suicide note

Dear mother,
Please do not cry too hard, it is not your fault
That I got rid of myself.
Trying too hard to make you proud,
I ignored reality and the commoness of being,
In fear that my being a typical youth
Might raise your brows. At least,
If I was not normal I could have
Been a rebel. But all I seem to be against
Is the intrusion of sunlight on my mornings.
I became a being of little significance
To the world, a wallflower choked by the
Weeds in your little garden.
My dear Jules*, I think you are a beautiful person
But a terrible liar. I think every time
Your husband loved you enough
To feed you, and bathe you and wipe you off;
You wished he didn’t.
You hate that he had to but you should know
You are more than enough of a person
To admit it. And good God you deserve
Ice cream and walking on the beach
And a day to cry! But you will need him for that too.
Darling, he will need your hand for it too.
I just thought someone should tell you. And
That I survived this long thanks to your emails
About the ducks in your garden
And everyone around you’s Alzheimer’s.
To my best friend, the one
Who started to stop liking good music
And Friday nights in:
You can keep the photo collage of our
Time as friends I never took down from
My living room wall
Since I was still able to look at the pictures
And see the happiness and not the
People I depended on for that happiness.
Really, take it! No one has to know
We forgot to know each other lately.
You were always a person of the world
While I could never seem to climb out
Of my own. For a while now
I’ve been my own keeper, burying myself
Alive under memories and nostalgia while
You grew up, I guess.
Anyway, I wish you all the good luck
You can bear and all the bruises on your
Heart it takes you to learn that you’re
Not his saviour and tequila is not yours.
To all the teachers who influenced me
In my short time alive: Because of you
I appreciate Literature but because of you
I appreciate Literature and that’s not
Making me a lot of money or making me too
Many friends. Thank you.
A big ‘fuck you’ to the boy who didn’t get to break my heart.
I wanted so badly to be known by you, to get felt up
And used by you like all the girls around you did.
But you were too busy being the ideal guy
To pay me any mind.
I know I’m partly to blame, I overcompensated
Your gentry and underplayed my interest. Still.
I hope you feel a tinge of guilt when you hear about this.
A special word of thanks to my neighbour,
Someone Somebody,
Who only ever wanted to know how I was,
When his key didn’t
Unlock his front door fast enough.
If you were some nosy little shit,
You might have walked in on me standing in my window
On the 15th floor of our apartment building,
Ready to fall into the night.
You might have been able to stop me.
Finally, to my colleagues:
I will not miss the random
Conversations at tea and at lunch
About bad television series and how much you
Hate the people you love.
When this body wakes up, I will be dead, and glad
To be rid of this miserable person.
Sincerely,
Old Me.

unLovable

Well, I find myself standing at this point, again, staring at my iPhone with exasperation, wondering why he hasn’t called yet, and wondering if I was so wrong to continue straight at the famous end-of-date cross road.  No left turn, no right turn, no good night kiss?

Maybe I gave away too much too quickly, those little messages – sent for no particular reason, in between meetings, during lunch, at the gym, everywhere – did they make me come across as being too involved, a little desperate, maybe?  But what is desperate about wanting to be loved, especially when you haven’t seen a decent man in ages?  The licentious ones are everywhere, heaven forbid, the childish, condescending type of man who perceives a woman as the modern version of a slave, born to mother him, and fulfill all his needs without question.

I admit that it has been a while since I met anyone whose departure has been worth tossing and turning over.  Is that why I’m sitting here persecuting myself over this man’s inability to like me back?  Ok, so maybe he does fascinate me, yes, that little bit.  And maybe he isn’t that bad, not that elevated on the corporate ladder, but he knows how to bring out the little girl in me.  Yes, he does. He says very little, but speaks volumes. I liked it the other day, when he spontaneously bought that blue dress at the flea market, and made me swear that I would only wear it when I am feeling beautiful. For the first time I didn’t care that something wasn’t an expensive designer piece.  It was the sincerity behind the deed that really spoke to my heart.  I want a man like that, who just flows with me, and begs for no approval, because he knows what he is doing.

Maybe it was the way he would call at twelve midnight, wanting to talk about nothing in particular, nothing life changing, then say it’s okay when I cut the call short because I would have an early meeting the next day.  Was I too busy, too self-absorbed, too unavailable?  Maybe I was too hurried to notice him needing me, in his small, silent ways, trying to find me, but I was too busy needing nothing from him, too busy being independent.

