‘Where did they find him?’ I asked Helen.
‘Remember that pub where we all went the other day for lunch? There’s a park not far from there which backs onto a bushland reserve. Some bushwalkers found him this morning.’
‘Oh, god! I’m so sorry,’ I repeated. ‘I guess this surely blows any suggestion of it being a coincidence right out of the water.’
‘Yeah,’ she replied. ‘But we’re still no closer to finding out who . . . or more importantly, why?’
‘No, you’re right. I’m going to head over to the school after lunch and see what I can find out about some of the old teachers and staff . . . see if anyone knows where some of them might be now.’
‘Anyone in particular?’
‘I’m not really sure. There are a couple of names that keep bobbing up in conversation, but neither fits the description of my Sydney stalker.’
‘Still, it won’t hurt to cover all of our bases. I guess looking for anyone that does happen to resemble your stalker is the first thing to do, but also check and see if there were any teachers or staff with records for anything resembling a sex offence. If anything untoward happened with any of the other kids, maybe there are still some old teachers there who might open up to you, especially given what you went through back then yourself?’
‘Yes. I’ve already started going through some of our old school yearbooks, and Marty also kept a pile of photo albums filled with stuff he took around the school, so I’ll trawl through those as well. Oh, and I just had a thought about what you might be able to do with IA and Casey.’
‘Talk to Megan and Cathy. If Megan works for a law firm perhaps someone there could take Casey on as a client, pro-bono of course, just to protect his interests. Maybe it would be a legitimate way for you to sneak him in and out of their offices, without anyone else knowing, and then get IA to hold the interview there?’
‘That could work. Thanks. I’ll let you know if they go for it.’
‘Anytime,’ I replied.
‘And the boss also had a message for you,’ she added.
‘He said you don’t have time to go surfing up there . . . you’ve got work to do.’
‘It looks like he already knows me too well,’ I joked.
‘He’s had a fair bit or experience handling newbies like you. He can read you like a book! Oh, and we should have copies of all the case files here today relating to Martin’s death, so they’ll be waiting for you for when you get back.’
‘Great. And how did the boss take it when you told him I was staying here.’
‘He was fine. Actually, I think he half expected it,’ she laughed. ‘He can read you like a book, remember?’
After we disconnected I looked across at Beth and Tom, who were both studying me intently. I knew that from my conversation with Helen I must have given away sufficient information for them to conclude there had been another murder, or something similar, so I decided I needed to fill them in on what had happened.
‘I guess you’ve realised by now that there’s been another body found?’ I said quietly, to which they both nodded. ‘And it’s exactly the same MO as for Martin’s death and Alexis, from earlier this week.’
‘And was this also somebody you only met this week?’ Tom asked.
‘Yes, he was. So that rules out any chance of Alexis’ death being a coincidence. One of the projects that our Inspector has had us working on is a last minute inclusion of a float in the Mardi Gras, representing the police force. The guy who was killed has been helping us out with the design and painting of the float. His name was Jimmy Tan and he was another one of Helen’s friends.’
‘She seems to have a lot of friends out there,’ Beth observed.
‘Yeah, she does, but it’s . . . it’s kind of complicated. She seems to have made a habit of cultivating those who have been in trouble at one stage or another into useful contacts. Some people would look at them as being snitches, but it’s not like that. She actually cares about these people, and seeing them get their lives straightened out, so if they occasionally help her out with tip offs, then what harm can come of it? We all had lunch together the other day when we got Jimmy and some of his friends involved with the float project. After that first day, though, he seemed to simply vanish.’
‘Oh, no!’ said Beth. ‘How must poor Helen be feeling?’
‘She’s upset,’ I replied. ‘But this sort of thing comes with the territory when you’re a cop. She also knows better than most as to not only what some people in this world can be capable of, but also just how fragile life can be, where death can be just around the next corner for any of us.’
‘And how do you feel?’ Tom asked me.
