Tanaka stepped on the floor and felt its coldness run through her spine. She began to shiver as goosebumbs appeared on her arms, but she did not take her feet off the ground. The coldness that was sipping through her body was proof enough that she was awake. She did not dare take her feet off the ground. She looked around, she was back in her old room in Rosemary. For the first time in her life, she felt foreign in the room and its expensive furniture.
Tanaka got up from bed, reached for a bottle of Woods Cough Syrup that was on the night stand and in one go, gulped it all down. As her muscles began to relax, her mind became sharp and tears began to sting in her eyes. Everything from the past four days came back to haunt her with a vengeance and at one point she thought she was losing her mind. She still did not want to believe that Daniel was dead even though she had seen him being buried. Tanaka reached for a another bottle of Woods when her door was knocked. She slid the bottle under her ashen grey pillow, answered the door as she wore a black heavy robe over her string black night dress.
“There is a strange scent in here. I don’t like it.” Mrs. Khumalo said as soon as she got into the room. It did not take her long to locate a trash bin filled to the brink with assorted alcohol bottles. “So, this is why you wanted the maid and not me to come here? Tanakamunashe Khumalo you have been here for only two days and already you have become an alcoholic?!”Mrs. Khumalo demanded banging the door with her right fist.
“Its nothing like that mom. I just needed something to help me sleep.”
“I will not allow such behavior in my house. What the hell Tanaka!”
“Mom, my husband just died….”
“His death is no excuse for you to indulge yourself. If you don’t feel better, go see a therapist or a grief councilor. I won’t have you turning my home into a shebeen or whatever people call that damn place. Do you understand me?”
“Yes ma’am.” Tanaka said starring down at her feet.
“Good. I came down here to tell you that I set you up with…”
“Raise your voice at me again and see what happens.” Mrs. Khumalo said biting her teeth. “Lets not pretend like you still loved the guy. Had he not died, you would have been divorced from him by now.”
“Tha…That is not true mom.” Tanaka answered silently as she sat back down. She swallowed hard as she felt a hot lump up her throat.
“Alcohol is prohibited in this home. Don’t think for a moment that grieving widow act is going to fool me.” Mrs. Khumalo said as she turned around to leave. With her back to her only child and daughter, Mrs. Khumalo said. “ I gave him your number, he is a grown man he will know what to do. Go buy a nice dress and put some make up on. Don’t mess this up.” With that, the older woman left.
Left alone, Tanaka began to silently cry. She reached under her pillow for the cough syrup. As she was opening the bottle, she felt as if someone or something was watching her. Her heart began to pound hard and she felt her insides turning. Swallowing hard, she turned to face the door and she saw Daniel walking toward her with a smile on his face. Her whole body began to tremble, she could feel the body slipping from her hands. Daniel stood right in front of her then opened his mouth to speak. The bottle slipped from her hands and violently crashed on the floor, glass shreds flew everywhere and half the syrup splashed back on Tanaka. Long after the crash , Tanaka could still hear the shattering echo through out the room. As she raised her eyes , Daniel was no longer there. In his place was an uneasiness that refused to go away. She jumped from her bed as she felt her heart pounding all over her body.
Tanaka ran her hands through her now shortened hair as she sat waiting for her boss to return from lunch. She was ready to come back to work. At least she needed something that was going to distract her mind and keep her busy. Her mother had tightened security at home and she had people come in who did a thorough search of Tanaka’s room. There was no way Tanaka was going to bring in alcohol without alarming her mother or the goons that her mother had hired.
Without any alcohol in her system, how was she going to sleep without seeing or feeling Daniel…
“Tanaka?” Captain Lynette Chigariro called out in surprise as she opened the door. “Why are you here?”
“I wanted to talk to you about coming back to work, Captain.”
“I spoke to your mother and told her that you had until ten January…”
“I don’t want to be home…”
“You need to stay at home and mourn your husband, Dube. We can take care of things here.” Captain Chigariro said as she moved to her over loaded desk.
“Being at home is driving me crazy…”
“Go see a therapist or something, just don’t be here. I don’t want you interfering with Daniel’s investigation…”
“Tell that to someone who is going to believe you! Tanaka, I don’t want to rude to you but go home. Now!”
“Yes captain.” Tanaka said as she got up to leave the office.
Captain Chigariro was one woman you did not want to cross. She was tough and all round fierce and she was equally feared and respected through out the station. Chigariro was more masculine than most men who worked for her, she was a tall physically strong woman who hardly kept a relationship and no desire to reproduce. Always in black pants suits and black tennis shoes, Chigariro’s first and only love was crime fighting.
