Chapter 25 (A CONFESSION)
‘No, nothing,’ Mae said, clenching the phone between her ear and shoulder as she fumbled through her bag looking for a tissue ‘and yes, I know what you think about hunches, but this girl, there’s something…well, I think she’s as guilty as a cat with a rat in his mouth. Anyway, she demanded a lawyer so-’
A smile curled round her lips as she listened. Deric knew them too well. She looked at Latisha with glee.
‘Yes, she was a little direct. You know Tisha. But nothing that’s not in this woman’s file.’ Mae listened for a moment longer then said. ‘We’re not getting a lot done here, so we’re coming home tomorrow-’
’And tell him her lawyer is a “Biatch”.’ Latisha made some kind of rapper-sign with her green fingernails from the other side of the room as she put emphasis on the word “Biatch”.
’Yeah, and she’s got this short-tempered little lawyer. We barely opened our mouths to breathe then she let us have it with a “My client has nothing to say” or “You don’t have to answer that!”’
Mae gave a snort-laugh as Latisha mimicked the walk of the angry little women, ‘But we did warn Patsy January…Semper that she might be in danger and that we cannot guarantee her safety-’
‘That’ll put a dent in her little self-absorbed little love-life!’ Latisha shouted from the other side. Mae giggled again and proceeded to tell Deric the whole story of the blind-date and her denying it.
’By the way, she doesn’t want to be called “Mrs January” – said her ex was a shit!”
She listened a bit whilst a lovely blush spread over her cheeks.
‘Yes, me too, can’t wait, love you too, bye.’ Mae said as Latisha made smooching sounds from her bed.
’Oh, you two make me so damn jealous, all Peter and I talked about is the children or how much food’s left in the fridge and freezer and Adie’s – hopefully ,’ she crossed her fingers, ‘lack of a sex life.’
‘Liar, I heard you say “Love you, can’t wait to get home”’ Mae said, ‘in any case, Deric and I also talked about Nathan.’ Mae looked pensively at the wall, ‘It makes me a little uneasy - also very happy - that the two of them cope so well together without me. Nathan loves Deric to bits!’
‘And that’s a bad thing, how?’ Latisha said laconic, ’Let’s go and have dinner, my friend, last night we’ll have people tending to our every need and whim. Let’s make them pay!’
She took Mae by the arm and they walked to the dining room.
Mae was looking at Table Mountain as Latisha came through the door.
‘What a magnificent view,’ she said, ’do you think the Capetonians really appreciate seeing that every morning?’ She nodded towards Table Mountain.
’I don’t know, but it sure is there, in all its glory. Beautiful!’ Latisha said as she heaved her overnight bag down the front stairs of the cute little B&B guest-house they’ve stayed in, ‘I grew up around here and I’d never tire of it. But, I’ll tell you,’ she looked longingly at the little B&B, ’I’ll surely miss this little place. It was worth the trip, even if we didn’t get squat from that woman. Wonderful to “snap” you’re fingers and people dance to your music.’
Mae’s phone rang.
‘Inspector Mouton-Offbach,’ she listened and gave Latisha a little bemused look before she carried on, ‘No, sure, we’re actually on our way to the airport, but if it’s important enough we can swing by the hospital. See you in fifteen?’
‘What was that all about?’ Latisha asked.
‘That was Emma du Toit, the lawyer,’ Mae said pointing to the phone, ‘something spooked her client and she wants to see us urgently.’
‘What the hell could that be about?’ Latisha asked with a frown, ‘you think the fact that I’ve said we cannot protect her from any future attacks changed her mind? I doubt it!’
Mae thick, Mahogany-coloured hair swung from side to side as she said, ‘I don’t know, let’s go and find out.’
‘Please, don’t use those words!’ Latisha muttered.
‘“I don’t know”!’
They giggled as they got into the car.
Latisha looked at the jovial double-chinned constable at the wheel and said, ’We’ve changed our minds. The hospital, Jeeves!’ He gave her a hearty laugh and said, ‘You’re welcome Miss Daisy.’
