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Dead Stakes Chapter 1

 Could I get an entrée with steamed dim sums, followed by sweet and sour pork, and a small fried rice? Jack said as he folded the menu and returned it to the waitress. Detective Jack Creed was spending another Saturday night without his family in Cabarita Beach, something he didn’t relish doing, but for the moment, couldn’t be changed. He was here doing a job while his family resided an hour away in Brisbane; a better place with better medical facilities for his daughter Melissa.

But knowing that didn’t ease the pain of missing them and the loneliness that sometimes engulfed him. Sitting back in his chair, back straight and legs comfortably crossed, Jack put on his best ‘I’m in control’ look for the surrounding diners. Traffic noise from the main street added to the vibe of the café as patrons filled the popular eatery.

Jack liked to sit outside, enjoying the cool night air and not be under scrutiny from some seven-year-old kid asking his mother why that old man was dining alone--inferring he had no friends. There was a good sprinkling of locals and tourists dining in tonight, but the young kid delivering takeaway orders seemed to be in overdrive as he regularly brushed past Jack on his way to feeding the masses, who preferred to stay in and devour their spring rolls in front of the telly.

Jack’s in-control look consisted of long gazes at his mobile phone, flicking through his emails, responding to updates on Facebook, and secretly hoping his phone would ring, preferably from his family. Jack was no big Facebook user, considering it to be a waste of time. His account only boasted 89 friends, many of who seemed to be nice when they connected, even if they were from Kazakhstan or the Philippines. Somehow those friendships never really seemed to develop especially when Jack told them he was a policeman and happily married. But Facebook was Melissa’s request to stay in touch and he happily obliged her.

Time was pressing on and Jack was feeling a bit peckish having missed lunch today. An hour had passed and still no dim sums. There’s only so much a 56-year-old guy can do on a mobile phone while trying to look comfortable. Behind Jack sat a couple; he in his late 40s, gelled hair creatively styled into a peak down the center of his scalp, a colorful paisley patterned, tight-fitting shirt and a pair of Italian loafers; no socks of course. Jack immediately thought wanker except for the Italian loafers which Jack himself was sometimes accustomed to wearing.

His dinner guest was a good 20 years younger, blonde, oozing an air of Chanel No. 5 and a look on her face that even made Paris Hilton look intelligent. Jack smiled thinking that it took all types to make the world go round.

Don Sauve calls the waitress over to his table greeting her with “Ni ho ma”, obviously trying to impress his friend and hoping this would ensure him some dessert back at his place later on.

“Sorry Sir. I’m from Cairns. I don’t speak Chinese,” the Asian waitress replied, looking a bit bewildered as to why this guy assumed she could speak the language just because she was Asian. His female friend raised her eyebrows, shrugged her shoulders and then buried her head back into the menu, hoping her flushed red cheeks, caused by embarrassment, would subside quickly. Jack subtly smiled, giving her some reassurance while confirming she was dining with a tosser.

Jack’s phone rang. His eyes dropped quickly hoping this was a call that would end his pretense that he was actually having a good night out at the Happy Chopstix Restaurant. His stomach growled reminding him that his entrée still had not arrived as he reached over to accept a call from Jo, guessing full well it would not be good, being 8:30 p.m. 

“Feeling lonely?” Jack quipped as he raised the phone to his ear while carefully cupping the mouthpiece to drown out the road noise and the chatter of surrounding dinner patrons.

“Sounds like you’re out Jack. Not playing MasterChef at home tonight,” Jo fired back. “I think you'd better get over here. Got a guy who’s been chopped up with a meat cleaver, I’d guess. Hopefully you’ve eaten. This might be a long one. The forensic science team are on their way.”

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