“No,” Tshepo responded and walked to the bed.
“Is it about her? Is it because of that stupid look I gave Lufuno?”
“It was not a stupid look. You like her much Khathu.” She uncover the white duvets and got inside. “Some guy didn’t marry me because he didn’t love me enough. You love that girl enough and I don’t want to make that mistake again and get myself hurt like I did years ago. No, I can’t go through that pain again.”
“I am telling you, I don’t like her anymore.”
“Stop lying to yourself. I don’t want to get hurt because when I love I do it to the extreme.”
“I am sure that I don’t need her,” I said. I wasn’t sure but that was what I thought at that very second.
“Please call your friend to come pick you up. I am tipsy enough to fall asleep any second now. You can watch TV while you wait.”
“Tshepo, please, let’s talk,” I pleaded while she tucked herself in the comfortable looking duvets.
“There is nothing more to talk about,” she said and laid her head on the soft pillow. I watched. I was astonished to see her ignoring me like I did not exist. I picked the remote and buried myself on that same couch while sending Dave an SMS. He called me back minutes later to tell me he was outside.
Tshepo was softly snoring so I pecked her on a cheek and left her room. I had thought about joining her in her sheets and spoon her but I decided otherwise. I didn’t want to complicate my MBC account.
“You were tapping some fine arse, weren’t you?” Dave called out just when I was getting into car.
“Don’t be stupid.”
“So you are making so much money, huh? You can even afford to book here just to tap it?” Dave asked while reversing the car.
“Just shut up, really.” I snapped.
“So, I wanted to ask you…I heard you are working with that events girl…I wanted to ask for a favour.”
“I want her number.” He glanced at me to notice my disgusted face. “What’s wrong? You can’t have all these women to yourself my man.”
“Can you please shut up?” I snapped again. He had no idea that I couldn’t have both women. The both beautiful women didn’t want me.
We walked back to the Altitude rooftop bar. The vibe had changed and it was now overcrowded. It was obviously after 23h00 and the restaurant was opened to the public. I walked back to the Lobby room to join my colleagues. They told me Mr Mkhize left a tab open for drinks until 2AM. I picked a Heineken from a fully loaded ice bucket and looked for an empty seat thereafter.
Lufuno was still there. She was sitting at a corner table with a tequila bottle in front of her.
Really? She was drinking herself to death.
“I think you have had enough to drink,” I said while taking the shooter glass from her hand.
“Whaattt now?” she whined trying to grab the glass from me. She failed to grab it from me so she took a lemon from a saucer and squeezed it nicely into her mouth.
“I think you have had enough,” I said once more and she lifted her head to me.
“Khathu, you are back?” she asked with a widest smile. I would have been mistaken once more that she was in love with me. Her eyes were sparkling and her smile was genuine.
“Yea, I am back…are you well?”
“I am … fine. I am just praying for Ntate Molefe to get here any second.” She said.
I wished I didn’t have feelings for Lufuno. I would have been walking to the dance floor and dancing my night off, but instead of that, I was there seated next to her, nursing her once again.
“Do you want to talk about it?”
“Talk about what?” she asked trying to pull the shooter glass from me.
“Talk about why you are drinking this much,” I said then gulp her shooter. She glanced at me while I sucked the lemon.
“He was here,” she said with her hands on her head.
“Who was here?”
“The father of my dead child,” she said and it touched me. She looked broken. “He wants back into my life after disappearing on me and pretending I never existed for years…he was here earlier claiming he needs me back in his life. Do you know how crazy that is? He fucken left me in a death bed and now he wants me to forget that and move on with my life? Does he even know he screwed with my life? Now I can’t even look at babies because it reminds me of killing my own child…now he wants me back into my life?”
Now that explained why she could never date me because of Michelle.
“Lufuno, you need to forgive yourself.”
“How do I do that?” she asked. “How do I forgive myself when I was blamed for taking a precious life?”
“I don’t know? Just forgive yourself so you can move on from this. You didn’t kill her intentionally…it was just an accident,” I said. “It is really not nice to see you like this.”
“Why do you care?” she asked and I kept my answer. I was never going to tell her how much my heart had always wished to beat with hers. Even with her rejection, I still wanted her. But she had humiliated me enough to ever try again. Her phone rang and I saw it was Ntate Molefe.
“Hello, you are late.” She babbled on the phone. “What did I tell you about being late?”
I grabbed her phone and told her driver to park at the drop off area next to the main entrance.
“Come, let’s go,” I said while helping her up. I picked her bag and helped her to the car.
“Khathu, I think I made a mistake,” she whispered as we walked to the car.
“What mistake?” I asked with a frown of my face.
“I shouldn’t have come here. Seeing you with her? Meeting my stupid ex? I should have stayed in bed.”
I wanted to ask more but her chauffer was opening the door and helping her in.
“Thank you,” the old man said while closing the door.
I stood there and watched them drive away. I was enjoying the breeze outside so I decided to just sit there for a little while, thinking hard about what just happened. Dave buzzed my phone and I went back to join my colleagues.
“Yes, he is here to explain himself.” Dave shouted as I was walking towards them.
“Explain what?” I asked while opening another bottle of Heineken.
“The two girls…which one is yours?” Dave asked.
“Uhm…none of them.” I said.
“There is no way. You keep disappearing with them.” James said. “You are sure tapping some to get the business running. I heard you are doing business with MBC and they are paying you a big bucks…now I know why. And now you are handling that other client’s ad. They personally ask for you and you can’t stand here and lie to us.”
“That is ridiculous.”
