Beating The Odds – Episode 7
© Brian Ngoma
“Come here!” Greg angrily called Kani.
He hesitantly walked to Greg while his head was bowed down. Greg grabbed his hand and they both got down the tree house and walked to the main house.
As soon as Veronica saw them, she knew something was wrong and asked, “What is it Greg?”
“Ask him,” Greg pointed at Kani.
“Baby what is it?” she asked Kani worriedly.
“As a matter of fact, go to your room now!” Greg yelled at Kani.
Kani quickly sprinted to the passage but stopped and hid behind the door to eavesdrop. He heard Greg and Veronica quarrel in the other room. From Greg’s voice, Kani could tell that he was upset. It seemed like a war of words.
“How could you let him go to the tree house?” Greg vented.
“I let him?” Veronica asked. “He’s just a boy, sooner or later he’s curiosity would have gotten the better of him.”
“It seems like you have forgotten why we took him from that filthy orphanage!” he shouted pointing at her.
“He’s still a child Greg!” she yelled back. She looked at him with contempt in her eyes. “Why should we subject him to this harsh world we are living in?”
“That’s the purpose we got him for,” he answered. “Now you are playing mother to him. “It’s time we start training him now.”
Veronica bowed her head. She couldn’t say a word. Greg stepped forward to her and said, “Don’t forget what we discussed. You are just caught up in this, we never even planned to have children.”
“But he’s adorable Greg, and so innocent,” she looked up at him. “You see how secluded he’s been for the past four years. It’s like he’s in his own world and i feel sorry for him. He hasn’t even called me mother yet,” she complained. “It’s been four years Greg and you want us to introduce him to our……,” she stopped raising her hands in the air. “I cannot Greg i cannot.”
“What if it will bring him joy? He doesn’t want school or anything to do with the outside world, what if this will give him purpose? Have you seen what he does all day? All he does he’s run around the farm, climb trees. That day, he was at the top of our tallest tree i was scared i had to tell him to get down. What amazed me was the fearless expression in his eyes. He got down like nothing. He loves danger have noticed,” he paused and held her hands. “I know he has the charms but we need to start training him now. See how things have been going south for us, we need a new player. You have to talk to him.”
“Do you think he’s ready?” she asked.
They both went silent.
“I am ready,” Kani emerged from hiding. “Whatever it is you guys do, i can do. I want to be doing something too.”
They were all startled by Kani’s words. He stood defiantly at the door ready for anything. He closely looked at them nodding his head. Veronica looked at Greg who was smiling. “You see?” he looked at her and went on. “I told you, this kid has it in in him. He’s ready.”
Veronica looked at Kani all worried. She called him and told him to sit next to her. “You know we care for you, right?”
He nodded his head.
“For us to survive and to make sure you have the best in life, this is what we do,” she said.
“We are shoplifters,” Greg said. “Those things you saw in the tree house, we steal them and we need someone like you to faciliatate our work.”
“I can do it,” Kani said.
Greg and Veronica looked at each other. “Okay, you start your training tommorow,” Greg said. “Go to the bedroom and do some reading now.”
Kani went to his room. He closed the door behind him and knelt down and wept. One thing that caught his attention from what Greg and Veronica said was that they never needed a child. It was there and then that he knew he was just an accessory to their soon to be committed crimes. Being scared, he couldn’t let them kick him out of the house. There was no where he could go. He knew no one out there and that gave him a scare. Hence saying he would do what they wanted him to do.
The following morning, he was taken to the tree house for his first training in shoplifting. Greg was really excited about training the young boy. He was finally serving his purpose. Kani was grasping things fast and when told to practice, he never failed Greg. Greg was amazed with the boy. He told Veronica about his progress and she couldn’t believe how good he was getting at it. “Iam telling you, the boy is a natural,” he said the evening after the fifth training in a row. “I think is ready.”
“Wait, what?” Veronica jumped to her feet. “He’s not ready. It’s just been a few days he can’t be ready.”
“Come on,” he said. “No one can suspect him, he’s just a boy. Moreover he’s turning twelve soon.”
“No he’s not.”
“I am the man of this house, when i say he’s ready he’s ready. Be prepared for tommorow evening, we are hitting the store,” Greg stood up and went to bed.
Veronica got up and went to Kani’s bedroom. She found him reading a book. “Can i enter?” she asked him.
“Yes,” he answered.
“Greg has been telling me about your progress, iam amazed,” she said.
He’s face beamed.
“Do you think you are ready to start?”
“Yes,” he answered without hesistation.
She sighed and hugged him. “If you say so. Tommorow, you have your first job.”
“Really?” he asked.
“Yes, have some sleep,” she left his room.
The next day, Veronica, Kani and Greg were in the car outside a small shopping mall at Kabangwe. Since it was Kani’s first job, they had to hit a small shopping mall. It was at it’s peak hour. Everyone was busy coming and going out of the mall. The three, all wearing caps and in all black clothes left the car and went inside a supermarket. Upon entering, Greg motioned kani to go to the store’s security guard while he and Veronica went to the jewerly section.
As told kani went to the security guard. He observed him at a distance and could see that he was busy on his receiver. He remembered his training. He saw Greg from a distance motioning him to get it started. He walked to where the guard was and fell on his feet.
The security guard was startled. He jumped to his feet and looked around. Some onlookers looked at Kani on the floor and looked at the guard. He also didn’t know what to do. He knelt down to check the boy. “Someone help!” he shouted.
Almost everyone in the store ran to where the security guard and Kani was.
“What happened?” a female shopper asked.
“He just fell, i don’t know what happened,” the security guard answered. “Anyone who is medical practitioner here?” he asked looking at the people surrounding him. “Does anyone know this boy?”
They all nodded their heads in refusal.
Kani felt the presence of a lot of people surrounding him and he knew Greg and Veronica were almost done.
The security guard called one female shop attendant. She came and checked Kani and looked around. “He’s breathing just fine,” she looked at the security guard. “Go and check the jewerly section!” she shouted.
Kani got up to his feet to everyone’s surprise. The shop attendant wanted to grab him but he was too fast. He started off and jumped the vegetable rank and ran as fast as he could and found Greg finishing up. “They are coming!” he shouted.
Greg and Veronica stopped what they were doing, grabbed their bags and started off. Kani was behind them. He saw them leave the store and when he was about to reach the entrance, the security guard dived at him sending him flying to the freezers and banged his back on it.
Veronica stopped and screamed, “Kani!”
She wanted to run back but Greg stopped her. “Are you stupid?” he yelled at her.
“He’s hurt,” she cried. “We need to go back for him.”
“It’s dangerous, we can’t,” he dragged her.”
“Greg No!” she fought him back.
He slapped her and shouted, “Snap out of it babe. He will come trust me, that boy is tougher than he looks, he will handle himself.” he forcefully dragged her to the car while she kept crying. “Let’s get out of here!”
“No,” she watched people gathering around the entrance of the store while Greg slammed the passengers door and ran to the other side.
On the floor with some broken pieces of glass on his face was Kani. He was hurt but he could’t risk think about the pain that surged across his body. Limply getting up, the security guard was in front of him blocking his way and some shoppers were watching them in awe. He needed to get out but how? He heard a car swerve outside and knew that Greg and Veronica had left him. He was alone again, like always.
To be continued