The Pic

A free sample (about 10%) of the novel.

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Negative strip ande black and white font used in book cover for novel about Press photography.


Paul Gresham

Former Special Forces soldier Luke Cutler must use all his powers of cunning and deception if he is to successfully complete this mission.


1 Glen worries how his readers will react to pic

2 Glen plans to get rid of Luke after he has taken pic

3 Jade schemes to stop pic

4 Luke decides to take pic, unaware that Jade hates the idea

5 Alan Jones denies dogging a problem in Havensea

6 Luke decides to scout possible dogging area so can take pic

7 Alan Jones concerned that dead holidaymaker will result in negative publicity for Havensea

8 Girl advises Luke of a possible place to take pic

9 Jade resentful towards Glen about pic

10 Jade warns father about pic

11 Glen hires extra photographer to take pic

12 Andy avoids mentioning nature of pic to wife

13 Alan Jones warns Glen not to publish pic

14 Jade tries to persuade Luke not to take pic

15 Jade urges father to stop pic being taken

16 Jade tries to persuade Luke not to take pic

17 Alan tries to attract the ‘American’ market to Havensea

18 Homeless people ask about dogging

19 Andy practises by taking pic of woman in bikini

20 Andy’s kids ask awkward questions about pic

21 Alan tries to campaign against pic

22 Homeless people at ‘Doggers Welcome’ hotel

23 Alan has problems with dog poo

24 Glen criticises Jade’s ability as journalist

25 Jade investigates missing person

26 Alan decides to stop Andy from taking pic

27 Luke gets ready to meet Mad Axe Demon

28 Alan’s new ‘American’ friend angry with him

29 Luke meets Mad Axe Demon

30 Alan’s latest scheme to stop pic

31 Alan tries to have Luke killed

32 Luke with sexy but treacherous Cindy

33 Cindy finds dead body in marsh

34 Leo falls into tidal creek on marsh

35 Cindy plans to dump metal detector

36 Leo hopes tide will lift him out of tidal creek

37 Luke sees Cindy in car with metal detector

38 Cindy tries to dump metal detector in creek

39 Alan hoping Leo has killed Luke

40 Leo escapes from creek but trapped on marsh

41 Cindy thinks she sees something moving on the marsh – could it be Leo?

42 Leo crawls across marsh

43 Luke has idea how to fake pic

44 Cheryl recalls shooting tragedy on marsh

45 Alan protests about doggers

46 Luke assaults Andy at wedding photography photoshoot

47 Cheryl wonders if she can make Luke lose his job

48 Alan in secret service mode

49 Luke gets ready to shoot fake pic

50 Luke and Zanna interrupted by bird watcher

51 Andy goes to marsh to take pic

52 Zanna tries to make sex dolls look like doggers

53 Andy decides to cross marsh

54 Glen gets tip off about doggers

55 Luke and Zanna trapped on Buck Island

56 Andy trapped by tide on marsh

57 Glen advises Luke that doggers are meeting near marsh

58 Glen buys newspaper tip off about doggers

59 Jade and boyfriend drive to marsh

60 Ship’s water tank washed overboard

61 Andy tries to grab hold of ship’s water tank

62 Tide disturbs body on marsh

63 Jade hears about Luke’s sexy romp  in gondola

64 Andy grabs hold of ship’s water tank

65 Dogger tries to pick up Jade outside pub

66 Luke and Zanna watch doggers arrive

67 Jade drives to marsh

68 Luke and Zanna see Jade intercepted by doggers

69 Cheryl searches for Andy alone at night

70 Andy trapped by tide on marsh

71 Cheryl accosted by crazy clown

72 Luke and Zanna plan to use sex dolls to escape across marsh

73 Cheryl trapped in sand dunes by homeless man

74 Luke and Zanna try to paddle on sex dolls across flooded marsh

75 Andy plans to paddle across flooded marsh on ship’s water tank

76 Cheryl trapped in sand hills by homeless man

77 Glen concerned about circulation figures at meeting with group editor

78 Alan mentions dead body found in marsh

79 Zanna comforts sea-battered sex dolls

80 Cindy risks betrayal

81 Jade and Luke after pic

1 Glen worries how his readers will react to pic

Glen Bowman, the editor of the ‘Hailer’ local newspaper, looked across the editorial office and tried to decide whether to brief his freelance photographer to take a pic of the doggers – the people who were having group sex at the local nature reserve.
