The captain’s captive (3/4)

By Drum Digital
04 November 2015

The Rosettenville kid was in deep trouble…

MY UNEXPECTED helper was a big fellow. When I knelt, I felt no bigger than a midget as I eyed his knees. Rough hands patted me down and a voice said, “He’s clean, Sergeant.”

The sergeant carried a big gun strapped to his leg. Otherwise, he was a short, pudgy fellow with a big belly bulging over his belt and an almost non-existent neck. I was surprised to see him holding nothing more threatening than a tablet. It amused me no end.

“Name?” he called. The first cop was thumbing through the ID book he’d found in my back pocket. “Julius . . . Nemvete.” I saw the fat sergeant’s stubby fingers flying over the screen. Next thing I knew, he said, “Aha! Nemvete?” I saw his hand poised over a screen of thumbnails.

He flicked one of them to full size, and said, “Cuff him, Constable! He’s on the Captain’s wanted list.” And that is how I got to experience what a roughly-slapped-on pair of cuffs feels like. There was only one word for it, but I kept it to myself as they bundled me into a patrol van. It drove off the road to join a laager of police cars clustered around the ugly hulk of a nyala. They shoved me into the nyala and the sergeant announced, “Julius Nemvete, Captain. What shall we do with him?”

The nyala was full of flickering monitors showing street scenes, and squawking radio equipment. One wall was covered in a large street map with little coloured flags stuck all over it. The captain was sitting in the midst of all this. He swiveled his chair around to face me, and said, “That will be all for now, Sergeant.”

A dim wall light above the captain made his bald head shine like a polished pumpkin. Streaks of light and shadow lay over his broad features. The black hollows of his eyes looked scary. His voice was smooth and sly.

“Hello, Julius. I’ve been wanting to see you. Have you been avoiding me?”

“I don’t make friends easily.”

“Tell me, Julius, are you scared of me?”

“Why are you after me, Captain?”

“You should fear me. All criminals fear me. You are a criminal.”

“I am not! Ask anybody on the streets. I don’t steal.”

“You were dealing in Orlando, Julius, you and your friend. Then you two decided to get clever and double-cross your supplier. “Your friend paid the price and you ran away to hide from the drug lord. And now you float around on the streets and nobody is your friend. Not very nice.”

“I have my problems.”

“I could be your friend, you know. All I need from you is a little help – a few words from the street on the drug business around here. What, where, when and, most importantly, who.”

“I don’t rat on anybody. I’m no impimpi!”

“You know the dealers – how they tempt and corrupt and kill to keep their trade going. Are these the people you want to protect?”

“I’m hiding from Bossman. I don’t know these other people.”

“But you know what they do. Listen – I can help you to get back to your mother. Do we have a deal?”

I was dumbstruck. We hardly knew each other and the man was offering me a bribe to serve as his impimpi. Now the captain looked less like a pumpkin head and more like a spider, and I was snared in his web. He spoke again, more harshly. “Don’t play hardball with me, boy. One word from me to Bossman and you’ll be a hunted man again.” The spider was pulling his web tighter.

I heard the sergeant’s urgent voice behind me. “Captain, No.1 has been sighted in Sector 2.”

“For God’s sake, don’t lose him. Tell Tango Two I’m on the way.”

Radios crackled. There was urgent movement all around. The nyala emptied quicker than a beggar’s cup. As I tiptoed to the open door my worn takkies made no sound on the metal floor. Red-and-blue revolving lights were flashing outside. I didn’t see anybody looking my way. I jumped from the nyala and took off.

To be continued...

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