The Ice-Cream Club

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Chapter 39 (GOOD NEWS)

Latisha tried to get hold of Neill Kruger but his wife confirmed that he was on a business trip. Would be back the first week of February. That could be too late for their “victim-cum-murderer”, if Brenda Blignaut fulfilled her promise.

‘I don’t know, but the drinks cannot be the only explanation for the co-called loss of memory scenario.’ Jim said as his backside found the edge of the desk, ‘I’m starting to believe Rita le Roux, there must be something more to it.’

‘I take it Steenkamp’s blood alcohol was tested.’ Latisha wondered out loud.

‘Yes, and although he did indulged, it wasn’t outrageously. However, given the fact that it was taken four or five hours later...but even so, for him to totally passed out? I also starting to believe Rita le Roux.’ Deric said slowly.

‘Anything else? I mean tested for anything else?’ Latisha wanted to know again.

’Yes, a small level of Benzodiazepine, which is used in, I think Monty said, a tablet for “Epilepsy” or “Chronic Insomnia”. But like I said, it was around five to six hours later and the murderer was sort of caught red-handed. That was just added evidence. Minke Blignaut also tested positive for Benzodiazepine – very minute traces. They did make mention of it at the trial, mostly the alcohol levels. None of the others’ were tested. It was mention that the students had mostly hang-overs from the night before’ Deric said and he placed his feet up the desk, ‘It was a party, after all, and they were not involved in the murder. They were witnesses. I guessed they all would’ve had some degree of an alcohol-level in their blood, that was a given.’

’In that case, I bet my bottom-dollar, Kruger had to be involved somehow. He was the bartender for the evening. I mean if the guests had been given some kind of drug, he had to know something about it.’ Latisha said and plonked herself down on the chair a little annoyed that he was out of reach.

‘Well, at least someone else was involved. Maybe he was bribed or something. He did bartending for some extra money.’ Jim said staring at the ceiling.

‘And it all points,’ Deric said, staring in turn out the window, ‘to that last drink, that tequila Gust had bought the guests. Kruger had to be in on it. But why, that’s the question.’

They all were lost in their own thoughts before Latisha broke the silence, ‘What did the good Doctor have to say this morning.’

Deric took his feet down and told them about his talk with Doctor van der Westhuizen.

Jim looked at his nails with interest before he slowly said, ‘So, he thinks Dunn was in on it as well?’ He chewed a bit on one of the nails before he went on, ‘Must be, not so?’ He looked at Deric who was again staring at the window.

‘The three of them could’ve pulled it off,’ Latisha said, ‘especially if nearly all the guests were rendered helpless. But still, the question remains, why rape and murder?’

’Listen, we just cannot wait any longer. We’ll have to inform the “guests” as in specially Judge Rodney Gust, of a possible threat to their lives. Before Sunday – that’s our estimated date - Sunday or Monday, not so? I think early Saturday - it’ll give them at least a twenty-four hour heads-up. I’m sure we’ve got the right suspect on our radar. Let’s go over that story again. Make very sure it’s plausible enough not to cause any direct suspicion on only the Judge. Don’t want to accused of “ruining” his reputation and all that. However, come this weekend this story will play itself out, one way or another. I, for one, am taking Brenda Blignaut at her word!’

‘Yes, I’m with you there.’ Jim said as he got up, ’She would never have spilled the beans about all this if she wasn’t serious about it all. Let’s hope our informed calculations of the date she had in mind are on the money!’

’Can I asked, why this specific date? Brenda Blignaut may have lived until now, or she could’ve died earlier. Why this date? Would it have been 30 days from the day she died or?’ Danny looked curiously at everyone in the incident room.

‘I’ve been asking myself that same question.’ Deric said tapping his pencil against his lips, ‘I thought it was 30 days after her death, regardless. Would she, if at all possible, have done it herself the last day of January?’

’We could be out with three or four days…but…well, that’s what we figure, around the 30th or 31st of January. She also said “After that, safety cannot be guaranteed” which can also meant that she had given us a sporting change till the end of January. That whoever is going to do whatever to whom, will only do it after the 30th. It could be, as a matter of fact, any of the following days after that. Which will keep us on the edge up until something remotely related happens.’

‘What did “Bands Bouwer and Rose” said?’ Latisha wanted to know.

’Well, they said it’s stipulated that the envelope should be delivered any day from 22ndto the 24thof December, regardless of her death. They delivered it on the 24th because it had convened them. Her will was apparently straight forward and they’ve decided to finish everything off before their offices closed for the holidays.’

‘I wish I was such a bloody good planner as Brenda Blignaut. The woman thought of everything it seems!’ Latisha said.

‘Well, let me put it this way, she had nothing left to do for the last thirty-five years.’ Jim said laconic, ’except taking out a few other murderers.’

A short silence fell.

‘Well, I guess if it was Adie…’ As if an omen Latisha’s phone went, ‘speak of the devil…’ she turned away and said, ‘yes sweetheart…’

Deric looked at his watch as well and saw that it was ten to seven.

On a Friday!

The poor girl most probable wondered what happened to her mother!

‘I’m sorry people, but we just have to finalize the story and assign extra guys to watch Judge Rodney Gust from around tomorrow morning, at ten, I think. I did give them a heads-up. I don’t think something would befall him before that time’ Deric crossed his fingers.

‘I’ll organise the surveillance,’ Danny put his hand up figuratively and literally, ‘I’ll get the guys assigned a roster and have a twenty-four thing going from…’ He looked at Deric.

