“Honey, I’ll be back tomorrow. It’s only one night.” Dan reassured his wife as he prepared to leave for Kwekwe. His wife Gemma nodded and looked reflective, rather than worried.
“I’ll be back tomorrow.”
He gave her a hug and a kiss and climbed into the car out of the hot sun. The gardener held the gate open for him, and he swept through. He had a two and a half hour drive and if he left now before it got dark he would be out of the city and on his way by the time night fell.
His thoughts were on the business meeting he had to attend first thing in the morning and when a few moments later he passed his employer driving the other way he give it little thought, beyond a polite wave back.
He worked through his strategy for the meeting as he drove, but nagging doubts kept coming back to him. What was his boss doing driving out towards Avondale? He lived in Borrowdale and was nowhere near the company office.
Nagging doubts fretted Dan’s peace of mind. Gemma had expressed her frustration that he was not more assertive. That he had not pushed hard enough for a pay rise, and that he should apply for the promotion to Area Manager.
Dan knew he was not up to it. Everyone else in the company knew it too. It was just silly to apply for the promotion. He would never get it! Not that he told Gemma that, he just hesitated and prevaricated.
That just wound Gemma up even more.
They really had enough money here. The salary might be low, but so were the costs and they lived far better than they had in England. Why couldn’t his wife just forget about the promotion? They did not live in the rat race anymore.
But why was his boss driving into the Avondale suburb just as Dan was leaving? What was he up to? What could he be up to? Gemma had seemed quiet and reflective as he left instead of worrying about his trip as she usually did. Was there a connection?
He worried and fretted whenever his gut told him something was wrong, and his guts were screaming at him!
He fretted for another fifteen minutes before his vacillations led to a deeper worry.
In one wide sweeping u-turn he turned the car back towards Harare and put his foot down on the accelerator.
When he returned to Avondale his heart leapt into his mouth to see his boss’s car parked in the driveway in front of their villa. He suppressed the momentary panic. It could be quite harmless.
In a moment of lucidity he did not press on the car horn for the gardener to come and open the gates. The gardener had probably already left for the neighborhood bar anyway.
He drove the car a bit further down the street, parked and locked it up. It would be safe enough in this area. Then he walked back and used his key to let himself through the security gates.
He almost went straight into the house but hesitated. Was he being silly? Would he make a fool of himself? He was after all supposed to be on the way to Kwekwe. Would Gemma think he didn’t trust her? Would his boss demand to know what he was doing here?
He hesitated … and fretted.
Then he walked around the villa to the rear garden. Gemma always kept the rear curtains open and the windows to the cooler night air flowed through the house. Not that it ever really got cold in Africa.
He could listen through the windows to hear what was going on.
He felt a bit foolish skulking through his own garden, but he could hear Gemma’s voice now, and occasionally the deep guttural responses of his African boss. They seemed to be having a normal conversation.
He leaned a bit closer and looked through the window. Darkness had by now descended on Harare. The dark of the night would hide his presence. Gemma and his boss, Beneril Ustory, were sitting at table talking over the remains of a meal. It all seemed so harmless, but why was his Boss here at all? Why had Gemma not mentioned she was expecting him before he left?