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Dusty Dexter PI is a continuous novel by Jan Richards. You can read a new installment each weekday in your local paper, or catch up on the week happenings online each Saturday.

Episode 11: Adrenaline and caffeine

Seachange is on the Esplanade, metres from the beach. It sandwiched between a juice bar and a surfwear shop and has seating for 60, partially under cover of the monolith above.

The cafe buzzing with adrenaline and caffeine. Maria hands me a latte, goes back to the espresso machine.

Janet chats up a bloke I don know. I interrupt their tete a tete.

“Dusty, this is Evan; he a marine scientist, studying loggerhead turtles, works at Ocean World.”

For Janet,
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journalism a lifestyle choice not just a career, almost any conversation can become an opportunity for investigative questioning. She been at work on Evan.

I join them. “Hi Evan. Just saw a turtle having breakfast.”

“Quite a few live off the Coast here,” he indicates the ocean. “We studying their habitats. They endangered.”

He mid forties, short cropped hair, dark, some grey. Stocky, but pretty fit.

I nod, down a glass of water, sip coffee.

Janet enlightens Evan. “Dusty got a hangover. We had a few drinks last night,
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celebration. Today her first day as a PI. She on Manny case. You know? Guy who washed up on the beach, shot, shark took his arm.”

I let him know how close I am to the action.

“It was me found him, pulled him up onto the beach, found Thommo too.”

Janet elaborates. “They arrested Dusty for the murder. She got there first, his blood was still wet. The gun was on the bed right beside her when the cops arrived. Then she accidentally shot the sergeant with her taser. That didn help.”

Can rely on Janet to give all the facts.

I not sure if he laughing at the story, at me, or at Janet. Don like it.

“They dropped the charges. Well most of them.”

Janet changes the subject part flirting, part journalist. “Tell me about loggerhead turtles. How come they endangered?”

I leave her to him,
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concentrate on the coffee.

Pete waves at me, sweaty in running shorts and singlet, elastic bandage around one knee, slurps from his water bottle.

Road bikes are stacked against railings, helmets on the handlebars, backpacks filled with towels thrown on the floor.

I peer between bodies and the blades of pandanus at the water. Three trawlers are anchored in the bay, booms out over their sides, nets in the water. Where there are prawns and trawlers there are sharks, but I don mind swimming when the trawlers are out,
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figure the sharks have enough food to keep them occupied.

Wonder if Janet new chum the marine scientist knows about sharks, might be able to shed some light on the mysterious movements of Manny arm.

He draws an imaginary line on the table top, the curve of the bay.

“Shark attacked him outside the river mouth.” He places two sugar sachets side by side to mark the mouth of the river.