An extract from Rofhiwa Maneta's collection of short stories Metanoia
How did this happen? Well, you’re asking the wrong person. I know just as much as you do. Besides, the detail isn’t important anymore. The fact is, there is a strange man in my bathroom and I’m a bit concerned how he got there.
I text my housemate, Lesedi.
“There’s a dude in our crib. Don’t know how and when he got here. Tell my mother I love her.” I take a picture of the man, arms and body splayed against the bathroom floor, and hit send. He lets out a short, drunken grumble and shifts into a foetal position against the toilet. I walk around the house and start taking stock of my belongings.
Everything seems to be in place. My bank bag with my petty cash is still sitting next to the 54cm TV my brother gave me out of pity last Christmas. Phone? That’s in my hand. Laptop? Under the cushion on the only couch in the lounge. Bankcard, ID, clothing account cards? Yup, they’re all there in the wallet I left just above the TV before I retired to bed last night.
Just what the hell is going on here? I walk down the passage that leads into my bathroom and find the man still hugging the toilet like it’s the only girl in the world. A couple of theories start presenting themselves to me.
He’s probably a tramp – a homeless dude who found his way into my house butwas too strung out to steal anything. Likely, but that doesn’t explain why the doors and windows are still locked. It also doesn’t explain his choice of dress: square-toe shoes, black pants, a plaid shirt and a stately black blazer that looks brand new save for a few vomit stains on the collar. If this dude is homeless, he’s the most sartorial homeless dude to walk the planet.
I prod him in the ribs and wait for him to wake up.
“What the fuck are you doing in my house?” The question echoes across the
bathroom. He wipes the motes off his eyes and, casual as you like, lets out a long yawn before shooing me away with his hands. “Is that any way to greet your elders, Tumelo?”
“So you were trying to steal from me? You went through my things before you
passed out? Sathane!” I deliver a kick to his face and watch his head bounce off the side of the toilet. Fucker! That’ll teach him to come into my house and steal. I grab him by the scruff of his neck and drag him out of the bathroom.
“You will know me today! Blood spy. You think you’re too old to get a beating? You messed with the wrong one today.”
I roll my sleeves up and pull a butcher knife out of my kitchen drawer. It’s part of the set of knives Mom gave me when I first moved in a few months back. I’d always thought it was an odd gift. I mean, when someone moves house, you give them a toaster, a TV, hell, even a set of spatulas. But knives? No. Something about it was too macabre.
“Well, do you want them or not,” I remember Mom shooting back. “Besides, do you know how much these cost me? I have a good mind to take them back.”
The knife’s blade feels cold against my hand. I take my cellphone out of my pocket with one hand and point the knife at him with the other.
“Hello. Police? I’d like to report an attempted break in…at my house, yes…I don’t
know how he got in…Yes, he’s subdued.”
The cops tell me they’ll be there in five minutes. The man’s body is spread against the kitchen floor, resembling the drunk I found ten minutes ago in the bathroom. “I have a good mind to make you dead,” I yell at his unconscious body. “That’ll teach you to come into my house and steal.”
A quiet satisfaction starts enveloping my body. Sure, the dude’s a bit old but he’s
not a geriatric – late forties, max. I grin and bask in the knowledge that I can walk
around and fuck up anyone who tries it with me.
And then the cops come; two vehicles with the sirens blaring, parked outside of my house.
“I think they’re here for you,” I smile and walk to the door. Lesedi texts back as I struggle with the door, the sirens casting blue streaks of light against my lounge and its few pieces of furniture.
“Sorry I’m only texting now. My uncle’s sleeping at our place for the weekend. Gave him my key. Talk later.”
* Metanoia is a collection of short stories by Cape Town-based author Rofhiwa Maneta. You can place your order via firstname.lastname@example.org