It would dramatically improve the terrible circulation figures – people would buy a copy of the newspaper just to look at the picture.
At least in theory.
In reality it might completely alienate the Hailer’s readership, so much so that they would never buy a copy of it again.

Havensea was a small, family-oriented seaside town and the ‘dogging pic’ as it might be described would hit it like a tidal wave.
He glanced at the circulation figures on his computer screen and looked across the office again, this time more appraisingly.
Jade, his junior reporter, was looking at her computer screen and Luke Cutler, his freelance photographer, was doing the pics diary.
Each Monday morning he called at the office to copy the list of pictures that he had to take for the Hailer from the office pics diary into his own pics diary, which he always carried around with him so that he could check the time, date and place of every picture that he had to take.
Another problem was, could Cutler actually take the dogging pic? Was he capable of it?
When he’d applied for the job he’d said that he had been a photographer in the army and had served in Afghanistan. He had an excellent portfolio of photographs, including some that had been taken in action.
If anyone could take it, he could, he supposed.
It would be quite a challenge for him, though, he would have to find out exactly where and when the doggers met at the nature reserve, hide somewhere nearby and take a snatch shot of them, so that they didn’t realise that he was taking it.  
What if they caught him?
The Hailer mustn’t be involved, not officially anyway.
If they asked him why he was taking the pic he would have to say that he was working for himself rather than for the Hailer.
What about Jade?
How would she react?
It would be quite a shock for her – it would probably shock her as much as it would shock the readers.
She had grown up in Havensea and was proud of the resort, she might not like the idea of it being exposed as a dogging venue.
He could never understand why a pretty blonde eighteen year old girl should be so loyal to a place that was essentially decrepit. It was popular with families but not the kind of families that had any money to spend.
No, it was better if she didn’t know about it.
He got up and went over to the window, hardly noticing the holidaymakers who were strolling along the street on their way to the beach.
He looked at his reflection, instead.
At fifty five he was probably too old and too old fashioned to be manipulating the circulation figures by publishing a photograph of people having sex, even though it wouldn’t be explicit and would only hint at it.

But he would have to do it if he wanted to keep his job.
He would have to do it quite quickly, too, he had a meeting with the group editor on the 27th. of June, which was only about three weeks away.

He would almost certainly complain about the low circulation figures, and he might even hint that it  was time for him to take early retirement.
Finally he turned around to face his freelance photographer.

“Luke, could I have a word with you please?”

Luke copied the pics from the pics diary into his own diary and looked at the next pic. ‘Wednesday, 6pm, Scout hall, pic of Mayor presenting Scouts with new gas barbecue.’
It was a non event, like most of the  events   that happened in Havensea, but on the other hand there was one thing he liked about the place.
Nobody was trying to kill him.
He could walk around it at any time of the day or night and be pretty sure that he wouldn’t have to suddenly throw himself to the ground with the safety off and the weapon aimed because somebody was shooting at him from a compound or an irrigation ditch.
From a Taliban fighter with the crossed swords of the holy warrior tattooed on the back of his hand to a small town mayor with a hamburger in his hand.
It was bizarre – probably too bizarre for somebody like Glen.

That’s why he had decided not to tell him that he had been in the special forces – that’s why he had told him that he had just been an army photographer instead.
He looked up from the diary and wondered where Jade was.

She was probably in the side room where the previous editions of the Hailer were stored, he decided – she must be because she hadn’t gone out of the office.
Suddenly he sensed that Glen was looking at him.

