15 December 2009

To the Woods with a Girl by Masimba Musodza

What is wrong with putting a penis inside a girl who badly wants you to? This was the question that occurred to Dennis as he realised that he was going to have sex with this girl he had just met. It was a question that he knew the answer already (sheer professional integrity, she could get pregnant, she could be a lot younger than she looks and you could get done for statutory rape and end up in that place where you came to know all about a very different sort of rape, she could have an STD, all the underage girls that had sex with grown men had STDs, just last week, Phillip at the school got syphilis from a 13-year old) but it was also a question he had never asked himself.

It was the second day of his two-week leave. Dennis had stepped out of the house he shared with his older brother and his family in the comparatively well-to-do Unit C area of Seke, Chitungwiza and decided to take a walk. Not just a walk, but a walk through parts of town that he hadn’t seen in a long while. The two-room core houses and rows of shacks that comprised Unit N across the clearing seemed a good a place as any.

It was a clear afternoon; the sun was a fiery, yellow monocle in a clear blue sky. The clearing that separated Unit C from N was dry, although the grass was a lush green. There was plenty of water just below the ground, during the rainy season most of this was bog or shallow pond and you could fill a sack with catfish. People waited for the water table to recede, and coaxed the moist, sewage-enriched soil to yield a vital augment to the urban food requirement.

As he approached Unit N, children who attended the morning session poured out of the school in garrulous, playful groups. Their counterparts on their way to school met them on the roads. This was how many urban areas in Zimbabwe cope with the swelling population; by having some kids come in the morning, and some in the afternoon.

He noticed her because she was staring at him as he walked past her. Apart from the fact that she was not in uniform, and she was alone, there did not appear to be anything unusual about her. Yet, she caught his eye with that look on her face, the look of a little girl lost. A look that said, say hi to me, or I will accuse you on the Day of Judgement of being mean to a little girl who has never harmed you or given the impression that she wished to.

Dennis stopped and took in the plain afro, the round, pretty face with the large, appealing eyes. He noticed that her lips were chapped. But his eyes wandered further south. She wore a dark blue jumper, the front of which was occupied by two orange-sized mounds. Further south, the jumper hugged her yellow-spotted skirt, emphasizing the swell of her hips. Her crotch was guarded by the plastic folder she held pressed against herself.

She probably drove every boy in class wild, but Dennis did not feel anything except a mild curiosity as to why she had sought him with her eyes. Maybe after she left school, got a job and learned to re-package herself, then Dennis would be on her case. Might even end up marrying her.

But for now, he just wondered what the hell she was staring at him for like that and why she had this smile. “Do you know Sticks?” she asked.

“Sticks?”

She nodded. “You know, my boyfriend. Sticks.”

Dennis thought for a bit then asked, “And why should I know Sticks?”

“Everybody knows Sticks,” she said.

“Well, I don’t,” Dennis pointed out.

“Probably because you don’t live in Unit N,” she said. “Sticks is a famous sculptor. He carves stones at a friend’s house in Unit L.”

“This isn’t Unit L, my dear,” Dennis said.

“I know. But this is where he lives. I guess he is avoiding me. Ah, well, I guess I have to go back home.”

But she remained standing there, beaming up at him. “Finished college?” he blurted, surprised that he had just tried conversation with a little girl. There was something likeable about her. Something innocuous and ordinary, a fact needlessly enforced by the presence of dozens of her clones on that same road going to or coming from school. Yet, there was a momentary hardness in her eyes that made his spine chill.

“Yes,” she answered, beginning to walk towards the clearing.

Dennis found himself falling in beside her, that brief moment of apprehension vanishing. “I’m Dennis,” he said. “It’s my day off, so I just thought I’d take a little walk. I’m a teacher”

“And I’m Sakile,” she said. “I live in Unit K. I go to college at Makoni Shopping Centre, and I passed through to check on Sticks. I haven’t seen him at his workshop in days, so I wondered if he was ill or something. He wasn’t home. I guess a girl can take a hint.”

He laughed at the look of despondency as she said the last sentence. She clicked her tongue indignantly. “Of course, you’d find it funny. All guys are the same. When you get what you want, you don’t even stop to see if you can get more.”

