My girlfriend Candice and I are youtubers. We do pranks and post it on our YouTube channel, Cape Town Pranks. At the moment, we have 1100 subscribers. We’ve been posting on YouTube for two months, and each time, our videos get thousands of views.
Candice and I are from Belhar. We both finished matric last year. Now we live in a two-bedroom house with Deon, a law enforcement officer. We’re not so crazy about Deon, but together, the three of us are able to afford the monthly rent. On weekdays and every second Saturday, I sell beanies, socks and DVDs on the Parade in Cape Town. If you need Game of Thrones, Top Gun: Maverick or Avatar 2, I’m your man. If you buy from me, you become one of my people and I take good care of my own. Just R15 a DVD and it’s as good as the original. Candice works at a fishery in Cape Town. She often brings food home: chicken, meatballs, chips or pizzas.
It’s Wednesday and we’re going to do a prank today. At quarter past four, I sit down at one of the red tables at the fisheries, the DVDs and socks stashed in my backpack. The fisheries smell of spices, fish oil and barbecue. Candice is behind the counter, busy with a customer’s order. This girl of mine is a beauty. Large eyes full of life. Skinny with thin lips and long hair caught in a white hairnet.
“Lee-Roy,” Candice smiles when she sees me. “I was just wondering where you were.”
“Work’s been slow today,” I say.
She nods and walks over to the fridge. “What do you want to drink?”
She gives me the Fanta and a straw. Then she serves the impatient customers in the queue.
An hour later we walk to the toilets at Cape Town station.
“Richard likes to tell you to work overtime at the last minute,” Candice grumbles. Richard is her boss. I often see him in shorts and slippers, walking around as if the entire world belongs to him.
“You shouldn’t let him walk all over you,” I say.
People are on their way home, moving in all directions, fingers glued to their phones, earphones on. Everyone wants to get home, relax with a cup of coffee and Netflix. Candice and I are just starting on our second job.
People move in all directions. Faces and fingers on the screens of their phones, earphones in their ears. People want to get home, so they can take off their shoes and relax watching Netflix over a cup of coffee. Candice and I start with our second job.
She looks at her watch. “Where will we do the prank today?”
“Right here on the Parade.”
YouTube has exploded in the country. Candice and I will catch the wave with the other youtubers. It’s just for now because I have something bigger in mind. Something fresh and original.
There was a time when I believed that all the pranks on YouTube were real, like the gold digger pranks with the prankster driving a bright red Ferrari. I only realised afterwards that it’s all nonsense. The Ferrari or Lamborghini was rented. The supposed gold digger was just some model or actor they’d hired. Candice and I do the real thing. We don’t do fakes.
We walk back to the Parade. Move past taxi’s with the drivers shouting from the open windows. The hooting and the smells of diesel and fried food. I work on the Parade every day, but I still can’t understand why there are so many fisheries right next to each other selling exactly the same food. “We all make money,” a man said when I asked one day.
We dip into a shop and buy a large toy snake, a cobra. Candice hides it in her bag. On the Parade people are already leaving, but there are enough souls left wandering around for our purposes. We look around.
Across the street two guys are leaning against the wall, smoking. Closer by, three bros sit on the steps below a statue, wolfing down a gatsby. Now and then, they throw chips to the doves cooing at their feet.
I assume a position behind a Mazda, so I can get an unobstructed view with my phone’s camera.
The guys on the steps lick their fingers while they eat. One laughs with an open mouth while he drinks Coke from a can.
Candice walks past them slowly, scratching in her handbag. She takes out a smoke and asks for a light from one of the guys. He’s wearing a Nike cap. She sits down next to him, placing the toy snake right behind him. She screams “Snake!” and points. The guy looks behind him and his eyes grow wide. Then all three of them jump up and start running.
“It’s a prank!” Candice laughs, tears in her eyes, but the three men don’t look back.
The day has started well. It’s the first try and everything went smoothly. Now it’s my turn.
Candice laughs when she comes back to me. “Did you get all of that on video?”
“Yup!” I say. “I’m next.”
Candice has her camera ready.
A man and a woman sit at a table next to a tree, drinking Cokes. They’ve finished their meal. The woman has short hair and glasses. The man is a chizkop in a white vest, sweatpants and takkies. Girlfriend and boyfriend? Husband and wife?
I walk over to the couple. “Sorry to bother you,” I say to chizkop. “My phone battery is dead and I need to make a call. Can I please use your phone?”
“Are you going to run away with my phone?” he asks.
“No,” I shake my head.
“Because I’m fast and I’ll catch you,” Chizkop says and smiles at the woman as he gives me his phone.
I pretend to dial a number, then pinch my nose. “Yes, I want R100 000. If you want to see your daughter alive, bring the money to the Parade in Cape Town,” I say in a nasal voice.
Chizkop and the woman look at each other.
“Do you want to see your daughter alive?” I ask in the same nasal voice.
Chizkop gets up, no longer smiling. “Who are you calling?”
I ignore him and keep on talking into the phone. “I have a chizkop and I’m wearing a white vest, sweatpants and Adidas tekkies. I’m sitting with my wife under a tree on the Grand Parade. Call me at this number!”
The woman has her hand to her mouth and her eyes are wide.
“Are you mad?” Chizkop shouts and grabs the phone from me, holding it to his ear. “Who did you call?”
I spread my hands innocently. “I can give you half the ransom money.”
“Get out of here!” Chizkop hisses.
I turn to the woman, but Chizkop grabs me by the shirt and pushes me against the tree.
“Are you crazy!” I yelp.
“Voetsek!” he spits into my face. “Get out of here or I’ll moer you!”
The woman gets up and touches his shoulder.
Candice comes running towards us. “It’s a prank,” she gasps, “it’s just a prank!”
The woman laughs, but the man isn’t amused. He wags a warning finger in my direction as we walk away.
Tell us: What do you think about Lee-Roy and Candice’s pranks?