Extract: “Space”: By Masande Ntshanga

Thobela’s been named our group leader for the rest of this year. We’ve decided to crown him because he holds the highest number of stolen goods bagged by a member of our gang. It isn’t that close to end the year, to be fair, but CK and I tapered o ff quite early, this time around—we tapped out as early as May, in fact, and as far as Thando goes, ever since his father, the Bishop, drove his Mazda back into their garage and his mother’s life, the guy’s been extra careful about drumming up the sort of trouble you can fall into for stuffing chocolates and action hero figurines under your balls.

CK and I have always been small time, anyway.

There’s really no loss to be had, here.

The first time we did it, we stole trips into the town, but grew too used to the stone

lionesses overlooking the parliament square, the grown up world of loud pink bricks, hooting cars, typing machines and slippery fried sausages.

My mother had banned video games at my house, citing a collective stink that storm clouded over a pile of our report cards, but even the homeland soldiers no longer excited anything in us, their jaws and manners just as rigid as the statues that kept vigil over the suits who worked in Parliament Hill.

I mean, they never shot their guns.

So we shoplifted at the local OK Bazaar, which stood just across the street from the Amatola Sun Hotel, where the glass turnstiles were inviting but often kept us from slinking in and walking passed the casino, our bare feet moving us from the cold white marble and onto the lush red carpet, then through to the back where—just before the swimming pool where we saw the first white woman in our lives—they had a new Street Fighter machine glowing in the corner for only five bob a game.

At OK, during our short career there, I managed to nab a Bruce Lee poster and a Spider Man figurine; CK scored himself two twin sliver revolver BB guns. Then, one cold Saturday in the middle of April, one guy who wasn’t in our gang, this chubby laaitie who didn’t go to school with us down at the local, got caught and carried wailing into a dark room at the back of the supermarket. I don’t need to tell you which idiot’s parents were there. CK and I dropped everything we’d stuffed on ourselves and walked out slowly. We’d heard about the bald security guards who waited in that back room with their batons and shell-toe boots. They’d been put on the Earth to sort out precisely guys like us.