The man who died in his car

I religiously read the daily obituaries in our local newspaper.
There, I said it.
I was confronted by my wife about this morbid practice, but I couldn’t answer her other than to venture that I wanted to know who died in my area. Is that so bad? I always rationalize it by saying how embarrassing it would be to inquire after someone’s health, only to be confronted by hurt stares and a terse reply that the said person died two months ago, right? If it was coupled with black eyeliner, piercings and nocturnal visits to the cemetery, then it be something else, right? Anyway, besides the eye roll I received from my supposedly better half, let me get on with my story…
A small notice grimly informed the world that Boeta Achmat Bedford was no longer with us and that he passed away suddenly at home at the age of 82. The article goes further to say that he is fondly remembered by his seven surviving children, 29 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren. Everyone who knew the family knew that there were two facts omitted from the article. The first one was that Boeta Achmat died in an engine-less, beaten-up old car in the street in front of his house and the other is that he was a contented old man and he probably died one too.
I met Boeta Achmat many decades ago through my acquaintance with his youngest son, who was at school with me at the time. We were both avid rugby players and, after practice, I would sometimes accompany him to his house for a glass of watered-down Kool-Aid. Raspberry, with precious little sugar. My goodness, as I am writing this, my throat is restricting at the mere memory of it, and, although I now shudder at the memory of the taste, I can assure you that after a long summer’s day in Cape Town with no money to speak of, the Kool-Aid was like manna from heaven.
The house was in a suburb very close to the slopes of Table Mountain, so the street was at a 45-degree incline running down to the city bowl. It was a small semi-detached one that had a long passage with bedrooms running off the one side and ending up in an open lounge and kitchen. The toilet was outside in the yard. The one thing that always struck me about the house was that it resembled one of those ant farms that were interesting only for the first few hours after you bought it. It was busy beyond belief. There were kids everywhere. I swore that if you did not look where you stepped in that house, you would have stepped on a child. Boeta Achmat had nine children and although he was happily married to a sweet round woman that never said a word, the same could not be said about his children holding on to spouses. Inevitably, after disastrous liaisons that ended up in either divorce or death, his children would find their way back to their parental home with their own children in tow. Unfortunately, all of the daughters inherited the fertility streak from their mother and procreated with frightening regularity.
After the mother passed away suddenly in her sleep, again, without a word or sound, the elder set of daughters, took it upon themselves to arrange the house in a proper dormitory for the siblings and their kids and relegated poor Boeta Achmat to the stoep-room. This was the hastily enclosed veranda that was converted to a small little room with a dresser and a single bed. The room was so small and narrow that the single bed barely fit and that he had to shuffle sideways to get past it to get to the dresser that were shoved into the back of the veranda. Through all of this, Boeta Achmat never said a word and never complained. He even held his tongue when they assigned one of the older boys, whose roaming eye could not be controlled in the crowded bedrooms, to his bed.
No one knew how it started, but by popular opinion, they say it started in the middle of summery January in Cape Town. This usually meant blustering south-easter and high temperatures. Boeta Achmat was tinkering with the indicator switches of the car that was parked in the road. It was an old Mercury whose engine was sorely in need of another engine and the body was slowly being devoured by the rain and sea-air. By this time, thieves had made off with the car wheels and it was standing on cement blocks. The winds were especially fierce that day, so he had all the windows rolled up. After an hour or so, the warmth in the car made him sleepy and rather than braving the winds to go for a lie-down, he reclined the seat and closed his eyes. This proved to be a watershed moment for the old man. When he woke up a few hours later, he felt refreshed and mellow. He told his daughter that evening that he liked the quietness of the car. After breakfast the following morning, he took a slow walk to the corner shop, bought his Cape Times and his three loose cigarettes for the day and promptly made himself comfortable on the backseat of the car. This became a ritual for Boeta Achmat as well as the afternoon siesta when returning from mosque for the afternoon prayers.
He also became uncharacteristically possessive over that space and defended it fiercely against invading grandchildren who all wanted to see what Boeya was doing in the car. He raised his voice and put his foot down when the scrap metal wagon offered a ‘great’ deal that involved a box of snoek off-cuts and tail-less crayfish to the daughters on removing the eyesore from their front door. He, in the end, conceded to them removing the engine a few months later.
