“You are very nifty with these fingers, Sergeant Holoubek”, Inspector Barbora Kucera whispered while standing behind him. He was busy typing out a report on his laptop and the hot breath of Barbora did not make it easier for him. They still wanted to keep their relation out of the knowledge of their colleagues, but on times like these Jaro really disliked that.
Although they were in the room they shared at the police station he knew that any moment somebody could enter the room. He felt his superior putting a hand in his neck and sliding it slowly into his shirt. She decided to make it even more difficult for him by licking in his left ear and breathing heavily in it.
He was almost relieved when the phone on Barbora’s desk rang. With a sigh and a disappointed face she walked towards her desk and answered. “Yes, I’m coming up”, she said after listening a few seconds. “They need me upstairs, the Commissioner himself rang me. But I will be back for more soon.” She winked at Jaro and left the room.
When she came back he was just finishing his work on the laptop, filed it and send it away. “We are going to make a trip to the province, Jaro. We better go and pack our things here and some clothes from home. This might take some days.” Her Sergeant looked at her questioningly. “Where are we going?”
While they were collecting the things they needed from their desks and putting them in a bag Barbora told Jaro that they were assigned to solve a murder in the little village of Morina. In Morina was only a rural policeman, there was no police station. It would be a bit inconvenient to work from their normal desks and the top of the force wanted to make an impression, so the Commissioner already had rented two rooms for them in Bed and Breakfast in the village. They could work from there and if needed they could get a work container placed somewhere in the village, but that was for them to decide.
On their way to Morina, while Jaro was driving, Barbora started her laptop and put a memory stick in it. “Our new case”, she said. She read for some time and then nodded: she understood what it was all about.
She explained to Jaro that this was about the killing of the housekeeper and model of the famous painter Radek Kovac. The sergeant shrugged because the name was not familiar to him. But according to his superior he was world famous. The man lived on a former farm with his son Petr, who was 12 years old. He was a widower and so needed a housekeeper. This had been Jana Novakova for lots of years, but since a few years her granddaughter Jitka had taken over during summer when she didn’t have to go to university. Barbora showed a picture of the girl and Jaro whistled approvingly.
Radek was doing seminars in painting during the months of summer and had nine students from all over the world staying in his huge house. The former barn was used as a studio. It was here that Jitka had been found, while she obviously was waiting for the students to have finished their lunch in the main building. According to the report of the local police man everybody had been in the dining room except for the boy Petr who had been in school.
Jaro asked how the girl was killed. “She was killed by a floret, normally used for fencing. Don’t ask me why that thing was in the studio.”, Barbora answered. “What type of students were at the house of Kovac?”, the sergeant wanted to know. His superior didn’t know the answer, just that they came from all over Europe and probably didn’t meet the victim before.
Soon Jaro noticed that they left Prague behind them and were out in the country; the further they got from the capital the more quiet the road became. Once in a while there were lorries going in the opposite direction, normal passenger cars were becoming more and more rare. A few times they got stuck behind a farmer’s tractor and had to follow it for miles and miles before they got off the road. Taking over seemed to be very tricky; Jaro didn’t want to risk their lives.
Morina was a very small village, so it was very easy to find their B&B. The name “Waldlust” was written in old fashioned Germanic letters on the wall. It was an obvious attempt to attract German tourists and the name was a bit weird considering the lack of forests in the area. The place was surrounded by an unending sight of farming fields.
They parked their car and went inside to talk to the owner. Mister Havlicek was a bit of age; he told them he had done this place up by himself. Downstairs was the living space of him and his wife. Upstairs was completely independent with an own entrance at the back with a metal stairway to get there. They had two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a small kitchen fit for making coffee or tea and had microwave for emergencies. Havlicek had to laugh about these words, added that they would make sure the police officers didn’t need the thing. Breakfast and other meals (on request) were provided downstairs in the dining room.
Barbora and Jaro filled in the papers Havlicek asked them to fill and got the keys. She went upstairs while the sergeant got the suitcases and the laptops they had taken along. When he got in, she was comparing the rooms. “This one will be our headquarters and the other one our bedroom. Okay?” He nodded. “Just give me a hand with this…”, she pointed in the direction of the twin beds separated by bedside tables. They put the beds next to each other and the bed side tables on the outside.
In the other room, their headquarters, they pushed one bed to the wall, turned the other one upside down on top and the bedside tables also to the wall. The table and two chairs from the first room were set next to the table and chairs that were already there. “Now we only need a board or a flip over or such. I will make a request tomorrow. For now we just have a little time left to visit the family of the victim.”
The house of the Novakovas was not hard to find in this small village. The grandmother opened the door for them. She was an elderly woman who showed the signs of a hard working life. She was a bit skin and bones and her betrayed that she had been crying a lot the last time. Even so she was very friendly and had no problem of having the police taking a look in the bedroom of her murdered grandchild. Walking them up to the room she told Jaro and Barbora that the girl’s parents had moved to Australia a few years before. Jitka had stayed behind because she was in her last year in school and had stayed over here. The last years she only came over during the summer months because normally she was living near the university. The old woman told them too that she had been looking for a diary, she knew Jitka kept one. She had been searching the whole room, but could not find it. After these words she left them to do their job and went downstairs.
For Barbora and Jaro it was quite obvious that the girl did not spend a lot of her time in that room for the last years. It still was breathing a sort of teenage spirit with pictures of some famous pop groups on the wall that were at their top a few years before. She never bothered to take them down. While Jaro looked under the bed and in the wardrobe, Barbora went through the contents of the drawers of her bedside table and a little desk that was placed under the window.
“I wish we could find that diary! That would be gold for us!”, but disappointed she shook her head; it was not there. Besides clothes, shoes and make-up, Jaro didn’t find anything interesting. He had a look behind mirrors and on top of the wardrobe, but shook his head too. Barbora shrugged, it would have been too good to be true.
Downstairs the grandma agreed that if they would find the diary elsewhere that they could take the diary along; for what it was worth, they would take it without her consent too. Jaro had been brooding on something and now he came up with it. “Surely, you did not take the cleaning job up again when Jitka became a model for Radek?” he asked the old woman. She shook her head: “No, for these weeks this has been taken on by Madam Havliceka. Yes, from the B&B Waldlust.”
