VIEWS: 8 PAGES: 17 POSTED ON: 11/2/2011
killing substance By the entrance of the kraal was a fallen, sugared yellow fence. Torrential rain had killed its substance, and the straw and grass that made it were now shattered into fragments. Cutting through dreams as a knife cuts through cheese --softly, steady, and silkily -- the boy could do with some cheese right now, for He was hungry -- Tom felt the momentary twitch of pain as if a horrible instrument of death had just this minute sliced this, he realised he was entirely Alone. In this state of torpor, Tom mechanically propped his bike up hard against the fence, and thought for just a while. Right there, a stray black cockerel pecked, mindlessly, against the spindled turf, and there proceeded to mash it with its feet. But, apart from the cow and the bell, there was no sign of any human life there, or anywhere to be found. Without thinking, Tom said a prayer, and smoked the last remains of his dried-out cigarette -- he had saved half "just in case--". The invigorating taste of nicotine spread rapidly throughout his lungs and found its way into his body. However, as if by a violent twinge, it alerted him to his particular plight: he was . . . entirely alone. The ash-weary smell of Africa, of pot-dust smoke funneling up around him was more than a wisp. A now salient odour of some dead, decaying meat, in a winds' gust, gained a more pungent edge. The urge to get away, to go back home, became more prominent -- Tom plucked a spindle-leaf from a nearby bush, and crushed it -- then paused - and reconsidered his position, for a second . . . He knew he was a long long way from home, wherever that was... He remembered how . . .The very first fall had been a mystical one. Gold and amber oak leaves had fallen all round the college grounds and little specks of dust had gathered up inside the breeze of an impending winter storm. And in those months that followed, his old ways had been forgotten -- so he thought. Then he found some friends, who went to the same school, and he lengthened out his tone of speech into a common drawl. At 15, Tom had been taunted often, for his pains, and yet he only wanted to please everybody. And even now as a grown man, he wanted to be "good", in future-- But his good was different from that which had become his father's -- "and that much was certain". His father laughed-- just as if it had nothing but some weird, secret, joke. "Don't worry, son, this is your home now -- ain't nothing in wrong in this system that can harm you!" His father had faith in the Land. Perhaps that was easy for his father, who was quite the doctrinaire Christian. Thomas did not believe in God. At least, he had now seen how his father would wipe away his guilt-sins, joking along, with the parish. He tried to make out about "how bad racism really was", and how George, (he himself) would be their strongest armament against it. It was hard to believe that things should come to this -- the lying and hypocrisy. That was the 'real' George, his father, who "could do all things with God's divine strength". Now that his mother was in The Lord's good hands, this version of his father would be hard for anybody to deny. And, these were all of Tom's beliefs, which assailed his mind whenever he was all alone. During the times in Africa, before, George had been cold and hard to all. His forbearance with the whites in Africa was matched by his coldness for the blacks - or so it seemed to Thomas. It surely would be better if his mother was still alive. His lack of faith had been a quiet revenge for all that had transpired. The words, "I don't believe --" now sounded cool, and rounded, and pleasing on his lips. There really was no one around! A helicopter flew up overhead, and rattled like the rain about to fall again. Tom cleared his throat phlegm, and felt more alone than ever. The silence was deafening. He made towards the nearest hut, as a detour. The black cockerel crowed, flapping from his path, emitting a threatening, gargling sound. He would not have harmed it: he realised t the moment that he would never hurt a fly. The shadows stretched. But the shadows inside the hut were deeper. It was warmer there inside hut, and smelt like stale corn -- and spittle that had been reswallowed, two, or three, or several times, until it had finally turned sour. Dark wooden embers; dust and coal, were scattered inside the emptied clay-shit hut. The floors were cow-dung and the walls were brighter clay. It was romantic to be here, alone, where some that were the "noble savages" had been -- although, of course, they were not savages; and it was wrong to think so . . . well, at least they were noble . . . Tom pulled out his dick, unconsciously, and began to play with it -- it was rare to be alone for such a long time. And so safe. . . He now felt safe, within the heat and darkness of the hut. He considered was not hungry either -- he had already eaten, and he had some rock cakes, wasting, in his bag. He could not guess at how this isolation could be wasted. His parents made it hard for him to be alone, and in the States, he'd slept inside a dormitory with several others: it was a religious college. He licked his lips and suddenly realised, with the sunset, he was now actually feeling hungry -- The rock cakes "wouldn't last forever" he said to himself -- and he'd have to find a way back home. .. "before it might have gotten too dark!" Tom meandered along the path. The path was a different one from that he had chosen earlier. So, only now it was leading him over hidden boulders and rocks -- He looked at his watch and it was five to five -- "Still enough time to make it to the nearest town around here." He could hear the sound of something in the distance, which he vaguely equated with baboons -- he had last heard baboon when he was still a child. They were fun -- and they'd scramble for the nuts, and then they'd throw some more, and they tore them open, with their teeth, and spat their husks at him. Now the memory was almost completely gone. But that didn't matter. Tom knew enough to say that there was probably a tribe of baboons, waiting for him just over the hill. that, in itself, was very, fine. Only, he couldn't spare any of his rock cakes right this moment. Everything was stretching out a chocolate-grey. The sun's path would soon fall beyond a cloud and sink even much lower, out beyond that tree. So now, he had to find his own path back and out the way he came. Then, to ensure a short-cut, he would cut right across bush. He was brave beyond knowing to have gone where the monkeys live, he thought. "I even met up with some 'monkeys'." An army vehicle zipped through, as if above those close-by tufts of vegetation. Like Tom. it was also moving southwards. It jettisoned the breeze, as it were; down along the road Tom had been travelling, an hour or more before. A sharp reverberation as it passed was caught up by the nearest grass and bush. Tom looked up. It was all he could do to keep himself on course, right through this -inhumane- terrain. A khaki apparition vanished, just at the moment he looked up. Was it ever really there? There was no point thinking about it, either way, because what he really needed now was a ride to the nearest town, which was " southwards". "Some civilian car had better hurry up and find Tom." That was how he had got most of the way. But then the civilian car had stopped off at Kadoma; and left him to make his way further along, by himself. Would have been better if they'd told him how far the nearest town would be -- As it was he' d got a little past the river. And, now, "this!" The sense of being abandoned tore at him, just as he bruised he feet along the roots and stones. Nobody had told him that these could be the wrong shoes. . nobody had told him just how dark it gets -- or how suddenly the night falls. Tom jiggled his rucksack, which was made heavier by the pressure. His father had been right -- he had said, "Watch out for those . . . who'll lead you up the garden path! "Remember to stay true to what you know. And, if you do, then Jesus will take care of you." Tom knew there was no Jesus, any more -- "Not for this boy!!" -- but in a way the words rung true, because he was alone, and nobody had stopped to pick him up. And he waited by the road as cold closed in. And breathed the chill; and all his breath had turned to smoke. And still he knew that "this whole Thing is wrong". And that, nobody that he knew would come and fix it! Tom climbed up to the road and took his barings -- southwards -- -- Ever southwards. Up above a group of eagles soared. Tom had his notebook, and he'd drawn a sketch of these, and his directions and his probable location. Was it the sunburn that made him cold and turned his mood so suddenly from cheery, to malcontent? Was it the desire for a string of happy faces, and football