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from They Call Me Nothing by Jenny Young

Copyright © 2018–2021 Jenny Young

Chapter 11

Chapter 11. Kaye

          Dora bustles in to the lounge. “I told that boy to play with Jasper,” she says. I think he’s smiling.”

I follow her to the kitchen and look out the window. Jasper is sitting about one meter in front of Lutho with a tennis ball in his mouth. As the boy reaches for the ball, the dog bounds away, makes a circle and lies about one metre further away.

“Come on, give it to me,” says Lutho and, sure enough, he is smiling. “Oh, maybe you are tired,” he says to the dog. He turns away and walks slowly in the direction of the kitchen door. Immediately the dog runs up to him and drops the ball at his feet, wagging his tail like a metronome.

“O you want to play some more,” I hear Lutho say.

“See,” says Dora. A child needs somebody to play with.” She wipes her hands on her apron.

“He’s fifteen,” I say, “and he’s in a lot of trouble.” I am not planning to be specific. Dora has a lot of friends. Sometimes she has two or three visitors at a time and they sit on the edge of the veranda chatting away. There seems to be a sub culture of all the domestic workers in the area. I often see a group of them sitting on the pavement, or talking at gates, sharing news and no doubt the latest gossip. I am sure that secrets don’t stay secrets for long.

“Where does he come from?” Dora asks. I don’t know why she wants to know. Has she picked up something suspicious? Maybe she noticed him stealing something in the kitchen.

“He came to my counselling centre. He’s from Alex.”

“And you decided to invite him home. Is that allowed? Will your supervisor approve?” Dora’s hands are on her hips.

“I needed help getting Marshmallow to the vet, or did you want to come with me?” I know that the thought of her having to help me take a cat to the vet will silence her.

Dora washes her hands under the sink and wipes them on her apron. “I’m going to peel the vegetables,” she says as if the subject is closed.

“Lutho will be staying here tonight,” I say, “so please peel an extra potato.” I leave the kitchen before she can ask any more questions.

I see that Fudge has enthroned herself in the middle of the couch. Her long cream fur sparkles in a shaft of late afternoon sunlight. If she misses Marshmallow, she shows no sign. They normally ignore each other except when they both want to sleep on the same spot and then the second one tries to ease the first one out of the way, sometimes right off the couch. I wonder how Marshmallow is doing. I decide to find out.

I have just finished the call to the vet when Lutho comes in again. “Good news,” I tell him, “the vet says Marshmallow is doing a lot better. She ate some food and she kept it down. They will still keep her till tomorrow though.” I move Fudge so he can sit down.

“That is good news. You’ve got another cat!” He sounds surprised. He tentatively puts out a hand to Fudge who is looking very aggrieved at being moved. As soon as he sits down, the cat seems to glide onto his lap.

“This cat is losing a lot of hair,” he says, carefully picking cream hairs off his grey tracksuit pants.

“She needs a brush.” I open the top drawer of the sideboard and take out a blue cat brush. It has thin silver wire bristles bent to enable them to reach the undercoat. I pass it to him. “Both my cats love being brushed.”

He starts at her head and immediately Fudge starts rubbing the side of her face against the brush. I watch in silence. The boy brushes along the cat’s body and Fudge stretches herself, seeming to grow longer with each stroke.

“Listen Lutho,” I say, “My ex-husband is a lawyer. I still have friends who are lawyers if you need legal help.” He keeps brushing, looking at the cat, not me.

“Do you think I need legal help?” He speaks very softly and deliberately.

“If you are wanted by the police, it might be useful. Also if you are not sixteen yet, you are technically a run-away.&rdqu...

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