And what happened after the starter arrived, after he mentioned the two daughters that I have never ever heard anything about, until tonight?  Ok, so he has never mentioned them before, so what?  This was only our first real date. How much must a man say before he has said all that he needs to say?  Am I really that allergic to baby and mama drama that I flee at the very first mention of the word baby?  And maybe the flat yeahs and ohs, which followed that little event, are the reason why I am going to bed alone tonight.  It’s not my fault that my ideal man has no entourage of wailing babies behind him.  But then again, what does that have to do with the simple fact that I just adore Bheki, and I love his company, and the way he thinks, and the way he talks with his hands, and the way he just laughs from deep inside?

Can someone please tell me again why I am sitting here, sinking in self-pity while he continues with the rest of the party elsewhere without me?  I just don’t see him sulking over me.  He is too composed, and too self-sustaining for that.  Or maybe I seemed like a self-righteous control freak when I emphasised how critical it is for a man to understand his moral obligation towards his wife and children.  Maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned the word wife, or children.  Maybe I came across as being too ripe for the picking, too expectant? Sigh.

Maybe I should have agreed to go over to his place when he asked me. And he did ask with decency, and caution.  What did I have to lose anyway?  I have stayed over so many times before with guys I didn’t really like anyway, how much more disastrous could this time have been, really?  Would he have thought me cheap if I stayed over after our first official date?  I don’t know, but that little sad twinkle in his eyes when I said no, said he wouldn’t have.

I am sick of fabulously rich, and boring, James. He will never leave his wife, nor his other mistress… And I am tired of lonely Saturday nights with bottles of expensive wine, used as an anesthetic to the gawking seriousness of my frustrating single-hood.  Yes I feel like a hopeless misfit, because even those members of the female populace who are obviously much less appealing than yours truly, seem to somehow get it right with some type of a man. And then the wedding traffic starts, invitation after invitation, cordially asking me to share in bidding someone else’s solitude goodbye.

I feel like crying when I see my friends tear-filled and overwhelmed at the altar.  Some of them don’t even love these poor men, for heaven’s sake!  I am willing to marry for love.  Will it ever be me standing there, all angelic with sparkling eyes, possessed by love, ready to devote myself to that one special man till the end of time?  I believe that I have been blessed with reasonably good genes, I will obviously produce very good-looking babies, not to mention my not-so-average IQ.  And I think I am tolerable, my irksome mannerisms are nothing an ordinary soccer-crazy man from Soweto or a mining magnate from Dainfern can’t endure.  Yet, in spite of it all, here I am. It is a bit awkward, not to mention impossible, for me to find rationale or balance in the idea that I am sitting here alone, frantic and almost in tears, waiting for this (very wonderful I might add…) man to validate me with a little phone call.  Sigh.

A Wife’s Thoughts

We all seem to find it hard to comprehend why people somehow feel they don’t know who they married. Weird, right? It depends on how you look at it. Sometimes we give more than we get and get a rude awakening halfway done the line, but obviously that’s not what causes such problems. I get the feeling that somewhere, somehow we just seem to lose ourselves during the journey and get comfortable on the road that lost us in the first place. Maybe just to clarify what I am going on about lets deal with the basics.
In times of disagreement what do you do? Do you wait until you have calm down and then talk it over? Or maybe you brace the argument until you are all too frustrated to listen to the other shouting? Or better yet you just agree to disagree and leave it at that? In my case we talk about it sometimes while tempers are still flaring and when we realize its going nowhere we leave it until we have calmed down, but recently I have realized I am the only one who wants to talk about issues. It’s as though I am the only one who wants to resolve things, and honestly its upsetting me, I mean shouldn’t we both want to resolve the issues? Must I be the one to probe and push ‘us’ to resolutions? And at the end of the day, it seems as though I am the only one having to compromise which by the way annoys the life out of me. I have always believed this marriage thing is about giving and taking on both parties not just one, was I wrong? I guess I sometimes over believe, if there is such a thing.
Let’s look at another aspect, teamwork. When you are tired dear I will happily do anything for you, then why is it so hard for you to do the same for me? Am I incapable of being tired? Obviously you don’t know how my day has been because like you said it’s just out of courtesy that you ask anyone about their day, it is not a survey to know about everything that happened to you on that day, so whether I am exhausted you won’t know because you are not listening when I tell you about my day, right? My idea is; I know I ought to cook for you dear, I know that but is it impossible for you to cook for me? Must I always ask it of you? Not that it makes much of a difference because you say no! So if you won’t cook for me why on earth should I cook for you? Why not come up with a policy: he who is hungry should find and make food? Because honestly it works fine for me. To be honest how do you get tired of doing nothing? Really, how is that even possible?
When you came up with the philosophy that no one should do what they don’t want, you didn’t take into consideration issues like compromise and circumstance. For example, I may not feel like making supper but I will make it because you spent the day at work, or using your theory, just because I don’t feel like cooking, I shouldn’t even if you are ill? That ideology basically works when you live alone as it only works in the instance where you have no one else whom you hold dear and thus you would have to be a hermit!
My conclusion, well you will never change until you read this or until something drastic happens like your thoughts happen to have a date with mine, which very well maybe catastrophic!

