Setting: The Golden Acre, 1985, basement shopping level, 2am
Characters: a know-it-all teenage, a sullen postmistress, a secretive botanist, a manic undertaker
The shock: a man lying in the passage
The sullen postmistress: She started working in the Robben Island post office after her father died. She never intended to stay — of course not, — handling the dirty laundry of the pathetic villagers. Don’t imagine she or her father ever got to touch, with their sun-spotted hands, the letters addressed to Nelson Mandela or Oliver Tambo. Oh no, the prison post was handled separately, with maximum fanfare: great shows of uniformed security, procedures and processions. It must have been in the late 60s that postmistress Hanna Pretorius took to folding her arms over her chest. As the years went by her chest got fuller and her arms knotted tighter. Her clothes were always synthetic. There was no Edgars on the island, my dear, and no free time for Miss Pretorius to dart across to Cape Town with the island wives.
I already told you, officer … officer Maseko … sorry? Sergeant? Fine, Sergeant Maseko, I told you, I was waiting for a friend. Hm? Yes, technically I was moving, I was walking to our meeting spot. As I said earlier — you could check your notes, you know — as I said, the last ferry back to Robben Island was cancelled. The shopkeeper and I had supper at Ocean Basket, then we chatted in her car — yes, that was where I phoned my friend, Elrena du Toit, to fetch me on Strand Street. So I left Ms Visagie, the shopkeeper, and took the short cut to the corner of Strand Street and Adderley Streets, through the Golden Acre … Yes, that was a wise decision. I have lived on Robben Island for my whole life Mr, sorry Sergeant Maseko, I am not afraid of some bedless street children lurking in the basement shopping level of the Golden Acre between Fashion XPress and King Pie. I have been around criminals my whole life, Sergeant Maseko, more than you have, I can handle myself in a shopping mall, for heavens sake. Sorry? No, I was not “alarmed” when I saw the teenager. How do I know what he wanted there at 2am? I didn’t consider it. I am not a small woman. I can handle a schoolboy on his own, even if he is holding a skateboard. So, yes, I walked on. I walked into the basement, yes, I walked down the passage. Where did I see him? Jussie, Sarge! Must I draw a picture now? Outside Sports Connexion, with an arm on the welcome mat. He was on his back. His arms like chicken wings, his one leg bent up, like he was running. Yes, I heard the boy vloek. Yes, the man lying on the ground was well-dressed. He looked like a commuter, an office worker, on his way to the station. Only five hours late for the last train, jussie. I stopped the boy. Yes, he will say the same. I used his smart-android-fancy-pantsy phone and I called 10111. We stayed on the scene. But you guys didn’t make it here before that mal undertaker who, apparently, was “on his rounds”. What nonsense is that, I ask you. An undertaker “doing rounds’? At 2am in the city centre? Hmn!