When they were back in their quarters he still was a bit grumpy about it: “Havlicek could have told us about this! It could have speeded things up a bit. Oh, well, we’ll have to ask her about the artist’s world and his followers during breakfast. Which is between 7 and 9:30 AM I read between the fire escape instructions and the lay out of the building. The last thing is utter nonsense I can tell you everything about the construction of the building already and I’ve only been here for a few hours.” Barbora did not join in into his moaning, instead she asked him about going to bed now or to try to get a drink somewhere in these outskirts of the world. He was feeling just as tired and so the decision to go to bed was quickly made.
They squeezed into one of the beds together and Jaro started to sigh which showed his agitation far too good for Barbora’s taste. “Shh, you grumpy old beast!” and he sensed her head going towards his limp dick. He totally was not in the mood for anything that even resembled sex, but she managed to get him stiff and silent. He could sense his dick throbbing within seconds, ready for an explosion and he could not stop himself letting out some sounds that seemd to come from his underbelly. “This is the moaning I do like to hear coming from you”, she said, letting him go for a few moments. When he felt like doing some more than just letting her sucking him off, she did that little trick with her hands under his balls and he came with a sound that reminded her of a sob.
“And now just hold me and sleep!”, she demanded. And he could not do anything else than obey.
In the morning he felt like a very old man. He had been sleeping on the two edges of the neighbouring matrasses and he could hardly get out of bed. Barbora guided him into the bathroom and nodded approvingly, seeing it had the shower. For this morning this was the bathroom she wanted. He went into the cubicle a bit sheepishly, but reacted well when she started to rub his back while the hot water made his muscles relax. Without wanting it his penis started to become erect, more and more waving like a little flagpole.
“Ah, it’s alive!”, Barbora exclaimed and started to spread shower gel from a tube all over his dick and balls. “Now I can see it with my own eyes instead of with my tongue”, she laughed and gave this object some gentle jerks. Her lovely way of handling it made Jaro forget about his painful back and soon his fluids mixed with the soap she had so generous applied. “Feeling better now?”, Barbora asked. “What about you?” , he was able to say after some time. Barbora assured him it was perfect like it was and rinsed her body with the full stream of water while Jaro started to dry himself. She followed him quite soon and they got dressed.
The dining room or rather breakfast room was soon found and while they were making plans for the day, the owner of the B&B showed up with coffee. “My wife is frying some eggs for you, if you like.” They nodded at the same time, felt quite hungry, so he went back to the kitchen to tell her. “YES, THEY WOULD LIKE FRIED EGGS!”, they heard him shout.
Soon she appeared in the dining room with two plates with fried eggs and placed them in front of them. “We heard you clean up for Mr.Kovac. Did you ever see something out of the ordinary over there?”, Barbora asked. The big grey woman spoke loud in reply: “Yes, salt and pepper are on your table.”
“Forget it, Barbora.”, Jaro said, “you might as well ask this to one of the chairs. She is almost deaf. I’m sure she really did not hear anything out of the ordinary. Probably did not hear anything.” Mrs.Havliceka nodded approvingly: “Yes, it is nice weather, even for this time of the year.” She turned around and went back to the kitchen.
They ate their breakfast and asked for more coffee when Mr.Havlicek came back to the room. He apologised for any inconvenience his wife might have given. She was too stubborn to see that she needed a hearing aid. When the owner of the B&B came back with a can of coffee, he was accompanied by a policeman in uniform. He sort of saluted and introduced himself, he was the village policeman called Adam Bunda. He already knew their names and he put an envelope in front of Barbora. “The pictures of the murder victim”, he added.
“First we start with coffee, my friend!”, Jaro announced and he asked Havlicek to bring a cup or a mug for Adam. The owner of Waldlust poored the coffee for Adam when Jaro came up with an idea. “Can I please get a piece of paper and some tape from you? Room number one will be our headquarters and I will mark it like that. Would you please tell the staff that this room should not be entered, not even to be cleaned.” Havlicek nodded and brought what Jaro had asked for.
The uniformed policeman wanted to open the envelope but Barbora shook her head. “Not here”, we’ll have a look in our “headquarters” and talk things over. This is not something for the public. Adam understood and put the envelope back on the table.
Gathering of the facts
Jaro looked approvingly at his creation on the door. “HQ of POLICE. NO ENTRANCE” he had written in big letters. “Almost professional”, Barbora laughed and they invited Adam to sit down at the table. Jaro took the laptops of the table and the envelope was placed there instead.
Adam took the photos out and pointed at the lethal wound. It was exactly in a heart that was drawn on the victim’s chest. “I think it is a ritual murder. I think she was sacrificed in some satanical celebration.” Jaro was about to laugh, but noticed that the uniformed policeman was quite serious. “Let us not jump to conclusions too soon, Adam”, Barbora Kucera reacted.
On the other photos the place where Jitka was found was showed. It was in the front of the studio, a bit away the easels could be seen. There were two weapons, one fence was in Jitka’s right hand. She was wearing white gloves. On a table a fencer’s mask could be seen and the other weapon. On it there was a cap, like you always see them in tournaments.
There were also photos of the house and the studio. The studio was the former barn; in between the house and the studio was a yard. To come to the yard that led to the house and the studio was a sort of gate, a brick building around it, almost looking like a house, which was quite high. From the house and the studio you would see anyone who would enter that gate. It all looked very solid.
Barbora and Jaro nodded towards Adam, this all was clear enough for them. Jaro wanted to hear from Adam Kunda if he knew anything about a relation between Radek Kovac and Jitka Novakova. He only had heard some rumours that Mr.Kovac was more than interested in the girl, but so were a lot of men in the village. Himself included, he added. Such a lovely girl! Of course Kovac was a widower and was raising a child on his own, the whole village expected him to remarry for years now.
The next thing Jaro and Barbora wanted to know was who the participants were in the seminar. Adam Kunda took his little notebook out of his uniform. He had the list quite ready for them.
There were nine participants:
Roel and Margriet Verhoeff from the Netherlands, aged 35 and 31;
Bob and Jane Campbell from the United Kingdom, aged 39 and 29;
Franz Sparwasser from Germany, aged 49;
Chris and Nicole Verstraaten from Belgium, aged 45 and 47;
Andras and Nusi Horvat from Hungary, aged 28 and 29.
According to Radek Kovac, Franz Sparwasser was added to the group after a German couple cancelled.
