Manie Schoeman lets out an extremely unman-like scream as the bits of his Marantz music centre slices into his back, causing a sound even the state-of-the-art speakers could never reproduce. Vetfaan stands off to one side, but only after Gertjie has lowered his not inconsiderable bulk onto the unfortunate customs officer’s chest. The scream quite naturally peters out to become a strangled gasp.
“I…can’t…breathe…!” Manie’s arms flop around helplessly.
“Tell us about Katie! Now!”
“I’m just a spotter. That’s all! I didn’t do anything…”
Fanny makes notes while Manie does his best to confess, while Gertjie sits with a cherubic smile on his battered prisoner. Yes he tipped them off. Them? The man known as Contact, the man who pays him to be a spotter. And then…? The Contact leads the woman to the Transporters. “And then…? The victim is delivered to the Man…at The Warehouse.
“Now, Mister Schoeman, where is The Warehouse?”
Vetfaan walks over to the well-stocked bar, where he selects a bottle of 21-year-old Chivas Regal. Returning the the hapless Manie, he positions the bottle exactly above his head before letting go. The crunch of the bottle against the nose of The Spotter makes everybody flinch.
Miss Katie Malone wraps the blanket tightly around her body. She’s sitting right next to the door of her windowless room, waiting… As far as her abductors are concerned, the pills would have induced a deep sleep again, rendering her harmless. Her only hope and her only weapon is surprise. She knows her chances for escape must be rated as near-zero – but this is all she’s got. The alternative is to wait for the inevitable; whatever that might turn out to be. She has no doubt that it’ll involve a lot of unpleasantries…
The Caretaker arrives after what seemed to be ages and ages. Acting on the new orders to keep their captive healthy and well-fed, she’s carrying a tray on which a McDonalds burger and a glass of milk is balanced. She guides the tray carefully on the one hand while she unlocks the door.
Two things happen almost simultaneously: The Caretaker notices that her prisoner isn’t curled up against the far wall, where she usually sleeps and…she trips over the extended leg of Miss Katie Malone. Instinct forces her to try to balance the tray while she stumbles, but that only causes her to be more off-balance. Katie watches as the woman pitches forward, glass and hamburger arching through the air…and can’t help flinching when her warden cracks her head on the hard concrete floor.
Moving with surprising speed, she gets out of the room, slams the door and turns the key.
The Man – known by many other names, but likes to go under the handle of Freddy – Freddy-the-Fence or Freddy Fingers. The former relates to his business as middleman (for any type of contraband, from rhino horn to false banknotes) while the latter refers to his favourite amputation game, played with people who’ve shown less than the expected enthusiasm for his schemes.
He’s just replaced the receiver after concluding the transaction with the sheik; a most lucrative undertaking even if he must say so himself. Yes, he’ll dress her up nicely. The sheik will attend a meeting of oil suppliers with the Minister of Energy next week, which means his private jet will be parked at Cape Town’s airport for two whole days. Smuggling the doped woman aboard will be an easy task.
Twelve million! Wow! With that money he can buy a villa on the Transkei coast and disappear off the radar forever!
Smiling happily, he marches off to the holding cell. Best make sure the woman is taken care of properly…
“Anything else you’d like to tell us?” Gertjie makes it sound as if it is the most natural thing to ask.
Sighing with obvious reluctance, Gertjie scrambles to his feet. Casting around for something to tie his prisoner up, he settles for the electric cord of the broken music centre.
“You sure about that address?” Vetfaan has a bottle of 50-year old Port in his and, again strategically and very squarely above the broken nose.
“Y-yes. I swear.”
“Now…you do anything foolish, and you’ll regret it.” There’s no mistaking Vetfaan’s threat. “I’ll personally come back to dismember you. And that, my dear chap, is an unintended pun.”
“Fanie?” Fanny glances over at her husband, on the back seat of Gerjie’s minibus. “I’ve never seen you like that.”
That much is true. Vetfaan has a reputation of being a bit of a softie.
“I’m sorry. I think I lost it a bit back there. When I realised he was making money by helping others to abduct innocent civilians – female civilians, nogal – something just snapped.” He seems crestfallen when his eyes meet hers. “I’m sorry, Love…”
Much to his surprise, she leans over to peck a kiss on his cheek. “You ape-man, you! I’m the one to apologise. When the Chivas broke his nose, I wanted to cheer!”
Gertruida leans over from the front seat to fix them with a stern stare.
“If you two lovebirds can leave the necking for later, we can try to concentrate on the job at hand. We have a name – Freddy – and an address in Camps Bay. We assume that Katie is held there. I suggest we go there directly to assess the situation. Going to the police now, will involve a lot of questions, forms and bureaucratic red tape. My thinking is that every minute she spends with that crowd, will simply amplify the trauma she’s enduring. Maybe we can drop Vetfaan and Gertjie there to watch the place while Fanny and I do the police report?”
Gertjie nods, causing a little tidal wave of double chins to run up and down the front of his throat.
Miss Katie Malone almost made it to freedom. Almost. She didn’t care if she only had a blanket to cover her body, didn’t worry about anything..the only thought racing through her mind, was to escape, escape, escape…!
A window! An open window! There!
She could see the window overlooks a veranda of sorts. Surely there’ll be a garden? A gate? A street leading to freedom? The blanket prevents her from getting through the window easily. Grunting in frustration, she pulls it off and throws it through the open window,
“Bloody hell!” The shout freezes her in mid-action. “Where do you think you’re going!” White hot anger colours the words. “I’ll teach you!”
Galvanised into action, she tries to get through the window…but the heavy hand on her shoulder yanks her back. Suddenly, she doesn’t care any more. She can’t escape. Like Lady Jane Grey at the hands of Mary, she has to accept her life isn’t even worth screaming for any longer..
For a fleeting moment, she regretted every love she ever experienced; for from now on, her life would be one of forced smiles and faked moments of pleasure…
What can I say
there’s an empty where your love
filled my life and I know.
That a part of you will always be
a part of me.