The next morning, when he called Jade before the sun was up, David sounded completely different. Excited. Like finally something was going his way.

“What’s up?”

“The axe. They found the axe yesterday evening. The weapon used to kill Grobbelaar. They’ve driven it through to the Pretoria lab already and forensics are working on it now. They’ve got a two-week backlog, but the guy there owes me a favor, big-time. He said he’d have results by nine a.m. Come on over, Jade. I’m in my office. Second floor, Jo’burg Central.”

The station housing the serious and violent crimes unit where David worked had been renamed Johannesburg Central after a thirty-year period under the name of John Vorster Square. John Vorster had been one of the most notorious propagators of the apartheid regime. Jade’s father had explained the build-ing’s brutal history to her. As Minister of Justice in the 1960s, John Vorster, who went on to become prime minister, intro-duced new laws permitting prisoners to be tortured. Anti-apartheid activists were interrogated on the now infamous 10th floor and often died under suspicious circumstances. The elite Afrikaans police force never admitted the truth. The prisoner had slipped on a bar of soap in the shower, or fallen out of a window. People were clumsy. Accidents happened.

Jade looked up at the building which was nestled under a highway overpass. She wondered how many people had fallen screaming to their deaths from the high windows. Had their tormentors laughed as they watched them plummet to the ground?

As she approached the entrance she realized it looked different. The enormous bronze bust of John Vorster was missing. His giant head and shoulders had guarded this entrance for as long as she could remember. The brass plaque under the statue had been engraved with the hypocritical wording “Eendrag maak Mag—Unity is Strength.” Jade was glad to see it was gone. She was sure that the citizens wan-dering in and out to report their stolen cell phones or get their documents stamped by a commissioner of oaths didn’t want to walk in the shadow of a monument to a sadist.

David’s office was neat and clean. His desk was bare, apart from the file on Annette and his computer. No photographs, no memorabilia, no personal touches at all. She’d once given him a brass paperweight in the shape of an eagle’s head for his birthday. He’d thanked her for it and kissed her on the cheek, saying he’d put it on his desk. Jade couldn’t see any sign of it now. She supposed a paperweight was useless if you didn’t have any paper that needed weighing down. There was no sign of the knee-deep piles of old cases he had been com-plaining about.

“Grab a coffee.” He gestured to a tray on the small round conference table. “We should have an answer any minute. They’ve been busy with it since this morning. I hoped we’d have something by the time you arrived.”

Jade poured herself a coffee and sat down at the table. The coffee smelled strongly of burnt chicory. It tasted even worse.

“I see the standard of coffee’s the same as ever.”

“Unfortunately, yes. I usually have a private stash in my desk. Locked up. Otherwise people bloody steal it. In a police station! I mean, really.”

“Where did they find the weapon?” she asked.

“It must’ve been thrown out of a car window. They found it in thick grass a few meters from the side of the road. On the highway back to Jo’burg, about twenty kilometers away from the crime scene.”

“Who’s ‘they’?”

“Workers cutting firebreaks.”

David stood up and walked over to the opposite wall. “We might have a lucky break this time. The guys who found it didn’t touch it.” He smiled, a mirthless grimace. “Too scared. Apparently the blade and a good part of the handle are encrusted in blood.”

He returned to his desk and slid into his seat. “Forensics said they’d e-mail me photos as soon as they’d taken them.” He frowned. “Yup. Here they are.”

Jade got up and walked round the desk and leaned over David’s shoulder. His deltoids and biceps bulged under the white cotton fabric of his shirt. His hair was clean and shiny. She wanted to touch it, put her face close and feel it tickling her cheeks. And she wanted to put her hand on his shoulder and feel those thick, ropy muscles under her fingers. He had used some sort of cologne earlier on. It was faint but spicy in the air. Had he been thinking of her when he applied it? Was he regretting yesterday’s hasty departure? Or had she made a complete fool of herself by saying what she had? She moved away from him, her cheeks suddenly hot.

“Check this out,” David said. His muscles bunched as he pulled his chair forward. With a click of the mouse, he enlarged the photo of the axe until it filled the screen.

Blood had congealed across its blade and splashed onto the handle, leaving behind dark brown trails and drips. It was a grisly murder weapon. She wasn’t surprised the workers who’d discovered it had been afraid.

“They’re checking it for prints,” David said.

