“Life is good! Life is good!” That was Fatso as he was on the dance floor. We were at Zororo Sports Bar. The usual crowd was there and this included Baba VaTata, Widza, Rasta and Danny. It was Danny who was liberally buying the beer for everyone. That explains why Fatso was exuberant. Someone was doing the buying.
I would never understand why someone like Fatso was excited with life. He was part of a long army of jobless people in the country. In his case, his circumstances were even worse. Ever since he had completed his O’ Levels, that was 13 years before, he had never been gainfully employed at all. He had never done a hard day’s job in his entire life, unless of course as errand boy in exchange for a beer here and a cigarette there. He wouldn’t know the difference between a payslip and a school report card. And there were many like him in the ghetto. They simply accepted their circumstances and sadly moved on or so they thought they were moving on with life. His over-dependence on good Samaritans had clouded his faculties.
While Fatso was doing his thing on the dance floor and holding a quart of beer in one hand above his head, I could not help, but look at Danny our benefactor. He had grown up in the neighbourhood and had not managed to go beyond Grade 7. Fortunately, he had got a job as a gardener in the northern suburbs. It was not glorious, but it was a pristine job, not the best of jobs, but it was an honest living after all.
What surprised me the most is that he had seemingly appeared out of the blues a couple of days before driving a good second hand Honda Fit. Everyone could see that Danny was literally “swimming” in money. He was buying beer with reckless abandon. At first I was skeptical and then I gradually warmed to the benefactor. Anyway the prospect of free beer was too hard to resist. So for the past few days, as soon as I knocked off from work, I would join the others at Zororo Sports Bar. Fatso had by now almost adopted the role of a bodyguard for Danny. Even the free beer, however, could not completely stop a chiming bell in my subconscious. Even though I decided to make the most of it.
As for Danny himself, he was a bit on the quiet side. Among all of us, his consumption of beer was on the moderate side, but this did not stop him from buying more and more beer for our group. If he had been open enough, I would have asked him tacfully about his sudden riches. Surely if the gods had smiled at him, they could also have been kind to me.
I was about to give Baba VaTata the sign that we should quit for the day and head home. I felt sorry for Fatso. He would never leave the bar until it closed for the night. He would remain behind with Danny and the others.
No sooner had we started to leave with Baba VaTata in tow behind than three heavily armed serious fraud squad detectives entered. I had never seen them before. They went straight for Danny who was trying to flee as soon as he laid his eyes on them.
“Stop! Put your hands in the air! You are under arrest!” A pistol was pointing at his head. He was no match. He kneeled with both arms above his head.
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He was kicked in the back and fell flat out on his stomach. He was cuffed quickly, his hands tied at the back. It happened so fast, in the blink of an eye. We were all shell-shocked at the sudden turn of events. My subconscious had been spot on. This guy Danny must have been spending money from proceeds of crime. It was a case of “easy come, easy go”.
The full horror story of Danny’s crime came to light the following day.
He was living alone with his elderly white employer and only a few days before, he had murdered him. He buried his body in a shallow grave in the garden. Danny had proceeded to ransack the house of all valuables and had plundered all the money from the safe. After Danny had left, the German shepherd dog next door had started to behave strangely, barking incessantly until its owner went to investigate. That is how the murder was discovered.
I felt guilty for days afterwards. Danny had bought beer for us from the blood money. Fatso was wrong. Life was not good after all. Someone had been murdered for his money. This was all wrong. There were a number of misfits in society and one would hardly notice. The big lesson was to avoid hanging out with just anyone just because they were buying beer. Some of it would be ill-gotten money.
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