Detective Inspector At Loubscher sat stony faced, unmoving and typically unmoved through the judgement and verdict. Only when the judge announced the guilty verdict did he look across the court room at me. He nodded once, curtly, glanced up at the now applauding gallery and walked out of the court, leaving me to face the future he had constructed for me.

If Loubscher had been in Durban 10 years ago, I wouldn't have been found not guilty on a very, very thin technicality and some botched police work. I would have probably been found guilty and twenty years of pain and suffering for a lot of people might have beeen avoided.

My wife of the time found me guilty way before the not guilty verdict as women do and started by calling me a paederast, a dirty barstard and then a string of names I didn't realise she knew or understood.

My well paid job became impossible, colleagues either shunned me or verbally abused me. People refused to co-operate with me and finally I fled the job, my wife and family and most especially Durban where people knew me.

The more relaxed city of Cape Town called me and I moved there, surreptitiously. A change of name followed and by dint of a bit of blackmail and very low key job as a caretaker and sometime usher was organised for me on condition that I stayed out of sight and kept my nose very, very clean. It was explained to me in very clear terms that if even a hint that I had returned to my old ways was heard, I would be dealt with permanently.

The threat was unnecessary. The whole experience in Durban had been enough to frighten me and I has sworn to myself I would cease and desist as the lawyers say.

I stayed sober, celibate and out of trouble. Life wasn't easy, but it was not as harsh as prison would have been. I worked conscientiously and was soon being employed on merit rather than as a favour to a friend of a friend.

As I said I worked as a caretaker and sometime usher. The hall that I had charge of was hired out to various groups and organisations. Poetry and creative writing courses, political seminars, book launches, musical recitals that sort of thing that the middle class while away their idle time on.

I loved the musical recitals but I avoided if at all possible the choirs. Some how choirs made me uncomfortable and had me reaching for the booze bottle.

Then it started again. A boy, broken, brutalised and very dead was found in a rubbish dump. The details were thin but I knew what the cops had found and the nightmare started, again. The dreams were the worst. The swinging arm, baton like in its flow the jagged edge slashing thin clothing, soft tissue and trailing droplets of blood. I would awake, shaking, sweating and still wringing my hands, attempting to wash away the gore so that no one would see and know my crime.

A second boy found and the newspapers whispered of the same damage, the same modu operandi. A serial killer on the loose. Parents guarded their children carefully, but still another one disappeared, and another.

I was in a state of complete despair and horror. I couldn't sleep without dreaming. The dreams changed slowly, the baton like arm that usually had a broken bottle, now quite often had a shiny, slim knife. I recognised both in my dreams and dreaded each equally. The broken bottle was accompanied by the smell of expensive whiskey and screaming, the knife was accompanied only by the sound of a boy soprano whose clear, liquid voice would control the swinging of the arm. Crescendo's were signalled by a downward slash, quiet pieces by the light swinging of the knife but no other sound.

My work started to suffer. I started arriving late and leaving early to lock myself in my room and build proofs to myself that it was not my fault, nothing was my fault. I was innocent as the judge had said. But of course I knew the judgement was tainted and my self loathing grew and grew inside of me.

Eventually I wrote to At Loubscher, I begged him to find me, to put me out of circulation so that no more dead would be found, but he didn't and part of me gloated.

It was because I had missed so much time and was drawing fire for my behaviour that I stayed to help usher at a choral performance. Ushering included serving free drinks on the first night to the patrons which added to my discomfort. The smell of alcohol, especially whiskey makes me want to vomit, to run, to hide. The choral performance was being funded by a whiskey concern in town so there was lots of whiskey available and I was in a state of controlled frenzy during the interval. It was this controlled state of frenzy that brought me to At Loubscher's attention.

