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The Trap: Chapter 33

For such a long time I had only one wish: to find Anna’s murderer. Now that I’m standing face-to-face with him and everything has been said, I want something else.

I want to live.

But there’s no way out of here. With two short steps, Lenzen has blocked the way to the front door, and the balcony is out of the question. Nevertheless, I fling open the door and step outside. A cool wind brushes my face. Another two steps and I’m at the balustrade.

I can’t go any further. Looking down, I can make out the lawn in the dark and, beyond it, the road where the taxi stopped. It’s too far to jump. No escape. I hear a metallic noise and sense Lenzen behind me.

I turn to face him—can’t believe my eyes.

He’s crying.

‘Why didn’t you stay in your house, Linda?’ he asks. ‘I’d never have done anything to you.’

In his hand he’s holding a gun. I stare at him aghast. He can’t get away with that. People will hear the shots, especially here, in this quiet residential area. How can he possibly hope to get away with it?

‘The police will be here almost the second you pull the trigger,’ I say.

‘I know,’ Lenzen replies.

I don’t understand what’s going on. I look into the muzzle. I’m stunned—as if hypnotised. It looks exactly like my pistol—the one I threatened him with, the one he ended up throwing in the lake. My synapses click as it becomes clear to me.

‘You recognise it,’ says Lenzen.

It is my gun. There’s nothing in the lake at all. I see it before me—Lenzen’s arm moving through the darkness, making to throw but not letting go. Lenzen dropping the gun somewhere, unnoticed—on the grass, perhaps—to be picked up again later, unobserved, just in case. Canny. Quick-witted. He can’t have planned that. It practically fell into his lap—a gun, procured by me illegally and covered in my fingerprints.

‘That’s my gun,’ I say feebly.

Lenzen nods.

‘It was self-defence,’ he says. ‘You’re clearly mad. You had me followed, you had me watched. You threatened me—I have that on tape. And now you turn up in my house with a gun. There was a tussle…’

‘Did you ever intend to leave the country?’ I ask.

Lenzen shakes his head. I understand at last. It was a trick to make sure I came here. In a rush. In a panic. Before the night was over. A simple and elegant trick to lure me to his house and get rid of me at last. With my own gun.

A trap is a device to catch or kill.

The trap that Victor Lenzen set for me is masterly.

He’s got me. I can’t get away now. But his gun hand is trembling.

‘Don’t do it,’ I say.

I think of Anna.

‘I have no choice,’ Lenzen replies.

His forehead is beaded with sweat.

‘We both know that’s not true,’ I say.

I think of Norbert, of Bukowski.

‘But it sounds like the truth,’ says Lenzen.

His upper lip twitches.

‘Please, don’t do it!’

‘Be quiet, Linda.’

I think of Mum and Dad.

‘If you do this, you really are a murderer.’

I think of Julian.

‘Shut up!’

Then I have only one thought: I’m not going to die here.

I turn around, clear the parapet of the balcony with one leap, and fall.

I land heavily. It’s not like in a film. I don’t roll over and hobble away; I come crashing down and my right ankle is gripped by such intense pain that for a moment it’s as if I’m blinded, and I crouch there on all fours like a wounded animal, confused and almost sightless with fear. I shake my head, trying to drive away the dazed feeling. Then I look about me, expecting to see Lenzen standing at the balustrade, looking down at me. But there’s no one there. Where is he?

Then I hear him. Oh God, how long have I been crouching here? I try to get up, but my right leg lets me down, giving way.

‘Help,’ I scream. But no sound comes out. I realise that I’ve landed in one of my own nightmares—that I’ve dreamt this so often, whimpering and drenched in sweat, this dream where I scream and scream and no sound comes out. Again, I try to get up, and this time I succeed.

I hop on my good leg, stumble, catch my fall on my bad leg, whimper with pain, go down on my knees, can’t go on, but must go on, crawl along, blind and scared, through the darkness. Then I see him, before me. I don’t know how he did it; he should be behind me, coming from the house, but he’s coming from ahead; he emerges from the darkness without warning and comes towards me. I ignore my pain and stand up. I see only his silhouette, the gun in his hand, and stand to face him.

He’s a shadow, a mere shadow. He looks about him frantically. And then he’s near enough for me to recognise him.

The sight of him catches me like a punch. I totter, my leg gives way again, and I fall to the ground. Then he’s beside me, bending over me. His worried face, his different-coloured eyes in the darkness. Julian.

‘My God, Linda,’ he says. ‘Are you injured?’

‘He’s here,’ I croak. ‘Lenzen. My sister’s murderer. He has a gun.’

‘Stay where you are,’ says Julian. ‘Keep calm.’

At that moment, Lenzen comes round the side of the house. When he realises I’m not alone, he stops in his tracks, in the dark.

‘Police!’ Julian shouts. ‘Drop the gun!’

Lenzen stands there—still a mere shadow. Then, in a single, swooping movement, he lifts his hand to his head and shoots.

He drops to the ground.

Then it falls very quiet.



(not included in the published edition)

One evening, he stood outside her door, unannounced.

