This story is by Thuwaybah Moses and was part of our 2018 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
“I did good this time! You gonna be rushin’ to kiss my perky ass once you hear what I got!” Themba sang into the phone pressed against my ear. I looked around me, at the crowded and dirty streets of Joburg CBD, to see if anyone was paying attention to a short, buff man leaning against a tree. Luckily, I didn’t catch anyone watching, but just in case, I squeezed into the shadows of the apartment building to my right. “Speak fast, Tee.” I muttered, I didn’t want to stay here for too long, wasn’t looking to be stabbed just yet. My body still had a few more good years on it. Still has a few more whores to smash, I chuckled to myself with that thought.
“What?” Themba asked, he thought I was laughing at him. I didn’t bother re-assuring him, instead I got to business “What’s the job?”
“Lady, single, no kids. Lives in Houghton.”
“Houghton, nice.” I whistled through my teeth, the cold air made my cavities sting. I winced as I waited for Themba to go on. “Yeah I know,” he said completely satisfied with himself, “A few years back she tried suing the Guptas, something about a rape, you know the usual…”
“The Guptas!? No way!”
“This is the straight truth man, no lies!”
“I would’ve heard of that! The Guptas are huge!”
“Nah man, you wouldn’t have! That’s the point, you see?!”
“What?” I trailed off as I thought about what Themba was trying to say, then it dawned on me and a wide smile split my brown skin “Hush Money!”
“Exactly! We’re gonna be rich, man! And I know the chick’s got the money stashed somewhere in her house, you just gotta find it!” He paused then, “You can`t mess this one up, man! Not again.”
“Yeah I know! Just give me the address…….What? Oh! 15 Oak Road. Yeah! Yeah! I heard, it’s 15!” I shouted into the phone before hanging up.
She`s not supposed to be awake. Everything had been going well, I had just finished combing the downstairs, and was about to start on the upstairs, but was standing there having a fucking staring contest with some white woman while she stood in the doorway of her bathroom, the light from the room illuminated her tiny body as it shook in her thin night gown. The sound of the toilet bowl refilling was thunderous in the tense silence.
“Listen,” I said as I lifted my knife threateningly, “I don’t want to hurt you, so save us both the trouble and start talking. Where’s the money?” The woman didn’t answer. She just stood there, shaking. Maybe I wasn’t loud enough?
“Where’s the fucking money, bitch?!” She jumped at my raised voice, Yes!, then promptly started crying. Fuck! “Fine then! I’ll just look!” I noticed two other doors, one was open and I could just make out the shape of a bed inside. Her bedroom. The other door was closed. I decided to take my chances with that one first, it was closer than the other room.
I had just placed my hand on the doorknob when I felt a heavy weight crash into my back, making me bash my head into the door. “The fuck?!” I turned to glare at the small woman, and she punched me! I grabbed her arm as she reached back for another strike and twisted it behind her, using her momentum to draw her back flush against my chest. I raised my other hand and pressed my blade to her throat, “You looking to die, girlie?!” No answer.
“Look lady, just let me do my business, okay?” Again, my words were greeted by silence but, I took it as a sign of her agreement. I released her arm, took my knife from her throat then placed my hands on her shoulders to walk her back to her spot by the bathroom door. I let her utter compliance be another affirmation that she wouldn’t be showing me no more resistance.
This time, I actually got the door open before she jumped on me. I could’ve taken her weight any day! But, the surprise made me lose my footing and tumble to the ground. She landed on top of me, immediately using her advantage to hit me in the face. I grabbed her hands by their wrists as she tried to swing again, then began rolling our bodies so that I could be on top, however, my motion was cut short as I felt the sharp edge of something pressing into my side. I shifted, so that I could hold both her wrists in my one hand and then quickly reached down with the other to grab the knife. I had just gotten a hold of it, when I looked up to see her head arching down to pound my face. My body acted on instinct, my eyes shut and my hand rushed up to block the blow.
I laid there for a while. I could feel the resistance in my arm, but it was only when I felt the first warm, droplets of liquid on my face that the dread in my stomach brought bile to my throat. I opened my eyes to see her lifeless ones staring down at me. My knife was sticking out of her head, a gruesome painting, transfixing in its splatters of red. With a shout I threw her body off mine, jumped to my feet then cradled my head in my bloodstained hands. “Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! What did I just do?! What did you make me do?!” The corpse just laid there as the pool around it got bigger and bigger. I`m screaming at a fucking dead lady! Fuck! A lady that I made dead!
A bout of hysteria gripped me. My chipped nails dug into my head. Her drying blood on my hands, it flaked off and down into my eyes, making them sting. I scrapped at them, feeling the dampness of blood and tears on my face. “What do I do?! What do I do?!…….The money! Right, find the money!” I declared, feeling somewhat better that I had semblance of a plan. With a great sniffle I turned to finally look around the room. “Fuck!” I whispered as I saw what the room contained.
Sitting up in bed, staring at me with wide, brown eyes was a young girl. “Mommy?” She whispered as she turned her head to look at the corpse. “What’s wrong with mommy?” This time she spoke to me, her eyes becoming bigger as they swelled with tears. I didn’t answer. I couldn’t. Instead, I grabbed my knife and I ran.
I didn’t stop till my legs gave out. I was in some dark alleyway and I didn’t know my way out…
“I can smell the money!” Themba whooped as he answered the phone.
“What the fuck, Tee?! You said she didn’t have kids!”
“Well there was one there!”
“You sure you hit the right mark?”
“Yes! 15 Oak Road!”
“Shit! I said 50 not 15!”
“Fuck? I knew it! What did you do this time?! You always mess up man! Every time! Every fucking time!”
“This time is worse, man! It`s bad…Real fucking bad!”
How’d I screw up so bad?! And that girl?! I need to make this better! Somehow, I have to fix this! Fuck!
The Man shadows the Girl as she leaves her house. As always, he stays back so that she won’t notice him. He takes note of her hunched shoulders, and sighs in despair. A few blocks from the Girl’s school the Man notices that he is not the only one stalking her. Promptly, he disciplines the men who seek to do the Girl wrong. She shuffles into school, oblivious to the blood he has spilled for her.
Later, he sees her home safely and waits, watching the windows till he is sure she has turned in for the night. Satisfied that she’s safe, he walks to the little flower shop down the road. The shopkeeper is waiting with his usual bouquet, the Man pays, then heads off to his next destination.
He places the bouquet in front of the tombstone, yesterday’s dead flowers on the ground next to him. The Man speaks “She’s sleeping now. We had some trouble on the way to school, but I handled it. I made sure she was safe. Maybe one day, I could…” He stops, unwilling to let that thought develop any further, he knows the Girl would not welcome him, at least not yet……maybe not ever.
He speaks his nightly vow “This may never make me worthy of forgiveness but, I promise, no-one will ever do to your daughter, what I did to you.”
Finished, the Man walks back to the Girl’s house and takes up his usual station to stand guard, and watch over his girl for the night and the one after and the one……