Patsy Semper nearly jumped out of bed as they entered. She looked tattered and tired and pulled nervously at her hair.
Emma du Toit laid a hand on her arm and talked in a soothing voice. Mae and Latisha looked at Du Toit and then at each other with a “Who knew?” expression. She even offered Patsy some water before proceeding to tell her again that she’ll do the talking for her, if she so chooses. Patsy Semper nodded before looking at a bunch of beautiful red Gladioli flowers draped across the trolley.
‘That arrived this morning.’ She said as she kept her eyes on the flowers as if it would turn into a poisonous spider the moment she looked away, ‘or…maybe…even during the night. Nobody knows!’
Mae and Latisha looked at the flowers and then back to Patsy.
‘It’s lovely, but there must be more to it than that.’ Latisha said.
‘There’s a message attached to it.’ Patsy said with a hoarse voice.
Mae took out latex gloves and proceeded to take the card out of the envelope that just stated “PATSY”.
She read it out loud.
‘I heard you made it out alive. Hope you get better soon. Honey, be very careful of blind dates, you never know who it might be. It’s time for the truth now, don’t you think. By the way, you look lovely xxx.’
A heavy silence befell all before Mae asked, ‘Who delivered this?’
‘Well, that’s the thing,’ the lawyer answered, ‘nobody knows. The day-nurse said she found it here on the trolley this morning and was a little peed-off because she thought somebody forgot to take it out yesterday evening. She thought it was delivered yesterday. My client said it wasn’t here yesterday. So, this person who’d delivered it, we think, must’ve brought it in during the night, or very early this morning.’
‘Flowers are removed at around eight in the evening. I’ve asked the staff.’ Emma du Toit said with concern. Maybe she came to a realization that this case was worth her while after all, or she just felt better this morning about life in general.
‘He must’ve come into the room, or why would he have said “You look lovely”?’ Patsy said terrified.
‘Okay, Mrs Jan…Miss Semper, why is this so important? Why are you so scared? Is there something you want to tell us, something about the flowers, or maybe the attack?’ Mae asked, ’We’ve told you that you might be in danger but, if you don’t give us something, we cannot protect you at all! Do you think the flowers were delivered by the person who did this to you?’ Mae pointed to Patsy’s hands.
‘And, please, hurry up, we’ve got a plane to catch. Here’s your chance to enlighten us. Why are we here?’ Latisha kept it up.
Emma du Toit looked annoyed yet again, ‘Please don’t use that tone with my client!’
Patsy looked at her fingers and ignored her lawyer.
‘Benjamin died in hospital – not this one, but nonetheless. They said it was due to his head injuries…’
’You think otherwise? Are you scared someone might come in during the night and do something to you? Maybe because they know somehow what really happened the night baby Lulu was killed?’
Patsy Semper turned ashen.
The lawyer turned surprised towards her client before dead-panning it.
‘You don’t have to say anything that could incriminate you, Patsy. They must protect you from-’
‘Not if there’s NO case, Miss Du Toit!’ Mae said with a firm voice, ‘Against whom are we protecting her. She doesn’t even acknowledge the truth? By the way, why is that? Is it because you have secrets and don’t want us to know about them?’
‘I’ve…well…I… you see, I don’t know anything-’
‘In that case we are really wasting our time,’ Latisha turned to the lawyer, ‘contact the local police, we have a plane to catch!’ Latisha said curtly.
If Patsy Semper heard Latisha she ignored her. ‘You see I was angry. Angry with Benjamin, angry with the baby…she kept on crying and…’ She put her tattooed fingers to her eyes and pressed, ‘it’s so long ago…I was so young, only eighteen. Far too young to be a mother-’
‘I have to advise my client that she should not incriminate her…anyone!’ Du Toit said sternly.
Another silence fell.
Latisha turned on her heels, ‘Like I said, we’ve got a plane to catch and it’s not going to wait for us. This is just another waste of time. Let’s get to the airport.’