Tanaka sat on a hard bench looking at a silver elevator with her back to the offices. She felt scared, alone and confused. Coping with her loss without any alcohol in her system was proving very painful for her. She could feel her heart physically hurting. Crying was not doing anything to ease her pain. At the moment however, it was the only thing she could do
“Tanaka?” Detective Kundai Gunda whispered as he got near her. “Why are …you’re crying.” Gunda said as he knelt before her.
“I don’t want to go home.” Tanaka said in between sobs. “ I can’t sleep. I can’t eat. I keep seeing him everywhere and I can’t touch him. And other times I feel like he is there but he is not. My mom is making my life even harder. I’m going crazy, Gunda. I’m going really crazy!”
“Its going to take some time, but you are going to be fine.” Gunda said as she hugged Tanaka. “Its going to be okay.”
“I don’t think so. My heart hurts. Like really. Like physically.” Tanaka cried out loud as she dug her head further into Gunda’s shoulder.
Gunda felt his own tears coming. He had known Tanaka even before she had gotten married. Their friendship had began just like that and over the years they had become like siblings, and even through Tanaka was older, she treated Gunda like her big brother. Seeing Tanaka wretched like this, it disturbed Gunda so much. Gunda was about to marry his long time girlfriend, but as he cooed in comfort at Tanaka, be was beginning to have second thoughts. Would either of them live on if something like this happened? Would he? He cleared his throat as he tightened his grip on a trembling Tanaka.
The elevator door opened and Detective Caroline Dzimba froze for a moment. She mastered up as much courage as she could as she stepped out. Dzimba, a tall, thin woman who almost became a model had it not been for her father murder, moved slowly toward the two. She cleared her throat as she got near then flashed a smile at Tanaka whose face was completely soaked in tears.
“Hi.” Dzimba said as she rubbed both her hands against her black knee high skirt. “I’m coming from your house, Tanaka. Your mother in law said you moved out.”
“ I did. My mom thought it was best if me and my children moved in with her until…until I was alright. Is everything alright?” Tanaka asked with a nervous voice as she wiped away her tears.
“I am the lead detective in your husband’s case.” Dzimba said almost silently.
Tanaka turned to look at Gunda who smiled gently at her. She turned from him as she dropped her eyes momentarily to the ground. She could feel pain all over her body. He really was gone.
“If you don’t mind, I would like to ask you a few questions.” Dzimba said.
Without having said anything, Tanaka got up and followed Dzimba’s desk. The office area was almost vacant and the most private place to be at that moment. As Tanaka sat down, she was her husband’s picture on the murder board. His face was blown open exposing raw bloody flesh and shattered bones. Next to his picture was the description of a likely weapon which was a Glock. 45. Tanaka began to tremble as she looked at the before and after pictures of her husband that were pegged side by side on the board. She felt her insides turn and she was about to be sick. She quickly turned away from the board as she looked at Dzimba who was just as uncomfortable as she was.
Dzimba and Tanaka had known each other for over ten years but they were not friendly in the conventional sense. They smiled at each other, everyone did that, and had tried to keep as much distance from each other as possible. Being that close to each other, Dzimba felt awkward and tense. She began to rub her wedding band as she thought of her way to interview Tanaka without making things more tense than they already were.
“I am so sorry Tanaka.”
“If you’re not alright, we can reschedule this.”
“No. I am fine.” Tanaka licked her lips as tears soaked her cheeks. “My mother did not allow me to see him in the coffin. She said that I could hardly recognize him.”
“I should have taken that down, I’m sorry. Its just that…”
“No. He must have gone through so much and I wasn’t there for him.”
“That is not your fault Tanaka. You didn’t know he was going to end up like this.”
“If I was better wife, he would not have died. I would have comforted him. He would not have left in that ambulance. He would be here.” Tanaka said in between sobs as she wiped her face with both hands.
“I had a talk with the ambulance driver. He said the people who shot your husband where hell bent on killing him. Its not your fault. There was nothing you could have done to stop it, so don’t blame yourself.”
“Did he say why they killed him?”
“No. The ambulance was surrounded by four black Chevrolet SUVs. Within seconds the ambulance door was blown open and your husband was shot. The driver said it happened in under a minute and he hardly knew what hit him. It was a well thought out plan.”
“That is what we are trying to figure out Tanaka. Why did you go to that house in the first place?”
