Chapter 24 (CAPE TOWN)
The sun was sitting low over the sea as they entered Cape Town. They both were quiet as they took in the beauty of the setting sun and the amazing backdrop of the majestic silhouetted mountain and surroundings. The ride to the station was done in silence – which was unusual for Latisha.
They were picked up by local law-enforcement in the form of a Constable Titus. After establishing from him that Patsy January, or rather Semper, as she was now known, didn’t even as much as try to give a description of the person, or persons, who was responsible for the attack on her. She claimed she didn’t see anyone as she was attacked from behind and subsequently drugged. She couldn’t even described a vehicle of any kind. The next thing she remembered, according to her, was waking up in the hut. The police had very little to go on. They opened a kidnapping- and aggravated assault case, however, with the reluctant co-operation of the victim, they didn’t really have anything to go on. Although the victim’s handbag and shoes were neatly placed next to her in the hut it bore not one fingerprint. Robbery was the objective, neither sexual assault, as she wasn’t raped. The reason it raised a red flag was the connection to the “Ice-Cream murders” by way of the tattoos. The locals informed Pretoria in the person of Tim Monty.
As they entered the hospital the jovial, overweight Constable Titus uttered a happy, ‘No problemo!’ as they told him he might wait a while as they don’t know how long will take. He’d hurried off to the chocolate-dispensing machine.
Mae and Latisha show badges and enquired to the whereabouts of Patsy Semper. As they made their way to the elevators Mae saw the happy constable made him comfortable with a chocolate bar and some kind of magazine that makes menfolk happy.
Patsy Semper was asleep and quite bleak. Mae could see a few of the accusing words peeking out from two fingers.
The local police took photos of the tattoos and she knew exactly what it said on the left and the right. Besides the evidence of the boy (who was scared shitless of the sudden attention) and his ole Mom, nearly nothing could be extracted from Patsy. She mostly answered with “I don’t knows” the report read in Pretoria.
Patsy stirred a little.
She turned and winced. That she was still in discomfort and shock from her ordeal was evident.
She opened her eyes slowly.
Latisha introduced Mae and herself and they could literally see the slight recoil as a soft sigh escaped her lips at the word “Police”.
After recapping her story about a man grabbing her from behind, drugged her and pushed her into a vehicle up to the moment she woke up in the old shack in the veldt, took all but a minute. Any further questions about the tattoos or the meaning of the words and why she think it’s been done, she stubbornly clammed up with a “I don’t remember anything”, “I didn’t see a face”, “Have no idea” and the old standby “I don’t know”.
‘Your friend Suzie told the police that she’d set you up to go on a blind date with a-’
‘Yes, she did, but I got cold feet. I phoned. Cancelled. Suzie didn’t know that and maybe that’s why she thought it might’ve been him. But no, as I’ve told you just now, and the police before, I don’t know any-’
’You want to tell us that an unknown person grabbed you from behind, tattooed those specific words on your fingers - just for the hell of it - then left you for dead hundreds of miles away from home? He didn’t rape you; he didn’t rob you, seeing that your handbag was found on the floor of the shack! So what was the motive?’
’Maybe he’s got the wrong person, maybe I just look like the “someone” he was after.’ She offered a weak excuse.
As she spoke Latisha gave Mae a quick knowing look before concentrating on the woman again.
’I don’t think so, maybe he thought he had the right person.’ Latisha said.
‘So, it was a man,’ Mae kept it going, ’for you keep saying – him.’
’And do you always dress up for work, for you seem to wear what appear to be a party dress when you were found? And what do you mean “The right person”?’ Latisha hammered on.
As a scarlet blush moved up her neck and onto her cheeks she looked from one to the other. She chewed on her lip a bit before saying, ‘I assume it was a man for he was strong.’ And then with a loud voice, ’I don’t know! I don’t know! Why are you asking me for? I said I haven’t seen anything. There may have been more – I don’t know! So stop pestering me! Why don’t you people listen: I. Don’t. Know!’
’Well, honey, you’re the only witness to this crime and you’re acting more like the accused than the victim.’ Latisha answered laconic as she pointed lightly with the pen to her fingers, ’wouldn’t he feel sheepish if he find out he marked the wrong person for life!’
’So, he drugged you, and then, for no reason at all, her mutilated your fingers and left you for dead! You don’t care to bring him to justice then?’ Mae said with bare irritation.
Patsy shook her head slowly from side to side. She looked at her fingers, as if seeing them for the first time and then shrugged.
Again Latisha gave Mae a clenched-jaw look before commencing the interview.
‘Semper!’ she said with a far-away look, ‘I don’t like to be called Mrs January.’
‘Why’s that?’ Latisha asked, full knowing her stormy history with her second husband from the case-file.
’Because Jakes January was a shit!’ she nearly yelled the last word.
‘Well,’ Latisha started with a sharp tone, ‘you chose-’
’Did this guy say anything to you before you passed out?’ Mae interrupted whilst giving Latisha the “Don’t go there”-eye.
Patsy hesitated slightly before slowly shaking her head, ‘No…err…he said nothing.’
’He got the wrong person? This stupid man got a whole two days to see that he had the wrong person, but he tattooed those words in any case on your fingers. In all those hours he must’ve realize at some point he’d had the wrong gal – not so? But nooo, he kept doing what he’s doing. Writing words on your fingers with a sharp needle. Incidentally, those words curiously ties in with an old, unsolved case we’re just so happen to work on. The unfortunate death of your first husband, Benjamin Javid! Was he a shit, too? Please, Mrs January,’ Latisha accentuated the “January”, ’don’t play us for the fool!’ Latisha said sharply, ‘We do this for a living! Or do you think we’ve flown all the way from Pretoria to Cape Town just to wish you a speedy recovery?’
