I don’t get it. Why would Precious want to set me up? What will she gain from this? Does she want to embarrass me or something? Is this some sort of game? Or a prank?
There’s a sudden cold breeze. It’s getting windy and dark. The clouds have covered most of the sun. I should have brought a jersey. Sounds of thunder start to rumble and I begin to walk faster.
I get home and throw myself on the old couch. I feel my stomach cry. Man I’m hungry! I open the cupboards and see that there is only one piece of bread left. Eish! I guess I’ll have to go to town and buy bread. There isn’t time to change, so I keep my jersey that I have on. It is really uncomfortable. It’s old and very itchy. At least I’m wearing a school shirt, or otherwise I would be scratching myself to come right.
I arrive at New Stallian after catching a taxi. I go to the local cafe there. The one run by Mr Blanc, Pam’s father. Guess I’m used to it, hey. I can see Mr Blanc smoking a cigarette with the cigarette lighting and then fading when he inhales and exhales.
“Good afternoon Mr Blanc,” I greet.
“Ah, if it isn’t Benard. I guess you’re coming here to beg for your job?”
“Ha, ha. No sir, actually I – “. Mr Blanc interrupts.
“Well forget about it. I’ve hired someone already. He’s already started working. So go and look for a job elsewhere,” Mr Blanc says.
“Uhm, as I wanted to say before. I came here to buy bread.”
Mr Blanc frowns.
“Oh, is that so. Well what are you still standing here for? Go and buy your bread.”
“Ha, ha. With pleasure, sir,” I respond with a grin. Ha, ha! Some things will just never change, I think to myself.
I go inside the shop and there is Pam, counting money in the till.
“What you doing with all that moola?” I ask sarcastically. Pam looks up. She gives me a friendly smile.
“How are you doing, Benard?”
I could tell her that my mom left me. That my best friend is now my worst enemy. That I feel like I’m starting to lose myself. But I say,
“Well, I guess I’m fine.” Quick Benard, start a conversation, I tell myself. “Uhm, so you’re counting money?” Dumb question, Benard.
“Huh, don’t you have eyes? Eish, now you’ve made me lose count. I’m gonna have to restart counting all over again,” Pam looks sad.
“Oh, I’m uhm … sorry, I didn’t mean to.”
“Loosen up, hey. I am only kidding with you,” she responds, smiling.
Pam is really nice. Any guy would be lucky to have her. I used to have feelings for her. Well, in the past when I first started to work here. Until I realised that I had no chance with her. I mean she’s from a rich background and I am, well, from a poor background. How would I buy her stuff? Take her out to restaurants and stuff?
That’s the reason why it would be impossible for me to have any chance with her whatsoever. Her dad, Mr Blanc, is from England, and she is too. They came here at the time when new Stallian was rising economically. They started their businesses like all other foreigners that had fled here. All in all, I guess you can see that it wouldn’t work, even if Pam gave me a miraculous chance.
“Er… earth to Benard.”
Eish! There we go again, my forgetfulness.
“What’s up? You look a bit distant from here.”
“I’m just thinking of something, that’s all.”
“Well, there’s this girl that I really like. But I’m not sure if she feels the same way.”
“Uhm, yeah,” I respond. “So what do you think I should do?”
“About what?” Pam asks.
“Oh, yeah. Follow your heart, or something like that.
“Ha, ha. In all the advice that you’ve given me, this is down at the bottom of the list.”
“Sorry, I just… well I’m not quite sure of what to say.”
Pam responds stuttering. “Oh, okay”.
There’s a sudden unwanted silence starting to grow.
Beep, beep, beeep, a cellphone rings.
“Er, I think you got a call.” I say.
“Uhm, that ain’t my phone,” Pam responds.
Oh, it’s Precious’ phone ringing. I answer it.
“Huh, who the hell is this?” the caller responds rudely.
“It’s Benard, the owner of the phone that was left at school by mistake…”
The caller hangs up. Guess it’s a wrong number.
“Who was it?”
“Ah, never mind about that. Hey Pam, could you do me a favour?”
“Sure, what do you need?”
“Could you take me to middle Stallian? I wanna give some girl this phone. She left it at school and she’s got some real explaining to do.” Why didn’t I say that earlier?
“Oh, another one of your girlfriends I suppose?”
“No, well, yes. No, huh?” I scratch my head. Let me think. Well she tricked me and she wants to make a fool out of me. “Well I don’t know really,” I eventually respond.
Nice one Benard! Even a mad man wouldn’t have said that.
“I ain’t gonna even ask any further,” Pam says. “I’ll go and get the keys.”
