It was almost closing time in the bar. Felix, the barman, picked up a cloth to wipe the tables. Then he began collecting the empty beer bottles from the counter and wiping it clean. It was difficult to wipe the counter because his friends were still drinking there, but at last he got them to finish their beer and go outside. It was even more difficult to wipe the tables. At every other table, people were still laughing and talking. They all shouted when they discovered he had accidentally collected their full bottles away while he was wiping their tables. He was sure to be late home tonight because it had been a very busy evening in the bar. It was not only Friday and the end of the week, but it was also the end of the month when people were paid Everyone had some money to spend and had come to celebrate in the bar. Several of them had bought Felix a bottle of beer too, so he didn’t mind being busy at all.
Suddenly, a voice from the corner table shouted. “Felix! Come and have a last drink with us There’s still a quarter of an hour till closing time Felix looked at his watch and smiled You’re hopeful. Henry” he said You don’t have a quarter of an hour left at all. Your watch must be a quarter of an hour slow because it’s exactly 22 30 hours. My watch is sure to be right since I checked the time when I heard the news on the radio, So I shall have to close the bar “Oh, dear,” sighed Henry. “Is my watch really a quarter of an hour slow? “Oh well said Pearl, his wife. “Felix can have a drink with us tomorrow. Come on, Henry. Finish your beer. We must go home now Goodnight. Felix Goodnight” replied Felix, as he finished wiping the table ‘I will see you tomorrow. He liked talking to Mr. and Mrs. Zulu but now it was time to close the bar. In a few minutes, he was able to get most people to leave but there was one man who kept leaning against the counter, singing. He looked very drunk. “Come on, Enock,” said Felix “You’re drunk again. You’re drunk every Friday and I always must help you leave the bar. Lean against my shoulder.
Enock knocked over the bottle he had put on the counter and held Felix’s arm tightly. “Ah, Felix,” he said. “I’m never drunk. You ought to know that never drunk ” and he bumped into the door and suddenly sat down on the floor “Give me a cigarette, Felix, please. I’ll feel better after I’ve had a cigarette. You’re sure to have some behind the counter.” “No, I haven’t got any cigarettes,” said Felix beginning to feel angry. “I gave you my last cigarette earlier in the evening Now hurry up and get out of the bar. If you hadn’t drunk so much, I could be walking home to my bed now instead of wasting time here!” And he pushed Enock quickly through the door and locked it. Then he left him while he went to lock Cigarette the back door “Enock is always a nuisance,” he grumbled to himself. “He spends all his money beer and cigarettes so that every other week he has to borrow from his friends. If he had saved his money, he and his wife could be living in a comfortable house now, instead of in that dirty ruined hut at the end of the village. And if …” But, just then, he heard loud, angry shouts at the front of the bar He recognized one voice as Henry Zulu’s. He sounded very, very annoyed. “I won’t give you another warning” he was yelling “Stop acting like a baby!”
“Oh, no!” thought Felix, running back to where he had left Enock. “I do hope Enock isn’t acting foolishly. Perhaps he’s hit Henry. When he’s drunk, no one knows how he will act. But he has never attacked anyone before. “Then he ran around the corner and saw the group in front of the bar. Mr. and Mrs. Zulu were standing in the road and Enock was with them. He was acting very strangely. He kept pulling the sleeve of Henry’s jacket and repeating, “Please give me a cigarette, just one cigarette. I’ll give you another one tomorrow… Henry shook his sleeve and shouted, “1 keep telling you – I haven’t got one. Now let go of my sleeve. Try and act like an adult instead of a silly child!”. Felix moved forward to try and help, but just at that minute, Enock suddenly looked at Pearl. It was Sleeve as if he had noticed her there for the first time. He immediately let go of Henry’s sleeve and advanced towards her. “Please give me a cigarette, just one” he began asking Henry’s voice was furious. “Don’t you dare bother my wife or .. ” he threatened, but Enock acted as if he hadn’t heard. “Please,” he said, reaching forward and pulling the sleeve of Pearl’s jersey. But immediately he felt a horrible pain in his chin. Henry had hit him very hard on the chin so hard that he almost fell backwards on to the road. For a few seconds, everyone was silent.
