#35 – Afraid of absence

Then Banda had walked into the tiny bedroom, and Jamie knew he had come to kill him.
Van der Merwe had somehow learned Jamie was still alive and had sent his servant to
finish him off.
“Why didn’t your master come himself?” Jamie croaked.
“I have no master.”
“Van der Merwe. He didn’t send you?”
“No. He would kill us both if he knew.”
None of this made any sense. “Where am I? I want to know where I am.”
“Cape Town.”
“That’s impossible. How did I get here?”
“I brought you.”
Jamie stared into the black eyes for a long moment before he spoke. “Why?”
“I need you. I want vengeance.”
“What do you—?”
Banda moved closer. “Not for me. I do not care about me. Van der Merwe raped my
sister. She died giving birth to his baby. My sister was eleven years old.”
Jamie lay back, stunned. “My God!”
“Since the day she died I have been looking for a white man to help me. I found him that
night in the barn where I helped beat you up, Mr. McGregor. We dumped you in the
Karroo. I was ordered to kill you. I told the others you were dead, and I returned to get you
as soon as I could. I was almost too late.”
Jamie could not repress a shudder. He could feel again the foul-smelling carrion bird
digging into his flesh.
“The birds were already starting to feast. I carried you to the wagon and hid you at the
house of my people. One of our doctors taped your ribs and set your leg and tended to
your wounds.”
“And after that?”
“A wagonful of my relatives was leaving for Cape Town. We took you with us. You were
out of your head most of the time. Each time you fell asleep, I was afraid you were not
going to wake up again.”


Copyright © 1982 by Sheldon Literary Trust

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