Chapter 54 (VALENTINE’s day)
Rita le Roux was feeling hilariously happy.
At last, one or two signs that spring had arrived were visible, and although it wasn’t warm yet, the freezing cold had dissipated earlier than usual this year. The snow still claimed its pound of flesh and clung to the hillside like blankets of whipped cream. Here and there a few green leaves had laboured through the snow in an effort to woo or to be wooed by the sunlight.
It was beautiful!
What made her even happier was the fact that Gerta came back home from her South-African holiday a few weeks ago - her old self. Father and brother were ecstatic at her return oblivious of how stressful it was for Rita. For some reason she just couldn’t shook the feeling that the visit had to do with Brenda and Minke Blignaut. Maybe even with Burger himself. Although, the timing of the events Captain Offbach talked about and Gerta’s sudden return to South Africa were very simultaneous and coincidentally, it turned out that it was just that – coincidental. Since Gerta’s return however, Rita had this familiar, satisfactory feeling in her stomach that her family was whole and happy again.
All the time Gerta was away she had this “hole-in-the-stomach” and “clenching teeth” stress-emotions, that something was afoot. That trouble was brewing somewhere. That’s why she had such a fright when Captain Offbach contacted her. However, it turned out she, Rita, was just a born pessimist. Yet, something tells her that Gerta had really finished some unfinished business. What it was? She doesn’t know. It’s possible it could’ve been just the will of Brenda Blignaut like she had said from the beginning.
She watched as a little blonde girl played hide and seek with her mom in and around the trees in the park. It so much easier when your children are small!
It must be the things in their past that made her so jumpy about every little thing. The worst is she cannot share it with him without making him worry, too. She doesn’t want him to relive the nightmare-hell he’d been through so long ago. They were like two POW who made it out alive. Scarred for the rest of their lives, but determined not remind the other survivor of the hell they’ve been through, just in case he’d the good fortune to forget. As if possible!
She startled as Gerta’s voice called from the doorway.
‘Mom, I’m leaving for class,’ Gerta’s started down the pathway before she turned back to her mother, ‘let’s go shopping tomorrow, my jeans are threads and my T-shirts are no better. It is Saturday, after all. Maybe we can go do something fun as well.’
‘Aren’t threadbare-jeans all the rage?’ Rita asked, thrilled that her daughter was at last thinking of normal young-girl’s stuff and that she wanted her mother to be part of it.
‘Not when it’s baring your ass! Anyway, it’s still way too cold for that!’ Rita said with a giggle, ‘I’ll cut it off for the summer, but I better get a bloody good “Brazilian” if I want to wear it that short!’
They both had a good laugh before Gerta started out for her car again.
‘You should get a boyfriend or hang out with your young friends, not with your old mother,’ Rita shouted back, ‘but I’ll take the little crumbs coming my way – let’s do it!’
‘Time enough for boyfriends, and my friends can do for a day or two without me. I told them that not to long from now, you’ll lose your teeth, slobber all over yourself and stand at the window muttering all kinds of unidentifiable nonsense. Then I’ll stick you in a care-facility and forget all about you while painting this damn country red! But, until then, I love to spend some time with you. I mean while I can still understand what you’re saying!’ Gerta yelled back from her car window with a wide grin.
‘Well, thank you, you little bitch. We’ll go shopping tomorrow, but you better ask your dad for his credit-card, you’re not getting a penny from this old, slobbering fool!’ Rita smiled back.
Rita waved as she drove off.
She worried herself sick about the child for the last few weeks and all for nothing. Gerta is back, literally and figuratively, and she’s looking wonderful.
‘Cappie, I’ve put the photos and video taken at the party in a separate file. It’s dated and I’ve done a short report on it. Seeing that it, in the end, will not be needed, where shall we file it? With Rodney Gust’s evidence or…’ Monty wanted to know.
‘What video? I’m not quite with you, is it the video from Gust’s dinner-party?’ Deric asked a little confused.
