Chapter 48 (Blue MONDAY)
‘I would’ve loved to be there!’ Latisha said with a little glee, ’so, the Judge was caught with his pants down, so to speak.’
‘So were us! Nearly! Imagine if we’d found that girl raped or killed?’ She looked around before she went on, ‘You should’ve seen Deric’s face. He was busting himself up because he didn’t thought of the girl as a possible target. I mean, seeing that Gust raped and killed Brenda Blignaut’s daughter back then. He felt it was sort of obvious - in hindsight. When that last message came through, the one about the girl sleeping in her bed, he thought that maybe the kidnapper-rapist was buying some time. He thought it could not be that easy, right. ’
‘That’s why he said you must keep them outside till he tells you otherwise.’
‘Yes, he was so sure he will find the girl raped or even murdered. He still wanted to save them the agony.’
‘Agony! Gust didn’t mind Minke Blignaut or her mother thirty-five years ago, and what about the man he’d thrown to the wolves, so to speak!’ Latisha’s voice was sharp.
‘I couldn’t believe my ears and then my eyes. There she was in all her glory, sleeping it off. Tucked nicely under a duvet and all that. No sign of any attack or rape. Face clean, no swollen eye, no bruises on her neck or arms. Only some left over make-up. Even the panties where they’re supposed to be – not the same one in the photo - a pink pair, no less.’
‘In other words the black panty was staged.’ Latisha had a hard time not to show her satisfaction.
’Everything was staged! The black panties were nowhere to be found! The only crime committed was a very good make-up artists painting an un-consenting girl’s face and body. Obvious staged the drugged-up girl in all her glory, to make it appear as if something bad had happened to her. When you see the photo you’ll be amazed. It seemed so real!’
‘Exactly, what they had in mind, I guess. How did they get in, doesn’t the Gust have CCTV, high walls and all that?’
‘CCTV and finger-print device. All you can see before the CCTV was spray-painted was a silvered masked face and a black hoodie. Obviously the girl’s fingerprint was used to get inside.’
‘Whoever did this had planned it just as well as Brenda Blignaut herself did long ago. I think Kimberley Gust was drugged with the first drink she had at that party. And you say when Deric and Jim got to the house - nothing, nada. No show!’ Latisha squeezed every little drop of info from Mae.
‘Nothing! The bra was fastened, blouse buttoned up, shoes neatly tugged under the bed. Everything looked so normal, except for the large melted cone placed in her one hand on top of the duvet.’ Mae looked distracted for a moment, ’Shame, I really felt for Mirna de Wet or Mirna Gust, or whatever. I had to keep her up-right – so to speak. She didn’t want Gust to touch her or go near her or her daughter. Nearly keeled over with relieve when she saw her daughter save and sound in bed. Mind you, so did the Judge. He didn’t understand the meaning of the ice-cream cone at all. He thought she fell asleep with the cone in her hand!’
‘However, we did.’
’Yes, we did. Poor old Doc. If there really is something like reincarnation, I want his personality and demeanour in my next life. In all the years I’ve known Doc I’ve never seen him agitated or even a little bit angry. He’s amazing! Even in the early morning hours of Sunday he was cool, calm and collected and, he was there within half an hour. He managed to gather three women, one a photographer. He wanted to spare the girl the humiliation. They’ve processed the scene around the sleeping girl. He thought it would be kind of awkward to photograph this unaware, sleeping girl or go through her undies, dust for fingerprints, wipe for semen and whatever fluids, the lot, while she was lying there, oblivious to what’s happening. He even phoned a doctor-friend of his – also a woman - to tend to the girl and the Gust’s.’ Mae said full of respect, ‘It’s usually cadavers he works with, or on. They don’t mind humiliation at all and even them he handled with respect. But a healthy, living, breathing girl that could wake up at any moment finding people in her room, sampling and flashing away – oi! A depressing truth about her father’s downfall to boot. I didn’t want to be in her shoes the moment reality kicked in. It was a first for Doc. A first for all of us, mind you. Creepy, I’m telling you!’
‘Did he find something useful?’
‘Nada, not a single fingerprint. Not even partials on the buttons. Everything wiped down, and, most likely, the perpetrator wore gloves. It could’ve been a place on the moon - clean as a whistle. ’
‘Good God, but this “Ice-Cream Club” planned to a tee!’ Latisha said.
‘Too a tee,’ Mae echoed, ‘Brenda Blignaut taught them well.’