Adam Bunda could not add a lot to this information, he only could tell that Herr Sparwasser was quite a fat man and not very popular with the others.
Barbora and Jaro thanked him and after some talking about how the enquiries would be led by them Adam went away, back to his normal duties. Wherever possible he would be assisting the detectives from Prague.
They went by car to the house and studio of Radek Kovac. The description of it was right: it was a homestead originally built hundreds of years ago, the complex of buildings surrounded by a wall that almost gave it the appearance of a castle. In the walls was a gateway wide enough for a carriage, or in these modern days a car could pass through. On the left was what once had been barns, but now contained an enormous studio and two garages; on the right there was the main building, the house Radek was living in. The artist himself showed them a bit around.
The guests were all staying in the main house, that had six bedrooms and a huge dining room. Radek explained that normally his son would have his bedroom in the house too, but in the summer months he stayed in one of the two bedrooms above the studio. The other bedroom was used the last weeks by Jitka Novakova. The painter told Jaro and Barbora that it had been easier this way because of the evening sessions they sometimes did with his students.
Again he made clear that it would have been impossible for anybody to enter the house or the studio from outside unseen. From the dining room you had an excellent view on the studio and none of the guests, nor he himself had seen somebody enter through the gateway.
Barbora asked Radek to let Jaro and herself have access to Jitka’s bedroom. They went upstairs; it was easy to notice which room was the room of the son of the painter. The boy had pinned a sign on his door: KEEP OUT! THIS IS PETR’S ROOM! Of course they had a quick look: he had the small room decorated with posters of Superman, Spiderman and more of the Marvel heroes. It was a small room with just a bed, a bedside table and a wardrobe.
Next to it was a bathroom, it was quite simple and had only a shower, a toilet and a washbasin. On a shelf were two toothbrushes and two tubes of toothpaste. So the boy and Jitka had been sharing this room, Jaro thought aloud. There was also a separate bathroom with only a toilet and a washbasin; it was situated behind the other bedroom.
In that other bedroom were no posters. It was slightly bigger and contained next to the furniture the boy’s room had a sofa with a coffee table and a small refrigerator. There was even a very small kitchen that made it possible to make coffee or tea. Barbora and Jaro went through the room very thorough. In a suitcase that was as good as empty they found a few books and something else. “Bingo!”, Jaro cried out when he discovered the diary they had been looking for in the bedroom in her grandmother’s house.
Now they had what they wanted they could leave the estate of Radek Kovac. Barbora and Jaro did this after telling him his guests had to stay where they were during the investigations. According to the artist some were already complaining that they wanted to go home. Of course they did not come all the way over to his place to be confronted with murder and with their model gone there was not much to paint. “Let them do some work on still life and nature”, Jaro suggested, “I’m too busy to model for them myself.” Barbora warned him by just looking at him to be quiet, Radek Kovac pretended not to have heard his words.
Barbora explained to Kovac that they probably would want a word with everybody. The talks would be at their headquarters in the B & B. They would invite people by phone or would pick them up. The artist nodded, he understood and he said that he would tell his students that they had to stay. They already expected this.
Jaro looked around one more time: “I really don’t see how anybody could get to Jitka and murder her. Barbora reacted by saying that she thought that when they would know who did it, they probably also would know how it was done.
Back in their headquarters Barbora and Jaro found in front of their door a metal board on legs, a tape recorder with some tapes, stickers, markers, feltpens and sticky tape. They dragged the board in their office and put it next to one of the walls; the tape recorder and the tapes were placed on the table; the rest was placed under the metal board. Jaro wanted to change into something more comfortable and disappeared in their bedroom while Barbora started to read in the diary.
He came back in shorts and with a big smile on his face: “They gave us another mattress! No more gap to cause a sore back!” “Nice”, Barbora answered, without taking her eyes from the diary. “This thing is going to help us a lot, I think. I’m sure there are more diaries written by Jitka, but this one starts almost at the time she came over to model for these would-be-artists.”
“It seems Radek Kovac proposed twice to her. Was not very happy when she turned it down. She is saying that she feels a bit sorry for the boy, Radek obviously is searching for a new mother for his child, but she would never be able to be a sort of parent for him. They get along really well, he is quite smart for his age and is a sort of friend for her, one you can have a laugh with. Maybe we should invite the artist for a little talk this afternoon.”
Jarek was already on the phone and made him come over in a few hours; the man was not in, but buying supplies for his guests . Barbora wrote the time on the board and took hold of the diary again. Jarek went behind her chair and tried to read along. The handwriting of Jitka was too small for that and it made him feel a bit useless. He leaned a bit over Barbora and opened a few buttons of her blouse. She pretended not to notice and went on reading. His right hand disappeared in her blouse and he started playing with a nipple through her bra.
The pretty police officer sighed and turned a page. His hand came out of the blouse and went down until the buttons of her jeans were found. Barbora shifted a bit on her chair and made the unbuttoning a bit easier that way. His right hand disappeared again and now she could not pretend to be indifferent anymore. She moaned and got up from the chair. “These police sergeants get more and more demanding…” She took him by the hand and led him to their bedroom: ”We have two hours.”
By the time Radek Kovac knocked on their door they were very prepared for him. It had been a lovely time together, but now they were sharp and ready. After they had the painter sit down and switched on the tape-recorder Barbora immediately made clear that they wanted all the information he could give. “You did not tell us exactly what your connection to Jitka was. This doesn’t make a great impression on us, mister Kovac!”
Radek Kovac answered that he didn’t think this would be important towards the investigation. He apologised and declared he wanted to tell them everything they wanted. Jaro and Barbora nodded and asked him to start telling everything from the beginning.
So he started with the death of his wife and how he not only lost the love of his life but also his muse. He – the once so productive painter – could not find any inspiration to make new work after the disaster. His income went downhill: work that was in galleries was being sold and posters of his work, but this was not enough to keep the house and the studio running. His agent had come with the idea of seminars for amateurs and the extra income he made of it, was enough to continue having a decent lifestyle.
Because of the lesser income his son Petr could not stay the nights in the boarding school. Lucky for them it was possible to continue following the lessons and eating and sleeping at home. He had come to an agreement with the school for Petr to sleep at school when he had to attend exhibitions or lectures. They desperately needed the money.
