‘Come in!’ barked Captain Barry Adams in his usual hostile tone when De Villiers knocked on his door. Adams loved the power both his position in the police force and his relationship with the Hiltons afforded him, and he preferred his subordinates to understand who was in charge. De Villiers and his men, of course, had no idea what this was all about and they did not need to know; they only followed orders. Naturally he had seen to it that he had sufficient insurance. Should anything come to light, he had more than enough incriminating evidence to ensure their silence.
De Villiers entered, shutting the door behind him.
‘Where have you come from, De Villiers? You look like something dragged in by the cat. Where is my man? I cannot believe that you could not track down this guy while you had him right here under your noses?’
‘Yes sir, but . . .’
‘Don't “but” me! I'm not looking for excuses, I am looking for results. Tell me what you are going to do, time is running out.’
‘We've now located his car, sir. We found it in a dark side street right here, near the police station. It means he is now either on foot or someone is helping him. According to his records there's no family. We are trying to track down any close friends. We have not managed to find anything on the woman yet.’
‘You can leave her to me, I will cover that end. Rather you go and find Jenkins.’
‘We suspect he left the area, possibly heading north, and are tracking his cellphone and monitoring his bank accounts. As soon as he uses his cell or draws from his accounts, we will trace him. If he is still around, I’m sure he will try to get to his house. I will send someone in this morning. Unfortunately, sir, my team is not large enough for an extensive search, not if we want to cover all eventualities. Could you possibly arrange to increase our manpower?’
‘I may be able to get more men, but only for a day or two. Forty-eight hours, that is all I can give you. And another thing . . . you know this is sensitive, when you do find him he should talk to no one but me, even if you must shoot him. Is that clear?’
‘Get yourself out of here now. Have some rest, get cleaned up and be back here by noon to meet your additional crew.’
Once De Villiers had gone, Adams left his office. He did not look forward to it, but felt he had better report to Mervyn.
‘Good morning Lorraine. Is Mervyn in?’
‘Good morning to you, too. Yes sure, he is expecting you.’
Adams knocked twice before he opened the door and entered the office.
Mervyn sat behind his large oak desk, studying some documents as though he had no care in the world.
‘Take a seat. I will be with you shortly,’ he said, without taking his eyes off the documents.
How can he remain this calm? Adams wondered, as he took his place on the opposite side of the desk. Here I am, a ball of tension. I won’t be able to relax until we’ve got rid of Jenkins.
At last Mervyn put the document aside and sat back, casually. ‘I'm dying of thirst. Would you like some coffee, too?’
‘Yes, thanks, that’ll be nice.’
After he made his request, Mervyn engaged in small talk about his previous hunting trip and, only after Lorraine had brought in the tray of coffee and left the office, did he return to business. ‘Right! Now tell me where we are?’
‘The bad news is that, for the moment, we seem to have lost him. We suspect he fled north and may even try to skip the country. He won't get far. We’re monitoring the borders, his cellphone, and his accounts. He's got no vehicle, and we suspect he caught a ride on a truck. He will not be able to stay beneath the radar for much longer, he’ll have to show himself soon. We've given him enough of a fright to make him wary of handing himself in, and I issued a clear instruction that he must be brought directly to me when caught. If we do not track him down today, I am working on a little surprise: I suggest you buy the paper tomorrow morning. After that, he should be no further threat to us.’
‘I'm glad to hear it. I'm sure I do not need to remind you to keep Hilton Cosmetics out of this; I'm not looking for any negative publicity. You must excuse me now as I have to leave for another appointment. You are most welcome to stay and enjoy more coffee.’
It took Anthony until almost dawn the following morning to get to within ten kilometres of their housing estate; the surroundings were still dark and deserted, with hardly a sign of life. Sunrise will be in about an hour, I must cover as much ground as possible while it’s still dark. The first morning traffic will start soon. What day is today? He had lost track of time. He had not thought about how he would get into the estate; during all the events of the past few days he lived only in the present. His brain wasn't functioning properly and he could not even attempt to think ahead. I will get as close as possible. Will they be watching my house?
He knew the neighbourhood well. For the next five kilometres or so he would have to stick to the main road, but just past Sam's Café was a cluster of trees and bush that he could cut through and come out at a street market. It was an informal flea market where local traders offered a range of wares. It had started some years before, with locals selling handcrafted items off folding tables in the shade of trees or under umbrellas. Today there were semi-rigid cubicles and the range of goods on offer extended from freshly grown vegetables to arts and crafts and clothing. Once he got to the market, he would be only a few kilometres from the estate’s main gate.
As Anthony neared Sam’s Café, the first signs of dawn were colouring the eastern horizon. The sound of an approaching truck disturbed the quiet morning air, and he dropped into the long grass at the roadside. As it neared the café, he heard the truck slow down and, cautiously, raised his head . . . the next moment he had dropped to the ground as a loud bang, almost like a gunshot, reverberated in the still air. As he flattened himself onto the earth, he heard the truck accelerate and, within moments, the silence had returned. He peeked through the grass, hiding until certain it was safe. Then he got up and carefully moved in the direction of the café. As he got closer he identified the source of the bang: it was a stack of newspapers that had been cast off the moving truck onto the sidewalk. He’d taken a few paces past the pile of newspapers, when his brain registered what it had seen. And he stopped in his tracks.
That's me! A photo of me on the front page!
He glanced around quickly, suddenly feeling exposed, but there was no one around. He retraced his steps back to the pile of newspapers. He removed one from the pack. He checked, guiltily, to make sure no one was watching . . . it was, after all, stealing. The paper on top of the pile was slightly torn, one stolen newspaper will not add much to his fate.
Anxious to read the article, he knew he first had to reach the relative safety of the trees. Once I get past the café, I will be safe. He made his way to the thicket of bluegums up ahead. It was rapidly getting light, the sun would be up soon. At least once I reach the trees, I’ll be out of sight and can slow down a bit.
Prominent businessman disappears leaving behind a bloody trail of death.
The headline jumped out at him and he dropped the newspaper as if it had burnt him. He went numb, his knees gave way, and he collapsed in a bundle of misery. Will this nightmare never end? It gets continuously worse. He crawled to the base of a huge tree. It took a few moments before he had the courage to reach for the paper and drag it closer, and draw his eyes back to the article. For some time he sat staring at himself, at his image smiling from huge photo on the front page just below the headline. Will I ever be able to smile again, he wondered.
The police are searching for a prominent Pretoria businessman in connection with the murder of three people in a killing spree on Friday evening. It is believed Mr Anthony Jenkins first shot and killed his wife then, during an attempt by the police to apprehend him culminating in a high-speed chase through the streets of Pretoria, he fatally wounded a traffic officer. He managed to evade arrest and it is believed he called his secretary to meet him at a shopping centre in Sinoville. She became suspicious and contacted the police for assistance. When officers arrived on the scene, they discovered her body in her car. She died from multiple bullet wounds.
As yet, the police have not been able to track down Mr Jenkins and the motive for these killings is unknown. Anyone with information about Mr Jenkins or his whereabouts should contact Captain Barry Adams, the lead investigator on the case. Captain Adams can be reached at . . .
Anthony tossed the paper aside as though he had been stung. All strength had left him, all hope now gone. Even after what they did to Jenny he had still hoped . . . Why? Is there any reason for me to continue? I have nothing to live for now. His anguished cry tore through the quiet Sunday morning. He rolled up in despair, feeling as though all life had been drained out of him.
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