As the months passed and winter rolled in on the back of a tablecloth spilling over the cliffs of Table Mountain, he used discarded newspaper and duct-tape to meticulously close up all the holes the North-Wester was using to spew rain and dust into the car. He was not particularly successful as the interior of the car had a constant smell of wet socks, cigarette butts and, well, old people.
Boeta Achmat had always been plagued by a constant cough that became more pronounced during the winter months, probably because of the countless years of dust he inhaled while worked in the building trade as a bricklayer. The three-Stuyvesants-a-day smoking habit didn’t help either. During a particularly bad patch, the children ganged up on him and physically forced him indoors for a couple of weeks. He moped around the house and uncharacteristically snapped at everyone. It is not known who were happier when his chest cleared sufficiently for him to venture back into his car, Boeta Achmat or his children. After that particular episode, no one messed with him again.
When summer rolled around again, Boeta Achmat was virtually living in the car, apart from toilet breaks, eating, changing clothes and trips to the mosque to pray. By this time, the family had resigned themselves to the situation and ascribed it quietly to the eccentricity of an old man.
No one knew when exactly Boeta Achmat died. The rumour-mongers were spreading vicious stories that the old man was dead for three days before the smell forced someone to check. In reality, the eldest daughter discovered his lifeless body when he did not come in for supper.
The car was gone two days after the funeral.

The Life of a White Bird

I was about 10 when I left home, a sad day that was. I know it was for the best, however if I could turn back the hands of time I would. My parents seemed to be used to letting go, I am not surprised though: I was the seventh of a total of twelve. I was not their first and nor was I their last. I guess like they all say: “life goes on”, or was that a tupac song. I must say, leaving the house is quite an experience that I would not trade for anything in the world; not even my beautiful girls.
First day out of the house was the worst ever. It was worse than sharing a toilet with 6 brothers and 5 sisters. I couldn’t tell left from right, I had no friends and I had no idea of the whereabouts of my other brothers. I was all alone. Although I was used to being alone, this was a new type of lonely. I have never been the type to make friends. The only people I knew were my siblings and my parents. This was not entirely my fault though; I didn’t fit in with the others.
Let me not get too emotional as of yet, I’m not ready for it. After about 5 days of being out of the house I soon got a hang of things. I knew where and how to get food. I met a cool stranger, my first ever friend. Trevor is his name; he was and still is the best. He was the first person who embraced my appearance and did not judge me. Well I guess he understood because we had a similar yet different condition.
Trevor and I vowed to have each other’s backs no matter what happened. We believed that nothing would separate us; I guess we didn’t think we would ever get married. Together we were untouchable; in a weird way I found confidence in Trevor. Without him I was just as before; a shy loner. Trevor is a year older than me. That meant that he had an entire years experience being out in the “wild”.
“Hey Top, what’s for supper tonight” asks Trevor all the time. He was hungry all the time. “Top” was a nickname Trevor gave me the second we met. He is truly special to me. Being a loner as a young boy, I would be in the kitchen with my mother learning to cook. This came in handy living with a person who sees having 8 slices of bread with 6 fried eggs and bacon, as a starter or as he calls it an appetiser. Sometimes I think that he only stuck with me because I could feed him well, but I know we connected at a deeper level.
After six months of being out the house, Trevor and I decided to start travelling. I was at first not very open to moving to another town because it meant that I would be even further away from home. However Trevor managed to convince me to tag along his quest to explore the world. Starting over would be a problem for me, I thought. Trevor on the other hand seemed to have had it all figured out
“I’ll go with you Trev, only if you promise me we won’t be crossing any seas” I said just 2 days before we set out to explore. The great thing about this entire trip was that wherever we went we would have the best view of it all. It’s a bird thing. This trip helped me accept me for who I am and my abilities. We travelled on boats for most of the trip, yes I know I didn’t want to cross the seas but the second I got on board the first boat, I was hooked. I could always take the boat back if I ever wanted to go back home, Trevor reassured me all the time.
