Tom’s old newspapers are scattered around his flat. He has been scanning them for news of O’Mally. Could he have survived the fall? The escarpment was steep but the train travelled very slowly. I froze I couldn’t reach outMaybe he was back home in Kampala. He has rung the Kampala contact number Bishop Raith had given him for O’Mally but there is no reply.
He has been putting off ringing the Bishop for as long as possible.
‘I just can’t do it— I just can’t Bishop Raith will ring soon enough. I just hope I can keep my voice normal.’
Tom has sent a slew of pictures of the orphanage choir in their new choir regalia and emailed a short report to Bishop Raith about what the choir sang as they prepared for the Good Friday event. A picture of the Kampala busses from a number of congregations lined up outside the orphanage gates and the press of people attending was also sent.
It is Sunday evening and we are sitting in my untidy flat above the shop.
Space Oddity by David Bowie is playing in the background.
‘Can you here me Major Tom….’ I wouldn’t say I am obsessed but I play that track a lot.’
I told Cafe about changing my name the day before she came out of hospital. Turns out she did the same thing when she came back from the forest all those years ago.
‘I was not the person I had been. So when I left my fathers house and rented the little outlet opposite your shop I decided that Cafe would be my name too. I spent weeks cleaning it up. So when ‘Cafe’s Cafe’ was up and running I started cooking and the customers started coming!’
‘Who I was had been abused’ she said. ‘ Damaged beyond repair. I needed to move on. Changing my name released me from the pain of my past.’
‘Me too ‘
We hugged each other silently in the fading light.
I show Cafe the photos on my laptop.
‘I think JB’s wife did a good job with the new choir outfits. Now I know why the orphanage church is so large. They bus people in from Kampala. The vibe of that place is really weird. JB and I got there late. His van with a burst tyre. There were something strange going on. JB said the place gave him the creeps’
‘I wonder if any of my friends ended up there after they were taken into the forest. I still wonder about them. It was a terrible time in my life. I’m so glad I told you, Tom.’
‘I’m glad you told me too.’
‘Tom? Will you tell me what happened to you one day. I know you haven’t told me what bothers you most. I can see it in your eyes.’
‘He was there Cafe. O’Mally! He came to see the new choir outfits. I only saw him at a distance. He didn’t recognise me of course — it’s been too many years and I kept well away from him. Yet once or twice I saw him looking at me as if he was perplexed.’
‘So how do you know him,Tom? Come and sit by me’ She gave me a hug I know he bothers you a lot.’
‘I feel that man should be wiped off the face of the Earth. My mother, and he were friends. He was our vicar. When I was little, I thought he was God himself are used to ruffle my hair, and I always hated the smell of him. Incense mingled with sweat. He did me a lot of harm Café when I was quite small in the vestry of the church.’
‘Oh Tom, I’m so sad that that happened to you.’
‘Me too. I think it’s twisted my insides into a knot. And it was what happened after with dad as well. I told him about O’Malley Dad took me away and we went on the run together. He tried to make it sound like it was going to be an adventure and it was, but it was also quite scary too. And it is all because of O’Mally. It’s like I can never get clean. I wash and scrub my nails. I do it too much. I know I do but I’m still trying to wash him away after all these years now he’s here he’s in Uganda and I’m here in Nairobi. It’s too close for comfort. I wanted to kill him, I even kept a little notebook full of murders and ways of killing people. I brought it here when I knew he was in Africa and now he’s dead anyway.’
Café cradles Toms head in her arms.
‘It will be alright, Tom. I’m sure it will be alright. Wanting to murder a person is quite different actually doing it.’
‘I know I know, but I was there Café. I was there when it happened. He fell from the train and I didn’t reach out. I just yelled in in shock. It was so unexpected. We were suddenly so close. The boy screamed too and O’Mally just fell away from the train in shock.’
‘The boy I saw O’Mally with at the border. It was like we were in a nightmare. I still wonder if I dreamed it. I think it was real. It happened. But I still cant quite believe it. Cafe —I still cant get my head around it.’
‘Cafe I’m frightened. I dont know why. Maybe its post traumatic stress or something . But everytime I close my eyes I see it happening again and again.