The day of the wedding
Inspector Wesley Manning enters the hospital room and crosses over to the bed where Councillor Dustin Harris lays.
“Good to see you’re still alive,” Inspector Manning says, standing over the bed. “I would hate to see you not get the justice you deserve.”
The elderly mayor had been rushed to hospital after he collapsed from a suspected heart attack. “And what would that be?” Dustin asks, propping himself up.
“Let me see,” Inspector Manning laughs to himself. “The rest of your life in prison. You will not get away with what you did.”
“I’m 90 years old. I’m on my deathbed.” Dustin closes his eyes and listens to the heart rate monitor beeping next to him.
“Never too late. Those people deserve to have justice.”
“Those people?” Dustin asks, curiously.
“All those people you killed, Mr Mayor,” Inspector Manning leans down closer to Dustin, lowering his voice to a whisper. “Gretel wasn’t the only person you killed.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Don’t act so innocent!” Inspector Manning suddenly screams. “I was a young recruit in 1965 – a constable – when I was tasked with helping with this case.”
“You mean the bodies that were found in the dam?” Dustin asks.
“Yes, those wretched bodies!” Inspector Manning’s face is turning red. “That case nearly destroyed me! I’ve been hunting for the killer for years. I thought time was against me, but I finally found you!”
A sudden realisation hits Dustin Harris. “You think that I killed all those people?”
“I never gave up,” Inspector Manning continues, “I knew I was going to get you one day.”
“What makes you think I was responsible for all those deaths?” Dustin is trying to make sense of what he is being told.
“Who else could it have been?” Inspector Wesley says. “You were there. You killed your parents, before going on a killing rampage! Gretel Helling didn’t kill your father. She only found out what you were doing, didn’t she? Then you had to kill her too.”
“Where are you getting this from?” Dustin shouts angrily.
“You didn’t think she would tell me, did you?” Inspector Wesley says calmly.
“You confessed everything to her, and she came straight to me.”
“Who are you talking about?”
“Yes.” Inspector Manning gives Dustin Harris a large toothy grin. “Constance Helling told me everything about you.”
Two months earlier
“Kyle Cook is responsible for this,” Amber Harp says to Sergeant Michael Anders.
The Peppercorn Patch Police sergeant had been stood down from the police force four weeks earlier. Inspector Wesley Manning had recently promoted Senior Constable Kyle Cook to Leading Senior Constable.
“What do you mean?” Michael Anders asks.
“Kyle Cook must have been the one that called Inspector Manning,” Amber says.
“It’s possible,” Michael says. “I’m under investigation for a few things.”
“What things?” Amber asks. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I didn’t want to worry you,” Michael replies, avoiding eye contact with Amber. “I’m very embarrassed.”
“You have no reason to be! They shouldn’t be treating you like this.” Amber leans her head on her lover’s shoulder to give him comfort. “Tell me.”
Michael sighs heavily. “I’m under investigation for not following up on Cathy Gilmore’s disappearance soon enough.”
“But you didn’t know about her disappearance!” Amber protests.
“I’m also under investigation for my handling of Thomas Helling, and his subsequent escape from custody,” Michael continues.
“But that was Kyle Cook’s responsibility!” Amber is angry. “He was the one that was supposed to be watching him!”
Michael turns to face Amber and laughs. “He was with you at the time!”
“Don’t you blame me for this!” Amber punches her lover playfully.
“I’m also under investigation for the handling of Richard Evans’ murder.”
“But you had nothing to do with that!” Amber protests again.
“Doesn’t matter. They need a scapegoat.” Michael Anders sighs heavily again. “They want to hang me out to dry.”
Councillor Dustin Harris stands at the entrance of the Peppercorn Patch Caravan Park next to the Helling River. He looks at his watch impatiently before looking around him again. “You’re late,” he says to himself.
A black car suddenly pulls into the gravel driveway throwing a wave of dust over the elderly mayor. Through the tinted window of the Holden Statesman, Dustin can make out the driver and his passenger. “You’re late,” he says to himself again.
The passenger door is thrown open and from it emerges an immaculately dressed woman. Her black suit fits neatly over her small frame and her jet black hair sits atop her head in a tight bun.
“So good to finally meet you,” Dustin says, rushing over to greet the woman. Dustin is thrown for a minute. He realises that she is one of the most beautiful women he has ever set his eyes on. Asian heritage. Possibly Japanese. “I’m so glad you could come,” he stutters.
“So this is it?” The Japanese woman looks around the caravan park.
“Yes, this is the caravan park,” Dustin says, leading her along the gravel drive.
“It’s a lot more run down than I remember,” the woman says.
“It has been let go somewhat. Probably the previous owner’s fault,” Dustin explains.
“Elias Helling?” the woman asks.
“Yes, but with his death, now I guess this place is yours.” Dustin pulls out a stack of papers from his briefcase.
“I will want to knock this place down,” the woman says. “It will be a great place for my hotel chain.”
“Sign this contract and you have the permission to do whatever you want with this land.” Dustin passes the woman the contract and a pen.
Without warning, they hear heavy footsteps on the gravel drive behind them. “Akemi?” They both turn to see Constance Helling running at them. “What are you doing here?”
“Constance, dear,” the woman says. “So nice to see you after all this time.”
“Akemi, what are you doing here?” Constance asks again, exasperated.
The woman holds up the contract she is holding for Constance to see. “I’m in development now.”
“You can’t develop this land!” Constance shouts. “It belongs to me. When my father died, I inherited it!”
“Not quite dear,” the woman says, smirking at Constance. “I was still married to your father.” Akemi Helling raises her hand and flashes a diamond wedding ring.
“You were separated for years!” Constance yells. “You have no legal right!”
“Akemi has more right than you, Constance,” Dustin Harris suddenly says.
“What are you on about, old man?” Constance huffs.
“Your step-mother is the legal title holder of this land,” Dustin says.
“They weren’t even together when he died!” Constance is angry. “I’m a blood relative!”
“Not quite,” Dustin bites his lip.
“Tell me more about my biological mother,” Joanne Evans says, sitting next to Valerie Pickering.
The dialysis machine that Valerie is hooked up to hums along in the background. “Sylvia Jessop was a stunningly beautiful woman with long red hair. You look very much like her,” Valerie tells her niece.
“How come you never told me about her before?” Joanne asks.
“Your parents resolved never to tell you. They thought it would be best for you,” Valerie informs Joanne. “I was just carrying out their wishes.”
“Best for me?” Joanne baulks. “Not knowing my real mother would be best for me?”
“I’m sorry, Jo. I’ve made many mistakes in my life,” Valerie says. “This one may have been my worst.”
“I want to meet her,” Joanne says. “I need to find out more about her.”
“I’m afraid that it isn’t possible, honey.” Valerie grabs Joanne’s shoulder.
“What do you mean?” Joanne looks inquisitively at her aunt. “I only saw her a few months ago. She visited me a few times. Once when I was being held captive.”
“You must have been mistaken.” Valerie is now confused. “Sylvia Jessop died many years ago.”
“But she visited me!” Joanne insists. “On more than one occasion.”
“Honey, that’s not possible,” Valerie says. “Sylvia Jessop was killed in the same hit and run accident that killed your father.”
Next Episode – Monday November 9