Sam felt as if the butterflies from the beautiful poster he had bought for Sinethemba were flying around in his stomach – he was so scared. He clutched his cellphone, waiting for the next call, and, sure enough within a minute it started ringing. Would this be the call to say that Zinhle…? He couldn’t even finish his own thought.
“So, we’re waiting. You have the money? You’d better have the money.” Frank’s voice was harsh. He meant business.
“I’m getting it together,” said Sam.
“You’d better get it together soon. Or you know what will happen.”
Sam heard the disconnect tone, and his cell started ringing again immediately.
“Sisi! I’m so glad it’s you Sinethemba. Just stay inside, OK? I’ve got myself involved in some bad business and I don’t want you to get hurt.”
“Too late for that, Bhuti. When Uncle was out Mam’Gqwashu came here, with two men. They took me Sam. I’m back at Mam’Gqwashu’s but she’s locked me in. Noni got a phone for me … but I haven’t got much…”
Then they were cut off.
Sam could not believe what he was hearing. Not only was Zinhle in the clutches of Frank, but Sinethemba was back with that evil woman. Now both the people who meant the most to him in the whole world were in danger. Bra Frank and Mam’Gqwashu were the same type, cut from the same cloth. All they cared about was money, power and cruelty.
He got a taxi and went straight to Mam’Gqwashu’s. “Mam’Gqwashu!” he yelled outside her door. “I want my sister, and I want her now!”
He saw the front door open a crack. Heard it open. Someone pulling back locks and a chain. And then it opened fully and there she was, fat and sweaty Mam’Gqwashu, pointing a finger at him. “She’s mine. You had no right to take her. Now, you cheeky boy, get off my property! You can have her if you pay for her. Another few thousand should do it.”
With that her bodyguard, who also ‘supervised’ the orphans’ work, came after Sam. The man hit him in the face and Sam felt the blood flow from his nose. Then he kicked Sam as he lay on the ground. “Now get up and get out! And if you ever cross onto Mam’Gqwashu’s property again, it’ll be the end of you and your sister.”
Sam mopped up the blood with his sleeve. He ran down the street. How on earth would he work it out? He needed money for Frank and Mam’Gqwashu.
He thought of Zinhle. He wanted to kiss her, put his arms around her. He thought of his sister, how he had promised his mother to look after her. And now, his whole world felt as if it was going to pieces and there was no way he could put it back together again.
Again his cellphone rang.
“Sam.” Frank sounded hard; as if he meant business, “My good friend Mam’Gqwashu called. She said you’re making a nuisance of yourself. You’re a no-good loser Sam. Everything has a price. And I’m still waiting for the money for your pretty Zinhle. So far you’ve come up with nothing. Not a cent. I’m disappointed. And now we have your sister too. I thought they meant more to you.”
“They do. Please, I’m getting the money.”
“If you don’t,” he said and paused for dramatic effect, “I’m going to have such a good time with your girlfriend. I can see why you like her so much…”
“Please,” begged Sam. “I’ll do anything, just don’t hurt her.”
“Ja, tell you what, Sam, let’s make a deal. You have to make good. You can come work for me and make it up to me. Let’s see how useful you are.”
“Never, Frank. I’ll get you the money, but join you? Never.”
“What a pity. Oh, and as far as your lovely Zinhle goes, I’ve decided to keep her.”
Sam felt his world spinning around him and he fell to his knees. His eyes stung and he tried not to cry. What would Mr Sotshononda say if he saw him like this, kneeling on the ground with tears of frustration running down his face? He missed his mother, and thought about what she always used to say when faced with a challenge: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
Repeating these words under his breath, Sam got off the floor. Now all he felt was anger. Sam clenched his fists and gritted his teeth. If Frank wanted a fight, that was exactly what he was going to get.
Tell us what you think: Bra Frank says, “Everything has a price.” Do you think it’s true?