Iris (part 3)

Changing back into her work clothes, Tamara stands behind her window and scans the street. A couple of times a potential client comes by and tilts his head as if to ask about her price. To get rid of them she raises both hands indicating that her fee is a hundred euro and just to be certain she tacks on an extra fifty. That definitely raises an eyebrow and they quickly move on. Suddenly she is standing eye-to-eye with the two men who were sitting at the bar in the cafe earlier. Actually, they’re standing in front of Iris’s window but because the curtain is closed their eyes automatically shift to her window next door. Trying not to look startled Tamara hopes they don’t recognise her. Her instincts were right about these guys and they are definitely here to pick up the envelop.

The guy she thought she recognised walks up to Tamara’s window. She can’t do anything but open the door and greets him with an uneasy laugh and sees a look of recognition in his eyes. ‘Sooo,’ he drawls while glancing behind Tamara into the room. ‘Sorry I can’t see you right now. I’m expecting a regular client to arrive any minute,’ she says. ‘Okay,’ says the thug ‘no problem. I’m actually here for your neighbour. Is she busy or out?’ Tamara answers, ‘she’s busy.’ ‘Only for a few minutes so I think she’ll probably be a half hour or so.’ Looking past him she sees Barend coming around the corner. Oh shit, thinks Tamara, how am I going to deal with this? She doesn’t want these guys to see him come into her window because they might recognise his face. On top of that, any crook can see from the way Barend’s moves that he’s police, especially wearing that long, leather jacket.

‘Ah, the glue stick was probably for your client then wasn’t it?’ the thug chuckles. ‘What did you have to do, glue his butt cheeks together?’ Thanking him inwardly for the great explanation Tamara laughs with him and says, ‘how did you ever guess?’ She ignores Barend as he discreetly passes by and in order to draw their attention away from him, she looks in the other direction and tells the men that she sees her client coming. After they leave Tamara quickly looks to see where Barend is but he has already turned around at the corner and is heading back toward her. Checking to see whether the men can see him come in, she quickly closes the door behind him and draws the curtain. She imagines that one of the guys has turned for a last look but now it’s too late to worry about that. Nervous she asks herself if Iris was right to ask whether or not this was a smart thing to do.

‘Barend, it’s good that you’re here, have a seat,’ Tamara says, pointing to the bed. He sits after first checking the bed over and Tamara knocks on Iris’s door quietly announcing: ‘Barend is here!’ Iris looks pale as she enters the room. ‘I just heard them standing at my door,’ she says to Tamara. ‘We don’t have a lot of time if they’ll be coming back in a half hour. And what happens if they are standing there waiting and I open the curtain but don’t let a client out?’ ‘We’ll figure that out when the time comes,’ Tamara answers. ‘One problem at a time.’ Barend is looking at them with curiosity. Tamara throws Iris a questioning look. It’s your choice her eyes are saying. She smiles at Iris in encouragement when she decides to tell the whole story. She tells it as quickly as possible. After Tamara shows him the photos they took earlier of the contents of the envelop, she sees his face go white. ‘Bloody hell’ he says out loud.

After briefly thinking he says: ‘Iris you made the right decision and here’s what we are going to do. I’ll be your so-called client and in a minute I’ll leave through your door. Let’s hope they don’t know me. I’ll pull up my jacket collar and keep my head low. Nothing unusual in this neighbourhood so no one will think that it’s strange. Tamara, once they are inside with Iris, go straight to your neighbour across the street and app me those pictures right away. Hopefully she didn’t forget and didn’t have a client at that moment. Just to be sure, I’ll wait around the corner and keep an eye on Iris’s window. Maybe I can take some pictures myself but at the very least I’ll make sure they are followed. From here on in this is a police matter. I promise you that everything will work out. This bastard is an exception Iris and we’ll get him.’ Tamara nodded approvingly and wrapped her arm protectively around Iris’s shoulder. ‘Didn’t I tell you that he’s okay’ she says lightly.

While Barend makes a few phone calls, Tamara goes with Iris into her room. She rolls around on the bed messing it up a bit and tears open a condom wrapper. Pouring a little liquid hand soap into the condom she rolls the whole thing up in some paper towel and throws it into the waste bin. ‘It doesn’t smell like a quickie just happened in here,’ she says to Iris. ‘If they make any comments about it you can just say he was a very quiet client who didn’t sweat much.’

