Sersant Dreyer wipes away an unwanted tear. After all these years the memories of Cathy still chokes him up with emotion. Surely he should have gotten over it by now?
But no. The letter reminded him that Cathy – she of such purity and kindness, and so defiled by her fellow man – will forever be The One. Funny, he thinks, that he should feel this way about a woman he never even once slept with. Their attraction never was a sexual one, he has to admit – it was so exhilarating, so exiting to explore her mind. He saw the beauty lurking inside that ravaged body, the tormented soul; and that attracted him is such a way that he’ll never be able to think of her purely as being female. She was so much more than just a woman.
Maybe, he thinks, the world has warped the whole concept of love. It shouldn’t be a primitive, grunting, emotion. It should be the ability to see the soul of somebody else; that significant person that resonates with such sheer joy in the deepest thoughts of the mind.
He sighs, gets up, and fetches the dishcloth from the little area that serves as a kitchen. Slowly, deliberately, he cleans the surface of the counter top. It’s been a long, long time since last he has done that.
Then, with the gentlest of hands, he spreads the letter he got today on the shining surface.
…or should I call you Sersant, like the rest of the town does? Or simply Dreyer, like my half-sister did? That’s what the other officers at the station said, when I enquired there. Whichever you prefer, I hope you don’t mind me sending this letter.
Let me explain?
Cathy’s father was a man of integrity – until, of course, his wife developed cancer and ruined his businesses. I’m sure she told you they had been quite wealthy at a time. And, of course, you know the later part of her history.
But…when he was younger (before he met Cathy’s mother) he was a bit different. Wild, maybe. iI suppose you can say he played the field. That’s when he met Lucia le Roux, my mother. It’s a long, complicated story, and maybe we’ll talk about it – if ever we have the chance to do so. To get to the point: he was still seeing my mother after he got engaged to his future wife. And, as a last-gasp grab at freedom, he slept with her on the night of his bachelor’s party – a week before his wedding. Lucia said they shed a lot of tears that night – he was in love and in awe with his future bride, but he still had these strong feelings for Lucia. You may think this to be sordid, but it really happened.
After the wedding, my mother found out she was pregnant. Can you believe that? It was a catastrophe! Mom said there was another man in her life, and grabbed at the straw. She seduced him into a quick marriage to save the family the scandal. I was born – according to family legend – a few weeks premature. I checked. I weighed 3,25 kg at birth. You do the maths…
Of course, I never knew anything about this. I had a Mom and Dad, and grew up in a stable, if rather loveless home. Dad was always good to me. He was a bit older than Mom, a businessman in his own right, when he had a drink in McGoo’s bar in Durban on June 14, 1986. I was just six years old when that bomb went off. I’m sure you know the history how the ANC bragged about killing those innocent civilians who had nothing to do with the politics of the time.
Anyway, Mom brought me up and gave me all I needed to become an independent woman in my own right. Today, with my degree in law, I make ends meet quite comfortably, thank you.
I wouldn’t be writing this letter if Mom hadn’t developed cirrhosis of the liver. This happened as the result of some virus she contracted after a blood transfusion. She had been involved in a car accident, and ruptured her spleen. In the haste to resuscitate her, she received blood of her rare type, without it being properly screened. Needless to say, she survived the trauma, but not the long-term results of that damn transfusion.
And it was on her deathbed she finally told me who my real father was. She said she could not die with a clear conscience, if she didn’t tell me the truth. I was shocked, naturally.
After her funeral, I started digging up as much as I could about this man. I found out he used to manage a few successful companies. At Home Affairs I got the names of his wife and Cathy – they also gave me the dates of their deaths. I was devastated – I had hoped to arrange a meeting with him.
With this dead end in my investigation, I wondered whether Cathy ever had a significant other in her life. My investigation led me to the hospital she was treated in.
I’m so glad we live in this computerised world. There, sure enough, I found the evidence of a man who arranged a voluntary discharge from the clinic where they tried to treat her AIDS. I also found out more about the murder of my father through the police archives. And in both cases, you featured rather prominently.
Now Dreyer, you might think me a bit strange. But I’m so desperate to know more about my family – my roots – that I write this letter in the hope that you’ll be kind enough to tell me more.
You’ll find my address and telephone number at the bottom of this letter. I’d appreciated hearing from you.
Please try to understand?
Lucia van Wyk.
Dreyer sighs again as he refolds the letter.
There’s only one way to deal with this.
He’ll have to talk to Gertruida.
Stuffing the letter into his shirt pocket, he trudges over to Boggel’s Place, where the rest of the town is discussing this afternoon’s match between the Springboks and Samoa. Oh, what the hell, he’ll just tell them all! The more the merrier. And they’ll know about the letter soon enough, anyway.
Yes, let them help him in this. It is just too much to handle alone…