Jason Kline knew that it was now or never; he could feel the story slipping through his fingers. He’d already invested a great deal of time and money on it, and he was close, he could feel it. If Barney Fitzroy came through with the SOS message that, combined with the photos of Atlantis, would be enough to go to press, but it would be thin. It would be better than nothing, and surely better than being beaten to the story by someone else, but Kline wanted more. He wanted Trevor’s side of it, to flesh out the dry facts he had about the murder case in Florida, the Suez bombing, and the pirate attack.
All those factors compelled Kline to take what he knew was a risk, though he judged it a small one. Most likely, he believed, failure would result in him being no worse off than he was now.
Thanks to his bribe to the clerk at the yacht club, Jason Kline knew that the name of the family Trevor was searching for was ‘Smith’, which he therefore assumed was Trevor’s mother’s family. He knew, from the Florida news stories, that her first name was Rachel.
Armed with those facts and deductions, along with a few reasoned assumptions, he picked out the oldest shirt and slacks in his suitcase. To complete his new image, he fished out a pair of reading glasses that he rarely wore, settling them on his sunburned nose. He dressed, and studied himself in the mirror. A small man, slightly graying at the temples, he was somewhat nondescript, which he often used to his advantage in his many years as an investigative reporter.
The short-sleeved shirt, as intended, revealed several bug bites on his arms, presently covered with band-aids, which he proceeded to remove. As a final touch, he mussed his hair slightly before shoving it in place. When he reached his car in the motel parking lot, he deposited his wallet and cell phone in the glove compartment. He wished he had more to substantiate what he planned to say, but he’d run bluffs in harder cases, so he had confidence in his ability to succeed with his plan.
The drive to the customs shack was a short one, though it gave him time to rehearse his story. When he arrived, he took a breath, ruffled his hair, collected his thoughts, and walked to the door, relieved to find the office open on a Sunday.
“G’day,” Kline said, with a note of studied unease in his voice, as he poked his head through the door and glanced at Grundig, and then Fowler.
“How can I help you?” Grundig asked, with an easy smile as he set his paperwork aside. As the junior of the two officers, it was his job to handle visitors when he was available.
Kline ambled in, fidgeting with his hands. “I’m not sure I’m in the right place. My name is Archie Smith, and I do agricultural hauling all over the state. I dropped a load up at North Plantations,” he said, referring to a banana-growing region on the opposite side of the Gascoyne River from Carnarvon. “The long and the short of it is, I had a few days before taking a load back, and I’ve heard a few rumors around town regarding a Yank asking about for his family a couple of weeks back, whose name is ‘Smith’. That got me a-thinking, and I was wondering if he could be my cousin Rachel’s boy. She was a yachter, her name was Rachel Smith, and she was in America, last I heard, and I think she married a man named Carlson and had a son by the name of Tommy, or Trent, or something the like. My parents lost touch with her about ten years back, so that’s the last I know. I’ve heard that this Yank in town had a rough go and came in by boat, so I thought I’d best find out. If I’ve heard right, I’d like to meet him and see if my family is the one he’s looking for. I figured that, seeing as he came in by boat, you officers might be able to put me in touch with him, if that’s the case.”
Kline watched Grundig carefully, and thought his ruse successful when Grundig’s eyes opened wide, not noticing that Grundig was looking past him. Kline fought the urge to smile when he heard Fowler, who was at his desk behind Kline, say in a friendly tone, “I’ll handle this one, Craig.”
Kline turned, opening his mouth to speak, only to freeze, his mind awhirl, as his eyes fell on the menacing black form of a Glock 9mm pistol, which Fowler was holding with both hands and had trained on Kline’s chest.
Grundig stood and moved to the side, quickly drawing his own sidearm. Officer Fowler slowly stood up before saying, in a louder tone, “Don’t move. Craig, cuff him.”
“For what?” Kline gasped, as Grundig began to cuff him.
“What’s your name?” Fowler asked.
“I already told you,” Kline said, a little weakly.
