Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Vanishings Chapter 19 and 20

Chapter 19
Dambuza decided to leave Delly behind in the bush and rush into town to get some other officers to help him collect the evidence. “You going to be okay out here?” Dambuza asked before leaving her.

“Hey, I’m a long time bush woman, this is my element. Get off with ya!” Delly sat down next to the hole where they’d been digging.

Dambuza trotted off to the Corolla and set off toward town. He tried not to think about Khathurima’s words warning them that Delly should take care. Delly was in no danger. That man had no special powers to see things in the future. Still he sped the whole way to Maun ignoring the metallic protests from the Corolla.

He found Blue at the desk. “Listen I got a body in the bush, can you put together a team to go out with me?”

“Sure, Dambuza.” Blue made a few calls and the two waited for the others to arrive. It was night and the staff that was on duty was out patrolling. “So does this have anything to do with the white guy you beat up?”

“Was he here?” Dambuza could not believe the balls of this guy. He buries a body in the bush and he still wants to make a complaint?

“Ee Rra. He even had a report from the hospital.”

“What? Already?”

“Well from that private clinic. They do things quick-quick if the money’s right.”

“Shit.” Dambuza didn’t need another police brutality complaint on his record, he had enough already.

“Doesn’t matter,” he told himself more than Blue. “Someone needs to go and collect the guy and lock him in, at least for the night, on suspicion of murder. That ought to really piss the bastard off.”

The four officers arrived and they raced back to Delly. They pushed through the bush with their equipment and the metal police coffin- but Delly was not there.

“Delly!” Dambuza called. There was no answer. He didn’t let his mind wander to his worst thoughts. She was fine. Everything was fine. “Fuck! Spread out. We need to find her!”

Dambuza couldn’t believe after all of the warnings from the doctor he had left Delly out here. He’d never forgive himself if something happened to her. He only knew her for about a month but they’d become close. He was not someone who kept many friends, he never had a woman as a friend, especially a white woman, a much older white woman, but he suddenly realised how much Delly meant to him. She was sensible and practical and wise and funny. He respected her and her friendship meant everything to him through the last few weeks. How did he leave her here? What had he been thinking?

“Delly!” he shouted into the darkness.

Just then he heard something moving behind the bush, he turned thinking the elephants had finally arrived on the scene.

 Sis man! Can’t a girl take a leak?” Delly said coming through the bush buttoning her ever present shorts.

Dambuza grabbed Delly up in his arms. “God! I thought something happened to you.”

Delly pushed him back and smiled. “Ao! Dambuza are you getting sweet on me?”

Dambuza ignored her teasing and shouted to the others, “She’s over here guys!”

In the dark the digging was difficult. From the finger they found, it appeared the body had been cut into pieces and the pieces were buried all over the scene. About midnight they found a thigh. After that it was quicker: an arm, a torso, two feet, another arm. The body parts were being carefully laid out on a plastic tarp. Delly stood nearby surveying the progress.

“Hey Dambuza, come here a minute,” Delly said. “Look at that.”


“The arms.”

“What about them?”

“They’re from different people.”

“What? How do you know?” Dambuza asked looking at the arms on the plastic.

“Look at them,” Delly said. “Look at the distance from the top to the elbow, it’s not the same. These are from two different bodies.”

Dambuza looked closer. Delly was right. He couldn’t believe it. Did this guy kill all of them? He called the other police officers over and they agreed with Delly. These parts were not from one body, they were from at least three different bodies.

The eastern sky was turning light grey and soon the sun would be up.  “Listen I need to get some sleep,” Dambuza said to the other police officers. “Delly and I will head into town. I’ll pass by the station and tell them what’s happening. The boss ought to be in by now. He’ll send a new team out to relieve you guys. I think we’re going to have to do a whole lot of digging out here.”

When they got back to the cars the Corolla refused to start, too much bouncing and bucking on the dirt roads for one day. He climbed into Delly’s vehicle just as the sun came up, and they headed back to Maun.

Chapter 20
Dambuza woke up confused. Out the window the sun was low in the sky but he took a minute to work out if it was morning or evening. After briefing the boss, Delly dropped him at home and he fell sound asleep. He couldn’t believe he’d slept the whole day away just when he finally got a break in his case. He called the station and Tito was still there.

“Yeah we got him in lock up,” Tito said. “He’s not talking, waiting for a big shot lawyer from Joburg to pitch. We’re going to be in for it then.”

“So what’d they find in the end out there?”

“All sorts of odd body parts. No full bodies. Looks like about seven different people. We need an expert to sort this out. Tomorrow a team is coming up from Gabs. Nothing more we can do tonight, you might as well get some sleep. Things are going to get crazy real quick.”

