The Ice-Cream Club

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Chapter 53 (DNA)

February hit new heights in temperature. The days were temper-losing hot and sweaty. The nights just as bad.

Doc Hargraves was describing in his own colourful words and bone-china voice how Mrs Fourie, a fifty-seven year old widow, had killed a burglar in her home one night around twelve. The only weapon she could lay her hands on at the time was a frozen chicken she took out of the freezer to cook the next day. She grabbed it with both hands and clobbered the intruder quite a few times over the head. He died from… deadly chicken. The intruder, who was now lying on Doc Hargraves table with a smashed-in head, turned out to be an old customer with a rap-sheet as long as his arm. He’d already spent ten years in jail for assault and battery before paroled. Three months later he was dead. Killed by chicken!

‘Well, he’s got his battery knocked out!’ Doc Hargraves gave a high-pitched laugh, clear as crystal, before he controlled himself, ‘Terrible what one can find funny about death. Can you imagine filling out an insurance policy form and tried to explain “death by frozen chicken”?’ He chuckled again.

Despite the heat he was having tea and sandwiches and swore that there’s nothing better to counter a hot day.

Well, at least he had air-conditioning in his office.

Deric grinned. He just opted for cold water when Inge inquired in a serious voice about something to drink.

‘Criminals should be very careful about women over a certain age in this country it seems.’ He said quasi-serious, ‘I mean, take Brenda Blignaut, she was so determined she brought down a Judge after her death. Frozen chicken or a cold hand from the grave. Both got their man! Now that’s that I call tenacity.’ He bit into a sandwich as he lifted up papers and handed it to Deric.

’I could’ve just emailed this to you, young man, but I’m so glad you are visiting. Mae told me the Braai turned out to be wildly amusing.’

Deric took the papers, which he knew to be the conformation of the DNA on the glass the Judge Gust handed over so dutifully. He knew the DNA of the semen on Minke Blignaut and that on the glass had turned out to be one and the same.

Doc phoned him earlier to confirm it. It was true what Doc said, he could’ve just had it send to the office, but Deric also liked to visit this extremely personable ME.

’I like visiting you, Doc, just not in your chamber of horrors – although it can’t be helped sometimes. ’You know how I feel about autopsies,’ Deric said and watch Doc as his tummy shook up and down with laughter at the remark.

‘Yeah, well, it is serious work all the time. Sometimes, just sometimes it has it lighter side, as just been shown again by “chicken-woman”.’ Again he shook with laughter. He pushed back his glasses which immediately fell back down on his two little bulldoggish cheeks and took one more bite of the sandwich before asking, ‘So, is there a trial-date for Gust yet?’

’August 23rd. Although we’re think we’re as ready as can be, his lawyer asked for more time. Fingers crossed he doesn’t find a loophole of some kind somewhere, but we’ve pretty sure the charged would stick, ‘specially with this,’ He shook the DNA report about, ’I mean, he did confessed loud and clear - two times. That evening when he thought his daughter was in grave danger and he was in dire straits, as well as the following Monday.

‘Yes, so I understand.’ He took two sips from his tea, dust his hand against hid jacket and put a hand out towards Deric, ‘by the way son, congrats on the wee little one on the way, happy for you both - happy!’

Deric shook his hand.

‘Thanks Doc, yeah, that’s a new highlight for us, especially me. We’ve missed you at the “Braai” Sunday? What happened? Weren’t you threatened with nothing short of death by Josie, too?’

He gave a clear chuckle again, ‘I had a very good reason and I made my apologies well in advance. Took the wife for our fortieth wedding anniversary to the Portuguese Islands, mind you, the children arranged it all and we’d a nice time. I had to swear to Josie, however, not to miss the one at the end of year. Or any of the weddings! That Josie…’ and again everything shook again as he laughed.

‘What a milestone - forty years! Well done, Doc! In today’s world it’s an achievement!’

‘Thank you. It’s really something, but you actually have to congratulate the wife. Of the forty years of marriage, I might have spent twenty with her – if that much. You know, murder and my dead friends do not keep regular hours. Lucky for me, my wife is very patient. She told me, however, she’ not missing any of the weddings. Especially Natasha’s! You’ll think she’ll invite Sheffield?’ again a little giggle.

Deric smiled but his mind was on something else. He took a sip from his cold water.

‘Don’t know, it was a little awkward at the beginning of proceedings Sunday. Not for them but for me…us men, I should say. Watching the two women chatting away as if nothing out of the ordinary had ever happened. However, in the end not a bad day at all!’ Deric said and then turned seriously, ‘listen Doc, I hate to turn you into a co-conspirator about the Gust case, but…well…here goes, I want to ask you not to breath a word to any soul about the long history of the “Ice Cream Club”. At least not until such time the case of Rodney Gust is done and dusted…’

‘Say no more,’ Doc Hargraves lifted his chubby hand like a stop-sign, ’Supt Sheffield already enlightened me and my lips are sealed. Jackson is the most recent and also your case. As you and I both know, except for Camphor’s fingerprint, which had absolutely nothing to do with his death, there’s no evidence there that points to anyone we can finger.’

‘Not as much as an iota!’ Deric confirmed.

‘Am I right by assuming you’ve included all the evidence regarding the Judge’s case in his file?’

‘Yes, everything. Nothing that can help or harm him had been left out.’

‘Well, then there’s no harm done. You’re not withholding vital evidence as far as his case is concerned. As you’ve said, he confessed - twice. What about Martin van der Westhuizen and the DNA request?’

’We’ve got Gust’s DNA with his own consent, Dr van der Westhuizen had nothing to do with it - NO bearing on the case. The Doctor also had nothing to do with the happenings of the last few weeks and his alibi is water-tight regarding Saturday-night. He was on a golfing tour in and around Cape Town from the 28th to the 30th January - with nine other golfing-buddies.’

Doc Hargraves pulled a figurative zip over his mouth and talked about his week on the boat.

“I get by with a little help of my friends…” Deric hummed in his head.

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