“You gave a false name and identity to two law enforcement officers. In so doing, you attempted to use fraud to deceive two law enforcement officers into revealing the whereabouts of a minor, who is involved in a case this agency is working on. I could go on, but I think I’ll let the local police and prosecutor handle the details. Unless, that is, you want to tell me exactly who you are and why you want to find our guest,” Fowler said, before re-engaging the safety and holstering his pistol.
Kline blinked. The threat of legal charges was one he thought he knew how to beat. “In my pocket, you’ll find my car keys, and the car is in your parking lot. In the glove box, you’ll find my wallet and press credentials; I’m Jason Kline, a freelance reporter. I’m just trying to meet with Trevor so his story can be told his way. I’m sure your superiors have told you about the SOS from him, found in the Southern Ocean. His story is out, so I’m his best chance of telling it his way. I’m sorry I misled you; I just want to meet with him, that’s all. It’s my job.”
“All I do know is you’ve lied repeatedly, and are interfering with an investigation. Further, you’ve committed fraud. I’m handing you over to the local police, they can sort it out.” Fowler turned his head toward Grundig. “Give them a ring and tell ‘em we’ve got a prisoner for them.” Fowler looked back at Kline, and said in a level tone, “One last time: who sent you, and why?”
Kline blanched slightly. He wasn’t too worried about the legal issues; he guessed that a lawyer could make most of it go away, but he knew that being locked up for a few days would likely wreck his chance to be first with his story. “Check my car for my ID.” Briefly, he considered giving them Barney Fitzroy’s name and number, but dismissed the notion when he realized that the last thing he wanted was any official interest in Barney while Barney was trying to deal with the Antarctic Star. “You’ll find my agent’s card in my wallet. Check with him, he’ll confirm who I am. He’s known me for years. Now, after you’ve confirmed who I am, will you please put me in touch with Trevor?”
“You’re under arrest and you’re going to jail,” Fowler said casually, while shoving Kline into a chair. “They’ll be here soon. Reporter or not, things will go a lot easier for you if you tell me why you’re here.”
Kline grimaced; Fowler had not been gentle with that shove. “I told you that already, it’s the truth,” Kline said, and then paused before adding, “You can’t arrest me for fraud. I wasn’t after money.”
“Doesn’t matter; you were trying to get something by misrepresentation and lies. I’ll let your lawyer explain the law to you,” Fowler said, before asking a few more questions, getting nowhere.
The Carnarvon Police Department had just one pair of officers on duty that Sunday, and they’d been on patrol, cruising Robinson Street, so their response to the dispatcher’s call had been rapid. A crunch of gravel in the customs shack parking lot heralded their arrival, and Grundig glanced out the window to see the white police cruiser with a blue checkerboard stripe roll in.
As soon as the two Carnarvon officers entered, the junior of the two took Kline to the police cruiser, while the other, a portly man by the name of Constable White, turned his attention to Fowler. “What’s the situation, Greg?” he asked.
Fowler glared out the window for a moment, before turning. “He says he’s a reporter, but he waltzed in here, gave a false name of ‘Smith’, claimed he was a relative of Trevor Carlson. He knew his full name. He wanted info on his whereabouts. I placed him under arrest for fraud.” Fowler went on to explain about the car keys, and then added, “I’m not sure if he’s really a reporter, or somebody connected to the two prior attempts to kill Trevor. I can’t rule out that he could be both. Trevor hasn’t, as far as I know, said anything about his mother’s family name, and this guy knew it, and was using it. We’re expecting reporters up here soon, but not this fast. See what you can get out of him; we need to find out who he is and what he’s up to.
Fowler and Grundig remained inside while Constable White retrieved the contents of Kline’s pockets and then examined his car. Constable White then questioned Kline before entering the customs shack, where he made a couple of calls to confirm that Kline’s drivers’ license and press credentials were authentic, and then followed up with a call to Kline’s agent.
“Looks like he’s who he’s currently saying he is,” Constable White said, scratching his head. “We’ve still got to check his prints to see if we get any matches, and that’ll take until tomorrow, at least, and his use of a false name gives us grounds.”
Fowler scowled, looking out the window at Kline. “Make absolutely sure, and don’t hurry. He knows too many things. We can’t rule out that he’s connected to the prior attempts on Trevor’s life, regardless of who he is. What about the fraud charge? Can we keep him locked up for a while with it?”