‘As guilty as hell,’ I answered honestly. ‘Jimmy was a nice guy. I have no idea who this bastard is yet who is doing all this, or what the hell his motive might be, but somehow or other, whether I like it or not, I’m a part of his sick plan. I don’t like that. But what I especially don’t like is the fact that innocent people who, up until just a few days ago had never even heard of me, seem to be paying the price for having done no more than simply shaking my hand. It makes me sick to the stomach just thinking about it.’
‘But how are you going to stop him?’ Beth asked.
‘I really don’t know the answer to that, Mama. If we knew who he was we would at least have something to go on, but without knowing that I’m at a loss. Somehow we need to flush him out . . . or just hope that he slips up somewhere.’
It was about then that Shane and Jimmy reappeared at the doorway, both looking rather nervous, as if they weren’t quite sure what they should say or do next. They were both wearing jeans and t-shirts with rock bands on the front . . . Jimmy apparently liked the black AC/DC shirt, while Shane had grabbed the Cold Chisel one. Dressed like this, the two of them looked every bit the sixteen year-old kids they were, but I was beginning to worry for Tom and Beth, especially if the boys’ musical tastes were anything like their taste in clothing.
‘Come on in, boys,’ Beth said to them. ‘It’s all right.’
‘Are . . . are you sure?’ Shane stammered. ‘We’re so sorry if we upset you.’
‘No, it’s fine, really. I was just a little shocked when I saw you standing there . . . you just looked so much like Martin, especially because of what you were wearing.’
‘I’m sorry . . . I didn’t mean to . . .’ he began to say, but we could all hear the quiver in his voice and see the trembling bottom lip.
In a flash Beth was on her feet and had her arms wrapped around him, while at the same time making soothing sounds in his ear.
‘Sssshhh . . . it’s okay, Shane. There’s no need for you to be upset,’ we heard her say. ‘You really weren’t to know.
‘But . . .’
‘Hush,’ Beth scolded. ‘Otherwise I might just start telling you to “toughen up, Princess,” instead! That’s what all you young people say these days, isn’t it?’
At that both Shane and Jimmy gave a snort and a chuckle. They were suddenly looking at Beth in a whole different light.
‘What’s wrong? Can’t the old chick be hip?’ Beth teased them, which only served to totally crack up both of them and get all of us laughing along.
When the laughter finally subsided I said to them, ‘All right, you pair. I think it’s time I took you both shopping . . . that’s if Beth will let us borrow the car. We’ll grab some lunch downtown, Beth, then after that I’ll need to visit a couple of places and do some work before Adam arrives.’
‘And while you’re working this afternoon then, the boys can help me with getting the boat into the water,’ Tom added.
‘Really?’ enthused Shane.
‘Of course . . . that is unless you have a phobia about getting wet?’ Tom replied.
‘Hell no! You can count us in!’ said Jimmy.
‘That’s what I thought!’ Tom chuckled.
* * *
There was a small shopping centre in Stockton, which wasn’t too far away from Tom and Beth’s, so that’s where we headed in Beth’s little Ford. There weren’t any major national retailers close by, but we didn’t have any problem finding what we needed amongst the smaller local stores we found there on Mitchell Street. Socks and jocks, some toiletries and a bag to keep them in, plus a baseball cap and a pair of sunglasses for each of the boys, all of which still made a healthy enough dent in my wallet.
Looking at their rather well worn joggers I figured they would probably also need some new shoes, but decided to leave that for Beth to organise once the Inspector was able to arrange some sort of funding or allowance for their upkeep.
As we were heading back to the car I happened to notice an electronics shop and so I made a bee-line straight for the door.
‘What now?’ Jimmy asked.
‘I don’t want you guys to be out of reach of either me or Helen, or Tom and Beth for that matter, so I’m going to see if we can get one of those cheap pre-paid phones for you,’ I said. ‘We’ll add all our numbers in so you can contact us if needed, or if we need to contact you in a hurry.’
‘Okay,’ Jimmy replied.
‘And do you think you can you get us a number for Casey too?’ Shane added.
‘I’ll see how we go,’ I answered. ‘We might just have to wait until things settle down a bit first, though.’