Glen turned around from the window and looked around the office, feeling slightly guilty that he had been away from his desk for so long.
Luke was still updating the pics diary but it looked as if Jade had gone out.
Good, this wasn’t for her ears.
“Luke, could I have a word with you, please?”
Luke stopped writing and looked across the room at him. It must be pretty important, he didn’t usually speak to him when he was doing the pics diary – or at any other time.
He got up and went his desk.
Glen cleared his throat, it looked as if was embarrassed about something.
“We’ve had a tip off that there’s been some dogging activity at the nature reserve, and I want a photograph of it” he said.
Luke nodded calmly, he would try to work out why he wanted a pic like that later.
“Okay” he said.
Glen looked at the papers on his desk for a few seconds, considering Cutler’s reaction. Any other ‘snapper’ – photographer, would have expressed surprise – shock maybe, would have asked how he was supposed to do it.
But Cutler was different for some reason.
“I don’t want their faces to be in the photograph, and they must be at least partly dressed, for obvious reasons.”
Luke nodded again but was planning ahead. He would have to take it from a hiding place close nearby, or as a long range shot with a zoom lens if there was nowhere to hide.
“Also, I don’t want you to say anything about this to anyone else. And I don’t want the photograph to be associated with the Hailer. When you take it, you aren’t taking it for us, you’re taking it for yourself.”
“I understand.”

In other words, if anything went wrong he would get the blame, not Glen.
“That’s it then.”

“Oh, and I need it in less than three days’ time, before the deadline for next weeks’ ‘paper” he casually added.
“One last thing. Anyone else includes Jade, don’t talk to her about it.”
“I understand.”
He had a pretty good idea why she wasn’t supposed to know about it – it was because it would hurt Havensea, and she loved the place.

Even so, Glen could have trusted her. It was pretty bad when an editor felt that he couldn’t trust his junior reporter to keep a secret.
He went back to his desk and looked at the pics diary again.
Glen hadn’t seen Jade go into the side room, he guessed.
Jade looked through the previous copies of the Hailer in the side room, searching for an article about the Brownies’ latest fund raising campaign.
They had completed a charity walk along the beach from Havensea to Pebble Point, which was about two miles further up the beach. They had taken their teddy bears with them and had had a teddy bears’ picnic there.

She thought that it would be rather nice if the teddy bears could say something about how much they had enjoyed the picnic after their long walk.
Obviously the Brownies would have to speak for them, and she would have to persuade them to do it, but persuading people to talk was part of being a journalist.

She wondered when she would be promoted from writing about teddy bears’ picnics to writing more important stories.
She was eighteen now and had two years experience as a junior reporter, surely it was time that she was given a chance to write the really important stories, such as the new one-way traffic system story for example.
Suddenly she heard Glen ask Luke if he could have a word with him.

That was unusual because he hardly ever spoke to him when he was doing the pics diary, in fact he hardly ever spoke to him at all.
She wondered if she should cough or make a noise to let Glen know that she was in the side room, but she was too late.

“We’ve had a tip off that there’s been some dogging activity at the nature reserve, and I want a photograph of it” he said.

She listened with shock as he discussed the picture with Luke – but it was his last sentence that shocked her the most. 

“One last thing. Anyone else includes Jade, don’t talk to her about it” he said.

She turned the pages over mechanically, the stories hardly registering with her.
A story about dogging?
In the Hailer?

Has Glen lost his mind?
She found the story about the Brownies’ charity walk and looked at the innocent young faces holding their teddy bears up to prove that they had completed the walk with them.
This was Havensea – nice people doing nice things.

Dogging wasn’t Havensea, dogging was about people doing horrible things, things that would hurt Havensea.
Why wasn’t she supposed to know about the pic?
Didn’t Glen trust her?
No, he didn’t.
That hurt.
Suddenly she decided.
She would do everything she could to stop Luke from taking the picture of the doggers.

