My name is Alberto Bowes. Today I find myself wistfully living in a back room in the busy streets of Regents Park. This is not how I pictured my life to be at my old lousy age of 61. I had so many hopes, so many other great things I wished to achieve, but life shows you its own path.
I lived a glamorous life and was short of nothing. I had a big house, fancy car, a few holiday homes over Africa and a happy family. I owned the popular Papi Portuguese Restaurant up in the Northern Suburbs 8 years ago. The restaurant had a great celebrity presence and excellent media reviews from food critics, all adding to its already alluring status. Life was really good until Patrick came along. Patrick sold me what seemed to be great ideas of making extra money through the restaurant. I didn’t need more money but I was intrigued by his ideas. Infact I would say I was selfish and greedy really!
I spent many late nights and early mornings hosting dodgy men in suits when the restaurant would close. They weren’t exactly interested in the food we made but rather seemed to be focused more on packaging and discretely distributing that ‘white powder’. Patrick was right, I ended up making a killing and no one seemed to be suspicious at all, not even my own wife.
Everyday the restaurant would close for the afternoon at 16:00 and reopen at 18:00 for dinner. On Tuesday, 12 February 2009, my youngest daughter, Gemma was playing in the kids section of the restaurant while I cashed up from the morning sales. She had the most beautiful smile I had ever seen. I went to the kitchen to pack lunch to take home for my family. As I opened the big fridge and took out some leftovers from breakfast, I heard a loud bang and a long dragged out cry, ‘Daaaaaaaaddy’. I froze and felt the bowl with the bacon slowly slip out of my hand and drop to the ground. I remember jumping over the bowl and running to the front of the restaurant towards the play area. ‘Gemma, Gemma’. I called out but she didn’t respond. I looked down and felt my hands start to sweat and I instantly became frantic. There laid my beautiful Gemma. Her grey school uniform dress now maroon. There was blood everywhere. I fell to my knees next to her and started crying. I tried to move her but she didnt respond. My precious baby. I needed to save her, get her help! I run towards the reception desk to call for help. As I pick up the phone I realize that the till is thrown to the side but all the money is still inside. There is a black box right next to it. I open it and see a cut off hand with a note next to it. The ring on the finger looked exactly like my wife Janis’s wedding ring. I find myself just staring and as I look closer, I see it is her ring on her hand. This is all too much. I let out a loud cry and after a few minutes I wipe my eyes and bring myself to open the note. It read, ‘I know what happens there. You have 72 hours to give me seventy eight thousand rand or your oldest daughter dies too.’