Chapter 10 (Would the real MILA JORDAN please stand up!)
Deric pressed the button again.
‘Could be at work.’ Jim said as he put the last bit of banana in his mouth.
‘She’s a student,’ Deric said a little impatient, ‘in any case, Latisha phoned her and she said she would be here between nine and eleven.’
‘Ugh,’ Jim said, ‘if I eat one more banana I’m gonna turn into a flippin monkey.’
‘So, stop.’ Deric said with the same impatient pitch, not towards Jim so much as towards the heat and the closed gate.
If Jim heard the tone in his voice he’s ignoring it, ‘Oh, it’s just to make Josie feel better. It’s apparently good for me. Will built up my system. Apparently! All it’s building up is the hair on my chest. I wish it would go to work on my head!’
Deric turned to the gate with a little smile which immediately made way for a terrified look as he came face to face with a snarling dog jumping inches away from his face against the gate! He scuffled back and fell on his backside. The dog kept jumping, snarling as the gate rattled ominously, but luckily kept steadfast.
‘Bloody dog!’ Deric said as he got up and rubbed his buttocks. He looked stupidly at a laughing Jim.
’Maybe you should eat more bananas.’ Jim said.
‘You’re so hilarious and funny!’ Deric said with a silly grin.
‘Are you okay?’ A voice came from the other side of the gate, ‘Scruffy can get a little excited.’ She said amidst the dog’s barking.
A little excited?
‘Scruffy! Sit down, boy.’ She said in a firm voice.
The dog stopped mid-bark and sat drooling next to his mistress, ready for the ear-rub that followed promptly. Friendly as hell all of a sudden, already forgotten that he wanted a taste of whoever was on the opposite side of the gate moments ago.
Deric held his badge up but kept an eye on the dog. He noticed for the first time that the girl was wrapped in a towel-robe and that her hair was dripping wet.
‘I swam,’ she said as if she can read his mind, ‘that’s why it took so long to open the gate. It’s Mary’s day off.’
Mary must be the housekeeper he deducted.
‘Captain Deric Offbach and Lieutenant Jim Cruse,’ Jim produced his badge, ‘we phoned earlier to talk to Mila Jordan. She said she’d be here.’
‘Yes,’ the freckled redhead said as she adjusted her glasses, ‘what about.’
‘Well,’ Deric said, ‘can we talk to her, she’d know what it’s about and she knows me, or, at least, knows off me. I was at the hospital the day Brenda Blignaut died.’
He could see how the intelligent expression made way for a perplexed one.
‘This is Stargate 50, Waterkloofrif, the property of the late Brenda Blignaut?’ he inquired.
‘Yes, that’s right, and I’m Mila Jordan and I’ve never met you at the hospital or any other establishment of any kind.’
Deric must have stared confused and bewildered at the girl. Jim sensed something was up and stepped forward.
’Are you Mila Jordan?’ he asked and gave Deric a credulous look.
The redhead took the dog by its collar, ‘Look, I think you’d better come in. There must be one hell of a mix-up somewhere.’ She followed Deric’s eyes as it went to the dog, ‘don’t worry, he won’t bite. He’s trained – very well,’ she went down on her haunches and took the dog’s face between her hands, ‘aren’t you my little puppy?’
The dog licked her all over.
‘Puppy, my ass,’ Deric mouthed to Jim as he tentatively walked to the gate that was slowly opening, ‘that’s a monster.’
The dog didn’t move or made a sound when they walked past him. The redhead gave him a biscuit then led them round the house to a cool veranda.
‘Something cold to drink?’ she asked as she stood up and opened a small bar-fridge, ‘its hot out.’
They both opted for a can of Coke.
She listened to the story from beginning to end before saying anything.
‘All this is true. I did spend a lot of time at the hospital, as much as I could. But it certainly wasn’t me that you’ve-’
’Well, that much I’ve already established. Do you maybe know who it might’ve been? I’m certainly not hallucinating here! There was this girl, cherry-red hair and most unusual green eyes brown specks. She said her name was Mila Jordan and she gave this address and that’s why we’re here now, to talk to her.’ Deric interrupted perplexed.
She stared at Deric for a second. Some flickering in her eyes gave Deric the impression that she knew something, but then she suddenly looked away into the blue yonder and sighed as if she had to explain something to a child.
‘Yes, Aunt Brenda died at Memorial East on the day you said. I was, sadly, not there that day – which I regret – I was studying for my finals. I had a week between papers and I went home to study. You can phone my brother if you want to. My mom died the year before last, however, my brother stayed on in the house – him and his family.’
‘There was a girl with this short, cherry-red hair. She was asleep on the chair when I got there. She told me she was Mila Jordan, a pre-med student, living with Brenda Blignaut.’
’Well, that’s me, pre-med and all, but I’ve got natural red hair as you can see and its long and certainly not short, as you described.’
‘Is there anyone you can think of that fits that description?’ Deric wanted to know, ‘Anyone at all, no matter how farfetched. Someone related to Mrs Blignaut?’
She hesitated only a moment before answering, ‘No, I do not know who it could have been.’