The chestnut-coloured mare trotted across the field towards them. Sand and Gabi watched the powerful animal until it reached the fence and the rider dismounted. A stable hand met her and led the horse away. Brit Moen walked across the cobbled yard, removing her hat and gloves.
Sand tried to match the sophisticated woman in front of him with the distraught, tear-stained woman he had last seen sitting in her kitchen, vomiting into her sink, after discovering her dear cat, Bjarne, decapitated and gutted in her back garden. The toned and confident brunette that now greeted him was like another person completely.
When Captain Pedersen had seen the note Gabi and Sand had found at Frogner Park, he had taken Sand’s theory seriously.
‘So, if this is linked to the Eckberg case, and Eckberg is dead, who is doing it?’ Pedersen asked them when they got back to the office.
Sand shrugged. ‘No idea. And why now?’
‘An aggrieved relative, maybe? Do you have any leads?’
‘Not much. The old man who delivered the flowers with the note is a homeless man who says a woman paid him to do it. He’s given us a description but he knows nothing else.’
‘So we have A for Anders, we know he’s out to get you. B is Bjarne the original victim that Eckberg killed and the cat found dead yesterday. C is Camilla,’ Gabi paused her summary and looked at Sand as she mentioned his wife.
‘I don’t see how she fits into it,’ Sand said, betraying no emotion. ‘She died of cancer, she couldn’t have been murdered.’
‘Maybe the killer sees it as justice. A sign that God or fate or the devil is on his side.’ Pedersen hypothesised. ‘Okay, until we have anything more all we have is a dead cat and flowers stolen from a grave. Any idea who or what the letter D target is going to be?’
‘Not really. The case was so long ago, I need to go over the original files and see if anything jumps out. There must be some connection between the cat that was killed and Eckberg, other than the name. I’d like to talk to the owner again.’ Sand said.
‘Okay,’ Pedersen agreed and dismissed them.
When Gabi and Sand called at the address of Brit Moen they learned from a cleaning lady that she had gone to the nearby stables to ride her horse. ‘A real animal lover,’ Sand muttered as they got back in the car.
Now the rejuvenated Ms. Moen stood in front of them. ‘I was wondering when you would come back,’ she said.
‘You were expecting us?’ Gabi asked.
‘I must apologise for the state you last saw me in.’ Brit Moen replied, ignoring Gabi’s question and addressing Sand. ‘I was in shock. Poor Bjarne, you understand.’
‘Of course. Have you had any more thoughts as to who might have wished you or Bjarne harm?’ Sand asked.
‘You mean you haven’t pieced it together yet, Detective Sand? Have I changed so much in twenty years? I knew you didn’t recognise me yesterday.’
Sand felt a chill down his spine. He tried to picture the woman in front of him as a younger person. There was a hint of something familiar. It couldn’t be that though.
‘Brigette?’ he asked, scarcely believing it.
‘I changed my surname and shortened my given name of course. After Jules became notorious I wanted to disappear from public view.’
‘Wait, who are you?’ Gabi interrupted.
‘Jules Eckberg’s younger sister,’ Sand explained, not taking his gaze off of the woman.
‘You should be afraid, Sand. I can’t control him anymore.’ Moen said.
‘Control who?’ Sand asked. Gabi could sense the anger rising in her partner.
‘Your son killed your cat?’
Moen nodded. ‘He didn’t appreciate my commemoration to Bjarne.’
‘Why would that upset him?’ Gabi asked, puzzled.
It was Sand that answered. ‘Because Jules Eckberg is his father, isn’t he?’
For the first time a flicker of genuine emotion crossed Brit Moen’s face. ‘You have finally caught up, Detective.’
‘But you said Eckberg was your brother?’ Gabi said. As she said it, realisation dawned.
Sand picked up the explanation. ‘We knew your brother abused you. He got you pregnant?’
Moen looked away. ‘Yes. I had the child. He was born with difficulties. Not physically, but mentally. He suffered from severe Asperger’s growing up. I thought we were past the worst of it. Somehow he found out who his father really was. I never told him the truth. He was born just before Jules killed Bjarne Johansen. Something snapped in him. He became obsessed. You saw what he did to the cat.’
‘You delivered the note and instructions for him to the homeless man?’ Sand asked.
‘You have to understand I was scared. Scared of my own son. He has become just as I remember Jules. Memories I have tried to bury for years I now see alive before me in him.’
‘What is he planning to do?’
‘After he told me to deliver the note he disappeared. I have no idea where he has gone. I just know he is coming for you Sand, and anyone else he holds responsible for taking his father from him.’
‘Why didn’t you tell us this yesterday?’ Sand asked.
‘Whatever he is, whatever he does, he’s my son. I won’t stand in your way, but nor will I help you catch him. So far he has done no harm to anyone.’
Sand believed her. ‘Detective Henriksen will have to take you in for more questioning before we decide if we should charge you with anything.’
Gabi took Moen by the arm and began leading her towards the car. Sand stopped her as she passed him.
‘I am sorry for what happened to you,’ he said to her.
Moen gave him a resigned look. ‘I loved my son. He was the only good thing to come from Jules’ life.’
Sand watched Gabi put Brit Moen in the back of the car. ‘You take her to the station. I need time to think. Question her, but go easy.’ Gabi nodded and got into the car.
Sand walked over to the paddock fence. Four racing horses were grazing. Thoroughbreds, sleek and powerful. Full of pent up energy waiting to be released. When Sand had been investigating the Eckberg case that was how he had felt. Now he was an old gelding ready to be put out to pasture. He wasn’t sure he was ready to face evil again, and evil was coming for him.
This is part eight of my A to Z Challenge 2017. Apologies for the extended length of this entry, tomorrow’s will be shorter! More information on the challenge, and other stories and blogs taking part in it, can be found HERE.
Throughout April I hope to publish a section a day, relating to a letter of the alphabet, which in the end will make up a continuous story, all based round the objects found in this children’s jigsaw:
Other entries in the challenge, and a version of the final complete, joined up story can be found here: A TO Z CHALLENGE 2017.
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