Joy is looking up at me, wearing a soft, pink, fluffy jersey. And there is terror in her eyes. Around her face, the purple flames writhe like snakes.

“No Daniel! Please don’t, Daniel!”

I can hear her voice clearly above the crackling of the fire.

“Daniel, I can’t help it. I love him, not you. I will always love him. No matter what you say.”

Everything else has faded. I cannot feel the rickety bench. I cannot sense my friend Tshepo. Even though he is seated right beside me.

There is only Joy and her soft, pink jersey and her terrified eyes. And her pleading voice.

“Don’t hurt me Daniel!”

And then the hammer appears. From nowhere, from my right. It swings against her left temple. The terrible thud mingles with her scream. And then there is only blood – blood spattered on the soft, pink fluff of her jersey.

And how do you live with a picture like that stuck in your brain?

I went on telling myself: “This is nonsense! You have just been working too hard. Taking too many photos of crime scenes. It was just your imagination gone crazy. Yes, that’s the scientific explanation.”

And it was true. Just a few months before, Barnaby had promoted me to chief crime-beat photographer for the newspaper. And I’d witnessed some terrible sights, let me tell you. Seen them, photographed them. The blood and gore were enough to turn your stomach!

No doubt those sights were still playing havoc with my mind as I stared into the sangoma’s fire. And of course, Joy was always in my thoughts. Right in the forefront of my mind. It could all be explained away.

Still, I asked her: “Joy, do you have a pink jersey?”

She frowned at me. Then she laughed. She was laughing a lot now. Her exams were finally over. She was nervous and excited all at the same time, waiting for her results.

“No. Why do you ask, Daniel?”

“Just promise me you will never buy a pink jersey.”


“I hate pink,” I lied. “Especially fluffy pink.”

I owned a hammer. There in the tool box in the kitchen of my small flat. It had cost me quite a bit. But I threw it away into a skip outside the newspaper offices.

Just in case, you understand. Just to cover all bases. Just to make sure I didn’t tempt fate.

And over the next weeks, I managed to calm myself down. I managed to get back to being sensible. After all, my poor friend Tshepo was still catching taxis, still without a babe. He had a picture of Lola stuck up on his bedroom wall. He’d torn it out of a magazine. And that was as close as he’d got to the girl of his dreams.

But one evening Tshepo phoned.

“Daniel, dude! You’ll never guess. Not in a million years. Oh man, the party has started!”

“What party?”

“No, I’m not gonna tell you, Daniel. I’m gonna show you. Just you wait. Seeing is believing dude!”


Tell us what you think: What is Tshepo going to show Daniel?