Olivia came back to the bungalow with a strategy that they do a turn on it – market it at the same time as negotiating its purchase from the Company. As there would be a substantial profit, she suggested that she take ninety percent of that in lieu of maintenance. She had already been to see Natasha of Personnel and got Natasha on side – which, it seemed to Evan Cameron, meant she was on Olivia’s side.
“You’re living with Charlie Gambon,” Cameron told her. “Co-habiting, you’re not entitled to maintenance. Anyway an inspector’s salary should be enough to give you a better lifestyle than I can look forward to.”
“Charlie is already maintaining a wife down in Cape Town,” Olivia moaned. “I didn’t even know she existed until now.”
“Then you should have researched the market a little more carefully before you jumped in,” Cameron told her. There wasn’t a shred of sympathy in his voice, and he guessed Olivia was probably thinking that he was being unnecessarily harsh on her. Well, fuck her: she had made her bed and now she was going to have to lie in it.
“Well, what if I settle for seventy percent?” Olivia asked.
“Olivia, a half is what you are entitled to; and a half is what you’ll get: Not a penny more and not a penny less.”
“We’re not in bloody England now,” Olivia stormed. “In case you hadn’t noticed, in this country we use rands and cents, not pennies: Not that you ever need money in this backwater. Salt and coloured beads are better currency when you live here.”
“That’s just an expression,” he explained wearily. “Although I expect that the only expression on your mind at the moment is that the policeman’s cock crows louder than that of the mine manager.”
Olivia, with her mouth pursed up like a cat’s bottom, stormed off, grabbing more of her things as she went – several of which he made her put back because they weren’t hers anyway.
Her parting shot was, “That Anulka girl that you picked out of the gutter and helped has got it coming to her – and so has her friend Don Steiger.”
“And what is our oversexed Inspector planning for them?” he asked innocently enough.
“Charlie’s getting a warrant for the girl’s arrest for murder. But if he can’t get that, he says he can at least pull them both in under the Immorality Acts for screwing. He knows where to find them; and he says that if he’s can’t hang the girl then at least he’s going to teach them both a lesson: Smoke them out, he says. We don’t like whites that screw with blacks in this country.”
“I expect anything Charlie Gambon knows is because you have squealed to him,” Evan said disdainfully.
“Well, Charlie needs a break really badly. We haven’t enough to live on and he needs promotion. And that means his getting recognition.”
“I’ll see you in court,” she said, jumping into the Alfa, slamming the door and blowing blue smoke over him as she accelerated off on her way back to Pretoria and her lover.
With his wife had gone, Evan Cameron returned to the empty, now sparsely furnished bungalow. Olivia’s idea of a half of everything didn’t quite accord with his own. She was a bitch – but, bitch or not, he knew that being divorced was a lonely place to be. The bungalow for a start: once it reverberated with the crackle of small arms fire as he and Olivia took pot shots at each other; but now it was strangely quiet.
They had sniped at each other ever since Charlie Gambon had come into Olivia’s life – before that even, because Olivia had never taken kindly to Ochatingi. Her sights were set too high in the social scene to be living in this backwater, even if the money he once made had been good. Well, she’d had an Alfa for fuck’s sake – plenty of money for gas in the tank; and Pretoria was only an hour and a half distant. What more had she wanted?
He knew that now wasn’t the time to analyse what had gone wrong with their marriage or why. The sound of small arms would shortly to be drowned by the roar of bigger guns – bladdy great howitzer shells whistling around his head as the lawyers Olivia chose turned their fire upon him.
Charlie Gambon was a bit of a loose cannon and Olivia knew it. For her own financial security, she was going to winkle the largest lump sum that she could get out from him – and she wouldn’t care whether it came from the sale proceeds of the bungalow, from whatever redundancy money he might get, or from the pension he had painstakingly accrued over the years. He really couldn’t afford a lawyer but he knew he needed a smart one if he was going to salvage anything out of his broken marriage. His accountant was Solly Goldstein, and he wondered if Solly might be able to recommend somebody who would be a good scrapper but who didn’t come too dear.
He dialled Solly’s number: Yes, Solly knew exactly the man for the job. Isaac Kaufman was his lawyer too. He didn’t come cheap but Solly wasn’t going to pass up an opportunity to hit back at Charlie Gambon after the policeman had punched him to the ground outside the tennis club.
“I’ll have him call you,” he told Evan Cameron, “And, whatever it costs, you don’t need to worry because I’m going to tell him to send the bill to me.”
It was a generous gesture and Evan was grateful. He replaced the receiver, relieved that his interests were to be looked after – at least, as well as the interests of any husband with a predatory wife snapping his heels ever could be looked after. If Olivia’s solicitors’ salvos got too hot, this Isaac Kaufman fellow sounded as if he was the one who could smoke them out.
Smoke them out?
He started: Wasn’t that what Olivia had said Gambon was going to do? Smoke them out? Those were the very words Olivia used: she told him Charlie Gambon had vowed to do that! Did that mean a repeat of the Ochatingi arson attack? He was certain Charlie Gambon was behind that fire.
Gambon was a psychopathic kaffir hater – but was he a psychopathic arsonist too?
Olivia had said that he knew where Don and Anulka were. Don had mentioned a farm somewhere in the Northern Cape. Was it the bungalow in Tembisa that Charlie Gambon had in mind or this farm?
He picked up the telephone and dialled Don’s number, but the phone kept on ringing. They must have left, their destination unknown.
Unless he was letting his imagination run away with him, he must warn them. But how could he when he had no idea where they were headed?
Gambon failed to get an arrest warrant for Anulka on a charge of murder. Bunting had cut his feet away from under him yet again. He had called the Colonel, told him about the kerosene can found at the scene of the fire with a police insignia on it. The girl, Anulka had carried it with her to the bungalow and Cameron had hidden it. Wasn’t that evidence enough?
