Jasmine Sinclair was a tall statuesque blonde, expensively dressed and cool to the point of being frosty. She offered a perfectly
manicured hand to greet Belinda. “So you’re Belinda? Brad told me so much about you.”
“I’ll bet he did,” thought Hazel.
As Jasmine examined Belinda, the way she would no doubt examine a dubious fashion item, Belinda couldn’t shake off the
feeling she had seen the woman before. But that was not possible. She put the thought out of her mind. “I’m pleased
he did. Then you can understand just how upset I am at his murder.”
Jasmine flinched slightly at the word. “Yes. His death came as a great blow to us all.”
They took their seats at a small lounge area in an office. The window in the high rise building afforded a wide view of Port
Phillip Bay, the beaches stretching in an arc down towards the Mornington peninsula. Belinda looked around. The wall held
a display of architectural awards bearing Brad’s name. “So this is Brad’s office?”
“Was his office,” said Jasmine.
“Bitch,” thought Hazel.
Belinda let the woman’s tactlessness pass. “We were wondering if you could give us any idea of how or why he was
Jasmine examined her fingernails. “I would have thought you’d already read the papers.”
Hazel, sensing that Belinda was finding the situation difficult, spoke up. “But we thought you would know more details.”
Aloof, Jasmine transferred her look to Hazel. “Why would you think that?” The frost in her voice grew heavy. “I’ve
told the police all I know. I wasn’t there when he died and I didn’t murder him.”
“But,” said Hazel in counterfeit honeyed tones, “as his secretary and being so close to him, you’d
know if he had any enemies or was engaged in any activities or projects that might have led to his murder. After all, a really
good secretary knows where the bodies are buried.” She gave a patronizing smile.
Jasmine stared at Hazel for a moment before addressing Belinda. “As you were such and old and close friend of Brad’s,
all I can tell you is that, as far as I know,” she glanced briefly at Hazel, “there was nothing in Brad’s
life or work that would be considered – questionable.”
“I’m sure of that,” said Hazel with false appease-ment, “but the police and the papers haven’t
really given details, except he had his hands tied and had been hit on the head. A blunt instrument was it?”
Jasmine frowned, or as much as she could. A Bo-tox junkie, thought Hazel. “What do you mean, a blunt instrument?”
“Isn’t that what they always say? Hit on the head with a ‘blunt instrument’?”
Jasmine’s lips tightened. “I really wouldn’t know,” she spat out.
“And this ‘blunt instrument’, say an iron bar. Or perhaps one made of silver? Was it used in his apartment?
Was he murdered there and then dumped in the river?”
Jasmine’s cheeks reddened and her voice became low and heated. “As I said, I really wouldn’t know. I’ve
al-ready told the police I was working here in the office the night Brad died, but I don’t see why I need to tell you.”
Hazel lifted her eyebrows expressing doubt. There was an awkward silence. Belinda began to feel that soon Jasmine would throw
them out. She gave a tentative cough to draw attention back to herself. “What projects was he working on?”
Jasmine gave a weary sigh. “I’ve told all this to the police. The most obvious thing was his desire to build the
dome on Parliament House. Apart from that he had a number of projects at various stages of development. Some apartment blocks,
a few contracts for private houses. That’s more or less it, apart from a corporate building.”
“Where were these projects?” said Hazel.
Jasmine continued looking at Belinda. “The apartment blocks, down in the Quay area. The houses spread here and there.
Chiefly in country areas close to the city. The Dandenong’s mainly.”
“Dandenong’s?” said Hazel. “What’s a Dan-denong?”
Jasmine sniffed. “The Dandenong Ranges. The mountain range nearby.”
“You mentioned a corporate building.” said Belinda.
“Yes. Work there is well underway. It’s in Little Lonsdale Street near Spring Street. Some old houses were removed.
Of course, the greenies and the heritage mob complained, as they usually do. But they lost out and the excavation for the
new building foundations is already underway.”
“And you don’t think these activities had anything to do with his murder? I mean, a payback from groups he may
have offended, or corporate management that had an axe to grind, or a jealous associate?”
Jasmine got to her feet. “I’m afraid you’re talking nonsense. Now you really must excuse me. As you can
appreciate, we have to carry on with Brad’s work, and arrange for other architects to take over, that is until we can
sort out what happens to the company.” She moved towards the door.
Belinda and Hazel rose and followed her. They moved into the foyer and Jasmine pressed the elevator button. There was another
awkward silence before Belinda muttered a feeble ‘thank you’.
“I really think you should speak to the police, if you want further details about Brad’s death,” said Jasmine
dismissively, “there is nothing more for me to add.”
Belinda felt whatever Jasmine knew or suspected, she wasn’t prepared to part with it. The lift door slid open and Belinda
and Hazel entered. They turned as the door closed. Jasmine was watching them, her eyes steely and unfeeling. Once again Belinda
had the curious feeling she had seen Jasmine before.