The taxi driver accepts the bundle of notes from the youth dressed in rags. He’s proud of his son – they’ve built up quite a nice little business selling Tik in Adderley Street. The other vendors stayed clear of this area, saying it is too obvious and the police might be forced to arrest you for that; but they proved them wrong, didn’t they? In the six months they plied their trade here, they’ve amassed a small fortune.
It’s when he hands over the next consignment that it happens. Blue lights, sirens, men converging on the taxi from all directions! Acting instinctively, the taxi driver pulls his son into the vehicle and slams his foot down on the accelerator. Escape! They must escape!
Lettie Gericke curses herself. Here she is on the steps of the Artscape Theatre, and she’s just wasted her only money on a stupid dream to … what? An impossible dream? She wipes the angry tears and is about to get up, when the white limousine emerges from the underground parking lot of the theatre. At first it is the gleaming white of the huge vehicle that draws her gaze, but then..then she recognises the face in the back! There, behind the clear glass of the back door window, is the smiling face of…Gerrie!
Most often, the brain follows logical paths in assembling thoughts. Tiny neurons emit even smaller packets of protein that communicate with other neurons. It is through these mysterious and wonderful messages that the mind assembles various options, resulting in the conscious decisions we make. Sometimes, less often, the brain ignores this process, and forces the body to act without the luxury of deliberate thought. This happens when one places a hand on a hot plate, or when love drives one to act in the most illogical fashion. Freud tells us it’s all about preserving the Self and Pleasure – and he might be right.
When Lettie sees Gerrie through that window, she acts without thought. She gets up to run; run down the stairs; run across the pavement; run into the road, run after the limousine.
And she lifts a despairing hand. And she shouts. And she waves.
And the speeding taxi slams into her frail and emaciated body, throwing her high into the air, speeding on, as the first police car slews to a halt to avoid running over the prostate body of an unknown female in the middle of the street.
“What the hell was that?” McKay turns around to stare through the rear-view mirror. They just heard the sound of screeching tyres, howling sirens and a blaring horn.
It turns out to be the last thing McKay does. The taxi slams into the back of the limousine with so much force, it snaps the third vertebra in the impresario’s neck. His head lolls forwards and for the last minute of his life, his eyes stare helplessly at his paralysed lap.
The driver of the limo fights to regain control of his huge vehicle; but so great was the force of the impact that he can’t avoid the lamp post next to the road. In a micro-second, the bonnet of the luxury vehicle becomes a mess of tangled metal, The momentum of the heavy vehicle carries it onward until the steering wheel gets pushed backward, crushing the loyal driver’s ribs inward to tear at the fragile fabric of his lungs.
When the first policemen arrive seconds later, they find the taxi on the other side of the road. Initially it looks as if the passengers inside are relatively unharmed, as the driver tries to get out. However, the impact left its damage here as well: the front of the smashed vehicle drove the door pillars backwards, jamming the doors.
Then, with a mighty whoomph!, the petrol tank explodes.
The policemen can only look on.
They have no fire-fighting equipment…
“What now?” It’s a tired Doctor Edward Cox that looks up from his mug of cold, stale coffee. It’s been a long night in ER, with broken and bleeding people from all walks of life demanding his attention. Matron Susan Black smiles her sympathy.
“Some crash in town. Big one. Two survivors, one critical. They just radioed in.”
Cox does the triage five minutes later. The man has a long laceration just below the hairline and is severly concussed. They’ll have to watch him for a subdural haemorrhage. But the female…well it’s hard to know which of her injuries are the more serious. Both femurs are fractured, she’s got multiple lacerations and degloved areas, and her face is a mess. She’s deeply unconscious, barely breathing.
He glances over at Matron, not having to say a word. She nods, and waddles off to start phoning specialists.
This is going to be one of those nights…
“Look!” Gertruida points at the article on page 2 of the Upington Post. “That Gerrie Smit was involved in a horrible accident?”
“Oh?” Boggel stops shining the glass behind the counter. “Is he all right?”
“They don’t say much. It says three people died and two were injured in an accident in Cape Town. Apparently the police were chasing a drug lord or something.” She lifts the paper to continue reading.
Smit, the local hope in the national talent competition, is still under sedation after a minor procedure to drain blood from a subdural haematoma. Although his condition is described as ‘serious’, doctors expect him to make a full recovery.
The identity of the other person involved in the accident, remains a mystery. She’s in a critical condition after having had extensive surgery to take care of her many injuries. The plastic surgeon who operated on her, Dr Frank Noser, described her reconstructive surgery as ‘arduous’ and ‘extensive’,
Both are expected to stay in hospital for some time.
Police have asked that anybody with information that may help identifying the woman, to contact their nearest police station. She is in her middle twenties, of slight build and has auburn hair.. The following sketch was done by a forensic artist.
“It can’t be…” Gertruida gasps her disbelief. “It looks just like Lettie. The tattoo and the piercings … she didn’t have them. And her hair was longer… Oh, what has the city done to her! But that look, those eyes! I’d recognise them anywhere. I swear it’s her!” Taking a deep breath, she gets up. “Where’s Sersant Dreyer? I have to see him…”