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Dead Ringer Chapter 1

 Kelly Lang had run the new Beach Resort for 17 years.  Before that his dad owned the original Cabarita Hotel, famous for a cold beer overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Sunday afternoon sessions were legendary amongst the local motorcycle club members. 

The hotel, and now the Cabarita Beach Resort, was well-known for its food. Patrons drove from afar to sample the restaurant’s famous seafood platter. In all that time, there had never been anything remotely hinting at trouble, unlike some other pubs in the area. Friday nights in the region can get pretty wild. Laborers quenching their thirst after a hard working week and the influx of trendy snobs from Brisbane down for the weekend can make for a volatile mix.  

The party-goers tended to hang out in the public bar and dined on a diet of liquid amber and beer nuts. Families made a fast track to the restaurant. 

Today was the first time he had ever gone to throw out the trash and found a dead body in the industrial waste bin at the back of the pub. That wasn't the weirdest thing about the discovery, though.  No, the weirdest thing was the dead man was wearing ten rings – one on each finger.  Those would fetch a pretty penny.  He could buy that sport's car he always wanted and retire in style.   Kelly was tempted to pocket the rings and not tell anyone, but he didn't want to be caught lying, especially by Detective Sergeant Jack Creed.  

Jack Creed was well-known in these parts.  He was tenacious, thorough and always got his man.  Kelly didn't want to be under Jack's microscope. Instead, he dialed the local police station and waited for them to break his 'top spot in Cabarita' streak.  They were going to get publicity for this.  Kelly just hoped the old saying of 'any publicity is good publicity' was true.

Jack Creed and Detective Constable Jo Boston-Wright watched as Peter Monroe took pictures of the crime scene.  Their most recent case was a university shooting by spoilt rich kid Nicholas Weatherby. Jack liked working with Jo and requested they team up again up for this latest case.  

The media was already calling the dead man “the ring man” because of the 10 rings on his fingers.  Even without reading a report, Jack could tell the man's fingers and toes were broken. Maybe someone decided to teach him a lesson. That's what usually happened in these dump job types of situations. It was probably a mob hit.  Their John Doe was some guy brought in from out of town and dumped in the waste bin behind the Cabarita Beach Resort.  Criminals always wanted to dispose of their trash in a new location. It kept the cops off their trail for a little while longer. Jack had seen it all before.  He never got tired of the various twists and turns the cases took.  For a quiet resort town, Cabarita Beach had rather creative killers. 

"What we got here, Jo?" Jack crouched down by the dead man.  They had moved him from the industrial bin and continued to take pictures of the crime scene. 

“No ID.  The first John Doe of the season.”  Jo wore white plastic gloves so she wouldn't contaminate the evidence or scene with fingerprints.  She also wore a smart blue pantsuit. Jo was just like one of the boys down at the station – or at least she wanted people to see her as just one of the guys.  If she let her blonde hair down out of that bun and dressed in something a little tighter there was no way anyone would mistake her for just one of the guys.

"Have you checked dental records?”

"We're working on that.”  Jo looked down at her notepad where she had scrawled 'rush means rush' across the top.   “We put in a rush order.  Now we just have to sit back and see if they actually rush it."

"This murder is the first we've had since the university shooting.”  Jack straightened from his crouching position.  "My bet is they'll rush it just to get on the evening news."

Jo laughed.  "Sounds about right. I haven't seen you around much lately, Jack. What's going on? It's like you've been lying low waiting for all the buzz surrounding the Weatherby kid to die down. "

How much should he tell Jo?  She knew he was married and had a daughter, but that's all he told anyone about his personal life. He didn't like them snooping around his business like they were trying to solve a crime.  His life wasn't a murder mystery.

No one but him needed to know about his daughter's mental illness or the need to keep a separate home.  His marriage wasn't on the rocks, but that's the first conclusion they would jump to.  The other house was a better fit for his daughter's needs. She was close to the best medical help and the beach apartment at the Seaview Motel, which he called the ‘penthouse,’ was more like a bachelor pad rather than a family home.

Besides, the medical help in and around Cabarita Beach was a bit too alternative for Jack’s liking. Herbal this or natural that didn’t sit well in Jack’s traditional mind. In his opinion the best results came from administrating traditional medicine rather than all that mumbo jumbo stuff. Melissa was Jack’s top priority. He put in the long hours and claimed the overtime. Private medical insurance was not cheap, but he had responsibilities that included seeing Melissa get back on track, no matter what the sacrifice. If it was good for Melissa, then it was good for everybody.

“We all need a break now and then. Even me,” Jack replied. But Jo wasn’t buying it. 

“Really?  I had you pegged as a complete workaholic.”

Jack threw his plastic gloves into the dumpster before turning away from Jo and heading back to his ’67 Navy blue Mustang. Not your standard police car issue, but nothing about Detective Jack Creed was standard. He even opted for personalized car plates – “JC.” They represented his initials but to his detractors they referred to the plates as “Jesus Christ,” which was mainly brought about by Jack’s aloofness. Jo hurried to follow him.  Her high heels clicked on the pavement like a jittery pocket watch or an out of step nag at the Albion Park trots.  

"Hey! I'm not done talking to you yet!" Jo jumped in front of Jack and locked his door so he couldn't escape. "I know there's something going on with you. Either you tell me or I’ll figure it out. And you know I will. I'm a good detective, and if I wasn't, we wouldn’t be working together."

Jack pressed the button to unlock the car door before gently brushing Jo aside and climbing into the car.   “Nothing is going on.  Why don't you mind your own business for once? You’re not my wife, but some days you sure sound like her.”

“You can't get rid of me that easily,” Jo replied in a forceful but concerned voice.

"I was with my daughter, okay?”  His voice quivered for a moment. What I do in my off time is no one's business but my own.  Remember that and we’ll get along fine.”

Jo watched him gun the engine before he drove off in a squeal of tyres and gravel.  There was a mystery to solve here, there was no question about that, Jo thought.  But Jack Creed was an even bigger mystery with a far more difficult solution than that of the dead body they had just discovered.

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