He needed to think, yet the thought of confession was out of his consideration
Poverty is a bad driver, Garisai thought as he lay under Tapedzanhamo Bridge. It had driven him deeper and deeper into the muck and he saw no prospects of himself finding his way out.
His friends seemed as alert as hunting serpents as they collectively waited for the arrival of their victim.
As the darkness of the night deepened, mosquitoes and other blood-sucking creatures caused Garisai such discomfort that he asked himself why he would not just crawl out of hiding and walk his way home.
His employer had sent him with three other men, Tagara, Chinga and Macheto, to waylay a man who often passed Tapedzanhamo Bridge late in the night from his beer-drinking escapades.
The businessman wanted the victim’s body parts for ritual purposes.
He and two of his companions had taken their positions under the bridge while Tagara was waiting above them to pounce on the man who seemed not to value his life very much.
Garisai and the other human monstrosities under the bridge would join the main actor once they heard the noise of struggles above them.
Finally, the heavy tread of their target could be heard above the bridge, the echoes of his footfalls bouncing off the sign posts on the opposite ends of the bridge.
Garisai held his breath longer than his lungs usually allowed him, but before he could release the next breath, he heard a scream and the groans of two voices blending, a heavy thud, and then the rapid pounding of the feet of a man in flight.
He crawled out of hiding as clumsily as his troubled mind would allow him.
Within a moment, the three accomplices were on the bridge, Tagara’s dying body sprawled before them.
“The bastard has escaped,” Chinga whispered loudly. “He has proven to be stronger than we had anticipated. So what do we do about this mess?”
“We will cut this one up. We have no use of him anymore,” said Macheto, fumbling with his pockets for a knife. Without precedent, Garisai left the scene at great speed.
Chinga and Macheto had no choice but to leave him go.
The urge to run and run and run until he dropped dead left Garisai as he crossed the Mutare/ Masvingo Highway.
He found himself turning around to walk towards his employer’s homestead, on the higher side of the Mvurachena Bridge, to tell him what had happened. He felt an incredible rush of energy in his muscles.
The big man should receive him with caution.
He was ready to fight in defence of his manhood if the fiery tempered man tried to hit him.
That did not happen. The business tycoon gave Garisai a handsome sum of money. “Go and look for a job in the city. Never mention what happened tonight to anyone.”
Garisai got into vending, at the same time pursuing studies at Mutare Polytechnic. The nightmares he thought would trouble his nights also troubled his days. His nights often presented to him a very beautiful girl extending her hand towards him, needing his rescue, as blue-black waters of an expansive pool swallowed her body up to the neck.
The problem was that Garisai could not swim.
Whenever he walked alone, even during the day, a sense of being stalked never left him. The invisible shadow of death kept his company wherever he went.
Garisai could not live alone forever. He fell head over heels in love with a first-year student as he was doing his final semester. It took the new lovers quite sometime before they mentioned marriage. It was Garisai who started the subject.
“You have to know me first, so that the nightmares of my life won’t trouble you when I become your wife,” Nancy said as they conversed in his single quarters in Sakubva, one afternoon.
Garisai was dumbfounded. Who was supposed to speak about nightmares between the two of them?
“I had an elder brother. He died at Tapedzanhamo Bridge, my only sibling…” Then the story of how the man who had escaped was supposed to die…
“My brother died a painful innocent death. You wonder where he was coming from that night when the murderers pounced on him. His remains were found under the bridge a day after his disappearance.
The murderers were never caught.”
“No,” He did not die an innocent death. “His victim overpowered him and..,” said a voice Garisai would not make airborne.
“Sad indeed,” he said loudly, his eyes fixed on the tormented beauty, sitting on a wooden stool, a metre away from his bed.
Garisai was hardly able to turn his face away from the ghost of his past.
Suddenly, the image of his drowning self was foregrounded in his mind, and he had stretched out his hand towards Nancy crying for help.
Garisai did not know if it was time to confess the secret he had been paid to protect.
Now he had accidentally met the victim’s sister and fallen in love with her. Their plans for the till death do us part vows had begun to fall in place and he was not willing to let her go.
He needed to think, yet the thought of confession was out of his consideration.
That night as he drifted into a fitful slumber, the drowning girl appeared to him again. He courageously dived into the pool and swam towards her, but he was suddenly awake before he could take her to safety.
Nhamo Muchagumisa is an English Language and Literature teacher, and he writes from Odzi. He writes in his own capacity and can be contacted on +263777460162. Email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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