He fell out of the window and swiftly went down, precisely in obedience to gravitational laws. Pieces of broken glass followed him as he grotesquely hit the ground. Blood gushed out of shattered cranial arteries forming small streams on the ground that splashed on some parts of the doorstep carpet and the wall.
The young girl’s screams could crack a bat’s eardrum for a million miles. I just stood there, frozen from shock as the memory of the night Khehla fell out a window from the 11th floor travelled through my mind. He had been drunk; we went on a school matric vacation and it happened on our last day at the Durban Beach Hotel. The girl was now resting her brooding face on the tea lady’s chest. I knew that she was the tea lady because of her light blue overall and the tray that stood next to her.
There were a few people who stood crying and talking to each other solemnly; I guessed that those were the people who had been close to Khehla. One of the security guards was on the phone with the emergency services while a white lady from the hotel management spoke on the phone with Khehla’s family. A few moments later, after the security guard got off the phone, one of the cleaners handed him a white sheet that he draped over Khehla’s lifeless body which lay on the cold floor of the foyer.
The image of his body lying there, cracked in places that it shouldn’t be and his clothes drenched in blood, was etched in the minds of those who had witnessed his demise. The bystanders and witnesses all looked glum; their faces in anguish and tears in their eyes. I walked towards the lady from management who was consoling one of the pupils.
“Hi mam, sorry to bother you but I just wanted to ask you if you know what happened here?” I asked as if I wasn’t there when it happened. I didn’t want to be questioned by police and pretending to not know what happened seemed the right way to go.
“I’m not sure. Perhaps you can ask the lady standing over there, she saw everything,” she said pointing at the girl who stood encircled by a group of her friends.
“No, she didn’t! I…” I broke off as I remembered that I had to act like I wasn’t there when Khehla fell to his death. The lady looked at me suspiciously but I just stood there a while in uncomfortable silence before I walked over to the group standing near the receptionist desk.
“Excuse me,” the lady said when I took a step forward.
“What?” I said trying to play innocent but she saw right through me.
“You saw something didn’t you,” she asked more seriously.
I had been standing on the opposite side of the foyer admiring the building’s landscape, its structure, its authenticity and elegance from inside, when I saw an object falling fast from one of the top floors. I didn’t know what it was until I heard the nauseating sound of cracking bone and saw blood spatter everywhere in front of me. I looked around to see who else had seen it happen and found that there was no one except me.
Even the security guard who sat at the reception desk had his back to the scene and his stereo was turned on loud. How could he have missed it? That is what movies were made of, I thought in horror. I don’t believe that seeing someone die in such a gruesome manner was funny but I thought that there would be more witnesses than just me.
“You saw what happened to that guy, the look on your face says you did,” she said taking a step closer.
“No, I didn’t,” I said more seriously, but I knew that she saw right through me.
“You’ve got to tell the police what you saw, and don’t give that ‘I didn’t see anything’ nonsense. I know you saw something,” she said with authority.
I didn’t want to get mixed up with the police and this lady was starting to draw attention to me and that is what I’d been trying to avoid. “No I didn’t, I swear I didn’t!” I said with more urgency in my voice than I intended.
The police arrived at just that moment. I felt as if everyone was looking at me. “Leave me alone, I didn’t see anything,” I said more loudly than I intended. Everyone turned to look at us including the police officers who were questioning people at random.
One of the police officers made his way across the foyer to where the lady and I were standing. “Monna ho etsahalang monu?” (What’s going on over there?) The police officer inquired strictly.
“Cha akukho lutho baba,” (There is nothing sir) I said with a shaky voice.
“Boa otlwahale monna oreng,” (Speak louder) the officer said.
“Ngithi akwenzeki lutho baba, ukuthi nje usisi ayimphathanga kahle yonke lento eyenzekile,” (I said it is nothing sir, it’s just that the lady here doesn’t know what happened here) I said trying to sound confident.
The officer backed off and returned to his partner who was still questioning the first couple of witness who arrived first at the scene. The lady from management then took that as her que to leave; she walked up the stairs that led to the staff offices. I found her behaviour disturbing so I followed her up the stairs. I lied to that police officer but I had nothing to feel guilty about.
When I reached the staff floor I went straight to the office that had a ‘management’ clipboard on the door. I knocked but there was no reply. I knocked a second time then the door swung open. The lady, who I now assumed to be the hotel manager, stood holding the door slightly open.
“What do you want?” She asked with a note of irritation in her voice.
“I wanted to come and apologise for my behaviour earlier,” I said.
“What do you want?” she asked again.
“As I just said, I’m here to apologise,” I said again.
“You’re not one of our guests, so what are you doing here?” she asked flatly.
“I’m here for an interview that was supposed to take place at eight this morning,” I said.
“You’re late,” she said rudely.
“As you yourself saw, my reason for being late is valid. I couldn’t have predicted what happened downstairs,” I said with an edge of frustration in my voice.
There was something about her but I couldn’t put my finger on it. “Can I ask you something?” I said as I walked past her and sat on the chair opposite the desk.
“What’s the question?” She asked still acting cold towards me.
“Are you a model? I think I might have seen you in one of those fashion magazines last week,” I said trying to make conversation.
“Oh no, stop it. It’s not true boy,” she said with smile.
Now she was a bit relaxed and sat on the opposite side of the desk. She asked me a couple of routine questions on the job that I had applied for but before the interview concluded there was a knock on the door. When the lady opened the door, there stood the police officer from earlier.
The door was wide enough for him to see that I was there. The two of them had a whispered conversation before she closed the door leaving me inside her office.
As the two of them spoke outside the office, I looked around and saw a wooden bar with the name of the lady on it, her name was Kim Currin and she was the Chief Operations Officer of the hotel. There was a picture on her desk of her and her two children. I stood up and looked out of the window. To my surprise the parking lot downstairs was filled with emergency crew vans, police vans, media vans and spectators coming to see what happened.
Then there was a knock on the door, “Come in,” I said moving back to my chair. It was the girl I saw crying on the tea lady’s chest earlier that morning.
“Mrs Currin sent me to tell you to come downstairs right this moment,” she said then turned around and took the stairs to the foyer. I hurriedly followed the girl downstairs. I bumped into many people who all turned and looked at me when I reached the foyer. There was Mrs Currin standing next to a couple who looked like they were comforting each other. As I walked closer I heard from the bystanders’ whispers that the couple were Khehla’s parents.
“There you are,” Kim said beckoning me towards her, “this guy can tell you what he saw.” I was horrified because she just put me on the spot in front of everyone after I had told her that I didn’t see what happened. The officer called me aside and took my statement; I recounted the events of that morning to the point of where I saw that it wasn’t a cushion but a person who lay sprawled in front of me. Kim then took me back to her office to complete my interview when the police officer indicated that he was satisfied with the information I provided.
In Kim’s office she proceeded with my interview, and then surprised me with a kiss when it was done. She then told me that she would forward my CV to HR and that they would give me a call. I went home thinking that I had always wanted to achieve Ben Ten status but never thought that I could bag a woman like Mrs Currin.
The next morning I received a call from the hotel’s HR department telling me that I got the job. I was so excited but the thought of Khehla’s death put a damper on my spirit. On the previous evening’s news bulletin, it was said that he committed suicide after he, his mother and girlfriend had a fall out. The poor guy couldn’t handle the pressures of life. I however was starting a new job with a hot boss; things could only get better from there on.
Do you think it’s proper for employees to be improper or unprofessional with employees?