‘All right then,’ Shane replied, although sounding a little crestfallen.
‘Don’t worry, mate,’ I reassured him. ‘It’s just that shit is about to get real, especially concerning what happened to Casey and who did what to him. Right now the important thing is to ensure that the police have all the information they can get from Casey, so they can make the right decisions about what to do to those people who abused him. He’s going to be interviewed today, as far as I know, so I suspect that arrests will be made and charges laid within days.’
‘Do you think they’ll go to jail?’ Jimmy asked.
‘I certainly hope so, Jimmy. Thanks to the help of all three of you these pricks should get exactly what they deserve.’
‘The crims already in jail don’t like it when cops get thrown in with them, do they?’ Shane mused.
‘No mate, they don’t,’ I answered honestly.
‘I hope they die,’ Shane spat.
‘Really?’ I asked.
‘Coop, you didn’t see what they did to Casey. We saw his arse bleeding . . . we held him as he cried himself to sleep some nights . . . so for that, we hope the cunts really pay.’
‘They’ll get just what they deserve, Shane. I can promise you that.’
By this time we had reached the electronics store and so we went inside. I headed straight for the sales counter, behind which a pimply faced, young guy was standing there and looking bored. From somewhere beneath his mop of dark hair, which was in desperate need of a trim, he asked, ‘Can I help?’
‘What do you have in the way of cheap pre-paid phones?’ I asked.
‘It depends on what you need it to do,’ he replied, while brushing his long fringe to one side, revealing piercing blue eyes. ‘Just the basic ones for calls and text only start at around sixty dollars. But if you want extra features, that’s when the prices start to climb.’
‘Sixty dollars sounds fine,’ I said.
‘Which network do you want? Telstra or Optus?’
‘Which is best?’
‘Telstra gives broader coverage.’
‘Then Telstra it is.’
He took us over to a display stand near the back of the store and proceeded to point out the models which would meet the requirements. One was an older style black phone, very plain and boxy looking, while the other was a much more stylish, bright red flip phone, which apparently also came in white, yellow or purple.
‘Okay boys, which one do you fancy?’ I asked them, although I was fairly certain that I already knew which one they would choose.
Shane smiled and pointed to the red phone.
‘Looks like it’s the red one,’ I said to our salesman. ‘How easy is it to set up?’
‘All you need is access to the internet and a driver’s licence,’ he replied.
‘I don’t have web access where I’m staying,’ I lied. ‘Any chance you can set it up for us?’
After a quick glance around, no doubt to make sure his boss wasn’t close by, he nodded and said, ‘Sure. Do you have your licence with you?’
I pulled out my wallet and handed him my licence, then was about to hand him my credit card as well, when I had a sudden thought. What if Azzopardi and Ryan, or any of Assistant Commissioner Barrett’s other henchmen were already keeping an eye out for us? Perhaps the credit card wasn’t such a good idea after all?
Ten minutes later, after handing over some cash, we walked out of there all set up and ready to go, so we set off in search of some place to satisfy our growing hunger.
* * *
It was nearing one o’clock when we made it back to Tom and Beth’s place, and when we got there Tom was just backing his four-wheel drive out of their yard. I parked Beth’s car on the side of the road and we walked to where Tom had stopped in their driveway and was now waiting.
‘I’m just going around the back to hook the boat trailer on,’ he said to us. ‘How about you boys drop your stuff inside and meet me in the back yard?’
‘Sure thing!’ Jimmy replied, before the pair of them ran up the driveway to the house and through the front door, their bags of shopping swinging wildly around.
‘They sure seem keen!’ Tom laughed.
‘I don’t think they’ve been in a situation for a while where someone actually wants to do something with them, other than use them for sex, of course. I think they’ve been forced to grow up far too quickly and they missed out on a lot of stuff that boys get to do with their parents or brothers. And let’s face it, they’re still not much more than kids themselves, so who can blame them for taking the opportunity to just be a kid again?’