Constable White shook his head. “The prosecutor would know better than me, but my read is we could get a conviction for that. Unless he has priors though, my guess he’ll have very low bail and will be out tomorrow night. Unless, of course, we can find evidence of further criminal activity. That brings me to another point; I’ve recovered his motel key. I think I have probable cause, but it’s a moot point; I’ve no doubts that the motel’s owner will give me permission to go in and have a look.”
“Mind if I go along?” Fowler asked with a smile, already knowing that Constable White would not object.
“Glad to have you, Greg, anytime. Actually, this makes it fast and easy. If we can go in your car, I’ll just tell my partner to take our suspect to lockup in the cruiser.” Constable White went outside to give the orders.
Fowler turned to look at Grundig. “Craig, I was wrong this morning; we don’t have as much time as I’d thought. If this guy is just a reporter, the dam is about to break. If he’s connected to whoever tried to kill Trevor, it’s even worse. One way or another, we have to warn Kookaburra off; it’s far too risky for them to come in. Damn it, I thought we’d have a day to make arrangements. Best to make the call now than when they get closer; while I’m out, try her satellite phone first, and radio if you have to. Tell them… just tell them to stand by, but do not enter Carnarvon. Tell them we have reporters looking for Trevor. Let him know I’m out and need to speak with him when I get back… say two hours,” Fowler said, on his way out the door.
Twenty minutes later, with the property owner’s permission, Fowler and Constable White used Kline’s key and entered his motel room. There, they found his clothes, suitcase, cheap after-shave and other toiletries, and his laptop computer. Constable White sat down to boot it up, only to find it password protected. Both men knew that could easily be bypassed, but neither one had a clue as to how to do it.
“I could call my eldest boy – he’s a whiz at this computer stuff – but then we’d have chain-of-evidence issues. I think we’ll have to wait and let the prosecutor send it down to Geraldton for their people to have a look,” Constable White said, shutting the laptop down.
Fowler reluctantly nodded his assent. He was tempted; he needed to know who Kline was, and who he might be in contact with. However, he also knew that White’s son was thirteen, and having him access the computer could land a lot of people, himself included, in hot water. So far, they’d found nothing, but they’d only had a cursory look around.
A more detailed search turned up two bottles of bug spray and a pair of binoculars. In a drawer, they found Kline’s camera, and put it aside. A dog-eared notepad turned up in the suitcase’s side pocket. It had all manner of cryptic notes in Kline’s chicken-scratch scrawl, which they found hard to decipher. One thing they did discern; the notes Kline had taken when he’d watched Kookaburra sail; he had her description, but not her name.
Constable White picked up the camera. “My wife has one of these digitals… she can bring up the pictures she’s taken.” White turned the camera on, and after some fumbling soon had its menu displayed on the LCD screen. Fowler continued searching while Constable White spent several minutes figuring out the camera. Then, White said, in a quiet tone, “Greg, you’ve told me about that shot up boat Ned’s hiding, but I’ve not seen her. Is this her? If so, we’ve another charge to level: criminal trespass,” he said, handing Fowler the camera.
Fowler looked at the picture, then two more. “Yeah, that’s her. These were taken under the tarp at Ned’s, and that’s private property. Ned sure as hell didn’t give this guy permission.”
Constable White nodded. “We now know this room has been rented under Kline’s name since that first wave of reporters came up from Perth. What’s your best guess as to what he is?”
Fowler sighed. “I now think he’s a reporter, but what I can’t rule out is he may be in the employ of someone looking for Trevor. I’ll be talking to Trevor shortly; I want to know if he’s told anyone about some of the stuff this Kline guy knew. If he hasn’t, either Kline has other sources, or… it’s whoever is after Trevor. A reporter would be an ideal cover for a side business of information-selling. Even if he’s not, publishing anything about Trevor’s whereabouts could put him at risk. We don’t know how much, because we don’t know if they still want Trevor dead, or why.”
