SHADOW chapter 3: The stand off!

As I stood at the door staring into Frank’s eyes and at that irritating smile, I was not sure whether I was better off going back into my creepy lounge and closing the door in his face, or dashing past him and making a run for the pavement just so I could get away and clear my head. There was a very loud scream building up inside me, my whole body on edge and the adrenaline rush becoming too intense for me to convincingly subdue, calm my fear and resist the urge to run. What did it, was when he opened his mouth and said the words, “Hi again Wonder, are you alright?”

I instinctively stepped back and banged the door in his face, and it only registered in my mind much later that I screamed and in that scream managed to shout the words, “How do you know my name and where I live you creep?” I locked the door and ran straight for the bedroom. I banged that door shut too and locked it behind me before curling up on the bed screaming my head off. Yes I was afraid but now I was so cross. I had no idea who this man was nor where he came from but he clearly knew me well enough to find me. All I could see in my mind was that smile and the darkness hidden deep in his knowing, piercing eyes. How rude….how dare he! I actually felt violated. My safe haven, my home, would never feel the same again. I had absolutely no idea why he was stalking me, nor what he was capable of.
As my mind was racing, my head about to explode, there was a knock on the bedroom door. Then it seemed the whole world just stopped and everything fell silent. How did he get in? How could he be knocking on my bedroom door? I knew I had locked the front door! What manner of creep and absolute thug would you have to be to put me through all this? The knock came again, a little louder…but so did the silence. I regretted not running to the kitchen instead. What could I use in the bedroom to defend myself? Imagining the kitchen knife which I didn’t have with me just made me feel more desperate!

“Wonder, open up, what’s going on kanti?” came a voice. It took me a few seconds to recognize it. It was Nkosi’s voice! The relief was enough to fling me into quite a stupor, I could have collapsed. I wanted to cry, scream for joy, run into his arms and feel safe again. It took another few seconds for my head to stop spinning. Without noticing how I did it, I had gotten up off the bed, unlocked the door and flung myself into Nkosi’s arms. I was busy babbling on about the incident uncontrollably with Nkosi so stressed and confused, looking down into my wild eyes in an effort to make sense of what I was saying. Then something made me stop. It just felt like he was not alone.

Standing at the threshold of my bedroom door with the room behind you, you would have the toilet and bathroom to your left. Then to your right, through a door opposite the bedroom, was actually my favorite place in the house, my kitchen, the only place I actually took time to buy all the furnishings for with absolute care. The colors all matched. I love green you see, so, being a creative I had found a way to blend shades of green with white. Weird but hey, I loved it. All my cups and saucers were a lime green, and my mugs were a mix of lime green and white. These were all displayed on the shelves and seen through glass sliding doors. I only used green towels. The curtains were an amazing find. The print was of different types of herbs, all in shades of green on a white background. I had these little pot plants with beautiful purple, white and violet flowers sitting on the window sill.
Displayed on top of the cupboards were pots and, yes you guessed it, they were silver with green lids. Behind the door was a white apron with little yellow and pink flowers on beautiful lime green stems on the left lower corner. My name was written in bold lime green print across the middle. It was made and printed specifically for me by my Nkosi. I loved it dearly. I actually did not wear it when I was doing a messy job. I wanted it to last till Nkosi and I were married or something. He had given to throwing hints so I was getting prepared and could not wait.

Actually Nkosi bought most of my cutlery for me when I moved in. I had been living there for a full year. The knives in their wooden casing at the corner of the kitchen were kept well sharpened. The floor tiles were off white and the cupboards were painted white, with the doors and cupboard top a light grey, which almost looked like a shade of green. Nkosi always told me that was just wishful thinking. The doors were grey, period! The doors were old though and to get some of them open you had to kind of coax them with a nudge using your knee before attempting to open them. You had to lift and then pull. It was quite a trick but it did the job. The landlord had been promising to fix them but never got round to doing it, and I had given up asking eventually.