’No, no, those photos and video are safely in evidence. It’s the photos and video of the party that Kimberley Gust attended that night, or supposedly attended. At the Prinsloo house. We thought she was held captive somewhere…maybe in the house and…I mean when we thought the girl had been raped or…whatever at the party. Before you phoned and said the girl was safe and sleeping it off “innocently” in her own bed. No doubt someone at the party fed her that Rohypnol. But, how the hell we’ll ever establish who, or sieve out that particular culprit is beyond me. There were about thirty people inside when we arrived. Drunk, rowdy and partying. There may have been the same number up in the rooms and outside. Remember, you identified your redhead who told us Kimberley left earlier with a friend. And that’s my bet, the one who took her home could be responsible for the “posed scene” – but all; we’ve got on the CCTV is a gloved hand and a mask before the paint obscured the view. It could’ve been anyone from the party! Most of those students were in any case so smashed I’m not sure they knew their names the next morning!’
’I must be, like Martin van der Westhuizen said, a real, boring party-pooper. But what the hell can the fun of not knowing where you were, or what you’ve done, or even what happened at a party you’ve attended the previous night? Did you even know you had fun or do you hope you had fun or got lucky?’ Deric said credulously as he took the file from Monty, ‘Let me see those.’
Deric thumbed slowly through the photos Monty had bagged. He already established that the fake “Mila Jordan” - or as the others called her, “his redhead” - was at the party. At least twenty black and white photos were in a pile. At the top a CD was tagged, case-numbered and a report of one page accompanied it all. Monty was, as always, very efficient.
Deric placed it in his drawer and said, ’Monty let me just finish here and then I’ll look through it. You’re right, we cannot pinpoint who’d fed her the drug. If Manny Pereira and his team wants to know about the party, we’ll let them have all of this. However, Gust himself wants to keep his daughter out of it all. He’s so scared that specific videos and pictures will go viral. Will anyone believes Kimberley Gust it she tells them that she wasn’t raped? Does she even know about the photos? How would she explain it in any case? In her interview she said she knew some of the people at the party. Others only by acquaintance and some she never saw in her life. She told us she went there with a female friend, but this girl hooked up with some guy very early and she ended in a group with some acquaintances. Not even a boyfriend we can scrutinise. The friend she did know left at ten thirty with a guy. She also admitted too some wine and a beer and that she went outside at one point because she felt nauseous. Can’t remember anything else afterwards…sounds familiar? She had no idea how she got home, how she got into bed or about the ice-cream. As was established by a doctor she wasn’t raped. To tell you the truth, she’s a total dead end. Worked out exactly as her father’s scenario thirty-five years ago.’
‘This isn’t significant, but better safe than sorry I say…’ Monty said with a shoulder-shrug.
Deric sat down on his chair and swing his legs onto his desk. ‘Can’t fault you on that. I’m glad we can say we did all we could. Thank you. I’ll call Pereira’s office sometime Monday – if they want it we’ll send a copy. We’ll file ours.’
‘Well, good night then.’ Monty said as he tapped his watch, ‘you going to sleep here - on Valentine’s?’ He gave a silly laugh and trod off.
Deric looked at his own watch. Good grief, it was ten to seven. Tonight the wroth of Mae Offbach will be on him. He did say he will be home at six-thirty as they had reservations at eight for their Valentine’s dinner. Luckily, he gave her a lovely bunch of red roses and a bottle of her (and his) favourite perfume this morning.
As he rode his Red Devil through the high summer dusk his mind kept going back to the trial of Rodney Gust. There’s so many connections to Brenda Blignaut. He really hope they could stick to the task at hand and not FUBAR (Fucked-up-beyond-all-recognition ala “Saving Private Ryan” by Steven Spielberg) the whole business. The team would be pissed but they’ll have to go over everything again before the trial. One thing’s for sure he and all could be called in as witnesses. They better have their ducks in a row!
As he opened the garage door he saw Mae standing in front of him looking absolutely stunning in a red dress and black high heels – hands on hips. A vision with a not too friendly face.
Oi, vey, he was bad at lying and forgot was a sad excuse!
“Lady in red is dancing with me…”