Story of a ghostly Safari told through bedsheets

Photo credit: Joe Ngari

What you need to know:

  • “Won’t you ask me to come in,” his ghost said, “Or will you leave me here to…”
  • ‘Drown?’ I said in my head, picturing him being swept away in that black Mazda weeks ago.
  • “…freeze to death in this June chill?”

I stood rooted to the spot, literally feeling my blood run cold – even though I was very warmly dressed in my sky blue windbreaker over a black T-shirt – as I stared at the ghost of my cousin.

Safari was dressed in a formal purple shirt, grey khaki pants but sported a shaggy chin and bushy hair, like a chap who hadn’t been to the barber for at least a month.

“Won’t you ask me to come in,” his ghost said, “Or will you leave me here to…”

‘Drown?’ I said in my head, picturing him being swept away in that black Mazda weeks ago.

“…freeze to death in this June chill?”

‘Maybe we feel cold in the presence of ghosts because they are so cold themselves,’ I thought. ‘Unless they come back from hell. Those ones would be hot ghosts.’

Without waiting for an answer, Safari brushed by me, causing the hairs to rise on my arms.

I followed him, but my knees let me down, and I sagged onto the sofa.

After a short while, during which I dared not go into the kitchen lest I find no one there, Safari came back with two tumblers of whiskey.

“A-ar-are you for for…real?” I whispered, after my first swig of whiskey.

“Don’t I look real?” Safari answered, laughing as he also sipped his drink. “I know you think I died, but I did not, Safara.”

I felt a deep tidal wave of relief wash over my body, as Safari got into an incredible story.

Rescued by good Samaritans from the floating debris of the Mazda, with no identity cards on him and short term amnesia, he had spent about a week in a small hospital in Mazeras.

“As my memory returned, I remembered I had taken out some travel insurance with the excellent firm Ensign,” and when he checked, it had an ‘in case of fatal accident’ clause.

So Safari Safara had lain low for another week (after secretly leaving the hospital at night), living at a cheap lodging that did not give a fig about his identity, “just show us the money…”

“How much is the pay out from the insurance?” I found myself whispering.

“Sh1, 589, 398,” he said.

“How much?” I asked.

“One million, five hundred and eighty nine thousand, three hundred and ninety eight bob,” my first cousin said. “Must I spell out figures for you in words, Mike?”

“You are presumed dead, Safari,” I said. “And dead men cannot collect cheques.”

“But their living kin can tell tales, and collect insurance cash as beneficiaries,” Safari said. “I’d made you the beneficiary of the travel life policy. So now you get to collect, cuz…”

“It’s okay,” I whispered, feeling as if still in a vivid dream. “And I will give you every cent, Saf!”

He laughed. “You can’t send money to dead dudes either, bro. You keep it. You need it!”

“How will you, we, ever get away with this, Safari?”

“Easy, Mike,” he replied. “I just quietly slip off to the DRC, I have pals there. Get fake travel docs. Then use my real ones to get into Canada, stay there till end year, then quietly re-enter the US.”

“Your siblings think you are dead, Saf,” I said. “So, you will just show up resurrected at their front door?” Safari shrugged. “Exactly!” and realising that’s what he’d done with me, we both burst into laughter. “No company will go all FBI over paying out a mere meter half to a flood victim, brother…”

That broke me, and I burst into loud sobs, crying “I’m sorry, so sorry, Safari,” as he stared at me.

We are Old School – and did not cry, let alone weep loudly, in front of other men (and most women).

At that moment, the doorbell chimed loudly, and in a second, my inner pendulum swung from sorrow to panic.

Pulling my cousin by the sleeve into the bedroom, I whispered: “That’s Desiree. She cannot find you here because of your insurance plan. Stay here, and I will get rid of her pronto, bro…”

Closing the bedroom door, I walked to the front door, where the doorbell was being buzzed as if by a demoness possessed.
Panic had turned to a ball of anger by the time I flung the door open, to find Desiree Simaloi standing there in a simple black dress and heels, a necklace of faux pas pearls around her neck.

“I know I have your tablet, Desiree,” I started, staring at her coldly. “But you cannot come here…”

“Screw the laptop,” she said breathily, and then strongly shoved me back into the door.

“It’s your lap tops I want!” And the next second, she was ripping off my windbreaker, clawing the T-shirt off as my back banged against the bedroom door, dress off so I saw her abs beneath brasserie; and then we were somehow in the bedroom, my outer pendulum wildly swinging…

‘Where on earth was Safari?’ I thought wildly. ‘In the closet?’

Then I realised I had no closet, came to the realisation that my cousin must be under the bed.

Hiding – as Simaloi embarked on an endless course of feeding upon sirloin steak insatiably.

It must have been a couple of hours later when an apparition rose from the floor, swathed in the bedsheets we had discarded on the floor. Simaloi let out a blood-curdling scream.

And Safari, his voice hoarse and very annoyed behind the bedsheets said: “I am the ghost of Safari, come to avenge my death after your boyfriend let me drown in the floods. Cousin, I will be back to continue haunting you tomorrow at eight in the evening. Ciao ciao. For now…”

And with that, the ‘ghost’ floated out of my bedroom, but not before accidentally bumping into the wall and crying out “Ouch!”