“You were sitting there pat talking that events girl before disappearing with her…you bounced out of here with that MBC chick and came back hours later. Even a blind man can see through you.”
“I knew Lufuno from outside of Mkhize consultation and I am not going to pretend I don’t know her just to nurse your jealousy…”
“Exactly! Why is hard for you to agree that you tapping her and the other girl? You can’t just have women throwing themselves at you for nothing.”
“If that’s how you get business, don’t you dare paint some of us with your brush…I get business because I work myself harder than most of the people.”
“Deny all you want. You are tapping…we all know you do.”
“Okay guys, we here to have fun…come on,” Dave jumped in. I stared at James who had his jaws clenched. He was looking for a fight and I was not going to give him one. We have been rivalries for so long to know better. I man-hugged Dave and told him I was off. I didn’t want to be there anymore.
“What an eventful Friday,” I muttered to myself while shoving clothes into a washing watching.
It was the following day and I was up to do my laundry and clean the apartment. I had been thinking hard about what James was talking about. It bothered me that he thought so low of me like that. I knew I loved Lufuno and I was warming up to love Tshepo, but I never mixed business with pleasure.
My phone rang in my pocket and I hoped it was Tshepo. I left her a few SMS after she didn’t pick up my calls. It was indeed her asking me to call her back.
“Hey Tshepo,” I said. “I was calling to ask if we can do breakfast.”
“I don’t think so Khathu. I have been thinking hard and I have decided to keep our friendship to only business. I don’t want to compromise my father’s business and your career.”
“Well…I truly understand.”
“Sure, I will see you during the brief on Wednesday?”
“Yes, yeah…” I said and she hanged up the phone.
I didn’t want things to be like that but it was for the best. I knew Tshepo was hurting but I had to keep things that way to avoid more drama and conflicting with my business. I was doing great in my career and I wasn’t ready to mess that up because of women.
Lufuno had so much baggage going on and I used to think I could carry her burdens with her. I felt sorry for her but the fact that she didn’t want anything to do with me bothered me the most. The way she looked at me the whole evening kept me confused. I wished to ask her but again, I was working with her account and the best thing was to stay away from her to avoiding complicating my business.
My phone rang again and I wished it was Tshepo once again. I wished she was changing her mind about not meeting me. I wished it was her telling me to meet her at a closest Mugg n Bean, her favourite breakfast spot.
“Sure Oscar,” I said after swiping my screen to answer.
“Braai nyana at Centurion? I want to watch the match there,” he asked.
“No man…I am not up to it man. I have to prepare for the coming week.”
“Come on, we won’t stay long.” He said and I finally agreed. A soccer match won’t hurt and it was a boring Saturday anyways.
He picked me up hours later and we drove to Centurion. We stocked alcohol at Forest Hill City and he got food as well.
“Didn’t you say braai?” I asked when he was buying food at Barcelos.
“I lied…I have this girl I need to meet and I cannot meet her in public so we are going to meet at her friend’s house.”
“Dude, are you crazy? And why are you tagging me into your mess?”
“No man…it has been three months without the deeds…I need some. Don’t act like you don’t,” He said. I have been cold showering myself for far too long. “I will hook you up with her friend and you guys can take it from there.”
I thought for a while. The thought of a woman’s touch did make me feel hard under my shorts. I missed it. I needed it. It was not like I was dating anyone. So, hooking with another woman shouldn’t be a problem to anyone.
“Lucy should never find out about this or else…we are both dead.” I finally said.
“It’s her fault but she will never find out.”
He drove us to some busy township. I had never been there. He drove into a yard and there were two girls sitting outside. We walked up to them. They were drinking Savanna. Oscar hugged the girl in a short dress and introduced me to her and the friend who was chewing a gum like it was the end of the world.
They invited us in to watch the game. I sat on a one seater while Oscar was seated with his girl. It bothered me to see him with her but who was I to judge? Maybe his marriage with Lucy was broken enough for him to give up. It had been three months and Lucy was not ready to work it out. He told me how frustrated he was and how he was slowly giving up. I was just glad that he was not talking about Lufuno anymore. Maybe the shrink is helping him to forget about her. Maybe I need to see the shrink too to help me suppress all my feelings for her.
“Do you mind chilling outside? Onica and Oscar annoy me,” the other girl said and I followed her outside. It was better there than watching my friend flirting with a strange girl while still married.
“So, what do you do?” I asked.
“I am an accounting clerk for Public works,” she said. No way were we going to cross paths after this. I liked that. “So are you also married and bored in your marriage like Oscar?”
“No, I am very much single.” I said.
“Keep it that way. It seems this committed people have problems and they are the unhappiest.”
“So you are not committed?”
“No, I prefer friends with benefits.”
“How so?” I wanted her to break it down for me.
“I can’t keep a relationship so I befriend someone and we benefit from each other…I don’t have the time, the money and energy for a relationship and can’t afford to be emotionally abused so I settle for no strings attached,” she said bluntly like it was a normal thing to do. I glared at her to search for shame in her face and there was none.
I understand where she was coming from. Investing feelings on another person seemed like a full time job. I grabbed my wallet to check if I still had a condom in it. Just in case we get excited and decide to have some fun as adults. I was tired of those cold showers to ease my strongest man-hood every morning and I was no longer looking forward for a relationship.
“What is your beautiful name again?” I asked. Oscar told me earlier but I forgot. It didnt matter then.
“Zamokuhle…but you can call me Zama.”
“Zamokuhle. Nice name.” I said and she beamed at me.