Barend enters the room and tells them: ‘We have to wait ten minutes to give my colleagues the time to get here. They’ll text me. I’ll have my men standing waiting on either end of the street to follow them but it’s important that we get a good look at them. I hope we have luck with the photos. Tamara, they know that you have a client so you can’t let them see you. Don’t show your face until after they’re gone.’ Tamara nods and heads back to her room.

She hears Barend and Iris speak for a few more minutes but can’t understand what they are saying and then she hears the door to Iris’s window open and close. Intently, she listens at the door on her side of the bathroom but doesn’t dare to go in. Not a minute passes and there’s knocking on Iris’s window. Tamara’s breath quickens. Will they see that the envelop has been tampered with? Suddenly the bathroom door from Iris’s side is jerked open and then a few seconds later the door to her room bursts open. Tamara leaps out of the way just in time and avoids the door hitting her in the face. Once again she is face-to-face with the man who was at her door earlier. ‘Hi honey,’ he says. ‘You didn’t think we were idiots did you?’

She sees Iris standing behind him in the door opening looking sad and defeated. Tamara decides to lay the cards on the table. ‘Listen,’ she says. ‘The only thing I want is to catch that bastard of a cop. He’s blackmailing Iris with her little boy!’ The thug looks thoughtfully at Iris: ‘I thought you were being paid for these jobs. I didn’t know that he was blackmailing you. I have a son and if someone tried to use him to blackmail me that would definitely be the end of them.’ He looks to his buddy who nods. ‘Listen, we aren’t going to make this any more difficult than it is. It’s too bad we’ll lose a contact within the police but there’s always another one. These documents are exactly what we needed for this trial. As far as we are concerned we’re square. But that jerk will probably think up something new for Iris. If you help us get out of here without being seen we’ll help you nail him.’

The women agree immediately. The priority is to get this corrupt officer. Tamara tells them about Yvonne and the photos and how she promised to app them to Barend. She’ll tell him that something went wrong getting the pictures. She also lets them know that police officers are waiting at either end of the street for them and that they plan to follow them. Then she has an idea. Further in the street one of the working rooms has access to a roof terrace. Once on there they can escape over the roofs. A little further on they’ll reach an inner courtyard surrounded by houses with a pathway exiting onto the street. There’s a gate, but it’s a possibility to escape without being seen. The men agree. ‘That’s good enough. Do you know the person working in that window?’ Tamara answers yes and offers to go there with them. ‘What will happen now and how will we stay in contact?’ Iris asks the men.

‘Tell Barend that we’ll contact him tomorrow through a lawyer and that we are prepared to explain that the information was passed on to us by that dirty cop. That will be advantageous for our buddies. Not for him though. As long as our names and faces stay out of it. So don’t make the mistake of sharing those photos,’ he threatens. In a friendlier tone he says to Iris: ‘Once things have quieted down we’ll be back again. Don’t you worry.’ ‘We’ll help you. Blackmailing you with your son and using your work is dirty business.’ Iris nods and decides to trust them. Tamara takes them to the window room she told them about. The men pay the woman working there a hundred euro to let them upstairs and they disappear over the roof.

Once she’s back in her room she sits with Iris on the bed waiting until Barend comes to the door asking about the photos, which happens quickly. Behind him they see a group of plain clothes officers in mild panic walking back and forth checking out all the men on the street. Tamara tells the truth about what happened and that she helped the men to escape. Barend is furious but realises it would not have helped Iris if they hadn’t solved the situation in this way. ‘I’ll wait for their call tomorrow,’ he says ‘and then we’ll see what happens.’ He goes on to tell her: ‘Rest assured that for you it’s over now. Maurice will go to prison and we’ll make sure that he leaves you in peace.’ Iris let’s out a sigh of relief despite not feeling completely at ease about things.

Once Barend has left – after giving Tamara a stern, suspicious look – Tamara says: ‘Come on girl, we’re done for the night. Let’s get a drink.’ Seeing a group of men in pink tutus walking past she adds: ‘Cor has room at the bar again.’

The end

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