I was moving through the increasingly drunk crowd when a man turned towards me and almost nonchalantly threw a glass of red wine over my white shirt. He was scarred down the side of his face, the plastic surgery had fixed most of the damage, but some scars still remained. I knew in an instant who he was and more importantly how he had gotten those scars. Worst of all, I could see that he recognised me. I managed not to drop the tray I was carrying and started to back away. He followed me, apologising profusely and attempting to wipe the wine off my shirt with sensual, to well remembered movements. His hands moved, baton like across my chest, I was frozen to immobility. He leered at me and was about to step closer when an enormous hand intercepted his hand, and At Loubscher intervened. The scarred man moved swiftly into the crowd and I fled to the bathroom to wash out the worst of the red wine from my single best white shirt. As I stripped the shirt off, At appeared at the door, I looked up in horror to see who was following me in.
"Relax, he won't follow you. I will see to that."

He didn't move from the doorway and looked away as I started to strip off the shirt. I was used to the mess of scars that crisscrossed my chest so I didn't notice them, but At did. I heard the hiss of rapid indrawn breath.
"Where did you get those scars?" He was across the bathroom faster than a big man like that should be able to move.

"Where and When?"

"A car accident. In Durban. I was 13." The old lies rolled off my tongue, well used, comforting. A soothing story I had learnt and used over the years.

"You lie!" At glared at me. "I will ask you again here once and the next time at the police station. Where did you get those scars?"

My empty stomach found things to hurl up my throat, my knees sagged, I clung onto the basin. "A car crash, I swear. It was a car crash."

The door of the toilet started to open and At did his levitation thing again, foot against the door, "Closed for repair" he growled. The rattling of the door ceased.

He looked at me and, instead of seeing vengeance and punishment, I saw compassion. He stayed by the door. And waited, patiently. I said nothing. I was not going to incriminate myself, I was not going to lose my precarious hold on survival and end up on the streets, comforting myself with a bottle of the blue train - meths.

He waited a bit more, then sighed gently. "We know who you are. We have always known. Since the day you arrived, but you have bucked the trend. You have held down a job well below your capablities, you haven't touched a drop of booze and you haven't gone back to your old habits. Impressive. The shrinks said you would fail and we expected you to fail, but you didn't."

I waited for the threat I had last heard in Durban, "If you don't co-operate, we will just re-open that old case." but it didn't come.

He turned, then sighed sadly. "I have seen those sorts of wounds before, but the boys who have them will never generated scar tissue, they are dead. And more will die if you do not talk to me now. You know who did that to you. He inflicted those wounds on you and you escaped." His voice trailed off.

"I've seen another scarred person tonight. He isn't a nice person either is he? He knew who you were the moment you saw each other and you recognised him. I suspect he has been looking for you all over. He is out there now, waiting. Your benefactor is soon going to know what happened here tonight and he will not be pleased. I suggest you co-operate with me and you will survive, walk out alone and he will complete what he started when you were 13."

As he spoke I closed my eyes and the dreams coallesced before my eyes. He was there, the recording of my voice playing in the back ground, the stilletto in his hands, conducting the choir, each crescendo a downward slash, each quiet period, quich back and forth movements. Drops of blood mark the passing of the blade.

Every now and again, he would slow the action by stopping to take a drink of whiskey from the bottle on the table next to the chair I was tied to. A badly placed downward slash cut the cord on my right arm and in a frenzy of fear, I grabbed the bottle and smashed it on the table as I had seen my father do all too often. I then swung the jagged broken stump of a bottle at his face and connected with a glancing blow. He staggered back blood spurting from the jagged cut below his eye. I wrenched myself free of the chair and fled into the darkness bleeding from a myriad of cuts. When I got home, my father beat me and my mother stitched up my wounds. I managed to forget that night of the choral performance. At got me to a shrink and then when I was stonger, he took my statement and shut down a ring using the excuse of accessory before, after and possibly even during the act. My old choirmaster was arrested and charged with serial murder having left sufficient dna to place him in the picture. I testified at his trial and was in court to see him found guilty.

Now, once again I am exposed and must flee. If you find you are missing a caretaker and sometime usher don't look to hard for him, he may not want to be found.