Chapter 21 (A DATE to remember)
Patsy Semper looked at herself in the mirror.
She applied one more layer of lipstick, pressed her lips together and looked please with the result. Her hair was its natural dark-brown colour and shoulder-length, looking quite healthy after been put through the ringer for quite a number of years. She may go blonde at some point - but red? Never again! It just attracts the wrong kind. Although, that might’ve more to do with her personality than with the colour of her hair.
Her face stared seriously back at her.
She shook her shoulders as if to get the monkey off her back and took another glance in the mirror.
An attractive face stared back. The long, dark hair framed her face just right. Her make-up was done brightly and lightly and she liked what she saw.
She glanced down at her watch and picked up her bag. She was hoping, really hoping, this one was worth her while. Suzie seemed to think so. She’s fed-up with men who were poor. She can stand older, or unattractive, even boring however, her one demand was, he had to be rich. Her eyes went over her image one last time. Tight blue dress (a dress can never be too tight if you had the figure), black high heels, with just a touch of silver, that showed off her legs and calves beautifully, even though walking proved painful. To top it all off, a string of lovely – yet fake – pearls round her neck.
She looked like a million bucks and hoped he had a million bucks!
The door-bell rang.
She glanced one last time in the mirror with admiration, ‘Yeah baby, despite your forty years, you still got it!’ She winked at herself. Her eyes caught the short scare underneath her chin. A shadow crossed her eyes momentarily. That bastard of a Jakes January! He would’ve killed her if she’d stayed. She’s glad he was dead.
Nobody messes with Patsy Semper!
She deserved something special and Suzie said this one was special!
The door-bell went again.
She opened it with a big smile.
He must’ve been around forty-five however, he certainly looked in good shape. Even more importantly, his Rolex and Jaguar told her that she might’ve hit the jackpot. Even if he was eighty he looked good from all angles.
‘Hello, hello,’ she said, barely hiding her glee, ‘I’m Patsy, and may I say, what a magnificent car! I’ve never been in a Jaguar before!’
He glanced at the car and flashed her a big smile.
‘Well, then you’re in for a real treat, I’m Chris, and I’m very glad to be your first Jaguar.’ He graveled with a twinkle in the eye and then roared with laughter.
He opened the door for her and she melted into the leather seat.
Wow! Now that’s what she called style, and she fitted in very well, thank you very much!
‘Suzie says you’re divorced?’ she questioned immediately and openly curious, the moment they were on their way.
‘Nearly.’ He said and another burst of laughter followed. She scrutinized his face. He wore black-framed glasses but she could just make out the little crinkles around the blue or grey eyes. It was a little too dark to establish the color with certainty. The touch of silver in his hair and temples made him looked very distinguished. Not too old and not bad looking at all.
’It just didn’t work out or what? ’She prompted again after a few seconds about the divorce.
‘You could say that - or what.’
They drove a few minutes in silence while Shirley Bassy belted out “Why the lady is a tramp.”
‘What do you do?’ She ventured again and he turned the music down.
‘Oh, I’m a businessman, one of those heartless ones who trifled with poor, unsuspecting minds and souls.’
‘That sounds intriguing.’ She showed a little more leg and tried to sound intimate, ‘Tell me more.’
He laughed again, ‘I don’t think that’s a good idea. If you know how ruthless I am, you might just change your mind.’
She nearly purred like a cat. ‘Not a chance, baby,’ she thought to herself as she looked around. She saw they were on the N2 heading north. Table Mountain was slowly getting smaller and smaller.
‘Where are we going? We’re leaving Cape Town if I’m not mistaken.’
‘Yes, we are. I hope you don’t mind, I’d booked a little, let’s say, private, out of the way, place.’ He sounded mysterious as he gave her a quick scan before he added, ‘And now I’m glad I did.’
‘Oh, I don’t mind’, she said coquettishly, ‘this is intriguing.’
She flirtingly pushed a brown lock behind her ear.
At last the “Gods” were smiling down on her.
Patsy licked over her burst, dry lips. She tried in vain - again - to remove the blindfold from her eyes. Her sore hands were swollen and tied behind her back.
‘Hallo…hallo…’ she screeched, the desperation clearly audible in her voice, or what was left of it, ‘help me…please!’ she tried louder which made her throat throbbed.
She’s been trying to get somebody’s attention ever since she came around. God knows how long that had been.
Nobody is apparently near here. Wherever “here” may be.
She didn’t know if it was night or day. She didn’t how long she was lying here in this…this…
At one point she thought she heard something and cried out till she was totally hoarse, but nothing!
It must’ve been her imagination.
Worse, it might’ve been an animal of some kind! A snake maybe, or spiders or something worse.
She can remember the amazing house, the romantic setting and her host – Chris, no surname - all over her even before they even had something to eat. He poured her some wine while he had a beer and for a while there she felt like a goddess. Until…until the double-vision, blurriness, overtook her. And now, since she woke up, it was the thirst, the hunger and the nausea that overwhelmed her. And her sore hands! What happened to her hands? She can still recall the cold smile around Chris’s mouth just before the darkness covered her brain like a blanket. He leaned in and whispered, ’I have to give you a message before you’re gone: “This is for Lulu, who got her scull bashed in by her mother. This is for little Chevron, most likely smothered by you, his loving mother, who’s supposed to comfort him and love him, not hurt him. But, most of all, this is for little Kirwin, who died of hunger at his mother’s hand. You are the worst serial killer of all time Patsy January (he used January, not Semper) and certainly not worthy of the word mother”.’