‘I want a lawyer.’ Patsy suddenly said sharply.
‘We’re not arresting you, Miss Semper,’ Mae tried to sooth, again giving Latisha the evil eye, ’we’re trying to help. There’s not even a proper case here without you’re co-operation. You do want this to be solved, not so?’
‘No charges laid, is there now? Who will I lay charges against’ she said, eyes bobbing to Latisha, back to Mae and again to Latisha.
‘That’s the police work to find the culprit, but only with your help. You’re not helping. Why is that?’
Realizing she’s drowning herself Patsy said loudly, ‘I don’t know NOTHING.’
‘No, but-’ Mae tried again.
‘I want a lawyer, otherwise-’
‘Seems you know the drill about lawyers and stuff. But, we have evidence that makes us believe you have a lot more to do with the death of your young children that you would let on!’ Latisha lashed back.
Mae wanted to give her a swift kick. She felt the same way about this, but they have to tread subtly here. She already clammed up on all. They would’ve gone to all this trouble coming down here for nothing.
Patsy Semper looked up. For a moment there was fear in her eyes before it turned defiant.
‘I. Want. A. Lawyer.’ She said softly but firmly.
‘Well, that went well!’ Latisha said through a toothpaste mouth, ‘She wants. A. Lawyer.’
She spits the water with disgust into the basin. She washed the basin with just as much fury before drying her hands and then plunged onto the single bed next to Mae’s.
‘I know two things,’ she said looking towards the ceiling, ’one – she knows exactly who this man is, or at least, what he looks like. Two: she knows exactly what those words mean and she’s guilty as hell of something!
‘That’s three things.’ Mae said laconic.
‘Who the hell is counting? She knows, that’s why she doesn’t want to do anything at all about this kidnapping! All the speculations about her own children she murdered,’ she looked at Mae who’s been pounding away on her laptop, ’what’s that euphemistic word they use for harming one’s children…’ Latisha snapped her fingers.
‘Munchausen by Proxy.’ Mae said.
’Yeah, that,’ she looked at the ceiling again, ’that cute name they’ve come up with for murder one-’
’Named after a he, Baron Münchhausen,’ Mae said, eyes still glued to the screen.
‘He, the baron, apparently done it first. Or at least was the first case to be recorded, according to Burman and Stevens. It’s a syndrome. But there are still sceptics over this subject. It’s also called FII and FDP – short for Fabricated or Induced Illness or Factitious Disorder by Proxy.’
‘Well, she’s damn-well guilty, syndrome or not!’ Latisha said as she moved the covers to one side with another bout of violence, ’everybody’s got a syndrome these days and every know-it-all try to disguise murder with a posh-sounding name!’ she said loudly and switched off the lamp on her side.
‘If it helps, in the USA this term has never been officially included as a discrete mental disorder-’
‘Oh, phooey! It’s still murder, nevermaaind the Acronyms or disguised pompous names!’
Mae closed her laptop and got into bed as well.
‘What the hell were you doing on that thing anyway?’
‘Just made sure I knew exactly what was on her file and all about this syndrome,’ Mae said, ‘for tomorrow - with the lawyer and all that, you know. Oh, and I’ve send Deric my love.’
Mae switched off her lamp.
‘Aah, true love.’ Latisha said drowsily. And then she added, ‘For two people who nearly had to be dragged kicking and screaming towards each other, you’re piling on the sweetness, hey.’
Mae smiled in the dark, ‘Well, we’re making up for lost time!’
As a soft wind blew in from the sea and pampered the curtains, they fell asleep.
After breakfast they set off for the hospital once more. Latisha promised to behave, although she threatened to “slap that girl silly” if she kept on behaving like a jerk.
It was around ten when the lawyer showed – only an hour late.
She was a thin, gold-rimmed glassed blonde, wearing unbearable high-stilettos and far too much make-up. Barely out of law school, but she already wore that ‘time is money and you’re wasting it’-expression on her face. ‘Emma du Toit.’ She said without slowing down on her way to the lifts,’ and you are…’
‘Something the cat-’ Latisha started off but Mae elbowed her and cut her off abruptly.
‘Inspectors Jacobs and Mouton-Offbach,’ she said loudly, giving Latisha a warning look.
The young lawyer didn’t broke stride or acknowledged them.
The lift opened - on demand, it seemed - as she approached. They got in.
’You think that is a compulsory subject at uni?’ Latisha whispered in Mae’s ear.
’A degree in “I-don’t-have-time-for-this-shit-facial-expressions”’ Latisha giggled.
Mae smiled and looked down at her feet.
’They definitely all cum that subject.’ Latisha whispered again, looking innocently down at her feet as well.
Mae’s grin got bigger as she looked up and saw the thin lawyer looking at them in the mirror.
She must have overheard Latisha.
It was impossible not to.
The lawyer - definitely a junior at her firm - looked at them with an even more annoyed expression, if that was at all possible, before stabbing at the number 2 button. Her dark eyes shone impatient through the lenses of her gold rims as she watched the lift-light count out the floors from ground to second. She flung herself out of the door at the “ping” came and nearly collided with a bed pushed by an orderly. That pissed her off even more. She pulled and smoothed at her hair and clothes with gusto before trotting off again. Mae and Latisha followed the angry, short little footsteps at a jog as they struggled to keep their professionalism. This was one short-tempered girl. How she was going to survive the jungle called “Justice” they don’t know. Maybe she just got out of the wrong side of the bed this morning or maybe her boyfriend or husband came home too late last night. Maybe she’s got a lot more interesting cases pending than this one.
Who the hell knows?
All they knew was she’s fed-up and pissed-off with all this even before they’ve started - which didn’t bode well for them.