zaterdag 30 april 2016

Chateau Rouge: Chapter 8

8. More or less suspicious

Chief Inspector Leclercq was formally and unyielding. Jean-Pierre had to go with him to headquarters. Nonetheless,  for now, he had no reason to arrest him, he thought the shawl and the place of the crime were more or less suspicious.
'Just routine, Madam Baroness,' he answered Katarina. 'We want to put a few things in order. Maybe your friend Jean-Pierre, unconsciously, knows something that later on will spring to his mind. With the technical investigation forces here at two places in the castle, it's becoming a pandemonium. At headquarters it's calm. You may ride along although you can't be present at the interrogation. Maybe it's even better this way. His first impressions have to be personally and not colored by remarks of other witnesses. If you know what I mean.'
Katarina nodded rather hesitatingly. She didn't know what to think of it. Was Leclercq treating Jean-Pierre now as a suspect and did he still want to arrest him after that interrogation? Or did he mean what he said about influencing his testimony? She hardly knew the police officer. Katarina had already heard Cecile's boyfriend speaking of the man, but she never had met him before.
'Maybe you're right, Chief Inspector. I wish I could go with you though it's maybe better I stay here to look everything is going as it should during the period your men and the technical investigation forces are busy. '
Leclercq nodded and signaled his adjunct. 'Francois, will you get the car. I'm driving with Jean-Pierre to headquarters to sort things out. You manage here. You know the drill, it's time you stand on your own feet. I suppose can drive along with someone after the activities here.'
Jean-Pierre hugged Katarina for a moment and put her mind at ease. 'I'll be back soon. I understand these men.  We have to do anything we can to find out who committed this crime so that they can arrest them as soon as possible.' He gave his sister, Marie-Anne, a quick kiss on the cheek. She stood there looking a bit dismayed, overwhelmed by the activity of the French police and the unexpected leaving of her brother.
The car, a Renault Mégane III, had been driven along by the young police deputy and Leclercq took his place, although he rather had some difficulty when he nestled himself behind the steering wheel of the fast car. Jean-Pierre knew something about automobiles en he was aware that theoretically this car could easily drive faster than 200 km/h and it could reach 100km/h in less than 6 seconds.  The motor of 265 bhp was very powerful. Only he wasn't sure about the driving skills of the older police officer when he saw the man even had difficulties in attaching his safety-belt.
Then Leclercq tore away with the Renault and Jean-Pierre immediately experienced the man was an expert driver. The police officer obviously didn't respect the speed limit and cut the curves as a seasoned race pilot, while he barely placed his foot on the brake. Jean-Pierre swallowed for a moment and was holding to his seat in a forced manner. Before they arrived at the highway, they had to pass a piece of a forest through which the way meandered. A beautiful piece of green this time went past him without noticing.
Halfway after a curve, the inspector had to use his full weight to hit the break. A bicycle was laying in the middle of the road and certainly would have damaged the chassis if he had driven over it. Fortunately and with screeching brakes they came to a halt at a distance of about half a meter.
Jean-Pierre unconsciously had held his breath, but now he showed his dissatisfaction. 'I know your time is money, but there's no reason to get us killed by driving too fast.'
The Chief Inspector hadn't listened to his lamentation. He looked in his rear-view mirror and to his left and right side. When he shifted the car into reverse, he got a grim expression on his face. Now Jean-Pierre looked yet more surprised. He thought the police officer had seen a ghost.
But when he saw the two masked men on both sides of their car coming out of the wood pointing a machine gun at them, he knew why Leclercq while cursing tried to escape from the attackers.
There were several gunshots as a result of the car was immobilized. For a moment, Jean-Pierre heard the screeching sound of the wheels from which the tires were shot leaky. Then all went silent.
'What's going on, Chief Inspector?' he shouted, but when he didn't receive an answer he looked alongside to the driver. A small amount of blood was running out of the mouth of the police officer. A larger stain of blood colored red in the area of his belly. The man was fatally shot and looked with a glassy gaze in front of him, although he was still breathing.
Four men, two of them who were approaching from the backside of the car accompanying the other two who had shot, opened the doors.
'What does this mean? Take everything, our money or the car, but please call an ambulance or you'll have a murder on your conscience.' Jean-Pierre's thoughts at this moment were only for the dying police officer. Without help, he would surely die.
'Mister Jean-Pierre, will you step out of the car or do we have to force you? Your choice.'
Jean-Pierre wanted to say something, but a bullet went past his head and smashed the side window on his side, and it made him figuratively swallow his words. He got out of the car very fast.
One of the men pulled a black cap over his head and cuffed his hands behind his back. He heard the sound of an off-road vehicle in which they pushed him with skilled hands on the backseat of this SUV. He was surprised he almost didn't feel frightened. His anger because of the cowardly treatment of the Chief Inspector made him grind his teeth. He feared for the life of this man who had treated him just a moment ago as a possible suspect.

© Rudi J.P. Lejaeghere

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