The Matter At Hand
by Temba Magorimbo
The brilliant white neon lights of the Gweru Provincial General Hospital greeted Kelvin as the police Nissan Patrol 4 x 4 pick up turned into the grounds of the medium garage where ailing souls and parts were given a boost for life. Some came here, a very few to be broken for spares. Some came here a great number to be ferried afterwards to the dumping grounds scattered all over the country.
Kelvin was sandwiched between a tall, thin, moustached policeman driver and his short, thickset lady companion whose thick thighs and torso were pressing against his legs. Her perfume was making a circumference in and out of his nostrils like wisps of smoke within a test tube.
“There we are,” the police driver said. He stopped the truck. The engine cut off sounding like a grinding mill being choke started. The indicators were pointing to the left. The door on the left opened. The policewoman got out. She looked ravishingly beautiful, presentable and trim in her navy blue policewoman’s uniform that was cut above the knee. Her legs touched from the hips down to the knees then they separated. Full breasts dug through her body like battlements to a destroyer.
As Kelvin got out, he just held close to his morals. He wanted to really analyse the looks, build, nature and structure of the woman police officer. He wanted to weigh the thoughts of her firm breasts in his hands. Or, his hands rushing against the small of her back. Also ____, only the predicament stopped Kelvin in his thought tracks like a backsliding Christian.
“This way sir,” she said. He booked a smile. He followed his heart returning to the matter at hand. He couldn’t really understand it all. As she moved in front of him. He forgot about the matter at hand, instead he concentrated on the volume, texture, feel and touch of those two backsides swinging up and down like pendulums in a science experiment. She came into an office stopping before a nurse in white uniform. She waited with hands behind her back until the senior nurse had finished speaking to a student nurse with two bars across her white dress uniform.
“Good evening. Can we see Mrs. Linda Choga lease?”
“Oh you mean the woman in ward 4?” asked the student nurse.
“Hilda!” reprimanded the senior nurse in one word.
“Sorry ma’am,” Hilda replied.
“She was brought in by an ambulance,” finished the policewoman.
“This way,” the senior nurse said. He followed both. The senior nurse was old enough to have a child in advanced level though she still had residues of an attractive girl, once. The policewoman made an indication with her hand. The senior nurse stood by a bed and pointed.
“There you are.”
He moved nearer suddenly conscious that there was rubber in his knees.
“Kelvin?” a faint sound echoed. Brown eyes rolled, big and brown and looked at him. Her pupils were misty, her eyelashes descended. She couldn’t help crying. “Kelvin?”
“Yes Linda,” he sat down taking her hands looking watchfully over her.
“I was attacked darling,” she said with the obvious feel of pain in her body. “I had just parted company with your sister, Auntie Valerie. I might say 100 metres away when I was hit from behind.”
He waited. He swallowed. He stooped to listen. She wasn’t broadcasting.
“Several men carried me, closing my mouth. I struggled throughout. They tied a cloth around my mouth hitting me all the way into darker undergrowth,” she was saying softly struggling to breathe. “They took my wallet. It only had $ 20.”
“You were coming from my parents’ place?”
“Yes. It must have been around 10 in the evening,” she replied. “They took my clothes that I had been selling. The ones I sew _______ then ____ they ___.”
She broke down in tears turning into a pitiful ball of emotions. The policewoman mumbled something looking out of the window.
“And?” Kelvin couldn’t bring himself to know what he didn’t want to get to know but ask he had to. Know, he had to whether he liked it or not.
“I was raped darling. They must have been four ______,” she said. He thought of four men taking turns on his wife. He felt his blood rushing, his fingers turning white.
They lay in a ditch, all four of them taking turns at smoking the stick of mbanje they had rolled, hiding it such that no one except a bird could see the faint red glow.
“In the name of Jah,” William said taking in fresh air after a puff at mbanje. His real profession was selling oranges, apples, etc at Kudzanayi Bus Terminus in Gweru city. At night he supplemented his meagre vending income with spurts at burglary, theft and pick pocketing in night-clubs or beer halls. “We got to get a job tonight, Big Ben.”
