She said, "Well, I better phone for the driver." He said, "Use my cellphone." "Thanks," she said, and dialled the number at 12.43am.
It didn't take long for the driver from the nearby Quarry Inn escort service to arrive at his motel. "Good night," she said.
After she left, he got ready. It was going to be a long night. He'd polished off nearly three-quarters of a bottle of rum, but had his wits about him - the escort thought to herself that he didn't seem drunk in the slightest.
He moved around the small room. There was his bulging suitcase, and there were the keys to his Ford Fairmont. He gathered what he needed. It was time to go.
He locked the door of unit 10 and walked softly across the carpark. The motel had its NO VACANCY sign up. Among the guests were a woman on a week-long weight-watching course at Jenny Craig, a cigar salesman from Ponsonby Rd, a man from Firestone in Palmerston North, a watercress grower from Te Puke who was staying with his father, and Phil, a long-term tenant.
He'd moved the car from outside his motel room to across the road earlier that evening. It was all about thinking ahead, not leaving anything to chance. He might have woken a guest if he'd started up his Ford Fairmont in the motel carpark. But now he could make a clean getaway, undetected, unnoticed, a fugitive in the night.
A new moon had appeared in the sky at 10.20pm. It was too thin to illuminate the winter evening. There was low cloud but visibility was good. A light southerly had died out in the afternoon. It rained now and then during the day, but not heavily, and the roads were dry.
He got in the car. The lovely emerald-green light on the long Petone wharf glowed in the dark. Oystercatchers marched along the line of the tide, stabbing at food. Their soft nagging cries were the only sound to be heard. It was Tuesday night. Petone had gone to bed; the lights were off in the charming cottages with their small front porches. Orange sodium streetlights burned all along the foreshore of the pretty seaside town.
He closed the car door, took care not to slam it. Wellington's hills formed a ring around the harbour. To the left were the gorsey slopes above Days Bay and Eastbourne; to his right, the shore curved towards the city. The Cook Strait ferry was in dock.
He had stayed at the Foreshore Motor Lodge before. It was a good base for his travels around Wellington and the Hutt Valley, where he called in to see his customers. He was popular, a cheerful fatty who liked a laugh.
"Gidday Mark," they said, "how's Christine?" His wife sorted the accounts of their business selling sinks and taps. "And Amber?" Their daughter was 7. They had a trampoline and a set of swings for her on the front lawn of their home at 30 Karamea Cres in Palmerston North.
He started the engine. He drove along the Esplanade. The cigar salesman, who'd watched his daughter perform in a choir at the Wellington Town Hall that night, slept on. The watercress grower, who ate with his father at Valentine's in Petone that night, slept on. The weightwatcher, who had dinner with a friend at her home in Mt Victoria that night, slept on.
He turned on to the Hutt Rd, opposite the welcome sign for Petone spelled out in flowers, and drove alongside the harbour towards the city. The lights were on in the Beehive. Perhaps Prime Minister Helen Clark was up late, plotting. The railway tracks were to his left, the hills to his right. He drove past a diesel service station. Dust from the Horokiwi quarry floated in the air. The black water of the harbour was darker than the moonless night.
Then he turned right into Ngauranga Gorge, heading inland, and left behind the beautiful harbour.
He drove the 150km to 30 Karamea Cres, hacked Christine and Amber to death with some kind of axe, and then drove back again, arriving at the motel around 4am, maybe as late as 5am - he might have needed time to fuss around with getting rid of the weapon, and Christine's jewellery box, which he took to make it look like a burglary. The next anyone heard from him was at 8.09am, when he checked out. "We had a chat," said motel manager Bruce Sloane, "about nothing in particular."
SHE SAID, "Well, I better phone for the driver." He said, "Use my cellphone."
"Thanks," she said, and dialled the number at 12.43am. It didn't take long for the driver from the nearby Quarry Inn escort service to arrive at his motel. "Good night," she said.
After she left, he got into bed - it was late, there were a lot of businesses to call on the next day, the rum and sex had tired him out - and fell asleep.
One of these two sagas - apart from the scenery and flat dialogue, every detail is taken from the opening fortnight in the murder trial of Mark Lundy at the High Court in Wellington - is the correct version, the most accurate narrative, the story based on real life. Which one happened? The lurid, incredible drama of a killer on the road, or the boring story of a sink salesman who called a hooker to his room and then snored off?
The week's evidence included lengthy examination of petrol use. Lundy's team argued that he burned up 300km of fuel on his business trip, and his high-speed, panicked drive home after he'd been told police were at his house. "A big man in a big car," as defence lawyer Ross Burns put it, in big terms, "with his big foot on the pedal." The Crown say the 300km accounts for his clandestine return trip on the night of August 29, 2000.
The prosecution called Sergeant Danny Johansen to talk about simulating Lundy's drive to and from Palmerston North. Johansen had done it six times, sometimes at great speed - the point was to see how fast he could drive it, because the police's original theory was that Lundy made the return trip on the afternoon of August 29, and committed the murders about 7pm. He had driven like a maniac to do it.
It's become part of New Zealand motoring folklore. It inspired the Lundy Five Hundy. And it was accepted by the jury in 2002, when Lundy was found guilty. The conviction was later thrown out. "You may or may not know this is a retrial," Justice Simon France told the jury last Monday. "Do not concern yourself with the first trial, or why we are here again."
Defence lawyer Ross Burns promptly referred to the first trial in his opening address - the 7pm theory, the trip taken at speed. "The Crown got it wrong." But all that has been consigned to history. The dispute now is whether Lundy did it in the middle of the night.
As far as the drive is concerned, the Crown allege Lundy deliberately shifted his car from the motel carpark so no one would hear him when he started it after midnight. He went to his home with murderous intent.
Amber woke up - this part is almost certainly and horribly true, no one contests it - and saw her mother being killed. She had to go.
"Brains," said her uncle, Glenn Weggery, when he was asked on the witness stand what he saw when he discovered Amber's body in the hallway. He reappeared in court last week, sitting in the back of the public gallery, an intense, sardonic presence. Weggery was straight-out accused of the murders by defence lawyer David Hislop, QC.
The gallery is seldom even half full. A woman from Epsom comes most days, and a pretty former criminologist - she specialised in the study of parents who killed their children - sometimes appears. As well as being entertained with lengthy examinations of petrol use, the observers heard possibly incriminating evidence last week about Lundy's failed vineyard enterprise.
His motive for the killings, say the Crown, was Christine's life insurance. He desperately needed the money.
Did he? Under questioning from the defence, witnesses said Lundy's sink business was ticking over, and a new laminate product was expected to boost sales. The wine enterprise - Lundy made an unconditional $2 million offer on land in Hawkes Bay, where he intended to grow grapes - included the curious episode of a potential investor from England.
She was a family friend of someone who knew Lundy. Lundy got it into his head that she was going to make an investment of 500,000. She appeared in court - the prosecution have also flown in a witness from Virginia in the US - and talked of her horror when she received an email from Lundy laying out the terms of her investment. She didn't have that kind of money, she said. At most, she was going to invest a couple of grand.
But why did Lundy think she was good for it? Did he pull the 500,000 figure out of thin air, or was it based on some kind of information? The woman's family friend is unable to appear in court. That person, the court heard, is at death's door.
So many pieces of evidence, so many competing stories. The weather in Wellington was beautiful every day last week; at Petone, families ate picnics on the long, scruffy beach, and oystercatchers marched along the tide. The door to unit 10 at the Foreshore Motel was open. There was a photo of the Petone wharf on the wall.