“That SOS from Trevor that you rang me about earlier… Your blokes are trying to put a lid on it, I imagine, but you said Kline knew. If he does, others likely do too. I’ll check in with the other motel owners and remind them that they should give me a ring if any of the press types book a room or check in. But, as we’ve seen here, they might not know them when they see them, so we can’t count on a warning.”
Fowler grimaced at the thought of re-igniting Carnarvon’s rumor mill via the reminder to the motel owners, but he could see no better option. “Grundig should have gotten a stay-clear warning to Trevor by now. Damn, why can’t they just leave him alone? I think most would do the right thing if they knew getting the story out could put a life at risk, but not all are like that, and I sure can’t take the chance. He has Kookaburra’s description and knows Trevor was aboard her when she sailed. With that description, he could get her name very easily, from pretty much anyone who knows the marina or does much at the port. He probably has it by now. We need to find out if this Kline character has been sending information out, to who, why, and how much. If others have Kookaburra’s name, Trevor needs a new place to hide, fast,” Fowler said. He took another look around before adding, “I’ve got some calls to make. Let's head back, and on the way, we can drop by the boatyard and get Ned’s statement on the trespass. As for Kline, see if you can find out what he knows, and who else knows. I’d like him kept locked up for a day or two; if you need me to have a chat with the prosecutor, let me know.”
Constable White nodded. “His first opportunity to appear before the judge will be tomorrow afternoon, so he’ll be in lockup until then. After that… it’s out of my hands.”
Aboard Kookaburra, forty miles southwest of Carnarvon and off Shark Bay’s Peron Peninsula, Trevor stood helm, still on course for Carnarvon, which was several hours ahead at Kookaburra’s current eleven knots under sail. His intention was to close the distance while waiting for the call. Both Trevor and Shane had found Grundig’s call disturbing, and they had talked and speculated, but the one thing they both knew but left unsaid was that whatever was going on might well keep Trevor from his doctor’s appointments. It also left Shane facing an awful dilemma: what to tell the Blakes if Trevor needed to go elsewhere to see a doctor.
Fowler’s call was answered at once. “Trevor here,” Trevor said, hoping for the best but fearing the worst, and motioning for Shane to listen in.
In the customs shack, Fowler paced, his teeth grinding as he phrased his question, “Trevor, when you met with Martin Blake, you mentioned trying to find some relatives of yours, in Northam, which is inland from Perth. Martin and I have been friends since our school days, so he did share that with me, hoping I could help. The long and the short of it is, someone showed up at the customs office today, claiming to be one of your relatives and looking for you. Turns out, he’s an imposter: probably a reporter. I arrested him for the fake name and fraud, though he won’t be locked up for long. We’re concerned this might be worse than a nosy reporter, given the attempts on your life. What I need to know is, who did you tell the name of your mother’s family to? That reporter knew it was Smith and was using it.”
Trevor’s eyes opened wide, and he tried to remember. He’d told Shane, but they’d been together ever since, and he trusted Shane. Shane’s expression confirmed that fact that Shane had told no one. Trevor didn’t want to aim any suspicion in Shane’s direction so he said, “Uh, I haven’t told anyone at all. Nobody, not even Mr. Blake; I only told him the name of the town. Uh, well, sort of… When I called my friend, Lisa, in Florida, from the yacht club, I mentioned it, but she knows anyway, and she wouldn’t tell a reporter anything. I was kinda worried about being overheard in there. Other than that… nobody at all. Only Lisa and Joel in Florida, and Mr. Blake here – well, Shane too, now – know I was even looking for my relatives. Uh, I guess my dad does too.”
Fowler went on to tell Trevor about the Antarctic Star and what she’d found, adding, “We’ll have one of the local customs agents secure that when she arrives, but the reporter knew of it. It went out by radio, so we have to assume a lot know of it by now. Your story is out again, Trevor, and I don’t see much we can do to stop it this time. We’re going to be questioning the reporter so we may know more soon, but for your safety, I think you need to stay away from Carnarvon.”