She heads out. What’s got into her all of a sudden? Is it wrong to tell a friend that you’ve got a girlfriend? Man I feel so tired right now. I could really use those energy pills right about now. As I take out the small rounded container and open it I find that the pills are finished. No, I need them. I need more. I know it’s gonna sound crazy and all, but these pills make me feel and sound a bit cocky and confident. And who doesn’t like having a bit of confidence?”
“I’m back with the keys,” Pam says.
“Cool,” I respond as we head off in the Range Rover. I start to feel like my normal self, for a while.
In that moment I realise that Precious could be in on this too. I mean it all makes sense now. The way she was asking me about the muggers. The way she reacted when I told her that I had remembered everything. She went totally wild after that. Yes, that’s absolutely it. It’s a set up! Wow, but they’re fools! I’ve got an ace up my sleeve. The police officer. Ha, ha they won’t know what hit them. I’ll go alone and the police officer will come with his squad and everything will be alright. They’ll all get arrested for this and that’ll be the end for them. That’s why Precious wanted me to come alone. I must admit that I fell for it. The whole, ‘I’m your girlfriend’, stuff was all a trick. An illusion, in fact.
My brain starts to shiver. I really hate it when it does that. I feel more and more tired. I’d better call the police officer right now.
“Er, Pam, can I have your phone? I wanna call some police officer.”
“What for?” Pam asks.
“I’ll explain later. Just drive.”
She hands me the phone. Ha, ha. Luckily I have the number of the police officer in my pocket. Man, I can’t believe I was so stupid and foolish. They were right under my nose. I dial the number of the officer.
“Hello, who is this?” Huh, this is not the officer’s voice.
“Hey, it’s him,” the voice says. I hear voices. “Hey, Benard, sorry about that. That was my personal assistant. I just got back from buying lunch. What’s up?”
“Ha, ha. You won’t believe this officer. Have I got news for you.”
“Tell me already. Is it about the muggers?”
“Yeah it is. Look bring your squad to middle Stallian, house number 25. It seems like the mugger is there.”
“What? Are you sure?”
“Yes, I’m sure. Believe me, they’re all there.”
“Okay, Benard. Well done! You’ve just boosted my career, kid. Here is what you’ve got to do. Arrive and get in the house you’ve just mentioned. I’ve got snipers in my squad and they’ll shoot the muggers when they attack. How does that sound?” the officer asks.
“Ha, ha, it’s fantastico!”
“Benard, what’s going on?” Pam interrupts the call.
“Shush, be quiet,” I respond in a low voice.
“Huh, did I just hear a voice there, Benard?” the officer says.
“Oh yeah officer, it’s a friend.”
“Huh, so you’re not alone?”
“No, I’m travelling in her car.”
“Oh, it’s a her. Ha, ha. Okay, listen up. She’s welcome to come and join the party too,” the officer says cockily. I look at Pam.
“Well that’s not a problem. But only if she agrees. I don’t want her to get involved in this.”
“Don’t worry, your girlfriend will be in very good hands my friend. Very good hands.”
I look at Pam and she’s just looking at me stunned. She looks so hot when she’s all serious and confused.
“Benard! Are you still there?”
“Yes, I’m still here officer. Before I forget, I desperately need more of those energy pills. The one’s that you gave me, well they’re finished.”
“Wow, well that’s great. I mean that’s bad. I’ll bring them. Where are you now?
“Passing the buildings of new Stallian. We should be there in middle Stallian in ten minutes,” I respond.
“Great, I’ll see you there,” the officer says.
“Alright, someone is in for a huge surprise, hey officer.”
“Oh yeah, someone won’t know what hit them. Someone is in for a very big surprise,” the officer makes a loud laugh and drops the phone. Well, I guess he’s really excited about this.
Then I realise that the car has stopped.
“Will you please tell me what’s going on here?” Pam asks in a loud voice.
“Gladly. We’re gonna meet the person who mugged me.”
“What? Why? How?”
I explain the whole story to Pam.
“What? No, let’s just call the cops. This is just preposterous. It sounds too odd for me.”
“There are snipers for back up, you know,” I respond.
“You already said that, but I think it’s best if we call the cops for more backup. We don’t know what we’re dealing with here. They could kill you and escape.”
“No, the officer won’t let them.”
“Huh, what’s wrong with you? Honestly, the Benard that I knew wouldn’t subject himself to something so dangerous like this?”
“Well, that’s the old me and he’s gone. Things change and trees grow.”
“Never mind.” That sounded cooler in my head.
“Something, no someone has changed you, Benard. This just isn’t you.”
“Ah, since when have you cared about me, Pam?”
“I’ve always cared about you, Benard.” Her angry voice lowers and goes soft at that instant, to my amazement. “No, I can’t bear the thought of losing you Benard. I just can’t.” I can see tears starting to fill Pam’s eyes. I’m speechless. I lean closer to her and comfort her.
“I never knew that you felt this way,” I say softly.