Letter to my daddy

Dear Daddy
I woke up last night and saw you in the kitchen drinking juice with Mommy, but Mommy said I should go back to bed right now because you were tired and you couldn’t talk. But you looked so different daddy with that huge beard, but I guess I was still sleepy. Why didn’t you come to hug me daddy and tuck me in as always?
Mommy slept late and when I came to wake her up the door was locked. I cried and cried because you always said I could come in when I am scared. Mommy spoke through the door. I should stop crying because I would wake you up. She said I should go back to bed and she would send you in when I was quiet. I am sorry I fell asleep and didn’t see you come in. When I woke again you were gone. Mommy said you only had one day and had to catch the flight back to fight the war.
I love it when you send me letters as you know I love to read, but Mommy said you were too busy to write. She said she gets very lonely at times and she misses you. I miss you too daddy. Mommy got a new hair cut yesterday. I asked her if you were coming and she looked sad. She said she just wanted to look pretty. She wanted to feel good, just for herself.
Mommy said I could sleep over at Nala’s house. She said she would pick me up but I got tired of waiting and decided to walk home. I know where Mommy hides the key so I let myself in. Daddy, I could see that you had come back because I saw your boots in the lounge. I put them on and stomped around. I wanted to kick all those bad men who want to fight you. Don’t let them hurt you daddy, you know Mommy and I would miss you so much.
Mommy got angry when she saw me in your boots. She shouted at me when I told her I missed you so much, I just wanted to feel close to you. She said I had strange ideas. Do you think so Daddy?
Mommy threw the boots out and said men were all the same, they walked in and made a mess. I know you don’t do that daddy because you always but your boots on the shoes rack.
Daddy I have to stop now. Mommy read my later and said you are going to be too sad when you read my letter. She said I should write and tell you all about school. I am going to throw this away and write a new one, or perhaps I will save this until you come. I miss you Daddy so if you come back when I am sleeping, could you wake me? Please?
I love you Daddy.
Hope
PS. Daddy, could you cut your beard? I prefer you without it, but, I will still love you if you don’t. I don’t want the enemy to recognise you.

Eight Minutes From Park Station

Trust hummed the tune to “My Redeemer Lives” as he turned the corner into Rissik Street. The unwieldy weight of his spruce-top acoustic guitar danced across his back with each step. Trust always played back each song on the playlist in his head and reminded himself of what chords he needed to play and the changes in the strumming pattern at each section of the song. By the time he got to the last song, which was usually after about twenty minutes, he would be at Commissioner Street, in the safer part of Johannesburg. It was a nerve-wrecking experience, every Saturday, having to walk down Rissik Street whilst trying not to show just how terrified he was. He was eight minutes away from Park Station and halfway through song number three, “Take it all” when five, maybe six, unkempt boys who looked older than they should, surrounded him.

A short one stood in front of him placing his face uncomfortably close to his.”We don’t want to talk shit with you, just give us the phone, Baba,” he said.

Trust stuttered, “I, I don’t have a… ” He felt a sharp object press into his lower abdomen and complied. As the thugs fled in different directions, Trust took panicked breaths and, for the first time, smelled the stale alcohol from the short thug’s breath, and something else. White spots appeared in his eyes, blocking more and more of what he should have been seeing. Then black ones, yellow ones and red ones. He felt faint, and felt himself fall to the ground as a capacious pain shot out from where the knife had poked him. “At least they didn’t take my guitar,” he thought, as he fell to the pavement in slow motion. He heard the hollow thump of his guitar hitting the pavement, and then he heard nothing.