Trevor and Shane both winced at that. They exchanged a look, and Trevor knew he had to take Fowler into his confidence. “Is there any way I could come in, just for a few hours in the morning? I’m just about out of cash, so I need to get into my safe deposit box at your bank if I’m going to be hiding for a while. I need to see Ned and Atlantis too… and, uh…” Trevor hesitated, but after another look from Shane, he carried on, telling Fowler about his nightmares – but not his panic attacks – and then about his doctors appointments. “I’m worried that if I don’t see a psychologist, I might get worse,” Trevor added.
Fowler froze in place for a moment, and then said softly, “Given what you went through before you got here, I think you’re quite right to seek professional advice. I’d suggest just going elsewhere, but seeing as you need to go to the bank and see Ned, maybe we can figure something out. That reporter has Kookaburra’s description, and likely her name as well by now, so coming in on her is a bad idea. However… I could pick you up in the patrol boat and bring you in, then run you about in my car. I could hide you in the boot if need be. I think we might get away with that Monday morning, but I think you’ll need to clear off for quite a while after that. Actually, the patrol boat is a bad idea; they might know to look for it, and transferring you from the dock to the car might get you seen. There’s an estuary about five kilometers southeast of the customs dock called Oyster Creek, which you can’t see from town. There’s a dirt road, Oyster Creek Road, which ends at the water’s edge. The water’s deep enough for Kookaburra if you keep to the tidal channels. Anchor just out from the road and I’ll pick you up in my car. I’ll take you to the doctor, then to the bank, then Ned’s, then run you back.”
Trevor checked the navigation display, and soon found Oyster Creek. They arranged a time to meet, and then the call was over.
Shoulders slumping, Trevor returned to the helm, Shane by his side. Shane frowned, glancing out to sea. “Just what we didn’t bloody need. He’s right though, we’d best keep clear of Carnarvon,” Shane said.
Trevor frowned. “Yeah, for a while anyway. Shit… we’ll need to provision soon too, or we’re going to get hungry. This also kills our plan for me pretending to be you; I’ll have to go as me if Officer Fowler is there. That means just the one appointment; we can cancel with the regular doctor and I’ll just pay to see the psychologist then get reimbursed by my insurance, but what about any follow-ups? I guess we can go somewhere else, but what about the Blakes? What are we gonna tell them?”
Shane scowled, wrestling with his conscience. “I have to look after the Blakes’ interests, I owe them that, but I can’t put you at risk. You mean too much to me – I love you,” Shane said, trying to see some way out. “If you lose the use of Kookaburra, it might put your life at risk if someone is still after you. I’ll have to tell them if we leave the region, but… let’s see what the doctor says before we worry about it. I know one thing for sure; I can tell them honestly that I’ve no doubts about you being fit to command her, what I saw when we left Rhys Lagoon convinced me of that.”
Trevor saw Shane’s turmoil, and knew what he had to do. “You don’t need to worry; I won’t put you in a position where you have to betray a trust. I’ll call Mr. Blake tomorrow afternoon and let him know what’s going on, all of it. I want to, not only for you… if it was Atlantis, I’d sure as hell want to know what’s up, and if somebody leveled with me I’d be a hell of a lot more likely to want to help than if they tried to keep me in the dark. I didn’t tell Officer Fowler because I know he and Mr. Blake are friends, but that’s so I can tell Mr. Blake myself.”
“If you have to leave Kookaburra, I’m coming with you, no matter what,” Shane said, putting his hand on Trevor’s shoulder.
Officer Gonzalez scowled, looking at the notepad in front of him. He had even gone so far as to ask the State Attorney, but so far, he’d been unable to get a look at Joel’s bank records. What he needed was a warrant, but he didn’t have sufficient probable cause to get one. Gonzalez paced in the chandlery, agitated and frustrated by the many roadblocks in the case. He glanced at his watch, wondering why Henry was almost a minute late. Due to their increasingly frequent need to meet secretly and in private, they had taken to using Dirk’s chandlery for some of their meetings.
A few moments later, Henry arrived, carrying two large steaming cups of Starbucks coffee, which softened Gonzalez’s mood. “Hi Henry, and thanks,” he said, trying his best to smile.
Henry took a drink of coffee before getting down to business. “I’ve been thinking about Joel. Have you seen the diamond engagement ring Lisa is sporting? That’s one big shiny rock, and must have cost a ton. From what I understand, they got engaged shortly after Joel returned from seeing Trevor in the Mediterranean.”
