Chapter 14 (MEMORY-stick)
Deric nearly didn’t recognise Brenda Blignaut. She looked so different than when he last saw her. She had colour and definitely more weight when this was recorded. Her eyes glistened as she looked straight into the camera. So vibrant and alive!
Of course she would look vibrant and alive! He only saw her moments before she died. He never laid eyes on her before the moment life was slowly been squeezed from her body by cancer. As was Judy’s back then when he fled the room. The memory makes him writhe. He remembered letting go of Judy’s hand the moment it went slack in his and then he ran out of the room. He couldn’t watch death’s triumph. He only came back into the room fifteen minutes later. He then sat with her for another twenty minutes without tears. In death she looked so calm and serene, nearly like he remembered her as his wife when they first started out. Not with the panic that took hold of her face that last moment death arrived at her door. Later, he remembered, he’d been led out of the room by his mother and mother-in-law, like a lamb to the slaughter without as much as a whimper. It was only much later, when he entered the quietness of their home that he fell to pieces. Nobody was there because he insisted that everyone went home and declared himself fine. He didn’t want anyone around. He could see the worry in their eyes, but he sent them away. In fact, he ordered them away. He wanted to grieve on his own, thought himself too strong (or maybe that should be too weak) to broke down in front of family or friends.
No bloody one looks vibrant when cancer chews through their bodies!
He shook his head ever so slightly as if to get rid of the worse memory of his life. He focused in on Brenda Blignaut’s face again. She must have been quite attractive in her youth. Intelligent blue eyes looked into the camera and she had a charming smile. Her long grey hair was neatly tucked behind her head, in a bee-hive or “chignon” – he thinks that’s the chic French word for that particular hairstyle - and she even wore some make-up. She folded and refolded her hands before she started to talk. She was considering each word carefully that she was about to utter.
‘If you are watching this I’m obviously not amongst the living anymore,’ she looked straight into the camera, ‘and that’s good.’ She gave a little smile, swallowed hard and looked away before refocussing on the camera, ‘one should never go passed one’s sell-by date, no?’
She looked down one more time and then crossed her arms defensively across her chest.
‘You can call me whatever you like, Captain Offbach, a monster, the devil, a serial killer. I couldn’t care less, but this’ she pointed to herself, ‘this is what justice look like, or should that be, looked like. It’s tough speaking about one self in the past tense’ a little wry smile came to her face and a dark sound escaped her throat before she went on with drift. ‘This “earth’s justice” and “people’s justice” had evaded me. It let me down so badly that I’ve devoted myself to my kind of justice after my daughter’s murder. Why? To help a few others, like me, to help bear their distress and pain with a little dignity and less guilt. Guilt, because they weren’t there when they were needed by their loved ones. Even if their presence may not have made a difference at all, guilt invades your whole being because you were busy somewhere else when they needed you the most! And yes, I felt those who kill without remorse should know what that feels like. That totally desolated feeling the murdered victim and the living victims, or loved-ones, felt when they know they cannot change anything! Murderers do not deserve the right to live after wreaking havoc on other lives – not even in jail!’
She paused again.
‘After you’ve watched this, read the letter, you may think that you’ve looked into the devil’s eyes, and again, that’s you’re prerogative. Maybe you think that this woman before you is burning in hell right now. However, and I may be wrong about this, but I doubt it. I think my hell is over. I’m at peace - at last. This world held more hell than hell itself does for me. And I’m sure, at some point you yourself, Captain Offbach, must have pondered about your given circumstances. But unlike you, or Job from the Bible, there were no second changes for me.’ She smiled a bitter smile, ‘Don’t you think God might be a little sexist? Maybe a little more partial to some of His creations than others? Religious people always tell the likes of me that ALL are created equal and God gave us ALL the same care and love and all that.’ She looked down at herself, ‘However, I found it to be…hard to swallow.’
Her eyes wandered up to the ceiling and she blinked the tears away before she continued.
