She phoned for the driver to pick her up. He wasn't far away, probably five minutes. She picked up her bag, checked the $140 was inside. The client got off the bed and put on his green tracksuit pants. He said his name was Mark.
She said, "So what do you do, Mark?"
He said, "Sell kitchen sinks."
She said, "Really."
He said, "I fax the orders to my wife, and she does all the paperwork."
She said, "Uh-huh."
It was well after midnight and they were both tired. She looked around the small motel room. There wasn't much to look at - a photo of the Petone wharf on the wall, a bottle of rum on the kitchen table. He'd polished off most of it. When they had sex, he stank of rum. He was very fat.
The driver from the agency finally arrived. "Good night," she said.
"Good night," he said.
He'd forgotten what she said her name was. After she left Mark went outside to his car. He'd left it on the street earlier that night, when he'd parked alongside the foreshore and read his book until it got dark. He thought he'd better move it into the motel carpark. He felt a bit boozed and couldn't be bothered angling it directly in front of his room, unit 10, so he left it in front of unit 1.
It was a cold, still night in late August. There wasn't a moon out and the sky and the water of Wellington harbour were as black as each other. He could see across from Petone to the city and the streetlights glowing high in the Hutt hills. To his left, a lighthouse flickered at the harbour entrance. He shivered, and went inside.
He got back into bed. The rum, the sex ... he felt relaxed, content. Life was good. A new laminate product had arrived that week; orders were going to go through the roof. The wine venture wasn't dead in the water yet, not by a long shot. In fact he was going to call Bronwyn first thing in the morning and get her to design an advertisement for a magazine aimed at retired police officers. He was bound to attract a few investors to back the land deal he had going in Hawkes Bay.
But even if it fell through, no worries. They'd survive. You just had to work hard and neither he nor Christine were afraid of that. They were a good team. He was away from their Palmerston North home a lot, on the road, selling the sinks from the Netherlands and the taps made in Taiwan; Christine stayed at home and did the books. Actually she was probably doing her brother's GST that night. Glenn had come over that morning to see if she'd finished it. He was at the house yesterday morning, too, asking about it.
Christine's family were always at the house. Her mum came for lunch every Wednesday, and popped in most days for a cup of tea and to see Amber. He smiled in the darkness. Amber. He was crazy about Amber, loved her with all his heart. She'd phoned that afternoon to ask if it was all right to have McDonald's for dinner. When he was away, Christine and Amber always ate takeaways. Christine probably cooked twice a year. Of course you can, he said. Thanks daddy, she said.
She'd be sound asleep now. She was such a good little girl, never any problems at bedtime. She'd go to bed at 7.30, read, and have lights out by 8.30, 9 at the latest. Christine made Amber's nighties. She'd be wearing one tonight - probably with socks. She often forgot to take them off when she got into bed.
Christine always slept naked. She heated up her side of the waterbed. She might still be up; she was a real night owl, reading her mother's subscription to Mills & Boon, playing cards on the computer, watching TV, doing the books - Glenn would be around again in the morning for his GST, you could be sure of that.
Mark would be home some time tomorrow afternoon. Back at the house, back with Christine and Amber. Good.
He nodded off. He got up once in the night to go the bathroom, but otherwise slept soundly. He was up just after seven and went into the office to see if the manager had batteries for his electric razor. The guy didn't have any. Mark went back to his room, dressed, and checked out. He drove along the Esplanade to his favourite cafe, and bought a bacon and egg sandwich for breakfast. He also bought batteries. He shaved in the car, and ate his scoff, parked on the foreshore.
He went about his rounds, and phoned Christine for an address of a client who owed them money. She didn't pick up, and didn't return his calls. He continued to phone.
He started to get worried. Then a friend phoned and said get your arse home now, there's police tape outside your house, and the radio has said there's a suspicious death. He drove, fast, and howled.
This deeply boring story with the tragic ending - many of the details are taken from the past week in the murder trial of Mark Lundy at the High Court at Wellington - is the one that may be the reality of the events, or non-events, that took place on the night of August 30, 2000, when Christine and Amber Lundy were killed at their Palmerston North home by someone swinging something like an axe.
