Have you ever entered a pub or a bar for simply a cold beer to quench your thirst and down the other end of the bar was a small group of people, all huddled around one man who was telling a story? The words he used were mesmerising even though all there knew there wasn't a truthful word being spoken. It was the rhythm and narration technique being used, which drew you in. He'd swear on his honour, that every word he uttered was true, may God strike him down if they weren't.
The following story, I swear on my honour, is true, may God strike me down if it isn't.
"You wouldn't believe who I ran into this morning. Do you remember Tammy Hollows?"
"Didn't she elope with that Geoff Milne? Played footy for, for, Jesus, I'm pushing it, Warriors, no, Southern Central, that's right. They made a fuss because he stole his father's car and it was discovered interstate. I hadn't heard that they'd even found them."
"Neither had I. She's was walking around the hardware store as bold as brass. If it not her, it's an absolute doppelgänger and she had a boy with her, about Kelly's age or maybe a year older."
"You were mates weren't you? Why didn't you talk to her?"
"She didn't tell me she was leaving so why should I talk to her now she's back?"
"For old times' sake, and now you wouldn't be kicking yourself for missing all the gos' you could be spreading."
"You're right. I might go looking for her. And you're right, she may be hard to find, don't worry about the gos', she owes me for the shit she put me through."
"What shit? Just because you went out with that Milne kid a couple of times, all's fair in love and war. That's why you met Jimmy, and through him me. Milne was a simple rapist who doped you. You owe her for taking him away from doing it again. You're lucky that Jimmy found where he stashed you. I don't get what she may have got from it though, unless she was getting even in her mind with you, for dating him."
Cheryl kept her eyes open from that point on. She didn't know exactly where to start but as a representative for a stationery wholesaler, it gets her around all the CBD, five days a week.
The boy was the key. She saw him leaving the high school about three in the afternoon a week later, nice looking kid, in fact he reminded her of Geoff, or what her sixteen year old memory of Geoff is. If he is who she believes he is, he's even bigger all round than his father.
Kelly was only a minute behind him and was noticeably watching him. As she entered the car Cheryl asked her what she knew about the cute newcomer, "He's about my age and moved into town last week. His names Geoffrey Fiddler and moved here from Adelaide last month. He's in all my classes, every one, and Jesus is he cute. Fussy is angling in for him to take her out, but she is being ignored. He's worrying me Mum because he's hanging around me, and you know my rep." Jane Fussingham, aka Fussy, is reputed to never wear underpants, in case a boy just might get the urge. To everybody's knowledge she remains a virgin.
"Do you know where he lives?"
"I don't want to be critical but isn't he a bit young for you, Mum? And Dad would be so pissed off."
That hit her funny bone so hard she couldn't even start the car. It took Howard hitting his horn because she was blocking his way, to get her moving. She checked traffic and realised that no one could move because the school pedestrian lights were red and there was a line of buses a klick long blocking the road, so she gave Howard the finger, which made him laugh as she could see through the rear view. Howard Lukeman is a stirring prick, always was, always will be. "Never you mind about your father, this is for his benefit too, and he knows all about it. Where does this boy who wants to take you out, live, Miss, I-Don't-Go-Out-With-Boys?"
"Villiers Ave, somewhere down there in Chrysalis."
"And how do you know that?"
Kelly went red as a berry, "He was introduced to the class and he told us. He looked at me the complete time he talked and I wanted to crawl under the table. He has been asked to join one of the local Rugby League teams, Matty Bryant said Southern Central Juniors, and Geoffrey has said that he played Aussie Rules in Adelaide; he's certainly big enough. Mum, he's seriously nice." These coincidences are becoming ridiculous.
"You won't be going out with him. What do his parents do?"
She looked at her mother as if she had just landed from Mars, "His mother is manager of the local branch of an, um, Mary Murphy Matriarchy, that's right. No father he said."
Mary Murphy Matriarchy is running on the same business model as Dell but employs women only and is reputedly sexist, to the extreme that the State and Federal governments are taking them to court for their employment practices. They make and sell wholesale and retail, online, computers. They have less models than Dell, but more and better features on each computer. They're not a cheap computer, but then again, neither is Dell.
MMM took over the old Grace Brothers warehouse when it went bust locally as it is trying to get storage space closer to its major market. Myer was so pleased to get rid of the real estate, and Cheryl is due to make a call in there later this week to see if she can get into their stationery side. So long as Shields and Shields is not in there already she's in like Flynn. If they are she'll have to work for her crust. Maybe not if Tammy is involved.
