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Authors: Paige Nick

Death By Carbs

BOOK: Death By Carbs
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DEATH BY CARBS

 

 

 

 

 

PAIGE NICK

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a work of pure fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons (living or dead), events or locales is entirely coincidental.

 

First published by N&B Books, 2015

Sales in Southern Africa by Bookstorm (www.bookstorm.co.za)

Distribution in Southern Africa by On The Dot (www.onthedot.co.za)

 

Copyright © Paige Nick 2015

 

The right of Paige Nick to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988.

 

ISBN: 978-0-620-67435-5 (paperback)

ISBN: 978-0-620-67436-2 (e-book)

 

 

Editor: Helen Moffett

Proofreaders: Megan Clausen and Sophy Kohler

Cover design: Karin Barry-McCormack

Typesetting: Reneé Naudé

 

 

 

This book is dedicated to anyone who has ever struggled to lose weight, and knows how murderous it can be.

 

THE COP

 

 

Wednesday 3:37am

 

 

A cop who liked donuts: he was the world's biggest cliché. Bennie September turned on the interior light in the car and angled the rear-view mirror so he could catch a glimpse of his face. Then he swept back and forth at his top lip with his fingertips. It wasn't easy getting powdered sugar out of a moustache.

He dropped the now-empty cardboard Pick 'n Pay box on the floor of the passenger seat of his old Opel, then strained against the seatbelt to shove the box as far back under the seat as possible. That was the first rule for anyone committing a crime, wasn't it? Get rid of the evidence. He could hear the box knocking against the empty Coke and Fanta Orange cans, which he'd hidden under the seat earlier. Exhibits B, C, D and E.

Bennie wiped his hands down the front of his jacket and swore as he transplanted white streaks of powdered sugar from his fingertips onto his lapels. He swore again, unclipped his seat belt, pulled off his jacket, balled it up and tossed it onto the back seat, which was littered with newspapers. If Felicia found that donut box and those cans, he'd be sleeping on the couch for weeks. But at least the mystery of why his wife was losing weight at a rate of knots, and he wasn't, would be solved. Shame, he felt quite bad about it, she was genuinely baffled. She swore by this new Banting diet, and had banished all carbs and sugar from their home. Puzzled when this didn't work for him, she'd cut down his dairy intake and increased his fats even further, but with no joy, and she couldn't figure out why. The answer was simple, really: gatsbys.

He checked his moustache in the rear-view mirror again before getting out the car. He used to keep count of the crime scenes, but he gave that up when he hit triple digits. These days, there were more crime scenes in South Africa than non-crime scenes.

But this one was different. A celebrity had been assaulted. Professor Tim Noakes, the diet guru. Bennie nodded at the team of cops lurking outside the front of Noakes's large, leafy property in Constantia, cordoning off the area.

‘Evening,' Bennie greeted two of the policemen standing closest to the front gate.

‘Morning,' one of the cops responded.

Bennie looked at his watch; the cop was right, the little hand was on three and the big hand was on half-past exhaustion and overtime. ‘Okay, gents, let's do what we can to keep the media's noses out of this one for as long as possible. This case is going to be hot.'

‘We got it covered, Detective,' the other policeman said.

If only, Bennie thought. Police communications weren't safe anymore; there was always someone listening in, or filming stuff on their cell phone and leaking it online, even selling it to a magazine or newspaper for a pile of cash. He'd bet money that a squeeze or cousin of the dispatch agent who'd taken the emergency call when the attack had first been reported had already updated their Facebook status with the news.

Hard to believe a dieting guru could be such a huge deal. But celebrity didn't mean so much here. In South Africa, a celebrity could be someone with more than five thousand followers on Twitter, or a beat-boxer who got kicked out of
Idols
in round two, or even a blogger who ranted about mommy issues. When you don't have a lot to look up to, you don't end up looking very high.

As Bennie entered the property, he spotted the EMS team hurrying out of the house towards him with a body on a gurney.

‘That him?' he asked as they walk-ran the gurney towards the ambulance. He squinted at the body through the gloom. The victim appeared to be in his sixties. He had a slim build and even prone, Bennie could tell he was tall, definitely over six feet. He was wearing a black knitted beanie, a long-sleeved, dark-blue sweatshirt, black jeans and a pair of takkies. His lined face was a mask of blood.

The EMTs nodded.

‘And?' Bennie asked the one closest to him. He didn't recognise either of them – they looked barely out of their teens. He knew most of the Metro Ambulance guys – they were all in it together, this shitty daily grind of blood and guts – but these two must be new.

The younger of the two glanced nervously at his companion, then blurted: ‘He's um . . . bleeding from the nose and. . .'

The other one, looking exhausted, filled in, his words racing. ‘White male, head injuries, potential head trauma. He has a faint pulse, but he's in critical condition. Sir, problem is. . .'

‘Detective,' Bennie corrected him.

‘Detective, problem is,' the EMT said as he pulled open the back of the ambulance, ‘a bus collided with a truck on the N1 about an hour ago. It's a real mess, so we're on skeleton crew and vehicles here. Which means we don't have the equipment or, to be honest, the expertise to deal with him.'

‘We need to get him to the hospital stat,' said the other kid as they fed the gurney into the ambulance.