“Thanks Boss.”

“Listen, good job, Dambuza. Good police work.”  It felt good to hear his boss say that but Dambuza knew if it wasn’t for Delly and her new found profession, he would have never got the break he did. However he got there, he was just happy they were about to solve these cases.

Dambuza opened a beer and popped some day-old takeaway in the microwave. His phone rang and he answered without looking at who it was. “Hello.”

“Hi, it’s me.” His high collapsed.

“Hi Bontle… what do you want?” He didn’t want any drama right now. Despite his and Delly’s gruesome find, he was feeling pretty good and he didn’t want a big fight with Bontle to ruin his mood.

“I just wanted to talk.” There was something about her voice. 

“Are you okay? Are the kids okay?” Dambuza was getting scared. Why was she calling him?

“Everyone is fine. I don’t know… I …maybe I shouldn’t have called….”

“But you did. What is it Bontle?”

“Dambuza… I …” He could hear her crying.

“What is it Bontle? What’s wrong?”

 Some minutes passed as she cried into the phone. She pulled herself together and said, “I miss you. God, Dambuza, what am I doing?”

Dambuza sat down on the sofa. The microwave beeped in the background and he ignored it. “I don’t know, what are you doing Bontle? You tell me.”

“Why are we getting a divorce when I still love you?”  Dambuza waited. Was he supposed to answer that? “What are we supposed to do, Dambuza? I can’t be with you and I can’t stay away from you?”

“What happened to your new man?”

“That was nothing.”

They sat in silence for some minutes. He could hear her crying, almost 500 kilometres away in Francistown and he could do nothing to help her. He wished he was there to take her in his arms.  “I need to see you Dambuza. Can I come this weekend? Can I spend the weekend with you?”

“I don’t know, Bontle. You’re the one who started everything.”

“Please, Dambuza. I just need to see you.”

“How is it going to help anything?”

“I don’t know ….I just know I need to see you, baby…please.”

Dambuza would not let the mother of his children beg. He respected her too much for that. “Okay. Okay fine. I’ll see you this weekend, we can talk then.”

“I love you, Dambuza,” she said.

Dambuza kept quiet and hung up the phone.

Baleka woke up feeling nauseous. She had a terrible headache and had two places where pieces of her body had been cut away, small wounds on her thigh and her upper arm. They’d covered the wounds with gauze. They’d taken her out four days ago now and they’d done nothing since. They brought the food and water and that was all. She wondered where they’d gone to. She wondered what would happen to them if the people got caught and arrested. They could die in this hole.

She wondered if there was some way she could stay awake when they took her that side, if she could stop herself from breathing the chemical on the cloth. She was desperate to know what they did to her. How they violated her body. The mystery was nearly the worst part of it.

“Come and eat,” George said from the bed. He’d laid out the food they recently brought. It was beans and samp.

“Are you feeling any better?” he asked.

“A bit, eating might help.”

She sat down opposite George. They’d been together for twenty-six days now, he felt more like family to her than her own family who were disappearing in her mind. She feared she was disappearing for them too. Would Moarabi even know her when she finally left this room? For a three year old, twenty-six days was a long time. She missed Les, even as much as they fought she loved him. She knew he’d still be looking for her, still be thinking about her. She knew that. It had to be true. She held on to that thought.

“I guess your parents just think you’re still in Botswana.”

“Yeah, I guess so. Maybe my brother will come to check. He said he might come in February or March. Maybe he went back and told them I’m gone. I sort of hope he didn’t. I don’t want them to worry about me. They have enough to worry about in Zimbabwe.”

“Yeah.” Baleka ate a few bites of the food and then stopped. It wasn’t helping. She hoped this sickness would pass. She hoped it wasn’t the beginning of the end. She wondered if they got sick because of something their captors did to them or something they gave them. Being in that dark underground room with only a tiny hole for air could be the problem too.

“George, do you think we could fight them when they come next time? They’re only two and one is a woman.”

“But that man is big. And the chemical. It’s like magic, one sniff and you’re out. They’d just knock us out with it. Phatsimo said Tiny tried once and that was when they took her out forever…killed her I guess.”

Baleka was surprised George said that, he still talked as if he believed the others, especially Phatsimo, were released. “But if we got the cloth first. We could wait in the dark, in the corner and grab the cloth first. We could use it on them.”

“I don’t know. You’re sick and weak. If it fails they’ll kill us.”

“George, they’re going to kill us anyway,” Baleka said. “We might as well try.” 

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