Job’s Deception (# 5)

QuartsCrystal81x27x28-QrTz702JMagistrate Tiny Olivier gathers up the diamond, gets up and tells the court he wants a moment to reflect on – and inspect – the evidence. It is only now that Job gets time to react – the appearance of his mother was so sudden, so unexpected, that he could do no more than stare at her with open-mouthed admiration.

***

Gertruida, with her vast knowledge of everything, will say that it was at that moment that Job saw his mother as if for the first time. She’ll also emphasise the role Digger’s love and acceptance played in his life.

“You see, parenthood is like eating a meat pie while you’re driving. You try to do it as neatly as possible, but when you get out at your destination, there are crumbs all over the show. It’s happened to everybody who’ve ever tried it.

“And being a child is even worse. Only when you’re an adult, do you stare at the wrapper that contained the chocolate: you remember the sweet goodness, but it just isn’t there any more.

“That’s what happened when the mother and son held each other’s gaze across the courtroom – regret and reality met each other in a moment of passion. Dolly went up to Job and was surprised at the way he held on to her – refusing to let go. Once he walked out of her house; he’ll never walk out of her life again.”

***

Magistrate Olivier walks back towards his bench with a clenched jaw. It is clear he’s made up his mind and the onlookers have little doubt about his resolve to see justice done.

“Constable Viljoen!” The magistrates voice booms from his seat after everybody settled down.

“You accused these men of stealing a diamond?”

“Er…yes sir. It was in their possession and they refused to tell me where they got it.” Viljoen is smiling – his promotion, surely, is guaranteed.

The magistrate frowns, clearly worried. “And the stone you got from them, is the stone you handed in; the evidence you supplied to the court?”

“Er…yes sir. Indeed. I gave it to you a few minutes ago – you can see it’s worth hundreds of thousands. It’s a big stone, sir.”

“The stone you gave me, Constable, is a piece of quartz…”

***

“That was quite a moment,” Gertruida will tell you. “The constable objected, saying it’s impossible. He knows, he said, it is a diamond; whereupon the magistrate disagreed, saying it’s a quartz crystal.

“Of course, we all know how hard a diamond is, so the magistrate produced the stone from his pocket, laid it on the bench, lifted his hammer and smashed it down on the stone.”

Now Gertruida sill sit back with a knowing smile. She wants you to savour the moment.

***

When the hammer came down on the stone, it shattered into a thousand pieces. Not only did the magistrate prove the stone to be a quartz crystal, he also destroyed the evidence.

Viljoen stands like Lot’s wife, staring at the pieces of crystal. Like his life and his dream, there is no way he can gather them up to put them together again.  His attempt to prove himself has failed miserably.

“I find the accused innocent,” Magistrate Olivier says, “of all charges brought against them. They are free to go. As for Constable Olivier, I’ll suggest to his superior officer that he be sent to a suitable facility to learn how to identify diamonds.

“Case dismissed.” Bam! Hammer on wood.

***

“You swapped the evidence…” Dolly stares at the magistrate. She followed him to his little office next to the courtroom and now looks at him in wonder. “I never thought you’d do something like that.”

Tiny Olivier bites his lip to prevent the wry smile. “I recognised that diamond from a previous case, Dolly. There was no way that diamond could have found it’s way to old Digger if there wasn’t a policeman involved. So I put two and two together….” He hesitates, his eyes searching her face, “And I never realised Job…”

“That’s why I named him Joseph Olivier Benjamin van Niekerk. Benjamin was my father’s name.” She spreads her arms wide, as if in apology. “You were a clerk in the justice department. I was a nobody. We made a mistake, That’s how it was.

“But I tried to follow your career. After that evening, I hoped we’d meet again some day…in fact I prayed that we do. The years went by and I gave up hope..”

Tiny Olivier doesn’t hear what she’s saying. He stopped listening after the bit about Joseph Olivier

“And you never said anything?” Tiny tries to understand. “Nothing about the father?”

“I wasn’t sure, Joseph. You were this man with the huge attitude and I was drunk. I was afraid to tell you and worried about what you might become. And you’ll remember, you were transferred to Cape Town before the town even knew about my pregnancy. There were too many unknowns.

“But I hoped…” 

Suddenly she smiles at the man as the years roll back – and she becomes the naive young girl at the agricultural show once more. What is life, after all, other than taking a series of chances and hoping for the best?

“Somehow, I’m glad that crooked constable framed Job and Digger. Without him, we’d never have met again. And when you came back with that piece of quartz, I recognised the young man I made love to once again. And I loved that…”

***

“Yes, and so the story ends. Job bought a farm. People thought it was from the proceeds of his delving days, but they were wrong, of course. Being the strong, hard worker he’d become, he built up that place to be the best in the district.

“And Dolly got her man at last. When Tiny Olivier realised what had happened on that evening at the agricultural show, his sense of justice urged him to propose. She accepted, naturally. Oh, the people gossiped – like they will – but within a year or so they found something else to talk about and the couple lived in quiet harmony. Tiny, by the way, became known as one of the fairest, most respected judges of  our country – which is why I can’t tell you everything.

‘Oh, and Nelis Olivier? He left the police force soon afterwards. It is rumoured that he became a beggar in Johannesburg, selling useless trinkets at traffic lights.”

***

“Thanks, Dad.” Job smiles happily as his father hands him a mug of coffee. This is his favourite time of day: sunset, on the wide veranda of his house, with Mom and Dad on one of their regular visits. It’s been a long, hot day; but Job is satisfied: everything that needed to be done, has been done. Time to stretch those weary legs and relax.

“Old Digger says you’re visiting with that girl from Kenhardt?” Judge Viljoen, inquisitive as ever, smiles at his son – who blushes despite his deep tan.

“Ag, Dad, you know how old Digger sits here on the stoep all day, dreaming up stories. Why, the other day he said something about a magistrate who swapped a diamond for a piece of quartz…”

They’re still chuckling when Dolly calls them inside for supper.

***

And that’s where Gertruida will fall silent, smiling at her glass. This last bit always makes her a bit sad – because it is so unusual to have such a happy ending to a story. She’ll sniff, honk into her serviette, wipe her eyes and then look up to see if you share the moment with her.

Then she’ll remind you that the story of Job is a secret, and that your telling might ruin the life of a famous judge, his wife, his son and and almost unknown delver called Digger. To spoil their hard-fought-for peace on that farm (called, ironically, Deception), would be such an injustice…

And we don’t want that…do we?

8 thoughts on “Job’s Deception (# 5)

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