SHADOW 8: “Nkosi…….?”

The minute hand on the clock was making its way around very, very slowly. I had drowned everything out. It was all I could see and if I listened carefully I could faintly hear the ticking of the little second-hand as it paced its way around. I wished it was the hour hand. Maybe if it could just quicken its pace too, it could be this time tomorrow, a totally different day with less cares, or at least I hoped and imagined. Alas, it was tick tick toking away slowly at an almost dead pace. It was still just twenty-nine minutes after one in the early hours of the morning. Here we still were….wide awake. Waiting on Becky!
“You are the two who came in with the young lady called Rebecca yes?” a nurse asked. Nkosi stood up immediately, whilst I tried to get my mind refocused. He replied quickly,

“Yes.”

“Great…your friend is doing ok. The doctor will be with you shortly to explain further. Have you been in touch with the family?” she asked with a little more concern in her voice than I assumed she wanted to let on. “Why, is there something the matter….you can tell us!” I responded in alarm as fear starting to grip at my heart and my throat.

“No no….” she responded reassuringly, “We like to deal with a patient’s next of kin. However I am sure the family would want to be notified of her condition. And you look like you need the support too.” She was totally right. We just had not thought about that with everything that was going on, never mind the fact that we did not have any cell phones on us. “Actually we should have done that ages ago, sorry! Eh……would you allow us to use your phone please? We actually do not have a working phone on us right now,” Nkosi asked politely. “Oh shame! You can use my cellphone. There should be enough airtime for one call. Here…..” she responded as she handed Nkosi her phone.
Once Nkosi had the phone in his hand he just stood there looking at me. We both realised we had no idea who we should call. I had Becky’s mother’s number but that was now stuck in my phone book. These are the times when technology begins to work against you, not for you. The only number I could remember was Ntombi’s, another one of my friends. She would probably be out partying at that time, maybe even too tipsy to be bothered with phone calls. We had to try though.
Ntombi’s phone rang a little too long with no answer. I was convinced she would not answer. I heard her voice on the other end of the line just as I was about to give up. She did not sound impressed. I could imagine! Here was a strange number calling her at a very odd time. Thank goodness she was always too curious not to answer. “Who is this and why are you calling me at this hour?” snapped Ntombi.

“Sorry Ntombi it’s Wonder….”

“Ooooh Wonder…sorry tshomsa…..but why are you calling so late? It’s not like you? Oh no…..was there a ladies night tonight?”

“No, you’re good Ntombi! Hey Listen….Becky is in hospital. I’m here with Nkosi at Materdai Hospital…….”

“Oh no……is it serious……it must be……do you need me to come over there……I will be there just now…..I’m in town…”

“Yah babe its fine but listen….I don’t have her family’s numbers. Please can you get hold of them for me. I can’t stay long on the phone. We had to borrow this one from one of the nurses. Please just do that for me babe!”

“Gee……yes no problem. I am coming there now. Do you need to charge your phone? I can bring a charger….”

“Great thanks Ntombi….ok bye…I need to get off the phone.”

“Ok ok ok I’ll see you now.”

“bye”

“bye girl”

It was such a relief to have someone else who was totally fresh and had not been through any of the stuff we had been through to come and join us. We couldn’t leave the hospital. Someone had to stick around for Becky’s sake. As Nkosi took the phone from me and returned it to its owner, a doctor appeared and walked over to me. I was so afraid he would tell me something bad. The day had been riddled with so much chaos I was expecting the worst now.

“Hello! You came in with Rebecca I believe?”

“Hello. Yes we did! Eh this is Nkosi” I said pointing to Nkosi who was returning. I had no intentions of having a conversation with the doctor alone.

“Hello….any news?”

“Hello Nkosi. Yes! I am doctor Ncube. Your friend sustained major injuries to the back of her skull. She is still unconscious at the moment. We stopped the bleeding but we still need to watch her closely. It seems she had a very nasty blow to her head. Did you not see what happened to her?”

“No we did not unfortunately. She ran out of my flat ahead of us and all we heard was her scream and…….well, we just found her lying on the pavement…”

“Hmm! Had you made a report with the police?”

“No! We haven’t had much luck with the police tonight. Well, I havn’t anyway! Doc will she be ok though?”

“It is very hard to tell at the moment but we will keep you posted. I believe the family has been notified?”

“Yes…well my friend is taking care of that”

“Great! Might I suggest you get some rest! We will inform you of any changes. You both look like you need a good night’s sleep. I know you are worried but we are watching her.

“Thank you doctor”

Just as Nkosi thanked the doctor I heard a woman walk in loudly, heels pounding away at the floor. It could only be Ntombi. She was a beautiful dark chocolate, with the slenderest of figures, bordering on skinny. She wore the look well though. Ntombi loved little black dresses. She wore one that night too, clearly having been at some night spot in Bulawayo. I felt a little sorry I had to pull her away from it all but it made me appreciate her presence even more.