2 Glen plans to get rid of Luke after he has taken pic

Glen glanced up as Jade came back into the office and sat down at her desk. She had probably been in the reception office downstairs, listening to someone who had a story for them, he decided.

Cutler must have left, he had been too absorbed in the story on his computer screen to realise that he had gone.
He looked at the circulation figures again, and thought about the meeting with the group editor.
What the group editor didn’t realise, or refused to accept, was that the Hailer now had a competitor.
Several competitors, in fact. 

They weren’t other newspapers, they were web sites, or rather social media pages, all run by so-called citizen journalists and all purporting to report the local news.
There was nearly as much news on these pages as there was in the Hailer.
Well, it wasn’t exactly news – much of it was uncorroborated rumour and speculation, and sometimes malicious libel.

But even so it had an immediacy which the Hailer couldn’t match. 
By the time the Hailer had sifted the facts from the rumour, speculation and malicious libel, and was ready to run the story it was old news – no-one was interested.
He doubted if the Hailer would exist in five years’ time – and then he would be out of a job.
However, he had to keep it for the next five years and the only way of doing that was to do something about the circulation figures.
Or rather, persuade the group editor that he was doing something about them.
He went back to the window again.

Suddenly he had an idea.

What if he didn’t use the dogging photograph in the Hailer?

What if he just showed it to the group editor and told him that he was so desperate to improve the circulation figures that he had considered doing something as bizarre as that?
It would be quite a gamble – the group editor might question his editorial judgement, in fact he might decide that it was time he took early retirement.

That would rather defeat the object of the exercise, of course.
However, it was a calculated risk that he would have to take.
Obviously, he wouldn’t tell Cutler that he had changed his mind – that he didn’t intend to use the photograph, or he wouldn’t try very hard to take it.
He tapped his desk thoughtfully.
It would reflect rather badly on him if it ever emerged that he had ordered a photograph of people having sex outdoors.
Cutler would be the only witness to this.
It might be a good idea to get rid of him when he had taken the photograph.

Wipe the somewhat tainted slate clean. 

3 Jade schemes to stop pic

Jade sat on a park bench during her lunch break and thoughtfully nibbled a cheese and tomato sandwich – then tried to decide how to prevent Luke from taking the pic of the doggers.
She would have to discover how he was planning to take it first, she realised.
Firstly he would have to find out where and when exactly the doggers were holding their meetings at the nature reserve.

It was quite a large area of about five square miles, he couldn’t just walk around the place all day hoping to be in the right place at the right time.
What if she sent him an anonymous tip off telling him where and when they were meeting, and he turned up and wasted his time?

If she did it often enough he would soon become discouraged, and might tell Glen that it was impossible to take the pic.
Suddenly she had another idea.

The doggers had to use their cars to get to their meetings, maybe she could sneak up on them and let the air out of their tyres.
It would be pretty risky, though. If they caught her they would…well she didn’t know what they would do to her.
In fact she had no idea what kind of people the doggers were, she admitted to herself.

Finally she had the idea of persuading Luke to take her with him when he was taking the pic – yelling out to warn the doggers that he was hiding nearby.

A bit like a hunt saboteur, she smiled to herself.

He wouldn’t be very pleased, she imagined, he might even become violent towards her, if he was a violent kind of person.
Was he?
She didn’t know.
In fact she didn’t really know him at all, she realised. All she knew about him was that he was single, twenty four, his hair was a bit too long, he dressed a bit too casually and he had been in the army.
She tried to think of another idea and looked around the park at the bandstand, the children’s play area and the duck pond for inspiration.
Then it came to her.

Suddenly she knew what to do.