‘Let’s make that Saturday morning around eight. I realize that it’s the 29th but…just in case we’re off with our thirty days...’ He said to Danny.

Danny nodded and strode off.

Latisha returned to the table smiling, ‘Can you believe it – so sweet - she’s worried about her Mommy!’

Monty gave her a hug, ’That is sweet – see, they don’t just give you grey hair.’

‘Whose grey you little nerd?’ she said pretend aghast but hugged back.

They spend around fifteen minutes to finish the email before Latisha grabbed her fake Gucci bag and said, ‘Bye, babies, have a lovely weekend.’ Then to Deric, ‘You sure you won’t need me for anything tomorrow, this weekend?’

‘No, I don’t think so, but I have your number. Enjoy!’

She blew them a kiss as she went out the door.

Deric looked at the golden liquid in the glass and then slowly turned towards his wife.

He was looking forward to getting home early every night since they’ve got married. It was of course not always possible. Luckily Mae understood very well the flexibility of time, since she worked quite a few cases with him. They just didn’t keep regular office-hours. But Fridays were special. He usually came home at around six-thirty, if nothing pressing came up. First thing on the agenda always were Nathan and his chocolate-ritual, then bath and bed (story and all). Meanwhile, Mae would busy her with dinner for the two of them. They usually enjoyed a quiet - sort of romantic - dinner accompanied by a glass of white wine for her and something stronger for him than the usual beer. They just enjoyed each other’s company for the rest of the evening. Watch a movie, or whatever on Telly, talking, or even playing some silly board-game.

Like Mae said with her practical mind, all this will most probably wear off some time or another, and Nathan won’t go to bed on a Friday at eight forever, but till it end, why not enjoy everything.

Tonight, however, was different because of the warning they’d readied. However, it will only be sent out tomorrow on e-mail as well as SMS. It was quite late when he arrived home and he didn’t expect Nathan to be still up. But he was, and they both enjoyed the whole playful exercise. It was around nine when he switched off Nathan’s light.

He kissed Mae in her neck as he entered the kitchen. She was slicing away at a tomato to add to the salad.

‘Watch out, Casanova, don’t get me worked up, I’ve have a very sharp knife in my hand.’ She flirted lightly while holding her neck for more. He obliged, gave her a teasing little slap on her bum and turned to pour her a white wine as per usual.

‘Here you go.’ He said and sat the glass down on the table.

‘Not for me tonight, sweetheart,’ she said casually.

‘You want a beer instead?’

‘No, nothing for me, I’ll have some water with my dinner.’

He suddenly remembered that she went to see the Doctor that afternoon. He did phone once or twice, but couldn’t reach her and he’d forgotten all about it till now.

Deric held on to the chair as he slowly turned to look at her, ‘What did the Doctor say?’ he asked evenly and quietly, but his heart was thudding against his shirt.

‘Oh, he said I should lay off the booze, I’ve a condition.’ Mae said without turning around.

His felt a sudden dizziness in his head and his voice sounded hollow in his own ears as he slowly said, ‘What did he say is wrong with you? What condition?’ Images of Judy’s calm declaration that she was diagnosed with cancer and his concerned, but matching controlled reaction, as if it was just a cold, or the flu, or a stomach ailment that should be better in a few weeks, haunted him suddenly. They didn’t really know what those words implied. How those few calm, controlled words all those years ago consumed their waking hours, and months, and years, to fight off that silent killer. How, in the end, they lost the battle and he’d to watch how the cancer slowly squeezed the life out of her - and nearly out of him too. To be honest it was agonising to see, to feel and to watch. He could do nothing in the end to stop it and stood with stooped shoulders in the corner of the room watching doctors do the fighting for both of them – but they also lost the battle!

Black spots swum in front of his eyes as he tried to fathom what could be wrong with Mae.

Oh God, please don’t let it be cancer! Don’t let it be cancer!

‘Deric, sweetheart, what’s wrong? You’re as pale as a ghost!’ Mae turned around at his sudden silence and realized what her playful words were doing to him! Condition. Judy. Cancer!

‘I think you better sit down, and no, no, it’s not what you’re thinking at all!’ She pulled out a chair and let him sit down, grabbed a bottle of water from the fridge and handed it to him as she went on, ‘I’m fine, I’m fine, actually I’m better than fine!’

Deric looked at her after a swig of water, ‘Well, you look gorgeous enough,’ he said with a feeble smile, ‘but what did he say? What condition?’

‘A very common one,’ she beamed at him, ‘I’m pregnant! That’s why I have to give up my glass of white wine, for the time being, at least.’ She was now smiling broadly, ’You’re going to be a Dad and Nathan’s going to have a brother or a sister. My condition is your entire fault, you know!’

She saw his pale face changing to disbelieve while colour slowly returned to his cheeks. His grey eyes started to sparkle and a broad smile created a deep dimple in his left cheek at the realization of her words.

‘What?’ he said softly, incredulously.

She got the glass of wine and placed it before him, ‘So we should celebrate, but I’ll use the water or something non-alcoholic, and you can have my wine.’

Deric got up, grabbed her around the waist and swung her two times through the air before he gave her a soft, warm kiss. He held her tight as he whispered, ‘Thank you, thank you.’

‘Hey, don’t get to excited, children are hard work you know. Very little sleep, nappies, and that’s just the beginning…’

‘As long as he or she is like their mother, he or she will be a delight!’

She looked at him with moist eyes and he kissed her again.

The food was left untouched.

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