This story is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons is unintended.
Pablo always seemed to have plenty of money and was very generous. He took her out to night clubs and enjoyed having her to display to his friends as something of a trophy. He bought her clothes, jewellery, perfume and underwear. Some of the items seemed to be as much for his pleasure as hers. The clothes matched Katarinas wardrobe, short, tight and revealing. She was more than willing to dress to please him. While out in public he always had an arm round her waist or chest or a hand on her bottom, as though to signal his ownership of Steffi to those around him. He would pull her towards him to sit on his knee. Steffi didn’t really mind but it could occasionally be embarrassing. She provided him with sex virtually on demand, and in return he gave her unlimited time and attention and spent a lot of money on her. She tried anal sex with him when he wanted to, but found it a bit painful. She remembered what the girls had said about Argentine men. He even introduced her to drugs, something which could never have happened back home. Only joints of cannabis, though she had seen Pablo take cocaine at the night club. He gave her joints of cannabis in what looked like normal cigarettes rather than spliffs. With Pablos looks and money, he attracted a lot of attention from other women and she was grateful that he stayed with her. She found him so much more mature and attractive than Francisco, and drifted away from him.
Francisco was busy anyway, preparing for examinations in his final year. Steffi had been in Rosario for over 7 months now, and had turned nineteen. So much had changed in that time. The people back home would have been astonished at the change in her, from an eighteen year old virgin singing in the church choir to a nineteen year old very sexually experienced girl about town in this vibrant and exciting city.
One night they held a party at the house to celebrate the end of term. It did get a bit out of hand and the neighbours complained about the noise. The police turned up and closed the party down. The complaints were passed on to Herr Bauer from the municipal police, and he attended the address to give all the girls a dressing down.
The deputy director stood in the centre of the lounge with all the girls seated on the 2 leather sofas, trying to look suitably penitent. Olivia was also present. As Herr Bauer was at pains to remind them, this wasn’t the first time the neighbours had complained and the police had been called. This was unacceptable. He had warned them before and was now going to take action. There would be no more parties at the address. There would be no male callers or visitors after 8 p.m. And Olivia would be moving into the spare bedroom on a permanent basis to make sure that they complied with his instructions.
The girls groaned and protested briefly, but it was no use. The girls liked Olivia, in fact she was something of a mother figure to them, but they were miserable about the parties ban and how this would cramp their style. There were a few disparaging comments about Herr Bauer. He was quite a handsome, self confident man, always poised and well dressed, but he seemed so strict and rigid with little sense of humour. He rarely smiled. The girls knew little about him, whether he was married or even his first name. Katarina said she thought he was called Werner. She had tried to flirt with him once some time ago and had been angrily rebuffed. “He must be gay if he turned you down, Katarina,” said Steffi.
All the new restrictions were a bit boring, but didn’t have that much effect on the girls love lives. They just had to tone things down a bit at the house. Steffi spent most of her time with Pablo now at his apartment, though she did still meet and flirt with other men she met. He reacted to this angrily when he noticed it, just as Francisco had previously. They had some rows and he called her a whore. He pulled her hair and slapped her face on one occasion, but Pablo was apologetic afterwards and they kissed and made up. It just seemed to go with the territory when you dated Latin men, and it was worth it, Steffi thought.
She had broken up with Francisco, but he had been unwilling to accept this and kept trying to contact her. One Thursday evening, he was waiting for her outside the address when Pablo dropped her off in his BMW. He said goodbye, French kissing her passionately in the street outside. Francisco suddenly stormed up, screaming and shouting abuse at both of them. He pushed Steffi aside violently and she was left sprawling on the footpath, her handbag on the ground with its contents spilling out. He punched Pablo hard and knocked him on to the bonnet of the car. Pablo grabbed hold of Francisco by the neck and chest and wrestled him to the ground, grappling and struggling with one another. Neighbours heard all the commotion and came out to see what was happening.
Steffi rushed over to try to intervene, but was unable to separate them. The fight continued in the middle of the road until Pablo suddenly collapsed, groaning and clutching his abdomen. A pool of blood appeared as a dark stain on his light coloured shirt, and Steffi screamed and picked up a bloodstained knife from the ground by his side.
