Body on the Beach
‘Mr Brody, this is Hendricks. We’ve got a problem. We had a call from a house on Old Mill Road a few minutes ago. A girl went out on the beach there last night and she didn’t come back. They -‘
‘What time is it?’
‘No, you were right to call. Tell me everything you know.’
It was nearly six-thirty when Brody drove his police car along Old Mill Road. He looked all along the beach but did not see anything unusual. At eight o’clock Hendricks arrived, and the two policemen called at Jack Foote’s house.
A young man opened the door. ‘I’m Tom Cassidy,’ he said.
‘No, Mr Cassidy, we didn’t find her,’ said Brody. ‘We’re going to look on the beach now.’
‘I want to come, too,’ said Cassidy.
The three men walked down to the beach. ‘I went to sleep here,’ said Cassidy. ‘And I found the shoes here.’
Brody looked up and down the beach. ‘Let’s walk,’ he said. ‘Come with me, Mr Cassidy. Leonard, can you walk back towards Mr Foote’s house?’
Hendricks took his shoes off and began to walk. The beach felt cold and wet under his feet. After about fifteen minutes he turned and looked back. Brody and Cassidy were now a half kilometre down the beach so he began to walk towards them.
Suddenly Hendricks saw something in front of him. He walked quickly towards it and then stopped. For a short time he did not move. Then he cried out.
In front of him was a woman’s head and some of her arm.
Brody and Cassidy ran down the beach to Hendricks. Brody arrived first. He looked down and saw the woman. Then he closed his eyes. ‘Mr Cassidy, is this her?’
Cassidy was very afraid. His eyes moved from Hendricks to Brody. Then he looked down.
‘Oh no!’ he cried, and he put his hand to his mouth.
‘Is it her?’
He turned away. ‘Yes,’ he said. What happened?’
‘I’ don’t know,’ said Brody. ‘But I think a shark attacked her.’
That night Brody met his friend Harry Meadows. Harry wrote for the town’s newspaper, The Amity Leader.
‘I think it was a shark attack,’ said Brody.
‘You’re right,’ said Meadows. ‘This afternoon I talked to a young man called Matt Hooper. He knows everything about sharks.’
‘What did he say?’
‘He thinks it’s a Great White Shark. They call the Great White the «man-eater». Other sharks don’t usually attack people.’
‘Does he think it will attack again?’
‘No. Hooper thinks this was an accident. He thinks the shark is now far away’. Meadows looked at Brody. ‘It’s not going to happen again,’ he said. ‘And I’m not going to write about the accident in The Amity Leader!
‘But it’s a big story for your newspaper.’
‘I know, Martin. But it’s summer and this town must have visitors in the summer. People are afraid of sharks.’
‘That’s true, Harry,’ said Brody. ‘But I want to close the beaches for one or two days. And I want you to write the story.’
Meadows sat back in his chair. ‘I can’t do that, Harry,’ he said. ‘My bosses don’t want me to. And I don’t want to lose my job.’
Ten minutes later, Lawrence P. Vaughan came into Brody’s office.
Larry Vaughan was an old friend of Brody’s. He bought and sold houses, and made a lot of money. He was one of the most important people in the town.
Vaughan sat down. ‘Please don’t close the beaches,’ he said. ‘It will soon be the Fourth of July. That’s our best weekend every summer.’
‘I don’t want any more shark attacks,’ said Brody.
‘There won’t be any more shark attacks! But people will read about sharks in Amity, and they won’t come here!’
Brody looked at his old friend. He liked Larry, but he did not see him much these days. ‘OK,’ he said. ‘I’ don’t like it, but I won’t close the beaches.’
Vaughan smiled for the first time. ‘Thanks, Martin,’ he said.
Brody arrived home two or three minutes before five. His wife, Ellen, was in the living-room.
‘Hello,’ she said. ‘What’s wrong? Did something happen today?’
He went and sat next to her.
‘A shark killed a girl near Old Mill Beach.’
She looked at him. ‘What are you going to do?’
‘Nothing. Larry Vaughan doesn’t want me to do anything. He wants the beaches to stay open.’