5/25/08

SERIAL

Death Wears a Mask
PART I

"Be on the watch for the false prophets that come to you in sheep's covering, but inside they are ravenous snakes"- Matthew 7:15; New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures

ONE

While growing up as a young woman in a rather up-market but predominantly black township where she was daily faced with a sickening sight of abject poverty, Angel fell head over heels in love with poetry. To her, such adoration was an automatic developmental route of her life, very much as if it was a time bomb that was ticking for long, waiting for its moment to explode from deep inside of her and scatter humanflesh shrapnel to anyone around her. People living in the black townships across South Africa loved (and had a serious addiction to) poetry with the same enthusiasm that some whites in the exclusive leafy suburbs were rumored to adore cocaine, ecstasy and other illicit drugs like LSD with. By the time she finally turned thirty-years-old which was an milestone in the black neighbourhoods, her soft spot for the noble art of expression was so profound, dangerously developed and prejudiced to the point that she only aspired to those poems that set the scene for the unthinkable, all poems about death and destruction.

During those stressful days of political and social disenfranchisement there was never a shortage of cynical material to that regard, that poked fun and sarcasm at the inevitable. There was some poetry from obscured artists who were equally creative and innovative in the same tone as celebrated British bards, D.H. Lawrence, John Donne and local Alan Paton of the earlier years. There was a poem she loved the most to the point that she made copies of, framed and hung in her living room that critically explored the value of blood. It put blood in the context of an artform, a clear respectable exposure that would have relegated the Mona Lisa to an elementary school painting by a Grade R beginner. It gave blood an absolute meaning.

The poem went a considerable distance at presenting blood as the so-called thin line between everything under the sun. There was a rather blasphemous line that religiously echoed while challenging that incase anybody doubted the value of blood they should not hesitate to ask their Creator what it took Him to redeem the world's population from sin. It could be argued that Jesus Christ did not come to earth for a primary or secondary reason of shedding his blook and dying, but to save the world through the preaching of his father’s tidings. That incase people listened to his sermons, observed and repented, apparently the need for him to martyr would have been averted. However, people refused to observe and repent, thus he shed his own holy blood to redeem them.

Thus, blood saved the world from eminent destruction the same way it brought serial killers to shed more blood into this world since at birth there is blood shed as well. In that respect and with such an understanding Angel knew that to truly express her love for someone she should be prepared to shed blood for them without flinching. It didn’t really matter whose blood she would need to shed, but the readiness was crucial. She knew writing a heartfelt poem for someone would be deep, but blood was deeper, if not thicker. Blood thus became such a romantic commodity for Angel to the depth that every month she looked forward to her menstruation period with a lot of fascinated anticipation.

During those times she would lock herself in her room and spend hours just staring at her Tampax and smiling at the blood that shone back at her, even though it looked darker, very much towards black than purely red. She would even spend hours debating with herself about why did blood have to be red? Why wasn't it transparent? Transparent would truly look innocent and beautiful, even artier because then it could be easy for anyone to dye theirs according to their own liking. Maybe then whites could genetically engineer theirs to be white like snow and give blacks black ones like the extinct Indian panther. Really, a panther would do, with all its bluish eyes and an intimidating presence. And the black-white racial profiling would make perfect colourful sense.

Then white people would fairly fear blacks because then phrases like blackmail, black market, black magic, blacklist etcetera would realistically have something to do with a people and their blood than just a shady characteristic, behaviour and activity of sorts. And it probably would be acceptable for prison authorities to dye the blood of convicted felons black even if they were white to simplify the process of keeping files of past felonies and misdemeanors in computer criminal databases. If the police arrest a person they would just pinch to see the colour of the blood and know immediately if he is guilty of race or a crime. Blacks who behave orderly could have theirs diluted with that of whites to be grayish, more less black, and probably Nelson Mandela's would have been the first one to be diluted, followed by Desmond Tutu.

Disgraced Afrikaner Weerstand Beweging leader Eugene Terre'blanche wouldn’t have been that lucky. His would have been dyed black to expose him as an outcast, a man who betrayed the struggle of his own people by being a racist when he could easily have been an Afrikaner nationalist.

Angel did not really mind or make an issue out of the colour of blood, green, blue like Queen Elizabeth's and her family or red, she just loved blood and did so with absolute passion.