My Dad, My Light

My father told me that when he was my age he wanted to be a painter, actually, not just a painter but an artist. However, after a short stint in Paris with more girlfriends than galleries he decided that he wasn’t good enough to be an artist. There were other who were gifted, he was merely persistent and even on that count, not persistent enough since he abandoned paint and Paris and decided to light up the sky instead. Now I don’t know exactly what he did, the word electrician was often thrown around, words like switch gear too. All I do know is that while my dad lived, he lit up the room, quite literally.

Una

Una laps the pond water like a dog. Her eyes stare into the sharded reflection of her animal self. None to see her in the moonlight. It’s her and the pondweed-and-frog smell of the night. She wonders how it is that all she ever feels, really feels, deep down, is utter confusion – a constant state of not being in touch, missing out on vital truths, seeing them in outline perhaps but never grasping them in her spacious moon-brain. The pitted moon – how far from the earth and closer to the sun, yet always one part in utter darkness.

She envies the clear conviction and certainty of people who live in her world. Why aren’t they aware of the bendable, stretchable universe and the chaos. The limitations of her mind perplex her. Why can’t she reach out and touch those shadows that circle around her like dancers.

The lights in the house glow orange and comforting. She watches, like an outsider, through the curtains into her home. Her children move in the lounge and the man stands clutching an oven-glove watching a fascinating moment on the little television across the room. She hears the hum of TV talk and human conversation. It’s a very pretty sight – moving and comforting – yes.

To be a part of that and not – an interesting position.

She pushes her hands into the grass and slowly gets up. Brushes the pond-side bits and pieces off her cotton dress and slips sandals onto her feet, spits the hair out of her mouth, straightens her cardigan.

He steps onto the veranda and frowns into the darkness. “Una,” he calls, “did you get the teddy bear?”

She’d forgotten about the child’s bedtime comfort. She’d come out to look for it among the trees where the children had been playing. They both knew the drama that would ensue.

“No,” she said.

“Well come in anyway. It’s late and sooner or later he’ll have to learn to do without the thing.”

The limp thing smelt of her little son’s adenoids and perspiration. It was almost hairless where he had rubbed it and held it night after night. There were patches covering the holes where stuffing had leaked out. It had a green waistcoat and its eyes were dulled with scratches. An object of love and security.

In that warm house there is never time to reflect, to talk to the quiet. Out here in the autumn darkness she feels less like the squeezed teddy bear.

“Una!” there is a note of impatience now.

“I’m coming…”

I’m coming into the warm world again, to be filled with business and cooking and you. I’m leaving behind my animal self, leaving it crouching in the long grass, gazing at the moon.

Rubble

A thin string of smoke rises to the air on the mountain. Then another and another and another. People are settling in for the long night ahead as the sun says its red goodbyes over the peak. They’re stupid. Letting them know exactly where they are. Making it easy for them. Like killing an ant. Around me, smarter people hide under the trees and next to the rocks as the long grass of the field keep guard. A small river breaks the field into two. It runs with a steady stream of water only interrupted by the occasional floating, rotting island. A year ago people would have cared. They would have tried to get them out, but know it just seems like a task that would waste energy and make too much noise. Rubble and remnants of structures that were once houses line both sides of the street that was once a home. Up closer to the mountain, I know, stand another, collapsed and empty. A creative mailbox would have proudly displayed its number as 831. 831 26th Avenue, Rietfontein, Pretoria. I can still remember my address. Useless, I guess, but it is like a memento of yesterday. Just a piece of it that can’t be stolen or ‘forced-extracted’.

“Why are you standing in the middle of the street,” I hear a voice from behind me say, “Aren’t we going in there?”

I look around to find her standing behind me, a frown settled on her brow and a look pointing past me to a bare, concrete structure. “Maybe it would be better to sleep in the field,” I say, “Safer.”

She doesn’t even take time to think about it. Her brow frowns and her lips pull tight.

“Boetie!”she says, the word still as innocent in her mouth as ever, “You promised we wouldn’t be sleeping in a field again. You know I hate the…”

“The rats and the spiders and the snakes,” I finish for her, “And the crickets and the grass sticking to everything.” I look to her with a grin.

“Well I do,” she says and walk closer to me, “Please can we just sleep in there?”

I know we shouldn’t. The field will hide us from troublemakers and FFE troupes. The structure won’t. I listen for a familiar crackling sound, but none meets with my ears and I let a sigh escape from my lungs. She still stares at me with those big, blue eyes. The same ones my mother used against me to do the dishes.

