|The two women
slowly walked along the terrace and cautiously avoided every subsidence.
The late autumn sun was low and its light cast long shadows in the
extensive, worn out garden.
Mia B. was a stout woman of about
forty-five years of age. Her hairs were gray and on her face were quite
a few wrinkles. Her gray eyes looked into the world with sadness.
Carol V. was her opposite in every way.
She was a little woman, somewhat plump, with brown hairs and brown
twinkling eyes. When you looked at her you'd say she was at least ten
years younger than Mia, but in fact she was a few months older. Mia
looked around the neglected garden.
'It is such a pity that no one feel
obliged to take care of it,' she said. 'It could be such a beautiful
place.' 'I think it has a charm of its own,' Carol replied. 'This old ramshackle castle and its worn out, overgrown garden tells
us a lot more than a new, perfectly arranged site.' 'Too much is
falling to pieces,' Mia said. 'The world is coming apart under our
hands. That's why I had to do it, you understand?'
Carol looked at her friend's profile.
She knew Mia for over thirty years and they had always shared good and
bad times. Mia had no secrets for her. That was at least what she had
thought until Mia had called her this afternoon and urged her to meet
her at the old castle. Carol was stunned by the tone of her friend's
voice but she had of course agreed.
'Mia, you are upset. Why?'
you know how long ago it is? Five years, three months and sixteen
days.' Carol glanced at her watch. 'And four hours. Why do you keep
torturing yourself with it?' 'We had to hear it on the radio!
Because the police said they hadn't had time to inform the relatives!' 'They did inform us, didn't they?'
'They had to! What else could
they do? Confirm that the woman journalist was there before them and
knew everything before the coppers even had a clue?' 'Come on, Mia,
that was a coincidence. She was driving past the site when it
happened!' 'And instead of calling 911 she got out and started
taking pictures.' 'Well, that is her job. Besides, I don't think
there was much she could do.
The guy was completely
unsusceptible to reason.' 'But my Robert is dead, Carol, just as
your Chris is.' 'We won't get them back by mourning, Mia. And the
guy was sentenced.' 'Sentenced? Don't make me laugh.' 'Why, do
you think it's fun to be on a closed ward of an institution?' 'If he
would really be irresponsible for his actions he wouldn't even know he'd
be there! Sentenced. Phew!' 'Somebody who kills his former
colleagues just because he was laid off, is ill.' 'Correct me if I'm
wrong. But wasn't he laid off because he stole and sold company secrets
to the Iraqis? How can you still hold on to your opinion that he was
Carol carefully took the four steps
that led down from the terrace and kept silent for a while. It didn't
really matter what she said. Mia wouldn't listen. They still were best
friends, but the dead of their respective husbands had driven them
'I didn't believe a word of it,'
Mia continued. 'I mean, just look at the papers. They are filled with
words like 'domestic problems', 'difficult upbringing', 'extenuating circumstances' and all. It is as if there are no
criminals anymore. These days everybody is a victim of anything! And
don't expect psychiatrists to deny that. They just jump into the market
and make a fortune keeping the carousel going.'
'Now you are exaggerating.
Today's society is a demanding one...' 'Sure, defend him as well.
But I still think that if you can't handle the life you live, you'll
have to step out of it instead of killing innocent others. And the more
I thought of that, the more I came to the conclusion I couldn't leave it
Carol turned her head and squeezed her
eyes. It was as if a knot was tied to her stomach. Mia held still, took
a pack of cigarettes from her coat and pulled one out. She lit herself
with a miniature gun. Carol looked at the barrel that produced the small
flame and shook her head. 'That is quite a strange toy to see in your
Mia looked at the lighter and shrugged
her shoulders. 'You're the one who's always telling me to lighten up.
And he loved it. Don't you want to know what happened?' 'What would
you do if I said no?' 'I'd force you to listen.' 'Then what is
the difference?' 'I want to talk to my friend. Not to some distant
goat who could just as well be my counselor.' 'You know I'm not.
What happened? Or should I ask what you have done?'
Mia took a hard draw and exhaled a big
cloud of smoke. 'I had to gain his confidence. I just had to know what
was really going on inside that monstrous brain of his.' 'Did you go
visit him?' Carol couldn't hold back the astonishment she felt. 'What did you think? continue>