on TV, and mother bringing in some of the cold turkey, from Thanksgiving dinner leftovers? Was it the sumburn that made him cold and turned his mood so suddenly from cheery, to malcontent? Was it the desire for a string of happy faces, and the football on TV, and mother bringing in some of the cold turkey, Thanksgiving leftovers? The African sun did that to whomever was not a part of it: But we were all a part of it, and had our origins from it. And whatever it took away, it left a feeling of peace, as though in tribute or in consolation. Tom certainly did -not- believe in Adam and Eve, -anymore. But somehow television and the social life had put a rift between him and what he used to know. Like so much intereference during the Superbowl, when an electrical storm passed through his home in Texas, which forced him to miss out on some or all of the best parts. It was like when rain got in the engine of the little VW convertible he was used to driving there, and then it upset the battery connection, and after that it wouldn't go, until he'd worked out how to fix it up again. He'd learned enough about mechanics, and throwing pebbles in a way that skimmed the water , and looking for fish, in Africa, when he was left alone for the best part of the day, and out of boredom, mostly, learned to turn a pine stick into a fishing rod, and his African servant, Isaac, showed him how to attach fish-bait upon a makeshift, barb-wire hook. But that was a long time ago, that Africa, and boredom, had made him part of it. He swung a thorn stick resolutely as he walked along the road. It was all gone now . . .now he knew the Truth about things. And "the Truth will set you free!" Well, maybe not him, but it would set his black brothers free, and that he knew for sure! It was a pity they had lied so shamelessly to him, all of the years . . . The ghostliness of the kraal and its lack of occupants had not bothered him in the slightest -- it was peaceful , above all. If there was a problem , he just knew someone will take care of it. Tom's mission was of a different sort -- "And that was a fact". Although, in truth, sometimes, like at this moment, missions and their possibilities seemed fatherest from him. Without constant stimulation, his brightest intentions turned to a much paler pallor. The night was reaching in to rob him of possibilities, and his missions . . . its cold hand of darkness reaching in - - Perhaps, soon, day would come along to . . . re-envigorate him? And still Tom knew that he was hungry. And he sat down on a rock, and there began to eat. Three rock-cakes left! That was not too bad a savings. The rhythm of his chewing up the cake seemed strangely natural -- strangely frightening , too. As though it was his only sound, and thus assured him of his emptiness. He didn' t want this -- "didn't want this sort of reassurance!" The cold was making him cough now . . . Perhaps only the dryness of the 'bread' was making him cough, now. Soon a car would pull up if only he was lucky. A friendly face would take him to the next stage: show him where he had to go. Tom believed in fate: It was a much a part of his belief as praying. He simply couldn't help himself: he knew "God does not exist". But it was as much a part of him as living in America was. And he couldn't help the thought that, "it is best to hedge your bets". Tom knew he was abandoned. An army vehicle zipped through, as if above those close-by tufts of vegetation. And it was also moving southwards. It jettisoned the breeze, as it were, down along the road Tom had been travelling, an hour or more before. A sharp reverberation as it passed was seemingly caught up by the nearest grass and bush. Tom looked up. It was all he could do to keep him on course, right through this -inhumane- terrain. The khaki apparition vanished, just at the moment he looked up. Was it ever really there? There was no point thinking about it, either way, because what he really needed now was a ride to the nearest town, which was ". . . southwards". Some civilian car had better hurry up and find him. That was how he had got most of the way. But then the civilian car had stopped off at Kadoma; and left him to make his way further along, by himself. Would have been better if they'd told him how far the nearest town would be -- As it was he' d got a little past the river. And, now, "this!" The sense of being abandoned tore at him, just as he bruised he feet along the roots and stones. Nobody had told him that these could be the wrong shoes .. . nobody had told him just how dark it gets -- or how suddenly the night falls. Tom jiggled his rucksack, which was made heavier by the pressure. His father had been right -- he had said, "Watch out for those . . . who'll lead you up the garden path! "Remember to stay true to what you know. And, if you do, then Jesus will take care of you." Tom knew there was no Jesus any more, but in a way the words rung true , because he was alone, and nobody had stopped to pick him up. And now he waited by the road as cold closed in. And breathed the chill; and all his breath had turned to smoke. And still he knew that "this whole circumstance is wrong". And nobody that he knew would come and fix it! Tom climbed up to the road and took his barings -- southwards -- -- Ever southwards. Up above a group of eagles soared. It was certain there were no cars coming in any direction. These were not his people, and no one would hear his cries for help. The sun disappeared under the horizon. Now the earth appeared flat. He marched on. Resolute. He would learn, if he only could, to hide his fear . . . "This place was overripe to be a desert." A fat globule of rain splashed the tip of his nose, maliciously, from nowhere -- Stranger still, just at that moment of petty confusion, a white vehicle drew up."Hey man, what are you doing 'ere? Where is your rifle?" said a voice. It was an Afrikaans voice, a foreign tone. "I don't have one," he managed, in a small voice, as if unable to support his point, and lacking in conviction. "Do you need a lift to somewhere?" the voice persisted. The boy looked round, as if to 'make out' the other occupants. He decide to go with fate -- it was dark, and he couldn't see inside. "Is there room in there for my bike?". "You know, man, there could be terrorists around 'ere. You should forget about your bike-- you can come and get it later back. "You should notworryabout your bike, man; You should be worrying about your life!" This man was hateful to threaten a fine boy like Tom, Tom thought. For he had just been walking 'round here , and there were NO terrorists -- He would have seen them. Now it was dark. And all he needed was a ride. In some way it reminded him of being stuck back home, lost inside the dark, and locked deep within the local chaplaincy. "Where do you come from? "...How long were you planning to stay? "Just a few weeks . ." "It is important to be aware of your surrounds; and follow the rules laid out!" "Okay." The wind was gusting through the window now, throughout the open front section of the car. Cramped in between two burly men, Tom hated leaving his precious bike -- although he had entwined it to a tree, under brushscrub, after the suggestion of Whites -- they had assured him that it would be safe, there. And it would be -- if this were not, indeed . . . A trick! "One of the young soldiers really couldn't handle it!" a voice said to the right of him. -- And, just then it was like waking up from a dream to continue on a conversation he had started up a long, long time ago. "He even tried to . . . shoot his hand off!" "Ja, when did this happen?" another voice interceded, above Ryan's softer, clipter, tone. "Yesterday. "We could him praying near a rubble of dead bodies, the terrs we'd killed. He'd never seen dead bodies before now. "He said it was divine injustice. It was something that 'God would punish'. "It was very sad . . ." "Ja, man, but there is no place in this army for that sort of thing! "It is too bad for those who want to feel sorry for the black man -- They must learn that God has a wider scheme in mind. This is also your country , too -- it is a war that you fight because you must." Tom had drifted off to sleep. The purring of the engine had made him feel like he was a lion cub , inside a lionesses' womb -- A child of Africa would feel this way. But not for long. The boy struggled, under the weight of a tiresome engagment: SLEEP. Three hours past by-- then they approached Town. The soldier's voices broke through the drought--" My folks live around here -- Perhaps we can drop him out down there?" So ensued a general shuffle of silent assent. Something was resting on him --something that he couldn't somehow shake it off. It wound around him when he rested, like a python. And, it had seemed that it had always been this way. Except in Africa, when Tom was eight, and