Friday, 21 November 2014


That evening Simon Thambisa walked into a scene of perfect domestic bliss. In the lounge sat Thalie and Pearl cuddled on the couch doing each other's nails - Pearl's a dark bronze, Thalie's a vivid pink (of course) – while Isaiah lay on the rug in front of the TV reading a book. Delicious scents of something bubbling on the stove mingled with the perfume of the flowers clutched diffidently in his hands.

“Good evening, Pearl, my children.”

“Papa Simon!” Thalie beamed and waved her pink tipped hands at him. “I can't hug you now, but I will hug you extra, later!”

Simon smiled back “I cannot wait, my Thalie. What are you reading, Isaiah?”

Isaiah looked up at him with a faraway look in his eyes. “Hello! I am well, Papa Simon, how are you?”

Simon grinned “I asked where you were...In book-land?”

Isaiah's eyes lit up. “The doctor said I must read – vitamins for the mind – and Mama Pearl got me some new books. This one is about a doctor gets kidnapped by pirates, then they sell him, then he escapes, then he starts his own pirate band...”

“Can I read it when you are finished?”

“Yes! And there are more books. You must see!”

“I will, we will look after dinner.” Simon turned to Pearl, sitting silent on the couch with her hands on her knees, fingers spread wide. “How are you today, Pearl? How did the doctor's appointment go?”

“Very well, Sir. The doctor is doing tests, he said Isaiah is very well, but we need to feed up Thalie-”


“And fruit and vegetables!” Pearl added, “He suggests we hold off putting them in school until we get the tests back, see what vaccines they haven't had.”

“Good, good...” Simon smiled at her with a plea in his eyes, “I saw these...” he waved the bouquet of vivid joyful daisies, “And I thought they would brighten the house.”

“They are very pretty, Sir, I am sure the house will like them very much.”

Just then the door bell rang. Simon cursed under his breath “Ratsik!” and stomped off to answer.
He flung open the door with a brusque “Yes? What is it?” There was a short man at the door carrying a long, narrow box tied with a red ribbon. A short man in a green uniform of some kind. He stared up at Simon with an alarmed look on his triangular foxy face.

“Delivery for Miss Pearl Chabalala.”

“What is it?”

“Flowers, Sir. For Miss Pearl Chabalala.”

“You can give them to me.”

“Are you Miss Chabalala?”

“Do I LOOK like Miss Chabalala?”

“Well, Sir, in my line of work I have seen odder things...”

Pearl stood behind Simon, and gently tapped him aside.
“I am Pearl Chabalala.”

The delivery man sighed with relief. “Miss, if you would sign here?”Pearl picked up the pen, careful not to smudge her nails, and signed the delivery slip.

She took the box from him with her luminous smile (and such a smile!) “Thank you very much. Have a good evening.”

“Good evening to you too, Miss, and to you...Sir.”

Simon snapped the door shut behind him without replying.

Pearl carried the box into the kitchen and carefully untied the extravagant ribbon. Nestled inside on a bed of lacy fern was a bouquet of delicate velvet-black orchids and a card. Pearl picked it up.
“Oh! How kind! Mr Ratsik says he will meet us at the lobby at half past seven tomorrow night, to show us where we will be sitting.”

Simon ground his teeth together. “Mr Ratsik is very kind.”

Isaiah and Thalie came into the kitchen. “More flowers!” cried Thalie.

Simon looked at his bright, brave daisies and winced. He HATED Ratsik.
“Where did they come from?” asked Isaiah.

Pearl literally glowed “Mr Ratsik sent them...Aren't they lovely?”

“Lovely...” Sighed Thalie, “I like Mr Ratsik.”

“Those are the uglyest flowers I have ever seen,” said Isaiah, “They look like alien monster mouths.”

“Do not!” cried Thalie.

“Children!” Pearl exclaimed,”Enough! Go wash your hands. It is time for dinner. You too, Mr Thambisa.”

Simon followed the children to the bathroom. Isaiah drew him aside into the lounge.

“Well? What is the plan Papa Simon?”

“Plan? What plan, Isaiah?”

“You see it, don't you? It's a plot?”

“A plot?”

“The violin man.”

“Mr Ratsik?”

“Yes! Let me talk to you man to man, Papa Simon. Rat's Dick is cutting in on your action, he's making a move on your woman, and you have to do something about it.”


Simon tossed and turned all night. Pearl and Rat's Dick.
NO! It could not, MUST not be.
Isaiah was right, he needed a plan.
He needed to romance Pearl, make her see him as a man, an attractive man.

He got out of bed, turned on the light and opened his cupboard. There was a suit at the back he'd brought six years ago for Gideon's wedding. He'd gotten it at retail, an excellent price...
Suddenly it looked shabby and unfashionable.

He imagined himself in a tuxedo, like Denzel Washington. He looked into the mirror hanging on the inside of his cupboard door, sucked in his gut, and raised an eyebrow. “Simon...Simon Templar...”

And yet...
Simon did a quick internet search and found a man's shop in Rosebank specialising in bespoke suits.
There was a plan...

He was going in guns blazing. He was a personable, attractive man. He would make Pearl see that. He, Simon Thambisa, was a catch. And the love of her life besides. He hoped.

He lifted his chin and smiled at the mirror “Pearl,” he husked, “I have been waiting for you all my life...”
Too romantic, too lovey-dovey, too dangerous. What if she laughed?

Better be cool, calm and collected. Let Ratsik make a fool of himself.

What if she LIKED that? What if she liked the idea that she reduced a man to a puddle of idiotic shuffling jelly? Mr Ratsik had always seemed eminently sensible to Simon before. Being cool might be a huge mistake.

Simon threw himself onto his bed and covered his head. Isaiah was right. You had to fight fire with fire...

The thought that taking romantic advice from a 10 year old might not be a good idea didn't even cross Simon Thambisa's mind.



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