Part 1: Victims
“The oaf is lying!” Chief-inspector Petterson studied Pierre’s face through squinted eyes. “Nobody but him killed that cook’s boy!”
Petterson was fed up with Pierre Malarmé, but he managed to stay calm in the afternoon heat of his office. He hated the arrogant look in the pale-blue eyes across from him and the way the fat chef hid his milk-white hands under the table. So what, the man had won a Michelin star, he had some stars of his own! The guy had a penchant for sharp knives and a dislike for young Carl and that’s all he came down to now.
Petterson leant forwards and shoved the photo of Carl with the ugly stab wounds in Pierre’s direction.
“Recognize the boy this way?”
“I told you, I didn’t touch the boy,” the chef’s voice was hoarse but clear. “I heard him say he was going to Antwerp. I don’t think it’s him in the picture.”
“Ha!” Petterson laughed a cheerless laugh, “remember this is an interrogation, Mr Malarmé! You doubt this is Carl? He was identified by his mother this morning!”
Even an inspector is entitled to a little white lie once in a while. He longed for a bath and a malt whisky.
“Now, Mr Malarmé, can we once again return to what you were doing last night between 23:00pm and 2:00am?”
“I already told you, I closed the restaurant at midnight and went home and straight to bed.”
“Sleek French rat,” the inspector thought, “waterboarding is what you deserve!”
Part 2: The killing of Carl
Carl fell down on the mossy bank of the River Scheldt panting heavily. He had never been this frightened before, running along the river for miles and leaving civilization far behind him. He had to lie down in the dark shelter of the moonless night, just needed a minute to catch his breath and quieten the mad-whirling thoughts that juggled through his head like sets of angry knives. Why had he dared to provoke the stern Monsieur Pierre? Was it because he wanted to show Bella he wasn’t afraid of the new chef? Just to see her giggle over the plates near the dishwasher? She had such cute dimples when she chuckled. But everybody was terrified of Malformé, as they secretly called him. The way he was always groping or hacking into pieces of red meat when Carl looked in his direction. Those fish-blue eyes, the rasping sound of sharpening knives. Carl shuddered at the recollections.
The wet grass permeated his body and he felt how the chill of the mist rose from the water to envelope him. He pricked up his ears at a sloshing sound. Oars! He had been followed!
Through the blue haze that lingered over the ink-blue water, Carl saw a rowing boat slowly coming towards him. He ducked even deeper in the tall grass and stopped breathing. From his hiding place he saw how the silhouette of his boss under the lantern that was attached to the mast. He was coming to kill him.
“Jesus!” Carl cursed, waking up and sweating blood.