Jabu sits in the summer sun on his stool in the front yard of MaLulu’s house. He has an ice-cold beer by his side. He keeps dropping bits of stale bread on the ground for the chicks to eat. As people pass the gate, they greet him and he greets them back.

He watches Lulu cleaning up in the front room. She smiles at him as she works. He sort of smiles back. “Tell me when you want another drink, Jabu. Angithi, Ma said you can have free drinks for life?” Lulu laughs as she speaks. It makes her sound like a gurgling waterfall.

The very smart uniform of a policeman catches Jabu’s eye. It takes a while before he realises it’s Commissioner Maphiri. Maphiri is walking towards him, with a file under his arm.

“Good afternoon, Jabu. I’m happy to find you here. How are you keeping?”

“Well, thank you, Commissioner Maphiri,” replies Jabu, wondering what is up. Jabu offers him a stool. Maphiri takes off his cap, pulls up a stool, adjusts his trousers and sits down.

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“Jabu, I was so impressed with what you did to solve the crime that I talked to a few people. I know you applied for a job with the Scorpions. I am going to talk to some fellow commissioners. They will definitely be interested in someone like you. You have guts, determination and strong feelings about protecting your community. You also showed that you can think like a detective, Jabu, by the way you gathered clues and got information from people in the community. You will really get a good recommendation from me, I assure you. If you ever need any help, do not delay, come straight to me.”

Jabu is dazed. He can’t believe what he is hearing. “Thank you, sir,” he says slowly, looking at the commissioner. “Really, a big thank you. You don’t know how much I want to be a policeman, a Scorpion. I hope I get an interview. After what I’ve been through with bra John’s story, I know I can become a very good detective. Thank you once again.”

The men each get up off their stools and shake hands. Commissioner Maphiri puts on his hat and turns to go. Then he remembers something and turns back to Jabu.

“You know, Jabu, you taught me that you should never turn people away if they come to you for help. Usually, they are there to teach you something about yourself and your life, if you’ll let them. Goodbye for now.”

Jabu watches as Maphiri closes the gate and climbs into the police car that is waiting for him at the corner. Jabu waves. The car reverses and drives off.

Out of the curls of dust comes Stella, walking for all the world as if she were queen of the neighbourhood. She does not even look at the car, she is only looking for Jabu, her eyes searching MaLulu’s yard for signs of him.

Jabu waves again, this time at Stella. He decides there and then he is going to marry Stella if he gets this Scorpion job. He’ll be able to move into a small house of his own. His thoughts wander and he imagines what it would be like to have a whole house to themselves. Bliss!

“Hi, there,” Stella says. He can see she is in a lekker mood. “Let’s go to town and celebrate your success with bra John’s case. I got off work early so we can go. We can see a film if you like, or we can go and have a meal, or have something at my place – you choose. bra Zakes and Noni, Freda and Sy are coming too. Can we come and fetch you from your place in half an hour?”

“Mmm!” says Jabu. “That would be nice. I’ll be there.”

“By the way, what did Maphiri want?” asks Stella.

“Oh, he’s going to put in a recommendation for me for one of those Scorpion jobs – I may be in with a chance.”

Stella smiles with pleasure and gives him a kiss. She pops into the kitchen to greet MaLulu. Then she is off to tell the others to get ready.

Jabu watches her go. He doesn’t hear Lulu’s quiet footsteps until she is sitting next to him. “Zuki and Chipa are coming to watch the football game on television here tonight. They asked me to ask you to please come.” Her breath is coming out in short bursts, she is nervous.

“They’d also like to thank you for what you did for them. Uncle John is also going to come and thank you. His business is going strong. Other businesses in the township don’t have to pay protection money any more either, because those tsotsis are all in jail.

Please, won’t you come in when you’ve finished that drink? I would also like you to spend some time with us.”

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“Mmm!” says Jabu, “that would be nice. I’ll … try … to be there.”

Lulu smiles and gets up. Then suddenly Jabu calls out to her. “Yaz’ yini, Lulu? Actually, I won’t be able to come tonight.”

He sees her hurt expression, but continues, speaking very gently. “You’re a fine woman, Lulu, and I like you a lot. But, I’m going out with Stella, bra Zakes, Sis Noni and the guys. Maybe some other time?”

Lulu nods quickly and tries to smile. “Okay, that’ll be fine,” she says. “I’ll tell them you and Stella will come round, maybe tomorrow?”

“Ja, tomorrow sounds okay, we’ll come tomorrow,” agrees Jabu.

Lulu walks away and does not look back.

A fat chick waddles towards Jabu, cocks its head at him and then sits on his shoe, and chirps. He picks the chick up off his shoe, stands up and puts it on his stool.

“Time to go,” he says to himself.