Monday, March 23, 2009

Chapter 24: Shopping

Roy’s announcement left me a little flabbergasted for a few seconds. I took a few seconds to process what he had said. As I thought about it, I realised that it made a lot of sense. I had heard that the strip clubs were often full of women from the ex-Soviet republics, and that it would be a natural habitat for someone like Dimitri.

“That sorta makes sense,” I told Roy. “Which one were you thinking of?”

“The new one in Stamford Hill Road,” Roy answered. “Club 363. Its been open a while, but we’ve been watching it for a while now and there was a change of ownership about six months back. Since then, it has gone from a pure strip club to having some of the dancers becoming ‘Ladies of Negotiable Virtue’.”

Roy glanced at Daise and then fixed on Alina as he said this. I looked at Alina, and saw that she had a strange expression on her face. I couldn’t quite define what it was, but guessed that it was somewhere between anger and amusement.

“Alina? You Ok?” I asked her.

“Yes. I like the way that you put that Roy. Much nicer than some of the things that I have heard it called,” Alina said.

“Ja, I like it too. I have seen enough women in the industry to have some sympathy with them. I don’t like the way that they are often treated by other policemen and I try to compensate a little. A lot of them are really nice…” His voice trailed off, and I could see that the subject was still painful for him.

“How is Julie by the way Roy?” I asked him.

“I keep track of her as much as I can. She has put on a lot more weight since you saw her last. She moved down to Knysna and is working as a clerk for a lawyer down there. She is slowly rebuilding her life.”

I decided that Roy had come a long way to be able to talk about it like that. It hadn’t been too long since he wasn’t able to talk about it at all. I could see that both Daise and Alina were intensely curious, so I looked at Roy and asked him “Can I tell them?”

“Sure. Probably a good idea that they know.”

“Ok. Alina, Roy had a girlfriend, they were engaged to be married, and he noticed that money was going missing from their accounts. One day he got a call from Julie’s partner in her law firm to ask where she was. He called around, and no-one knew where she was. She had just disappeared. He hunted for her for days, and when he eventually found her, she was walking the streets. It turned out that she had had a growing addiction to cocaine and it had got her into all kinds of trouble, both financially and professionally. Eventually, the money that she had borrowed landed her in the clutches of the Nigerians. They had introduced her to Crack and were pimping her to maintain her habit. Roy here tried to intervene, but wasn’t successful for a long time; Julie’s addiction wasn’t something that she wanted to shake. He did eventually manage to get her out and into rehab. Once she came out, she started putting on weight. We think it was to make herself unattractive to men. Now she wants nothing to do with men at all.”

“Did you say her law practice?” Daise asked.

“Yes. She was a damn good lawyer. We think that there were a lot of high flyers in the circles she moved though, and they got her into the cocaine as a way to maintain the energy level. It’s a damn shame.” I answered her.

Daise turned to Alina, and put her arm around her. I could see that Alina was close to tears. I knew before I told the story that it might hit a little close to home, but I figured that it was worthwhile as an object lesson as well as to show that both Roy and I were sympathetic to the plight that Alina had found herself in. Alina looked at me and I could see a softening in her eyes towards me. She hadn’t been exactly hostile before, but there had been a reserve there that had bothered me. I guessed that we had taken the first steps towards breaching that reserve, and that made me glad.

“What’s the plan then Roy?” I asked him.

“I thought we could meet down there about twenty-one hundred, go in and just check out the place. See what we can see.”

“Aren’t you on duty?”

“Not really. I have just come off the night-duty shift and I have two days of down time before going back on the day-duty shift. I figure I can maybe convince my supervisor that this is overtime work too.”

“Ok,” I laughed, “sounds good. Lets do that then. I have some things I would like to do this afternoon, so I think we should leave you to your Castle Draft and see you later?”

“Cool. Have fun and don’t do anything I wouldn’t do,” he said with a friendly leer at the girls. Daise and Alina took it in good spirits and both smiled at Roy, even though Alina’s smile was a little wan.

Once we left the Pavilion Mall, I drove into Pinetown. Cpl Maseka and his crew checked in with me via cell phone and I told him where I planned on going. The girls didn’t have a clue though; and it struck me that sometimes it was useful to be able to speak a language that they didn’t know. That thought sparked another, and I decided that I needed to think carefully about how I could get them to listen in to what would happen that night.

Once we got into Old Main Road in Pinetown, I spotted the place that I wanted and pulled in.

“What are we doing here?” Daise asked with barely suppressed excitement.

“What do you think?” I asked. “Have you forgotten that I told you I thought you needed a car?”

“I thought you were just talking,” she said, then she lapsed into what I guessed was either Ukrainian or Russian and her and Alina went back and forth for a while.

While they were talking, I parked the Land Rover and got out. I knew exactly what car I wanted to get Daise; I had been eyeing it for a couple of months now whenever I drove past. As I walked into the showroom, I could hear the excited chatter continue as the girls followed me. Once inside, I was approached by a salesman and I started telling him what I wanted, but I spoke in Afrikaans so that I could keep it a secret from Daise and Alina. It took me a few minutes to explain to the salesman, and to figure out the practical arrangements for payment. I gave him my details and he scurried off to process the paper-work, and phone the bank I supposed, before turning to Daise.

“What do you think of that?’ I asked. Daise turned to look where I was pointing. She went still, looking eerily like a rabbit caught in the headlights of a car in the road; dead still and poised to run at the slightest sound or movement. “Yes, in a few minutes that will be yours,” I assured her. I really liked the Beetle 2.0 Cabriolet, and if the look that Daise gave me when she turned around was any indication, she really liked the red one I had pointed out. All of a sudden, I found my arms filled with a very grateful and excited woman.

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