As Sphiwe follows Thato up the hill, he wonders if Vus’umuzi will be angry with him. But it’s been too long since he’s called. I have every right to be here. What am I going to say? I must improvise a story quickly if the wife asks me anything, Sphiwe thinks.
“We are almost there… can you see it up there?” says Thato, pointing at the house on the edge of the hill. The sun is at its peak, turning the earth into a furnace and scorching everyone on it.
“I hope I’m not getting you in any trouble, young man,” says Sphiwe, gasping.
“No,” says Sphiwe.
A few minutes pass, and they arrive at the gate, which is padlocked.
“It is locked. We can’t get in,” says Thato, clanging the padlock.
Sphiwe breathes heavily while he balances on his knees. Then he pulls his phone out. He calls Vus’umuzi, but it goes straight to voicemail. He frowns and says, “You go home now, I’ll wait for him here.”
“No buts, here, take this,” says Sphiwe, giving Thato a R5 coin, “for helping me.”
Thato takes the money, gives a comic bow, and walks off. Sphiwe stands there for a while, taking in the place and nodding to people passing him by the gate. He looks around, and once he’s certain no one else is coming, he climbs over, almost ripping his pants.
He runs up to the house and stands at the corner. He hears voices and mumbling. He listens more attentively and distinguishes Vus’umuzi’s voice. Sphiwe tiptoes to the veranda. He peeps through the keyhole and sees nothing. Then there are screams that turn Sphiwe’s guts cold.
“Vusi! Vusi!” he calls, frightened, “Vusi!”
Sphiwe hears heavy steps stomping towards the door. He hears the key struggling against the lock. The door opens.
“Didn’t I tell you to mind your own…Sphiwe? What are you doing here?” Vus’umuzi’s angry voice dwindles to softness.
“I’m here for you. You don’t call, and I was worried…what’s going on? I heard screams,” says Sphiwe, taking a look behind Vus’umuzi.
“Please help us! He’s kept us here, please!” cries Zandile, when she hears a voice of a man.
“Is that…is that your wife?” asks Sphiwe, pushing the door and strutting in. He kneels next to Zandile, touches her, and looks at Vus’umuzi. Then he sees the boy huddled behind his mother. They look thin and weak.
“What have you done to them? What is she talking about? Is this why you haven’t been calling?” asks Sphiwe, putting his backpack down.
“Please help us,” says Zandile, “Vusi won’t help us. He won’t let our son go out because…”
Vus’umuzi just stands by the door, with torrents of tears flowing. He sees the harm he’s caused, he falls onto his knees…“You don’t understand. I don’t want him to be like me…”
“Like you? What do you mean?” asks Sphiwe.
“He’s nothing like you, you’re a monster!!” screams Zandile.
“Vusi, what do you mean like you?”
“Like you and me,” says Vus’umuzi crying, “gay!!”
“She’s right, you’re a monster! You even hate yourself,” says Sphiwe, getting up. “I must call for help. Your wife and son need to go to be checked at the clinic,” Sphiwe starts to dial…
“I will fix this,” says Vus’umuzi, getting to his feet and running outside.
Tell us: What do you think will happen next?