By Chris Marais
So here, back in 1989, I am plunged into weeks of work on what became known as the case of The Hooker in the Krebs Murder Case.
Her name is Linda, and she is a walking, strutting sex-education syllabus all by herself.
Poor girl. She is about to spend a long time being interviewed by a guy who wants to save all the hookers in the world. Who wants to send them home to their daddies.
Daddies who, I realise later, may have been the problem in the first place.
Linda becomes an instant celebrity in the Scope offices. My colleague, conspiracy theorist extraordinaire, Geoff Allen, insists he simply has to be my assistant on this job. Les Bush will do all the photography. Neither will brook any argument.
The country awaits our words and images.
Naked Under a Duvet
The first interview takes place in her modest home in Vereeniging. For some reason, Linda is naked under a duvet. I remember one of her dogs lying nearby, dreaming and whimpering at the same time.
She speaks with love about past clients. Geoff, Les and I sit around the room in various poses, lapping up every word. We are her confessors.
We hear about days of night-clubbing, girl-on-girl action, places of safety, barmaid drudgery, a one-off encounter with Mandrax and an eventual discovery that Linda used to be one helluva mud wrestler.
Warming to the task and the attention, Linda tells us her theory about men’s noses. She said gents with bulbous hooters are stingy. Guys with smaller conks are more generous.
“I’ve never been wrong in my theory,” she smiles. Les, Geoff and I surreptitiously touch our noses. I think she likes old Button Nose Bush the best.
We listen to stories of mean minders, agency work, hi-jinks in a client’s Jacuzzi and a dismal relationship with the guy who took her virginity.
The photo shoot with Linda is a private affair. She is happy to pose in all her former hooker’s outfits, including the snappy little schoolgirl tunic, but it has to be done in her bedroom and with only photographer Bush present.
Geoff Allen, bless his bald head, has brought along a bottle of tequila for some reason. The two of us sit in Linda’s lounge, sipping at the hooligan juice and wandering what the hell is going on in there.
After many muffled giggles and laughs, the session is over. Bush is satisfied and we are drunk. The shots are great.
Hooker in the Middle
All this fuss over one good time girl? Well, now for the serious stuff.
Linda had become nationwide news. She was the third pivotal figure in a murder case before court. The hooker in the middle, so to speak.
Long story short. Ralf Krebs, your average suburban guy, gets a bad case of crabs and his wife Maria finds out and goes ballistic.
She has been faithful to him over their five years of marriage, but Ralf has been a bad boy. He assures her it’s possible for a man to sleep with other women without falling in love with them.
Let me show you, he says, and dials up a girl at the Playmates Escort Agency in downtown Jo’burg.
The girl, obviously Linda, arrives and is brought to the master bedroom, where Mrs Krebs lies naked under the duvet. What follows is a matter of opinion, we soon find out in court.
Fact is, Ralf ends up with a bullet in his chest, sighs and falls down dead. The cops like Maria for the murder.
On judgment day, the media are buzzing around the court house like mad flies. Linda has given so much salacious evidence about her general life on the game and what went down on that night at the Chez Krebs that all the papers and magazines want a piece of her.
Scope was there first. Our money-for-speaks deal is meant to be in place and iron-clad.
Ah, but here comes that silky-tongued team from the Rapport Sunday newspaper. They whisk her off to a downtown Chinese joint and offer her more money.
Linda is about to cross the floor and deal with Rapport because Geoff, who was supposed to be her new minder through these tough trial days, has been absent. She feels neglected by the boys from Scope.
Instead of watching Linda, he’s been watching the level of his beer glass at the Federal Hotel near his old haunt, the Sunday Times.
Plus, I discover, the formal contract that Geoff was supposed to get Linda to sign had been lost somewhere. So he got her to sign a paper napkin during a boozy lunch at the Coconut Grove near our new offices.
It would not stand up in court, because Geoff’s beer had spilled onto it and turned the signature into anyone’s smudge,
I am incandescent with my deputy.
We find out where they’re plotting our demise, storm into the Chinese restaurant and stop them mid-deal.
What follows is between Scope and Rapport, with Linda sitting discreetly at another table, a penitent Geoff Allen holding her hand and bubbling apologies while snacking on someone else’s spring roll.
We get our magazine share, Rapport gets a more limited Sunday paper share and somewhere along the line the team from M-Net’s Carte Blanche get theirs.
Yep. You can call us vampires. But, in our defence, I have to say the victim was oh so willing.
So we all troop back to court after the lunch recess and Maria Krebs is convicted of culpable homicide, fined two grand and given a suspended prison sentence.
And so it goes.
This is a short extract from a chapter in The Journey Man – A South African Reporter’s Stories by Chris Marais.
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