“I… I never knew that I felt this way either,” Pam responds. Pam looks up. Her light blue eyes look lighter with tears running down her cheeks. As she lifts her head, I notice that her cheeks are now a bit red on her pale skin. I touch her cheeks, trembling.
I’ve never seen Pam so vulnerable like this. “Pam, I won’t lie, I like you. No, I love you too. I’ve always wanted to say those words to you too. I just couldn’t get the courage I needed to say them.” I respond.
“Well now you have,” she smiles broadly.
“But I don’t understand. Why now?” I ask.
Pam holds my hand. “I think I’ve already explained to you,” Pam responds softly.
“No, I mean there are a lot of rich guys out there. Why did you choose me out of them all?” I ask.
“You know that you can’t choose who to love right?”
“Yeah, I do. It’s just that I don’t think that a lot of people would approve. Besides, I just have a feeling that you’re doing this out of pity for what’s happened in my life.”
Pam looks at me puzzled. “Look, I’m not doing this out of pity or anything I- ”
I interrupt, “No, you are. Remember that time when you gave me R5?”
“I do. Was there a problem in doing so?”
“No, but it’s pitiful,” I respond.
“I don’t know where this is going, Benard. But I did it because you needed it. Is that a crime?”
“No, it’s not. But it is when you want to play with someone’s feelings, just because you feel pity for them.” I respond. Pam looks stunned.
“You think that I’m playing with your feelings?”
”Yeah, who knows other than you?”
“I give up. You win,” Pam responds looking serious.
Hey, I know what you’re thinking. But I don’t think that it would be fair, even to myself, if I got involved with Pam. Not when I know that she’s doing it because she feels pity for me. Or maybe I’m just blowing things out of proportion unwantedly? Damn, now I’m starting to think that I really ain’t thinking straight right now. I can feel a loss of fatigue in my body.
“We better get going,” I say. Pam turns on the car.
I feel like my brain is lost somewhere in a place that it’ll never find its way back to me from. I can just feel it myself. That there’s something vanishing within my brain cells.
“Benard,” Pam says.
“I forgot to tell you that I bought you a gift. I’m sure you’re gonna like it. Do you wanna see it?” Pam utters.
“A gift? Well, I’ll never say no to a gift.” I respond excitedly.
“Great, but first you have to promise to close your eyes.”
I wonder what the so-called present is? I wish it was some energy pills.
“Okay, I’m ready for my gift now,” I respond eagerly. I can feel Pam’s movements. She is getting the gift, I think. I feel something so soft, so tender and gentle touching my lips. I open my eyes and it’s Pam’s lips that are smoothly touching mine. Everything feels like it’s come to a standstill. I can’t help but close my eyes. I can feel her tongue pressing against mine. I can feel myself going dizzy. And yeah, I can feel the world spinning right now.
I kiss Pam back passionately. My heart pumps like it’s home. This is the moment it’s been waiting for. Then we stop.
“You still think that I’m playing with your feelings?” Pam asks smiling.
I’m still dizzy from the euphoria of the kiss.
“I guess you know the answer to that,” I smile too. “You caught me off guard there. Now it’s time that I catch you off guard,” I say jokingly.
“Oh, someone save me,” Pam responds jokingly too.
Beep, beep, beep, a phone rings. I answer.
“Benard! Where the hell are you? It’s been half an hour now.” Man, I can’t believe I forgot about the officer for a moment.
“I’ll be there in a few minutes, sir. The car just broke down. But now it’s on and ready to go.” I say laughing.
“I don’t care. Just make sure that you show yourself here boy. I didn’t bring my squad for nothing.”
“Yes sir,” I respond. The officer hangs up. Yeesh! What’s got into him all of a sudden?
I look at Pam. By the look on her face I can tell that she knows where we have to go now.
“Please tell me you’re still not thinking of trying and pulling this stunt, Benard,” Pam says in a concerned voice.
“It’s not a stunt,” I respond. “I wanna look at the eyes of the mugger. He knows me and I know him. Besides I’ll be well protected by the squad of a police officer.”
“Please, Benard. I’m urging you not to go. I have a really bad feeling about this. Let’s just turn and go back. We’ll call the cops at New Stallian and tell them that you remember who mugged you. It’s better that way.”
Eish! Now I’m confused. Pam holds my hand.
“Please, don’t go. Do it for me, Benard,” She looks at me with her sparkling blue eyes. I really want to go back with Pam. She’s for real. Well, she always has been for real. But seriously, I wanna go back with her. But I wanna see the mugger and look him straight in his eyes. Plus I made a promise to the police officer that I would come.
I got to admit. This day is turning out to be way more overwhelming than I had expected. I really don’t know what to do. I look at Pam and smile, not knowing what to say or do next.
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