“Fine,” I finally give in, “but just because it’s your birthday, Anne. Tomorrow we’re sleeping in the field and you’re cuddling the rats, Okay?” She laughs and pushes past me.

“Race you there!”

The structure is cold. A breeze runs around its corners and whistles at the next. No one else occupies the destroyed space and we walk towards a section that still has some of its roof intact. I set our bag down and point Anne towards the floor under the roof. A few tiles still managed to survive their cracked siblings. She does as I instruct and I decide to take a look around before settling in myself. Here and there something different peaks through the normal piles of rubble. A television, its screen broken, lies next to a shopping cart with only two of its wheels left. The television once would have shown his face declaring war against anyone that opposed him or he simply didn’t like. It would have shown those first few months drenched in red and it would have shown the week that the bombs started destroying everything. I walk back to Anne where she sits rummaging through the bag. She looks up as I come closer.

“Where’s the juice box I found?” she asks.

“I gave it to that kid remember,” I say knowing she wouldn’t. I didn’t tell her.

“Not again,” she moans, “You always give our stuff away.”

“We have enough. Bread and water. Those kids don’t even have brothers or sisters like we have. Right?” Her lips tighten again, but I don’t let the frown climb back up her forehead. I tickle her and she falls on her back laughing.

“Shhh,” I say lowering my voice, “We’re making too much noise.” I laugh at her and then help her upright. Then I reach into the bag and pull out two slices of bread and a bottle of water. We sit there, eating in silence as the moon takes over the shift from the sun.

“Boetie,” she says after a few bites, “Do you think Mom and Dad would have been here if I didn’t cry?”

I sigh. She always asks this and I always give her the same answer.

“Mom and Dad died protecting us. They wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.”

“I still remember her smell, you know?”

“I know. Me too,” I breathe in the night air and she mimics me, “It’s getting late. You better sleep. We’re going over the mountain tomorrow.”

She takes the last bit of bread into her mouth and lies her head down on the bag as she chews the last bits.

“Happy birthday, Anne.”

That night as the moon kept rising and the air became colder my eyes shot open at the sound of a familiar crackling.

Docile Davey Delaney

“Davey, where did you get that?”

The man rubbed the wine stain profusely. His favourite shirt, completely ruined by overindulgence and assorted silliness. Muttering, he gave up. The stain would have to remain…

“My dad never locks his cabinet. Look at it, Martha…It’s beautiful, isn’t it?”

“David…your shirt’s a mess.” His wife was a neat freak. She had seven arms, no breasts and a monolith in her stomach. That’s how he saw her. “Ja…Ja…It was a silly accident, Jennifer…Nothing to get pissed about,” he hollered towards the kitchen. She never knew when to let something go. “Then you mess it up worse by trying to clean it. Why didn’t you just leave it for me?” He bit down hard on his teeth. “One of these days…” She came into the room. “David, I’m talking to you…”

“Davey, be careful…Please…”

He loaded the red stained, rolled-up carpet in the back of his dirty bakkie. “Have to stop by the carwash first, then go to the supermarket, then I have to get rid of the carpet…Lastly, I have to pick up the girls, can’t forget the girls…”

“Don’t be such a baby…Nothing’s gonna happen!”

He bought himself a tall strawberry-flavoured crushed ice and invoked brain freezes, whilst loading the cart with boxes of custard and yogurt cookies. He waltzed in the isles, attracting stares and sniggers masking secret admiration. Then he found what he was really looking for…He was a gap-tooth kid again, doing whatever he felt like with no fear of the consequences.

“Davey, you always get us into trouble…DAVEY, WATCH OUT!”

His favourite song, “Break my stride”, served as the soundtrack for his journey. CD on loop… The clean bakkie stopped by the side of a road overlooking a steep embankment. He wrestled the heavy carpet from the vehicle with great difficulty. He ensured that the coast was clear, before rolling it over the edge. He stood there, staring entranced as the carpet rolled to the bottom where it joined an army of other lonely junk. He felt free at last, severed from useless responsibilities…

“Martha! Martha! Please, wake up now…Open your eyes, Martha!”