A police van arrived, with its siren sounding and lights flashing. Police officers leapt out and forced Francisco to the ground, He was handcuffed and thrown bodily into the back of the van. He was raving, and appeared drunk. Another officer ran to get a first aid box from the vehicle and went to help Pablo. Steffi went to help, but she was still carrying the bloodstained knife, and had herself been drinking. Before she could explain what had happened, she was hit on the arm by a metal police baton and the knife fell to the ground from her grasp. She was knocked violently to the ground, and her arms were wrenched painfully behind her and her wrists handcuffed tightly behind her back. She was thrown into the back of the van and locked into a small wire mesh cell next to a similar cell occupied by a drunken Francisco. She saw an ambulance pull up next to the van. An officer picked up her handbag from the ground and tossed it into the rear of the vehicle.
The vehicle sped off from the scene, with a handcuffed Steffi trying to brace herself against the sides of the cell unit. She couldn’t get any sense out of Francisco. He was obviously drunk and may have taken drugs as well. They arrived at the police station and both of them were roughly pulled from the van and placed in separate cells, still handcuffed.
Steffi looked around the bare cell. There was a thin plastic covered mattress on a low wooden platform with no bedding, and a toilet with no seat. Graffiti was scratched on the inside of the metal cell door. It was absolute bedlam in the cell block area, with the banging of cell doors, people shouting abuse and a drunk singing. Steffi thought she must look quite a sight. She had been crying, and her make up had run. With her hands cuffed behind her she couldn’t do anything about it. Her arm hurt and was bruised where she had been struck with the baton. Her knees were grazed and her hair and clothing dishevelled, though she was dressed only in a black leather mini skirt, tight top and high heels.
She was taken from the cell to a nearby interview room. Her hands were unlocked and cuffed in front of her. She saw her handbag nearby. A plain clothes police officer was having a conversation about the incident on the telephone. Steffi tried to attract his attention to ask him about Pablo, but he ignored her with a wave of the hand. He fell silent and seemed to be thinking for a few moments before he spoke to her. She tried to ask him questions, but he ignored her, and slowly and methodically began filling in a number of forms on the table in front of him.
From his attitude and the questions he asked, it became clear that the officer believed Steffi was the one responsible for the stabbing. She had been seen with the knife by a policeman at the scene, and apparently one of the neighbours had said that she did it. Steffi protested that she was innocent, but from the way she was dressed it was clear that he took her for a hooker, and that Francisco or Pablo was probably her pimp. She denied all this angrily, but the detective ignored her and emptied out her handbag, looking for something to confirm her identity. He picked up two of the cannabis cigarette joints that Pablo had given her, looked at her and shook his head. From her documents he could see that she was a German national and he placed the small laminated identity card with Herr Bauer’s contact details on the rear in his shirt pocket. Steffi was then returned to her cell with her hands still handcuffed in front of her. She was given a plastic cup of water and some tissue paper for her face, and some toilet paper.
The implications of the situation in which she found herself slowly began to sink in. She had been arrested in a very serious public disturbance. The police seemed to think she was responsible for an offence of stabbing or even attempted murder. And it was obvious from the way she was dressed that they thought she was just some kind of a prostitute. Thoughts came crowding into her mind. She wasn’t back home in Ohlenheim, this was Argentina. She could end up in prison for years. She could be expelled from the country. It would almost certainly be the end of her scholarship with the Institute and her studies at the university, after all her hard work. If she ended up in court or in jail it would kill her parents. Oh my God, she thought, it would probably be in the papers like Bild. She knew what the tabloids were like. They’d probably run headlines like “Ohlenheim choir girl turned prostitute/ jailed for stabbing in Argentina,” etc. Shed never be able to show her face in the town again. She held her face in her cuffed hands, sobbing and horrified.
The detective came to her cell several times over a period of two hours, asked her various questions and left. She told him what had happened, but there was no indication that he believed her. Steffi asked him how Pablo was. All he could say was that Pablo was being treated in hospital for a stab wound to the stomach. Then she was taken from the cell still in handcuffs to a reception area. A clock on the wall showed 11.30 p.m. Herr Bauer stood by the door in a dark suit and tie, carrying an attache case. She looked at him fearfully, her face tear stained. He did not look pleased.
To be continued.