‘In fact at my age and stage of life I find that’s a lot of dog-dung and all that. If there is a God with a divine justice, I would like to meet Him just ONCE to ask only ONE question: “Why?” Why, if you are the Almighty, the infinite Power, why didn’t you use it to do the ultimate good; instead of by sitting idly as the ultimate bad happens! Why ignore the Human-race? ”’
This time she stared over the camera as if she was seeing to some invisible being appearing there.
‘I brought justice to some - not nearly enough - but at least to those who’d seek it and couldn’t find it in any court. The one regret I have is Benjamin Javid. In his case we acted too hastily. It was only until later that we found out the truth. Although he was also to blame for the circumstances, he did not commit the murder. After Javid, we’ve considered our evidence and verdicts very, very carefully before any action was taken.’
Deric, Jim and Monty looked at each other credulously.
‘Now, back to the business at hand. Why did I chose YOU to complete, or rather help complete - one way or another - my last act of justice. I followed the Sienna Moore case carefully and saw that you weren’t influenced by her status, good looks or even the establishment she’d so comfortable hid behind. You’ve followed the evidence and brought her to justice. Believe me, had events turned out any other way we might’ve considered her a candidate for Justice. We had nothing to do with her mother’s actions, if you’re wondering, but I consider Rose Black a very brave woman. After the Moore case, I’ve made it my business to find out all I could about you. Something you may disapprove off, but, I like to think we’re sort of kindred spirits.’
A pause followed.
’My doctor gave me the news a week ago that I have cancer in an advanced stage, I do not have long to live. I’m contented with this sentence, as I truly have nothing or no-one to live for anymore, and maybe, that’s my verdict, my justice and my sentence. All my loving friends have gone before me. I have only one regret, however, and that is that I’ll never see my daughter’s murderer been punished.’
Her face hardened a little before she continued.
Deric, Jim and Sheffield looked at each other again. So, this is what it’s all about. The seventh victim is her daughter’s killer?
‘Yes, he’s been found - after years and years of hard work - he’s been found. And, although I knew by then that I wouldn’t be around to see it, I’ve put one last plan in action to expose him and see to his demise. In a few days from now he’ll get what he deserves. He’s doomed like he doomed Minke thirty-five years ago. Now, just one little threat of my own. If you decided that I’m a delusional old woman and do not play the game, MY game, he’ll DIE for certain. So, I’m not giving you an option but to take me seriously.’
She looked at a picture standing on the desk within touching distance from her hand. Deric presumed it was her daughter.
‘I’m forcing the police, in the person of you, Captain Deric Offbach, to do your work properly this time around and to re-open this case. To find and punish my daughter’s killer. It’s the last and only decent thing I can do for her now,’ again a glance at the photo before she looked with a direct gaze into the camera, ‘…and for myself. Maybe I’m growing old, or maybe it’s because I’m faced with my own mortality, but I’m giving him a sporting change in the form of you, Captain. I’ve provided you with the clues’ she gave a grim laugh, ‘cannot make it too easy on you, or him, now, can I? In any way, I’ve always liked games but…’ a little snort again, ‘just a head’s up - the killer is not Colonel Mustard.’ She looked bemused, ‘If you and your team are who, and what, I think you are, you’ll find him in time.’ She paused, ‘If you’re lucky enough to find him before “I” do,’ the “I” was done with finger-inverts, ‘just a little black humour you know. Of course “I” won’t be finding him myself, I mean before my executioners do. I have the utmost faith in you that he will pay for his conduct. In fact I hope you’ll find him before the death-warrant takes effect. I think jail would be a much more humbling, shaming and humiliating punishment for this particular murderer.’
She smiled a little sad smile.
‘I’ve helped enough, now it’s up to you and you’re people. Follow the clues.’
Then suddenly, with a burst of exuberance she said.
‘Best of luck, and, oh yes, just in case you’re wondering, his “Ice-cream” flavour is “Death by chocolate” of course. Happy hunting! I bid you “adieu”.’
The virtual Brenda Blignaut disappeared just as quickly as she had appeared minutes ago.