Then Enock began to wail, “My chin, my chin. He’s broken all my teeth” He covered his mouth and his chin with his hands. Felix could see blood Chin them. Henry looked very surprised. Now it was Pearl who was furious She turned her husband and chad “Now look what you’ve done You have injured and hurt is chin. There was no need to hit him ken that. And she went to look at Enock s injured chin Henry tried to defend himself “Well he was so drunk that I thought he was going to you I didn’t think I’d hit him very hard. Anyway, it’s his own fault Pearl and Fey were looking after Enock “Whether it’s his fault not several of his teeth are broken ne said, and his chin is cut. “Well I’m sorry. said Henry. who was ashamed Bits his own fault for being so drunk and, but the injured man interrupted him. He didn’t look drunk any longer “It’s not my fault, it’s your fault. You re the man whose injured me, and I shall take you to the local court to prove it! Again, there was silence “Oh dear, thought Felix someday. “If there’s a trial. Henry might be in trouble It was the day of Henry’s trial and the local court house was full. Several of Henry’s and Enock’s friends and relations had come to see the trial, and both Henry and Enock were feeling nervous A week after he was injured. Enock and his relations had gone to see the clerk of the local court Enock told the clerk that Henry Zulu had attacked him and injured his mouth and chin. Two of his teeth were broken – he even showed the clerk his broken teeth – and now he couldn’t eat properly. Then his brother told the clerk that they wanted Henry to pay a fine. They had talked to him about it, but he had refused me to make an agreement to pay any money He said it was Enock’s fault because he had been so drunk Now Enock wanted a trial in the local court A few days later. Henry received a special document from the clerk. ordering him to attend the court in three weeks’ time. And now here he was in court, nervously watching the presiding officer and the cars as they came into the room
Henry knew that the presiding officer had been chosen because he was a man respected by everyone in the district. The presiding officer knew a great deal about the people, and he knew everything about their customs. Although the presiding officer hadn’t had a long training as lawyer, he was an expert in local tribal law. It was his job to decide how people who had broken the law should be punished Henry could see the presiding officer entering. As soon as the presiding officer had sat down in his special chair, the trial began. First Enock described what had happened. He said that Henry had broken two of his teeth and now he couldn’t eat properly. He wanted Henry to say he was wrong to attack him, and to pay him a fine. “I wasn’t doing anything wrong. he repeated “I was just asking Henry and his wife for a cigarette. There’s nothing wrong about asking a friend for a cigarette, is there? But it’s certainly wrong to injure a helpless man Henry must have been drunk. He acted as if he was a madman. And if he hadn’t lost his temper, I could be eating properly now!” While Enock spoke, the presiding officer and the other people in court listened without interrupting him, and the clerk wrote everything that was said in a special book. Then it was time for Henry to speak When he had described in his own words what had happened, he said, “I hit Enock to defend my wife. He’s usually drunk every other day, but he was acting very strangely that night. I thought he was sure to hit someone soon.
Then the presiding officer began to ask some questions. “Why did you think that Enock was threatening your wife?” “Because he was so drunk and had begun to pull her sleeve,” replied Henry. “He sounded as if he would do anything to get a cigarette. But I have a friend who witnessed everything. He will tell you how drunk Enock was “What is the name of your witness?” “Felix Lungu.” “Tell the witness to come into the court” 12 A man went outside and brought back the witness. Felix entered and stood in front of the presiding officer’s table. The presiding officer asked him a few questions about what he had witnessed, then he said. “We’d like to hear your opinion about Enock Tembo. Is he often drunk?” “Yes, he’s sure to be drunk on a Friday night, and often during the week too.” “Does he usually attack people when he’s drunk?” No – I don’t remember him ever attacking people before. He’s not that sort of person. In your opinion, was Enock more drunk than usual that night? “I’m not sure. In my opinion, he had certainly drunk too much. If hadn’t helped him to leave the bar, he could have been sitting there all night
But I didn’t sell him any more bottles of beer than usual.” “When you saw him pulling Mrs. Zulu’s sleeve, did you think that he was going to attack her? We’d like to hear your own opinion again.” Felix was silent for a minute. He wanted to help Henry, but he had to give his own opinion “No — 0,” he said, at last.
“And did you think Henry was drunk?” “Just a little.” Felix didn’t like answering these questions
“Thank you, that’s all,” said the presiding officer to Felix. Then he turned to Henry again “Did Enock Tembo hurt your wife at all?” “No,” said Henry “Is it right to hit other people when they are drunk?” “No, I know it was wrong to hit him. But it was his fault!” “But you might have murdered him. Did you think of that? If you had murdered him, vow would be standing here accused of murder, and it would be your fault.” Henry looked worried. Then the presiding officer stopped asking questions He left the court with the clerk and went into a special room 10 decide. “Oh, dear,” thought Henry. “They are sure to ask me for a big fine. And he waited nervously for them to return. spoke. At last, they came back into the court and the presiding officer injury “Henry Zulu, we have decided that you caused Enock Tembo a serious Because of this injury he cannot eat properly. So, the court has of his injury and pay the rest to the court. decided that you must pay a fine of K8. You must give Enock K6 because “And Enock Tembo – we advise you to stop drinking so much. You your drinking have acted very foolishly and now you have a serious injury because of too near Enock again Henry didn’t t like having to pay the big fine, but he decided not to go. Felix was glad it was all finished. He didn’t like people to quarrel in his bar. He was sorry about Enock’s injury. “But perhaps it will teach him not to get drunk so often,” he thought as he hurried back to open the bar.
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