As Khosi slept she dreamt.
In her dream she saw Sbu very clearly. He was hiding in a forest, lurking in the shadows under the trees. In her dream Khosi also saw that Sbu was holding a knife. She saw the knife blade flash in the moonlight.
Khosi tossed and turned in her bed as she dreamt, but she did not wake up. Suddenly, in her dream, Khosi saw Bongani. He was dressed in his chef’s outfit, and he was strolling along the shadowy path between the trees, whistling to himself. He seemed very happy, and was looking around as if he was admiring the view.
Khosi watched him, in her dream, from what felt like somewhere close by. Bongani did not see Sbu, hiding behind a tree. In her dream Khosi wanted to cry out, to scream. But she couldn’t. It was like she was opening her mouth and trying to scream a warning, but no sound came out. She couldn’t run to him either. Her legs wouldn’t move. They felt like they were made of lead.
As Khosi watched, the two young men moved closer and closer to each other. Suddenly, Sbu jumped out, and stood in front of Bongani, blocking his path. He waved his knife in the air. Bongani drew back. Khosi still was unable to scream.
As she watched her dream unfold, she saw with horror that Bongani reached inside his white chef’s jacket, and hauled out a huge, sharp, silver, stainless-steel knife. Sbu drew back, and then lunged towards Bongani, with his rusty knife blade.
Bongani stepped forward, and then, effortlessly, with Khosi still unable to move or scream, he sliced Sbu’s head into a thousand red slithers, just like one of the restaurant’s juicy red ripe tomatoes. Then Bongani turned to her and said:
“This is the solution.”
At this point Khosi woke up screaming. Nhlanhla was shaking her shoulders, and saying crossly: “Oh stop that, you idiot! You’ve woken me up!”
* * * * *
Khosi thought about the dream in the taxi all the way to work.
At the restaurant she put on her apron and went into the back kitchen.
“Where’s Bongani?” she asked one of the other chefs. It wasn’t usual for him not to be here by now.
“Right behind you.” She spun around. Bongani laughed: “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
Khosi couldn’t put the image of the dream-Bongani out of her mind. And here he was, holding that sharp steel blade that had sliced off Sbu’s head so quickly and easily in her dream.
But there was no time to talk to him, and tell him about her nightmare, because just then the manager came in and she had to go out to the tables. Already there were lots of customers. They were fully booked all day. A perfect day for Sbu and his bras to pay them a very unwelcome visit.
Khosi realised that her hands were shaking when she dropped a pile of plates. The noise of the plates clattering across the tiles made her jump. As she swept up the pieces she thought of Sbu again. With or without her help, he would do the job. He would be counting on her silence when he and his friends came to the shop, with their hoods pulled over their eyes to hide their faces.
But she would know it was him, realised Khosi with a shiver. She would always know. And then she thought of Bongani. Sbu had asked her who he was. He had seen Bongani standing close to her, and he hadn’t liked it. In his mind she still belonged to him. She thought of Bongani’s long steel knife.
Why did I even listen to him that day? regretted Khosi, as she got her orders confused, and had to apologise to the customers time after time. She was struggling to concentrate.
It was half way through the day and still Sbu hadn’t replied to any of her texts.