‘I hope seriously you’re not expecting us to catch this flower-delivery man, person or whatever?’ Mae said as she started to follow Latisha, ‘We’ll leave this in the local police’s hands. They can follow it up with the flower-shop or whoever delivered this.’
‘NO, wait!’ Patsy grabbed Mae by the arm, ‘This “Ice-cream” thing- I did encounter something like this long ago, a sort of warning.’ Patsy looked at her fingers.
‘When was this?’ Latisha asked, ready with notebook.
‘Years after Benjamin’s death. Up to then I thought I was responsible for his death…you know… the lamp over his head.’
’Exactly when did this warning happen, Patsy?’ Mae asked again.
‘In 1998, Chevron just died.’ She rubbed her eyes again as if a sudden sandstorm had occurred, ‘I opened the door one morning after the doorbell rang and went outside to find a tub of ice-cream on the stoop with a letter attached to it. I looked around but saw nobody and none looked out of place or strange.’
‘I take it the ice-cream’s flavour was-’
‘Yes,’ she said curtly, ‘Chocolate therapy.’
‘And the note,’ Latisha asked, ‘what did the note say?’
She looked hesitantly at her lawyer, but the moment she started to talk she waved her advice away with her hand, ‘It read…I cannot remember word-by-word…but it says something along the lines of poor Benjamin that was executed wrongly, and although he wasn’t totally innocent in what had happened to Lulu, they knew…well…’
Mae laid a soft sympathetic hand on Patsy’s arm, ‘Was it really Benjamin that had hit the baby with the lamp?’
Patsy shook her head ever so slightly and started to shiver.
Emma du Toit warned again that she should not incriminate herself.
‘You see, Lulu kept screaming and screaming, so after…after’ Patsy said softly.
She looked up with regretful and tear-filled eyes, ‘It was an accident, I swear.’
Miss Semper, think-’ the lawyer started off again.
‘What did you say?’ Latisha turned back and stared at Patsy.
‘I’ve hit her. Accidentally! I swear it was an accident! I grabbed the lamp to hit Benjamin who’ve bend over the cot. You see the baby was crying and he wanted to shut her up and I didn’t know what he was about to do, so -’
‘Miss Semper, please don’t say another word!’ Emma du Toit said in earnest.
‘What exactly happened that day, Patsy?’
Patsy Semper shook her head. She kept on talking amidst stern warnings from the lawyer.
’I swung the lamp towards his head but he ducked, or moved forward or something and…and… I’m not sure how it happened, but I struck the baby instead. I didn’t know it till after, well, till after I’ve turned and hit Benjamin several times over his head. Then…the next thing I remembered was standing with the lamp in my hand and Celia screaming. She wasn’t looking at me or at Benjamin. She was looking at the baby. Only then did I become aware of Lulu…‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry!’
Patsy January, or Semper, was shaking and moaning like a kitten by now.
‘The neighbour started to accuse Benjamin and I just went with that.’ She blurted out hoarsely, ‘I felt so bad afterwards for Benjamin…for Lulu…and then…no one ever blamed me for anything, till…till…’ She started to cry inconsolably.
’And then, conveniently, Benjamin died that same evening from his “head-injuries” and as far as the police, and everyone else was concerned, good riddance and the case was closed.’ Latisha said without venom, ’However, it seems this attacker wasn’t quite happy with the way you’ve got away with your own little secrets. Not only Lulu and Benjamin either, according to your case-file you spent some time in a facility regarding the negligent death of Chevron Maart as well. Was that an accident also? I mean the neglect?’
‘That’s enough! My client’s not saying another word!’ The lawyer said with drift.
‘You must help me.’ Patsy kept going, ’He’s telling me with those flowers that he can get to me at any time!’ She said with wide, wet eyes.
Just in that moment she sounded a little insane with screeching voice and wild eyes. Maybe her sins were hauling her in, one by one, by way of this mystery man. Question stays! How the hell did he, whoever he may be, knew?
‘Do you still have the note, I mean about the “Ice-cream”? And who are you talking about? The man you’re not telling us about?’ Mae asked.
‘Please, inspector, have a little compassion-’ the lawyer tried, but Patsy was scared shitless.