the child was Tom, and he was free -- then, he had not felt so encaged beneath the open night air. And the car, then, was really a lioness, purring up the long dirt road, and it slid under a porch light, to come still, to rest, within a breeze. And, feeling, more alert, Tom, happily at last, stepped out to have a look around. The moon stared back, full in its face, round, smooth -- and small. And then he kicked the dust off his boots, as if he had been fully awake: The Ghost-spirit knocked upon the door -- Tom, and one of four hallucinating shadows; -- and it opened. First was there a small woman--young-- with her hair brushed back, against a bow, and then a man in his late forties, followed by a hairy, long- slithered face. Then --Russell-- said, "We just found him walking down the road; we thought he might be lost-- ...would take care of him ? --his tone was soft, but not enough to hide ...a certain incredulity. The evening cut through him strongly , "like a shard of glass, or something". The cottage didn't feel, or look, like anybody's home. The inside was stark, with wooden shelves and the belching 'fridge. The floors were cold, uneven; seemingly melted with old footwork--and, probably Old feet -- A kettle rocked sedately in its cradle on a gas stove. And it made its contents dry. Tom could taste this sweet smell of ancient herbs. The boy regretted leaving behind his brightly coloured racer. It was the one thing he prized highly, that he had brought with him from the States. -- he hated the thought that it might rain overnight, and all the paintwork would suffer. It irked him . . . more than the fact that he had been 'tricked' by a bunch of "racial supremacists" to participate in a journey to 'who knows where". It was unfair that so few citizens had cars -- Else, he would have gotten a ride from some one other than these folk, who were now adding insults to his burden by their silent treatment. .. . Perhaps they were only soaking up the landscape -- navigating it. "These strange folk have strange ways," and there was no escaping it. The woman clucked and scurried and found pillows, sheets and blankets. The room was large -- to large to hold one person -- and the ceiling was high. A silken web of a mosquito net was draped around him. Tom felt he was a spider, caught by another spider, under the watchful eye of a fly . .. Or, rather, things had just become too complicated for this boy. Then the late hour was finally here. When daybreak came, it left a hole in everything -- a mellow, quickening light that nothing could hide inside. A servant went to bring him breakfast. Tom felt ashamed. If only he was free of his captors: "This boy should catch and kill his own hen!”. Breakfast was pan-cooked flapjacks, bacon, jam, and eggs. Tom removed the netting that had until that point contained him. A whole new world of possibilities had just opened up. He sucked milky, hot, tea. Micheal O'Leary -- she--Daina-- called him "Lass" for short--sat smoking in the kitchen. He sat, "drawing on that old pipe". Later on, Tom found them seated out on the green lawn, which had their dog with them, called Andy, and eyed this boy, with one of his translucent gazes, but then sidled up to them. And Tom offered him the remains of his egg. He had once used to keep some scraps for his own puppy, a great dane, called Marshall. "Little Marshall," Tom had called him, but that was when he was so much younger. And yet -- "It's warm out here, and everything is suddenly quite still." "Lass" would have to go to Wankie soon, to "take care of the game" Daina had informed him, pityingly. Daina, spread out languidly on a deck chair, followed him with here eyes. Her skin was that of a well-fed milking cow, and glistened with brill cream, or a delicate version of sunflower oil. "Lass", shuffled around in his broken veltskoens. As if all that this gentleman was. . . leaning there in one place -- The African habit of seeing the outside, and not the soul, at all... was, still, "a lie". He fell into reverie, whilst eyeing Daina's legs; an almost milk-chocolate-brown. "What is real," Tom said, "is for us to understand Reality." Just then, Daina snapped and recrossed her legs, and -blinked-. The boy felt the morning sun bite off this heavy brow. A light dawned somewhere, but it was far away, too far away for all the weight he now must carry. "We have judged all people incorrectly. We need to offer up our sorrow, as a sense of sacrifice. " The light paused. Trapped within a shadow, panned between two shifting clouds. The boy had surely made no impression.. Furthermore the tea was getting cold -- a signal that the partnership must now subside. And now the sun was beating down perpetually, the clouds began crisscrossing . . . it reminded him of daybreak dreaming: The knowledge of an infinite horizon -- Whilst Daina ... shifted off her coat, slid silently, alongside, into lapping waters of the pool. And the hours slipped away and disappearing into the world's hidden economy, to be condensed one day above a mountain range , and fall -- This dream, which, fortunately, would last forever. "But-- grasping of dreams, a life could slip away!" A dust storm whipped up everything and forced the leaves and twigs into a spiral. Before too long his friends would make tracks and reach up to him. For here, the land was higher-- upper crust. Where they stayed was still, in some ways, valley land. Every thing was encapsulated here and lived on its own terms, as if forgotten by all time: a niggling torment, and a boost to some. Soon the sky would open up and rain would fall -- a rain, which would drench all of them, to the bone. He was a game-keeper, from way back -- knew the hills and every animal by name. " Lass" was still sleeping, on his armchair. Daina smiled -- she seemed reluctant to participate , but sat, " oozing her self-assuredness", in the shadow-morning-light. "Lass" was far beyond , so far, he didn't care -- almost a man; almost beyond a man, he twitched his whiskers, softly, and remarked on the dew. Midday, then the evening soft approaching, he would tighten up at his collar, trying to adjust it to avoid the sun . He swatted flies away from his face, with a low, digestive, grunt. A man tormented by the cold, but refusing to admit it. Light always tormented his day but evenings were the best by far. "Lass" snortled in his sleep, as if registering a movement, somewhere, out there in the bushland. He let out of whispered snort, as if in a huge relief that a certain danger finally had bypassed him and left him safe. He then sunk deeper into sleep, as if on cue. As Daina watched, his breathing turned more rhythmic, and so was quietened. In the Midnight hour Tom is presented with a premonition of what's to come, when Daina speaks to him accusingly. Daina reached over, gently, and offered Tom a elasto-plaster, to cover up his leg- gape. "Would you like a cup of warm tea?" "Tom?" [... The earth can only spin so far, and then it must decline and tumble!] "How long do you think you'll to stay here?" said Daina, expectantly -- "we don't want you wandering all over the place -- there are dangers here. Wild animals , in particular -- Laz killed a huge snake only last week. " It was as if the realisation he was alone, and in danger, poured springs of cool and tepid water over Tom-- reviving him: --"I have Leslie waiting for me, back in QueQue -- she's alone: I'm heading back , to bring her somethin' special." The stale cigarette that Leslie had given him -- all that his and his father's generation had betokened -- would be ashes. A bushfire, that morning, swept its way across the farm; yet fireguards had saved them. Daina's gold-brown eyes flashed inwardly, in the certain knowledge that the boundaries were changing, squaring, losing form. Grass seed dusted, swept across this land -- and Tom remembered leslie with her violet eyes and golden hair, cascading, as it were, around her body. "Here's a cigarette for you: Don't lose it!-- and remember, to take a map and write down where you're going!" He'd taken it without a thought -- and KNEW that Leslie had a taste for all forms of corruption -- --cigarettes would be her tinder -- or meagre offering. It didn't matter though, for shapes and forms would be rebuilt: a shaken cigarette, a dropped cinder: these would all be perfected in the scheme of things. Nothing would be allowed to be jaded -- Dull, or green -- . . . But everything would most certainly be perfected. Though,through its natural course. And Leslie had been agreeable to this sentiment. She'd nodded, and passed him a pencil, and a roll of silver paper from her ciggie box. And then he'd drawn the map he still had with him-- But that had been before he'd chosen to be rescued. The couple had escaped all crispening dryness, and any near disaster. And Leslie's eyes were soft and velvety, and even though he could not know just how to reach his goal, beat the members fof the local swimming team, and come up trumps. Night would be his executioner. --"Or Leslie". Time to stop the dream.. "to get back on the bus" -- There WAS no bus, and he must make the journey on his own two feet: The Afrikaner had relieved him of his bicycle! For Tom, the warm, plump faces of the girls were something to be desired -- and anticipated, too, as promising freedom. A desert rain would interrupt the simmering humidity. That night Tom slept well. Yet awoke with a jerk. "There's something of the black in you!" Tom's father had once pronounced--. Tom would be paying a visit to the Cathedral where his mother had been married. "You LIKE the sticks and mud!