Saturday, 25 October 2014

PAWNING PEARL - A Serial Novel - Chapter 15

After a good breakfast of creamy oatmeal and a big glass of orange juice each, Pearl sent the children off to get dressed. They looked beautiful! Well Thali did. Isaiah looked...energetic and very neat. Pearl sighed. Maybe when he filled out a little...

Truth be told, Isaiah just wasn't a handsome child. He was clever, resourceful, courageous and fiercely loyal. He also looked like an anorectic owl with mangy feathers. Thali, on the other hand, was lovely. She had huge almond-shaped amber eyes, delicate features, and a lovely velvety chocolate complexion. Pearl had a wonderful time brushing out her soft hair, and tying it up on top of her head in a delightfully fluffy pom-pom. She looked a perfect living doll.

“Today we three are going out. First, Isaiah, you have to get a hair-cut, then we will go to the doctor for a check-up, then we have lunch. After that we will go up so you can meet Mrs Markovish. You will be spending the day with her tomorrow, because I have errants to run.”

Thali stared at her with frightened eyes, and Isaiah asked sharply: “You will come back, Mama Pearl?”

“Yes Isaiah, I will.”

The long narrow face with the oversized eyes hardened with a pain beyond its years. “Please don't lie to us, Mama Pearl. If you don't wants us, tell us. We will go. But don't lie to us or run away. Tell us the truth. We are brave we won't cry or make a fuss.”

Pearl fell to her knees and drew them close. “I am not leaving you, never. But I have a thing to do that is not for children. You will spend the day with a very lovely lady, where you will be safe until I come home.”

Relief washed over the children's faces. “Thali and Isaiah, is that understood? You will NOT be left by anyone in this house.”

Isaiah looked deep into her eyes and smiled. He nodded, and Thali pipped up: “Are you going to go bounce your boobs like Sexy Sally?”

Pearl gasped: “Sexy Sally?”

“Yes, she is a very nice girl. She buys us hot-dogs sometimes, and when it is very cold, and she does not have work, we sleep in her house. But mostly she has work. She bounces boobs. She has big boobs.”

Pearl nodded “I see. No, I...Ahm...I don't bounce boobs. Alright, I will tell you. I am going to go to the Children's Home, to get your papers and Isaiah's. So you can go to school.”

“Oh! I didn't think you bounced boobs. You have very small ones. They hardly move at all. If you took that thing off they would bounce more.”

“That THING is a bra. Ladies wear bras. So we don't bounce. And we call the "boobs" breasts. Ladies have breasts.”

“I don't know if I want to be a lady.”

“Well Thali, lets wait and see. When you grow up you can be what ever you want to be.”

Isaiah grinned: “Thali's small-small! She's the smallest! I bet her boobs won't bounce at all!”

Thali rounded on him ferociously “They WILL bounce! And YOU so skinny-leg you will never play football.”

Pearl sighed. It was going to be a long day...


The next day Pearl hurried the children through breakfast, took them up to 5 D and handed them into the eager arms of Mrs Markovich.

The previous afternoon's visit had gone particularly well. Mrs Markovich and Thali had hit it off straight away, discovering a mutual passion for glitter and high-heels, while Isaiah had found a treasure trove of stamps and coins from every country in the world where Mrs Markovish had performed in a corner of the lounge.

So to Pearl's chagrin, the trio had turned their backs on her, after a perfunctory "Bye Mama Pearl", and Mrs Markovish had very nearly closed the door on Pearl's anxious nose. Pearl stood in the corridor and shouted her goodbyes and "Be good!" though the closed door of 5 D.

A rather startled Pearl took the lift down, called a taxi and asked to be taken to the Darlington Children's Home.

The Home was a large old building, and not in a very good state of repair at all. Pearl walked into a gloomy reception where a large lady was busy talking on the phone. Pearl looked around her in disapproval.

The couches were a very unpleasant shade of green, and would not have been attractive ne -, and now had acquired dents stains and tears through which the spongy guts shyly peeked...One desperate plant was dying in the corner, and dust; dust and spiderwebs were everywhere.

Pearl walked up to the reception guest and waited while the lady explained at length to whoever was on the other side of the line how her son was doing in school, and how her feet hurt in the mornings. Pearl cleared her throat loudly and fixed her basilisk eye on the receptionist. The woman said her leisurely goodbyes, hung up and turned to Pearl with a superior smile.

"Good morning." Pearl said with determined politeness, "I would like to speak to the Director, please."

The woman's mouth hung open, "The Director?  Do you have an appointment?"

"Good morning," repeated Pearl, "I am afraid I do not have an appointment, but it is very important I speak with her, so if you would announce me, please? Miss Pearl Chabalala."

The woman stared. "The Director doesn't see anyone without an appointment. But you can make an appointment..." she opened a large leather-bound book on her desk, “I can fit you in Thursday-week.”

