let her know we were on the way, as well as to explain the situation regarding Casey, and she very graciously agreed to accept him also. That would mean that the three boys would get to see each other one last time before we took Jimmy and Shane north, which I was particularly happy about, even if we weren’t sure just how we would get them there as yet, with Helen’s car still parked outside the hospital.
As we rode the train away from Museum Station I felt my phone begin to vibrate in my pocket once more, and so I pulled it out to check the caller ID. It was Adam.
‘Hey babe,’ I said to him, which seemed to also get Casey’s attention.
‘Hey yourself,’ he replied. ‘What are you up to?’
‘Taking a fugitive to our secret hideaway,’ I answered as I got to my feet and wandered down the almost empty carriage a little. I noticed Casey glance at Helen, but all she did was give him a wink.
‘I have no idea what you mean by that, but I’m sure you’ll explain it to me later,’ he countered.
‘Yeah, I will.’
‘So, how was court? Did he get bail?’
‘Nope, he’s still locked up.’
‘That’s a relief. So, what now?’
‘We continue our investigation and then hopefully press more charges . . . and they won’t just be against Jarvis either . . . there’s at least five others in the frame now, and some of them are names you’ll recognize.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘I’ll explain it all later, but this thing is getting bigger than Ben Hur!’
‘Does that mean you’re not going to keep your promise?’ he probed..