Inside, my eyes take a while to adjust to the dark room. No gangsters around. Somewhere in the house, retro music plays. The house smells of vanilla, everything is spotless. A vanilla pudding on the table.
“My son’s not around,” the woman says.
“What’s your name, ma’am?” I ask.
“Everyone calls me Tinkie,’’ she says.
“Tinkie, you’re in big trouble.” I say, praying that she won’t ask for a warrant or anything. I don’t have any paper on me. “We received info that you sell drugs here. Is that true?” I angle my body towards Tinkie, recording the whole thing on my phone.
She gapes at me. “It’s my son’s house. Ballas. I stay in the back room. He’s not here.” She taps her watch. “He’ll be here any minute.”
“Tinkie, we can’t wait for him,” I say. “No time to hang around. Talk to me, where are the drugs?”
“There’s no drugs here. Why would I sell drugs?”
“Well, then I’ll just have to find them myself.” I search the house room by room. Drawers, cupboards, hiding places, under the beds and mattresses.
I hear Tinkie talking on the phone in the kitchen.
“The cops are here,” she says. “Yes, they’re searching the whole house. I don’t know what to do, Ballas. Hurry, please!”
She stands in the door to the bathroom as I check inside the toilet’s bowl. “Ballas will be here any moment now,” she says.
I try to pull the lever, but the toilet won’t flush. I lift the lid of the tank. Bingo! My breath catches in my throat. Money and drugs in plastic bags. I whistle.
“I’m going to get a lawyer,” Tinkie yells behind me. She’s panicking, like me.
“Tinkie stop shouting. Do you want to go to prison?”
She throws her hands in the air. “It’s not mine.”
“Good,” I reply. I’ll confiscate the drugs and money. You’re clearly involved in illegal activities.”
Her lips start to tremble and she explodes into hysterics. I need to get out of here, I need air.
When I get outside, I hear Candice shouting from the car window. At the top of the street, I see Ballas and his cronies driving towards us in their Astra. The Astra stops a few metres away and Ballas gets out, shouting.
Ballas shouts, but I don’t hear a thing as I run to Candice.
“He took the drugs and the money, Ballas!” Tinkie yells.
“Wait, you bastard,” Ballas roars.
I wrench open the car door. “Go, Candice, go!”
“They’re going to kill us!” Candice cries, her hands trembling on the steering wheel.
“Candice, eyes on the road, just drive,” I plead.
A dog wanders into the road and Candice swears. She turns left with the Astra close on our heels. Two cars block our escape route.
“What now?” Candice asks, but it’s too late.
She drives up onto the sidewalk and my head almost hits the windscreen. She drives into the veld and the car lurches to a stop.
“Get out!” I say to her. “We have to run!”
We run to a vibracrete wall. Behind us Ballas and his cronies have also left their car and started after us across the field.
I take Candice’s hand. “They’re coming for us, Candice,” I gasp. “Run!”
I jump over the vibracrete and help Candice across. Ballas curses. We run wordlessly past a group of surprised people playing dominos. We trample through a garden and struggle over a wire fence. Then we’re on a street again.
“We can’t stop,” I say.
Candice’s face is red and her eyes full of tears. We jump over another wall into someone’s yard. The backdoor is open. We run inside and lock the door behind us, out of breath.
“Hello, is anybody here? Hello?” I walk from one room to another. Candice hugs her arms to her chest in the kitchen.
A woman with a headscarf comes out of the bedroom looking baffled and look at the locked backdoor. “What are you doing in my house? Who are you?”
“They want to kill us, aunty!” Candice says.
“What do you mean?” the woman asks. “What did you do?”
I tell her the basics and she lifts her hand to her mouth. Her name is aunty Nonnie. She gets some sugar water for Candice.
“We have a friend who’s a policeman,” I say, “can you call him and ask him to come here?”
Aunty Nonnie nods and I give her the number.
We hear voices and footsteps in the yard. It’s Ballas and his friends.
There’s a hard knock at the back door. “We know you’re in there. Open the door! Nonnie, it’s me, Ballas. Open up!”
Aunty Nonnie turns to us. “You’ve really messed up. I live close to these people. They can hurt me badly. You’d better hope your friend comes quickly.”
Candice puts her hands to her face and go to the bathroom. When she returns, she whispers to me that she’s called the police as well. I nod. The whole thing is a mess. Candice sends all her video’s to my phone. “Just in case,” she whispers. Then she sets the camera on her phone to record and put the phone on the TV cabinet, angled so it can record what happens.
We hear a vehicle rumbling to a stop outside the house. It’s Deon. We hear him talking to Ballas outside.
“Open the door, aunty Nonnie!” Deon calls from outside the front door.
Aunty Nonnie opens the door and Deon and Ballas and his cronies walk in.
Deon looks at me angrily. “What shit is this?”
“You two bastards messed with the wrong guy,” Ballas say and point a warning finger at me and Candice. She grips my arm.
I want to say something, but Deon motions me to stay silent. “Where’s the money and the drugs, Lee-Roy?”
I hand over the money and the drugs to Deon.
“We’ll have this sorted out in no time,” Deon says to Ballas. “You make me happy and I’ll make sure you’re happy. Who wants to spend time in Pollsmoor? What do you say?”
Ballas blinks and look away. “You’re a Boer, but you’re dirty.”
“Man’s got to eat. No use locking you up,” Deon says and points at Ballas’ cronies. “One of these two goons will simply take over.”
“What do you want,” Ballas asks.
Candice and I listen fearfully.
“You can keep the drugs,” Deon says, “but I want half of the money.”
Ballas nods reluctantly. Deon takes half of the money and puts it in his pocket. Just then, police cars arrive with wailing sirens and armed police officers rush in. One of them is a tough looking woman. She stares at Deon with narrowed eyes.
“Jissis!’’ Deon slaps his forehead. “Natalie, it’s not what it looks like.”
Two weeks later, Candice and I check our YouTube channel on the train home from Cape Town.
Candice and I got a stern reprimand from Deon’s scary partner, Natalie. No more impersonating police officers or pranking dangerous killers. But we were allowed to keep our video footage, as long as we blurred the faces of the people involved.
Deon was arrested for bribery and lost his job. We felt bad about that after he had helped us, but we hadn’t asked him to take a bribe from Ballas, that was his own choice. The whole conversation was recorded on Candice’s phone and the police used it as evidence.
Ballas and his cronies were sent to Pollsmoor and didn’t get bail.
Candice scrolls through the comments and laughs, her head thrown back. We’ve had thousands of views, comments and new subscribers since we uploaded the gangster prank. I hug her and kiss her. Our video is breaking YouTube. We’re famous!
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