4 Luke decides to take pic, unaware that Jade hates the idea

Luke came out of the Hailer offices and walked into Haven avenue, Havensea’s main street, weaving past the sauntering holidaymakers with their kids in pushchairs and dodging the faster moving senior citizens on their mobility scooters.
Most of the holidaymakers were heading to the beach, he guessed – quite a few of the kids had buckets and spades in their hands.
He stepped around a dog that was taking a shit on the pavement and thought for a minute.
Why did Glen want a picture of the doggers?
The Hailer was a small town family-friendly newspaper, not a tabloid, and the only thing he could think of was, it was something to do with the circulation figures – it was a way of trying to improve them.

It still didn’t make sense.
It wouldn’t improve them, it would make them worse, it would alienate the readers.

They didn’t buy the Hailer to read about dogging – they bought it to read the local news.

He smiled to himself. Really, dogging was the local news – but it wasn’t the kind of local news that they wanted to read about.

Another thing.
Glen hadn’t mentioned how much he was going to pay him for taking the pic.
He had given him three days to take it, but was he planning to pay him for spending all that time on it? And if so, how much?
It could take three days just to find out where and when the doggers were meeting at the nature reserve.
The usual fee for a pic was £15.00 plus travel expenses. He could often take one in five minutes so effectively he was being paid £15.00 for five minutes’ work.
What if he refused to take the pic? What if he told Glen that it wasn’t worth it?
He would probably fire him and get another photographer to do it.
He had a pretty good job, did he really want to risk losing it?
He didn’t have a choice.
He would do everything he could to take the dogging pic.

5 Alan Jones denies dogging a problem in Havensea

Luke got out of bed and had a shower and shave, put a pair of shorts on and looked out of the front window of his flat.

It was wide open, it had been another hot and humid night, too hot to even sleep under a bed sheet, and the heatwave was forecast to last for at least another couple of weeks.
He looked down into the street below as a teenage girl with a baby in a pushchair came out of one of the Victorian houses and pushed it towards the Promenade, about three hundred yards away.

She probably lived in a flat or a bedsit, he guessed, the big Victorian houses had been converted into flats and bedsits long ago.

He glanced at the wheelie bins that had been pushed onto the pavement and realised that it was Tuesday, rubbish collection day.

His gaze drifted towards the Promenade. It was a wide road that was lined with bars, pubs, amusement arcades and fast food places on one side, and the Pleasure Gardens, the Happy Days amusement park, the Boating Lake and the Model Village on the other side.

It was already pretty busy with holidaymakers although it was only – he checked his watch – just after 9 am.

Suddenly he realised that he would have to shoot from about 300 yards away if he had to take a long range shot of the doggers.

He took the zoom lens out of his spare camera backpack, took the protective caps off it, mounted it on his camera and aimed it at the Promenade.
He was looking for some people to shoot, as substitutes for the doggers.

The people on the Promenade were about the same distance away as the doggers would probably be, when he took the pic, he guessed.

Suddenly he saw that a man and a woman had stopped outside the Happy Days amusement park and were pushing each other and arguing about something.

They didn’t look like holidaymakers, though, they looked like homeless people.

They were poorly dressed and had a couple of battered suitcases with what looked like sleeping bags tied on top of them, and were probably aged about twenty five to thirty.

Maybe they had been evicted from their flat for non- payment of rent, it happened all the time.

He focussed the camera on them and took six shots of them in rapid succession, using the camera’s continuous shooting mode.
Suddenly somebody that he recognised came into the camera viewfinder.

It was Alan Jones, a local Councillor, although with his tan-coloured suit, floral tie and straw hat he didn’t look like a Councillor, he looked more like a character in a film which was set in the tropics.
He had met him a few times at various events, he was a kind of ambassador for Havensea, he liked to walk around the place and help the holiday-makers.
He was probably about fifty and always seemed to be smiling, it was his ‘Welcome To Havensea’ smile, he guessed.

He stopped and smiled at the couple when he saw them arguing, but they didn’t smile back at him – they scowled at him instead.
Alan Jones decided to try to help the two young people that he had seen arguing with each other.

