It was late afternoon. The shop was quiet. Sipho opened the red box. The necklace lay on the velvet in the shape of a heart, and he felt like he’d lost everything. He’d lost Perry, he was platsak, and the love of his life was going out with the world’s biggest loser.

He took a photo of the red necklace with Mr Mohamed’s iPad, and posted it on Gumtree.

For Sale. Paid R4500. Unworn, for sale R3000. Contact Sipho at Liesbeek Pet store, Liesbeek Mall.

Hopefully I’ll be able to buy two parrots, Sipho thought. R3000 should be enough for two African Grey babies to breed and sell.

He was in the back washing the bird dishes when he heard a voice shouting, “Service.”

“That can’t be Dominic,” Sipho mumbled under his breath. “He wouldn’t dare…”

“God dammit. Service!”

Sipho hurried into the shop. “Damn you, Dominic. Damn!” Sipho cursed. “You bastard! You still have the balls to show up here.”

“Ey yo man, wad up?” Dominic wouldn’t look him in the face. “Yo dude get over it, you ain’t getting her back. It has been written in the stars – me and Karabo – dope forever.”

Sipho’s face turned blood red instantly. He glared at Dominic. “I’m warning you, bastard. Leave before I grind you to dust!”

“Ha! Ha! Ha! What damage can a feather like you do to me?” Dominic said, pushing Sipho with his shoulder. “You should consider stand-up comedy coz you freakin hilarious.”

I can’t hit him, Sipho thought. I’d give anything to smash his ugly face, but if I’m caught fighting here Mr Mohamed will fire me. Then I’ll have nothing.

“Look, it’s been a long day for me,” he said. “Please leave.”

“Why dude? I’ve got the right to buy Karabo a bird in a store of my choice. Hoping they haven’t flapped away from you like Karabo did.”

Sipho exploded in rage. “You disgust me. Just leave! You ain’t buying shit here.” He grabbed the front of Dominic’s leather jacket.

“Why?” Dominic sneered. “You’re nothing. Just this morning Karabo told me I satisfy her in bed, and that you’ve got a pinkie-sized dick.”

Sipho grabbed his neck and choked him. Dominic jabbed him in the ribs. They fell against the row of bird cages, which clattered to the floor.

“I’m going to freaking kill you!” Sipho yelled. Dominic’s eyes were bulging and his veins were sticking out on his forehead.

“What exactly is going on here? You are behaving like animals. Let him go, Sipho!” Karabo’s hands were tugging at him.

Dominic thrashed out again. His hand caught Karabo’s necklace. The red flowers fell apart, leaving nothing but an empty chain on her neck.

“Now look what you’ve done!” she yelled.

Sipho let go of Dominic’s neck. He bent over to collect up the beads. He picked up one of the flowers. The paint was chipping off it. Underneath it was just plastic. Karabo saw it too.

“Hey, you told me this was real. You told me you paid six thousand for it at Starlight. It’s fong-kong rubbish.”

Dominic stood rubbing his neck. “So what? It looks real.”

“You don’t really care, right?” Karabo said. “Just get out.”

As Dominic wandered out, still rubbing his neck, the phone rang. “Liesbeek Pet Store,” Sipho said, picking up the receiver.

“Is that Sipho? This is Mrs Malleson from the vet. We have found your bird – one of our clients brought him in. She found him in a tree in her garden.”

Sipho couldn’t believe his ears. He did a little dance behind the counter. He gave a thumbs up to Karabo.

She squeezed behind the counter to give him a hug. Then she saw the Gumtree ad.

“You spent R4500 on my Valentine’s present?” she asked, amazed. “Have you still got it?”

“Sure.” He opened the desk drawer and pulled out the box.

“You’ve already broken one necklace today,” he said sternly. “Are you going to break this one too? I don’t know if you deserve an expensive present like this.”

“Shhh. Baby I’m sorry,” Karabo said, putting her arms around him. “I was only flirting…to get your attention…you were so busy with your parrot all the time…”

“I’m sorry baby. I was so busy trying to make the money that I forgot what really matters.” Sipho opened the box, and put the red coral necklace around her neck. Then he kissed her. “I love you.”

“I love you too, Sipho’sam,” Karabo said, “You are the greatest gift of all.”


Tell us what you think: What should Sipho learn from all the drama he went through?

The End