The police say it was Lundy. After the hooker left his room, he drove home, executed his family, and returned to the motel to pick up the story from the time he went into the office to see if the manager had batteries for his electric razor.
A verdict is due soon. The prosecution have only one witness left. It's expected the defence will take a week to present its remaining witnesses. And then the closing addresses, and the judge sums up; and then the jury of 12 will be sent out. They might return before Easter. Every minute of their deliberations will be a familiar agony for the man accused a second time of killing his wife and child.
The murders have formed an ongoing part of the national conversation for the past 15 years. Lundy was found guilty at his first trial, in 2002; the conviction was overturned by the Privy Council in 2013, and the Crown have put in a massive effort to prosecute him at his retrial in Wellington.
Well, prosecutor Philip Morgan QC has put in a massive effort, examining most of the witnesses, and showing a surprising vitriol in cross-examination - very Jekyll and Hyde, a bland character capable of little bitter furies. "Too silly for words!", he has thrown at least two defence witnesses. Meanwhile, co-prosecutor Ben Vanderkolk sits by inspecting his fingernails, a splendid and regal figure in his pinstriped flannels, quite unemployed.
For the defence, David Hislop QC has had just about all his flat New Zealand vowels return to his mouth in the past six weeks of the trial. His law practice is in England, and he sounded like a duffer from the Old Bailey when the trial began. His colleague Ross Burns, who tucks himself into snug outfits, comes across as rather vain, but has a charming absent-mindedness about him. It's not contrived. It's genuine. "I can't seem to locate my notes," he has apologised at least twice.
Human frailty has at least provided welcome relief from the seriousness and sadness of the Lundy murder trial. There have been some truly horrible things seen and heard in courtroom one these past six weeks. The crime scene photo booklets, the evidence given from the post-mortems ...
Christine was 42. Amber was 7. Christine's face was not recognisable. The attack on Amber required a special kind of evil. It was the slaughter of the innocent. What kind of person could do that? Could a father do that to his daughter?
Patiently, exactingly, the Crown have laid out their case against Lundy. They signalled at the opening of the trial what they would try to establish, and then set out to do it.
Motive: Christine's life insurance. Lundy had got in over his head on the vineyard deal, and faced bankruptcy.
Opportunity: no one saw Lundy between the time the escort left his room after midnight, and when he asked the motel manager if he had batteries for his razor about 7am. He left the car out on the street so he wouldn't wake other guests in the middle of the night. He made the round-trip and committed the murders under cover of darkness.
Forensic evidence: two stains on Lundy's shirt are central nervous system tissue from the brain or spinal cord. They could only have got there during the attack on Christine.
There are other various strands in the Crown case, other important pieces of evidence, but the shirt has taken up the most time and involved the biggest number of witnesses. Some of the world's greatest forensic scientists have appeared at the trial. They raised the ambient IQ in the room even before they opened their mouths. It might have better if one or two crashing bores had remained mute.
Their evidence was necessarily complex but in the end there was consensus between prosecution and evidence: the stains were indeed central nervous system tissue. But were they human, or animal?
The content of processed meat was discussed this week and the court heard that spinal cord was a fairly common ingredient. It's anticipated that the defence will call more expert witnesses next week to argue that the stains on Lundy's shirt came from a pie or somesuch scoff.
The pie that was mistaken for a woman's brain. So much of Lundy's daily life was banal, ordinary, commonplace; he was the overweight sink salesman who wolfed down bacon and egg sandwiches for breakfast, and liked his rum. He gave a statement to police in 2000 about his usual routines. It was read out in court this week. He sat in the back of the court and listened to the details of a life he no longer lives.
He smiled once. It was when he mentioned to police that Amber often forgot to take off her socks when she went to bed. Crime scene photos showed the little girl lying in the doorway of her mother's room. She wore the nightie that Christine made. She also had on a pair of white socks.