‘Did Deric tell him about Brenda Blignaut and her-?’
‘Not yet,’ Mae said as she bit her lip, ‘he said as soon as the Judge did his thing, I mean make a full confession today, he will tell his lawyer about the letter. That she, somehow, knew he was the murderer.’
‘And the other murders…?’
’I really don’t know. We’ll see as the case progress. In actual fact, the other cases have no bearing on his case, perse, they’re what could be called, collateral damage. I don’t know what Sheffield and Deric will decide. You know they always hammer us in the courts to stick to the facts. So, maybe Deric just stick to the facts. I don’t know and I’m not going to ask, suggest or dig. If Deric tells me something or want my advice I’ll give it to him. But this one is for the Chief and him to decide. And then, at some point, if they have to use the other cases, all this will come to the fore and you know the media.’
‘So, he’s coming in today – the Judge, I mean?’ Latisha said with a little bit of a sneer.
‘Yes,’ Mae said with a twinkle in her eye, ’and I made Deric promise I could be at the other side of the glass to hear this gruesome tale from start to finish. No point in been married to the main man if you cannot benefit somehow.’ Mae jest a bit.
‘Well, I’m joining you. No need to best friends with the main man’s wife…’ Latisha started as the lift-door opened and Lt-Col Sheffield appeared. She lowered her voice and said, ‘both of us, him and me will be there, it seems.’ She then turned around and welcomed Sheffield with a wide, red smile.
‘Morning ladies. My, my, you’re looking good this Monday morning,’ he said as his eyes went on a guided tour of Mae from top to toe and back as usual, ‘I heard excitement is in the air. When do we start? Anyone have any idea?’
‘Yes, Supt, around eleven, as I understand it. Judge Rodney Gust is with his lawyer at the moment-’
‘I bet, all day yesterday as well. Trying to find a loophole out of this hellhole he’d dug for himself!’ Latisha interrupted.
‘They’ll then come in, I think, around eleven.’ Mae answered slightly amused by Latisha’s wordplay.
’I think they’re busy thinking up some big, “bull-shit” story!’ Latisha said with revolt, ’Just thinking of it makes me hot under the collar. Living for thirty-five years a hoity-toity life, while other people suffer for your sins!’
‘I don’t know, Tisha, maybe he’d a life full of regret for thirty-five years. But there’s no getting away from the fact that he did what he did.’
‘Regret, my ass! How he could’ve had the gall to punish other people for their crimes… when he should’ve been behind bars!’ She made a sound that would make a hungry bear cringe, ’I bet they’re coming up with a Dusi of a cock-and-bull-story of entrapment or such crap. A loophole as big as Kimberley’s hole – pun intended!’
’But this I tell you, these punishers, or whatever these people call themselves-’ Brooke Sheffield went on.
‘The “Ice-Cream Club”.’ Latisha offered.
’…Yeah, them, they are formidable. Criminal, but formidable. Even the drink – I mean, they made him order a tequila no less - and then have him handed the glass over to Deric in a serviette.
‘Amazing,’ Mae said nearly with admiration, ‘I’m glad I’m not in these people’s bad books.’
‘Maybe not you, sussie, but it seems they like to punish…’ Latisha started. Mae gave her a huge elbow-thud. She always had it in for Sheffield and his antics.
‘Sad for the Judge there’s no limitation on murder.’ Mae said out loud while googly-eyed Latisha.
‘Sad? Sad!’ Latisha uttered with disgust, totally ignorant of her friend’s not so subtle warnings, ‘the only sad thing here is there’s no death-penalty anymore!’
‘Slow down, Sergeant Jacobs, remember “presumed innocent” and all that…’ Sheffield tried, but she just turned and walked.
‘It seems if you can have your way, every man who looked twice at another woman will receive a so-called “ice-cream” flavour.’ He called after her.
Latisha turned around and said, ‘No, Supt, I don’t mind men looking, it the touching that bothers me. And when the touching turn into rape and murder...or ruining other people’s lives…’ She walked off.
Mae shrugged and said, ‘Sorry Chief, she’s like that since we started with this case. I think maybe it’s because she has a daughter entering that independent, obstinate phase. Oh, never mind a daughter, it’s because we have children… ’ Mae tried soothing.
‘That’s okay, I understand very well. I actually have a hard time to be objective to this one as well. I am, after all, the father of daughters. Even though they hardly speak to me anymore I love them very much and wouldn’t want them hurt.’