The two girls sprinted towards the bakkie, competitive to the last. “Ja, good one, my girls… Linda took it!!” He laughed uproariously. “But don’t worry, Sandra…my little angel…you’ll get another chance tomorrow…” The girls giggled in stereo. “Is mommy home yet?” He stared off into the distance, suddenly distracted. “No, Sandra…Mommy’s not home yet…”

“Please Martha…Please don’t leave me…” The blood dripped from the walls and pooled on the shaggy carpet, more blood than he had ever seen before…

They arrived home at last. The girls ran into the house. Davey stayed in the bakkie. He turned up the volume on his favourite song, “The king of wishful thinking”… CD on loop…The girls screamed…

“David…Dinner’s ready… I made your favourite… Thanks for buying them those dolls; they’ve been nagging for weeks… ” Jennifer kissed him tenderly. “Ja, I found those dollies on special this morning. There were just two left, how lucky was that, babe?” She smiled. “Very lucky, Davey…” “Ja, I bought the dollies home and put them on their beds. You know, to surprise them…” She ran her hand through his gruff hair. “I’ll be there just now, babe.” His wife was his loving inspiration. She had auburn locks, flawless skin, timeless curves and a new future in her stomach. That’s how he saw her. He had fallen asleep in the dirty bakkie. He gathered himself, shaking cobwebs loose. “Count your daily blessings, Davey…” This refrain looped in his head, as he went inside…

Criminal manifesto (0.05g)

My swollen tongue mangled the explanation. His flashlight was brighter than the sun.

“Don’t you think I should drive?”, she pleaded. He blocked innocent logic from entering his mind. The party ran rampant through his system, poisoning the blood all over again. “No Sherry, I’m fine…”

I was on my way to a late night braai. Due to religious and personal reasons, I never drink, except on Saturdays. By the time I was ready to leave, that spark had already clicked in my body. It was urging me on. It’s like I was floating on millions of beer bubbles.

“I don’t think we should come to these parties anymore, Adrian.” She was stone-cold sober. The five months without a drink had flown by. “We need to get away from that crowd.” His jumbled understanding rearranged her meaning into a meaning of his own. “So, my friends aren’t good enough anymore?”

The long drive to Ian’s house gets me every time. I’m usually alone, with only the radio DJ’s for company. Just 33km to go. Lucky for my mate that he’s so masterful at braaing a tjop.

“I’m not in the mood for another argument.” Her head rested wistfully against the window. Street lights were flitting overhead in fast-forward. “I’m young. I want to have fun. I want to enjoy myself before…” She became fierce in an instant. “Before what, Adrian?”

“Good evening, Sir. I have stopped you because you were driving in an erratic and potentially dangerous manner. Can I see your license?” He seemed bored. “You smell like you’ve been having a good time, nè?” A fleeting memory flashed through the dronkenskap, reminding me that the licence was still on my kitchen counter. “Eish officer… I forgot my licence at home. I’m so sorry.” He looked at me, perplexed. “Come again. I didn’t understand you. What’s wrong?” Ja, how could I forget? I accidently bit my tongue a few kilometres back. Pothole or something… Somehow, the thing was now swollen enough to hamper speech. I took my Blackberry and typed a note of apology instead. Also, I added an offer for financial aid at the bottom of the message. “Is R200 ok?” The officer scanned the phone, his flashlight still searing my brain. He nodded. Maybe I was offering too much, but I’m new to this kind of thing. There’s no information pamphlet on how to conduct bribery. Everyone else does it, so I figured I’d give it a try. I fumbled in my purse and took out the loot. I didn’t wait around for a receipt.

The silence engulfed them. His blood was boiling. He turned up the audio to try and defeat the silence. Sherry didn’t retreat from his taunting. She turned the volume down again, as their hands started tussling childishly for control. All eyes averted, while his brain floated in a pungent, ethanol soup. She looked up. Her pupils constricted.

My eyes were trying to readjust, to focus on the blurry street light. I felt beer draining from my mouth, nose and ears. What a waste… My tarmac bed was uncomfortable. I tried to move, but couldn’t. I can sleep here, but I’d rather crash on Ian’s couch. My mouth was watering for that lamb tjop.

The medics lifted him gently onto the stretcher. His neck secured, his body was now possessed of a brand-new immobility. His bloodshot eyes remained open. As they loaded him onto the ambulance, fire fighters were still battling to put out the inferno.

The flames danced with reckless abandon, embracing the charred remains of three people and two unrecognisable vehicles. The ambulance started up and drove away from the catastrophe, taking him further away from his old life. The hypnotic sirens signalled a new beginning. “You got thrown clear of the accident, Mr Lazarus. You are very lucky.”

I saw his lips moving. Then I fell asleep.