Chapter 44 (Pure PRESSURE)
Jim gave a tired yawn and stretched his long legs as far as the dashboard allowed him. He looked at his watch for the umpteen-time before saying, ‘It was a good guess, but it seems nothing is going to happen to our Judge tonight.’ He closed his eyes, ‘It’s ten past midnight, all the guests have gone by now. Maybe we should call it a night. Let the night-shift “Stalkers” take over. What you say?’
Deric nodded a little disappointed, ‘Yea, I think you’re right, nothing is happening here. The Judge and friends had a good time and we had a lousy time. Let’s give it a few minutes more, till they leave and then call it a night.’ He talked into the mike for all to hear.
‘The last two guests are leaving now.’ Danny said into his ear. Deric looked at the door as three people emerged. Two guests and his wife.
‘The Judge had a nice birthday-bash and we’ve got nothing to show for it but sore hamstrings and stiff necks,’ he said as thumbed towards the restaurant.
‘And don’t forget hungry bellies!’ Jim said with another yawn.
Deric looked at Jim. He’s always hungry, but stays as thin as a rake.
‘We’ve wasted a good five hours of manpower.’ Deric clapped his hands over his eyes, ‘I can just think what Sheffield is going to say this – overtime is a bit of a swear-word these days.’
Jim snickered through his nose, ’Yes, he would not be pleased to have to explain this to the higher-uppers. Luckily it’s your ass on the line.’ Jim gave another yawn, ‘you should take Mae along. In that little outfit she’s wearing tonight he’s bound to forget what you’re talking about!’
Deric gave a wide smile. Yes, maybe he should. Sheffield would slobber.
’Well, I don’t think Mae would appreciate it. I can just hear the lip she’ll give me if I as much as suggest something like that! No, I’ll do the looking and I’ll take the rap.’ He leaned over, ‘I was so damn sure!’ he said again, ‘Okay let’s call it a night-’
‘Cappie, Cappie…come in…’ Monty’s voice came over the ear-piece.
‘Yes, Monty?’ Deric said tiredly.
‘Something very strange is happening.’
‘Watch the door!’
Deric sat up and Jim followed suit.
A man appeared in the doorway of the restaurant.
It was Rodney Gust.
‘What the hell?’ Deric said as Rodney Gust looked out beyond the restaurant lights into the dark. His eyes fell on the car. He walked straight over to them.
‘Oh shit,’ Jim swore, ‘you think he’s been tipped off, or something. He’s coming this way! We’re going to be in deep doo-doo…’
Deric got out of the car as the Judge approached. Not knowing what to expect.
In the doorway a worried Mirna de Wet called after him. Monty, Danny and Mae on her heels. All following him. None had a clue why the Rodney Gust suddenly turned “Zombie-like”.
‘Are you Captain Deric Offbach?’ Judge Rodney Gust asked with a husky, shaky voice.
Deric nodded. He was thinking about an apology, something about the Judge’s safety, when Gust said, ‘Please, come inside. I have to tell you something. Hurry, we don’t have much time. Please, hurry up!’ His face looked pale and ghostly in the garden-lights.
Deric motioned Jim to follow as Danny communicated to the two men in the other car to keep an eye out for anything strange.
None knew what was going on. Something spooked Rodney Gust.
Mirna de Wet tried to grab her husband by the sleeve with a ‘What happened? Who phoned? What’s wrong?’ but he shook her hand off and said ‘Come in, you will hear soon enough’.
His voice reminded Deric of the sound in an open, unfurnished room.
He sat down heavy on a chair and motioned them to sit down.
Three of the cleaning staff were busy inside and the barman behind the counter.
Gust asked the barman to bring him Tequila. He swallowed it down in one gulp, pulled a face without touching the lemon. He then took a clean linen serviette from the table, draped it around the glass and handed it to Deric.
Danny motioned the staff-members to get out.
None had uttered a word up to then.
‘Remember – take out the card, destroy it, and then dump the phone, somewhere in water preferable, after you’ve given me the thumbs up. Did you send the picture?’
‘Yes, I did…give him one hour. You’re sure that Offbach-guy is close?’ The cherry-haired girl with the unusual green eyes inquired.
‘Yes, we took a drive-by, they’re parked outside. Not too shabby for cops!’
‘You sure it’s the right guy?’
‘Absolutely! I know what both look like and it’s the same two guys who came by the house.’
The girl took the last bit of tissues and cotton wool and placed it in a bag alongside the make-up and panty. She gave the place another once over before switching off the light.
‘Remember, those things nowhere near the house, NO evidence!’ the warning came again, ‘and get out now! You’ll remember the bottles.’
‘Yes.’ It came curtly.
‘Just make sure to be noticed at the party as soon as you get there. We’re heading out to the farm whatever the outcome might be.’
The redhead said, a little irritated, ‘Yes, I know!’ as she pulled the blue plastic shoe covers, latex gloves and overalls off and shoved it in the bag as well.
‘The girl?’ She asked one more time.
‘Stop with the OCD, it’s all been taken care off!’
‘Will we see each other again before you go?’
‘Not a good idea.’ The girl gave half a smile as she put the bag in the boot. She shoved her feet into high heels as she closed the car door, ‘Later then.’
When she reached the party she went straight to the bar, opened her bag behind the empty counter and lifted a few bottles of wine subtly on the counter. She closed the bag, put it under the counter and poured herself a stiff brandy. Her hand trembled a bit as she lifted the glass to the ceiling it in a toast-motion and said softly: “For you, Dad” before pouring it down her throat. She gave a little shudder as the bitter liquid landed with a thud in her stomach. The girl turned around to flirt a little with the closest guys she could find. She hoped they were not too drunk to notice her.