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Rough Diamond -a South African short story ch 10
Fear paralyses thinking and action and so the two women simply did not know what to do next. Their brains seemed to have shut down and did not permit the slightest opportunity for clear thinking. The many cups of coffee stimulated their bodies and minds. At the same time very tired from lack of sleep. As they wrestled with their emotions, Susan could not help but feel surprised that her Mom, who was normally so calm and controlled, now seemed to have lost it. Now, just when Susan needed her to be strong!
Should we go to the police? Obviously the people were watching them. Where were they? How had they been found? Where was Jacque? Whose was the charred body in the car? On and on the questions came that could not find answers. “Let’s try to take one step at a time,” Gloria suggested, her usual problem solving technique that had worked so well in the past, coming to the fore. The problem was that that first step evaded them. “Let’s just act normal until we work out what to do,” sounded fine in theory but proved to be impossible in reality, if reality even existed in their world anymore.
“Try and get some sleep,” sounded like good advice. “Some rest might clear our thinking and help us decide what to do!” also sounded fine in theory, but somehow seemed impossible. Gloria and Susan took turns secretively looking out of the windows. Gloria had never owned a gun but now wished she had one. Eating seemed a poor option, but they forced themselves to make omelets for brunch. As they ate them they realized how hungry they had been. First Susan and then Gloria tried to get some sleep but without much success. Again Susan was amazed at how indecision had paralyzed them; surely her Mom could think of something? She certainly could not!
The day dragged past and night came, and still they could not decide what to do. Between patrolling the area near the phone and watching the street, they continued to drink coffee. The decision seemed obvious; they should go to the police and call the bluff on the stranger’s threats. Would it be safe to leave the house? If they did, would Jacque be in danger?
The many movies and stories that they had seen over the years did not help. This situation seemed so similar to events they had seen on the screen or box over the years. There the correct decision always seemed so obvious to the viewers and so impossible to those in the story. Now they were the ones battling with the problem and it was so difficult.
Eventually they collapsed into bed with the phone next to Gloria’s bed. They did not know if they feared the phone call or a knock on the door more. Neither came however. It was Susan’s scream that woke Gloria up with a start and sent her mind and body racing down the corridor. Standing outside Susan’s room was a man with a balaclava over his head holding Susan in an choke grip around her neck. The look on Susan’s face was one of absolute terror.
“Where is the diamond?” the assailant shouted out as he used his free hand to wave a gun about in the air. “I need it now else you all die!” Now was not a time for indecision. “You can have it!” Gloria shouted back, “Don’t hurt her, there is no need!” Suddenly they heard a bang and the front door burst open. “ Drop the gun,” the policeman commanded, pointing his gun at the masked intruder. This can’t be happening Susan, felt as if she was experiencing an out of body experience.
Everything seemed to happen in a blur. The intruder was handcuffed and lying on the floor. Several policemen were in the house and a floodlight was lighting up the front yard between the road and their front door. Two men were being transferred into a police van in the street.
Susan and Gloria were hugging each other and Captain Mostert had taken charge. They heard him ask one of the policemen, “how did he get past you?” “We don’t know captain?” the embarrassed reply came. “We were watching the guys in the motor car, and expected them to make a move. Then we would have moved in.”