They were probably looking for something to do, that’s probably why they were arguing, there were so many exciting attractions in Havensea that it could be difficult to decide which one to choose.
“Is everything all right?” he said to them.
They turned around and looked at him – then the young man took a step towards him.
“You what?” he said.
“Is everything all right? Can I help you with anything?” “There’s plenty to see and do, you know” he added.
“Like what?” the young man growled.

Jones indicated the nearby  ‘Static Owls Display,’ a group of owls which were secured on perches and were having their photographs taken with the holidaymakers.

The display had been put on by the ‘Blink Of An Owl’ wildlife charity, a rather clever play on words, he felt, and it had proved to be very popular with the holiday-makers, there were several pushchairs and mobility scooters parked nearby.
“The static owls, for example” he said.
“He’s a fuckin’ nutter” the woman said.
The young man moved closer to him.
“Are you taking the piss?” he said threateningly.
“Don’t hit him, Jez” the woman warned.
Jones smiled nervously at him.

“The young lady’s quite right, don’t hit me” he pleaded.
“Why not? I like hitting people” Jez grinned.
Suddenly she pushed herself between them.
“So who the fuck are you?” she said to Jones.

He flinched momentarily at the use of a profanity by a young lady but decided to answer the question.
“Councillor Alan Jones, of the Havensea town council, and chairman of the council’s publicity committee.”

He paused portentously for a few seconds, then added “twice re-elected.”
She looked away disgustedly but the young man wasn’t listening, he seemed to be deep in thought.
“Come to think about it, there is one thing you can help us with” he suddenly said.
“Oh? What’s that?”
“You know everything there is to know about this place, right?”
“I like to think that I’m reasonably well-informed about our warm, welcoming, family friendly seaside resort with its golden sands and – ”
“Okay, what do you know about dogging?” the man interrupted.
“I beg your pardon?”
“Dogging, people shagging each other outdoors, it’s a big thing around here, from what I’ve heard.”
Jones was momentarily embarrassed, but quickly recovered his composure.
“I think you’ve been misinformed” he said, trying to remain calm.

He had heard the rumours about the so-called doggers, too, and was dismayed by them.
“You sure about that?” Jez said.
“I assure you -”
“Where’s this nature reserve?” Jez suddenly demanded.
“I really don’t think you’d want to go there” Jones said anxiously.
“Why not?”
Jones smiled nervously.
“You don’t want us to go there, do you?” Jez growled.
“Why on earth not?”
“‘Cause that’s where the doggers meet, innit?”

6 Luke decides to scout possible dogging area so can take pic

Luke was relieved when he saw that Jones had escaped unharmed; he had a pretty rose-tinted view of the kind of people that visited Havensea, but it wasn’t always justified. 

He started to make a cup of coffee in the kitchen and while he was waiting for it to brew he thought about the picture of the doggers, or the dogging pic as he guessed it could be called.
He decided to start by taking a good look at the nature reserve to try to identify any likely places where they would meet.

It could be that they had left a few traces; used condoms maybe – assuming that they used condoms.
He had all day to do it, there was nothing in the pics diary until 8 pm when he had to take a pic at a charity fashion show, followed by pics of a darts presentation at 10 pm.
The nature reserve was only a couple of miles away and in theory he could drive there, but there was a problem with that.
It was popular with walkers and bird watchers, who were sometimes called ‘twitchers,’ and a lot of them knew him, or at least they knew his face.

Like all local press photographers he was something of a well-known local figure.
If he drove there and parked his car in the nature reserve car park – there was nowhere else to park it – somebody might recognise him and ask him what he was doing there.
The dogging pic was supposed to be a secret so it wouldn’t be a good idea to tell them the truth – that he was twitching an entirely new species that had been attracted to the nature reserve.
There was another route to the nature reserve but it was across the marsh, a wide expanse of mud flats and tidal creeks that flooded when the tide came in.
He had never been there but Jade had told him about it when they were talking about somebody who had gone missing on it a few months’ ago.
She had said that it was never really safe to go on the marsh because the mud could still be soft and treacherous even when the tide had gone out.
He shrugged to himself.
He would just have to take a chance on it.