Gonzalez arched an eyebrow. He’d missed noticing that, but wasn’t inclined to admit it. “Another dead end there, Henry. I tried, but it doesn’t look like I’ll be able to get a look at his financials without either a warrant or his parents’ okay. I can’t get the first one and the second one risks a tip-off.”
Henry just nodded, and withdrew a few papers from a folder he was carrying. “Mike, you have to go through channels and follow procedures. Me, my job is sometimes to find ways around them. You’d be surprised what you can get from a credit reporting agency if you pose as a lender and pay their fee.”
Gonzalez’s eyes narrowed. “Wouldn’t you need to say he applied to do that? Plus you’d need his social security number.”
Henry smiled proudly. “I have my ways. Are you sure you want to know what I did?” he asked.
Gonzalez shook his head. “I’m pretty sure I don’t, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting to see what you’ve found.”
Henry had found Joel’s wallet in his glove box, which had given Henry Joel’s social security number and, thanks to an ATM card, the name of Joel’s bank. Henry had then forged a credit application, along with Joel’s signature and a false date of birth. Henry had long maintained a merchant’s account with a credit agency, for this was far from the first time he’d needed to snoop in someone’s finances. It had been easy; banks routinely provided account balances and transaction history to other financial institutions when a request was based on a loan application. It had taken Henry under an hour to get the information, once he’d assembled the paperwork.
Gonzalez looked at the paper, which was a summary of Joel’s account transactions over the previous months. “Shit. A big deposit, over eight grand, right around the time he got back. Nothing much since then, except a few minor ATM withdrawals. Nothing that’d explain that big sparkler on Lisa’s finger, either.”
“Trevor runs Atlantis as a charter boat, so it’s possible this is what Joel was referring to when he mentioned charter money. Maybe they were doing charters in the Med, which Trevor isn’t licensed to do, there or here – he can’t be licensed until he’s eighteen. If Bridget were paying Joel, I’d expect more, but for all we know he’s keeping it in cash. The thing is, we were wrong on the boat insurance, and we have a plausible explanation for a deposit, plus it’d explain how Joel got the ring; he could have got it over there. Trevor would know for sure,” Henry said.
“If those two ran a charter illegally, they’d have reason to think they should hide it, for tax reasons if nothing else. I can’t see Trevor admitting it to me, not after I grilled him,” Gonzalez said.
Henry smiled. “True, but that’s you. Joel knows I’m not a cop. He claimed he knew who was really behind the bombing, but would only tell Dirk, no one else. My hunch is he doesn’t, but we’ll see. So, now he wants that Coast Guard file on the loss of Ares. Unless you can see any harm in giving it to him, you could give it to him via me, and I’ll see what I can get out of him. Call him back, tell him I have it but you’ve instructed me to turn it over to him, and that should go a long way to reducing his animosity to you. We can do it here and you can listen in from the back room again, if you like. He’s more likely to trust me than you if he was doing something illegal.”
Gonzalez nodded. “There’s not much in the report, but I can give you a copy. I can’t see it hurting, and might help.” Gonzalez took a deep breath, and changed the topic. “Henry, Bridget was a suspect so I’ve seen her financials. They’re clean, but she’s more than sharp enough not to let anything incriminating show. What the State Attorney helped me with was getting a look at George’s. He came up clean. Not one questionable bit of income, not one deposit that’s not directly linked to his police paycheck, nothing. He doesn’t live beyond his means, and pays more then he needs to on his mortgage, taking it right out of his paycheck. As for cash, he’s totally clean. Not one cash deposit, and in fact, only a few small cash withdrawals. He rarely uses a credit card. There is absolutely nothing there that would cast suspicion, no incongruities at all. However, the same can’t be said for my finances, and I suspect yours, or most anyone else’s; most everyone would show something that looks a little out of the ordinary. He’s covered his tracks supremely well, and if anything too well, but no judge is going to issue a warrant because he looks too clean. George has a stellar record; he has made, or provided info for, a huge number of major drug busts over the years, and has solved many murder cases as well. He most often works alone, and his record is nothing short of stellar, so to get anything to stick to him will require hard proof, and it has to be something that can’t be excused as him being undercover.”
