A life half lived
His Last Moments
The clouds came and hang over the little city. A little while ago it had
been bright and smiles had been on everyone’s face. Then like a swarm
of locusts the cloud had come from the east and drifted slowly casting
a dark shadow below it, blocking the suns rays and making everyone
moody and anxious taking the glitter of their faces.
Andrew sat on a chair facing the window at Joe’s coffee place. He had
let his cappuccino run cold and it didn’t taste so great now. He bothered
why he came to this godforsaken place in the first place!
He lets his eyes run across the room and searches the faces of the other
patrons. There was James and Jones with their chess board, broad
rimmed spectacles and checkered hats. They in many ways looked alike
and always sat and played their chess hardly ever noticing anyone but
themselves; recluse in their own little world.
To the other end there was the blind guy, Andrew had never been able
to get his game but he saw him every morning on his way to work and
he played the same old tunes on his guitar and sang with a broken voice,
but not bad at all, he brought some sound to this little town.
Maria with her apron stood at the counter. She must have been very gorgeous
in her prime but old age had robbed her in many ways and she
didn’t hide her agony and disappointment, she hardly smiled to anyone
and only spoke when spoken to: her white apron reminded him of his
matron at boarding school. She had been the coldest and most brutal
woman he had met all his life.
Angel, as they called her, moved across the coffee house and talked and
smiled to everybody. She was Maria in her prime and the thought of her
becoming old made him sad. He fancied her but she was only a child
though she had the grace of a woman.
He takes his eyes off the patrons and faces the window. That had been
his favourite spot at Joe’s and everybody seemed to respect that. He never
found anyone sitting there and he never asked why.
The darkness startled him. It had always frightened him since his childhood
and he gathered his overcoat and placed a bill under his half drunk
cappuccino. He rose to leave and he could feel all eyes on him looking
He would leave the next day. He would walk up to the captain and tell
him that he had grown tired of this place where no one seemed to care.
He would head back home where they would pester him with questions
but at least they would know that he existed.
He looked up at the sky and walked towards his black Renault. It had
been a gift from Johnson Butler who had come and left never to be seen
For a moment the world seemed to split as the raindrops hit the rooftops.
The first wave came and shook the houses and the trees and he stood at
the window and looked outside, outside at the bolts of blue lightning
across the hills and wondered, yes, wondered how it would have been
to have been white and to have been privileged and a part of his heart
sank and wished that one of the bolts would strike him and one almost
did. It struck the opposite window and shattered the glass panes. But
that didn’t take him way from his reverie.
He remembered a long time ago when he had been happy and proud and
felt sad. There he had lived a happy life but he had left suddenly in anger
and protest at his parents and their meanness. He had felt cheated and
betrayed of his life and he had wanted something more. Something
more for himself.
He remembered his mother crying and clutching at his father’s robe and
asking him to forgive Andrew but the old geezer had stood there and
forgotten that he wasn’t a military commander but a father and he had
clinched his fists and grit his teeth. He had told Andrew that he could
bloody do as he pleased. He didn’t give a damn shit. He then had taken
a sip of brandy and his huge face had sneered at Andrew and made
him feel like a little rabbit staring into the eyes of a British bulldog waiting
to ravish him the very next moment. He had left and never looked
His old man must have been dead by now. Shapes in the distance caught
his attention and then the rain must have stopped. He heard a faint
scream. Then one of the people ran away, but they were only figures in
the dark perhaps an illusion created in his mind. He saw a flashlight point
in his direction and moved to the right. The flash lingered in the room
for a while and then moved.
That was when he made the biggest mistake of his life. A mistake that
would cost him his life.
The rain had stopped and things seemed to be normal. In the morning
lilies would have sprouted everywhere and the ground would smell of
freshness and rawness. Everybody would stand in their verandas and sniff
in the air then they would head to their gardens and pick up lilies, forget
the fallen trees, the leaking ceilings and they would head towards
the park till evening and enjoy the sunshine, watch the birds fly, fathers
play baseball with their sons… but something told him that he wouldn’t
be around to see that. He wouldn’t see light again.
He brushed the thoughts away as he headed out of his house towards
the hill. It wasn’t so far away and it wasn’t much of a hill anyway. He
lit his flashlight and beamed it across the open land. He too was eager
to pick up the lilies and put them in a jar of water and watch them for a
He moved slowly and listened, then his flashlight struck something
and it reflected light into his eyes.
He moved towards it and found a knife. On a closer look he found blood
and that’s when his heart began to beat fast. It was simply pounding
in his chest. Should he pick it or head back to his house? Should he
take it or leave it? Don’t Andrew. His mind told him but he reached
for it and put it in his jacket.
Then he headed towards where he had seen the two people. He saw a
white object lying in the distance and rushed towards it.
The first words that came out of his mouth were “Yeszz, no!”.
He bent down and his whole life was torn to pieces. His hands shook
terribly and all of a sudden he had a splitting headache. It threatened
to crush his skull.
He reached down and picked her up and looked into her blue and lifeless
body. Her limp body was as light as a feather and he felt cheated.
He felt that he had lost everything and he cried like he had never
done before. He cried like a child. He remembered her and it ached
him, made him sad and angry and he was lost. Lost for words and
thoughts. His world had stopped, his life had too come to an end. What
use was a life without love and affection, what use was life without
“She wasn’t your wife you stupid child” he could hear his mother say.
