The journey from Leboweng to Tembisa had been long, even though Bra Themba was driving with the speed of a motor racer. It was because of the stops that they had to make for roadblocks. Bra Themba’s friend, who was driving in front of them, phoned them, warning them about every one. Bra Themba would then park at the nearest garage or convenient place until his friend confirmed that the road was clear, or find a route around.
The first time this happened, it amazed Ace. He wondered exactly what it was that Bra Themba was hiding from the police. He then remembered what Thabo had said earlier that morning, after Ace called Bra Themba and requested to go to Gauteng with him.
“Hai!” Thabo had said, shaking his head. “I think you’re making a mistake, boy. Leaving school? I don’t trust Bra Themba at all. He seems like a criminal to me.” Ace’s heart pounded as those words crossed his mind.
“This is my house, Golden Legs. It’s your new home now,” Bra Themba disturbed Ace’s thoughts, unlocking the front door once they arrived.
“Wow! This house is beautiful, Bra Themba,” Ace said, his eyes scanning the exterior of the building. As he did so, he caught sight of a girl. She was staring at them from inside the neighbouring house. Ace felt his heart jolt as their eyes met. He spontaneously waved but she quickly averted her eyes.
“She is beautiful, right?” Bra Themba said with a smile. Ace grinned, embarrassed. “Come, let’s go inside and put down our luggage, then I want us to go somewhere. Majita a re letile daar by die tavern (The guys are waiting for us at the tavern),” he continued.
They changed their clothes and drove to a nearby tavern. There were lots of people there, drinking as if it wasn’t Sunday evening. Ace couldn’t believe how popular Bra Themba was. Everyone greeted him as they walked towards one of the private rooms.
Then a very thin, dirty young boy, maybe in his late teens, approached Bra Temba. He searched his pocket and produced a bundle of notes. Bra Themba took the money and started counting.
“Where is the rest of the money?” Bra Themba asked, glaring at the boy with bulging eyes.
“That’s all, Bra Themba,” the boy answered, nervously. He scratched his bushy hair.
“O ya hlanya (You’re mad), sonny! This is half of it, mos.” Bra Themba stood up as he said those words and a muscular guy who was sitting in the corner, watching TV, rose and hurried towards them.
“Is there a problem, Bra Themba?” the muscle man asked, his biceps twitching.
“Take this shit and deal with it. I don’t want to see it ever again. No-one steals from me and gets away with it,” Bra Themba fumed.
Ace felt his blood running cold in his veins when he saw the muscle man carrying the screaming and kicking boy on his shoulder like a bag of potatoes. The fear in that boy’s eyes planted seeds of terror in Ace’s heart. He wondered if Bra Themba was a man he could trust.
“Don’t worry about that fool, Ace. My boys will deal with him,” Bra Themba said, stroking his goatee. He paused, beckoning one of the bartenders who was cleaning the tables.
“Boss?” the bartender said.
“Give me my stuff.” He searched his black leather jacket pocket. “Sonny, what do you drink?” he continued, lighting a cigarette.
Ace swallowed nothing. “I … I … I don’t drink alcohol.”
Bra Themba stared at him with a frown. “What?”
“I don’t drink.” Ace was embarrassed.
Bra Themba burst out with laughter. “OK! I see. But this is your first day in Gauteng, sonny. We must welcome you in style. Let me order something that is good for a beginner like you.” He turned towards the bartender. “Give him a bottle of whisky. The walking man.”
The bartender nodded with a smile and went off, returning with two bottles of Johnny Walker whisky, glasses and a bucket of ice. Two men arrived and joined them. For the first time in his life, Ace tasted alcohol, with Bra Themba’s encouragement.
After a while he stood up unsteadily and went to the toilets.
“Eitha! Mfo!” a boy standing at the mirror greeted him, hiding something behind his back.
“Ola!” Ace said, entering one of the toilets. He could hear the boy singing outside. When he got out, he nearly screamed with shock. The boy was sniffing up drugs with a straw.
Tell us what you think: Is Ace going to handle the temptations of the big city?