The Ice-Cream Club

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’Welcome back, my sussie’, Latisha said and gave Mae an industrial-strength hug, ‘the team’s back!’

They high five like a couple of teenagers before Patricia joined the celebrations.

‘Oh, it’s wonderful to be back, I’ve missed all the faces and fun,’ Mae said as she gave Pat a peck on the cheek, ’not that working with Doc and forensics isn’t interesting, it’s just, once this in your blood, it’s in your blood.’

‘This is not supposed to be fun. It’s work - hard work.’ Deric said as he gave Latisha a kiss on the cheek as well, ‘How was the holiday?’

’Well, as lovely as can be, I suppose, considering that in my family “ma” as in “Moi”’ she pointed with an exaggerated circling finger-movement to herself, is never really on holiday. Definitely not in a caravan!’ she said with a sour sound, but had a big, red smile on her face. ‘Every one of my family suddenly loses the ability to pick things up and their arms turn to jelly when it comes to making a simple thing like a sandwich - never mind a bed. I’m apparently on holiday to be their slave. But, all in all, it was lovely! Good weather for a change. Last year it rained throughout and the children were all cooped-up and bitching none stop, except when Peter tore himself away from the TV and said the magic word “Nandos” or “McDonald’s”’.

If she starts she never stops. God, Deric thought, he missed the chattering and it was only three weeks since he thought he could do with a little silence at work. It was far too quiet for him over the holidays, working on his own. However, a lot had happened in only the last two weeks so he couldn’t complain of boredom.

While the three women caught-up on all the gossip and other important things, Deric made his way up the stairs. They sounded like weavers in a tree, he thought, as he took the stairs two at a time. Deric knew it would take a while for them to just breathe, so he’d just uttered a short “See you in ten” and moved on to join the guys in the incident room.

Ten minutes!

No way, Jose!

He knew it will be more of the same when Monty and Jim get to see Mae. However, he will allow them a bit of leeway today. Only a bit. They’ve got a lot of head-scratching ahead. Meanwhile, he’ll get the whiteboard ready for extra information.

At last, thirty minutes later, all of them had settled down, the chattering had seized and all looked towards him with anticipation. Deric, who sat on one end of the table looking back at all of them, didn’t make a move to say, or do, anything constructive.

‘Well, Christmas is a thing of the past, granted, only a few weeks ago, but surely you’re not waiting for the next one,’ Jim said laconic, ’we’re only a few days away from our next murder according to the late, great Mrs Brenda Blignaut - what are we waiting for?’

‘The boss, amongst other things, and another member of the team, so be patient.’ He said with a secretive little smile while paging through some papers, pretended to be unaware of the inquisitive look on their faces.

‘Another member…and that would be?’ Latisha murmured while tapping a blue fingernail to the mouth, ‘O come one, don’t be so coy, Cappie, who are we waiting for?’ She gave him a flirting smile.

Just then the door opened and a Lt-Col Brooke Sheffield entered. Behind him a shy-looking face smiled uncertain as he manoeuvred his thin, tall body through the door past the Chief.

‘Sorry we’re late,’ Sheffield said with his commanding gruff voice, ‘I would like to put the blame on my young upstart here, but it’s all me. Had a call from higher up,’ he held his hands up as if surrendering, ’no, no, not that high up, only the Pope is that important, I suppose. A little lower down in the ranks. Not that they think they’re that much lower, in rank, that is.’

Everyone had a giggle.

They were all quite pleased to see Danny Malabo.

’All of you know newly appointed Sergeant Malabo,’ Sheffield indicated to the newcomer, ‘he’ll be joining the team from now on. Teach him the ropes, but don’t be too harsh…’ he looked at the seated faces before him and especially gave Jim a stern look before he looked back at Danny, ‘…or too easy.’

‘Does he know that the first duty of any rookie is to learn to work the coffee-machine properly and then fetch coffee for the older and wiser and more experienced whenever they require it?’ Jim said with mock seriousness.

Monty gave a smirk and with hands clenched together pointing heavenwards he muttered, ‘Oh, thank you, thank you, it’s not me anymore.’ He then opened his arms and spread them out towards Danny, ‘You’re the answer to my prayers. Welcome, my friend!’

Everyone laughed at Monty’s antics before Sheffield gruff again, ‘The stage is yours Captain Offbach, enlighten us.’

Sheffield and Danny sat down.

Deric recapped the bizarre events of the last few weeks, and what had been dug up since his strange hospital-visit. The words and messages that came with each and every victim and why they’re duped it the “Ice-Cream Club Murders” He ended with the word-puzzle that was apparently the clue to the next murder.

‘Our immediate focus must be on this,’ he pointed to the word-puzzle, ‘and the location of Patsy Javid or January or whatever name she goes by now.’

He handed over to Tim Monty. He conveyed to all what had been discovered about the puzzle up to now. He put the clues up in bold letters. Those already deciphered had their number and meaning next to it. They all stared intently at the info as Monty explained which word went with which murder, and the ice-cream flavour assigned to the specific murder.

30 September 2013 - Chuba Jackson found dead – Ice-cream flavour: Monster Mash. Word: Talion – Reprisal, Retribution. Found one useable fingerprint on the scene; that of Conrad Camphor.

19 May 2007 - Conrad Camphor – deceased (killed in car-accident – which is now believed to be an assisted murder). Ice-cream flavour: Rocky Road. Word: Anathematise – Cursed, Damned. Found: fingerprints of Kabelo Rogoba.

Kabelo Rogoba - deceased (shot; believed to have been taxi-violence. Now believe to be the work of the Ice-Cream Club) – Ice-cream flavour: Blood orange. Word: Ignoble – Outrageous, Vile

Gemma Saunders killed her parents back in 1993. Her accomplice: Henry Plats (boyfriend). She spent five years in juvenile before released. Died April 1999. COD: suicide – boyfriend (Plats) arrested for suspicion of murder on Saunders. He, in turn, died three weeks later in his cell – hanged himself. Ice-cream flavour: Nougat Crunch next to Saunders body/no word. Word found on cigarette packet in Plats cell: Blackheart - Wicked and evil, believed to be him that had written it. The two of them could be counted as two judgement by “The ice-cream club”.

‘We assume Saunders and Plats count as one, but he could also be the sixth victim Blignaut was talking about. We’re not sure yet.’ Deric briefly interrupted.

Benjamin Javid – died April 1992 – believe to be the first victim. Later deemed innocent by Brenda Blignaut and co. Ice-cream flavour: Wicked Caramel. No word.

’We might still be shorting one victim. That excludes the “useless soul” we’re looking for,’ Deric said as he walked forward, ‘Monty found all the others by cross-references and, might I add, damn hard work! Well done!’

’Oh please, more shoe-shining for him, don’t forget me dancing around in the dust-consumed paper-graveyard that they call the Achieves’ Jim said sourly amidst the clapping and cheering directed at Monty by the women.

‘And let’s hear it for my friend, Jim, who, with his always cheery disposition, works himself to death around here!’ Deric said as he burst out in clapping and cheering himself.

The others followed.

‘That’s much better,’ Jim said with a smile, ‘you hear that Monty, that’s a cheer!’

Jim was a real character and very good for morale. However, Deric was not joking at all, he was more than a competent investigator.

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