I’m at my locker getting my English books when Ncumisa comes up to me. She looks fearful.
“You know Levi?”
“Yeah?” I respond, zipping up my backpack.
“Songezo and Mdu beat him up this morning,” she says, and her chin is wobbling. “David, they almost killed him. He’s … I tried to … I hate them! I hate them!”
“Shh,” I say, and pull her by the arm to the south exit, onto the steps. “What happened?” I ask.
“He and me were chatting. They took him. They came so fast. They, they…”
She starts to cry. She cups her mouth with her hand, rivers of tears flowing down her cheeks.
“It’s OK,” I say, and hug her.
She breaks my embrace. “How is it OK? How can they do that to that boy? What did he ever do to them?”
I don’t know what to say. “I guess it’s because he’s–”
“Friendly?” she cries. “Thoughtful? Smart? On a scholarship? A good friend?”
“You don’t understand, they’re just scared of …”
“What? Scared of what?”
She stops crying.
“If I was president of this country, Songezo and Mdu would hang.”
She walks off.
“Ncumisa!” I call after her. She walks on.
During English Mrs Tshinga gets a message from someone at the door. We can’t see who it is. She comes back to her table.
“Songezo and Mdu, the Headmaster would like to see you.”
I look round to watch them.
“Me?” asks Songezo, a disgusting smile on his face.
“Yes. Your name is Songezo is it not?” says Mrs Tshinga dryly.
He raises his eyebrows, exhales on a whistle. He walks down the aisles between my chairs, drops a crunched up piece of paper onto my table as he saunters out of the classroom with all the confidence of someone who just won the lottery. What a dick.
Mrs Tshinga keeps on talking about the difference between a metaphor and a simile.
I un-crinkle the paper. In pencil, in Songezo’s lop-sided script:
Your moffie frend is dead.
Tell us: Why do you think some straight men beat up gay men?