Most of the times the father would pick up his son around three after school hours, but in the summer- close to the summer holidays – he would be taken along by other parents picking their child up from school. Petr now officially had just one week to go before summer holidays started, but his father had decided to keep him home. The school was okay with this. He was really in a miserable state because of the death of Jitka, who had meant so much to him. The holiday would be good for him.
Jitka also meant quite a lot to Radek himself. Because of her posing for him he was able to paint new work. And he admitted that he was smitten by her: she was so adorable. The fact that she could get along with Petr so well, made it clear for the painter that she would be the ideal wife for him. Last year he had propsed to her, only to hear that she had a boyfriend. Jitka expected him to propose to her soon in these days.
The boyfriend left her to study in Paris at the Sorbonne and broke up the relationship later that year, Radek had heard. So he had asked the lovely Jitka again to marry him. She refused again, saying that he was old enough to be her father and that she could not be a mother for Petr. The two of them played games, did silly things. They were almost like brother and sister to each other.
So Radek Kovac had done the only thing possible: he had asked her to stay on for the cleaning and the modelling. She already did the modelling for the seminar the last year and they agreed on continuing that too. The first one or two weeks the students did Still Life and nature studies and after that Jitka posed dressed in costumes or in the nude for the would-be artists. Things went very well; everybody always loved the girl.
There had been a few minor incidents with people who thought they could take advantage of her goodness, but it had not been a problem for Radek to sort things out. Of course he had wanted more from her. It could have been so great to have her as his lover, as his wife. She, Petr and himself could have been a very happy family. But things did not go like that. After that he fell silent.
Jaro stopped the tape-recorder, it was obvious that there was no more information coming from Radek this time. They thanked him and asked him to send or bring Franz Sparwasser to them for answering some questions.
While waiting for the German man Barbora and Jaro talked about what they had heard from Radek. It was quite obvious that the painter had been an admirer of Jitka and that he loves his son. There was no motive at all for him to murder his lovely model. It even sounded like he had hopes for a moment to arrive in which the girl would have agreed to marry him. So the detectives decided that they could take Radek Kovac’ name from their list of possible suspects.
There was a knock at the door about half an hour later: Franz Sparwasser. He was quite a big man, almost bald headed. He had taken the trouble to get himself in a suit and it was very clear that this was not a normal thing for him. The suit had probably been bought in slimmer days: he must have had trouble to squeeze himself in it. This made him quite uncomfortable; he was sweating like anything.
The German told Jaro and Barbora that he had been summoned by them to appear and that Radek had been so good to bring him here. He told them too that he was very shocked to be seeing a police investigation with himself involved. In Heidelberg he was a very respected man, being an unscrupulous accountant.
He was about to boast a bit more about himself, but Jaro stopped him. “Are you also unscrupulous with women, Herr Sparwasser?” The man nodded, but the police sergeant went on: “Didn’t you have an unpleasant encounter with Jitka?” He shook his head: it all had been a misunderstanding. Sparwasser just wanted to make a little joke, but the model had taken it seriously. Barbora stepped in and asked him about the times when he had invited the girl to his bedroom while she was posing. He had sneaked up behind her and had whispered indecent things. “Just some jokes, sir…” He sweated even more.
He had been warned by Radek about this and got his “final” warning a few days before the death of Jitka. He had sneaked up behind her again and had grabbed her breasts while shouting: “Guess who this is!” A bit like what people do with covering somebody’s eyes and asking this. Jitka had been furious and the other students had been shocked by this behaviour. The painter told him that he could go back to Heidelberg whenever something happened again.
“I did nothing like that again. Pff… Jokes are not welcome here. These Czechs are very stiff.
Barbora looked annoyed and almost shouted: “What did you mean with “‘I’ll get you for this!”’ Was that another of your world famous jokes?” He wiped some sweat from his forehead and sighed: “I was just upset.”
They sat in silence for a moment; Barbora and Jaro looking at the man, who wiped his head again. “I would never hurt anybody. I can’t even kill a fly. I knew I was wrong, thought things were more relaxed having a nude model around. I even apologized to Jitka, but of course you would not know about this. But it is really true. Can’t I do anything right in this country?” It seemed he was feeling sorry for himself, had tears in his eyes.
Barbora had enough of him and sent him away. He started moaning about how to get back to the studio. Jaro was visibly irritated: “What about walking Herr Sparwasser? It’s a lovely day and it’s a nice walk. The police is for policing and not for being as a taxi company for Herr Sparwasser. Good day to you!” He got up and shoved the man out of the door.
“What a horrible man!” Barbora shouted, knowing full well that he could hear this. Together they looked out of the window to see him leave the building. When they saw him walking out Jaro shook his head. “A horrible man, but not a guilty one. I don’t think he could have killed her in a million years. He would have sweated himself to death.” Barbora laughed and announced that she would read a bit in the diary. Jaro wanted to read the statements again and look at the pictures of the murder scene.
Chris and Nicole Verstraaten
Jaro had not seen much of the pictures of the victim before and he studied them closely. He told Barbora how amazing it was that the deadly wound was exactly at the same spot as the red heart was painted on her chest. He knew that with fencing there is such a target on the protective suit, but this was rather different. Maybe they should ask Radek more some questions about this. Was is just for arty reasons put upon her?
It must have been a weird thing to paint. A naked girl wearing a fencing mask and a painted heart on one of her breasts. It made you wonder how artful these sessions must have been. He had read about Jitka posing dressed as well, but this was different to anything he had heard of before. Was it a pose one of the students had requested?
He pointed this out to Barbora and she thought it would be best if he just phoned Radek Kovac and asked about it. And having him on the phone, he should ask Chris and Nicole Verstraaten to come to their headquarters.
The painter told Jaro that this pose was something he had done on his own with his late wife some twenty years ago. The painting that came of it was now hanging somewhere in New York; it was bought by a hotel owner. Because of lack of inspiration he had used the same idea for his students. Jitka was meant to pose like this in the afternoon, but was killed, so nothing was made of it by the students.
He would bring Chris and Nicole within an hour, he promised. That was fine for the police officers, it gave them time to prepare themselves for this Belgian couple. They were about the same age as the fat German, only a few years younger. Chris being 45 and Nicole 47.
When the Verstraatens walked in, Jaro almost said something. The couple was slim and looked a lot younger than their age. They probably spent a lot of time in the gym and the tanning studio or had very sportive holidays.