She had asked him in. She had poured them some wine. He had asked how she was, and she’d replied that she was okay: it was going to be all right and she didn’t want to complain. They sat on her sofa, Jonas at one end, Sophie at the other, and Sophie’s puppy between them, frisky and impetuous. They laughed and drank, and for a few precious moments, Sophie forgot about Britta and the shadow. Eventually the dog was worn out from playing and fell asleep. Sophie got up to turn over the record they had been listening to. When the music had started up again, bubbly and electronic, and Sophie had sat down again, she looked searchingly at Jonas, who was finishing his second glass of wine.

‘Why are we doing this?’ Sophie asked.


Jonas glanced at her with his strange, beautiful eyes.

‘All this! Always seeking each other’s company, although you’re still married and I’ve only just broken off my engagement and am an emotional wreck…’ She faltered and ran her hand through her hair. ‘Why do you pretend you can’t ring me up but have to tell me everything in person? Why do I sit around on your steps at night? Why do you hang around outside my front door? Isn’t it unwise of us to want to plunge straight into something else?’

‘Oh yes, absolutely,’ says Jonas.

‘But if we know that,’ Sophie replied, ‘then why are we prolonging the agony and the yearning?’

Jonas gave a slight smile. His dimple appeared.

‘Because we need the agony and the yearning. Because that’s what makes us feel alive,’ he said.

For a few moments they looked at each other in silence.

‘I think I’d better go now,’ said Jonas, getting up.


Sophie stood.


There was a moment of hesitation, then they just did it. They overcame the distance between them and found each other. He held her, stroking her hair cautiously, as if she were a wild animal that was only beginning to grow tame—and everything that came afterwards was dark and beautiful and crimson and confusing.

Next morning Sophie was woken by screeching swifts flying through the streets. She felt for him even before she opened her eyes. He was gone.

She sighed. She had lain awake half the night, listening to Jonas’s breathing and wondering what to do, before eventually falling asleep. He had relieved her of the decision by slipping out while she was still asleep: they weren’t going to see each other again.

Sophie got up, pulled up the blinds, shivered with cold, got dressed, went to put on some coffee in the kitchen—and started when she caught sight of Jonas sitting on the sofa in the living room. Her heart leapt. He hadn’t stolen out; he had waited for her to wake up.

He hadn’t heard her coming. For a few moments she looked at the whorl of dark hair on the back of his head. She believed in things like this—in being able to trust your instincts. Perhaps she should say so—take the plunge. No, she couldn’t; she’d only make a fool of herself.

‘Good morning!’ she said.

Jonas turned to face her. ‘Good morning!’

He smiled, embarrassed.

‘Coffee?’ Sophie asked.

‘That would be great.’

She went into the kitchen and put on the coffee, struggling with herself. Life is short, she thought. I’ll just say it. If I don’t say it now, I never will.

She returned to the living room, her legs trembling. She stopped behind him and cleared her throat.

‘Jonas? There’s something I have to tell you. It’s hard for me, so… please don’t interrupt.’

He listened in silence.

‘I don’t want you to leave. I’d like you to stay here. I think you feel when it’s right. And I feel it.’

Her words seemed to roll across the parquet like marbles. Jonas bowed his head a little. Sophie faltered. Perhaps she was making a mistake. Perhaps she was making a fool of herself. But the ball was in motion now, sliding inexorably downhill.

‘I know the circumstances are hopeless. You’re still in a relationship and I’ve split up with the man I was supposed to be getting married to in the spring. And, of course, I don’t want you to get into trouble at work for getting involved with a witness.’

Sophie paused, gasping for air. Jonas still said nothing, listening attentively. Her throat constricted.

‘But I want you, do you understand? I want you.’

Sophie noticed that she was crying. It came over her so quickly nowadays. She tried to collect herself, wiping away her tears, her temples throbbing.

‘Okay,’ she said, exhausted. ‘I’ve said what I wanted to say.’

Still he was silent.


He turned his head, starting slightly when he realised she was standing behind him. He turned right the way round, took his headphones out of his ears, and smiled.

‘Did you say something?’ he asked. He pointed his chin at his MP3 player. ‘I’m rediscovering my love for Nina Simone.’

Then he saw her face.

‘Are you okay, Sophie? Have you been crying?’

Sophie swallowed.

‘It’s nothing. I’m all right.’

She felt dizzy. He hadn’t heard a word of what she’d said. And she didn’t have the strength to repeat it. Maybe it was better that way. How could she say all that to him after only one night?

‘Are you sure?’

The flat seemed incredibly airless to her.

‘Yes, I’m all right,’ she said. ‘But listen, I have to go. I’d completely forgotten that I’m meeting my gallerist this morning.’

‘Oh, okay. But…what about the coffee? I thought we…’

‘I have to go. Don’t be offended. Just pull the door shut behind you when you leave.’

She saw that he was surprised—maybe also disappointed. Then he forced a smile.

‘Sure,’ he said.

Sophie turned to go. She took a few steps; her legs were heavier than usual. Then she stopped, turning to face him again.



‘Get in touch when you’re ready—when you want to see me again. Give me a sign. Okay?’

His eyes became grave.


‘You will?’

‘I will.’

Sophie could feel his gaze on her back as she left.


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