Old habits die hard, that is if they die at all. And that was the reason why she deliberately lied to herself that she was having a nightmare when she walked into her bathroom that Monday evening at 18h32 after a long stressful day at work and was greeted, not by a human being with blood in its veins but a pool of her beloved substance in the bathtub. There was nothing really wrong with the blood in the tub apart from the worrying fact that somebody she loved more than blood itself, someone she could have shed hers and somebody else’s for him was sunken in it. That he was sunken in a thick version of it did not look bad, it was romantic, the problem was simply that he did not have a pulse even though he had one when Angel left him thirteen hours earlier. That was the first disturbing development about the blood-soaked person in the tub. There was more.

The other disturbing thing was that his musclebound arms were helplessly hanging on the rim of the tub, pale and lifeless with slit-marks on his wrists. Angel immediately knew and understood that Andrew, her husband of six years has committed suicide. She suddenly felt that six years was a short time for Andrew to have shared with her while he spent nineteen with his first wife, whom he unceremoniously divorced, not for Angel, though she ended up being the winner. Nineteen years of Andrew and his first wife Rebecca added four children to the population register, two boys and two girls, for which one of his daughters never existed long enough to see her father become a top gun in government politics, championing the cause of children's rights.

***

Barely minutes after the Crime Scene and Forensics Units of Wynberg police arrived on the scene of the dead man sunken in a blood-filled bathtub and the press was unconditionally barred from the private address, a top National Intelligence Agency operative, who was attached to its Cape Town field office arrived in a white VW Jetta with CA registration numbers. He, without wasting time marched into the crime scene and summoned the commander of the CS Unit to an in-camera session where they held a brief, intense but heated dialogue before summoning Angel to his Jetta where one minute of another intense dialogue later she forced the door open and walked out, managed a few paces then fell unconscious on the brown paving.

The proactive paramedics from a private company who came with the police and emergency units rushed and quickly stretchered her into the main house before press photographers, who erected vantage points on the surrounding high walls took any front-page pictures.
***

Exactly three hours since Angel discovered the unfortunate incident, the lifeless body of Andrew Langa MP was carried out of the plush cream white two-storey mansion into a waiting government mortuary van. As the body was stretchered out, Angel was long in a drug induced sleep of tranquilizers.She was in the living room, a PUMA blanket covering her from the cold, as the van slowly pulled out of the gate, followed by the NIA-owned VW Jetta and other two cars synonymous with the police's SAPS VIP Protection Unit. Behind, they left an ambulance, two sedans with government registration numbers, a police combi and another white VW Jetta that belonged to other two national intelligence operatives who were given special instructions to 'bar any information leakage to the hawkish, unpatriotic press.'

The hands of the clock struck eleven and a final scene was set as the last traces of the blood were mopped from the ceramic tiled floor and everybody got ready to face another day, which though one hour away, was certain to rise from the east as if nothing happened.

***

Andrew Langa MP lived and died a champion of children's rights, even though newspapers the following day carried a bold headline of an alleged assassination. Nobody could blame the media for missing the mark as people with information, buried deep in the heart of the bureaucracy were not telling. The NIA was managing the misinformation like professionals, having diverted all communication from their media office to the equally competent Government Communications and Information Services. It was not something unheard of for Cape Town newspapers and tabloids to be sensational, but it couldn't be a case with all national newspapers. It was impossible for every journalist to get it wrong. A reward of R25000,00 was suddenly offered by the Minister of Safety and Security Mr Steve Tshwete "for any information that would lead to the arrest of the suspects". The offer said 'suspects', and not just one suspect since Langa was a third dan black belt in taekwondo and nobody, but nobody all alone could have overpowered him, let alone succeed in ultimately killing him. That was the reasoning, the formula was scientific.

The South African public was also too na├»ve to think that maybe the alleged killer, not killers, might have threatened him with either a loaded or toy gun and then leisurely slit his wrists while he wetted his pants in fright. Truly again, no amount of martial arts could prepare anyone for the rage of a trained killer who might have personally trained the Polish assassin of Chris Hani and those of Sifiso Nkabinde. Nobody really knew. The R25000,00 reward resulted in the whole nation being on contact lenses trying to gain unfair advantage and see anyone suspicious before the next person. Optometrists made lots of money from the minute the directive was issued by none less than President Thabo Mbeki in his executive capacity. The President of South Africa interrupted usual radio and television programming to issue the plea, setting the scene for optometrists to enterprise with legitimate greed. Even eye inspection and contact lenses prices tripled overnight. The Consumer Council wasn’t amused.

1 comment:

  1. It's been a long time coming. Welcome to the fore, Death Wears a Mask.

    When are we going to read Once Upon a Time in Jozi?

    ReplyDelete

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