He was wearing white linen trousers and a colourful polo shirt; she had a white matching skirt to his trousers, almost like an old fashioned tennis skirt. Her top was less colourful and too many of the top buttons were undone. Jaro decided to say something after all: “Now we have noticed that you do your sunbathing at least topless, you can button up again.” Nicole seemed to blush and covered up a bit. Barbora grinned at Jaro, but did not say a word.
She first addressed the man, asked why they participated in the seminar, how they got along with the painting and what they thought about their fellow students. The couple told them that they expected more of it. They knew there would be painting from nude models, but thought the atmosphere would be much more relaxed.
Their lifestyle could be described as being swingers, they tried to enjoy life to the fullest and had hoped they would meet more hedonistic people over here. Instead people had been shocked when they had suggested an exchange of partners or threesomes. The other couples had been angry when asked and Jitka had made a scene which had caused Mister Kovac to warn them. Thet were to be sent off if any more incidents would occur. Only the fact that they had paid for these weeks stopped them from going back to Belgium.
Jaro asked if they had tried Franz Sparwasser. He would have joined them. Nicole pulled a face; she obviously was disgusted just with the idea. “I would rather ask your colleague, mister Holoubek. No, I would not ask you.”
“Wow, how nice!”, reacted a cynical Barbora. “I must warn you, if you are insulting us or address us in an inappropriate manner you might get fined. We tape everything you say, so we have plenty of proof already.”
“We are sorry”, Chris said, ”I’m sure my wife just wanted to give an example. It was not an invitation or a suggestion.” His wife nodded.
“You seem to get very nasty when things are not going your way, I hear,” Barbora went on. “You threatened Jitka not long before the day she died. You said that you would get her in the end. That sounds quite ominous to me.” Chris shook his head: “This was not a threat, more something of a hope that we would get her in our bed after all.”
“You should be ashamed of yourselves. You are old enough to be her parents. It’s disgusting.” Jaro shouted.
“We thought she was much older, just heard her age after she died. We would never hurt anybody, or force them into things they don’t want. We don’t want that happen to us either.” Nicole looked at them in an apologizing manner. “We love to make love in every possible way and try to avoid anything that might be unpleasant.”
Barbora had heard enough and send the couple back to Radek’s place. Looking out of the window they could see them walking away, hand in hand. They stopped for a kiss and then went on again.
“Suspects?” Barbora asked. Jaro shook his head. “I totally agree”, she reacted. The commissioner called and asked if they were making progress, maybe needed more assistance. Barbora assured him they were fine as it was and that progress was a bit slow, but they were sure to get results within a few days. Jaro laughed after the phone call: “Are you sure about that?” Shook his head.
Bob and Jane Campbell
The rest of the day was filled with more reading in the diary and a good meal in a restaurant in a neighbouring village. They bought a few bottles of wine in the local shop next to the restaurant and had a lovely and loving evening in their private headquarters.
The next morning after breakfast Jaro phoned Radek Kovac, asked him about Bob and Jane Campbell. According to Radek the woman was very talented and the man just bossy without any feeling for art, but the couple did not give any trouble. Jaro told the painter that the couple was invited for a talk anyway, he was going to pick them up. They should be ready in half an hour.
When Jaro picked them up he made them sit on the backseats and did not make any conversation with them. They were quite unrestful: he was trying to hold her hand, but silently she withdrew it and placed it on her lap. They did not speak a word to each other, instead both looked out of the windows. Jaro almost regretted that the ride was so short: often it was good to get the people steam up a bit. That made them more vulnerable and easier to interrogate.
Jane was invited to talk first. Bob was already walking along towards the room, but was stopped by Jaro. “We talk with you separately.”
“We don’t have secrets for each other, Mister Holoubek”, the man said.
“I’m sure your wife is very able to talk for herself, Mister Campbell”, Jaro snapped. She nodded and went in the room, Bob Campbell was sent downstairs to wait over there.
Barbora made Jane Campbell more at ease and got her talking and hardly had to stop her for asking questions. She told the detectives that Bob was a bit controlling. This was his second marriage; his first wife divorced him and married to a former neighbour. The seminar was meant to give Jane some great weeks and she was enjoying the painting lessons and good advice from Radek Kovac.
Her husband was hovering over her all the time, he saw dangers coming from all directions. If Radek was giving her instructions and was standing close to her, he would pop up next to them to listen in. A talk with Chris and Nicole Verstraaten on one of the first days had given him quite a scare. The Belgian couple had told him that they would like a threesome with her and asked if he would mind that. If he insisted he could be there to watch, that would give an extra thrill. He had become quite angry and threatened to complain to Radek about this. The Verstraatens did not try anything again.
After this he became even more protecting, but it really was suffocating Jane. Sometimes she would stay a bit longer after painting sessions, just wanted to work a bit longer because she was in a flow. He always insisted to stay with her and silently watch her paint. Last week she had enough of this and shouted him away. He had gone to the main house with an angry look on his face and Jane had been in tears.
Jitka had seen the whole thing and the two of them had a talk. That night Bob would get a lesson, Jane was going to sleep above the studio, Jitka offered her half of her bed. Maybe that would make it clear that Jane didn’t want to be glued to him all the time. She phoned him on his mobile and told him she was going to sleep above the studio to get a bit of painting done before breakfast. He started shouting, but she just turned the phone off.
Later he showed up shouting in front of the studio which was already locked by Jitka for the night. The girl send him away with the threat of complaining to Radek about his behaviour. After that he went away. The next morning he was all sweetness towards Jane.
“He was, I’m sure, but he has warned Jitka that he would get her for this,” Barbora said.
Jane nodded, added that he later apologized towards Jitka. He was not a violent man, just very insecure. They had some talks the last weeks and he made promises to change, give her more space. She loved him just as much as he loved her, would never leave him. Now, after three years of marriage, he seemed to be more certain about Jane staying with him. He was a good man, maybe still needed to grow up a bit.
Barbora decided to let the couple go after this, did not want to spend more time listening to them. When Jane left the room, they looked outside. Bob was waiting for her outside, was walking up and down in the back of the B&B, like a caged lion. When she came out, he embraced her like he had not seen her in a decade. He put an arm around her and they walked away.
“Is the man a suspect?” Barbora asked. They both shook their head.