The old warehouse has been partially renovated but it is not designed for public sales. Cheryl fronted the main desk, Carmen by the badge, who is part of the order taking combine, but also deals with face to face stuff, "I'm here to speak to your buying officer about stationery sales, but first, does your company have a Tammy working here in, possibly, management?"
"Same thing here, Ms," she looked at my card, "Rhyleston. Tammy Fiddler is our manager and purchasing officer. I'll tell her that you are here to see her." Behind the girl was a large window showing a huge white walled room with women of all ages talking on microphones or doing paperwork or both, without separating screens or walls and going off into the distance. Cheryl finds it odd that she does not know one woman working on the phones and she really would think she should have.
"I am Mrs. Rhyleston. This PC stuff does not carry a lot of weight around here, and tell Tammy that Cheryl Bender is out here." The woman looked at Cheryl with distain, then lowered her voice as she talked on her attached head mic, then she immediately took another call. The door behind the receptionist swung openly almost instantly as if we were being watched. It was Tammy, all right. Sixteen years older, but just as beautiful. A bit harder in the face somehow.
"Give Cheryl my address, Carmen. I'll see you at my place at eight, tonight."
She turned immediately to leave.
"No you won't. Now, or I go straight to the police. And I'll be at your place anyway as I have to talk with your son as well."
If looks could kill, Cheryl had just received one between the eyes. She just looked back, just as hard.
"I'll have my daughter with me who he knows already."
If her head had swivelled to look back at me any quicker, she would have got whiplash. She nodded to me and gestured for me to follow her with her head. It was disconcerting that I went through the door as it wasn't the expected white room with lots of people but a small office with another screen on the corresponding converse wall with a view to the foyer and the rear end of a seated Carmen. It was all a façade. I wondered where the real people were.
"Firstly, business. My company is the biggest stationery wholesaler/retailer in the city and we would like your business. Whether you use me as your contact or not, is up to you; but our prices, service and on hand stock, is second to none. This is our pricelist, and our current inventory of ready prepared letterheads of companies, and we can carry yours if you wish without cost to you and give same day delivery. If you remember Menzies old warehouse, well that is now Fitches, Stationery and Office Furniture.
"Secondly, personal. What happened to that arsehole rapist that you disappeared with? I've got a bone to pick with him!"
"First: yes with the stationery," she reached behind her and lifted a letterhead off her desk and gave it to Cheryl, "get me a price on this and see how close your printer can duplicate it. I want you Cheryl. It's either you or it's straight to that slime Pettiman at Shields and Shields. You married Charlie Rhyleston did you? Good choice, he was a nice kid at school. Our friend Mr. Milne is where no one can get him."
She looked at Cheryl for a long minute seemingly making up her mind about something.
"Keep your temper in check, because you're to be the first and last to know what happened about Geoffrey threatening to blackmail us. Yeah he raped you, but he also doped me and Mum the month before, then he came around bragging about it with photos. We have the problem that Geoffrey may be gone but he was posing in all the photos whilst someone else took them. I saw the ones of me and Mum and there is no way he could have taken most of them as he was in many of them and they were professional quality showing the face of us victims but nothing to identify the rapist himself."
"What about Milne?"
Tammy turned to her desk and walked around picking up a briefcase from beside her office chair. She opened the clasps and from a slit in the lid under the pocket she took out a photo, flicked it across her other hand a couple of times making a wry expression with her face and then passed it to me. It was Milne all right. He looked quite peaceful ... with his head sitting beside his body, and a huge pool of blood underneath where his neck was severed.
"Mum hit him with a cast iron frypan, I made sure he wouldn't come back to haunt us by using a serrated bread knife. It was messy though satisfying. I came back because of this." She passed Cheryl another larger envelope. Tammy's mother was pictured naked with a male body, the erection spitting semen into her flaccidly open mouth. Cheryl recognised the scar along the torso of the male body where Geoff had been cleated during a game as he used to show it off to all us girls as if it was a badge of honour.
The next few photographs were the same male body having sex with Tammy or her mother until she hit a ring-in. It depicted Tammy's face, and her then young body. Her legs were depicted splayed open like a stationary jumping frog, her sex was gapingly wide open and wet, with a different male body to the first pictures. He was leaner, less athletic, and kneeling beside her, strings of semen from his drooping, now flaccid penis, to her white spattered and drooling vagina, obviously recently having copulated.
