Late one night

2012-11-27 00:00

True Stories of KZN

Schools Category Finalist

IT was after midnight. The streets were empty. My friend, David, and I were on our way home after a party at the Kick & Whistle.

“I just need to stop to get petrol,” the taxi driver told us.

We were going quite fast and weren’t exactly in our lane.

“Um, okay,” I said, watching anxiously out the window.

We pulled into a petrol station and came to a slightly jerky halt. David immediately began pulling out his wallet.

“My house isn’t actually that far,” he said calmly. “We’ll walk from here.”

He paid the driver and we began walking down the road. Once out of earshot of the taxi, I turned to him.

“And that?” I asked

“When we stopped, a beer can rolled out from under his seat. I reckoned we’d be safer walking. Besides, I could do with some fresh air.”

Wondering around at night was nothing new to us.

We walked down Chapel Street, heading out of town towards Roberts Road, leaving the lights of the city behind us. The neighbourhood ahead of us was quiet and still. David played music on his cellphone to brighten the mood as we strolled along, crossing the bridge over the railway. It was a good song to round off the evening, and we got so caught up in it we barely noticed when a car drove past.

When we came to the end of the bridge, however, we saw the car pulled off on a dark driveway, still running, headlights on. We eyed it cautiously as we drew closer, unsure what to make of it. I could feel my heart quicken as a slow release of adrenaline began to surge through my body. I knew David could feel it too.

Suddenly, the car doors flung open and a group of four or five men jumped out, coming straight for us, faces covered by balaclavas.

That’s when the adrenaline kicked in for real.

Immediately my mind went into overdrive as I contemplated every possible scenario: what our chances were if we fought them, if we ran, if we offered them everything we were carrying and begged them to leave us … thoughts were flashing through my head quicker than I had ever experienced before. And through it all, I couldn’t help thinking: “I knew we were being cocky walking around at night. I knew this would happen one day.”

But on this occasion we were trying to be responsible, getting out of the taxi with a drunk driver. My frustration grew to anger, and without thinking about it I found myself walking straight at them, ready for confrontation. One of them was coming for me, another going for David, the others following closely behind. David began to veer across to the other side of the road, trying to get around them. I could no longer see him, but I kept my eyes on the man coming for me. He was ahead of the others, leading them.

Suddenly he looked up at David, distracted, but still coming towards me. He pointed at him and shouted “He’s got a phone! Get the phone!”

The music was still playing on David’s phone. With the adrenaline rush I had completely forgotten about it, and now he had obviously heard it. From the corner of my eye, I noticed the other guy quicken his pace towards David. But I stayed focused, remembering all the judo I knew, planning how I would take him on: wait for him to swing with right hand; block with left; turn into counter throw … He was nearly within reach now. My muscles tensed, blood pumping, fists clenched.

Then he pulled out a knife.

Damn, I hadn’t thought about that. Suddenly, I wasn’t so confident anymore. I began backing up.

“Ahh, come on,” I pleaded.

He didn’t stop. Now I was scared for the first time.

I knew I could outrun them and make it back to the petrol station, but I couldn’t see where David was. I wanted to look around to see what he was doing, but if I turned I would get a knife through my back.

Suddenly, I heard the sound of running footsteps somewhere behind me, and I took that as the go-ahead to start running. I spun round, adrenaline rushing, ready to make a break for it — and then everybody was laughing.

“We’re just playing,” they said, pulling their balaclavas off.

David and I looked at each other as this registered. Then we also burst out laughing.

“Y’all should have seen your faces,” they were saying in hysterics.

“Ya, you got us,” we admitted, also laughing.

There were high fives all round as we congratulated them for a good prank, and we said goodbye like old friends before they got in the car and drove off.

About the writer:

MASON O’Connor is 18 years old and in his final year at St Charles College. “I live for the good times,” he writes, “and am more concerned for the collection of experiences that make up a journey than the end result, be it a night out with the gents or a trip to the Berg. My true passion is music, and I hope for it one day to be more than a glorified hobby.”

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