The Woman in Red: 38. What about the last tape?
‘But that’s awful,’ Katarina cried out. Not that she was Charles’s best friend. But such a death, she wouldn’t wish on anyone. ‘Do they know who has done it? Have they captured the killer?’
Frau Bertha shook her head. ‘No, my contact in France says that they even have no suspect in mind. It’s all very mysterious. It has to be a burglar who had set his mind on the content of the locker because it stood wide open.’
Jean-Pierre and Katarina looked at each other. ‘What has disappeared out of the locker?’ Jean-Pierre asked with a trembling voice. Both he and his girlfriend thought the same thing and he feared that their German hostess would confirm their suspicion.
‘I’ve asked my contact if there was a tape in the locker. He had to deny. There were some paper bonds and a little bundle of money inside of it, but the burglar didn’t pick them. We can assume with reasonable doubt he wanted the tape Charles had in his possession. The original tape of which you had taken a copy as you have told me today.’
Jean-Pierre started to pace up and down the room. ‘It has to be that parvenu with his two men. He waved rather easy with his gun. But how did he know that Charles still had a tape? After all, we had the mission to get hold of them? I do not understand it anymore.’
Frau Bertha gave him a sign that he and Katarina had to listen for a moment. ‘Have you seen something abnormal in your sister’s house when you came home from Charles’s party? The only explanation is that they were eavesdropping. My bodyguard always has to scan all the rooms I stay in for electronic listening devices. Orders of my husband. He won’t take the risk that I, unconsciously, gave some secret information away. You can’t go there anymore.’
‘All the more reason to suppose that it was that arrogant guy that has abducted Beatrice,’ Katarina reacted. ‘If they will act in that way, nobody is safe anymore.’
‘We still are, Kat. They have given us this assignment. He expects us to come up with the tapes. It’s our job to deliver them. Anyone who has another copy, that’s the one who’s in jeopardy. They have to be sure that after the delivery of the tapes, nobody has another copy of them. My God, but to kill for that…’
‘Maybe they wanted to set an example.’ Frau Bertha looked very worried. ‘The message is… sorry, that I have to put it so blunt, Katarina… that they will kill if you don’t fulfill their wishes.’
In the meanwhile, Jean-Pierre had dropped himself on a chair. ‘We are warned, but that makes it not easier to catch the last tape. As you have told us, Thérèse Dupont won’t give it off to so easy.’
‘Maybe not if we simply ask it, but…’ Katarina proposed very mysteriously.
Both Jean-Pierre as the German minister’s wife looked surprised at her. ‘What do you mean?’ they asked at the same time.
‘If I’m correct, Thérèse will also have heard about the murder upon Charles. Agreed?’
Both nodded. That seemed obvious to them, it would appear in just any morning paper, but maybe Thérèse Dupont would discover it even sooner if she had a good relation with Charles. ‘Yes, alright, but how do we have to ask her?’ Frau Bertha asked.
‘I don’t know how to bring it into practice, but if we could talk to her and let her believe that we’re behind the murder of Charles then…’
‘What? That will be a one-way trip to jail, Katarina. What are you saying? Do you feel alright?’ Jean-Pierre had jumped up and started to pace up and down the room again.
‘Hey, I think I understand what Katarina wants to explain, Jean-Pierre,’ Frau Bertha quickly added.
‘Then I’m the only one with some common sense. How can you avoid that she won’t instantly run to the police and gets us arrested immediately.’ Jean-Pierre didn’t understand it anymore. Those women had become crazy because they were frightened.
Frau Bertha stood in front of a nervous Jean-Pierre and took him by the arm. ‘Do sit down, young man, you make me jittery with your pacing up and down. Let me explain myself.’
Jean-Pierre took a deep breath, but obediently let him lead to his chair. ‘Okay, I’ll listen to you, but I don’t promise anything. If it starts to rain bodies I definitely can’t laugh at it and I surely don’t want to pay the price.’
Frau Bertha joined her hands together. ‘If I just took care of it that Thérèse Dupont would be kidnapped and delivered to us on a silver platter. We let her believe that we’re behind the murder and that we need the tape or otherwise, she would end up suffering the same fate.
‘You see, that’s what I want to say,’ Jean-Pierre shouted, ‘we’ll all go to jail with your proposals.’
‘Not if she doesn’t see us,’ Frau Bertha promptly responded. ‘If she’s blindfolded and we change our voice, be assured there are gadgets for that, she won’t attribute her kidnapping at us. What do you think of that?’
Jean-Pierre looked at Frau Bertha with his mouth wide-open. He hadn’t expected this from this lady he had seen made love to a young gigolo not so long ago.
Katarina glanced at him. ‘It could work.’
The opened mouth closed to reply. ‘It HAS to work otherwise we’re screwed.’