Andras and Nusi Horvat
They had lunch at the same restaurant they had enjoyed their dinner the other night. While having the last sips of coffee, Barbora phoned Radek and asked if he could get Andras and Nusi Horvat ready to be picked up within an hour. He promised to do such.
When they got to the house of Radek Kovac the Hungarian couple were waiting in front of the porch, sitting on a bench in the sunshine. They told Barbora and Jaro that we would be very happy to help them any way they could.
In the headquarters it became quite clear they were no help at all. The young couple were having a sort of honeymoon while being at the seminar. They normally would do sporty things during their holidays, but after three years of living together they married and decided something else would be more appropriate.
They loved the sessions and told the police officers that they planned to do their own painting of each other. Painting each other in the nude would be more pleasant than having an artist make them pose for him or her. And it would be possible to do it in a manner they would love on their bedroom wall.
They thought Jitka was a lovely girl, a bit about their own age and they got along really well. Because the young couple was living near Lake Baloton they also lived near the place where the yearly Sziget Festival takes place. They had invited Jitka to come over during that time and go to the festival together. The girl had happily accepted and the three of them already looked forward to that time. It always had the best and the newest pop music.
For the rest they didn’t notice a lot, were in their bedroom a lot when there were no sessions or meals. Or they would have a walk in the lovely area.
Barbora heard enough and knew enough. She phoned Radek Kovac to tell him that they would like to see Roel and Margriet Verhoeff.
Roel and Margriet Verhoeff
The Dutch couple made it very clear to the detectives that they felt very annoyed to have to talk to the police. “We did nothing wrong and yet we are treated like criminals!”
Jaro made it clear that they were just hear for a talk and that there was an investigation going on. But the couple stood by what they said, they had nothing to do with it at all. They were both quite tall and slim and the woman had been in the sun quite a lot, considering her tanned and wrinkly skin. She must have been smoking a lot of cigarettes. She had a smoky, raspy voice that really got to your nerves. He was letting her talk, kept himself to nodding approvingly. Margriet got very upset hearing she could not smoke during the talk.
They had a lot to moan about: the food was not what they expected, they hardly learned anything from Radek who had only eyes for what Jane Campbell painted. They had been part of an exhibition in Bergen aan Zee in the Netherlands, they said proudly. “Sunday painters from Bergen” and it had been a success. They had hoped to get to yet a higher level through this seminar.
They disliked most of their fellow students: Bob Campbell had weird eyes, Franz Sparwasser was a dirty man. He would ask you to pull his finger and then fart very loud or he would just lift one leg and did the same. The Hungarians were always touching each other and kissing. Why didn’t they do this in their room? And the Belgians were creeps with their constant talking about sex.
The murdered girl was nice, but they could hardly understand her. That was the problem with all the people in the seminar. You would expect the English to speak proper English, but what they were talking was not what you learned at school in the Netherlands. And Radek had been disappointing all along with that strange boy of him. He would walk away from the dinner table just like that and the father would not say anything about it. The boy could use a strict father or mother.
This went on and on added with that they didn’t know about anything, didn’t hear anything and didn’t see anything. Barbora soon had enough of the couple and sent them away. Of course they were very angry realising they had to walk back to the Kovac’ house. It was a “bloody scandal”! They would complain to the Dutch consul about this treatment. Downstairs they walked away looking back a few times, showing their anger.
“Phew! Finally they are gone. What a horrible couple. Makes you wonder if all these Dutch are like this!”, Jaro exclaimed. Barbora agreed, but already was thinking ahead. “Horrible, but certainly not our killers.”
“All and all we’re not getting any further like this!”, Jaro sounded quite irritated. “I have the feeling the solution of this case is staring us in the eyes.” Barbora nodded pensive: “I think we have to step back a bit and look at everything again tomorrow. A fresh pair of eyes will do us both good. I will go and visit Eliska tonight to set my mind on different things. Have some girl talks the two of us.” She laughed a bit, but Jaro couldn’t get the irritation out of his mood. He told her he would take every statement they had home and read everything out loud where nobody would interrupt him.
Barbora looked at him with a bit of hurt in her eyes; it certainly wasn’t her stopping him in his thoughts for sure. He noticed it immediately and apologised, never meant it that way. But he really wished to be with his own thoughts tonight, he even was going to turn his phone off. He closed the lid of his laptop with a bang, went up to the lovely police officer, kissed her and asked her to say hello to Eliska.
After Jaro left their office Barbora picked up her phone and rang Eliska. She was going to be alone tonight; as far as the police woman knew, Ole was in Sweden. Yet it was him who picked up the phone. It startled Barbora and for a moment she couldn’t answer.
Then the words came out of her mouth like she was a different person, even speaking in a different tone: “Master, this is Thru. I didn’t know you were at home. I do hope you are okay.” Ole answered in his own calm way that he had come home a few days sooner because things had gone better than expected. “Is there something that you need, Thru?”
Barbora felt herself shrinking a bit while she asked: “Would it be convenient for you Master if I asked you for a session tonight?” Ole said it was alright with him and ordered her to be at the studio at 9 PM sharp. She thanked him and rushed home to prepare herself.
An Uncomfortable Session
When Barbora arrived at the house in the Johannes Husstreet she was dressed almost casually, wearing a pair of jeans and a loose oversized red sweater without a bra. The door was opened by Eliska who embraced her and kissed her on both cheeks. She wore grey jogging trousers and a grey shirt with a very low V neck that showed quite a lot of her breasts. “Were you really planning this?”, she asked. “Maybe I should have told you that Ole was here, we could have gone out together.” Barbora shook her head: “I need to focus on something. This might do the trick again.”
The women went up to the studio where Ole was busy putting things on a chair. He was humming a bit in himself, like he was quite pleased about something. Somehow it gave Barbora a shivering feeling when she saw it was not only a set of ropes that was selected for the session. Ole asked her to undress and he took her clothes and put them on another chair, a few steps away from them. He came back to her and asked her to look at him while she was still figuring out what was on the chair in front of her.
“Thru, it is time for you to take a next step. I want us to go a bit further than just binding you. A true bondage model can endure a lot of discomfort. We haven’t even started to give you that. So this session will be a whole new start for us, but be sure it will not be a pleasant one. Do you consent in this?” Thru couldn’t help trembling and couldn’t answer immediately. She noticed that Eliska was looking studying at her.
Finally she could get the words out: “Yes, I agree, Master. You do what is needed.”
