When her alarm clock went off and her eyes opened almost instantly, Aunty Lisa knew it was morning and she had to get up. At least Don will be sleeping in today, she thought and smiled. Don had a check-up at 12:30 and Fido was responsible to see that Don saw the doctor as scheduled. Don had asthma and the doctor needed to check his lungs and adjust his dose.

She didn’t want a repetition of what had happened when Donovan had stayed with them. She had asked him to take Don for his usual check-up but he didn’t do it and lied about it. He only confessed after Don got really sick. She couldn’t take his lies anymore. Aunty Lisa silently recalled the details of the whole ordeal as she took a blueberry bubble bath, her treat on a Saturday.

When she was done, she dried herself off with a pink towel, with His and Hers embroidered on it. It was a Valentine’s Day gift from Donovan. She put on her work clothes – she was feeling pretty good about this particular morning. Not that she was bitter on other mornings, but this one seemed extra special.

She ate her breakfast while reading yesterday’s issue of African Report, a local newspaper from around Tsakane. She read the paper, one story at a time, page after page, until she came to the sports section. There she came across a familiar face – the gentleman she had met at Pingo. She read the article; it was indeed him. There was his name in bold letters: Coach Blanc putting the school back in session, the headline said. And it sounded even better in her questionable inner voice.

Slowly her mind began to make a comparison between Louis and Donovan and it seemed Louis came up on top when she weighted them in her head; one was a successful businessman and community leader, while Donovan worked long hours at the plastic factory.

She stared at his photo for some time, then realised if she didn’t leave right away, she would be late for work. Aunty Lisa grabbed her keys and purse and went out, locking the door behind her. She wanted a few items from the Ethiopian shop on the corner, so she quickly went there, knowing that Ayman was open for business early.

She went into the shop and grabbed the items she needed, then went to Ayman at the front counter. She opened up her purse looking for money but the R100 bill with the red number written on it was the only large bill she could find. She swore she had had more bills in there. Had they fallen out or was she mistaken?

She shook her head and paid Ayman with the red R100 bill. He took it and looked at it under better lighting to see if it was real or fake. “What’s this number written in red?” he asked. “I don’t know,” Aunty Lisa shrugged her shoulders. She smiled innocently and Ayman gave her her change. Then she thanked him and rushed out to work.

Soon after, two masked men walked into the store brandishing sticks and home-made knives. They ordered Ayman to empty the register and fill up the duffle bag that was handed to him. Ayman decided to comply with the masked men’s commands, he knew not a soul would come by to rescue him so early in the morning,.

He emptied the cash register, taking everything out, including the R100 bill with the red number written on it. The robbers left without hurting him.

They went to a quiet spot to share their loot, but they still kept their masks on the whole time. It couldn’t be that they were in fear of the coronavirus, perhaps they thought someone might still be watching and might recognise them. Once they had split the loot, each walked in a different direction and hid for a while before taking their masks off and going home.

After he had taken off his mask off, Fido went home and counted his share from the robbery. He noticed the R100 bill with the red number on it that he had seen in Aunty Lisa’s purse. He took a look at the R100 bill and whispered, “I don’t like how this feels but I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do to pay the bills!”

Fido took Don to his doctor’s appointment and when they got back they found Aunty Lisa at home. Good shot! thought Fido. Now I can take George to Springs to go mingle with some fine marijuana, soft women and hard liquor! He said his goodbyes and went to fetch George.

When they arrived in Springs, they went to Carlito’s, their usual spot on Fifth street. The vibe was on – the club was packed with young people. Fido danced to his favourite song, ‘Ubuginciginci’, for a couple of minutes after they had landed. “Indoda yakho u zero!” Fido shouted to the top of his lungs, singing along to the song. He felt powerful, like he was on top of the world, because the DJ had recognised him as a regular. Fido and George got a few drinks, then they moved on to the ladies and then to marijuana. Fido used the R100 bill with the red number on it to purchase marijuana for the girls. The dealer looked at the bill funny, but decided it would do and gave Fido the weed. Fido and George stayed over in Springs and only woke up in the early hours of the morning, with growling bellies and empty pockets. Lost, without a way back home.


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