Busi felt relieved that her head had stopped spinning and was clear enough now to remember the name of the girl from her school. It was Chelsea; she was in Matric. Busi could only hope Chelsea hadn’t recognised her in her make-up and unusually glamorous outfit.
Themba and Mondli moved the two girls through the crowd on the pavement to where it was quieter.
“So girls,” said Mondli. “How about coming with us to Club Red?”
Nomsa nodded eagerly. Busi noticed that her friend was no longer looking to her to pay for everything.
When Mondli asked Nomsa if she would like another drink she smiled up at him, and purred, “Thanks Mondli. That would be great.”
Mondli moved back towards the club, taking Nomsa with him, tucked securely under his arm.
Busi wanted to warn her about Chelsea, but there was nothing she could do but watch them go. Busi wasn’t sure, but it seemed to her that maybe Nomsa was tripping slightly on her high wedge heels.
Themba turned to Busi, slipping his arm around her shoulders as he did so. Busi took a deep breath, and then smiled at him. She clutched her bag tightly, and found that she was biting her lip – a habit she was trying hard to break.
“Don’t look so scared,” said Themba jokingly. “Me and Mondli are good boys really.”
Busi smiled. “I’m not scared,” she said, willing herself to laugh a little. She wished Nomsa hadn’t gone off with Mondli, and she glanced towards the club, hoping to see them returning.
“Me and Mondli are cousins you know,” continued Themba. “We’re the Shabalala cousins. Have you heard of us?”
“Uuum…” said Busi, and then added quickly: “Yeah, of course I have.”
It was a lie. Busi had never heard of them. But the surname was familiar. Maybe she had heard the name on TV? Or maybe in connection with some politician? Her head still felt a little dizzy.
The diamond in Themba’s ear flashed under the street light.
With relief Busi saw Nomsa and Mondli coming back towards where she and Themba were standing on the pavement. Nomsa was clinging even more tightly to Mondli’s tight T-shirt. A new bottle of cooler was dangling from her manicured fingers.
“Sure you don’t want one?” asked Themba, indicating the drink in Nomsa’s hand.
“No,” said Busi. “I’m fine.”
“Busi’s a good little girl,” said Nomsa, suddenly beginning to giggle.
“I am not!” said Busi.
Busi knew she had said that a little too firmly, but she shot a fierce glance in Nomsa’s direction anyway. She was beginning to feel worried about Nomsa. If Nomsa carried on downing alcohol as fast as she was right now, it wouldn’t be long before she was really drunk. Busi felt clear-headed enough to know that was a fact.
“Hey now, Mondli and me know that both of you are big, beautiful girls. Don’t fight.”
Nomsa spluttered on her drink and giggled loudly.
“So let’s go to where the big girls go. Okay?” Mondli smiled broadly.
“Sure,” said Nomsa, suddenly flinging herself in Busi’s direction, and enveloping her in a big hug. She held Busi tightly and looked over at the two cousins. “This is my best friend you know,” said Nomsa, slurring her words slightly. “My best friend. And where I go, she goes. Don’t you Busi? Don’t you?”
Busi held onto Nomsa and reluctantly agreed. There really was nothing else she could do.
Busi looked longingly for a moment towards the taxis pulling up at the pavement, dropping people off, and picking other people up. One of them, Busi realised, was the very taxi that had brought her and Nomsa to the club. The driver was watching her. She met his eyes for a moment. She thought she saw him smile. Strangely, this older man, sitting in his dark taxi cab, with the photograph of his daughter smiling at him, did not freak Busi out too much. She knew it should have. Avoiding strange, friendly men in cars had been ‘Stranger Danger Lesson 101’ from her parents.
An intense weariness suddenly filled Busi, as well as a desperate desire to just get into the taxi and ask to be driven home.
Nomsa would never agree to that.
“The night is still young,” Nomsa was saying, waving her bottle around. “I want to party!”
Themba and Mondli grinned at each other.
“Well then girls,” they said, looping their arms around the girls on either side. “You better come with us. Our car is parked just around the corner.”
Caught up in their arms, Busi was swept along the pavement, into a dark side street. A car guard emerged from the shadows and startled her. Mondli tipped the guy heavily and pulled some car keys from the pocket of his tight skinny jeans. They jangled and glinted in his hand.
Nomsa nodded her head approvingly as she took in the details of the black car, parked under a dim street light.
“Niiiiice!” she said slowly, a wide smile spreading across her face.
Mondli moved round and opened the back door and Nomsa clumsily clambered into the back seat. Busi followed her quickly. She wanted to stay as close to Nomsa as possible.
Themba and Mondli slid into the front seats of the low-slung sports car, and Mondli started the engine. A low rumble filled the air as they waited to allow the soft-top roof to fold back.
Nomsa leaned back against the comfy black leather seats.
Then, Mondli pressed the accelerator, and with a deep roar, they pulled away from the kerb and took off into the dark city streets.
The crowd of nightclub revellers on the pavement watched them go.
No-one noticed the taxi, as it too swung out from the kerb, and pulled away, fast, behind them.
Tell us what you think: Is Nomsa handling the alcohol she is drinking? Should Busi have taken a taxi home by herself?