The Ice-Cream Club

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Chapter 26 (DEAD MAN walking)

‘What?’ Mae said astonished, ’You send the flowers?’

Tim Monty kept looking innocently at the screen. His fingers danced over the keyboard as he opened and closed windows like a magician before hitting the “save” button. He swung his chair around and looked at the surprised faces staring at him.

‘Is there something wrong with wishing a person a speedy recovery?’ He flashed them a devastatingly handsome smile, ‘come and read this.’

‘But you said she looked lovely…you didn’t see her!’ Latisha said credulously.

‘Yes, I did,’ Monty said, ‘I’ve asked the delivery-guy to be personal, said I wanted her to be surprised when she woke up, he got the flowers from some street-vendor. The guy did a good job, I think! She was very surprised and you two sent that photo of her through. Nothing unlawful there!’ He ignored the stunned faces, ‘but look at this.’

Five faces turned to the screen.

’That young boy, Shorty Pieterse, who found Patsy Semper in the middle of nowhere, told the social worker that he was paid by a man to go to the shack that Monday morning and “help a lady”. Apparently the words the man had used – “help a lady”’. Monty pointed at the latest report he got from Cape Town.

’At first, Shorty Pieterse wasn’t very forthcoming, very scared of all these new things crossing his routine-existence in such a short space of time, apparently. According to Marna Brits, the social worker, his mother intervene by way of the most outrageous threats of “skinning him alive if he doesn’t tell this merrim everything” and a sudden slap to the ear, before Brits could stop her, and that did the trick.’ Monty elaborated even though it was on the monitor for all to read, ‘He said he went to the little shop (just a small stall at the side of the road, really) to buy bubble-gum, just before the taxi came for school. A man in motorcycle gear, complete with helmet and gloves, approached him and gave him a R100 – in a plastic bag, mind you - to go to the shack and “help the lady”. He thought it had something to do with carrying or fetching. He found the woman lying there and called his mother.’

‘So,’ Tim said seriously, ’that’s when I thought I’d give Patsy January or Semper, a little incentive to tell the truth. Or, at least, stop lying, seeing that she kept on bullshitting everyone with the “I-don’t-know-what-happen” shit. It took just a bunch of flowers, a friend and a get-well-soon card to shake the tree.’

‘You better keep this from Supt Sheffield.’ Jim said in a low whisper, but nevertheless patted Monty on the shoulder.

‘If that Snooty little lawyer heard about all this there will be NO case!’ Mae warned in the same low voice.

‘Don’t encourage him, Jim’ Deric said before turning to Danny, ’sometimes you have to jump to the end of the rulebook and make up a rule of your own, BUT, only once in a blue moon. We don’t usually do that’ He pointed to Monty.

’O, please, just don’t start singing “Blue Moon” to us you weird, funny-that-way-little-Chopin…’ Jim said with googly eyes, then leaned in and whispered to Monty, ‘hmm…what did he say he was around here Monty, the boss, nè’

Deric’s face reddened a little bit but he grinned just as broadly as the rest.

‘And don’t you forget it!’ Deric said mocked sternly, ‘but seriously, no more shenanigans, we have enough on our plates as it is!’

Danny laughed, scratched his chin and then said seriously, ‘Boss, I just want to add,’ he pretended to take a hat off his head and looked at his feet, ‘I’m sure the rulebook doesn’t state anywhere that a police-officer may not send flowers to a victim in hospital. I should know, I’ve written the officer’s exam recently. So, I don’t think any rules were broken or ignored.’

They all smiled at Danny. He is fitting in nicely, thank you very much.

Latisha pointed two green fingernails, one at Danny and one at Monty and let go with an enthusiastic, ‘That’s my boys!’

‘Okay,’ Deric said, ’so we all agree this blind date, or whatever you want to call him, is not one of Brenda Blignaut’s hired guns. She would’ve mentioned it somewhere in the letter. Let’s leave that for now in the hands of the local guys, if they find him, we can asked him nicely “What the hell…” but in the meantime, we’ve got a “Deadline” so to speak. We have to concentrate on our “Dead man walking”. We still not any closer to an identity or a name, or even where to start looking for this man.’

’You sound like Sienna Moore and her puns, but you’re right, we have to figure this out. We do know that it’s surely is the man who murdered her daughter, seeing that the “original culprit” was an innocent scapegoat-’ Jim said matter-of-factly.’

‘-And will most probably still have been behind bars if DNA hadn’t saved the day.’ Mae added.

‘Way to go Sir Alec Jeffreys!’ Monty added.

’Way to go who?’ Latisha asked.

‘Alec Jeffreys, the doctor who made DNA-coding possible!’ Monty said.

Mr Know-it-all! You know it’s not fair that you have the looks and the brains, but you’re my boy!’ Latisha said with a big smile on her face.

‘How much time do we have left?’ Danny Malabo asked.

‘Little less than two weeks, I think. Some unexpected poor sod is walking around somewhere out there not knowing that his time is up! ’ Jim said.

’Poor sod? This poor sod out there is very much alive and most probable having fun and frolics. Proud of the fact that he’s got away with murder. So at ease by now that he doesn’t even think about his brutal act thirty-five years ago!’ Latisha was up in arms again, ‘I say let him fry!’

She crossed her arms and looked at each one individually as if to say “Just tell me that I’m wrong”

‘But, Tisha, what if it’s the wrong man again? What then? It happened before…’ Deric asked.

Jim went over and put his arm around her neck.

‘No, Tisha, I’m with you about this guy. I’m with you on Jackson too. As a matter of fact, I can even understand what motivated Brenda Blignaut. It’s just, we can’t allow every vigilante out there to take matters in their own hands. Just think about poor Benjamin Javid. Somebody convicted him without knowing all the facts. How many murderers, wife-beaters, child molesters and even terrorists are walking out there? Having normal days, like you and I, without other people knowing what is going on behind closed doors. We’ll make ourselves mad just thinking about all these things. We do what we can. We do what we have to. Little by little, one case at a time. We cannot right every wrong, we can but try!’

‘Well,’ she said, still upset, ‘sometimes we just do not try hard enough, and in this case we should not try at all! If it was Adie found strangled and raped, I would most probable have done exactly the same as this woman. Would it make it right because I’ve got a badge? Does it make it wrong because lay-enforcement let her down? Had done a shabby job? I don’t know! All I know is, my head says follow the letter of the law, but my heart says “Good for you Brenda Blignaut!”’

Nobody said anything.

‘Well, and although I feel sorry for Benjamin Javid, you cannot deny that he was a piece of work himself, as I understood from his file,’ Latisha answers her own question, ’but look at Patsy January or whatever she calls herself now – name-change and “la-di-da” like hell - then when she’s found out she’s a target it’s “Save ME”, “Help ME”. She never gave heat to her innocent, defenceless little victims! Now that she’s in dire straits we “have to save HER”. I don’t give a rat’s ass about her! I don’t care if Monty send the flowers. Nobody said I should be without feelings, or stop thinking for myself when I’ve became a policewoman. I won’t have sleepless nights if we don’t get to this killer in time!’’

Deric just let it ride, because he knew with Latisha in this mood, nothing he said would calm her down. He also knew that no matter what, she will give one hundred percent when it’s needed. And by hook or crook, come the bespoken date, they will know who killed Brenda Blignaut’s daughter, one way or the other.

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