“Oh, come on, Sakile,” Dennis said. “You’re too young to have fixed ideas about guys.”

They were now on the path towards Unit K. It was not an often-used path, most people who went in that direction used the built road. During the rainy season, and for many months after, this area of the clearing was under water. The bushes were thicker here, and there were many boulders. At night, when it was passable, you stood a chance of being mugged or raped or both. During the day, many couples met there, but mostly it served as a public toilet. Thrice, Dennis and Sakile had to sidestep phenomenally massive lumps of human peanut butter on the path.

As they crossed the little stream, he held her hand. As she came on to the bank, she almost fell and he grabbed her by the waist and pulled her to him. Her breasts strained against that jumper and prodded his chest. His hands reached lower and grabbed her backside. A soft moan escaped his lips as he savoured the soft heaviness of those two mounds of flesh. In his pants, his erection pushed against his clothing for space.

Then, the moment was broken as two elderly women emerged from round the bend. They wore the white garments of devotees of one of the Vapositori churches. Dennis and Sakile let go of each other, and the women passed them, staring straight ahead.

As they walked on, Dennis put his arm around her waist. For someone who had been looking for her boyfriend barely ten minutes ago, she was being very compliant. Dennis decided she was one of those really loose girls who had a steady boyfriend but screwed any one who wanted to screw. He also decided that he wanted to screw her.

Yet, the morality section of his compartmentalised mind was in vehement protest. This was a school kid, seventeen at the most, naive in the ways of the world, vulnerable and all that. As the catchword of the anti-child sexual abuse campaign went, Dai ari mwana wako wainzwa sei? If she was your daughter they had done that to, how would you feel?

Well, she wasn’t. If he had a daughter, Miss Dennis would not go in to bushes with guys she had just met. And she wouldn’t have a boyfriend named Sticks.

“You shouldn’t have done that, you know,” she said, her voice a near-whisper.

“Done what?” asked Dennis.

“Touch me like that,” Sakile replied. “Now you’ve got me all stirred up.”

He stopped, astonished. “That just happened. I didn’t mean, I mean, you were looking for your boyfriend...” Dennis could have kicked himself right now. Why was he explaining himself to a kid?

But she wasn’t a kid was she? In many ways, she was grown up. She was older than he was in certain respects. Six years at boarding school had seen to that.

“This is what I was saying about you men being all the same!” she scolded. “You touch me up, and then you just leave me. It’s like starting a car and then just let the engine run. But you guys don’t care about a girl’s feelings, do you?”

He stared at her, a searching glance. Was she really inviting him to take advantage of her? No, actually, she had invited him back there. Now she was upset with him for not taking her up on her offer.

“Look, do you want to have sex with me or not?” she spelt it out.

“Yes,” he croaked.

She climbed up on to a boulder, and looked around. “There’s a little clearing there. I could lean against the boulder and you can do me from behind. I love that.”

She caught him staring, and spread her hands in a gesture of exasperation. “What now?”

“I don’t have a condom,” Dennis said. He was feeling very small, like that time when he was six his aunt forced him to share a bath with his seven-year old cousin Noreen and she had showed him things, laughing at his lack of experience. For that he could not blame boarding school but the fact that his parents did not allow him to watch television after eight o’clock.

She dipped a hand in her folder and pulled out one. “I hunt with salt in my pocket,” she said, and disappeared on the other side.

The old ChiShona proverb usually meant that someone was prepared for success. He wondered what she meant precisely in this case. With his erection pointing the way, Dennis clambered up the boulder after his new mate and pushed the question from his mind.


The crowd that gathered at the stream that morning to stare in morbid fascination at the human hand stuck in a small, overhanging tree stood barely two metres thick, but well over ten metres from the actual grisly scene. For once, the uniformed police did not have a battle on their hands keeping the crowd at bay. Every one wanted to see the hand, impaled to the tree by its thorns, its mate floating in a pool in the stream, the head resting on top of the now blood-stained boulder with its eyes gouged out and its mouth fixed in a scream. In time, they would find the torso in Mrs Mathema’s garden. One of the legs rested behind the boulder, like an amputee’s prosthetic just waiting for when he needed it again. The other was stuck in another tree and would not be found until the planting season when the ground around the tree was tilled.

