Now, no one person is ever purely good or purely evil. This was true of Sompisi, too. This man, for instance, had great compassion and affection for creatures of the feline persuasion. He owned six cats, himself, who enjoyed roaming the complex maze that he’d designed for their pleasure. The structure skirted along the underside of the crown moulding, acting as his pets’ personal hide-and-go-seek, jungle gym of a playground.

He was also the founder of the cat sanctuary, a no-kill shelter which sat on the opposite edge of village. It was run by one of the few women he had never slept with, while he quietly covered the entire operation’s expenses. A most unusual endeavour, I think you will agree.

But sadly, the man’s compassion and affection rarely extended to anyone in the human race, and this included his wife and her daughter. His marriage was, after all, a favour to Zinikele, who was desperate, because she had been unemployed for years. What she did not know is that he’d forbidden anyone in the village from employing her until she agreed to be his wife. Zinikele was, after all, the daughter of a deceased police officer – who had died trying to investigate Sompisi’s business dealings. Such a slight could not be pardoned, after all, and revenge had to be obtained.

Not that Sompisi found married life a hardship. His wife’s eyes and ears allowed him to know much of the village’s secrets. Zinikele was also easy on the eye, with the best legs and the clearest skin of any woman he’d ever seen – not that he would ever pay his wife such a compliment. Nqobi was equally beautiful, aside from her frown, which drew her eyebrows so close together that they created a crease above the bridge of her nose. “A shame,” he’d tell people. “She’s creating a deep river down the middle of her face.”

Sompisi found Nqobi a very useful person to have under his command. She did his errands better than any runner he’d ever hired, and this one he did not even need to pay. Thus, off Nqobi went, day after day, and in between she would stick her nose deep into her books. “Don’t forget to do as I told you,” he would tell her, over and over again.

“I won’t,” she would reply. “I will do as you asked me to.”

Then he’d smile, flashing his teeth. “Good, because I will hear if you don’t. It would make your mother so very sad if I had to punish you.”

She never disobeyed. But sometimes Sompisi punished her anyway. Fear was a power he cultivated and used with precision, and it worked, with the young, the old, and everyone in-between.

Tell us: The storyteller claims, “No one person is ever purely good or purely evil.” Do you believe this is true? Why or why not?