“You think they’ll find any? Would Grobbelaar’s killer have thrown away a fingerprinted weapon?”

He shrugged. “Maybe not. But people get careless. There’s always a chance. When they’ve checked, they’ll analyze the bloodstains. Would you like to make a million rand bet with me that the stains are a perfect match with Dean Grobbe-laar’s DNA?”

Jade shook her head. “I don’t think there was that much axe-murdering activity going on in North West province yes-terday. I’m not taking the bet with you.”

David leaned forward. “Here we go. I’ve got more mail.” He drummed his fingers on the desk. “Come on, come on. Open up. Tell us we’ve got a fingerprint here. And a match.”

Jade craned over his shoulder, waiting to see what it said.

“They’ve got a print!” David shouted. “One crystal-clear, beautiful print on the base of the handle.” He read further and his shoulders drooped. “Oh, shithouse.”


“They’ve run it through the system. No result. One print, no result. No bloody use, then.”

“Why wouldn’t he get a result?” Jade asked. “Would the guy be an illegal immigrant or something?”

“No.” David sighed. He got up and poured himself a cup of coffee. He tipped in half the bowl of sugar, stirred, and took a gulp.

“God, you’re right, it does taste like crap.” Even so, he took another sip, more cautiously this time, and grimaced. “Yes, it could be the print of an illegal immigrant. But it could also belong to one of the millions of South Africans who don’t have a damn criminal record. Our wonderful constitution still respects every citizen’s right to privacy. The South African police cannot access Home Affairs data. Unless you’re trying to ID a body, of course, then it’s allowed. But the only fingerprints we have on our database belong to convicted criminals.”

“Is there any way of getting round the system?” she asked.

David looked as if he was trying not to smile. “That’s just the sort of question I’d expect from you.”

“Well, is there?”

After a moment’s thought his eyes lit up. Then he frowned. Jade thought he seemed nervous. He cleared his throat and adjusted his tie and hooked his pants up around his waist. Then he twisted his head from side to side as if he was trying to ease stiffness in his neck.

“I can call in a favor. I don’t want to. I shouldn’t. But I can.”


“I’ve got a contact in Home Affairs who can look up the print for us. Only problem is we can’t use it as evidence in court. If it leads us to Annette’s murderer, we’ll have to find another way of proving he killed her.”

“Well, then.” Jade stood up. “Can you phone him?”

He nodded. “It’s a woman. And yes, I can phone her.”

Jade looked at the telephone. “Go ahead. Maybe she can check it now.”

“This line’s terrible. It’s been bad all morning. I’ll phone from the downstairs office.” David pointed to the empty chair in front of his desk. “Wait here. I’ll be back soon.”

He hurried out. Jade stared after him. What was his problem? She picked up the phone on the desk and dialed zero to get an outside line. It sounded fine to her.

She went over to his filing cabinet and peeked inside. It was crammed with paperwork. So this was where his knee-deep pile of case files was now stored. At least they weren’t such a fire hazard any more.

Exploring further, she opened his desk drawer. She wanted to find the damn paperweight. She’d had “To David from Jade” engraved on the base. It had cost her a fortune. What had he done with it?

Apart from the most basic stationery items the drawers were empty.

Jade only just managed to return to her chair before David hurried back into the office.

“I’m putting this on a CD. It’s too sensitive to e-mail. She doesn’t want to get into trouble. She’ll put it on the system on her side, when she can.”

“Are you hand-delivering it?”

“Yes. She’s just down the road, in the Market Street office.” David quickly copied the file. “There we go. Done.” He glanced up at her. He didn’t look happy. He looked tense and grim.

“Is everything OK?” Jade asked.

“Perfect. Fine. I’ll chat to you later, then. Just push that button on the door latch when you leave. It’ll lock from the inside.”

With that, he disappeared round the corner.

Jade sniffed the air. Was it her imagination, or was the scent of cologne stronger? She took another sniff. Definitely stronger. David must have doused himself in the stuff when he went out to make his phone call.

She pressed the button on the latch and closed the door behind her. Then she followed the trail of cologne down the stairs and out of the police station.

Jade had tailed people on foot before. Some of them had been jumpy and suspicious, others had strolled along in blissful ignorance. She’d never been spotted, because regard-less of the behavior of the target, she’d always been careful.