-- You should enjoy the journey !" It was merely his figure in a dream, but, at the gate, he'd cut himself upon a rock, and bled profusely. And then, Andy loped up at the sound of the commotion;-- smiled and dribbled all around the blood drops, smearing saliva in with the red slimy residue, falling down the cracks of rotten boulder and the earth. And , it seemed like the world laughed too -- the sky a bright penetrating blue --resilient in its smiles. And, she'd told him a story of a man called Lazarus, who'd drowned, only his friends had rescued him, and carried him up, out of the water, to the safe, gravel shore, where they'd revived him; and so he'd carried on, just like before, but ever stronger this time, and more vital. And no-one ever knew about this, except his wife, who had kept the story private to this day, and who had told "not even a soul"--for Lazarus's wife was well-loved in this community -- a farmer's wife no less. Yet, Lazarus was still and metaphoric of his name: Tom hated that. This man would live out all his years as open as a dewy calf. Then there would be nothing more to wish. "This man has died a thousand times . . ." Tom felt his hardness, rolled over and pushed slowly, sensually against the mattress; his mind's eye playing images of the women in his dreams in rapid succession. But the steady drone of the radio broke his revery--with a swimmers move, rolled straight out of his bunk. He was still in darkness. That morning, Lazarus sat smoking in his chair, while Tom sang cheerfully to himself. His melody filled the whole lounge, and reverberated outdoors. He sang for Leslie. Leslie had been travelling through QueQue when she and Tom had met-- she had the bluest eyes.. She had counted out all the items she had gathered in her belongings-- there were hairbrushes, things she called "objects d'art", and assorted tools that she knew she could use "to fix all sorts of things". She had a fat girl's face. Tom liked that: Her lips coiled endlessly over her teeth. Cheeky-- "She was smart". It was as if all that this wizzened gentleman was. . . was leaning there at once -- and in one place -- Just this bone- legged creature, with no form of a mask, or of any pretence of being something other than it -- . . ."--than'he' was" . . . --Tom corrected himself. The African habit of seeing only just the outside was .. . "a lie". Tom fell into a reverie, whilst eyeing Daina's legs; an almost milk-chocolate brown. "What is important," he said, "is for the inside to be made outside." [He felt he was making some good progress--]. That way, what is in the heart will become clear to everyone!" It must have seemed like no-one could find a means to quarrel with such -well-meant- sentiments. Daina recrossed her legs, and - blinked-. She slumped into a more relaxed position. The boy felt the morning sun bite into his brow. He persisted; "The heart should be exposed. What is on the inside is the sense of justice for all; Black, and white. "We shouldn't JUDGE people from the outside. We should look on the inside-- and we should realise that that's what -really- counts!" Tom paused. He seemed to have made almost no impression. Now the tea was getting cold. Now the sun was beating down more perpetually: And Daina . . . slid off her silky slip coat, and dove into the pool. "Lass" had come to get his hunting rifle. He oiled it out on the lawn. The sun flared golden. They discussed the trials of the day, with their neighbour, Mrs Weiss. Mrs Weiss had suffered deeply -- and was honourable! She was sympathetic to Tom; and Tom liked that! She remarked on all the dangers that were inherent in the bush--especially at night. She implied caution-- resting. "Take it easy, Tom -- You look like you're worn out!" "REST here, on this chair; and tell me all about your "journey"! -- I should love to hear about it. And don't spare any of the details!" Tom lay right back on an armrest; closed his eyes, in half response -- "Daina.... When I leave here, I'll collect my things and then come back for you. You needn't be afraid. I want to protect you from ALL of the dangers. " "Lass" was leaving to go to his game reserve in Wankie, in the next day. Daina would then be all alone -- Daina's nose was a wrinkled freckle- patch of -winsome- satisfaction. "You must go back to Leslie," she said, at last, subduingly, "-- Since there's nothing real for you here...Alone, out in the bush." "Lass's" breathing picked up pace, as if in signal of recognition. Something primal--dead animals stockpiled for future needs? Daina and Lass were at the peak of their society-- they knew not.... even the gentlest precautions, about being obedient to the perceptions of their society. Their neighbour saw it differently -- for she had suffered gravely. "Society is more advanced when it submits " -- You need a head, a leader, god , in order to submit-- Rescued-- out of a concentration camp by her mentor, at the age of four,. a kindly woman, --knew all about love , "though she was far from home", she inquired of Tom with probing indulgence. Then, she left, but neither Lass nor Daina knew where she had gone--. She takes the back path home, they'd thought -- as a precaution, Daina'd phone her, later, to make sure "everything was fine". The air was getting colder. When, suddenly, for some reason, Daina's voice appeared to mock him: "Do your parents know where you're about? --Do they even care?" -- "you are too heavy to be carried..." Daina's dark brown hair hung around her face, as she examined the injury. Her eyes developed a quizzical appearance, laughing at him. " My mother died when I was five..my father said... a car crash in London...she slid into a telegraph pole, on a track of icy road--nobody could have seen it coming.." A voice seemed to forewarn him: "In politics, no-one ever knows what's -really- going on, TOMMY", Daina's voice cautioned wistfully-- as if to say: "Tom, you know that in society, context is all that matters? You're alone...American society has totally disintegrated! That means you're out of context--babe-- and we will treat you how we will. " This caution came "out of the blue" -- It even made him shudder. He remembered a vision which once besailed him -- suddenly. The looming figure had stared through him from the bathroom mirror --Its eyes , Zulu --Hair parched black, but feathered. It had been himself, not himself. The deeper he had stared into the eyes, the more that he had seen . . . his mother this time -- her eyes, seeing through him, frowning, sneering.. .. The vision was in the throws of the first Fall, around the silver patterns of the oak trees, in the pitchness of the night. It had leapt out then with an AK 47, underneath the trees -- to cut his throat if Tom had shown a trace of fear. Which, yet he was unable to , transfixed, and sweating -- "Calm down;-- Tommy. You'll be alright now" . It was his mother's voice that beckoned him, from Daina's room. The face, the quivering dagger, they were all signs of a deeper love? It made him weep, and told him to forsake Leslie and "all her feminine devices", and her dreams which would surely lead straight to marriage. Leslie would return to Vermont, get married, have three kids, and die there, that was sure. Tom just wanted to return to her. But most of all, he wanted to collect, and dust off, his new bike, which for sure would 'of gotten "all messed up", "worsened for the wear". He would go to the place his mother had been married in--it wasn't something she could ever thank him for -- that was impossible-- although he still desired it, as if it were not, so. That was right near the place where Tom's father had sharpened a large butcher's knife on a rock, just outside his shop in Salisbury. He was not a traditionalist, but he would make an exception. Most of George's inspirations had come to him at the rock. One day, he had said to Tom, "Tom, take your mother's wedding band off her hand, and go and get it enlarged - She is telling me that it now cuts into her circulation?" And Tom was glad to help: His mother's skin was alabaster, and so soft that you could see her blue and purple veins protruding, threaded