The morning sun fills the room. Sihlangu is drunk now. He stands up and leans on the chair for balance. He picks up his gun and points it at Sanele. Sanele cowers under the table.

“No, Sihlangu!” Mbali screams.

Sihlangu pulls the trigger. The gun makes a click, but doesn’t fire. Sihlangu smiles. “Your cowardice has saved your life. There are no bullets in this gun. I thought in all these hours you’d try to grab the gun while it was on the table and try to shoot me with it. Get up from under the table!” he says.

Sanele gets up. His heart beats fast and out of rhythm as he looks at Sihlangu.

Sihlangu lifts up one leg of his trousers. A gun in an ankle holster appears. He points to it and says, “This is the gun with bullets in it. I was going to shoot you with it if you tried to grab the gun that was on the table. I was going to put two bullets in your head.”

Tears fall freely down Sanele’s face. Mbali is crying on the floor by the fridge.

“But the other reason I’m sparing your life is because you are raising my son. Even though you are not actively being supportive, at least you have made an environment where he wants for nothing. And my boy believes you are his father, so I don’t want to break his heart,” says Sihlangu.

Sanele’s thoughts are in a fog of confusion. “What are you talking about? I don’t follow,” he says.

“I’m telling you that Owethu, your son, is really my son. Thembelihle told you he is yours because she saw a future with you. You work a good job and you had promised her a job at the municipality. She weighed her options and you came out as the winner,” says Sihlangu.

“No, it can’t be,” says Sanele.

“Now listen to me, and listen carefully. You will carry on living with them as if you never heard what I told you today. If you decide to leave them, I will find you and kill you. You will provide for them better than you have been doing. If I ever see you near Mbali again, I will be forced to kill you.”

Sanele shakes his head. He doesn’t believe what Sihlangu is saying.

“Let this be a lesson to you, Mr Engineer Playboy. You are not the ladies man you think you are. While you were out with other women I was warming your bed. Now it’s time for me to go, I have a long drive today.” Sihlangu staggers out of the room, gets in his taxi and takes off at speed.

Sanele paces about crying. Mbali is still on the floor, stunned by what she has just heard. She finally gets up and picks up the beer cans on the floor.

She is washing dishes and has her back to Sanele. “It was good while it lasted, Sanele. You cannot die and leave your family behind. Go, Sanele, and never look back,” she says.

Sanele is still shell shocked as he drives home. It would have been better if Sihlangu had shot me and killed me because what he has done is the same as killing me, he thinks. He is breathing but he feels dead inside. This feeling gets worse as he parks at his house. Thembelihle is getting ready to go to church.

“Hello, my husband. You look tired. What is the matter? Let me run you a bath. Your breakfast will be ready by the time you finish bathing,” she says.

Although it is hard, Sanele forces himself to smile. He wonders how he will go on living with Thembelihle. He is wondering if he should ask her if what Sihlangu said is indeed true. But he remembers Sihlangu’s promise and a vision of him pumping two bullets into his head flashes across his mind.

Right then, the young boy Owethu runs and hugs Sanele. When Sanele looks at Owethu’s face, he can see a slight resemblance to Sihlangu.

How will I live with this family that I thought was mine but is another man’s? What am I going to do? I can’t even talk about it with anyone else because there are two bullets with my name on them if I do, Sanele thinks, as he hugs Owethu.

“Your bath is ready, my husband,” says Thembelihle.

“Thank you, my wife,” says Sanele.

He can smell the bacon frying in the kitchen, and can see Owethu laughing with Thembelihle. He immerses himself in the bathtub.

“I did this to myself. I neglected Thembelihle and drove her into the arms of another man. It will be hard to live after discovering the truth. But I have to make it work. I just have to make it work because this, as tough as it will be, is better than death,” he whispers to himself.

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