Ole asked her to lay on two chairs and started binding her with the familiar white and red ropes. First her ankles were attached to her upper legs; her arms were tied at her back, crossed so the left arm was bound to the right leg and the right arm to the left leg. This way he forced her to be the most exposed as possible. He made a cruel bra with the ropes, that felt like one that was three sizes too small. He attached enough ropes so that he could lift her in the air. The Master looked at her swinging a bit in the air and adjusted it, so she looked face down in a slight angle. He ordered Eliska to put the gagging ball in Thru’s mouth. Eliska was slightly bending over putting the ball in and the lovely police woman could not keep her eyes of the lovely breasts that came in display because of that. After that she attached the device behind her, pulling it tighter than her friend ever had sensed before.
He walked around her and nodded approvingly. Now he asked Elsika to hand him the metal thing from the chair that was straight with two little hooks. The hooks were placed in her nostrils and metal thing attached to a rope that he attached to her hair that he packed in a rough kind of ponytail. On the chair was one thing left: a metal hook that made her think of slaughterhouses. He was humming again when she saw him putting some oil on the hook.
He placed the hook in her vagina; never in her life she had got something as cold placed in her and at first she could feel closing for the thing. The cruel hands of the Master pushed it through her resistance. On her back he was making some knot again and soon she understood what he did. She was now forced to look up. If she didn’t, the awful cold hook would get even more inside of her.
She really felt awful, yet very sexy too, if only Jaro was here. She would have loved to get him inside of her instead of that horrible hook. Thru must have made a sort of sound, because of that Eliska came sitting under her face. “I’m sure you want Jaro here. I already tried to phone him, but he is not answering calls or messages.” Ole was now standing beside Eliska and it was very obvious that he was in a state of excitement. He shook his head: “No Thru, I will not replace your lover. This all will make you even more aware of the state you are in. This is part of your training.”
The pair walked out of her sight, while she could hear Eliska offering the Master some relief. He really needed it and they could go out of the room. Ole didn’t want to hear about that, he said. They had to keep their eyes on Thru. The bounded woman could hear the rustling of clothes and Ole was giving orders to the blond Czech woman. “Now bend over the chair.” And later: “Use your other hand!” There was a lot of moaning and Barbora could hear Eliska come with a shout. Ole walked up behind her and she felt his cum shooting over her back. While she felt some of her drooling getting cold on her face, she felt the Master’s deposit cooling down too. And he had been right: she had never felt so uncomfortable before in her life.
She was kept this way far too long, Barbora didn’t experience this as stimulating and the case was very far from her mind. Finally Ole and Eliska came back to her and untied her. Ole ordered Eliska to take Thru to the bathroom and wash her with a flannel and cold water. “You will sleep with her in the red room afterwards. And I do mean sleeping. As part of this session there will be no joy given to Thru.”
The next morning Barbora woke up, alone in the bed. Eliska had gone and she could hear sounds coming from somewhere in the house. Somebody had put her clothes in the room and a towel. She had a shower and went to the kitchen where she found Eliska busy with preparations for a big breakfast. Ole was sitting at the table reading a newspaper. He looked up at her; “We need to talk”.
He explained to her that the bondage sessions became a bit uneasy for him. At the first sessions he merely respected her for what she was: a police officer. But in order to work with her he had to change her into someone. Hence Thru was invented. But now he became more and more fond of her and the bondage sessions caused him to feel other things than he should have, as a professional. When she was so available and open it was very hard for him to stay that professional. In order to manage that he would have to make things a lot harder for her, degrading her into an object so he could handle her like he wanted. Just like he would treat a professional bondage model. He was giving performances all over the world and sometimes in primitive situations. The models had to endure very unpleasant times on these occasions.
“If I compare you with somebody like Kiko, I can make it more clear for you. Kiko was a shining star in ropes; she was the subject of sessions, while poor Thru has been made into an object. Kiko was really the master of the sessions, I always sensed what she wanted me to do, even when she did not speak. In sessions with Thru, she is a victim of my deeds. Indeed a willing and capable victim, but it’s not what I am after. I am a Shibari master, I don’t want to change into an S&M master.”
Barbora nodded, she understood. “Can’t I have more simple sessions?” Ole looked at her and shook his head, “Not with me. But I do agree with you having sessions with Eliska. If needed I can give advice and occasionally assistance. Is that okay with you?”
Barbora felt very relieved, walked to the Master and embraced him. “Thank you, Ole.”
A discovery in the morning
When Barbora came in the B&B she went straight to their office where she found Jaro sitting on a chair and staring at the metal board. There was the list they made of the people that had been near Jitka before she was killed. Through every name a line was drawn, meaning they were all deleted as a suspect from their list.
He looked up at her and the way he did that, she could sense that he felt there was something wrong with her. He got up and took her in his arms. “I missed you”, he spoke in a soft voice. She held back the tears that came to her, she didn’t want to talk about the last evening, instead she whispered: “I missed you too, Jaro. It looks like I can’t be an evening without you.”
Her phone rang and she let him go and took it out of her handbag. It was the commissioner who wanted to know about their progress. Barbora pulled a face and told him that they were busy eliminating suspects from their list. She could not say how much longer they needed for the investigation and refused assistance.
Jaro was sitting again, looking at her. “What do we have left to go on? Just the diary, I think.” Barbora nodded. She suggested that they would go through the diary, not just keep themselves to the pieces about people on the list. Maybe there was a clue to be found somewhere in that little book. So Jaro made coffee and she read, sometimes flicking through the pages.
“I wonder if Radek Kovac would be happy with this…” she said and showed Jaro a page. He took a sip of his coffee and read:
Petr came to my door in the night, said he could not sleep. Would I allow him in my bed? I did, but he did not go to sleep. Went under the covers with the torch he brought along. I asked him to stop, put the thing away and let me sleep. He talked about lessons they got in school about the body with the teacher using all these weird names, like names for Italian cities. Vulva and vagina and such. I had to laugh, told him he already knew more of female bodies than all his friends. He has seen me naked so many times, in the studio and in our bedrooms, so it should be no mystery to him what a body looks like. No need to go under the covers with a torch. If he wants to see me naked, he just has to ask. But he should not tell anybody about this. It is our secret. Maybe one day, when he gets older, I will show him what you can do with the body parts with these names. But again: it is a secret. He sighed and promised to keep everything a secret, just like I did with his secrets. Soon he fell asleep, but it had been difficult for her to doze off. This morning when I woke up, he was gone. He forgot to take his torch along. Silly boy with his secrets.