throughout her fingers like a spider's web; perhaps it was her English quality? ...a certain "displeasure" of the sun? The milky mildew texture of her features -- were shocked almost against existence in the waves of African Sun. Tom's father had sharpened a large butcher's knife on a rock, just outside his shop in Salisbury. He was not a traditionalist, but he made an exception in this case -- due to his disdain for mechanical devices. In truth, most of George's inspirational ideas had come to him whilst he was at the rock. One day, he had said to Tom, "Tom, take your mother's wedding band off her hand, and have it enlarged for her. She tells me that it is now cutting off her circulation!" Tom was quick to comply. His mother's skin was alabaster, and so soft that you could see her blue and purple veins protruding, threaded throughout her fingers like a spider's web. Perhaps it was an Irish quality? The displeasure of the sun, the milky mildew texture of her features -- were shocked almost against existence in the African Sun. Then she had died, quite suddenly, soon, but not quite after George and his sun had finally migrated back to civilisation -- It was not entirely unexpected. The lies she had been told about the Texan heat must take their toll. And "Don't lose that ring! It is important --" George had yelled out, when Tom, feeling the heat, as if in a whirl of steam, had dropped it . Down. Next to the rock, it fell, where it had slipped as he had wetted it, made the incision in his overalls to test the blade . Then in the sweat and heat Tom lost his vision -- until his father found it: the golden ring -- and scolded him. Then, it was that with profound forbearance, he -forgave- Tom. Quite reluctantly, with tolerance, he had advised, with rich, rump-textured tones, "My son, I love you, and you do behave just like a black -- but we must also forgive them , child!" And Tom had been only eight, back then. And right now, Tom wanted just to say good-bye and, once and for all excuse himself to both Daina and her husband. "You are really not leaving are you, Tom?" -- "You KNOW I'll be alone--". The fire -- the heat -- had been dismissed as part of nature's fury -- a natural disaster. The blackness of the land was already flecked with green. --Sprouts of life were nature's own. And all of a sudden, that was far off, now. For it was Leslie he had loved. And, Tom remembered well this time of year, and how it felt when they had first "made love". The deciduous trees had whistled and echoed, just like they did today. Tom had gone down the bush path to see her, his palms sweating through clenched-up hands. The sun skimmed along her form, all along the dull bush path, a yard off. Summer colours chimed with insects, intersecting; flying; crawling in the wet, green hedges. Shimmered-lights. The sun had masked her, shuffling up the garden path-- he pulled her tightly to him. He'd let his tongue penetrate her mouth. He'd laughed with her; touched her lips; caressed them; sucked them, licked them. Instead, she "leaned back" and he took her breasts in his mouth, tipped them onto his tongue on every pass. He'd noticed the sounds around him were becoming bigger, coherent. "There was a rhythm to the Earth," he muttered,. . ."a song." That was when they'd passed stem over the campfire. In the corner of his eye he'd caught a meteorite, time-traveled the night sky -- Awestruck. Another toke and then to Leslie. And as he looked at her, her smile, twisted, echoed. when he saw her in the flickering light, he just wanted to . . . . . . . . smoke some more, look up at the constellations of the night and hold each other -- And Leslie said: Tom,I am a cool, nectarine drink--and I let you suck the nectarine from me, although I didn't suck the nectar from you--not this time anyway -- I still remember the crashing ocean on the beach, and the blur and the haze, of your leaving me. It seemed like a dream at the time -- but it was not just another haze of the unreal. The Unreal of social hieroglyphics, rather than in-depth penetration. The clothes we wear, the way we brush our hair. The way we clean our teeth at night, or fail to do so and must try and remember in the morning...all these social hieroglyphics, that, must brush us away. I remember holding you around your waist, your belly firm and supple, and your cock soft and warm as a dream, just below. The perfect shape. And then the transformation--hard man, in a motion dream. The beach; the sanddunes; -- still warm and in motion. It seemed to me we were creating soft waves. You were determined; funny--making our whole lives gratuitous. Soft penetration; deep arc. The night slipped by -- we slept as we had never slept -- under the influence. I would have sucked the warm pollen from you if only I could have. Another night -- and hope was closing in on us. We had to live on hope in-stead of some bread of reality; we knew that this was just around the corner. That illusive hope that most people live on as their stale bread. We KNEW that it was just around the corner, so we couldn't say "good-bye". Instead we just jumped into bed and let the Sea swish us away! Indeed, upon the vlei, he'd seen Her ghost, locked frantically inside another time-- He broke his hold; they'd fallen apart. "Leslie!" Tom had sighed;-- and coolness faded over the greens. . He'd stood alone, besides the path, sucked soft tears in, against hot cheeks. And coolness, too, had settled upon Leslie. For, she found the crumpled conveyance from the father , which she now was holding up in twittering fingers. The writing didn't make any sense-- "Son -- I must scold you for you have been LYING"-- ..."I know, as much as I 've known anything, we live in a world where lying is unavoidable. However,I know something else, too: I see that you are STILL lying because you are still living. Yet your dear mother is already DEAD! Your Loving, Kindly, and, Affectionately Dutiful Father George P. E. H. Miller Esq." Tom tore his hand against the thick scrub. He was ..virtually "gone" now...back to the place where the Afrikaaner has left his bike --, to rust and fall apart in the rain, unprotected and unloved. "The Earth had no heart.." Day would come, and Death would come -- two things. Mean time, NIGHT would shield him and protect their hopes... And Leslie shrugged her shoulders now as if she hadn't actually expected anything, right from the start. "Tom? What is the matter? ...You have . . . problems?-- Is it ... HOME?" "Oh! Tom? What will you do? Will you stay? ...or will you go back home-- now?" It was all too much--the voices echoed, softly, in his head Leslie quaked softly -- her mascara soon stained by random-flowing tears -- Tears that would go UP , NOWHERE, recycle, sift over the Earth in pain, and roll into the Sea. "My mother", Tom had said, finally. "What?" "I just wanted to Say.. I wanted to SEE where she lived, how she was married.." "--How she lived?" The female reparte' was flowing quickly, now. "Oh, Tom!" Leslie was packing up her things now, -- the books, the brushes, the little curly paper winds she had used to do her hair. I'd love to stay and chat, Tom, but you seem to be entangled in so many things; and it's too much for me right now..." " Tom. I don't understand you, you're taking my love with you!" "Our love is too intense to last, " she said at last, resolvedly: "We cannot hope too much, or else we will be punished. "Everything has lost its balance , Tom -- we must keep ours-- and if you do not find it; they will see to it that we are punished!" "We are so lucky to have had this time, together, and we simply cannot hope for more .than this .." these last words fell away into a whisper, they drifted off-- their tone was gone. ... "Tom, have you thought that , perhaps, your father was right about you?" "Tom, perhaps you DO lie, nobody has told me any different -- and I am afraid-- when these men leave, when they stop playing their war, then they will come back and punish us -- and your dad, too, Tom." "And these men, they only indulge us because they're happy playing war, but when they come back, they'll be smaller, and more petty. They'll punish us because they work under the yoke of industry, and now they are miserable, too. "Be assured that whenever I remember of you, I'll think of love what it means to feel alive, just at the time when you are feeling most alone. And this will have a resonance for me.. .... "Also, I do not know for sure you do not lie." "And, Tom --I HOPE you find your "mother", because we all are looking for what is important for US -- We're all on our own journeys, and noone else walks our journeys ... " And with these words, she was, finally, gone from his dreams. And Tom, reflecting back, knew this was certain now--that what had been said could not be easily undone. A master, a peasant;... a liberation sympathiser...Grass always grew