“I came as fast as I could. What’s the latest?”

“She is in a coma. They are watching her closely..”

“Gosh girl…you look terrible..”

“Thanks Ntombi….”

“No seriously you need to go and sleep or something. Look I’m here now..”

“But we can’t leave before her parents come. Who will explain what happened. Plus we still need to speak to the cops…”

“What…you still need to speak to the cops…?”

“yah…gosh it’s all so messed up…”

“Go home…..my new boyfriend is outside, he can take you……oh sorry Nkosi is here…well….he must take you to your flat……eeeeeh actually you both need to get home…”

“Ntombi….its fine…I can’t go to my place anyway..”

“Why…..why can’t you go there…..so where will you go then…..to Nkosi’s……Ok go to Nkosi’s…..here I brought you a charger. Oh Becky’s mum should be here any minute now….”

“Oh great…”

“Her father is out of town…..so mum is on her own….I will be here with her, no worries. Go go go….go!”

“Ok ok ok…it feels wrong but we are so tired. Guess we will head on over to Nkosi’s. Please call me if anything happens hey….”

“Oh darling I will for sure. Please go…..Nkosi….bye bye bye….”

I loved Ntombi for that. She hardly ever stopped talking, but she made sense most of the time and got things done. Becky was not going to be alone. We did not hesitate! We spoke to the nurses and told them we were leaving but would be back later after having rested a little. Being in the car was such a relief. We drove away in silence. It was a comfortable silence. The day and night’s events had connected us so much, we didn’t need to speak.
Nkosi broke the silence all of a sudden with……
“Argh damn! My driver’s licence is on your couch too! By the time we come back tomorrow the streets will be full of those thieving cops and their road blocks.”

“Oh no! Don’t tell me you want to go back to the flat!”

“Damn…damn…damn….”

“Gee……”

“Ah babe looks like we need to go there. I will just pop in quickly. My whole wallet is there, never mind the phone as well.”

“I’m sorry but I can’t go back up there and I really wish you didn’t have to. If only you had another guy to go with.”

“I know my babe but well….”

So off we went back to the flat. The closer we got to it, the more my heart ached. I really did not want him to go back up there. However I knew he had to go and get his wallet and stuff. In a few minutes we were parked outside my flat. The spot where we found Becky was still marked by her blood. Nkosi switched off the engine, took a deep breath, turned and looked at me, and told me not to worry. “Do not leave the car my baby ok. Stay here! I’ll be back now, now, now ok!” I could only agree. What was I to say!

He got out of the car, closed the door and walked away, disappearing into the building. I locked the car doors just in case. I felt so vulnerable. It was almost three o’clock in the early hours of the morning. We really needed to sleep. I guess that is why I did not understand why the flat manager’s light was still on at this time. His flat was the very first one right at the entrance. I decided to look away. Just staring at his well-lit windows was making me feel even more tired.

I had been sitting there for a while, thinking about the day’s events and trying to calm myself down whenever I remembered the dark figure in the wall. I really could not believe we were back here. Just then I realised that I had actually been sitting there by myself for quite a bit. Nkosi was taking too long. I checked my watch. He had been gone a good twenty minutes. How was that possible? All he needed to do was get into the lounge, pick up his stuff and get out. It just felt odd that after all we had been through, he would still be taking his time in that flat.

As I was still wondering about him, I noticed movement at the main entrance of the building. It was the flat manager. He recognised the vehicle and started to walk over. In a way I was relieved. I needed the company.

“What are you doing up so late….good evening…”

“Hello my girl. I should be asking you the same question. Are you alright?”

“Yes I am good thank you!”

“Where is Nkosi?”

“He is upstairs”

“Oh you are going to his today. Ok Ok”

“Say………is there something I should know about that flat? My flat I mean?”
I think I caught him off guard. He was a little alarmed but tried to remain calm.

“Why my dear…has anything odd happened?”
I never made it a habit to talk to the man usually so it felt a little odd that I would  try to confide in him. So I just shook my head.

“In that case….Nkosi should not be up there alone”, he said as he walked away. That was all I needed to get me to get up and out of the car. I did not ask for an explanaion. I actually did not think anything through either. I was just going in after Nkosi. I ran past him, into the building, and up the stairs with an ease like I never had before. In fact I was not thinking about it at all. I was only thinking about Nkosi and the words the manager had just said.

The front door to my flat was wide open. My lounge was just as we had left it. I called for Nkosi! I got no answer. I called him again…still no answer. I was starting to get desperate. Still…silence. I decided to brave it and go inside. I stood for a few seconds, still at the door before rushing in quickly, checking the kitchen as I rushed to the bedroom for a quick peek. Nkosi was nowhere to be found.

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