Lola took a few photos of Mr Mmope talking to the nurse and getting in the car, checked them on her camera and then looked up at Bonang.
“What were you saying, Bonang?” Lola asked.
“I knew you weren’t listening!”
“I was. I was listening, but I was trying to do my job too. It’s difficult. I’m sorry. Please just tell me again, why won’t you and Jomo get married?”
“It’s the dress! It’s hideous. It’s puffy all over and lace everywhere. Metres and metres of lace. I’m sure a lace factory went out of business making that dress. I look like a big, lacy marshmallow. I can’t wear it, but Jomo says he can only marry me if I wear his mother’s dress. I don’t know what I’m going to do! I think the wedding is off.”
Lola thought how it had hardly even been on. “I’m sure we can make a plan.”
“Oh Lola! You always think everything can just be sorted out – but sometimes it can’t you know. Sometimes things are just a mess no matter how much you try to sort them!” Bonang stamped off toward home.
“She’s pretty angry,” Amo said.
“Yeah, you know Bonang. She gets like that. It’s the wedding and all. She’ll be fine.”
At home, Lola wrote out her notes for the day before going to sleep. Just because Mr Mmope waited for a nurse and then they got in a car and drove away with her did not mean he was having an affair with a nurse. “Do not jump to conclusions not supported by fact.” Another bit of Ronnie Ron wisdom. Mr Mmope and the nurse could have been going anywhere. It might have been work-related, who knows? What Lola needed was a car to follow them and find out exactly where they were heading, but she didn’t even have her licence, let alone a car. But she knew someone who did – Jomo. She’d need to talk to him first thing in the morning to see if he could help her the next evening. It would give her a chance to talk to him about the dress dilemma too.
She thought more about the disappearing dogs, and wrote a list of possibilities:
1. Someone is stealing them for the new research facility in Henniesdorp.
2. They are being stolen and sold by thieves.
3. Someone is using them for dog fighting.
4. Maybe the Chinese really do eat dogs (??) (Note to self – speak to Mr Wang.)
5. Maybe the disappearances are not related.
First thing in the morning she’d pass by The Good Lucky Shop to speak to her ex-employer, Mr Wang, and to organise Jomo. So far her cases were progressing satisfactorily. She fell asleep quite a satisfied private investigator.
In the morning Lola got to The Good Lucky Shop before Mr Wang.
“Oh Lola – how lovely to see you!” Mr Wang said as he opened the shop. “How is the business going?”
“So far, so good. I’m here about a case actually.”
“Anything I can do to help you. You know I’m one of your fans.”
“Is it true that Chinese people eat dogs?”
“Well, you know, I was not born in China, I was born in South Africa. But my parents were born there. They told me that eating dog is not common.”
“Did you ever hear of Chinese people here eating dogs?”
“Oh no! That would not happen. It would be inhumane.”
“Yes, I thought so too. Thanks.” She took out her notebook and put a line through that option.
Just then Jomo arrived. “Hey Lola, coming back to work at the shop?”
“No, I was looking for you. Do you have a minute?”
“Sure. What’s up?”
“I have a case and I need transport. I can pay you; it will be a business expense.”
“You don’t need to pay me, we’re friends. Just tell me when and where and I’ll be there.”
“OK, this evening at 4:30 at the hospital.”
“And I nearly forgot – congratulations on your upcoming wedding!”
Jomo suddenly became shy, looking down at the floor. “Yes, well … thanks.”
“OK, I gotta go. See you later.”
“Hello Lola. How’s the investigating business going?”
Lola turned and there was Mrs Galebone. She was an old lady now, but at one time she had taught Lola, in Grade 2. Lola often met her on the street walking her little Maltese poodle, Kitty. Lola was rushing to get to her office but stopped anyway to speak to her former teacher.
“Good morning, Mrs Galebone. The investigating business is good.”
“I’ve been seeing all sorts of unkindness lately. You must watch yourself, Lola. When you’re out investigating things, you must be very careful. People doing all sorts of terrible things. Talking meanly to each other. Pushing and shoving. Being mean to animals. I just cannot tolerate people being cruel to animals, can you, Lola?”
“No, of course not.”
“The world is just all unkindness nowadays. It makes me very sad.”
“But not the whole world. You’re always kind. And look how happy your Kitty is.” Lola didn’t like seeing Mrs Galebone so discouraged.
“Yes, maybe not the whole world.” The old woman continued down the pavement back toward her house, and Lola heard her say, “Yes, perhaps not the whole world.” She repeated it a few times as she disappeared from view.
The ice cream shop was open when she got to her office and Lola thought she could do with a peanut butter swirl cone even if it wasn’t yet nine in the morning.
“Dumela, Rre Kagisanyo,” Lola said to her landlord, who owned the ice cream shop. “Thanks for sending customers my way.”
“No problem. People tell me lots of things, lots of problems. It’s handy having a place to send some of them at least.”
Lola took her cone and took the stairs to her little office. She doubted she’d ever get tired of climbing those stairs knowing that she was going up to her very own private investigating business. She smiled thinking about it as she climbed.
The smile faded when she saw what was waiting for her.
Tell us what you think: Do you, like Lola’s ex-teacher, think the world is full of unkindness?