“Godmorning, Madam. I fear I was not clear, I am Miss Pearl Chabalala I am here to see the Director on behalf of two children I believe are in your charge, and have been missing for six months. I will see the Director here, now; or at the Police Station later today. Whichever she prefers.”

"Madam!" The woman gasped and reached for the phone. She buzzed into it behind a cupped hand, then turned to Pearl with a forced smile. "Miss Chabalala, Mrs Batuma will see you in a few minutes. Please take a seat," she smiled, "Can I get you some tea, Madam? Or coffee?"

"No thank you, and I would rather stand."

A few minutes later the woman's phone rang, she answered it, glanced up at Pearl, nodded and hung up.
She waddled out from around her desk and invited Pearl to follow her down a short corridor to a door with a shiny plaque proclaiming: Shirley Batuma, DIRECTOR.

The woman knocked, opened the door and gesture Pearl in. What a contrast! Mrs Batuma's office was sparkling clean and beautifully furnished with blond wood book cases and striking Nordic-design chairs and a glass desk...

Indeed, Mrs Batuma herself was a striking woman. Tall, elegant, and very well turned out in a dark beautifully cut suit. She sat behind her desk and typed busily on a portable silver Apple Personal Computer. She looked up at Pearl and smiled. "Miss Chabalala? Please, sit down. Mrs Fortuna tells me you wish to speak to me about some children needing rescue?"

"Good morning Mrs. Batuma." Pearl seated herself and folded her hands neatly over her handbag. "No indeed. I wish to speak to you about children from your Home that my employer - Mr Simon Thambisa - and myself rescued from the streets."

Mrs Batuma's nostrils flared in outrage "Miss Chabalala, that is quite impossible! Each and everyone of the children in the care of Darlington Children's Home is safe and accounted for!"

"I am afraid not. I am speaking of Isaiah George and Thali Mulemba."

Mrs Batuma turned to her computer, her fingers flew over the keyboard. She perused her screen and turned to Pearl in triumph "Miss Chabalala, the children you speak of were adopted, and are no longer in our care."

"I see. Tell me, Mrs Batuma, do you follow up on the adoptions? See if the children are well? Well cared for? Happy in their new home?"

"Indeed, yes! Great care is taken in choosing the adoptive parents, and in making sure all goes well with the little ones. We follow our children into adulthood, you know. Once a Darlington Child, always a Darlington Child."

"That is surprising, Mrs Batuma. There must have been a mistake in this "follow up" by one of your subordinates, or you would have known that Isaiah George and Thali Mulemba were abandoned by their "parents" at a shopping centre six months ago. A very serious mistake indeed. We found the children living in the streets. In Hilbrow, the red-light district."

Mrs. Batuma choked. Her eyes bugged out. "You - you and your employer frequent the red-light district?"

"Oh no, Madame, Mr Thambisa owns several buildings in Hilbrow, and other areas of the city, too. The children were sleeping in the doorway of one these buildings."

"Well, Miss Chabalala, if you will tell me where the children are now, I will have them fetched, returned safely to the Home. Surely...Surely there is no need to disturb the authorities. The children are well, and a legal fuss will surely be very upsetting for them..."

"Fetched? Oh no! I don't think so. The children will remain with us. I came for their papers, to enrol them in school, no to return them to THIS." Pearl glanced around at the luxurious office, "I'm afraid our home is not so splendid, but it IS a family home, not an institution. As for the authorities? Tell me, Mrs Batuma, you are not going to report the people who abandoned two of YOUR children in a shopping centre?"

"We were told they had run away."

"Ah...So did you lodge a report with the Police? Two missing "run-away" children?"

Again Mrs Batuma choked. "Report? We...No...The publicity! We must think of our image...We live from contributions from International Charitable Organizations, you know. Government subsidies are not generous..."

Once again Pearl looked around the splendid office and at the rings on Mrs Batuma's elegant hands. "I can see that. Of course, of course...In that case there will be no difficulty in you attributing Mr Thambisa provisional custody of the children? Discreetly, Madame, no publicity at all..."

Mrs Batuma drew herself up "THAT would be most irregular. From what I understand Mr Thambisa is a single man? We prefer good, stable traditional family structures."

"Mrs Batuma, I am sure if you look into Mr. Thambisa's records you will see he is a most respectable and prosperous business man. He will provide these children with a good home."

Mrs Batuma smiled: "Perhaps Mr Thambisa would be willing to contribute to the Darlington Children's Home. We are a very worthy cause, Miss Chabalala..." She paused delicately, "I am sure the Board of Trustees would look most favourably on this case if...Mr Thambisa's generosity was...Well...Generous."

"Oh Mrs Batuma, Mr Thambisa will be most generous. He will refrain from calling the Police and bringing this affair into the public eye and to the attention of your Board of Trustees. You will find that if you give him the name and address of the people who adopted Thali and Isaiah, Mr Thambisa will be even MORE generous. He will allow you to keep your job."



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