Rasta jumps out and disappears into the crowd with the gym bag. He dips into Chinese shop. He buys a change of clothes, a doek, a hat and a suitcase with wheels. He offloads the cash and notebook in the suitcase. Rasta is straining, heart pounding, as he ties the doek over his dreadlocks and puts on the hat. Satisfied with his new look, he takes a deep breath and casually walks out of the shop. He goes in the opposite direction to the throngs of people running towards sirens.
Inside the Opel Zafira Zothani looks at the mirror and sees cops appear in the distance. There are other police officers approaching further up the road. Zothani guns the car and enters another street. Cops are closing in behind. He presses the pedal to the floor board, takes a turn too fast and rolls the car.
He quickly gets out, takes cover behind the mangled Opel Zafira and starts shooting at the police with his two pistols. The police shoot back. Zothani suddenly stops taking cover. He runs to the police, guns blazing. The police reply in kind, hitting his body with a hail of bullets.
Rasta walks as fast as he can and as far away as possible from the sound of guns and sirens. He heads to the busiest taxi rank in the city and gets on a bus to KwaNdengezi. Thoughts flood his mind at the speed of light – Zothani, the money, police officers, jail and safety. He gets to the house where Lindiwe is held captive, drops Thulani’s share in the kitchen, locks the door and leaves. He is on a taxi to Jozi before he calls Thulani.
Thulani is asleep, still in the claws of sadness set off by Lindiwe’s kidnapping. He has not been answering calls for days but this call seems urgent. His phone has been ringing non-stop for five minutes. Maybe Lindiwe has been found, he thinks.
“38 Lindela Street, KwaNdengezi. She’s there. There’s a bag for you in the kitchen. Your brother’s notebook is in that bag! There’s also money for you to pay ilobolo!”
“Lindiwe is there! There’s money in a suitcase in the kitchen! Zothani said that money is yours to pay ilobolo for Lindiwe! Zothani came through for you in the end, Thulani!” says Rasta.
Rasta drops the call and takes his cell phone apart. He takes out the SIM card, chews it and spits it out of the window of the fast moving taxi. He throws out the cell phone a few kilometres ahead.
Thulani calls the cops and Lindiwe’s family.
“I got a call that she is in 38 Lindela Street in KwaNdengezi! I’m going there right now!” he screams into his cell phone at everyone he calls.
His Uber gets to the house in KwaNdengezi only a few minutes after the police and Lindiwe’s family have arrived. He runs to the police officer who seems to be in charge.
“Is Lindiwe okay? I got a call from my brother’s friend. He said they kidnapped her,” says Thulani. The more he repeats the story, the more he realises how improbable it seems. And he himself can hardly believe what his brother did.
He can see suspicion setting in the eyes of the police officer. “The paramedics inside say she is okay, sir. I’ll need you to come with me to the police station to write a statement.”
“Okay but… can I see her?” Thulani tries to go to the house but the officer steps in front of him.
“If you want to see her you can wait here, but if there’s something else you want, you can go into the house.” The officer, Mlu’s uncle Bafana, bows his head slightly and looks up at Thulani.
Thulani sees the odd look. He remembers the bag of money Rasta told him about. He decides to stop trying to go into the house.
Lindiwe is stretchered out of the kitchen door. Her face lights up when she sees Thulani. She gets off the stretcher and runs to him. Thulani leaves the police officer and runs to his Lindiwe. Their happy reunion is halted a by a wall of police officers just a few meters before they hug.
“Miss, we’re not sure you want to do that right now,” one officer says to Lindiwe.
“What?” Thulani sees the confusion in Lindiwe’s face as she asks.
“This man received the call that you were here.” The officer points at Thulani with a thumb. “His twin brother orchestrated the kidnapping.”
Lindiwe’s face is horrified. She shakes her head in disbelief and tries to pierce through the wall of police officers.
“I want to hear Thulani explain it to me!” she screams.
“No you can’t speak to him, miss. He is a suspect in the investigation,” says the police officer.
It takes a full twenty four hours of intense police interrogation for Thulani to prove his innocence in the kidnapping of Lindiwe. He himself can hardly believe his brother was responsible for all that pain and trauma. What twisted logic was Zothani using, to get money from Lindiwe herself?
And of course it is almost impossible to prove his innocence to Lindiwe and her family.
“I just need time, Thulani. I’ve been through a lot,” Lindiwe said the last time they spoke. That was four days ago. She hasn’t answered his calls nor replied to his messages since.
It feels like there’s a hole in Thulani’s heart every time he thinks of what has happened. The police returned Zothani’s notebook a few days into their investigation. In between preparations for Zothani’s funeral Thulani sits at the back of the house and reads his brother’s stories. They are twisted stories of everything that happened in his life. Like the time his ex-girlfriend Celiwe almost burnt his kids to death when she was drunk. In the notebook she’s a white woman called Celine and lives in Benoni instead of down the road. He comes to the last story. It is about a young boy from England who sacrifices his life for his big brother, the prince of their kingdom.
Thulani weeps after reading it. “You didn’t have to sacrifice your life. We loved you, Zothani!”
He feels tiny hands rubbing on his shoulders and turns to find Pumpkin and Njabulo plastered on his back.
“Don’t cry, Daddy. Everything will be alright,” they say.
Tell us: do you think it will be alright? Will Lindiwe get over this and come back to Thulani?