Bennie rolled his eyes. These kids watched too much
Grey's Anatomy
– no doctor in South Africa ever actually said ‘stat'. He watched the ambulance – which had seen better days – tear down the street, cornering practically on two wheels, siren blaring, red lights flashing. Between budget cuts, uncontrolled short-staffing and corruption, it was a miracle anyone made it out alive these days.

 

THE PARAMEDICS

 

 

Wednesday 3:49am

 

 

S'bu's roar from the back of the ambulance could only mean one thing, and it wasn't good. Zayne risked a glance back over his shoulder and saw S'bu, slumped, shaking his head. Zayne turned back to keep his eye on the road – the ambulance handled like a tank, and he needed to concentrate.

‘Everything okay back there, bru?' he called.

‘I did everything I could,' S'bu yelled back.

‘I know you did,' Zayne said.

‘You should probably turn off the siren.'

‘Howcome?'

‘Well, we're not in a hurry anymore. He's already late.'

Zayne turned off the siren and drove in silence for a minute. He didn't know what to say.

‘Pull over,' S'bu instructed, ‘and I'll come join you up front. Then we should probably do a U-ey.'

‘Howcome?' Zayne said.

‘The morgue's in the other direction.'

 

THE COP

 

 

Wednesday 3:52am

 

 

Once he'd seen the ambulance off, Bennie chatted to the cops outside Noakes's house and made a few notes in the pocket-sized notebook he always kept with him. Then he stepped through the front door and followed the sound of a camera lens clicking towards the kitchen, where a crime scene photographer was recording the room at every angle, his shoes shod in standard-issue crime-scene booties.

‘Slim,' Bennie greeted him. The photographer's shift must have finished an hour ago, and it was unlikely in current circumstances that the man would be paid overtime. Bennie didn't know how or why these guys put up with it.

‘Howzit, Bennie,' Slim said, nodding soberly, then returning to his viewfinder. They'd seen each other three hours earlier: similar scene, different location.

The chairs around the kitchen table had been knocked over, and the glass door leading from outside into the kitchen was wide open. The handle had been neatly removed, clearly so that someone could gain entry. There were splinters of a shattered UCT-branded mug on the floor, and something spilled and pooled around it – tea, perhaps. Bennie also took note of the blood spatters across the kitchen counter, some on the floor and on the back of a chair, as well as bloodied handprints against the wall.

A man in a bulletproof vest, a large crested logo and the words Jabulani Security printed on it, appeared through a second door that connected the kitchen to a formal lounge.

‘Hey,' Bennie said, nodding at the Jabulani guard.

‘Hey, Detective,' the guard said back.

Private security companies were big business in South Africa. Just about every middle-class home and most businesses were linked to
an alarm or carefully placed emergency buttons, which were in turn linked to a security company call centre. Bennie had done the maths and often wondered if he was in the wrong business. Maybe it's what he would do one day when he was ready to retire – if he made it that far without a triple bypass or a fatal stab wound.

‘Who called it in?' Bennie asked.

‘The domestic worker, her name is Gloria Ngeju. She pressed the panic button at 2:50am. She had just come back from a three-week trip to the Eastern Cape for a funeral. The bus had broken down for several hours en route, so she was very late getting home. When she arrived, she noticed the back door was open, and looked in. She saw her boss lying over there, face down on the floor. And then she saw the blood. She screamed, ran to her flat at the back of the property and locked herself in, scared the attacker was still in the house. Then she pressed the alarm button. I was first on the scene and I called it in to our dispatch, who called the police and the ambulance.'

‘Where's the rest of the family?' Bennie asked.

‘There was nobody else here. There's a wife; neighbours say they're always together. She's not here, and nobody has been able to get hold of her,' the security guard said. ‘But it is the middle of the night, so maybe she has her phone off wherever she is, or something? Or maybe they kidnapped her? Burglary gone wrong?'

‘Maybe,' Bennie said, and made a few more notes. Everyone thought they were a detective these days. He blamed it on all the cop shows on TV. ‘Did . . . er . . . Mrs Ngeju say if anything's been stolen from the house, if anything important has been moved, perhaps, or broken?' he asked.

‘She's not sure, but she's very shaken and quite hysterical. She's been working for the family for twelve years. The EMS guys gave her something to calm her down. There were also a lot of neighbours here. They must have come when they heard her screaming. So I sent them home, to try keep the crime scene as clean as possible.'

‘Great, thanks, good job,' Bennie said. Christ, nosy neighbours, that's just what he needed. ‘You know what the press is like with celebrities. We're going to have them and a bunch of lawyers crawling up our arses in about a minute.'

‘Who is he?' the security guard asked.

Bennie stepped carefully around the broken mug and crouched down so he could examine the markings indicating where the body had been found. He felt his belt stretch and divide his boep as he bent.

‘Professor Tim Noakes,' Bennie said.

‘That diet guy?'

‘That's the one.'

The security guard whistled. ‘Who would want to hurt that oke?'

‘I reckon there's probably a queue. Hell, I've been wanting to kill him myself for months,' Bennie said, rising back up to his full height and adjusting his waistband. Bending down like that was too uncomfortable.

‘Hey, has anyone seen the fingerprinting guy yet?' Bennie called out.

‘He just called,' the photographer said. ‘He said he's having a problem, but he's coming as fast as he can.'

‘What kind of problem?'

‘Something to do with load-shedding.'

 

BOOK: Death By Carbs
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