‘I know, Rick. Kids all seem to be growing up so fast these days, and it’s because they have to, just like these two have had to do, so I don’t think it’ll do them any harm to catch up with some of the childhood they lost, do you?’
‘Not at all,’ I replied. ‘In fact, it’s kind of refreshing just seeing them act their age for a change.’
‘Yes, and from what we heard last night, the chance to be a kid again and interact with adults in what we would call a normal situation, is something they haven’t had the opportunity to do in quite a while.’
‘I think if we just let them find their feet again, they’ll surprise us all.’
‘They’ve already surprised us, lad! Or hadn’t you noticed?’ he chuckled, as he started up the Toyota once more and continued backing out onto the road.
To access the grassy strip of land between the houses and the river it was simply a matter of driving to the last house and then turning off the main road and onto a well worn track, which led around behind all the houses and eventually stopped at the far end, close to the boat ramp. Every house in the row had a gateway from their back yard out onto The Pitch, as it was often called — so named as it served so regularly as a cricket pitch for the locals — and it was a common sight seeing vehicles with boat trailers coming and going on almost any day of the week.
When I followed the boys out to the back yard we found Tom was just reversing his vehicle through the back gate, lining it up with the trailer and the massive sailing boat that was perched upon it. Much to my surprise he backed in perfectly to align the tow ball on his vehicle with the hitch on the trailer.
‘You’ve done that before,’ I gently teased him, as he climbed out of the vehicle.
‘Only once or twice,’ he replied.
‘It sure is big,’ I remarked as I ran my hand along the sleek white fiberglass hull of the boat.
‘It seems that way at first, but once you’re on board you’d be surprised how often you find yourself wishing it was bigger,’ he laughed. ‘You’ll see what I mean when you spend a night on her, or when you’re out on the water and some racing yacht comes cruising by, with the skipper looking down his nose at you with what can only be described as contempt, and they leave you in their wake.’
‘Oh,’ was all I could say in reply.
‘Anyhow, haven’t you got work to do?’ he admonished me. ‘Just leave the launching to us and you go do what you’ve got to do. I’ll take the boys for a motor up and down the river and have them back safe and sound in time for you to get all set up for tonight.
‘Oh, and if you need to plug the computer back in the network cable is still there, leading into the hub in my office, so just plug it back in. And if you have any issues with connecting to anything with Martin’s old computer you can use mine if you need to look anything up or access emails, or whatever.’
‘That sounds great, Tom. Thanks.’
With a nod he turned his attention back toward the trailer hitch and started winding down the jockey wheel to lower the hitch onto the tow ball, while the boys watched him intently.
As keen as I was to see the boat find its way into the water I knew I had other things I needed to do, so I left them to it and made my way back up to the house, where I found Beth in the laundry, running some of Martin’s clothes through the washing machine, to freshen them up and get rid of the fragrance of moth balls.
She was holding one of his old rugby jumpers in her hand and just gazing off into space, no doubt daydreaming about days gone by.
It was on the tip of my tongue to say something, but in the end I decided to leave her to her memories and crept off down the hallway to the bedroom, quietly closing the door behind me so that I could minimise distractions, before then turning my attention to the contents of Martin’s bookcase.
I was particularly curious to take a look back through Martin’s photo albums, not only to reminisce about some of the things we got up to, but also to see if any of those photographs which were taken around the school, or at school events, might contain images of anyone resembling our chief suspect. I didn’t know if it was going to prove to be a waste of time, or not, but I knew that I had to take a look at least.
For the next hour or so I flicked through the pages of his most recent albums, which were easy to recognise as he had carefully labelled the front of each one with dates and details of what they contained. Carefully I examined every photo for that familiar face which was now seared into my memory, but he wasn’t to be seen anywhere amongst the school athletics or swimming carnivals, or excursions, or stage productions which Martin had so meticulously recorded. Even so, I still found myself immersed once more in the memories of those events; the horsing around on the school oval or at the pool, the rare tender moments we managed to salvage for ourselves on the school excursions, and the camaraderie associated with putting together a production like Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dream Coat. There were certainly some great times had by all in those last few years of school, and I wasn’t surprised at all that I found myself wiping away a few tears, especially after coming across a couple of photos of him, which I had taken using his own camera.
