“I’m just like that guy that stole from the rich to give to the poor,” Sbu said. “I’ve even got the ‘hood-y’” Sbu laughed. “Get it? Robin Hood…hoody…?”

Khosi frowned. “Speak!” she said impatiently.

“Well,” said Sbu, “here’s the plan. Those rich tourists come along to your restaurant and spend all their deutschmark, or pounds, or dollars, or francs or whatever.” Here he paused to look at Khosi.

Khosi was thinking that she was surprised that Sbu knew the names of so many different currencies. But then again, money was all Sbu had ever thought about, ever.

“Anyway,” said Sbu, “the money they spend here is sort of extra money. It’s not like it’s rent money, or food money, or money for their kids.” Sbu waved his hands around, and added: “It’s just throw-away money.”

Khosi frowned again and said: “So what is your plan Sbu? Just get to it…”

“It’s simple,” said Sbu, with his most charming smile. “You let me know when the place is full of rich tourists, with gold watches and expensive cameras and plenty cellphones. Me and my bras will do the rest.”

“Which is?” Khosi stood up. She was beginning to feel very nervous.

“We’ll come and relieve them of all that extra weight they’re carrying. Simple.”

“You’re crazy, Sbu,” said Khosi, shaking her head and beginning to walk away. “I don’t want to have anything to do with this. People could be hurt.”

“No guns,” said Sbu, falling into step next to her. “We never carry any guns. Just knives. I’m very good with a knife you know.” He saw her horrified expression. “But I won’t have to use it, don’t worry. You just need to send one text message. That’s all.” He slung his arm around her. “And then we’ll make enough to get ourselves out of this dump. For good.”

Khosi shrugged his arm off and kept walking. She did not look back, but she could just imagine Sbu standing behind her, watching her every move as she walked away.

At home Nhlanhla was lying along the couch, watching their blurry television. Her mother was still out, working.

“So,” said Nhlanhla, looking up as Khosi walked in. “Was today the day that talent scout came by the restaurant and spotted you? Made you an offer you can’t refuse, did he?”

Khosi could hear the jealousy in Nhlanhla’s voice, and ignored her. Nhlanhla had left school the previous year without completing Grade 10. So far she didn’t seem to have plans to do anything at all, except to watch television all day long.

And here was Khosi, who had a Matric and big plans, stuck in a restaurant, with no ticket out. Was she any different from Nhlanhla? Khosi sighed deeply.

“If I stay here for much longer I am going to die,” she thought to herself. Something needs to happen, and fast.

She took out her cellphone and typed a few small words:

k i wll
jst this 1CE

She hesitated, but then pressed SEND. It was too late to change her mind now. The message would already have reached Sbu. But it felt as if she really didn’t have anything to lose.