green under his Father's feet: The Earth degrades .but -people_ WILL spring up from it; And degradation brings more hope of something new and better. "And 'Lies' ?" "There are no lies.. I told the Truth." Leslie's love was surely a cold, hard stone -- and amethyst. No resemblance to the softness of .. the dream... a cow's heart, a pulsating, red , sacrifice: A soft intensity. The life once given could not easily be taken back. His father gave him cows' hearts to play with, collected from the weekend at the slaughter yard -- which Tom was expressly forbidden to visit. Goats' hearts too, accumulated from the weekend's work. The soft vibrancy of their liquid surface--an artistic curiosity. A delicate boy (from his mother's side), Tom doted on the funnels and the passages that lead; -- one way or another -- into the pumping mechanism and out again, and from the other side. The intricacies of life...a soft jewel, a forbidden present. His dreams' detours, the means to pass the time: A gift The earth was less kind to women. Africa was dry as dust. It did not mean a thing, though--where *pain* started, - Leslie- stopped, and where pain STOPPED, there -Leslie- could come into fruition again. And thus, was everything predicated on pain -- a STRONG self-definition; and a -logical- one, too! Nobody could argue with it! Tom, least of all -- Tom who had spend all of his life trying to avoid hurting people-- Tom, for whom pain was-- mostly unavoidable. "Good-bye, Leslie -- I love you!!" "--TIME might heal your ...pains!" --. Living in Africa was difficult forwomen-- now independent -- in the 70s--but not quite. "Toss up your freckled nose; be brave, but a thin smile on it." You see the blond boy disappearing off into the distance. Caught up in a storm, pursuing cobbled stones along a dirt road. "--You cannot see it ? Your mother's country set the stones for you to follow? Now you follow them everywhere. You follows in the way of women who have gone before, and you doesn't know 'Why'." He is disappearing now:-- a slouching heap of bowed-over bones, reclining over his bike . . . . Human genetic material, headed south. Leslie shrugged. The blond hair disappeared into the grey....(she pulled a stray one from her chest. It had caught up against her neck , inside her collar, as they'd said "good-bye".) She had never really understood "genes" -- The call his mother had on him: " . . . He wanted to "see" her!....." He was too pale for this country -- Almost a ghost now . . . Blended on the old tar road. "Something in the wind loves him?" ** Black was the night: It suddenly turned black, and seemed as though it would remain so. Tom found his bike -- under a tree. Twisted and grey, unloved by earth , as if spewn out by the demon. There was no love then... here (yet the gravel pit hurt his feet.) In Fort Victoria, he found his way and met up with some locals. There, if he decided, they would share some beer. He'd liked chibuku when he first had tried it -- it was .... intoxicating. And it made him forget all about death. He took the Right fork in the road, bent the bow against his former path. "I'm going home to Africa," he told himself: Ah! the warm nested cradle of Africa! The past of brave Old Souls, giving warmth to frozen, hidden hearts. These were the stories that his mother would have told -- she was up in the sky, and looking down on him. (No longer a frozen heart.) She loomed up graciously,with spirits. The ancestral spirits would be guides, and freedom fighters -- sooth, into a liquid form, a lost heart. A black fist, an ancestral fist, warmed itself up over on the horizon. A stray storm cloud, merging obliquely with the grey, beneath a reddening sun: Profuse with life, some storm birds -scampered- upwards, arched in rows over the sky, in search of succor, life. "I am going to the chapel, to find my mother," he'd announced, to Leslie. "MY mother, and My life......." -- There is warmth here, in the cradle of mankind .."and such cool air!" "We are never alone, when we at peace with ourselves," "We find that peace, and that is what will make us free." -- the rhythm of life, falling, rising, the soft pulsating of life, the dull zip of the bike, and clinker as he altered gears . . . . efficiency of Western . . . lifestyle... "We will find peace here , through the unity." He stopped at a kiosk-- bought kachasu, imbibed and warmed his soul. Life, and destiny- they always came together: he'd cease to ask too many questions. To be so tightly enclosed within this culture that you don't know any difference, and you will never know any difference -- that is sublimity. In the pitch of West Texan night, George reflected on the Christmas present his son, Tom, had once brought him --it had had red wrapping, a squiggly, crazy-mad design -- a pattern which had been created by his young son-- Tom. George recalled that he did not like the design. George shuddered. All along his thick frame. He wanted his son to grow up to be "an accountant"-- Then his eyes had narrowed on to the design- - neomajik squiggles--and behold!-- a comment from Tom's teacher:, "Not good enough Tom-- You must try AGAIN!" "Not good enough...Not good enough..." Once again , it suddenly became all apparent to George, smoking his cigar, and wheezing -- that his one son was not good enough! Not good enough was "not good enough" for George, ..Nor for "This family". Your mother is dead, Tom, and now your teacher says that you're "not good enough!" it replayed, once again, in his head. "Come here! " he'd call. "Come here and sit besides me!" As George weilded his long, baton-stick, Tom, the "porch dog" nudged George's arm. Tom had always been a good son -- he'd had to be. George stroked the silken hair of the grateful porch dog. -- Musing-- Tom had always brought his school work home, and was always quiet and respectful. He was the very model of a perfect son. His hair was very long and brown. The unexpected attention that had just come to him made him pant-- he was the perfect model of a perfect companion. George threw the ball, solliloquised: "My son, you are a loyal pal. I love you!" "Your energy knows no bounds!" "Whenever, I throw the ball , you come bounding up, your hair on fire. Then, I feed you and take care of you." And yet....these words had always been plain enough to see : "NOT good enough!" If ever he should show a trace of waywardness or unpredictability, he'd brought himself in line, and humbly conceded that what was important in this life was to be "good" -- his Father smiled in fond memory-- Tom was actually very good, in many ways-- he followed his sports training, and had became proficient. Especially in basketball-- Old crimes were easily forgiven-- when Tom played his basketball. He had a firm strong, body. He was a creature to be seen -- with his alabaster white skin , "his firm and lengthy body, stretching...stretching... for the hoop...." "He brings it on back, and then I pat him well, on the head...." "Oh, your mother used to say you would grow up to be a big, strong, boy," his father muttered, resolutely-- patting the silken creature next to him, gently upon the head-- "And she was right!" "Oh, if your mother didn't know it -- she was --always-- right!!" The boy had understood back then --this was just George's way of just consoling him --against her loss. "Son", he proceeded, marching on, "for me DIFFERENCE is the real Evil....that is the one we must all fear! ...what about the little boy left alone on the playground, the one his parents sent to boarding school...didn't love him...Tom, what about the difference he felt THEN? "What about THAT difference, SON!", he re-echoed, as he stroked the dog, playing roughly with it. "For me to feel apart from you--for me to sense your distance.....is the source of every manner of injustice. We can't let THEM get away with it, Tom.." George prepares to receive the son most attuned to his hopes and aspirations, because of his refined manageability. He had often known humid days like these -- clouds hung low,air soft and silky, and yet defined... enough humidity to rain -- but still the crisp, and countervailing force, breathing in air, refining it, through the earth. The cool and gentle, probing fingers , reaching up to life. He was reborn again -- a "Man" now -- he was still a dreamer, on a sea of shaky clouds and ice. This Dark could do that to a human; enough of an intrepid dreamer. Then the coolness that swept away sullen, drooling clouds, the early morning possibility of rain. Like Tom, the hyena could be seen, soon lapping up the traces of the morning's spoils, ingesting the sweet carrion through its lulling glands, along the track it follows. Tom absorbed the air of the explorers -- Sucked it down, ingested it. Until he was but a fractured remnant of the Western world -- Still part Africa, not yet civil, holy. He had no real home, not any