The first boat we were on was heading to Italy. The best thing Trevor and I enjoyed was the food; the pasta was exquisite. Trevor wanted to not only eat but also learn different languages as we went along. His ambition inspired me as well. Trevor was kind of a bully and a ladies’ man. He always found ways to convince me to do what he wanted, I didn’t mind because I had never dreamt of doing all the things we set out to do on this trip.
“We need mingle with the local Top. First we need to acquaint ourselves with the language” said the eager beaver, Trevor. The following day we set out to find a language school. I could read and write, but Trevor could only spell his name and that was it. He didn’t like it if I would write letters back home because he knew that all he could do was write his name. I had a secret quest; I wanted to make sure by the end of this trip Trevor would be able to read and write. It’s the least I could do after all that he has done for me.
We found the perfect school just off Milan; Lodi. Every morning at 8 am we would sit up on the window seal of the tourist classes. We learnt the basics the first two days. We learnt to say thank you; Grazie, and excuse me; Mi scusi. “Wow the food here is delicious, grazie” I would say that every evening when we would go get something to eat. After a week or so, Trevor and I could construct a few sentences. We were able to “mingle” now.
Trevor always loses focus when he sees beautiful girls passing by. “Focus Trev! We need to find our own place before we start approaching any girls” I said to him. I am always his voice of reason and I know how to get him to focus. “Look over there, there is a to-let sign” said Trevor. The place we found as bigger than the one we had back home; two bedrooms and a magnificent kitchen. The place didn’t come at a cheap price, but Trevor took care of it.
I don’t know where he got the money. Every time I would offer to pay, he would slap me and say “Top the only thing you have to do is make sure there is food on the kitchen counter for us”. I didn’t mind though because I loved to cook, it’s sort of therapeutic and it calmed me down every time I felt home-sick. However I still don’t know where he got the money. We had the same job back home and we got paid the same amount. I am very savvy with money but Trevor is the kind to spend money. He never runs out. This was a mystery.
One morning, Trevor got up before the sun came up. For him that was a first. He kept on walking up and down the room. I knew something was wrong but Trevor and I didn’t like to talk about what was bothering us. We made a deal that if there was something wrong and we wanted to talk, we would talk but neither of us was to ask until the other mentioned it.
He took his bag and put a brown folder in it and head out the door. It was still dark out, I tried to look out the window to see where he was going but he was long gone by the time I got to the window. It was a Saturday and neither of us were going to work. I was quite worried, for a second I thought that he had left for good. After six hours I decided to take a stroll outside. I was hoping to run into him and the local bar just 2 streets away; he was nowhere to be found.
I bought a few vegetables and headed back home to start cooking. I didn’t cook a lot because I was almost certain that he was not coming back. At around eight pm, he walked in. he was in a cheerful mood as compared to when he left this morning. He three bags in his hand. They all looked full to the maximum. He put them away and came into the kitchen. “Top if I didn’t love the ladies so much, I would marry you” he said while starring at the pots. “You are crazy Trev! Let me dish up for us” I said.
That night as we were eating I waited for him to say what it was that made him sweat like a pig in the morning. He said nothing at all. “What did you get up today?” he asked. I guess he was trying to get rid of the awkward silence at the table. “Nothing much, I just went to the bar and bought a few veggies” I responded.
The next morning he left early again but this time I knew why. I snooped around to try and find the bags. I found them but they were empty. I found a 100 dollar note in one. Could the bags have been filled with money? How was I to find out? I let it go for a while and forgot all about it.
“How about we hit the streets tomorrow night and explore the local bars here?” I have never suggested anything since we met, well at least not anything that we would both enjoy. Trevor was quite amazed and began to laugh to a point where he almost choked on his steak. “Sure thing Top, I guess you are getting into the Italian spirit” he said with a mouth full of broccoli.
I was proud of myself that night. For once I could be considered to be cool. I woke up super early; I wanted to write a letter home before Trevor woke up. I didn’t want to ruin his cheerful mood. I sat in the bathroom and wrote the letter. I always make it out to my mother; she is the only one that I was okay.