“What about his supervisor? Any chance of getting some info there?”
Gonzalez shook his head. “Not really. We don’t know who George has in his pocket, so we can’t ask. Also, George has a hell of a lot of leeway regarding his operations and how he spends his time, all due to his record.”
“We’ll get him, Mike. No one is perfect; he’s bound to slip up, and we’ll get him,” Henry said.
“Thanks, Henry,” Gonzalez replied, wishing that he could be so sure.
Trevor and Shane had anchored Kookaburra a few miles south of Oyster Creek, and so, on Monday morning, they motored north and then into Oyster Creek Estuary, where they anchored, fifty yards off the end of Oyster Creek Road.
Shane fixed them breakfast, and then it was time for Trevor to get changed. When he went into his cabin, Shane darted into his own and then followed, with a shirt in hand. “I thought you might like something better than a T, for seeing the doctor and the banker and stuff,” Shane said, handing Trevor his polo shirt, the one he’d worn job-hunting in Carnarvon.
Trevor pulled on his shorts and grinned. “Thanks, Shane,” he said, taking the shirt and pulling it on. “I’ll try to avoid running into any more trees.”
Shane smiled. “You’d better.” Then, in a serious tone, he added, “Trev, I know you want some cash on hand in case of trouble, but don’t forget I still have about three hundred. Also, the Blakes sometimes pay me by depositing money in my account, so take this,” Shane said, handing his ATM card to Trevor, “and pull out all you can. My PIN is easy to remember: all nines.”
Trevor shook his head. “That’s yours, Shane, and I don’t want you to be broke, in case anything happens and we’re apart for a while. I’ve got plenty in the bank. Besides, you have an ATM card, I don’t, so that’s a good safe way of having cash available.”
Shane looked at his card and frowned. “Take it with you, just in case. Trev, we’re in this together.”
Trevor gave Shane a hug. “Thanks… okay, just in case there’s a problem at the bank, I’ll take it with me.” Reluctantly, Trevor let go and stood back, pausing to give Shane a look. Shane was wearing the same tattered denim cutoffs he’d worn the day they’d met, and Trevor smiled at how much had changed. “We’ll be okay.”
Shane nodded, and handed Trevor a scrap of paper. “That’s the number of the sat phone, keep it with you. I don’t think I could handle getting Kookaburra into Carnarvon, but I sure as hell could the Zodiac.”
Trevor was about to reply when he heard a horn beep. “Sounds like Officer Fowler is here,” he said, pulling on his socks and shoes before racing for the deck.
Shane had already deployed the Zodiac, so he motored Trevor ashore, where Officer Fowler, in civilian clothes, was waiting.
“Good to see you both again,” he said, as Trevor stepped ashore. He glanced at Shane and said, “We’ll see you soon. Keep the satellite phone on, just in case, and call right away if you see anything suspicious. We’d best be off, good seeing you again Shane, and thanks.”
Shane waved, trying to smile, and then reversed the Zodiac off the beach to return to Kookaburra.
“Hop in,” Fowler told Trevor, glancing around for any sign of observation.
Shane returned to Kookaburra, stowed the Zodiac, and then watched as Fowler’s car – his personal car, not a customs service vehicle – drove away, raising a cloud of reddish dust.
Shane had spent a lot of time alone on Kookaburra, but now, he looked around, at a loss for what to do. He walked to the railing, staring at the fading dust along Oyster Creek Road, and stood motionless for a while, his blond hair blowing in the gentle breeze, wishing he could have gone with Trevor, especially to the doctor’s office. Shane remembered his own first appointment with a psychologist, and how having to go alone had made it even worse.
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Many thanks to my editor EMoe for editing and for his support, encouragement, beta reading, and suggestions. Special thanks to Graeme, for beta-reading and advice. Thanks also to Talonrider and MikeL for beta reading.
A special thanks to Low Flyer and Wildone, for spotting a couple of errors. A big Thank You to RedA for Beta reading and advice, and to Bondwriter for final Zeta-reading and advice.