After closing the last of the albums I had selected, I was still none the wiser. Sadly, there was nothing in them that I could see which could provide me with anything new in the way of clues.
The yearbook I had been perusing the previous night was still sitting on the bedside table and so after returning the albums to the shelves I picked it up and flipped through to the pages I had previously been looking at. The photo of the art class that I had seen last night seemed the best place to start, and so I took a closer look at that, in particular the two people who seemed to constantly be popping up in my thoughts: Mr Corcoran and Joshua Bell.
As I had said to Beth, Mr Corcoran just didn’t fit the profile of the guy who I thought was stalking me in Sydney, who is of course my main suspect in this whole sordid affair, and looking at this photo once more I still couldn’t see anything that could change that opinion. The only thing that I could see in common between Corcoran and the stalker were that they were of similar height and they both had dark hair.
Josh, on the other hand, was something of an enigma, with his photo giving me a different image of him to that which I had stored in my mind. But he too failed to fit the profile. He wasn’t tall enough, for starters, and as I remember him, with his stocky, athletic build from all those years of sports, that seemed to put him at odds with the profile as well.
Still, these two individuals were the only ones I could recall ever doing or saying anything of a sexual nature around either Martin or me, so they had to be the natural starting point for my enquiries. For starters, I felt I needed to check into where both of them were these days, even if only to finally eliminate them from my list of suspects. I was hoping that a visit to the school that afternoon, hopefully sometime after classes were out, might be able to supply some contact information that would point me in the right direction.
So, I now began to wonder, if these two individuals weren’t to be considered suspects, then who else could it possibly be?
Near the back of the yearbook was a group photo, taking up a full page, of all the staff that worked at the school for that year. It was another or Marty’s images, having gathered everyone on the steps to the chapel, with them all appearing to be smiling and happy; after all the end of the school year was just around the corner.
I have to admit that I struggled to remember the names of some of the teachers, in particular those I’d hardly ever had any contact with, but once again there was nothing in the smiling faces that gave away any clues for me.
Turning then to the pages showing the headshots of our class I started scanning through those, trying to remember as much as I could about each of them, although once again that was something which proved more than just a little bit difficult, as I actually knew very little about many of them.
All those hopeful faces, all ready to kiss their final days of school goodbye, seemed far too content with the world. None gave any indication that their smiles were masking murderous thoughts. Even Josh Bell seemed carefree and happy, and nothing like the self-centered hypocrite I knew him to be.
Scanning through these faces I found it difficult to imagine any of them being the face of a killer, yet I knew that it was more than likely that it was one of these individuals, whether a staff member or student, who had been holding the knife which had been plunged repeatedly into Martin’s body. I just couldn’t get away from that thought . . . especially after that nightmare I had endured last night. My mind kept going back to the night of disturbed sleep and the images which seemed to have been burned into my mind.
Had it been Martin himself who had pointed me in the direction of those visions, somehow offering me some kind of a clue, or was that just my mind playing more tricks on me, yet again?
As I sat here now looking at these faces and remembering what the night had brought me, I began going back over everything that I could remember, but as hard as I might try, nothing new seemed to come of it.
I was stumped, and I knew it, and so now was the time to start digging a little deeper in order to find just what secrets some of these smiling faces were hiding.
* * *
Driving through the gates of Waratah High School a short time later I was confronted by the sight of the white cross at the end of the driveway, causing my stomach to suddenly tie up in knots and my heart to skip a beat in my chest.
To me that cross will be forever associated with the death of Martin, and after having seen it again last night in my dreams, to me it now seemed to have taken on an even more menacing presence.
When I reached the end of the driveway, after having dodged students and staff still making their way from their final classes for the day, I turned and headed for the car parking area, then pulled into the first available space. I sat there for a few moments, just watching the passing parade of kids, all eager to get home, while remembering all too easily just what it was like for me . . . that relief of having the last class finally done for the day, and the freedom that follows, giving you scant few hours to do whatever it was that you wanted to do of an afternoon, before having to be home to comply with what your family demand. That time was precious and memorable and . . . ours. God, how I missed that!