Nkosi was still looking down at me in complete confusion when I realized I had seen movement in the kitchen. “Who are you with?” I asked him. “Baby, you have me very worried. What are you going on about, which guy, where?” he asked. I did not hear him. Something told me to go and check who was in my kitchen. Whoever it was had just opened a cupboard. I heard it close, just the way the faulty one sounds. Yes, it had a distinct sound when it closed. Like a double click! I walked across to the kitchen door and there was Frank, wearing my apron, giving the cupboard door a nudge with his left knee and doing the lift and open sequence only Nkosi, the Landlord, my close friends and I knew. I froze!

“This is Frank. He will be joining me next week at the firm. Remember I told you I needed more help? ” Nkosi explained, very aware of my discomfort. Actually I think we were both a little uneasy and confused by the way Frank knew his way around my kitchen. “I thought I would make you guys something to snack on. Maybe omelettes! You’re fine with that I hope! I thought maybe I would stay here, out of your way, whilst you guys talked.” explained Frank. Then he smiled! I swiftly turned and walked out heading back to the bedroom. Nkosi followed closely behind.
“Nkosi, what is that man doing inside my kitchen. Why is he inside my flat in the first place?” I asked frantically. “Baby, calm down! I found him waiting on the pavement outside the flat. He said he had seen you looking rather frightened and it worried him and so he wanted to check if you are ok. Apparently you fell earlier. What happened babe?” Nkosi asked looking so worried and almost as if he regretted not being there himself to have helped. “I just tripped that’s all. That man is creepy. You mean you’ve met him already? Did you show him a photo of me, tell him my name and also where I stay? Two hours ago this man was standing outside on the pavement and greeted me like he knew me. Later he is at my door and calling me by my name. How did he know all that Nkosi? There are how many flats in this building? How did he know to come to my door?”

Just then the door opened and in came Frank carrying a tray, with two plates and two glasses of juice. Each plate had an omelette and a toast with melted cheese on it. It was all done exactly the way Nkosi did on days when he decided to spoil me. Actually that is all Nkosi knew how to prepare well. Everything else he burnt or spoilt with the wrong spice, overcooking or something. I loved his omelettes though and could eat them at any time of the day.

By this time Nkosi and I had been seated at the corner of the bed but when Frank walked in, Nkosi shot up in anger, turned and faced him, his face locked in a deep frown, his eyes ablaze. Frank had not had the decency to knock before entering, but just came in.  I could not believe how much I was starting to hate the guy. I watched Frank walk……no, glide towards the bed. It was weird! I had never seen anyone move the way he did. One leg went in front of the other but it was as if his feet didn’t really touch the ground. The steps were too small and not frequent or fast enough to give him the speed with which he moved. It was the oddest thing. He placed the tray on the bedside table then stood up straight and faced Frank. There was the standoff that was to change our lives. Frank had on his irritating smile but his eyes were darker and colder, almost as if he was telling Nkosi to back off. Nkosi on the other hand now had this angry look in his eyes, a distinct distrust. He had gone into protection mode! Actually, I had never seen this look on Nkosi. The atmosphere was terribly tense. I could sense both men trying to restrain themselves yet it was clear, one was protecting his territory and the other, Lord knows what he thought he was fighting for! It was not going to take much to blow this up into something we could all regret.

Watching them, I noticed something for the first time. It was shocking and made me rather uncomfortable for some reason. I had not picked up on it earlier but now that I had them both in the same room…! I found myself on my feet and standing to the side of the two. Frank stood two heads taller than I, a lovely light shade of brown. He was well built but a little gut was starting to show. He had a perfect head full of well-maintained locks, a perfect smile and, if he was going to be working with Nkosi, he must have been a damn good accountant. The two men could have been identical. The only thing about Frank was that his features were rather feminine. His manner too was a bit………feminine. He was not all…man!

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