‘I didn’t keep the note, I tore it up. But yes, the one who did this,’ she shook her hands about. ‘He knows! He’s going to kill me!’
‘Because he tattooed the word “Chocolate Therapy” on your hand, the same as the ice-cream you received such a long time ago?’
’Yes, that’s what the note contained back then. It said I was tainted.’ She shook her finger about, ’It said I was a baby-killer and that it all was still undissolved.’
‘Who was it, Patsy? Do you know the man?’
‘No, I really do not know him. I know, however, what he looks like.’ Patsy began to describe the man she’d had the date from hell with to a tee, everything that happened and everything he said to her before she blacked out. She fell exhausted back onto the pillows and cried hysterical.
‘And you really don’t know this Chris?’
‘Stop battering my client!’ The lawyer said sharply and turned to Patsy, ‘She said she doesn’t know the man! Not another word from you!’ She swung towards Patsy.
Again, Patsy ignored her and said between sobs, ‘No…I’ve said so…I laid… eyes on him… for the first time…F…Friday night.’
‘And Suzie, would she know who it was?’ Latisha asked, ‘You’ve said she’d arranged this blind-date.’
‘I’m not sure… she said he was some big-wig in some company. Saw her talking to me and wanted to know who I…I… was and if I was married. She said he was…was rich and good-looking and interested in me.’
‘We’ll talk to Suzie. In the meantime, Patsy, you’d confessed to the accidental killing of Lulu Javid.’ Mae said.
She nodded slowly.
‘You know this confession may lead to some other investigations too.’
She nodded again.
‘You’re upsetting the patient!’ A stern sister said as she entered the ward, ‘No more, that’s enough.’ She put something into the drip and Patsy slipped into dreamland.
Mae called the investigative officer to take down Patsy’s statement as soon as she woke up and arranged for a police-artist to make a sketch of the attacker.
Emma du Toit stayed by her side. To her credit she gave Patsy advice and kept reminding everyone that her client was co-operative and that it should be taken into consideration and all the other necessary lawyer-remarks she could master.
After all the arrangements were made and another short conversation with Emma du Toit about the case, they were far too late for their flight and had to wait for the next available seats.
‘You know it will be hard to prove any of this Munchausen-syndrome business. Maybe the case of baby Lulu - by her own admittance – which she claimed was accidental, will help towards her just desserts. I don’t know. We’re talking twenty-five odd years ago.’
’You think this is also the hand from the grave?’ Latisha asked as they sat down to eat – at exorbitant prizes – airport food.
‘You mean Brenda Blignaut? I don’t know, but the similarities are really creepy and eerie.’ Mae said with a pretend shiver.
As Latisha made herself comfy Mae said, ’I really hope I didn’t do anything in my past to earn this ole gal’s ire. She is, or was, royally pissed off with the law and at all these-’
‘Scum!’ Latisha let go.
‘Alleged criminals,’ Mae said political correct. Sometimes she felt just like Latisha about it, ‘Brenda Blignaut sure as hell did her homework. She’s like the damn “Lone Ranger – spirit-walker” – just about everywhere!’
‘HI-HO, SILVER!’ Latisha let go so loudly the people at the next table started to giggle.
Mae leaned over to them and whispered loudly, ‘Never mind her, she did not only lost her horse, she also lost her marbles.’
‘And my big, shiny ghoen’ Latisha added with crossed eyes.
They all laughed some more before each returned to his own business.
‘But one thing is strange,’ Mae said as their food arrived, she looked at Latisha sipping her ice-tea, ’Brenda Blignaut told us that they’ve pin the wrong person - in the person of Benjamin Javid - for the death of baby Lulu. However, she’d never indicated that Patsy January, or Semper, was one of those they’ve targeted as a victim!’
‘No, she didn’t. And Patsy didn’t die.’
‘Only because she was saved by that child.’
‘You know, it feels like the moment we close one case, we open the next can of worms.’ Latisha put a chip in her mouth, ‘This Brenda Blignaut and her passé were one pissed off bunch!’