Getting out of the car I headed for the administration building, unsure of who or what I might find there. A few students looked at me warily as I passed them, but when I pulled open the main door and stepped inside I was pleasantly surprised when the familiar face of Rosie looked up from her desk.
She looked at me with a puzzled expression for a few moments, but then I saw the recognition dawn across her face, and she quickly got up and came around to the front of the reception counter, giving me a hug and a kiss on the cheek.
‘My god, Rick, you look all grown up now,’ she teased.
‘And you don’t look a day older, either,’ I replied. ‘It’s good to see you again, Rosie.’
‘And you too. How are Marty’s mum and dad doing? I haven’t seen them in such a long time.’
‘Oh, they’re fine,’ I replied. ‘Time tends to heal a lot of wounds, and they are coping as well as you could expect.’
‘And what about you? How are you coping?’
‘I’m getting by,’ I answered.
‘I’m pleased to hear that,’ she said, while giving me a gentle pat on the arm. ‘I must say you look quite smart in your suit and tie. What are you doing with yourself these days?’
Taking hold of my jacket I pulled it back slightly to reveal the badge which was hooked to my belt. Her eyes widened as she recognised it, then she must have also realised just why I was here.
‘Oh, so it’s you who was coming here to see Mr Cunningham?’ she asked. ‘We had a call earlier from the local detectives office to say that there were further investigations being made into Martin’s case, and that we were being asked to provide assistance by providing staff and student records. I didn’t quite expect it to be you who would show up, though.’
‘Yup, that’d be me. There’s been a new development, so we’ve started looking into things once more.’
‘Oh, I so hope that you can catch whoever it was who did that to Martin. It was such a shocking thing.’
‘I’m certainly not going to argue with you on that one, Rosie.’
‘Well, come through and I’ll take you to Mr Cunningham’s office. He’s been expecting someone.’
‘Thank you very much, Rosie. I’d appreciate that.’
Following her down the hallway from the reception area she took me to an office that was all too familiar to me, outside of which sat the same chairs I had sat in often enough while I was a student here. After knocking gently on the door, Rosie opened it and showed me inside, where we found the equally familiar figure of Jack Cunningham sitting behind the polished oak desk.
‘Rick, my lad, what a pleasant surprise. It has been quite a while,’ my old school principal said to me, while getting up from his desk and coming around to our side, his hand outstretched. ‘To what do we owe the pleasure?’ then adding, ‘Thank you Rosie, that will be all.’
Rosie smiled and left us, quietly closing the door behind her.
‘Apparently you’ve been expecting me,’ I answered, as I shook the offered hand. The quizzical expression on his face told me he didn’t quite get what I was meaning, so I pulled the badge from my belt and showed him.
‘Good Lord,’ he gasped. ‘Who would have thought it?’
‘Meaning?’ I asked him.
‘I’m sorry, Rick, I just didn’t ever see you as being a potential police officer. You must be doing a fine job to have become a detective already. Congratulations!’
‘Thank you. It has been a lot of hard work, but the occasional lucky break hasn’t hurt.’
‘So, you’re involved in Martin’s case? How did that come about?’ he asked, as he offered me a chair, then sat back down behind his large desk.
‘There has been a development, so we’re going back over everything again.’
‘Well, your superiors have contacted us and asked for access to our records, and of course, we’re only too happy to help out in any way we can. We’ve started by pulling the files of all staff and students who were here that year, and you can certainly go through them all if you would like, but I think there might be a couple of them in particular which might be of some interest to you.’
‘What do you mean by that?’
‘Your superiors,’ he said, ‘were particularly interested in anyone who may have had any, let’s say . . . indiscretions . . . which were of a sexual nature, and so we’ve pulled those files first.’
‘Are you saying that there were sex offenders here at the time . . . either on the staff, or amongst my class mates?’