“By Jah’s grace,” replied Big Ben. Big Ben lay on the ground on his back legs folded. He worked for the Forestry Commission in Mkoba North Sewerage treatment area forestry. Bullying was his speciality especially picking fights and getting bribes for jobs. The other two, Doug and Dancer worked as casual labourers with the National Foods Limited Company in Gweru.
“Here goes,” Dumiso suddenly said. The group closed conversation like an army post sighting a group of guerrillas.
“Might be a customer.”
They lay silently watching the figure emerging into a woman with a bag over her shoulder.
“Right,” Big Ben half rose.” I will take her from the back and we will carry her to that Side 10.”
“Right,” they all started scrambling to their feet.
When Linda turned to look behind her, had she done so five paces back, she would have screamed and run. But even though, three men were coming one from the front, one from the rear and one from the side closing off the short cut she had taken. The tower lights whose lights were not working camouflaged the short cut.
Before she could say anything, she was given a wallop at the back of the head. As she pitched forward someone grabbed her.
Suddenly, there appeared three dark shadows carrying her on the trot deep inside the bush. She fought with her might, pinching, kicking, biting and scratching. They were more stubborn than she was. She earned herself a cloth over her mouth.
They set her down. One pulled her dress to her neck. Being tall and slender, Linda was attractive. She felt her tightly closed thighs being prised loose by the harsh tugs of Dancer and Doug. Someone was in between bearing her down using his two hands against her throat.
Not much talking was done. One after another they came hard against her until the last was through.
“We don’t want witnesses do we?” asked Big Ben.
“Cut her of,” Doug replied. Then there was searing pain before her eyes closed for a long time. When she came to, she pulled her dress down and crawled towards the light. A passing group of security guards went to investigate the soft shouts for help.
Kelvin was asleep in his 2-roomed semi-detached house in Mkoba 15 fuming inside because his wife was not back from Chiwundura - Gambiza where she had gone. There was a knock, which shook him awake.
The knocking was very vigorous. He woke up with a start. He reached for a light switch putting on a set of trousers and shirt.
“Who is it?” he asked.
“Police!” his heart sank. He wanted to sag down and disappear on the floor. He wanted to run but all the windows had 16-mm anti-burglar screens. There was only one door squeaking like a rat with a policeman standing out there. “Sorry to disturb you.”
“Sorry?” he thought aloud. Do you know I have almost 5-kg of marijuana in this house which arrived yesterday morning?
He opened the door.
“Good evening. Are you Kelvin Choga?”
“Yes,” he wanted to say he wasn’t there when crimes like burglary were committed.
“Your wife is in hospital,” the officer said. “Kelvin Choga I suppose?”
“Yes ______ hospital?”
“We will take you there if you follow me,” the tall police man driver had said. Here he was now. As his wife narrated the story he knew the pain of being a crime victim.
“They raped me darling,” she cried. “I was stabbed thrice and left for dead.”
“Okay sweet,” he said wiping sweat from his brow. He looked at the time. It was about 0130 hrs. He stayed with her for an hour before he rose.
“Who is investigating the report lady?” asked Kelvin of the policewoman.
“Sergeant Wedlove Tezvara of Mkoba Police Camp,” she replied.
“Thanks,” he said trudging along the nearly empty corridors towards one of the many exits.
“I have a confession to make so have three of my friends,” Big Ben said sitting in the police charge office. A tape recorder was whirring. A moving camera was being worked flat against him.
“You understand you are under oath to tell the truth and nothing besides the truth?” asked the sergeant.
“You are giving this confession willingly without being coerced and you are aware it is being recorded on paper and taped?” asked the sergeant again.
“We have urine, blood and semen samples ewe have sent for DNA analysis in South Africa,” the sergeant said. “Go ahead, your name, address and occupation.”
“My name is Kelvin Choga alias Big Ben ______________”