“C’mon boy brings her back to life” he heard his father say and laugh
the loudest of laughs he had heard.
“Leave her” his older brother said. John had always been there for him
and he had cried his tears dry the day he had died. He had had sicklecell
anaemia. He had lain in his child’s coffin and looked like a grown
up in his black suit white shirt and black tie. His hair neatly combed
and a smile wiped on his face.
He heard movement in the nearby bushes and let the body slip onto
the wet ground but before he could stand up, blow hit the back of his
head and he fell flat face on top of her. And then darkness and pain
engulfed him. The doors to light had finally been shut… the earth had
finally showed and stopped in its rotation and it had thrust him into
outer space where no other being would find him.
The monotonous beep of the machine made his head ache. He lifted his
eyes and rested them on the machine with its black screen and green wave,
a sinusoid as they had learnt in math.
He moved his eyes onto the chart on the wall, then a picture of a mother
and a child suckling at her breast.
The room opened and a nurse stepped in, in her white uniform and walked
slowly towards him. The gods had handed their verdict after judgment
day and she had come to deliver it.
She smiled and he smiled back. They had been lenient after all.
“Hallo Andy, how are you feeling?”, she asked.
Andy, that was new but he rather liked it coming from a woman.
“Fine thank you”, he said.
“Are you sure?”.
He nodded his head and she left, just like that.
This time the door opened with a bolt and it startled him. The captain
moved his huge frame through it and he folded his huge hands across
He was a huge man by any standards and he would have made his father
jealous any moment. Jealous of his strenght and might.
“Why did you do it?”, he asked and picked up a fruit from the side table
and munched it.
“Do what?”, Andy asked. This was definitely not a social visit.
“So you don’t remember. Think I’m a damn fool don’t you? I’ll put it
before you cold and straight, why kill the damn girl?”.
“What?!” he was both shocked and angered at the accusation.
“I’ll get to the point, soon as the doctor clears you up us sendin’ ya Negro
ass to the bunker”, he said and left slamming the door behind him.
The nurse came in and looked at him pitifully.
“He didn’t scare you, did he?”.
“I’ve been through worse”, he said and put his head on his hands lying
on one side of his body facing the white wall and feeling like the scared
child he had once been.
After a week, they dragged him to court and the DA looked at him and
shook his head. The jurors too looked at him and saw a black murdering
cop who had abused his position.
They showed photos of Angel as a child and as a teenager and her mother
talked of her dreams. People from Joe’s coffee place spoke of how
well mannered and graceful she had been and how they had seen Andrew
eyeing her. Spending his time in the coffee house watching her as
she moved around the house.
Even James and Jones had taken off their checkered hats and abandoned
their chess board. The court house was filled and many more watched
from the windows.
They wanted to see him gone. To see him dead.
His lawyer hadn’t been much of a lawyer. He was an intern from an uptown
law firm and a third year law student.
He too felt sorry for Angel but Andrew was not a violent man he had
simply found the body, so he had said.
On the last day of the trial they brought the knife and showed photos of
the butchered girl. Even the judge looked at Andrew sneeringly and lowered
his ivory reamed glasses. He would put him in the coldest and darkest
In his closing speech the DA spoke of Greek mythology he had never
heard of. Told the story of Pyramus and Thisbe and how Pyramus had
killed himself on thinking that Thisbe had been killed by a lion and Thisbe
of plunging a sword on seeing Pyramus’ body.
Love was a great thing, he said. Obsession and murder are evil the latter
being more serious and should be severely punished he added. An
eye for an eye he remarked as he sat down.
His lawyer made an utter fool of himself and spoke of discrimination
and treating Andrew as an equal of black people not being denied justice
and asked for leniency then he adjusted his tie and Andrew’s world
They handed their verdict that very afternoon and found him guity of
all the three counts.
Looking not the leat bit remorseful, not with the tiniest trace of humanity
in him the judge handed him the death sentence and Andrew
Mochale was led away to await his end and true judgment day. He
was both sad and confused but some forces are too big to be battled
The clock ticks slowly and then the padre says his prayers and asks Andrew
if he had anything to say. He shakes his head. He is a sorry state
and a grotesque reminder of his former self.
He looks at the people who have come to send him off. His mother flew
all the way and her eyes are raw from tears, his father lost his legs in a
fishing accident and sits in a pensive mood in his wheel chair, the captain
looks at Andrew and with his eyes says there is nothing that he could
have done. Maria too has weathered and his lawyer had told him that
Joe’s place had closed down.
The town was simply different. It had been robbed of something important.
Andrew remembered that day when the cloud had come from nowhere
and felt sad and regretted all that he had done.
The clock finally struck midnight and the warden looked at Andrew, hesitated
for a moment and with another warden flicked the switch. Andrew
watched the first drop flow from the phleboclysis. He had been told it
He closed his eyes as the pain surged in his body, then silence and darkness…
The next day the radios and newspapers spoke of his death and people
felt sorry and sad. Then out of nowhere a man walked into the police
cell. He was tall and blonde and he had been here on visit. The day he
had come he had met Angel but he had had too much to drink then she
had threatened to call the police and he killed her on the hilltop.
They didn’t believe him. After all, what was the use? The black sheep
had already been sent to the slaughter’s house.
Mr. White and Blonde walked to the cemetery and read Andrew’s epitaph.
He dropped a white rose at his grave. A week later they found his
body hanging from his hotel room.