Sheffield walked to his office. His broad shoulders ever so slightly forward. At that moment Mae felt very sorry for him despite the fact that Natasha Sheffield is a good friend of hers. He brought it on himself by been Casanova reincarnated. And even if his two daughters doesn’t want to visit with him, it’s still his children. Luckily the little boy was too young to understand the implications back then. He loved his father to bits. The two girls, however, were an uncomfortable situation. Latisha can really be glad Sheffield has a calm and stable demeanour. She take it out on anyone other than Sheffield, he’d have her for breakfast!
Children changes a person’s live forever – for the good and for the bad. Just look at Rodney Gust. He’d given himself up, after thirty-five years of living a lie, to safe his only child. Amazing what children can do to your heart and mind, Mae thought in wonderment about this special love! She rubbed her tummy and smiled.
‘Feeling okay?’ Jim inquired from the door where he stood watching her.
‘Yes, thank you, and you?’
Jim looked at her for a few more seconds with puzzlement, and then with enlightenment, before he said with a broad smile, ‘Dandy, just flippin’ dandy!’
‘You’re sure it’s her?’ Jim asked.
‘Definitely!’ Deric nodded emphatically, ‘it’s definitely Mila Jordan – the fake one, not the real one. That cherry-pink hair is unmistakable’
It was the Monday of Mondays. Deric awaited the arrival of Rodney Gust and his lawyer. He wasn’t sure how it was going to go down. If Gust, with the support and advice of his lawyer, was going to go backtrack on the statement he gave late Saturday evening - or rather early Sunday morning - they’d have to spill the beans. They were looking at some video-footage Monty took at the student-bash while waiting.
‘You think she’d something to do with this?’ Jim asked absentmindedly, ‘Of course she had something to do with this.’ He answered his own question without hesitation.
‘How can we prove any of it? She was at the party and has an alibi tighter than a supermodel’s ass! They’re it!’ Deric said as he pointed to Danny and Monty.
‘If we’re can find her, we can ask her if she planned all this.’ Danny said with a little humour.
’If we can find her! Last time she disappeared like a needle in a haystack. We don’t even have her real name!’ Deric’s mobile buzzed. He listened a second to Patricia before he said, ‘Okay, thanks for the heads-up.’ And then, ‘We’re on boys, Gust and Pereira just entered the lift.’
As they walked to the interview room a tall, skinny man unfurled himself from a seat and said, ‘Captain Offbach?’
The unknown man was extremely tall and towered above all of them. Deric estimated a quick six-seven or even eight. He was somewhere in his forties with thinning hair and a very tight necktie around his thin neck. He put a long, skeletonise hand out to Deric, ‘I’m Mark Rose - “Bands Bouwer and Rose” – we’re asked to be present on behalf of our client for this interview.’
Deric frowned as he literally had to bend his neck backwards to look in the man’s eyes.
‘The law-firm? What do you mean – been present at what interview?’
‘Well, I have instructions from my client, Brenda Blignaut-’
’You mean the deceased Brenda Blignaut, not so?’
’That’s correct. We have instructions to - if we came in possession of evidence to her daughter murderer – as we did at twelve forty-five on Sunday, the 30th of January – we’ll have to attend this specific interview and notarize the event. To be, as our client stated in her last will, witnesses for the state if necessary.’
‘What? Are you still obliged to your client even after death?’
Mark Rose’s Adam’s-apple bobbed up and down like a rubber-puck on a carnival-game show after been hammered by an extremely strong man.
’Well, we’ve been paid till the end of this case to represent her. And it is believed that you have the alleged killer in custody.’
Deric stared at the man, ‘How did you know we were going to interview him today?’
The tall man stared at Deric with eyes that said “It’s my business to know” but didn’t utter another word.
‘Oh, never mind! Just remind me, who are you representing?’
‘My client - but only to notarize - not to intervene,’ he pulled at the strangling tie and said, ‘just to notarize.’
Brenda Blignaut was very, very sure of the outcome of this, victim-cum-murderer- number-seven.
Maybe she won’t see, or even know, about all this, but still, she wanted closure to an unfinished and unpunished crime.
‘Brenda Blignaut must’ve had persuasion powers just short of Jesus’. Jim said with amazement.
’And even He might be a little scared of her.’ Rose said as he gave a painful smile trying to emphasize his good humour. His Adam’s apple went a-bobbing again.
Never under-estimate the power of a pissed-off mother!