The next few were similar, then a horror photo. It was Cheryl, taken between her legs. It was her on her side with an erection inside her back and front side. Her upper leg was over Charlie's hip, yes one of the bodies I recognised. The one inside my vagina, was her husband, the mole on the back of the calf of his leg was unmistakeable. She frantically riffled through the rest and the same three males, Geoff, Charlie and Jimmy Garfield were shown, amongst other familiar faces and bodies also almost a dozen different females.
Beryl Fitch who committed suicide, a month before Cheryl's photo was obviously taken. Someone had said that the girl was going to become a nun and was a virgin, until the police's post mortem proved otherwise.
Sandra Haggard who mysteriously had twins then her family left town. "Look at these." On Tammy's computer monitor the photos were flipping across in an obscene slide show, every female she recognised, all locals and most in her generation, and the boys bodies were sometimes familiar, sometimes not.
There was that very pretty English teacher who was only in town for weeks. By the photo, she had a great body and was being treated to anal sex by a massive erection, he was new, and her face was weeping, and very aware, as another penis was all the way down her throat to his pubic hair. Cheryl had seen how long and wide Lukeman's dick is, as he still likes to flaunt it, after he's had too much to drink at parties. Cheryl would cry too if she was being done in tandem between two monsters like those.
On the floor beside the photographed subjects, were piles of even more graphic photos. One was being held for display to the camera by Lukeman, with a female's body, sitting on him with her being supported by two other male standing bodies. Again she recognised her husband with his large erection in the woman's mouth while she was unconscious, maybe not unconscious, but her eyes are closed displaying a weird, bliss filled expression, on her face.
"We can't kill them all, even if we recognised them all. How many photos, different women and girls, different males are there?"
"I haven't even seen them all. I know some of them and it's not just kids we then knew. If you remember old man Grosvenor, he wasn't so old there and there is that tattoo which we thought was so cool for a headmaster to have. You'd also think a headmaster would be bright enough not to have that tattoo exhibited while he raped a fifteen year old girl. She is little Jenny Milne, Geoff's little sister, who is now an out and outed, lesbian."
"The CD you're watching is a swap CD I think. There must be thousands more original photos, which aren't on this one. It is also possibly an insurance CD, you go to someone official and we will identify you to the police. Mum found it in Milne's jacket before we buried him."
We began a list of those we knew, males and females. The females, we took half the list each and rang them if they had an address or phone number. That afternoon Cheryl went through her house and garage with a fine tooth comb. If you want professional quality photography, you automatically go to a professional photographer. In this case someone who will become a professional photographer, the quality was unmistakeable.
They were in the garage, under a steel plate covering a concrete drain in the concrete floor the water diverted using white plastic piping. There were almost ten boxes of filed DVDs, and a desktop hard drive that has a six teraflop rating on the outside display. Milne's share was a piker, but then again, Charlie is a professional photographer who also freelances for all the newsagencies, hence the professional quality photography and why he's got 'em all. The find had shaken Cheryl, and not for the expected reasons. Some of these were taken of unexpected people, and some went back sixty years or more.
She took a quick scan on their computer and there were the complete sets of series' that Tammy said must be missing going back to years before her time, in black and white. The newest had her little girl Kelly, from about two or three, to quite recently. He wore a condom in the last couple of hundred. Also stored was a waterproof box holding a huge quantity of drugs, roofies and speed and others she didn't recognise, with up to date scripts signed by doctors she did not know and addressed interstate.
The town's men were all told that the women were having a hen's night on Thursday night. Charlie knew that something was wrong as Cheryl hadn't spoken to him in days and when the subject of sex was raised in bed, she went to sleep with Kelly. She was normally the one to initiate sex. The photos, shit the photos ... he crept out to the garage and there was the stack of crystal boxes there, at first it looked good, til he realised all the drugs were gone, so was the hard drive. He tested a DVD, but he needn't have bothered, as it was a blank.
He rang Howard, then a few more. They were pissed at the time of the call, until his explanation.
The meeting of the town's women was on the Thursday night and it had overcrowded the complete town hall. As a woman entered the door she was handed copies of the photos pertaining to her and a list of the men recognised. The Minister for Police, Marianne Willis MLA, was given hers and she was held by Tammy and Cheryl aside, for a discussion. Kelly has been sedated, she just sat there dry eyed and numb.