Dear mama
Mama I hope you are well. Trevor and I
are in Italy now. I am having the best
time of our lives. I wish you were here too.
Give my love to everyone back home, even
Love your 7th son
Boo-bear isn’t my real name. My mother gave me that nickname because I always wanted hugs just like a teddy bear. “You must really be excited for tonight!” Trevor said while banging on the door. “I had an upset tummy! I am excited but not to that extant” I said as I hid my notebook in my suitcase in the bathroom cupboard.
At 8 am we were at the window seal. Trevor wanted to learn a new phrase that would help him charm the ladies. We bought English to Italian translation manual. I helped him find the phrase he wanted. “I want to be able to say: you are beautiful” he said. I scanned through the book and we found it. “Its siete belle” I said when I found it.
Trevor practiced that phrase all day. “I think I’ve got it now” he said. I was concerned though, I wondered what he would do if the girl said something back. At round lunch time, we headed home to get something to eat and get some rest before our big night out in Italy. Any night out with Trevor is an epic one.
It’s strange how the next morning neither of us can remember a thing. I have never got why I could not remember what happened when we got to the bar. Trevor would always say that I passed out after a drink or two and he brought me back home and went back out. The rest was always a blur, he would say.
I think I might have given the impression that Trevor and I are together at all times. We may be working at the same place back home and we came on this trip together, but we are not always together. Some days, especially after a night out, Trevor would insist on staying in and I would head out and explore all on my own.
The Italians are a fascinating bunch. I would sit on the window seal of a young couple’s apartment. The apartment was perfectly furnished from the door mat to the living room lamps. The colours complemented each other exquisitely. Julian was the house keeper’s name. She had a very weird relationship with the man who seemed to be related to her.
At first I paid no attention to their endeavours, but then one day the paramedics had to be called in. from that day on I was hooked like those people who spend so much time watching television series over and over again. I wanted to see what would happen next. I was at that window seal so many times that I got used to their schedule.
Mr. Benedict was Julian’s employer. For about a week or so there seemed to be no Mrs. Benedict, until one day at around noon she appeared. She had long blonde hair. She reminded me of the characters in the stories that my mother made me read. She was pure perfection. I noticed that while she was around Julian only came once a week instead of every day from 8am until 5 pm.
There was something that was odd about their living arrangement. Mr. Benedict slept in what seemed to be the master bedroom and, the person whom I had thought was Mrs. Benedict, slept in the other room. I watched their apartment as though I was being paid to. On occasion Trevor would agree to head out with. Trevor would only tag along only if he knew that there is a football match that day.
“One day they will catch you on their window seal” mentioned Trevor. I was determined to see the season finale of this apartment and I wouldn’t budge. I would rather risk being caught than miss a single moment. “Don’t be silly Trev, I have been very careful. No one will ever notice me” I said. Trevor was ready to move on to the next city or else we would have to find employment before we ran out of food and money for rent.
Obviously I found a job just next to my favourite apartment. It wasn’t mush but it paid enough to help around at the apartment. Trevor found employment at his favourite sports bar. It seemed as though we would never leave Italy, I was ready to settle. We stayed in Italy for about two months, during this time I sat every day from 10 pm until early hours of the morning.
I felt like a little detective or that fly o the wall. I knew everything, I had their schedule all figured out. Trevor would bring me supper every night and sit next to me as I did my daily spying. “Tony honey?” that was the voice of an angel. I have never seen her before. She stood at the door with her tight red dress on and very high heels. “What do you want? You know you shouldn’t be here?” whispered Mr. Benedict.
Little did Mr. Benedict know that the Mrs was wide awake and was listening in to everything. “Stacie did you come all this way to just stand there and stare at me?” whispered Mr. Benedict again. “Well Tony, if you must know, I was kicked out of my apartment because you forgot to pay rent for over three months” said Stacie. At first, being little naïve me, I thought that Stacie was Mr. Benedict’s sister or step daughter or plain relative.