Every one wanted to see all those things, but no one wanted to come near them.
CID Inspector (Homicide) Ignatius Kasu arrived at the stream at about nine a.m. He was looking at the hand in the tree when his local counterpart, Insp. Dube emerged from the bushes with a uniformed detail.

“What do you think?” Insp. Dube greeted his colleague from Harare.

“Yep, it’s our man, alright,” he said. “As I told my chief, we are dealing with a serial killer. It is time we got the psychiatrists and forensics experts in on this. Have you got eye-witnesses?”

“Oh, we’ve been busy, sir,” said Dube. “The victim is Dennis Chimonyo, of House number 45472, Unit C, Seke. Just across there where the houses start. Witnesses say they saw him in Unit N last afternoon, in the company of a non-descript girl.”

Kasu’s heart lurched. Dube noticed the reaction. “Two women mapositori say a man fitting his description was cavorting with a girl at around the time he was seen in Unit N.”

Kasu pulled Dube aside, looking around to make sure no one was in earshot. “The other guy, the teacher in Macheke was also last seen with a girl. Our first victim, the teacher in Nyazura, was embroiled in a dispute with the father of a girl he was having an affair with. The father wanted him to make an honest girl of her or he would have him arrested for statutory rape. The teacher said he didn’t like the girl any more because he suspected she had mental health problems. When the man was found dead, Nyazura police charged the father with the murder but he had an alibi. I wonder where the girl is.”

Dube had tried to mask his horror at the macabre scene behind him. Now, this added shock was too much for him. “Are you suggesting... Are you saying this could be the work of a school girl?”

Kasu nodded grimly.

“But how would she get her victims?” Dube protested.

“By making them think she was the victim,” said Kasu. “Come on, let’s wrap this. Have your men secure this place for the forensics people and interview witnesses. I’m going to call Nyazura and get them to find out what happened to Sakile Maposa.”

Behind them, more of Dennis’ relatives had arrived and begun to put up the customary but most heart-rending wailing.



To the Woods with a Girl was written by Masimba Musodza.


Copyright Masimba Musodza 2009.

I was born in 1976, as independence and all it offered to an erstwhile disenfranchised Black majority dawned on the country now known as Zimbabwe. I was educated at Avondale Primary School, Harare, and St Mary Magdalene's High School in Nyanga. Then I went to Film School, majoring in Screenwriting and Directing. So, while I am only just emerging in the literary world, I have been a writer for film and television for a while now.

I am the author of The Man who turned into a Rastafarian, an anthology of short-stories. A novel is due to published before the end of the year. I am now working on a ChiShona language novel that I think will push and redefine the boundaries of the genre. I also write essays of interest to adherents of the Rastafarian Faith.




7 comments:

Jude Dibia said...

Masimba, your opening line totally drew me in and I could not stop reading until I reached the end. It was nicely told and I enjoyed the whole play on who-is-the-real-victim?

Having said that, why do I have this feeling that this piece is extracted from a larger work!

Well done! I wanted to read more...

NoViolet Mkha Bulawayo said...

Dear Masimba,


the first line is quite ruff and raw...it stuns. and i like it :) i also like the movement and control here, and being in Denis' mind, though i read the piece craving for the rawness of the first line. maybe if we can have more of it, mukoma, that make Denis even sound dangerous himself (sexually), i.e. him thinking of how he will ravish her etc, so that we begin demonizing him and pitying the girl? that might heighten the shock value that comes with the second part (it's already there and working very well but i think it can still be pushed)... just a suggestion. that said, this is a strong work, the piece is fun, suspense is delicious, i like how the first part teases you, while drawing you in. the second part, wow, intense and graphic. your writing is really fluid, and i like it's energy, and the love you put in your work... it really translates nicely to the page. will be getting your texts from amazon for my holiday reads. i'm curious how zim responds to your work!

Myne Whitman said...