All stared at the screen as if hypnotised.
‘The crossword holds the clues then I guess.’ Sheffield broke the silence with his gruff.
‘So it appears.’ Deric said, reaching for the laminated paper.
Everyone glanced at the paper as if venomous, except Monty.
‘Love crosswords, they’re brain-food,’ he said just a tad too eagerly before suddenly realising that this was altogether a different kettle of “crossword-fish”, ‘of course I’d done nothing like this before,’ he sobered up a little, ‘I mean where a man’s life is on the line, and all that…’ His voice dwindled away.
‘Oh, please don’t tell me you do the two-minute crossword in the allotted two minutes!’ Jim tried to lighten the mood a little, ‘this is starting to piss me off,’ he looked at Deric and Sheffield in turn, ’not only does this “boy-genius”,’ he makes inverted commas with his fingers ala Brenda Blignaut, ’here look like Kelly Slater in his much younger days, and on top of it he’s an “IT” whiz,’ Jim emphasized the “IT” again with inverted finger-commas, ’to top it all off, he likes crossword puzzles! No, not like, LOVE it, by the way his little face lit up like a 220watt Christmas-bulb at the word crossword and puzzle. Even though this one’s thought up by a deranged old lady!’
Deric and Sheffield smiled at Jim’s fake irate. Monty looked like a child caught with his hand in the cookie-jar.
’Come on, Deric? Chief? You must be a little irritated by this bloody kid’s talents!’ Jim kept up the charade. ‘And to top it all off he’s…he’s…likeable!’
‘Oh, as I’ve told you earlier, I’m quite irritated by it all, but luckily I can keep my cool, unlike some grumpy old men I know.’ Deric said with humour in his eyes as he looked at Jim before turning serious again, ’but back to business, this old lady might’ve been not as deranged as it seems. She went through quite a lot and was, as far as we know, an upstanding citizen all her life. We couldn’t find anything on her-’
‘She was upstanding, you mean, except for the cloak-n-dagger 007 shit that’s coming to the fore now!’ Jim interrupted.
Deric smiled again, ‘True, but on the other hand, according to her attorney, she’d left her house to Mila Jordan – the real one, not the fake one from the hospital – who looked after her the last few years. They’re not even related. She left some money to children of friends and so on, but most of her money – which apparently was quite substantial - went to charity. And the people she and the so-called “Ice-Cream club”, shall we say, obliterated, were not the nicest of human beings either.’ He put his hands up in defence as Jim opened his mouth, ’Whoa, I’m not suggesting that it is good, I’m just saying! Take Chuba Jackson for instance - none has shed much tears up to now, as far as I know. In fact, some had to restrain themselves from partying, according to “Facebook” and “Twitter”, not to mention family and friends of his victims. Remember the news around the time of his death? Maybe it was her way of handling her total helplessness and sadness. And remember, she needn’t had let us in on all this,’ he waved his hands in the direction of the computer, ‘she could’ve kept it an absolute secret and none would’ve been the wiser. No-one would’ve guessed in a million years all these murders, over all these years, were linked and planned by a little ole lady!’
Again, the room went very quiet.
’Well, it doesn’t really matter how we feel about all of this. The fact that all of us, never mind how political-correct we pretend to be, possesses just a tad of that “angel-demon side”. We have to attend to the co-called next victim. That’s our job.’ Sheffield said soberly, ‘Playing the blaming-game is not going to find the next victim! Deric, I’m leaving this in your hands – and you lot.’ He pointed at Jim and Monty, ‘That’s one thing this Brenda Muller and I have in common, we both believe in your capabilities,’ he waved his hands in circles as if addressing some kind of aura, ‘and, seeing that I’m still officially on holiday till after New Year’s, I’m going back home now. Keep me posted.’
And with that Lieutenant- Colonel Brooke Sheffield departed.
’Elvis had left the bloody building!’ Jim said comically as he stared after Sheffield.
“One for the money, two for the show…”