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A Tale of Two Shades

Sun, 15 June 2014 23:48

The following is a work of fiction, any similarity to an actual event is purely coincidental.
A cold breeze brushed over Tangeni, sending a freezing chill down his spine, that coupled with the reek of Elifas’ cigarette haze gave him an, awful feeling.
He could not tell Tangeni to stop. He knew the cigarette calmed him before the job, and he was not his boss, even though all the guys offered him the respect of one.
 The cover of night was slowly creeping upon the heavens like a lovers embrace. Tangeni welcomed it. It had become a place of refuge for him in recent years, ever since his parents’ deaths and his aunt took him in, before eventually throwing him out.
A few street lamps that flickered with the little life that remained in them were about the only activity left on the street. One shop towards the end of the street remained open, and that was the reason the three young men were here. He tried to go over the plans one last time in his mind, but that was the height of redundancy, he thought. No job had ever gone wrong when he was around, and he had meticulously planned this for an entire week since Kristopher tipped him off about the cash-in potential.
     “So, Deserie, eh?” he turned to Mekonjo. “Weren’t you calling her a whore just last week?”
     “Hey, you know how love works,” laughed Mekonjo. “Sometimes we hate each other, but most times, we can’t live without each other. Last week she finally introduced me to her parents, I think it’s getting serious.”
     “I know. Parents and stuff?” Tangeni nodded sarcastically, but he envied Mekonjo. Although they fought almost as often as they had sex, the two of them were made for each other, and everyone knew that. Tangeni can’t remember even having that. “So did her parents ask you what you did for a living?”
     “Yeah,” Mekonjo replied with a sly smile. “I told them I procure business stock for a profit. Technically, I didn’t lie, and they had no idea what that meant, only that it like.”
     At last, activity in the shop at the end of the street signalled that the time for the job had arrived. Tangeni glanced down at his watch. Right on time, like Kristopher had said. They were at the entrance of the shop in no time, masks pulled over their faces, waiting for the owner to step out, which he did before the minute was up.
     As the store owner stepped outside, Tangeni caught him by the throat while the other hand stuck a pistol to his belly and pulled him back into his shop. His friends followed and closed up behind them.
     “I’m sure you can figure out what is going on here, you look like a smart man,” Tangeni said, the affable tone with which he spoke to Mekonjo two minutes ago was now completely morphed into a harsh command. “If you try nothing funny, you will leave your shop with your life. We are only here for one thing. Today is the day you remove all the in-store cash for deposit, right?”
     The man’s green eyes blinked with stark fear. This was clearly the first time he was getting robbed.
     “RIGHT?” Tangeni roared when the man did not answer.
     He flinched. His gaze trailed to the safe he was carrying in his hand, and that effectively answered Tangeni’s question.
     “Good,” said Tangeni. According to Kristopher’s sister who was a cashier at the store, there should be about N$50 000 in there. She only wanted N$5 000 for her son’s school fees for the information. “What is the code to the safe?”
     The man blinked, clearly trying to think up something. Of this, Tangeni was prepared.
     “Look, I know you want to be a hero, but try that today and you will die,” said Tangeni. Not a single muscle was twisted in any form that resembled a smile whatsoever. “We all face crap. Mekonjo here watched his mother waste away with cancer. My parents died due to poverty, because every cent they got from their pension they gave for my education and even that wasn’t enough. Why should you white people be the only ones who have to waltz through this life without any suffering? It’s the circle of life my friend, now give me that code.”
     “You think I haven’t suffered?” The store owner finally spoke, some courage gathered.
     “I’m sure your toy was taken away at some point as a child,” Tangeni said. He held up his gun and reached out to the store owner, and as he grabbed him he felt a small bump on his shoulder. Just the touch brought back a cascade of memories.
     A million people had birthmarks but he had touched that one so many times as a child, he could never forget it. “Is your name Jan Smit?”
     The store owner was clearly taken a back. He squinted his eyes, trying to make out the face behind the black mask, “how do you know my name?”