Walking In The Night
by Temba Magorimbo
3 Jacaranda Close
17th September 1999
Attention: Philip Jones
Herewith enclosed is the outline of a new book that I am working on which unlike my previous two titles published by Path 4 Editions, [Echoes Of Yesterday and Till We Meet Again] is based on a true experience that happened to me.
The title is Walking In The Night. I have given you an edited version of actual events that happened to me while I was celebrating my success of the first novel Echoes Of Yesterday.
Here is the story attached to this letter
I put a fresh page into my electric typewriter which was an improvement from the old Hermes baby portable that I used to have whose font though fixed like all manual typewriters was rather too small. The Triumph SE 1010 electronic typewriter buzzed as I wound out the page. It was funny that a novelist had to build one word after another to earn a living. Due to my indulgence in evening work, I had fitted a special lamp at my rented wooden cottage. It had started as a holiday to celebrate the publishing of my first novel; a 76 000-word article called Echoes Of Yesterday.
Now I had a brilliant idea of a second novel, Till We Meet Again which I had been working on for some time. I was a government teacher by profession. I did my work at a light density primary school teaching sixth grades. Now, I was on vacation leave for a term. Two of the months I had chosen them to be spent in winter here in Lake Kariba ‘s shores. In summer, the heat was just too much with temperatures getting as high as 38 degrees Celsius.
My hands worked on the keyboard of the Triumph SE 1010 electronic typewriter with a relaxed tempo. I worked slowly forming ideas into words.
No ideas were of a concrete value. Thus I threw the sheet into the waste bin and decided to break off. I carried the eletronic typewriter indoors before locking up. I knew the path blindfold now so I did not need use a torch as I went down the acacia, musasa, mopani, mupfuti and grassy verges towards the shimmering lake a few hundred metres below. I kept swatting at mosquitoes.
I should have walked up and down the shores of the lake close on thirty minutes when I decided to come back. “Nice evening?”
I was very surprised that I had not been alone at the shore at the time the words were spoken. “Yeah cool lake breeze.” “Are you from around Kariba?” the voice asked.
“I came here four days ago. I have another two weeks before I pack up,” I replied.
“The lake makes quite a change. The breeze is fine as is the air and atmosphere. It is relatively quite here,” she replied. I could tell by the outline against the night that it was a female.
“Do you think so?”
“As far as I can see yes,” she had replied. “I am Denise Marion. I like it around the lake shore.”
“I hope I did not disturb you,” I had replied.
“I will take my bicycle,” she had said. She was gone for a few minutes. I saw her wheeling a bicycle. We started along the path chatting together. I asked her for a drink. Exposed to the cottage light, she had Kimberly diamond blue eyes and sandy hair. She was slightly tall and slender with small mounds of breast tissue. She had high cheekbones and small teeth in neat rows except at the front where they rather edged out. “Are you a writer or a journalist?” She had seen the Triumph SE 1010 electronic typewriter and its sheaf of notepaper nearby from the research I had been making.
“I am a fiction writer,” I had replied.
“Just concluded reading the proofs for the first project,” I had replied. She sipped her beer while I talked to her. I had switched on the television but there was nothing worth writing home about on television. There was a lot of political rhetoric flying between the black president and his henchmen and London as was usual. “What is your profession?”
“Nothing?” I asked.
“Mother has an interior decorating business so I am a general dogs-body for her,” she had replied.
“I am a class teacher.”
“Great. I would have like kids if I had any,” she had replied on her third pint while I was on my fourth. “I will not intrude on your hospitality Roger. Thanks for the evening. I will be going.”
“Please come again,” I had meant exactly that.
“I will now I know you will be here for only two weeks,” she had replied.
“So when is next?” I asked.
“When I am free I will pop in,” she had replied.
“Mind the night,” I had replied as she rode off along the path that led out of the cottages, which were spread out alongside a hill with some below and some above a small valley. I went indoors were the typewriter awaited me. Her visit and the shore had cleared the blockages from my mind. The SE 1010 complained. I started working for the next two hours with hardly any breaks in between.
Two finger efforts on the typewriter surely brought forth a 76 000-word novel which I expected editors to go through like a forensic scientific going through a bomb scene brushing away unnecessary material and retaining what they thought made the reader turn the next page in a hurry. On the third night, I heard her knock. “Come in,” I said from where I was watching a video of a film, The Finest Hour.
“Hi Roger, how was the day?”
“Fine,” I shook her warm hands. She had on Bermuda shorts, a light grey blouse and white sandals on her feet.
“Would you mind a walk?”
“I would not,” I replied. I locked up joining her using a torch as we walked up the hills, which were the tops of mountains that had almost been covered by the construction of the lake.
“What is the title of your book?” she asked as we walked knee deep in the water.
“Almost Paradise,” I had replied.
“Tell me about the story,” she had replied and I did for the next hour. We ended up standing by the rails of the cottage looking at the night sky.
“Call it Walking In The Night.”
“What a good title,” I had suggested to which she had agreed. I saw her ride off again before I returned to the typewriter. She visited me almost once in two to three days until one night I decided to take her home. We walked while she held her bicycle. “There is much about you that I do not understand.”
“You will understand Roger.”
“Will I ever?”
“You will,” she had replied. “You must not get as far as the house.”
“Let's rest by these flower beds before we part ways,” she was an elusive one. I must have fallen asleep while talking to her because when I woke up early in the morning an hour before sun up, I lay on a carpet of lowers all right but within a graveyard. I did not understand because the previous day I had not seen any graves. I was looking around, dazed and standing now when I saw an inscription on a nearby grave that read: -
“Here lies Denise Marion run over by a car at Kariba, Born 11 May 1962, Deceased 13 August 1979.”
Like she had said, I understood why she had been elusive to me.