It happened several Mondays past that my good Minister of Home Affairs arrived at work in a decidedly lacrymose condition, bewailing the brutalizing of her brother who had been attacked with a broken beer bottle that night gone by, and now waited at Parirenyatwa, more than disgruntled, for a doctor to sew up the 10 inch hole in his head without anaesthetic.
“What kind of hospital are these! Hospital of the Crocodile!” And other splenetic lamentations took up the better part of a half hour as I tried to placate good Florence, offering to procure the anaesthetic and other medleys of medicines required for her brother’s treatment. Relieved (barely), she allowed me to repair to the veritable pharmacy down the road where the spunky pharmacist had much to mutter about when I showed him Parirenyatwa’s prescription.
“Parirenyatwa, honestly! Who takes ciprofloxacin five times a day?”
And with a whirl of his white lab coat, he flounced to the back to retrieve my petitioned potions.
At the till, I was quoted a dismaying figure which caused me to lean heavily on their fancy glass counter top, jabbering for them to repeat their last words in English.
“If you are swiping or paying with ecocash, the total is $189,” said he.
“Excuse me?” said I.
“$262,” droned he.
“The rate is fluctuating by the minute, advise to make payment immediately,” yawned he.
“I think I’m going into anaphylactic shock, could you add some intravenous antihistamines to this order and I’ll pay in US$ please.”
“Ah good,” said he, completely unperturbed by the cardiac arrest I was experiencing, “That will be $30.”
“What? That’s a rate of almost 10:1? Are you insane?”
“It’s an unfortunate government, yes.”
“It’s an unfortunate bloody life is what it is!”
“Are you ready to pay?”
I certainly wasn’t, but pay my USD$30 I did, and hastened to deliver the medications.
The following morning, her brother stitched up and knocked out with Stopayne, and a docket opened with the police, Florence informed me that the attacker had been watching her at the bus station.
“This man is mad,” decried Florence, “My brother is the fourth person he attacked!”
“This is dangerous,” said I, “Perhaps you should use a different bus route...”
“Oh no,” said she, “I am not afraid of this man! I am going to FIX him!” (“Fix” is a word which here means “bring justice to” or “get revenge upon”)
“I sleep at Parirenyatwa the whole night like someone who is mad! I am going to FIX him!”
With reports submitted and witnesses identified, the doleful police began their arduous search for the brutal barbarian who had terrorized Arcturus for the better part of the year. On bicycles by day, creeping through bushes by night, the assigned task-force came up empty handed for days.
Pursuant to this disappointing failure to trap the terrorist, Florence bemoaned the luck of the evil and the apathetic langour of the residents of her suburb who refused to lift a finger to aid the police in their search.
And so it was that we, in the spirit of FIXING, crafted a cunning scheme.
“A month’s supply of cooking oil and mealie meal will be supplied to the man or woman or (insert identifiable genders and species) who captures this tyrant of terror and brings him to the police direct.”
This message was sent with jaded hope via the grapevine to the marketplace at Arcturus, where a third of the community spend most of the day vending and haggling and sipping lacto beneath the mango trees.
I absconded then to the shops to purchase a large bunch of bright yellow bananas, and nothing more, for the bananas alone were $15, and upon my return only an hour and a half later, found Florence gyrating like an ecstatic lemur, proclaiming victory and screeching loud exuberances to the entirety of Greendale.
“The plan – OH THE PLAN – it worked!! They have caught him! They found him sleeping in the river like a CROCODILE! Two men, they capture him and bring him to police! Now they are asking for their oil and mealie meal.”
At this news, Tendai, watering flowers nearby, dropped his hosepipe and danced an energetic jig. Indeed, our dexterous devices had worked faster than any police investigation I had heard of!
Later, cooking oil and mealie meal were dispensed to the enforcers of justice from Arcturus and the murderous myrmidon was indeed, thoroughly, FIXED.
Let it be a lesson to all that, in Zimbabwe at least, there is no strength that cooking oil and mealie meal cannot inspire, no exigent task it cannot make possible, and no recalcitrant cretin that cannot be brought to justice with these commodities as a reward!
I am, guilefully,
The Inscrutable Shrew