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Thursday, 25 September 2014

PAWNING PEARL - A Serial Novel - Chapter 3

Simon Thambisa spend the day flustered, unsettled. His mind was not on his work. He kept wondering what SHE was doing, thinking...

Was she touching his things? Sitting on his couch? Horror overcame him. Had she found the secret stash of Black Beauty magazines he kept on the high shelf of his cupboard?

Simon Thambisa was in a tizzy.
He had to go, there was a strange woman loose in his house! But he couldn't. Perversely this was turning out to be one of his busiest days yet. People coming in for appraisals, others to pawn, a few to outright sell; and most to buy.

Suddenly he had an influx of affluent customers gleefully exclaiming over his goods as "charming", "vintage", "retro", and "kitch-chic". Fashionable-looking painfully thin ladies were pawing through his rack of second-hand clothes with shrieks of delight.

Buying at his Polite Pawn Shop had suddenly acquired artsy status.
Here he was, itching to close, even as his cash register merrily tinkled every few minutes.

Finally!
He was run ragged, and Gideon's face gleamed with sweat.
"My Boss...This was a strange day!"

Simon strangled a hysterical giggle. Strange? It was downright bizarre...
"Yes, yes. Strange...Very strange. Good night Gideon, see you tomorrow."

Simon Thambisa approached his own home with trepidation. What on God's good earth would he find?
He stood before his own door and hesitated, he held his keys in one hand, and pressed the buzzer.
Ringing the bell to his own house! It was outrageous, but he'd rather announce his presence than walk in on some female ritual he could only vaguely envision as disturbing and hugely embarrassing.

He slid the key into the lock and opened the door.

It smelled all wrong. His house smelled wrong. Not BAD, he decided, not at all. Just...Wrong.

It felt wrong too. A flood of welcoming light spilled out to pool around his feet, the scent of something delicious cooking beckoned him in.

He had always walked in to a cool silence that had seemed to devour even the sound of his footsteps, now he noticed dozens of tiny sounds.

"Sir, welcome home." Pearl Chabalala stood in his hallway with that smile on her face. That smile that made him light-headed. She looked very different, he noticed.

Her eyes were no longer puffy and small; in fact they were rather unusually large, almond-shaped and lustrous. She was wearing a neat, modest dress, and sensible shoes. She looked a very proper sensible woman indeed.

She led him into the kitchen where she had set the table for his dinner. Somehow she had transformed the whole place  by simply cooking a meal that wasn't his staple pap with a tin of something on the side.

A stew bubbled seductively on the stove, and the kitchen smelled of chocolate cake. Chocolate cake?
Simon Thambisa walked to his grocery cupboard and opened the door.
He nearly fainted in horror. She had gone insane, berserk, she was sick! A compulsive buyer...
She must have spent all he'd given her.There was enough food here to last an army for a year!

Feeling faint Simon Thambisa sank into his chair. Immediately Pearl moved to the fridge, and set before him a dewy glass of orange juice. Humming she dished up a large plate of glossy beef stew, rich with chunks of potato, yams, and green beans. She stood anxiously by his side waiting for him to taste it.

"I didn't know what you liked? So I thought...All men like a good stew."
Simon spooned up a mouthful. It was delicious. Delightful.
He was starving!

Groaning, he spooned up another, and another mouthful, while Pearl happily smiled.
Suddenly he stopped. "Miss Chabalala, why are you not eating?"

"I...I didn't know if..."

"Sit! I hate to eat alone!" He said it to be polite, and suddenly discovered it was true.

Simon Thambisa found himself telling her about the strange day, the bizarre ladies wanting to buy old clothes, the whole fantastical dizzy rush of it came pouring out of him in between the mouthfuls of that magical stew. And the best part was that she was laughing, leaning forward, eyes shining with excitement, asking questions, nodding vigorously as he answered.

Pearl Chabalala got up to clear the table, and set before him a steaming tea-pot, and a round sticky messy-looking chocolaty-smelling cake. She cut and served him a fat wedge of cake, and poured him a large mug of tea, and did herself similar honours.

Oh the tea was just perfect...As was the cake. Not too sweet, not too dry, with the slightest hint of brandy...

BRANDY?
Simon Thambisa decided that the day and the dinner were both too wonderfully strange and odd for questioning.

Tomorrow he'd think about all this.
Tomorrow he'd think about what to do with Pearl Chabalala, and get back his normal life.


Manuela Cardiga




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