7 Alan Jones concerned that dead holidaymaker will result in negative publicity for Havensea

Alan Jones stepped outside ‘Wayne’s Seaside Rock, Candy Floss and News Store’ on Haven avenue and waited for a family with a couple of young children and a baby in a pushchair to pass by.
But suddenly they stopped and looked around, as if they were lost.

Holidaymakers, he guessed – the kind that didn’t have much money to spend.

The man was wearing track suit bottoms that had a hole in them and the woman was wearing shorts that looked as if they could do with a wash.
But at least they were a family, at least they were respectable – unlike the doggers.
“We’re not going to the beach that way, it cost me enough money in the amusement arcades last time” he said to her.
“Well, I don’t know what we’re going to do then, it’s the only way of getting there” she said.
Jones decided to introduce himself.

“May I help you? I’m Councillor Alan Jones, of the Havensea town council, chairman of the council’s publicity committee…twice re-elected.”
They looked at him suspiciously for a few seconds then the man decided to say something.
“We want to get to the beach without passing the amusement arcades, they cost a fortune when you’ve got kids” he said.
“There is another way there, but it’s quite a walk ” Jones said.
“How much of a walk?” the woman said truculently.
“It’s about a quarter of a mile. You go to the Promenade, turn right, go past the putting green and the boating lake and you’ll see a road on your left going through the sand dunes. There are no amusement arcades there, I assure you” he smiled.
As they walked off he suddenly thought of something.

“Watch the marshes – the beach turns to marshes after a while” he called out to them.
The man turned around.

“Just keep to the sandy part of the beach and you’ll be fine.”
He had behaved appropriately by warning them about the marshes, he decided, even if it had meant portraying Havensea in a slightly unfavourable light.
It would be a tremendous blow to the resort if a family of holidaymakers were drowned in the treacherous mud; the resulting negative publicity would be most unwelcome.
He wouldn’t advise anyone to go on the marshes.

8 Girl advises Luke of a possible place to take pic

Luke walked along Haven avenue, glancing at the gift shops, fast food places, amusement arcades and seaside rock places.
He looked like a holiday maker in his shorts and T shirt, he guessed, but they didn’t usually carry camera backpacks over their shoulders.
He had decided to pack an extra lens – a 10 mm to 24 mm wide angle lens. It would be useful for capturing any likely hiding places and the approach routes to them, in a single shot.

Sure, he could take pics of the hiding places and the approach routes separately, but this was the best way of doing it, it avoided any confusion over which approach route led to which hiding place.

He didn’t want to be stumbling around unfamiliar approach routes in the dark, if he had to take the pic at night.

pic reconnaissance, paparazzi style, he smiled to himself.

He had also checked the tide tables and had found that it would be low tide at 10.17 am, which was in about an hour.

It would probably take him about half an hour to reach the marsh, he guessed.

Jade had explained how to reach it when she was talking about the guy who had gone missing on it – the missing person, they called him.
It was easy to find it, she had said, in fact he could remember her exact words.
‘Turn right at the end of the Promenade, walk past the putting green and boating lake and you’ll see a sandy lane on your left.’
‘That leads to the beach. Turn right when you get to the beach and the marsh is about a mile further along, you’ll know that you’ve reached it because the sand turns to mud.’

