Rough Diamond-a South African short story Ch 9
News comes from Barclay West
The knock on the door was fully expected but still came as if it was an electric shock. The women jumped and held their breath. They looked at each other in uncertainly and silence. What was happening? “Who is it? Gloria called out. “Constable Smith, Mrs. Van Zyl, from the Port Alfred police. You know my son Frans who is at the Port Alfred Primary School. Sorry to worry you so late but it is important.”
They breathed a collective sigh of relief. As unusual as this was they could handle it. The door was opened and the rather short stocky policeman, who Gloria recognized as one of the parents from the school where she was secretary, came in. “We received a phone call from the police in Barclay West,” he told them. “They wanted us to bring you some news as soon as possible, Sergeant van Staden was very insistent. Being so late I wanted to wait until the morning but my station commander on duty tonight felt I should not wait. The message is that the identification on the body has come back and it definitely is not Jacque. They said you would understand.” He seemed relieved that he had delivered the message. “If that’s okay I will leave you to go back to sleep. Again, I am sorry I woke you up, but our colleague from Barclay West seemed to think it was urgent and it sounded as if it could be. He would not give us any more details”.
After Constable Smit left, Gloria and Susan sat in the kitchen in a state of shock. What more could happen to their jangled nerves? The news was astounding and mind blowing. They had already accepted the fact that Jacque had died and now the new information had them in total confusion. Add to that the diamond in the safe in Gloria’s room and the situation had suddenly become even more complicated. Why had they not told the policeman about the parcel that arrived today? How would they explain that later when it became known? “Someone help us!” they both thought, as they looked at each other over their coffee cups. At the same time they both had no idea who could.
Again sleep did not come easily and as the sun came flooding into their rooms they woke to the new day in a state of mental and physical exhaustion. New questions had jumped into their minds during the night. Who was the person in the car? Where is Jacque? These were added to the ones they had been confronted with earlier when the parcel had arrived. As it was school holidays Gloria did not have to go to work and so the day lay ahead of them like quicksand. There seemed to be no way through it, but they knew they would have to negotiate it together, one way or another.
“What are we going to do?” Susan asked the obvious question. The equally obvious answer came back,” I don’t know”. After some serious discussion they realized that the only option open to them was to go to the police station and tell them about the diamond. The decision came as a relief but it brought with it more questions. What would the police say and would they look suspicious because they had not mentioned it last night? They decided they would have to answer these when and if they came. As they prepared to leave, the telephone rang.
Gloria answered with shaking hands. “We know about the diamond and if you want to see Jacque alive you will do nothing about it,” a strange voice threatened. “Wait for further instructions, and if you go to the police you will regret it. I am warning you and your daughter! We have your phone tapped and we are watching the house!” The obvious threat to Susan threw icicles into her heart. She put the phone down as if it were a scorpion. “Who was it Mom?” Susan already knew that it was not good news. Gloria sat down with her head in her hands. She could not believe this was happening. Her feelings took her back to where she had been 18 years ago, when Susan was five, and Jacque had walked out on them. Her body started to shake.
Too much had happened in 24 hours! Here she was, in possession of a diamond she really did not want but at the same time wanted desperately, held hostage by unknown people, fearing for the life of a man she had hated for so many years and then thought was dead. She was worried about her safety and that of her daughter who she loved so much. Help!