4. Lera

The cup of black tea in my hands warms me up to more wakefulness. My day begins. 

Morning Live, the news show on the TV. Leanne talks about the new numbers of people who got killed by Covid-19 as if we still care. I mean, we do but not as much as we did when the first case of the virus in the country was announced.

Those times when masks never left our faces, hands were always wet with sanitizers and some people finally got to learn how to wash their hands. Standing next to someone meant you’ll die so we lived as separately as possible. Some of us learnt a new word: quarantine. If someone near me coughed I’d look at him and run away, sometimes I’d shout at the person for trying to kill me without pausing to think that maybe that cough was of a flu or a cold. Those times. 

The world stopped spinning. 

Numbers of active cases and deaths are still being announced but who’s counting? 

Apparently, Leanne and the news staff are. She continues to talk about the virus and the vaccines as I drink my tea. I honestly have to force myself to care about this huge number of dead people she’s talking about. They are all strangers to me. As long as my aunt and Rorisang are fine then all is well. 

Joyce joins me in the lounge.

“Any plans for today?” She asks, falls on the couch next to me. 

“Just a normal Saturday. No plans, just hang with the gang,” I say, and take the final sip of my tea. Really there isn’t much to do today. 

I just freshen up in a bath, brush my teeth then I’m off to the fun house. It’s Fresh’s house, and we call it fun house because it is just that. We throw parties, get stoned, chill, shoot some sex videos. It’s all fun. 1997/14A Lorenz Avenue. Come join us if you bored. 

As I park the Tazz on the pavement ahead from the house’s grey wall, I see that fun house has a rapper for a guest. This dude clad in an all-white oversized attire and gold chains hanging on his heavily tattooed neck, raps while walk-dancing out of the gate. A camera man ahead of him. He’s actually lips syncing, because the lyrics correspond with the loud trap song blaring from the house. Blinx (wasn’t he supposed to be in class with Rorisang and the others?) and Fresh follow from the back, holding gold Hennessey bottles while moving to the rhymes and the beat. I sit back watching through the windshield, waiting to see two or five half naked girls to come out from the gate dancing as well but they don’t come. If they were there obviously Shalla and Mandisa would be among them, being the less dressed. The groove of the song is rather ear grabbing, I too begin to move my head to the song. But the lyrics…

“hitting yo ass, that’s the only time you feel great,

Bitch, I’ve been straight,

Almost fell asleep when I heard your mixtape,

You used to beg a nigga for a feature just to keep your bills paid,”

The things this rapper is mouthing, his voice saying them in the speaker. Some trash lyrics, but his flow and the beat is what makes the song enjoyable to listen to. Much like most rap songs nowadays.

But then he stops rapping because a black car speeds from a near corner. Tyres screech. The camera man dives out of the way, rolls on the street. The black car stops. I see two guys hopping out and they charge straight towards the rapper. They punch him and kick him. Fresh and Blinx run inside the yard with their Hennessey bottles, I see and hear the clank as they slam the gate shut. The rapper screams, the two guys continue with their beating as the rapper’s voice in the song blaring from the house also continues the diss:

“dumb fuck using my name for clickbait as if it matters, 

All the shit you flex with its fake and you know how I hate niggas who dictate, 

stupid ass nigga, go ask your mom how my dick taste, 

I made her eat it like its cheesecake.”

Meanwhile he is now screaming on the ground being pounded by two angry feet. The camera guy has also vanished, I no longer see him. The two guys don’t stop. The rapper’s hands are all over his head and I begin to feel somewhat bad for him, despite his trash lyrics in the diss song. I watch, hoping the feet of these two men will walk them back inside their black car. That never happens. They carry on with the kicks, stomping him on his crying face his head bangs against the street. He’s about to suffer a mild concussion. 

Do they want to kill him? 

“Auurgghh! I’m so–so sorry!” He yells out blood on the street. I honk the Tazz loud enough to snatch the attention of the two men. They stare at me, making me feel like they are about to come for me now. But they simply carry on with the rapper, he yells even louder, not even trying to get up and fight.

Suddenly I see a gold Hennessey bottle fly over from the grey wall, it hits one of the man and shatters on his bald naked head. Now it’s his turn to scream. He and his accomplice take out guns and jump over the grey wall. God, what now? 

I look around the car for my phone. I see the rapper pick himself up. He’s dusty and bloody. Some of his gold chains have slipped out of him, some are entangled around his ears and head.

I hear Gun shots. Once I get my cellphone I dial for emergency but it’s so hard. My fingers are literally shaking right now, I feel like my heart will explode out of my chest. There are more gun shots.

There are sounds of breaking glass. It’s the rapper, breaking the windows of their black car with a brick I never saw him pick up. He runs away when there’s a sound of a sixth or seventh gun shot. 

“19–19 1997/14A Lorenz–Lorenz Avenue come quick people fighting gun shots come!” 

That’s what I can manage to say through all the trepidation. I can’t stop looking around, and the way I’m shaking it’s like I’m naked in the snow. 

The two men jump back outside. The other one’s head drips with blood down to his forehead and cheek. It’s curses when they see their two car windows broken; the front passenger’s and the rear left one. They look for the rapper but he’s gone, disappeared in a short corner on the side. Instead the one who wasn’t hit with the bottle turns his angry face, his eyes come across mine. “You,” he points his gun at my windshield.

He must think I’m the one who helped the rapper and we broke the windows together. I try to stab the key into the ignition but due to all the trembling, the keys fall. Gun shots. I yelp as I duck down on the accelerator and hear more gun shots. Crackle sounds. The small glasses of my windshield fall on my back.