He stopped for a minute to look at some holiday-makers who were having their photos. taken from behind a life-size model of a buxom lady in a bathing costume on the beach.
There was a hole where her face should have been and they were sticking their heads through it so that it looked as if they were her.
pic manipulation, seaside style, he smiled to himself. Crude but effective. From a distance and in bad lighting they could be made to look like the buxom lady.
Suddenly something caught his eye.
It was a poster in a shop window – and it was about the missing person.
He stopped and glanced at it, then looked inside the window. It wasn’t a shop, he realised, it was a hairdressing salon, called ‘Crazy Cuts.’
Didn’t he know a girl who worked there?
Kind of, he had met her in the Laughing Sailor pub one Saturday night.
She had been celebrating her 18th. birthday with her friends and had said something to him. They had got talking and cracking jokes and she had finished up kissing him.
He took a closer look at the poster. It looked like a newspaper story, it had a headline, sub headings, and in the centre, a pic.
The headline was ‘Missing Person’ and the pic was of a man who was aged thirty nine who was balding and wearing specs.
He was called Derek Fletcher and he had last been seen heading towards the marshes carrying a metal detector, apparently.
So he was a treasure hunter – he used his metal detector to scan the ground for buried treasure.

What buried treasure was there in Havensea?

Some early Anglo-Saxon amusement ride tokens?

Something didn’t make sense.
Why did he go metal detecting on the marshes?

Didn’t treasure hunters usually go metal detecting on the beach?
He was just about to turn away when a face appeared in the window and he saw that was the girl that he had met in the Sailor.

She smiled at him so he smiled back at her and tried to remember her name. Was it Kerry or Kelly?
She disappeared from view and a few seconds later was standing by his side.
She was quite pretty with a slim petite figure and short cropped blonde hair.
He smiled at her and she lightly touched his arm.
“Hello Luke.”
Kelly, he decided – her name was Kelly.
“Hello Kelly, how’s it going?”
“Kerry, actually. Not bad – waiting for you to take me out.”

 “So, what’s it like being eighteen?” he said, ducking the question.
“Great, I can do what I want now.”
“Didn’t you before?”
“Now, now” she giggled primly. “So when are you going to take me out?”
“Saturday night, I thought we’d go bird watching at the nature reserve, just the two of us – and the birds, of course.”
“Oh yeah, it wouldn’t be the same without them.”

She looked at the camera backpack. “What’s the rucksack for?”
“Just some beach stuff, got the day off. Listen Kerry, If you wanted to be alone with your boyfriend -”
“I haven’t got a boyfriend” she said quickly, “I’m waiting for you to take me out.”
“Listen, if you wanted to be alone with your boyfriend on the nature reserve, where exactly would you go with him?” he persisted,
“There’s nowhere you can go, if you’re in a car. There’s only the car park. Oh, there’s Buck island, but I wouldn’t go there.”
“Buck island?”
“It’s just some sand hills, across the marsh.”
“Why wouldn’t you go there?”
“It’s too risky, you get cut off when the tide comes in.”
“You mean, you and your boyfriend would have to spend the night together?” he smiled.
“Yeah and I don’t want to spend the night with him because he’s boring, that’s why I want you to take me out.”

Suddenly he closed his eyes and pretended to snore.
“What’s up?” she said.
“You’re boring me.”
“Fuck off” she laughed.
Suddenly a middle aged woman tapped on the window and gestured her to go back into the salon. Her boss, he guessed.
She reached into the top pocket of her white hairdressing coat and pulled out a ‘Crazy Cuts’ business card.
“Give me a ring sometime, my mobile number’s on the back.”
The voice came from somewhere behind him and when he turned around he saw that it was Alan Jones, looking out of place as usual among the holidaymakers in his tan suit, brightly coloured tie and straw hat.
“Where are you off to?” he said cheerfully but inquisitively, looking at Luke’s backpack.
“Just having a day on the beach, Councillor Jones.”
“- Alan, please” Jones corrected him with a smile.
“Going to take some photos?” he added.
“I might.”
“Excellent, we could use some good publicity photos.”
Bad publicity – that’s what we don’t want” he added.

“You’re right, Alan, the last thing we want is bad publicity” Luke said sincerely.

He wondered how he would react if he knew about the dogging pic.


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Author: Paul Gresham