When she woke up she was lying on the floor, and Mr Pritchard, Mrs Ram and several worried customers were staring down at her. A security guard from the shopping centre was holding a glass of water to her lips.
She sat up. “Is it true?” she said. “Am I rich?”
“It’s true,” grinned Joyce. “You’re so lucky.”
“Who would have known that dirty old man was a multi-millionaire,” Mrs Ram muttered. “Too mean to order anything from the menu except toast and tea.”
Thabi looked at her boss, as the woman scowled and muttered to herself. She clambered to her feet. “Mrs Ram,” she said, “you’re mean and selfish, and you ought to be ashamed of yourself.” She ripped off her apron. “Joyce, please bring me my bag,” she said. She shoved the apron into Mrs Ram’s hand. “I quit!” she yelled.
“Who do you think you are, talking to me like that?” Mrs Ram yelled back. “You’re just a stupid little girl from the townships. That money will run through your fingers like water off a duck’s back. You’ll be back in no time, begging for your job back. And don’t think I’m going to give it to you. Oh no, girlie, you’ve burned your bridges this time.”
Joyce was grinning as she reappeared with Thabi’s handbag. “Hau,” she said. “You’re so lucky.”
“You can take your stupid coffee shop and shove it!” Thabi yelled. “See you tomorrow, Mr Pritchard.”
The customers burst into a round of applause as she left the shop. Mrs Ram had a face like thunder as she marched off into the kitchens. “Little upstart,” she muttered. “I’ll teach her to make a fool of me in public.”
The next morning Thabi was at Mr Pritchard’s office first thing. His secretary gave Thabi a warm smile as she brought her a tray of coffee. “You’re very fortunate,” she said. “But from what I hear, you deserve your good fortune.”
Thabi still found it hard to believe. “I thought Mr Katz was poor,” she said, as Mr Pritchard handed her a pile of papers to read through and sign.
“Not poor, just eccentric,” Mr Pritchard said. “He squirrelled away his money in investment accounts. He made some clever decisions when he was younger.”
“But why didn’t he spend it?”
“His family were Jewish and lost everything in the Second World War, in Germany. He was just a little boy at the time, and they were sent to a concentration camp. His parents and brothers died in the Nazi gas chambers. He was the only member of the family to survive. After the war he was adopted by a South African couple.”
“Oh my God, that’s terrible,” said Thabi. “Imagine losing all your family,” she continued, making a mental note to phone her own family that evening with the incredible news.
“As he got old he became more eccentric. He didn’t need to scrimp and save, but he couldn’t help himself.”
“Poor old man,” said Thabi. “He could have ordered steak and chips every day for lunch. But he was too afraid to spend his money. When is his funeral?”
“Mr Katz didn’t want a funeral. His body will be cremated privately tomorrow afternoon.”
“What about his son in Australia? Isn’t he coming over to say goodbye?”
“He’s on his way, apparently.”
“And Mr Katz didn’t leave him anything?”
“No. He wanted you to have everything. They had a falling out ten years ago. He’s a nasty piece of work.”
Thabi had an uneasy feeling as she walked to the taxi rank. She didn’t like the thought of Mr Katz’s son arriving. He must be pretty angry with his father. Maybe her lucky break was all too good to be true?
Tell us what you think: Will Thabi get to keep her windfall?