“Lucky boy!”, Jaro laughed, “I never had a nice girl who showed her body to me when I was young.” Barbora shook her head: “That’s not the most important thing you have read. I think the secrets are. What are these secrets that they share? With a bit of luck more about this is mentioned somewhere. We have to search for these secrets in the diary. She finished her coffee and took the book from Jaro’s hands to read on.
After the second coffee she handed the book again to Jaro, pointed at a part he should read and said: “We have a phone call to make. And after that I want to make love to you.” He grinned and read.
The phone call turned out to be two, but after that Barbora put down the phone, she said: “Come Jaro, I need you. I really, really do.” He was not hard to get convinced, followed her immediately to the bedroom. It almost looked like a competition who got undressed first. Jaro won and saw from the bed how she took off her underwear and jumped next to him.
“I want…”, Barbora started. He looked worried: “Oh no, not me tying you up, I hope. I never was a boyscout or a sailor, so I don’t know a thing about knots.” She shook her head, her hands already busy with waking up his dormant dick. He sighed and started to let his hands wandering over her body. This was made more difficult when she bend over to take his growing member in her mouth. He only had her lovely bum under his reach. He felt himself growing and she looked at it approvingly. “I didn’t lose my touch yet”, she laughed and got on her hands and knees, giving him a lovely view.
He didn’t need further invitation and got behind her. “If you want you could use handcuffs or your belt, just like in the night with Eliska”, she moaned while his fingers searched for the way to enter her. He slapped a buttock: “Hush, my love. I know what I want.” She felt his dick slowly getting in, guided it with one hand. Soon he found a rhythm, asked her to get her bum higher and placed his hands on her shoulders, pushing them down.
Her right arm was still under her body and her fingers found her clit. He noticed her fingers while they touched his plunging rod doing what they really wanted. He could not help but moan, placed his left hand next to her shoulder while the other went under her hair. The next moment she felt that hand around her neck like a vise, pushing her face in the pillow. She could only turn her head sideways to be able to breath. “Yes, pin me down. This is so good.”
He tried very hard to wait for her to come before spurting into her shaking body. He let her go and made himself fall next to her. He opened his arms for her and she nestled against his chest. “So good…”, she repeated. He groaned something that sounded like agreeing with her and just held her.
When they were breathing normally again, Barbora told Jaro about her last session with Ole. That she was trough with Thru. Ole made it clear the whole thing was too forced. She was just herself, had discovered she liked to be tied up a bit, but certainly not a real bondage model. She pleaded Jaro not to let her down, she wanted him to be part of that side of her life too. In the end he promised that he would accompany her most of the times she would do sessions with Eliska. Barbora kissed him: “You made my happiness complete. Let’s finish this case, so we can go back to Prague. I want you in my own bed tonight.”
Radek Kovac was waiting for them in front of the studio and let them in, repeating that he didn’t understand why they wanted to talk to Petr. The boy already had such a hard time after he lost his friend Jitka. It had become clear to him that the two really had been very close friends. That probably had been the reason too why he liked to sleep above the studio. Barbora told him to be patient, everything would be clear pretty soon. They preferred having him stay during the talk, to be there for the boy.
“I will do the talking, Mister Kovac. Please try not to intervene while I do this. I will do my utmost not to hurt your son in any way. I will be as gentle as I can. My Sergeant will just be there to take notes.” Radek Kovac nodded and let them in the bedroom of the boy. Again they noticed all the posters of Spiderman, Batman and Superman. The boy was playing a game on his phone while sitting on his bed.
While Barbora took the one chair that was in the room, Radek brought a chair from Jitka’s room for Jaro and placed himself on the bed near his son. Barbora talked in a soft manner to the boy that even surprised her assistant. She started talking about the posters, about the superheroes and the admiration Petr had for them. She asked him if the actions of these men were possible in real life. He answered that not all was real what you saw in the films. But some things could be done, he even could do things himself.
Barbora suggested that Petr was probably able to climb out of this building and out of the estate without ever having to set his feet to the ground. He nodded and admitted that he hardly ever came through the door. He confessed that he sometimes went away while his father thought he was studying. There was only one person who knew about this: Jitka. And she never told anybody. How could Barbora know?
Barbora started about the day that Jitka died. Now the father intervened: “He was at school! You know that!” Barbora shook her head, she knew better. “The whole afternoon there were no lessons to his group, they were sent home. How did you get home that day, Petr?”
He told the whole story, tears in his eyes and almost crying. He had caught the bus, went to the studio. First to his room and then he went downstairs, had a talk with Jitka while playing with the weapons. There was a sort of little cap on the top. He had disliked them and had asked Jitka whether they could be removed. She had explained they were for safety when people really fenced with them.
He had taken one off and noticed that the point was really sharp. So he had put it back and they had talked on until Jitka had jumped up and had shouted “En Garde!” He had declared himself d’Artagnan and Jitka had been Porthos. Together they shouted “One for all and all for one” and started a funny fencing duel just the way she was. The last days she was always naked when he saw her in the studio.
In the end he won their battle, but things were horribly wrong. The cap had gone off and he had really stabbed her. It was all his fault for fiddling with the cap. He could not stop crying now and his father was holding him in his arms. “But why didn’t you come to me? Tell me what happened?” The boy reacted that he was afraid that his father would be very mad. He should not have been here at all and the father always told him not to touch things in the studio when he was allowed to visit. And it was all his fault and he probably would be in prison for life.
Barbora explained to Petr that it had been an accident. Yes, he was partly to be blamed, but his punishment was already that he had witnessed this awful scene of Jitka dying. The father was partly guilty too: he should have had these weapons stored away. Normally you need a license to have these in your house. Barbora was aware that they were props from a theatre, but still you have to take utmost care nobody can reach them when they are not meant for them. This is very serious negligence. She told Radek Kovac this would be mentioned in the official report about the case and that he would get an official warning. His guests could leave now.
When they left the boy was still crying. “Let’s get our things and go back home, Jaro!”, Barbora said in the car. “It would be a pleasure Ma’am”, reacted Jaro. She laughed and got her phone to do some calls.