As the final stop on the #GrippedByFear blog tour, I’m delighted to bring you the conclusion of FEAR’s second chapter.
If you’ve missed the other days, be sure to check out the blogs in the graphic below. Visit us in order and you’ll get to read the first two chapters of FEAR for free!
What happened next is best related in the words of the indictment: At about 8.40 am, the accused, Hermann Tiefenthaler (my father, that is), left the flat of his son, Randolph Tiefenthaler, with the Walther PPK, then in his lawful possession, and descended to the basement, where he induced the tenant, Dieter Tiberius, to open the door to his flat, either by knocking or ringing the bell, and then killed Tiberius with a close-range shot to the head. Tiberius died instantly.
I rang the police. My father had asked me to, but it was in any case clear that this was the line we would take: no crazy getaway, no cover-up. We stood by the act. We still do—I can say that without reservation.
The policeman who picked up the phone, Sergeant Leidinger, greeted me almost affably. He knew me well, and he knew the house—he’d been here a lot over the past few months and sometimes found our case cause for amusement, but he immediately grew serious when he heard that I had a
death to report. I used those exact words, quite deliberately: ‘I have a death to report.’
‘Your wife?’ Sergeant Leidinger asked, and I could hear his alarm, which gave me, I must admit, a certain satisfaction, after all the doubts the authorities had about the gravity of our situation.
‘No,’ I said, ‘not my wife, thank goodness—it’s Dieter Tiberius.’
For a few seconds there was silence, and I’d love to know
what Leidinger was thinking then.
‘We’ll be right with you,’ he said.
My father packed his bag and put on his checked jacket. Then he sat down at the kitchen table again, the Walther PPK in front of him. I made him another espresso. We had sometimes sat there like that in the past, before he set off for home—usually with my mother, because he never came without her—and funnily enough, I now said some of the things I always said: ‘Have you got everything? Sure you haven’t forgotten anything?’
My father went to have a last look in the bathroom and found his shaving foam.
‘You can’t check too often,’ I said.
‘Who knows when I’d have got any,’ he said.
It had just occurred to me that you might not be allowed a wet shave in prison because of the razor blades—I knew nothing about life in prison—when the doorbell rang. Sergeant Leidinger and his colleague Rippschaft, who was also well known to me, were the first to arrive. Later, others came: policemen in uniform, plain-clothes detectives, a doctor, forensic investigators, pathologists.
My father told Sergeant Leidinger that he had shot he basement tenant. He said nothing else and was quiet throughout the proceedings. They didn’t put handcuffs on him, perhaps because of his age, and for that I was thankful. We hugged when he left, properly this time. It was a long, loving embrace, the first of our life. We clung to one another and he said something that may sound strange to outsiders. ‘I’m so proud of you,’ he said—a statement that can only be understood as a kind of closing summary, a father’s attempt to take stock of his relationship with his son before disappearing into prison. He had never said it before—or, indeed, anything like it. Maybe he wanted to make clear to me that, up until the appearance of Dieter Tiberius, he had considered my life a success, an absolute success, and that Dieter Tiberius was a mere episode in that life and no more—an episode which, thanks to a well-placed shot, was now over. He wanted to make clear to me that, in spite of the long silence between us, he was aware of that success—and he wanted to encourage me to continue along the path I had taken. I think that’s why he said what he did.
Fancy getting your hands on a SIGNED copy of the book, as well as a hamper of German sweets and chocolate?
Well, Orion is running a competition over on Twitter. To enter just tweet about a time you’ve been #GrippedByFear (be sure to use the hashtag). A winner will be chosen on Monday 29th January 2018.
FEAR is out in the UK now. If you’d like to check out my review of the book, click here.