Following David down Commissioner Street, she sus-pected she could have let off flares and sung lewd songs at the top of her voice and he wouldn’t have noticed. He was striding ahead, weaving through the slow-moving pedes-trians on the pavement and dodging the roadside hawkers, swift and single-minded. Jade’s only worry was that his speed would take him too far ahead of her.

He slowed abruptly and turned down a narrow side road. She expected him to continue along it until he came to Market Street, but he ducked into the entrance of a building instead. She couldn’t follow him, because he would see her. She slowed to a dawdle, hoping that the woman he was due to meet was still on her way.

Jade had expected her to be unfamiliar, a stranger. She wasn’t. To her dismay, she recognized her as soon as she saw her hurrying down the street from the opposite direc-tion. The crimson jacket was unmistakable. She was the same dark-haired, coffee-skinned woman that Jade had seen climbing out of the car in the driveway of David’s house in Turffontein.

Jade moved closer to the building’s entrance and risked a glance through the dirty glass doors. In the lobby, the woman and David stood locked in a close embrace, heads together, arms entwined.

She whirled away and jogged back down the street. She felt sick to her stomach. What the hell was going on? Who was this woman? What did she mean to David, and why was she living in his house? More troubling still, who was the young boy she’d seen racing away from his mother to the gate? Could he be David’s son?

Jade’s legs suddenly went weak. It was as if a carpet had been yanked from under her. She’d spent ten years drifting round the world. Working, hiding, biding her time. But what had she expected David to do during those years? Sign up for the nearest monastery?

She crossed her arms and threaded her cold hands into her sleeves. She hadn’t expected him to wait. But she hadn’t imag-ined he would make such permanent life changes either.

She bit her lip and turned back, fighting to get some per-spective on the situation. Any minute now they’d be out of the lobby, and then she could catch up with him and find out what was going on.

She waited, watching the throngs of passersby. Two men were strolling down the street holding greaseproof paper packets and the air filled with the vinegary smell of hot chips as they approached. As a rule, Jade couldn’t resist chips, espe-cially with lashings of chili sauce. Right then, the smell only made her feel sick all over again.

The woman left first. She marched out of the building, head turned aside, fumbling with the clasp of her handbag. She was wiping her hand across her eyes when she passed Jade.

David departed in a hurry, almost colliding with a passing pedestrian as he turned onto the street. He didn’t apologize, but continued on his way, head bowed, arms crossed in front of him. Jade saw him shrug his shoulders as if he was ridding himself of unwelcome thoughts.

She ran after him and tapped him on the shoulder.

David swung round with a thunderous expression on his face. Then he saw it was Jade. His anger dissolved. He stared at her for a moment, but she couldn’t read what she saw in his eyes.

Jade felt a surge of furious disappointment. She knew if she looked at David for one second longer, she would give in to the powerful urge to punch him squarely in his stomach. Not that she expected to cause much damage. But she didn’t want him to realize how strong her feelings for him were. If she hit him he would. She pushed past him and carried on walking. After a moment, she heard David’s footsteps hur-rying after her.

“Thanks for telling me,” she said, looking ahead at the oncoming traffic and the clusters of people.

“Jadey.” His voice was anguished.

“What’s the situation?”

“She’s my wife.”

“Your wife. Right. What’s her name?”


“And the boy?”

David didn’t ask how she knew. “My son. Kevin.”

“Your wife and son. Why aren’t you living with them?”

“We’re separated.”

“Not divorced?”

“Nope. Separated. Jade, do you have to walk so fast? Can’t you stop for a minute?”

“No. Right now, I can’t.” She dodged to the left of an oncoming pedestrian and, with a stretch of empty pavement ahead of her, increased her speed. “Why are you separated?”

“It’s a trial separation.”

“How long?”

“We’ve been apart for a few months now.”

“Do you still love her?”

“Jesus, what kind of a question is that? Yes. No. I don’t know.”

“Whose idea was the separation?”

“Her idea. Jade, please wait. Please stop.”

She looked back at him. “What?”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you. I know I did, and I’m sorry.” He met her eyes and she saw the pain in his face. “If it’s any consolation to you, I’m living in hell at the moment. Please give me a break here. Help me out. I didn’t want this to happen, any of it.”

Jade didn’t answer. Instead, she turned away from him and stalked off up the street. David didn’t follow her and she didn’t look back to see where he went.

Random Violence