“Maybe I should drive out to that farm; I think I can find it again. Maybe they’re the kidnappers, keeping Mr Wang locked up in one of the outbuildings,” Jomo said the next day.
“No! That’s a terrible idea,” Bonang said. “It could be dangerous.”
“Bonang is right. I think we should give it today to resolve. If Mr Wang doesn’t show up by the end of the day, we must go to the police. We shouldn’t get the police involved unnecessarily, but if Mr Wang is in danger, which I’m starting to suspect is the case, we will need the police.”
I’d been going through The Handbook, ‘Chapter 7 – Kidnappings’, the night before. T.S. advised to wait until you hear what the kidnappers want, because that often gives you clues as to who they might be.
He also said that sometimes the victim is kidnapped along with what the kidnappers actually want and no ransom is asked for. In that case, either the victim is released … or killed. I didn’t think the arrival of the small, valuable package and the disappearance of Mr Wang was a coincidence. It was likely Mr Wang was kidnapped because the kidnappers wanted what was in that package.
“What’s wrong with him?” Bonang said, pointing at Chairman Meow. He lay on his back, his legs straight up in front of him. He stared at his front feet, moving them ever so slightly. He’d been that way since the morning.
“It’s something Amogelang came up with. It seems to relax him.”
“I want some of that,” Bonang said. Jomo laughed a bit too hard at her joke.
The bell above the door tinkled. I looked up and there was Leah Warona.
“Hi Bonang,” she said.
“Hi Leah. What did you think about Ms Jaanke last night?” Bonang asked.
I looked at Jomo who was busy unpacking a box of stuffed hippos and arranging them in the window. He’d divided them into blue hippos and yellow hippos. Now he was arranging them in the window display as if they were two hippo armies having an epic battle. He didn’t seem the least bit concerned that Leah Warona, the love of his life, had come into The Good Lucky Shop. I thought then how he had some qualities that might make him a very good private detective one day.
“She was weird neh? Giggling and all happy and everything. What do you think that’s about?” Leah asked.
“I don’t know. Maybe she was happy about the fashion show. She said her friend from Joburg was really impressed.”
“Yes, that’s what she said. I don’t know what it was, but I didn’t like it. I prefer the angry, shouty Ms Jaanke. She was giggling like a schoolgirl last night,” Leah said.
Leah looked around. “Where’s Mr Wang? He said he’d make a donation for our church’s football tournament.”
“Mr Wang’s been kidnapped,” Bonang said.
“Bonang! We don’t know that! You shouldn’t spread things that are not true,” I said.
“It might be true.”
“But it might not be. Being kidnapped is one thing, but he could even be dead for all we know,” I said.
“Dead? What are we going to do about the church football tournament donation?” Leah asked.
“He’s not dead. And he’s not kidnapped. He went away for a few days, that’s all,” I said, trying my best to sort the mess out. Everyone knew Leah was a fan of gossip. Something like this would keep her busy for days.
Jomo was still lost in his window display. He’d pulled the basket of water pistols nearer and was trying to see how to make them stay in the hands of the stuffed hippos. They kept falling and he was getting frustrated.
“Listen Leah, it is a criminal offence to spread rumours about people, especially ones that say a person has been murdered or kidnapped,” I said. It wasn’t, but I knew Leah was not that bright, and believed nearly anything she was told, especially if you said it in an authoritarian voice.
“Fine, Lola! God, you’re always so serious. I wasn’t going to tell anyone anyway.” Leah headed toward the door, then she turned back. “You ought to get that cat to a vet – it’s not normal.”
She left and I looked at Chairman Meow still admiring his own feet. He was OK, I told myself. We’d all be OK.
By the time we knocked off there was still no Mr Wang. We also hadn’t got another call from the kidnapper.
“We’ll have to involve the police,” I said.
“I’m off to modelling classes,” Bonang said.
“Are you coming with me then?” I asked Jomo.
“I … I need to … do something for my mother,” he said.
“Fine, I’ll go alone.”
They left as I put the sound-asleep Chairman Meow in his carrier and locked up the shop. As I put the keys in my pocket, I thought I saw Bonang and Jomo walking together, in the opposite direction to Martie Jaanke’s House of Style.
It couldn’t be, I thought. Must be some other people.
At the police station I found Sergeant Seabe.
“So he went to a farm. Then he picked up a package at the courier. After this, he had to take an unexpected trip and a person phoned who wouldn’t speak. Do I get you right?” Sergeant Seabe said.
“Yes, that’s about it, but, of course, the way you say it makes it sound like a list of very ordinary things. We know Mr Wang. He doesn’t do things such as this. Something has happened, something serious,” I insisted.
“Listen, Lola, I know you take your private investigating work very seriously, but I don’t see anything out of the ordinary here.”
“Did you see the note? Did you see that it is typed?”
“Yes. But some people prefer typing nowadays. Handwriting is getting worse and worse with all these gadgets of ours.”
“I hate to have to say this but I think you’re being very relaxed about this entire thing, Sergeant Seabe.”
“I’m sure everything is fine, but here is what I’ll do. First thing tomorrow I’ll be at the shop. If he hasn’t come back, I’ll open a case then. OK?”
“OK. First thing tomorrow. I just hope it’s not too late for Mr Wang.”
Tell us what you think: Why did Bonang and Jomo lie to Lola? Are they somehow involved?