home   |   -   |   A-Z   |  


31

She could well have taken that train, said M"unster. He seems pretty sure of what he's talking about.

Good, said Van Veeteren. Where did she go to?

M"unster shook his head.

Alas, he said. He got off in Rheinau, but she didn't. So somewhere farther north than Rheinau, it seems.

There must be more people who saw her? said Reinhart.

You'd have thought so. In any case, there was somebody else in the same coach, according to Pfeffenholtz.

Pfeffenholtz?

Yes, that's his name. There was somebody else there all the way from Maardam. A skinhead. And it seems he was still there after Rheinau.

Wow, said Reinhart.

Dark glasses, Walkman, and a comic book, said M"unster. Between eighteen and twenty about. Eating candy all the time, and a cross tattooed over his right ear.

A swastika? Reinhart asked.

Evidently, sighed M"unster. What should we do? Send out a wanted notice?

Van Veeteren grunted.

A swastika and candies? he said. Good God, no. Somebody else can go chasing after neo-Nazi puppies. But this Pfeffen-berg

Holtz, said M"unster.

Okay, okay, Pfeffenholtz. He seems to know what he's talking about?

M"unster nodded.

Okay, said Van Veeteren. Go back to your office and pick out the ones from the Staff College who might fit in. The ones who live north of Rheinau, in other words. Fill me in when you've done that.

M"unster stood up and left the room.

Have you thought about the motive? Reinhart wondered.

I've spent the last month wondering about that, muttered the chief inspector.

Really? What do you reckon, then? I'm starting to think in terms of rape.

Van Veeteren looked up.

Go on, he said.

It must be a woman looking for revenge for something or other, Reinhart suggested.

Could be.

And rape would fit the bill.

Could be, repeated the chief inspector.

Her age makes it a bit complicated, though. She must have been very young at the time. Only a child.

Van Veeteren snorted.

Younger than you think, Reinhart.

Reinhart said nothing and stared into thin air for a few seconds.

My God, he said eventually. That's a possibility, of course. Sorry to be so thick.

No problem, said Van Veeteren, and reverted to leafing through papers.

DeBries arrived at the same time as Jung and Moreno.

Can we take mine first? said deBries. It won't take long.

Van Veeteren nodded.

She's not in criminal records.

A pity said Reinhart. Still, as things are now it probably wouldn't help us if we knew who she was. But it could be interesting, of course.

Innings? said Van Veeteren when deBries had left the room.

Well, began Moreno. We've fixed the restaurant. He had a meal at Klumm's Cellar out at Loewingen, but we haven't managed to find out who he was with.

Good, said Van Veeteren. That was no doubt the intention. How carefully have you checked?

Extremely carefully, said Jung. We've spoken to all his colleagues and friends, and all his relatives up to seven times removed. None of them was out with Innings that Friday evening.

The chief inspector broke a toothpick in half and looked pleased. As pleased as he was able to look, that is, which wasn't all that much. Nevertheless, Reinhart noticed his state.

What's the matter with you? he asked. Don't you feel well?

Hmm, said Van Veeteren. But you have the witness from the restaurant, I gather?

Only a waiter, said Moreno. And he didn't get to see much of the person Innings was with. A man aged between fifty and sixty, he thought. He had his back toward the waiter most of the time, it seems.

You can bet your life he had, said Van Veeteren. Anyway take those photographs of the group who attended Staff College together. The new ones, of course. Ask him if he thinks he can point anybody out.

Jung nodded.

Do you think Innings was eating with one of them, then?

Van Veeteren looked inscrutable.

Moreover, he said, be a bit generous when you ask him if he can identify anybody. If he's not sure, get him to pick out the three or four most likely even so.

Jung nodded again. Moreno looked at the clock.

Today? she asked hopefully. It's half past four.

Now, right away, said Van Veeteren.

Shortly after Van Veeteren got home, Heinemann phoned.

I've found a connection, he said.

Between what?

Between Malik, Maasleitner, and Innings. Do you want me to tell you about it now, over the phone?

Fire away, said Van Veeteren.

Okay, said Heinemann. I've been going through their bank records, all three of them-it's more awkward than you might think. Some banks, Spaarkasse, for instance, have some routines that are highly peculiar, to say the least. It can't be much fun dealing with financial crimes, but I suppose that's the point

What have you found? asked Van Veeteren.

Well, there's a similarity.

What, exactly?

June 1976, explained Heinemann. On June eighth, Malik takes out ten thousand guilders from his savings account at the Cuyverbank. On the ninth, Maasleitner draws an identical amount from the Spaarkasse. The same day, Innings is granted a loan by the Landtbank for twelve thousand

Van Veeteren thought for a moment.

Well done, Heinemann, he said eventually. What do you think that implies?

You can never be sure, I suppose, said Heinemann. But a spot of blackmail might not be out of the question.

Van Veeteren thought again.

You see where we need to go from there, I suppose?

Heinemann sighed.

Yes, he said. I suppose I do.

You need to check and see if anybody else in the group made a similar transaction at the same time.

Exactly, said Heinemann. I'll start on that tomorrow.

Don't sound so miserable, said the chief inspector. You can start with the ones who live up north-with a bit of luck that might be enough. Have a word with M"unster, and he'll give you a list tomorrow morning.

All right, said Heinemann. I have to go and look after the kiddies now.

Kiddies? asked the chief inspector in surprise. Surely your children are grown up now?

Grandchildren, said Heinemann, and sighed again.

Well, well, Van Veeteren thought as he replaced the receiver. We're getting there, the noose is tightening.

He fetched a beer from the fridge. Put on the Goldberg Variations and leaned back in his armchair. Placed the photographs on his knee, and began to study them with a slight feeling of admiration.

Thirty-five young men.

Five dead.

Three of them thanks to this woman's efforts.

This woman in a dark beret and a light overcoat, with the trace of a smile on her face. Leaning over a gravestone. A birthmark on her left cheek-he couldn't recall seeing that on the picture the artist had drawn, but then it was no bigger than a little fingernail.

Klaarentoft had made an excellent enlargement in any case, and as Van Veeteren sat in his chair, studying her face, he suddenly had the impression that she had raised her gaze a little. Peered over the top of the gravestone and looked at him.

A bit cheeky, he thought. A little bit roguish even, but at the same time, serious.

And very, very determined.

How old are you, in fact? he wondered.

And how many do you have on your list?


| Woman with Birthmark | c



Loading...