more, yet he followed a dream, that will of an apparition; dream of a man with a raised and pointed spear. "That other life is not for you , Tom. " "Here you might breathe. . . ." the warm alcohol releases fears and dreams. " . . .If you must breathe at all" . . . The warm tongue of the hyena freshens over frosted and cold scent glands. "Our ancestors will always reached to us through their will." ** Out beyond an old farm gate on a small kraal , tucked up and cordoned off, in a rambling, abandoned section of the farm--The sky slunk in heavier with its humidity and yet the sky remained clear, which appeared black with sparkling specks of ivory. Paused to dust off feet, a detail of childhood-- repeated. Up at the sky, its solid, shimmering sackcloth and translucent panthers, moving in the night. The kraal smoked . . . dust flew: Ashes, wood smoke, dead bones, and the smell of cooking hen. He saw no lights, except a shiny flicker of a mud hut wall; its circularity gave it some weird form. It was home -- a break from walking. The dust track led him so - far-. - it was cold! --the sweat, the silence, made it damper -- turned to freezing under all the wool against the skin. Barbed wire fencingwas not to prohibit wild and dangerous animals from entering -- he had climbed through barbed wire fencing as a child. Here was a Home, a form of civilising influence... As he approached this structure --shadows began disappearing into nightfall--. Saw the body of shadow against other shadows. -Night-. He screamed -- the cry of a child. "Hello?" "Are you there??" -- ("I want to be let in, please?") Bony match appeared and faced the child. A shadow in the black, against the clay mud wall. "Yeez, I am Joseph. Where do you plan to stay?" "Can I stay here, please, I don't know where to go?" . And, in this scope, the accent of his past life beat resoundingly. His mother scolded him again, forerunning, with his weapons, with his shorts down, "not obeying the rules". "Come here Tom!!" -- she used to say. Then he chased her ghost along the hills' land.... "Yeessss, alright, you can sleep out here", "If you are not cold?" "Well, fine, "I've come down here to find my . . " "Ah! - you come in, then ! Mebbe we will help you find her?" " "Oh, Thanks!" So, he disappeared into the warmth-- the hut-- the family were ensconced in there. In darkness. "I'll leave my bike here, outside, shall I?" "Do you want to poot eet over there?" -- (near the grass fence, holding cattle), the headman and the butcher's son, watching them shiver the mosquitoes--". "No, but I will trust you now, I am happy." Hushed whispers. Ndebele..? A fumbling for a match--paraffin light flares up a dull pink and orange. Flashes the light around the hut revealing shifting body patterns, almost shapeless up against the shadows, twirling 'round the wall. A soft interchange ensued....but they seem only to last forever. The forms stop and simmer as the light is turned suddenly away. The sky is black again, and cold. The air is filled with forms that can only be seen as you approach them--rocks and huts and trees. They seem to reformulate themselves as you pass by, as by a twirling cycle into blackness, nothingness. And the grass is cold and soft, through crumbling shoes, soft with the plenitude of night-formed dew. The trees began to circle round them, as his guide swung 'round the lamp. Shaken into life by the very depth of nothingness. Bodies seem to follow, trickling. Something moving in the void. And lose their shape in everything, as they pass by. Something broken, brackenish and warm highlights the sky, the broken-up reflection of a thousand leaves. They shimmer up against the light, and disappear. Their harsh reflections broke down and reconstituted, broke down and reconstituted, as if their souls were rocks and trees and air. The man put the lamp down on the formless ground. It shaped a glow, became a greenish light, and moving forms of sand and gravel. They did not speak. They climbed upwards now and the guide is on the point of disappearing. His swinging paraffin lamp still marks his solitary form, a gesture-less form of irradiation, or light, punctuating the darkness. Spilling into the rocks and the trees, which are now up, away. The air contained a silence.. as if tracks of missing birds. Tom grappled with the earth, the gravel, new green shoots, and shreds of spoking yellow grasses. Up above the hill, the sky cracks open -- And suddenly there is, as it would seem, a plenitude of light. Its just the light from a lonely campfire. And here are white faces, laughing, screaming up into the sky. He breathed out hisses of relief. --"It's warm here in the campfire light." This body can recuperate all its gathered wears and tears. Night covered everything. There was no one else for miles. Shallow grins returned to lightening flashes of rememberances, slunk low beneath the Dreamer's hollow surface. Faces which were invisible--are now recalled. The dust that fell was flat: ghastly cold. Smoke let out an acrid smell from a far-off thatched-roof chimneys. The tension eroded all desire for light touching -- Fingers slithered off ...into the blackness. Tom sighed: The grass was also flattened, and nothing answered his sigh. Far away, Leslie threw off her last trace of Tom. The hair he'd left, she snapped off her shoulder, suddenly. Somebody let out a cry. The muffled huffing of compressed emotions, expressed as a solitary whimper of aloneness. Tom's life was.... laughter, a sense of elevation....But then, "solitary confinement". That is where he found them: he had no idea how far he'd walked. His legs were aching: His brain was throbbing, in the dust and heat. They'd meet up with the "freedom fighters" there. Tom had approached them-- theywere white. "Where are you from?" (..with meat dripping from around the sides of his mouth, oozing, dripping, as he salivated, swirling down a mouthful of the spongy meat. --It had a milky texture. "Australia." "Britain" "from the states." "How long have you been here?" "Hours..." And they had introduced him to their captors there; -- who'd given him warm flesh -- They ate all of the oozing flesh, although it was gray and slippery, inside. And with rivets of pink and white, still not well-cooked. Tom ate anyway, for the boy was hungry. He ate the charcoal and the raw bits, too, slurped it down. "The flames are going out. Maybe they'll fetch us soon..?" "There are only thorn bushes around here!" "I'll look for more wood, further out!" A body was departing, features flurried... in the flickering. Tom saw that it was a lot like Leslie's. "BUT, You'll get lost...!" "There's something else. They told us there's a witch doctor next to here." "..with sharmanic powers." "He can do stuff you've never even heard of!" A British voice. Just then the sky rained blood on them, heavy, cold and thick. Along with the rain fell disintegrated comets, in a pool of love, into the desert. They felt it as warmth -- that they were ghosts of missionaries, and starlit and crazy, -- ghosts of freedom fighters -- The cold did not affect them, nor did it make their teeth chatter. The earth was not so parched it soaked up the rain, but let it flow out in rivulets around them, which gushed streams down and swirled its way around their bodies, cutting ice into their spine bases.. "How did you get here?" asked Tom, first. "We hitchhiked down from Vic Falls, after our bus broke down," one voice said. "So then we decided to go South. We traveled down in every sort of vehicle. "We could all die, but we -won't-" A voice said --lighter , too. Lighter than a soothing breeze that cautioned to relax him. "And I've still got a compass, we can find our way home again!" "There is the Shaman Spirit, actually, in all of us!" "I know. I'm just here trying hard to understand it." "You'll understand it properly in time.." The sky was thick as hessian, holding down the earth in static lack of motion. "I'm tired, and look how my shoes are soaked." . Hushed whispers followed, then a form in human shape appeared, stooped; fumbled for a match to strike a paraffin light. It flared up a dull pink and orange. He flashes the light around the faces, revealing shifting body patterns, almost shapeless up against the shadows, twirling 'round the mopani bushes. The forms stopped and simmered as the light was turned suddenly away! "I have come to get you now!" -- the Ndebele's echo resounded; at this moment, soft and hushed. They followed, holding on to a long stick, to keep their paces solid, steady, and together -- a game he had often played with Mother. "I seek my mother's Spirit- - ?" "We will speak to her, for you!" the voice sounded assured, compliant. "I thought I might have lost my bike--and (Tom confessed, shamefaced--) also my gun!" "Ah, we will be the ones to help you find it." Right now, the air was filled by forms that only