Lola straightened the sign on her office door and smiled: ‘Lola Molefi: Private Investigator’. She’d finished her six month course at Ronnie Ron’s Detective School. Armed with her private investigator’s license, she’d rented a one-room office on the second floor, above ‘We Scream for Ice Cream’ ice cream shop. Her dreams were finally coming true. She was a real life private investigator now. All she needed was some clients – and with that thought came a knock at the door.
“Come in!” She had no receptionist yet, and in any case she had no space for a receptionist in this tiny office with just one window at the back. She’d have to manage alone for the meantime. The door opened and there was Bonang, Lola’s best friend. Her heart fell a fraction. She liked Bonang, but she would much rather have seen her first client waiting behind the door.
“Guess what?” Bonang said, far too excited for eight in the morning.
“I can’t be playing guessing games Bonang, I’m busy with my new business. A client might come in at any moment,” Lola said, straightening her new stationery on the desk.
“Fine, be a poor sport,” Bonang said, but held out her left hand to Lola and on her ring finger was a thin gold band with a tiny box cut diamond. “Look!”
“Is that an engagement ring? Am I to deduce that a certain Jomo has asked you to marry him and you have accepted?”
“Yes! Can you believe it? We’re getting married!” Bonang was jumping around the office until Lola feared that her landlord down below, scooping ice cream into cones, would not be happy.
Lola took the excited Bonang by the shoulders and sat her firmly in one of the visitors’ chairs. “That’s very good news. You two will make a very good team,” Lola said. “When is the date for the wedding?”
“We’re thinking in a few months. We want a small wedding and I already have a wedding dress. Jomo wants me to wear the dress his mother wore for her wedding.”
“Ah – going for the vintage look. Well that’s handy.”
There was a knock at the open door and Lola looked up to see a middle-aged couple who seemed lost. They were each licking ice cream cones: his vanilla, hers chocolate.
“Can I help you?”
“Yes … we were told there is a private detective agency up here. The ice cream man told us they might be able to help us with our problem,” the man said.
“Yes! Yes, come in,” Lola said. She gave Bonang a look that meant ‘these are real clients and you must clear out’. Thankfully Bonang understood.
“I’ll be on my way then, but Lola–”
“Yes, Bonang,” Lola said, while pushing her out and closing the door behind her. She turned to her clients who still stood licking their cones. “Please take a seat.”
Lola quickly squeezed in behind her desk, which was a bit too big for the office. It was a second-hand desk her father had given her for her new business. She couldn’t say no to a gift even if it meant it took up nearly half the office.
“So how can I help you?”
“You’re the detective?” the man asked, not quite believing it.
“Yes, Lola Molefi, private investigator.” Lola handed each of them one of her business cards and pointed to her licence on the wall.
“OK … I’m Mr Joubert, and this is my wife,” the man said, scrutinising the license and the business card. “Well, we hadn’t planned to hire a private detective – actually we didn’t think such things existed in Nokeng – but the ice cream man heard our story and told us to give it a go.”
“So what’s the problem, Mr Joubert?”
“Our dog Gilbert has disappeared. It’s been nearly a month so we sort of accepted he was gone, but now the ice cream man said you were here so we thought, ‘Why not give it a try?’”
“Yes, why not give me a try?” Lola smiled. At least her first case would be an easy one, a missing dog. Not a problem. She took the details for Gilbert, wrote down the particulars regarding when and how he went missing (he’d been in their fenced garden). After everything was documented and both ice cream cones were long gone, Lola stood up and held out her hand.
“I’ll get on the case straight away. I’ll hopefully have some news for you later tomorrow.”
“That would be great. Little Johnny misses Gilbert so much, he hasn’t been sleeping at all,” Mrs Joubert said.
As Lola was ushering the Jouberts out of her office, a woman was making her way up the steps. Her first day of business was turning out to be a busy one. It wasn’t yet lunch time and she had her second client arriving, or so Lola hoped.
The tall, attractive woman looked down at a business card and up at Lola. “I’m looking for the private detective,” she said. She looked down at the card again for reference. “Lola … Lola Molefi?”
“Yes, that’s me. Let’s go into my office.”
The woman followed her inside and Lola closed the door. It was obvious the woman was upset and Lola suspected that whatever was upsetting her was the root of the case.
“I have a problem … with … my husband,” the woman said.
“What’s the problem?” Lola asked.
“He’s cheating on me!” The woman burst into tears and Lola grabbed the box of tissues from her desk drawer. Ronnie Ron always advised keeping a box of tissues in the desk drawer; dealing with tears was often a large part of a private investigator’s job.
The woman calmed down and Lola tried to continue. “What makes you think he’s cheating on you Mrs…?”
“Mrs Mmope, Blossom Mmope. My husband’s name is Fani. He’s a pharmacist at the hospital. I bet it’s one of those nurses, all dressed up in their white uniforms! Devils in white, if you ask me.”
“Let’s not jump to conclusions. Tell me about your husband,” Lola said, steadying her pen to take careful notes. She suspected this would be a difficult case.
Tell us: What do you think of Lola’s cases so far? Are they the usual types of cases private investigators might get?