By lunch time the editorial department had reached fever pitch. Each woman was ducked down in her cubicle, frantically typing and making phone calls. Jenni munched a sandwich over her keyboard. She had dumped the pink envelope in the slush pile for the following month’s edition of the magazine. It was too late for this month. On checking her e-mails, between blowing crumbs off the keys, she noticed there was no reply from Goodlord so she picked up the telephone to call him. She wasn’t sure whether he was still in Hazyview on the border of the Kruger Park, or whether he had returned home to Bulawayo in Zimbabwe. She phoned his mobile first but there was no dialling tone, only a series of beeps. Next she tried his contact number in Zim. The phone rang until the answering machine kicked in so she left a message.
At around two o’clock her cell phone beeped, it was a message from her brother James: ‘Hi Jenni, will you be at home tomorrow morning? Want to chat, have some news!’
Jenni responded with: ‘Hope it’s good news? Yes, will be.’
‘Supah news!! xxx’, came James' reply.
Jenni’s younger brother was a student in his final year at The Bible Institute which was situated in the quaint fishing port of Kalk Bay. In reality, it was not a village any longer but rather another suburb connected to Cape Town via an extended series of villages on the absurdly picturesque drive from the city down the Peninsular towards the Cape of Good Hope. With the sea on the left and the mountain range on the right, Jenni believed there were fewer more beautiful places in the world.
Jenni was the middle child of three and they were a close knit trio. Her older sister Catherine was married and lived with her husband and four year old daughter Beth in Craighall Park, about 7kms away. Jenni spent most Sundays with them and had babysat Beth on countless occasions. But James lived in Cape Town and they had hardly seen one another in the past five years since her parents had retired and moved down to the Cape to settle in the suburb of Rondebosch. It was convenient and cheap for James to catch the train from his parent’s house to the Institute. He always seemed happy and carefree, almost annoyingly so at times. He also had definite opinions about his faith which naturally was just as annoying but she admired him for the inner conviction and sense of peace he displayed.
Three o’clock Jenni took her first bathroom break of the day. Walking down the passage she couldn’t straighten up for fear she’d incur leakage en route. Greg and Pienaar’s laughter mingled with others from their department and bounced towards her just as she ducked into the toilets. While washing her hands she glanced at her reflection – her lipstick was overdue a refresh.
Four o’clock heralded the Friday afternoon witching hours. The whole department was in a frenzy of deadline stress. She tried the line to Bulawayo again and this time the call was answered by Miriam, Goodlord’s wife. Her words were vague and stilted, “He’s been missing since yesterday morning. He told me he had to return to Hazyview, it was important, so he left the day before. The police won’t allow me to file a missing person’s report for 48 hours but... it’s not like him to not phone me when he arrives. The police are here now, his office was ransacked. What’s going on Jenni? I’m so worried.” Her voice lifted and cracked on the last word then faded away into faint sobbing.
As Jenni replaced the receiver she was aware of the pounding in her chest and a burning sensation low in her stomach. Oh God, what’s happened? It was a reflexive invocation, Jenni wasn't the praying type.
Her throat dried as she approached Claudia’s cubicle to break the news. Not only was she concerned about Goodlord but she also wasn’t relishing Claudia’s response to the delay in the article.
Claudia’s small face was framed by brown hair, cut in a pixie style. Her hazel eyes always carried a d...