Inside the office, hidden from Anthony’s view, Mervyn crouched in anxiety over Jane who lay unconscious, sprawled across the floor. She had fallen and bumped her head hard against the desk when Glen shoved her violently into the office.
‘You imbecile, what did you think you were doing?’ Mervyn shouted. He jumped up and grabbed Glen threateningly by his shirt, shoving him backwards powerfully. ‘Just like you! What have you done now? I knew you were going to land us in a mess because of your inability to stay away from anything in a skirt. What have you landed yourself into this time?’ Mervyn snarled at his son.
Glen staggered across the floor, managing to regain his balance and position himself with the office desk between them.
‘It wasn’t me . . . I wasn't near her . . . it is she, I caught her, snooping around. While I was busy talking to one of our suppliers, I caught her eavesdropping on me.’
Mervyn was standing, in a pent-up fury, his face was red and he seemed ready to launch himself over the desk to attack his son . . . ‘What! Is she now going to steal one of our perfume formulas?’
‘No Dad! She overheard . . .’
‘Yes I did,’ responded Jane, who’d come round. She rubbed her head where it had struck the desk. ‘I know this so-called perfume factory is a cover for your drug-running operations. You will not get away with it . . .’
Outside the office Anthony was still unable to decipher their conversation and crept ever closer, careful not to make any sound. It would be stupid to be caught out here, eavesdropping on my wife and her employer, he thought. What would they think? I do have every right to be here though and should just walk into the office and find out what’s going on. While toying with that idea, he heard hasty footsteps rushing up from the foyer behind him. Instinctively, he crouched behind some boxes, realising that he had put himself in an awkward spot should he be discovered now.
From behind the boxes he saw two men enter the office. The door was now wide open and he would be exposed if he stood up. He had no option but to stay in hiding, at least for the time being.
Through the open door, he now had a better view into the office. He could see the two new arrivals, and caught a glimpse of Mervyn Hilton. Although Anthony did not know the men, he recognised one whom he had seen visiting Mervyn regularly. They had never been introduced. He was stockily built with a freckled face and ginger-coloured hair.
The second guy lunged forward, disappearing from sight for a moment before he reappeared, dragging Jane roughly by one arm through the door. About to jump to her rescue from behind the boxes, Anthony saw that her assailant had a gun pushed into her back while forcing her down the passage towards the front door. A sudden move may cause him to fire, Anthony thought, and decided it would be more circumspect to stay hidden. On his way out of the office the man banged the door shut with his foot, allowing Anthony to emerge from his hiding place. For a moment he hesitated, undecided whether to go into the office and demand an explanation or to follow Jane at a safe distance. He decided to follow her. Jane must have stumbled in the dark, as Anthony heard the guy, somewhere ahead, say . . . ‘Better watch where you are going woman, any tricks like that and I will shoot you. Do not tempt me!’
Anthony neared the office block’s exit, hesitated . . . and they disappeared. He wasn’t sure where they had gone. Reaching into his pocket for his cellphone, he remembered he’d left it in his car. If he could reach his car, he could try to get help. The police station in Sinoville was only about ten kilometres away. Perhaps there’s a patrol car in the vicinity.
Halfway to his car he heard shouting from behind and the sound of a gunshot, sparks flew from the paving a few metres to his right . . . he was being shot at! Running full pace now . . . only a few more metres and I’ll be under cover of my office building. My car is behind the building . . . it should be hidden from sight . . . still running as another bullet smashed into the wall in front of him. From behind a wall, he peeked around the corner just in time to see other men race from the building. At the same time, a car engine roared to life . . . I have to get away quickly, he thought, as he jumped into his car. The keys were still in the ignition, he had a two- to three-hundred metre start at most.
The car behind had to wait for a second guy racing out of the building, giving Anthony just that bit of a gap to put some distance between them. As he took the turn at the estate’s exit, he saw the car’s headlights behind taking up the chase. Fortunately, this is a quiet area, he thought, while speeding down the road. He had no time to make a call now, he would drive to the station, or by chance he might be lucky and meet a patrol vehicle along the way.
In his attempt to dodge his assailants, he almost lost control avoiding a traffic officer who jumped into the road in front of him. For the first time in his life Anthony was relieved to be stopped by a cop. He managed to bring the car to a standstill; the cop scowling at him angrily for almost knocking him over . . .
‘Thank you, officer. Please help, some guys are chasing me, they took my wife, they will be here soon and they are armed, please call the police.’
‘That's the best excuse all day you idiot! You almost killed me by driving like a maniac. Licence please!’ While Anthony fiddled for his licence, there was a sound of wailing sirens approaching from the opposite direction.
‘Sounds like this is your lucky day. Here they come,’ the officer said as he waved down the patrol car. He had taken too long, and the car screeched to a halt about hundred metres further down the road. Anthony, about to get out from behind the steering wheel, heard shouting and then a shot was fired. The traffic officer, who had turned to face the police, turned back to him with a surprised expression on his face and a gaping wound in his chest. He slumped to the ground.
Anthony's car’s engine was still running and, without a second thought, he pushed it into gear and sped off. The rear window shattered. Something's wrong here, they are after the wrong guy. Here I am getting shot at without any questions being asked while the real thugs are probably getting away. In the rear-view mirror, he noticed a car making a U-turn after giving way to, he suspected, the others, the assailants. Those are the guys you should be shooting . . . then Anthony realised Jane could be with them. Please let her be safe, he prayed.
Entering Zambezi Avenue, Anthony was now in the familiar territory of his old home and managed to evade the cars behind him. He had lived in this district for most of his life and knew it like the back of his hand. He drove through side roads to within reach of the police station, and parked a short distance away in a dark spot. Then he approached the station on foot. He was about to leave the safety of shadows cast by a building when a car arrived at speed, screeching to a halt mere metres from him, followed within minutes by another car. The cop from the first vehicle, a patrol car similar to the one Anthony had just encountered, got out and walked over to the second vehicle.
‘Good evening, Captain,’ he heard him greet a man who opened the vehicle’s door and stepped into the light.
Anthony’s blood ran ice cold to see it was the stocky man with ginger hair from Mervyn's office.
‘Okay De Villiers, what can you tell me?’ He spoke curtly without greeting.
‘For the moment nothing, Captain. He won’t get far, I have every available man searching for him. He is around and we will find him.’
‘You’d better find him, and, when you do, you make sure you get him to me immediately. To no one else but to me. If you have to, shoot him.’
‘I've already given instructions, Captain.’
‘Do you know if he spoke to the traffic officer?’
‘No one will ever know, Captain.’
‘I want him, tonight still. Keep me informed.’
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