‘There was another . . . incident . . . in the final year you were here,’ he replied. ‘And yes, it was between two of your school mates,’ he added, while passing two buff coloured folders across his desk to me. I noticed that he had left another folder sitting there in front of him.
Taking the two offered folders I quickly looked at the names on the tags at the top of them and immediately recognized one, but the second name meant nothing to me, and I guess my expression showed that.
‘As you can see, one of those files belongs to a young man who was in your class. If you don’t recognise the second name, however, it was because he was from a couple of years below yours and Martin’s.’
Opening the top file I quickly noticed a bright yellow post-it sticky note sticking out to one side, and so I flicked through to that page. It was an official school Incident Report Form, dated several months before we had sat our final exams. Scanning down the page it gave the details of what was deemed a sexual assault, but in reality was little more than two school boys being caught in a room with their pants down. I couldn’t ever recall any word of this event having taken place that year, and the file showed that no action was taken at the time, other than an official warning being issued to both of the boys involved, a copy of which was also included in the younger boys file.
‘And the other file?’ I asked, pointing to the one still sitting upon Cunningham’s desk.
‘This involves an incident which occurred in the year following . . .’ he said, hesitating slightly before passing the file over to me.
I looked at the name and immediately my heart skipped a beat.
Opening that file I found several colourful post-it notes attached to various pages throughout the file, which I quickly skipped through to and read their damning contents, before looking up at him in amazement.
‘I’m afraid it’s impossible to say if this is in any way at all related to what happened to Martin, but one never quite knows what to do in these situations.’
‘Are you trying to tell me,’ I said through gritted teeth, and as the blood started to boil through my veins, ‘that you’ve been sitting on this information all this fucking time?’
You sure know all about cliffhangers! Bring on the next chapter soon please.
Damn, Damn and Damn again; I know that when you come to the end of this story I`m going to have to sit down and read it all again, I hate cliffhangers!!!! it`s grrrreat!
Good chapter, can’t wait for the next one.
There are not many cliffs on the north side of the River but you left us one
Another brilliant chapter 👏
I know there is probably more to the story, but right now I’m having violent/crazy thoughts 👿 about the principal. If it turns out that he purposefully swept something, evidence of any crime, under the rug he deserves to to rot in prison not to mention, Hell!
This story keeps us constantly on the edge and just when you get to something enlightening….BOOM, end of chapter/cliffhanger lol. I love you for your genius but damn your great cliffhangers😋
Looking forward to the next chapter to find out more on the whole situation with the principal
Mark, you sure have a good story going here
I discovered this story about two weeks ago. I find it really interesting and extremely well written. I really like how Rick is becoming almost like a big brother (in a positive sense) to Jimmy and Shane. I just spent a few days with my nephews, 12 and 16 yrs old, and the thought that boys that age should have to experience so much heartbreak and abuse is very distressing.
Great cliffhanger! Can’t wait to see what the next clues are going to be in the murder mystery, and also looking forward to Adam’s visit. Rick’s very vulnerable in this, and he really needs all the love he can get 🙂 Looking forward to Rick introducing Adam to Martin’s parents, and also to the boys.
Thanks for the great story and greetings from Sweden!
This is thrilling. you have captured my imagination. All the characters are very well depicted. i use google earth to look up the sites and that gives this story an extra edge. can’t wait for the next installment. from a cold Holland,
Oops I think the hammer is about to dropped. Right on the principal’s head. Keep up the great work.
Thanks G. 🙂
Anpther good job! The cliffhanger at the end meant Im going to be waiting with bated breath for the next chapter lol. Really enjoying this story and regularly check your site for updates to it.
Thank you Oliver. So glad you’re enjoying it!
Well I just finished this last chapter and needless to say I really enjoyed it. As one of your readers said that they were not sure they were interested in a murder story I must admit I felt the same, but after I read a chapter I was hooked. Now I am waiting for MORE!!
Tom (Stuart Fl. USA)
Chapter 22 has now been posted! 😉