She wanted to say that she wasn’t January, that she was Semper, she wanted to tell him he must be mistaken, but her tongue did not obey any order her brain issued.
‘You’ve got away with your sins for more than twenty years!’ he went on in a low voice that screamed in her brain, ’It’s time for you to suffer the consequences. If you’re lucky someone will find you in time. If not, well, tough luck! If you get out alive, that is, you’ll remember this day forever. You’ll at last experienced a little of the despair Kirwin felt up until the day he died.’
He got up, but leaned back in immediately, ’Oh yes, Patsy, do you like ice-cream. I would say you can do with some “Chocolate Therapy”. Oh, and remember, it’s not so much ice-cream, Patsy, it is more like “I SCREAM”!’
Fear welled up in her, ‘I don’t...I don’t know what…’
She passed out before she could finish her sentence and she woke up in this altogether different kind of hell. She felt sick, really sick, and terribly thirsty. Pain throbbed through her hands. She was blindfolded and tied up. Worst of all, she soiled herself at some point!
‘Jesus, lady,’ a pack-a-day smoked voice came to her ears, ‘where did you come from?’
‘Help me, please, please, help me,’ she cried desperately without tears.
The blindfold was yanked off her eyes and the bounds loosen with a rusted, nearly blade-less knife, ’Gjee da water, jonge’ she told the curious big-eyed boy, standing behind her, in Afrikaans. The young lad sprinted like a rabbit towards the door. He came back with a dirty beaker filled with water. She drank until she felt nauseous all over again.
’Starrig met die water, merrim, jouse maag sal bars!’ the old woman, who had a face like a basin filled with intestines, warned her - again in Afrikaans – not to drink too much water. The old woman decided immediately that this “merrim” at her feet was English and, added, ’You’re stomach will burst – pop!’
She added a popping-sound, just to underline the seriousness of her warning, while all the time the knife was swung in close proximity to bring home her point.
The old woman then turned to the startled kid with the inquisitive eyes, ‘Maak gou, Shorty, gaan sê auntie Anna moet die police phone!’
‘No, no police,’ Patsy said slowly, but the kid had already turned and ran like he’s been chased by a Links.
’But of course you need the police, look at you, you look like shit!’ she emphasized the last word with the knife again, ‘smell like it, too!’ she crinkled her nose, ‘If it wasn’t for Shorty and his bloody laziness we would’ve never found you, merrim. Someone left you here for dead here, nè!’
‘What’s the time?’ she asked hoarsely, ‘Is it Sunday?’
‘It’s Monday morning, a little after nine in the morning, nè,’ she said, ’Shorty didn’t want to go to school - again - that good-for-nothing little twit, he slipped away and missed the taxi. Wanted to sit here till “middag” – seker ma,’ she slipped back into Afrikaans again, ’He does that regularly. Bloody good thing he did it today, ‘anners was jy dood soos n̒ mossie’!’
Dead as a Cape Sparrow – another Afrikaans expression.
Was a dead Cape Sparrow more dead than any other dead thing, she wondered as she fought off another attack of nausea.
Patsy got up. She wobbled a few times but stayed on her feet. She noticed for the first time she was bare feet. It’s true what the old hag had said, one day later and she could’ve been dead as a doornail.
‘Nay, merrim, sit down, you’re going to fall down!’ the old woman rasped, and held her arms out like a basket, but Patsy didn’t waver. She was in here for nearly two days!
‘Can I have more water, please,’ she asked weakly. She walked slowly out of the door of the old hut. Well, more like two-and-a-half brittle brick-walls holding up a tattered thatched roof. The door was a rusted corrugated sheet hanging by one hinge. She had to shield her eyes from the sharpness of the morning sun.
The old woman came back with more water and she slurped it down.
The child reappeared, followed by an entourage of curious eyes, and said, ’Ma, sy het ge-phone.’
Patsy felt a shiver going down her spine. So, they did phone the police. She didn’t have a very good relationship with the police. She didn’t want any of this to come out, especially what he said to her! She’ll keep that to herself, feint ignorance.
None said a word or asked any questions, they just stared at her as if she was an alien.
She must have made their day! She will be the topic for days on end and each will add another tale and tail to his or her conclusions. She came from just such a community somewhere around Springbok where everyone knows everyone’s business!
‘Where am I?’ she asked at last as she looked around.
‘Sandputs? How far is that from Cape Town?’
’“Ver”, merrim,’ she turned to the others and then back again, ‘This is the Karoo, Beaufort-district merrim, you are damn far away from Cape Town.’
The eyes stared in silence and amazement.
Patsy felt ill and slowly slid down the side of the ruin as the old woman’s hands support her. She put her hands to her head.
‘What’s that on your hands, merrim?’
She looked down at her hands and had to focus hard. Her hands were swimming closer and further, closer and further as she tried to make out what the black spots on the side of her fingers were.
At last the dots stood still.
It was tattoos! Rough tattoos!
On the middle and index finger of both hands someone did tattoos!
On the left hand the word “Undissolved” and “Contaminated” and on the right side “Chocolate” and “Therapy”
That’s what he said: ‘You’ll need some CHOCOLATE THERAPY…’