“A man called him a couple of days before we went to the house. He told him that his father was sick and wanted to see him before he died. I was skeptical so we didn’t go. When….when D…he finally went, his father was dead…. heart failure”
“Daniel was left as the sole owner of the house?”
“Yes. On christmas day Daniel went with the lawyer’s assistant to his father’s grave.”
“And this father. What was his name?”
“I honestly don’t remember. I doubt if he ever mentioned it.”
“Daniel’s mother refused to talk to me about Daniel’s father…”
“The two of them did not see eye to eye. Mother cheated on her husband with baba Dee’s father and the affair was hard to deny because it resulted in a baby. She doesn’t want to talk about the father. She blames baba Dee’s father for her marriage’s failure.”
“Why would your husband believe that the home you visited used to belong to his father?”
“Baba Dee was desperate to know his father. I don’t know what the lawyer told him, but when it came to his father ….he was gullible.” Tanaka said as she bit on her lower lip.
“Its going to be okay. Thank you for coming out.”
Tanaka ordered another drink with a smile that the pain and turmoil that was brewing inside of her. She had come into Ray’s Bar soon after leaving the station and she had stayed there ever since. She had been drinking none stop and even though she thought she was still in control of her mind, everything around her had become hazy. The lighting had become brighter and the people in the bar had become more colorful to her.
Tanaka could not help but feel that someone was watching her. She kept turning around expecting to see Daniel looking back at her. But as with the time before, he was not there. Each time she looked back and saw nothing but a bunch of guys playing pool and smoking, her heart dropped. Something inside of her died. At one point after she had lost count of her glasses, Tanaka swore she has seen Daniel’s reflection on it. She had jumped from the chair and had bumped into a couple who were making out. before the bartender brought her drink, Tanaka found herself turning back again. A tear rolled down her left cheek as she turned back to face the counter. He was not there. She roughly wiped her cheek with the back of her hand as she felt her blood running cold inside of her.
“Can I call you a taxi, ma’am?” The bartender said with a concern.
“What are you talking about?”
“Its 10 pm ma’am. You have been drinking none stop for almost seven hours.” He answered looking at her with genuine worry.
“I’m fine.” Tanaka said as she tried to avoid the bartender’s stare. “I really am fine.” Tanaka insisted as she pushed the glass away.
“Its fine, I got it.” Maud said as she sat next to Tanaka. “Hi.”
“Hey.” Tanaka answered licking her lips.
“I heard you came by the station.”
“Maybe I should drive you home now.” Maud said as she got up.
“You go. I want to be alone.”
“How long have you been in this place Tanaka? You are grieving I know. But alcohol is not the way to go…”
“Maud. Talk to me in that way when your husband is dead. Now, you don’t have right.”
“I know you are hurting.” Maud uttered not trying to hide her shock. “I have an idea. I have a friend of mine who is throwing a party tomorrow for new year’s eve…”
“Leave me alone alright. You have no right to talk to me in that way. Leave me alone, LET ME BE!”
“I don’t want to talk to you right now. Run back to that little bastard you call husband and leave me alone.”
“I was just trying to help.”
Maud looked around the bar as more and more people were starting to pay attention to them. She looked back at her friend who was about to tear up and she decided that walking away now was probably the best thing to do. She did not want to leave Tanaka in this state, but what was she to do. Maud walked away without having said anything else.
Tanaka sat back down again and gathered her arms on the unfinished wooden table. Her heart began to pound inside of her and she became extremely alert as she began to feel a familiar presence about her. She turned around trembling. He was not there. She covered her face with both hands as she began to loudly tap her legs against her chair. She stopped when she heard a sigh right next to her. She looked up.
“Hi.” A chocolate brown, ruggedly handsome man said. The man was dressed in a black formal suit with a neat haircut and brown murky eyes that shone in the yellow warm light that illuminated the bar.
“How can I help you?”
“I might be the one to help you. I am a kind of chemist and I help people with your problem.”
“Here is my card. Look me up and I just might be of help.”
“Lets just say I look for you…”
“My friends call me Flimsy.” The man said with a wink as he got up. After adjusting his tie, he walked away without turning.
“Ma’am” The bartender said as he approached Tanaka.
“I said I was fine the first time around.” Tanaka snapped.
“Its not that.” The bartender began as he lowered his voice. “I know that man. He is dangerous.”
“What are you talking about?”
“He is a drug dealer ma’am. I have seen him sell them here…”
“Why are you telling me all this? Why do you care if I associate with people like him?”
“You seem like a really nice person…”
“Looks are deceiving. Call me that taxi.” Tanaka said as she tore the business card to shreds.