showed themselves as you approached them. Rocks, or huts and trees. They actually appeared to reformulate themselves as they passed by. It was as if by a twirling circle of blackness, nothingness, that they regenerated. And the grass was cold and soft, through crumbling shoes, soft with the plenitude of night-formed dew. The trees appeared to circle round the folk, as Tom's guide swung 'round the lamp. Shaken into life by the very depth of nothingness, bodies seemed to flow, tricklingly. Something moved in the void. The visitors nwo lost their shape in bush and trees, as they past by--. Something broken, brakenish and warm, highlighted the tinsel sky -- The broken up reflection of a thousand leaves. They reached a quarry. The shapes of white tourists became formless: yet this change became immediately apparent. But they climbed upwards now and the guide was on the point of disappearing. His swinging paraffin lamp still marked his solitary form, a gestureless irradiation of light, echoing back at them. The light it echoed spilled into rocks and trees which were now some distance off. The air contained a silence, once again--like tracks of missing birds. Tom grappled with the earth, the gravel, new green shoots, and shreds of spoking yellow grasses. Up above the hill, the sky cracked open. And suddenly, there was, it seemed , a plenitude of light. Mud huts, brick hostels, and chimneys -- all transposed in light and golden flashes from the lantern up above. A dog sniffed them; growling huskily. It slunk in those shadows -- almost a part of those shadows, and not real, slunk under the clamour and fatigue. But followed Tom, and snapped at behind his ankles.. Still, the cold air cut his gut-- The man in the humidified hut shook up blocks he held, vehemently, in cold contempt: He viewed his guests with shocked suspicion. Threw the his glance at them, and Smiled--. He pointed to Tom-- "You First!" -- he pointed him out with a stick. The stick poked the boy, like a cold thing, in the ribs, a warm, alcohol-sensation. The n'anga laughed, cackled: "You are not ...afraid" "Don't speak -- Drink--!" An hot pink liquid gushed, clung to his veins , stung his lips as it passed. The face became more frightening, intense, more quizzical, emphatic: "You like...?" "I waaaaaeent to fiinnnnnd maay waaay to go baaaaaack houme!" said Tom, his voice meandering, slurring, and aquiver. "Your mother left you!! For, your father murdered her!!" the witchdoctor laughed -- hysterically. The temperature sunk. A dog howled. Tom laughed, too -- as the other foreigners receded. "I want her baaack!" cried Tom, "I want her baaaack!" He chuckled to himself; the witchdoctor chuckled, between his sobs of pure despair! "Aaaaaaah--You drink this MUTI!" As the air cleared up, the smoke dissipated, and everything was sharp . The tourists' became strong again, solemn, and tangible. "Go quietly , back-- I will come for you!" He walked alone, back to the abandoned hut-- and tucked himself inside , under hessian blankets. Snuggled in a corner, found a space, Tom dreamt of Leslie, thought of Leslie, sucked her golden nipples, thought of life, and death, which was the like the blackness outside, would never reach them, inside in this coolness, in this snugness. Death was an old friend now that had redeemed his mother from his father, saved her from his cruelty. Leslie, and Leslie's body came to him anew, soft and warm, and strangely cool upon its surface, strangely mildewed. Then, his mother-- Leslie's smile, her face.. the dream came back to him.. Leslie, giving him hope, saying, "Your mother never left you, for she loved you. " Her quizzical smile. And, her frown -- saying, "There must be some other explanation?" Death had taken her-- his mother-- he knew, kept her safe, inside a cave, and safe from his father's rage. The ground never seemed more solid. LYING on the ground, upon the land, feeling it support him, hardened earth and gravel, lifting him, supporting him , above the earth. The sinking feeling -- that he'd become so accustomed to, the vaporizing feeling of the soul, AS IF nothing was solid, as if everything he'd been told must be a lie, was missing. Vanquished in the breeze of the calm African night, which penetrated into the broad mud hut, through an open door, and gave them peace -- and that was all they could hope, in the silent night. God in graciousness had GIVEN them hope, supported, physically, above the earth. He felt a gratitude that was new to him, a peace that went deeper than understanding -- To Leslie,. above all, although she had nothing for him, except be there for him, and 'though their lovemaking had been so ....unsuccessful. He wanted to take Leslie's hand , announce his oneness with the world, and Life, which gave him hope, and everything. Lying there with his new "friends", laughing and commiserating: "It's amazing how we nearly got 'lost'!.." not fully believing this .. "How could they have almost gotten lost , when there was hope there all around them! " --"It was DARK -- IT WAS cold -- We almost -got- lost but then the villagers found us!" he'd tell his all his acquaintances back home. "The tribesmen came and rescued us." "--BUT -- before that, I fell and cut myself -- And LOOK -- I've even got the scar to prove it...." The night was still pitch black, and resting, half awake, half rested, transfixed by its stillness, the half dozen lost white faces lulled to sleep. This was the nature of true sleep, deep sleep, transfixed in the bosom of Leslie -- Or, his mother's bosom, since she was now true to him, within this dream; She had not willfully left him, she had left only in anger. The day she'd packed up and gone, he'd remembered well his father's torpid cries before the early morning breeze, the lull of lingering death of earth. It was better this way--more peaceful. "So, her soul was finally at rest!" Leslie's thighs were so deep and welcoming now. His dreams were not thwarted -- he was IN them, feeling them, feeling the warm flesh body actually surround him. Soft, and yet so warm, the depth contrasted with the silky surface, so: dreams of newness, starting, and beginning again. The door swung open. But the night revealed no light. There was a scuffle and a painful cry -- blood curdling. Loud, half muffled voices, in another language. Not English--African. A furious dialogue resounded: Incoherent to him, in his slumber: Loud. . -- An interchange that went on over , and over, followed the same speech patterns. The same tone. Over and over, again, a piercing and bloodcurdling ...cry. Bellowed-- and in a note, ineluctable. "Tourist-es" -- one word only resounded, with any sense-- "Tourist-es" -- should he give himself up now? -- "Say,.. I am here!" No -- a sharp hand grabbed him; pulled around the hair; sucked the life out of him. A voice was laughing at him, laughing around him, "Ah you white boy...You have taken our land!" "We will teach you a LESSON -- white boy -- and when your parents come looking for you...." "I can't ...See." ... stuttered the boy.... "Come here white boy." He ran out: Fell. Stumbled-- Fell down, once again.... upon the rock. Saw the knife, as it descended.... Felt the blade as it became part of him. "Leslieeee!!" he yelped --but barely whispered.... * Charles -- Miller-- surveyed his son's fallen body, notebook in hand. There was not a scratch on it... almost a perfect corpse. Except for the root of the neck , where the blade had severed it clean through, it was almost a perfect corpse, a token of snow in this strange African bush. It was a clean kill; He would give them that. No human sacrifice could have been more pure -- It was still ... quite disturbing. But, in a pleasing sort of way. Death always came like this, and as a butcher he knew there had to be much gain. But this time it was his own son who was redeeming him, and on a spiritual level, had been perfect! The absence of the fallen head did not upset George very much. It was safely taken for forensic evidence. "But why they needed that, I'll never know." " What mattered most was that Justice should be seen to be done....", he muttered absently, to himself. And now that this here "unpleasant business" was finally over, he might "go on home". "The real EVIL here was Tom's difference"--Tom's father murmured, resolutely. "Tom did not belong in Africa, after all.... "He had no God!! ...only. had his alabaster white skin..." Then from the sky fell cold, black raindrops for it had begun to rain. Then night fell:-- BANG -- an executioner's blade. It was much later in that month, when Tom -- THE CANINE-- raised his scruffy head to howl beside this new-planted, solitary, gravesite. And so, George wiped tears from his dust-covered eyes and stroked them tearfully away-- as he patted "Tom" along his shaggy head.
Pages to are hidden for
"killing substance"Please download to view full document