Oh my word, this is a tight one. It's not done often, start from one POV and have the person killed off. I sure can see myself reading this in a mystery novel. But why such a gruesome death by dismemberment? Could a young girl have done that? An alibi perhaps?

Very nicely done!

Masimba Musodza said...

Thank you all. I am sorry I could not get back to you sooner, but I haven't got broadband at the moment. I like your observations, it means I am able to say exactly what I mean to say and at the same time let people draw their own interpretations.

@Jude, when I first wrote that, I wanted it to be a short story. But it has started to write itself in to a novel-the reason this girl is going around killing herself and how does she manage to dismember a grown man, anyway.

@NoViolet, that Dennis factor was actually the inspiration behind the story. One time I met this girl near a school in Unit N and she asked me to accompany her across the clearing to Unit K. I battled with that same dilemma-she looked younger, but she was most encouraging. In the end, I decided not to, which upset her greatly. (I was young then, but not stupid) The reason was not just that she looked young, but she seemed to have far more sexual experience. Too much experience in a young Zim girl just adds up to a history of sexual abuse to me. Then there was this look in her eyes, I never figured it out but it haunted me long after. Then there was her chapped lips, like she had been living rough, and her ill-fitting clothes. And finally, the fact that the name on the school/college exercise books was not the one she had given me. So, I always wondered what her real story-obviously she was easy prey to men. But what if she wasn't? What if she only made it out that way?
Which leads us to the question posed by Myne...

We are not dealing with just a serial killer here. There are some dark terrible forces that can give a frightened little girl powers....

I wonder if Zimbabwe is ready for me too. Thanks for ordering my book

Poundman said...

This is quite captivating, the opening story line is rather catchy and kind of draws you into wanting to go on reading, the abrupt shift in the story is rather unexpected, shocking but quite intriguing. The setting of the story also brings back memories of the hood I grow up, it also conjures memories of scenes like the one you have just described though less graphic. I am really impressed Masimba. I am sure this story would have been even more interesting if you had written in Chishona. Reminds me of the detective works of Chinowawa Mushoma in kusasana kuniparira. I think this story goes a step further from the literature that we used to read. Keep up the good work mate

Masimba Musodza said...

Thank you all. I am sorry I could not get back to you sooner, but I haven't got broadband at the moment. I like your observations, it means I am able to say exactly what I mean to say and at the same time let people draw their own interpretations.

@Jude, when I first wrote that, I wanted it to be a short story. But it has started to write itself in to a novel-the reason this girl is going around killing herself and how does she manage to dismember a grown man, anyway.

@NoViolet, that Dennis factor was actually the inspiration behind the story. One time I met this girl near a school in Unit N and she asked me to accompany her across the clearing to Unit K. I battled with that same dilemma-she looked younger, but she was most encouraging. In the end, I decided not to, which upset her greatly. (I was young then, but not stupid) The reason was not just that she looked young, but she seemed to have far more sexual experience. Too much experience in a young Zim girl just adds up to a history of sexual abuse to me. Then there was this look in her eyes, I never figured it out but it haunted me long after. Then there was her chapped lips, like she had been living rough, and her ill-fitting clothes. And finally, the fact that the name on the school/college exercise books was not the one she had given me. So, I always wondered what her real story-obviously she was easy prey to men. But what if she wasn't? What if she only made it out that way?
Which leads us to the question posed by Myne...

We are not dealing with just a serial killer here. There are some dark terrible forces that can give a frightened little girl powers....

I wonder if Zimbabwe is ready for me too. Thanks for ordering my book

Poundman said...

This is quite captivating, the opening story line is rather catchy and kind of draws you into wanting to go on reading, the abrupt shift in the story is rather unexpected, shocking but quite intriguing. The setting of the story also brings back memories of the hood I grow up, it also conjures memories of scenes like the one you have just described though less graphic. I am really impressed Masimba. I am sure this story would have been even more interesting if you had written in Chishona. Reminds me of the detective works of Chinowawa Mushoma in kusasana kuniparira. I think this story goes a step further from the literature that we used to read. Keep up the good work mate

 
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