“Yer bladdy fool,” his chief shouted down the line at him. “You’ve already made a damned statement to the press saying there were no suspicious circumstances around the fire. It’s going to look strange if you now announce that you’re re-opening the case because you suspect it was murder.”
“I could have found fresh evidence, Colonel,” Gambon answered defensively.
“Fresh evidence my arse,” Bunting raved. “If there is any fresh evidence, the only person you’ll manage to hang with it will be yourself. Come on, Inspector… Even if I don’t care to know the true facts, I’ve got a shrewd idea what happened when that hut caught fire. The family are known terrorists, and whoever did it made their point – even if it wasn’t exactly an orthodox way to go about it…
“But you must see the risk you take if re-open the matter. Four months have gone by without anyone pointing a finger at the police. I’m not risking having you opening a can of worms now.”
Gambon was shifting his weight impatiently from one foot to the other. Another of his ideas called in. It didn’t seem that he was capable of doing anything right in his chief’s eyes these days.
“Well, I don’t like the idea of the Immorality Acts being flouted by people who come from my patch,” he said defensively. “I have all the evidence I need that an Afrikaaner – a Boer, for fucks sake, Sir – has taken up with a black woman and that they are living in Tembisa. That might not be subversion but it’s against the law all the same and that isn’t right…
“I’m sure that sticks in your throat, too, Colonel…”
From the Colonel’s change of tone, he sensed he could feel him relaxing.
“Just for once I agree with you, Inspector… So if you want to pull them in, why don’t you get off your butt and go and catch them screwing? If you can catch them at it and get them in front of a magistrate who happens to be a straight talking Boer, the chances are that they will both be given gaol sentences. A magistrate who is a conscientious Afrikaaner from the old school will make bladdy certain he uses the opportunity to make his point. It may be legalised tomorrow but it’s still illegal today.”
Gambon put down the telephone and thought about this. Then he called Olivia. “Do you know where that kaffir shagging Boer actually lives?” he asked her. Olivia only knew that Don lived somewhere in Tembisa.
It took Charlie Gambon ten minutes to check out the address, then he shouted down the corridor for his sergeant.
“Three men,” he said. “We’re going for a drive in the country.”
They reached Tembisa in an hour and a half; and ten minutes later they had pulled up in front of Don’s bungalow, Friesland. His sergeant was about to leap out with his men but Gambon caught hold of his arm.
He scanned the front of the bungalow. There was no car parked outside and no sign of habitation inside. For nearly ten minutes he and his sergeant watched. Those in the back got bored and were playing ‘paper, scissors, stone’ among themselves.
“You’re supposed to be the bladdy police, not kids mucking about on street corners,” he announced, climbing out of the Land Rover with the blackjacks following.
They walked round the bungalow – twice. Peering through the windows it was evident there was nobody there. He didn’t have a search warrant – but did that really matter?
“Kick the fucking door in,” he told the sergeant.
The lock yielded; and now they were inside. Instinctively Gambon homed in on a bedroom. Calling his sergeant over he told him, “Go through this room carefully. Women’s clothing, make up, condoms: Anything that points to shared occupation – just find it. And, if you can’t find anything…” he fished a condom from out of his wallet… “plant this somewhere.”
Leaving the Sergeant to it, he found another bedroom. This had to be Anulka’s room. There were ladies clothes in the wardrobe and a makeup case on the dresser. A cot was at the end of the bed and there was a packet of disposable nappies on the shelf beneath the bedside table…
The birds had fled. There had been some recent activity around the incinerator at the back, but he could find no clue to tell him to where they had gone. They drove back to Pretoria.
When he got back home, he could hear that Olivia in the shower. She must have heard him slam the door, because she called out, “If you’re in such bad humour, then why don’t you come and join me in the shower and cool off?”
“What went wrong?” she asked him taking a firm hold on his erection.
“Bunting wouldn’t let me take out a warrant on a charge of murder,” he told her.
“Said I could only take them in on a charge of indecency.”
“Well, that’s a hot topic right now. You should get yourself some publicity from that. I take it you caught them at it?”
“No luck. I went to Tembisa. There’s plenty of evidence that they’re co-habiting which should be enough to get them two years each. But, no, I didn’t catch them actually copulating…
“In fact, I didn’t catch them at all,” he finished lamely. “They had already scarpered.”
“Can you find them?”
Gambon considered this. “The trouble is that they left nothing to say to where they’ve gone. They could be anywhere. South Africa is a very big place.”
In a moment of inspiration Olivia said, “Have you forgotten that Don Steiger has a sister here in Pretoria? She seemed to be pretty pro the blacks and she could be shielding them…
“Don’t you remember the run-in you had with her when you came to the Manager’s bungalow? She told you that she didn’t blame blacks just because she had been raped by Tsotsis a few years back?”
He remembered; and it wouldn’t be so difficult to find an Elizabeth Smith in Pretoria. But what if she too had flown, covering her tracks behind her? It wasn’t exactly a manhunt now, so he wouldn’t get unlimited resources to help him find them.
But then Olivia had another idea. She said, “And if I remember right, the sister told us that she had been admitted to a psychiatric hospital as a result of the trauma…
“That should give you a lead.”
Gambon got out from the shower and hastily began to dry himself down. Turning off the shower so that she might be heard, Olivia shouted through the curtain, “Hey, where are you going, with your tail hanging between your legs and in such an unholy rush?”
“The sister’s house first,” he told her, falling over himself in his hurry to get his legs into his pants and trousers. “If she’s scarpered then I shall try all the psychiatric hospitals. One of them should throw up a lead.”