“I’ll call you in the morning and I will take care of it” whispered Mr. Benedict as he closed the door quietly. “Who were you talking to?” asked Mrs. Benedict. He stood there for ten seconds flat and didn’t move, not even an inch. “You are still up. It was nothing, I just heard a noise and thought something was wrong” said Mr. Benedict. “You must have not heard me clearly. Who were you talking to?” she repeated he question.
“It was Mr. Jackson from down the hall, he just got back home and was making a raucous” Mr. Benedict answered. She didn’t seem to believe his story. Mrs. Benedict walked away and went back to bed but this time she was in the master bedroom as well. “So you have forgiven me now?” said Mr. Benedict. “Forgiven you for what, you have denied all my accusation; even the ones where I had concrete evidence” said Mrs. Benedict. I left soon after, my eyes were beginning to itch and they were burning red.
The next day was my last day ever. Firstly it was because Trevor and I were leaving the next morning. Secondly it was because the Benedict family was moving out that day. I woke up bright and early that day. When I got there, Mrs. Benedict was loading what seemed to be a body into the boot of her car. The windows I sat at showed the living room floor, there was blood all over the floor. At first it looked like ketchup but then it was too thick to be ketchup.
I could not believe what I had just witnessed. It was like a scene from those crime investigation shows. “Trevor! Come quick please” I said on the phone. He took his time as usual. “Honey, this was for the best and you know it too” said Mrs. Benedict. “What was for the best?” I kept asking myself. Mr. Benedict looked quite melancholic as compared to his rude and egoistic self. They left in such a hurry. What or who -ever laid in that boot was still a mystery to me.
“Who died Top?” Trevor asked when he finally arrived. I was still in shock and didn’t say a word. Moments later we were off. “Where are we off to now?” I asked Trevor. He said it was a surprise, just like Italy was a surprise. All I knew about this place was that this was where we were to settle. This was where we would find all that we had been looking for or what I had been longing for my entire life.
Trevor had never been so nervous on a flight before. I felt coerced into asking if there was something bothering him but I didn’t. “We are almost there” said Trevor anxiously. Whenever he didn’t finish a sentence by saying my nickname I knew something was wrong. I didn’t say a word until we landed. When we landed, Trevor was still shaking. “Does that say OR Thambo Airport?” he asked. “Yes it does” I responded.
He calmed down a bit. We carried our bags to a hotel. “We need to find a more permanent place Top, these places are not that cheap” he said but this time with a little more enthusiasm. I didn’t unpack my bag because I knew this was not our final resting place. We headed down the elevator to the dining area. “The food here is…” before I could finish my sentence, Trevor stood up and went into the bar. He would always finish his mountain of food before I would.
Eventually when I finished my meal, I went into the bar to look for him. It’s not a mystery where I would find him. He was seated a table surrounded by bunch of women. “Hey Top! Ladies this man knows his way around the kitchen” he said to the ladies at the table. They were all certain that I was homosexual. “I’m off to bed Trev” I said to him. He ignored me and carried on chatting to the women.
The next day he was up before me. “Time is money and sleep is for the dead Top” he said as he shook me. He was an early bed and I liked to sleep in until late. “Where are off to now?” I asked Trevor. I always wake up quite cranky especially if I was woken up. “Well we need to find jobs and a more permanent place to stay” he responded. I for one was astonished, why would he want to settle here. It is not as fun as Italy was.
By the time we had found a place cheap enough for us, Trevor had become the towns favourites person. I don’t know how he does it. He is just so good with people, how does he do it? I guess his good looks put him above my average by far. I am just glad that him and I are friends, I get to get the rejects to be in my life because they think they are getting closer to being friends with him. A cool guy that Trevor of mine, supercool.
Amazingly where ever we go we veer struggle to get jobs, must be the magic hand of chance playing in our favour all the time. “Up so early Top” murmured Trevor as he got up from bed. “You know what they say Trev, the early bird catches the worm and plus it’s our first day on the job and I aim to impress” I said. Trevor starred at me and laughed. “You getting yourself all made up for Mr Rou” he said.
Mr Rou is our new boss. He is quite strict in how he likes his employees to dress and behave. We have always gotten jobs at places were the boss immediately becomes your buddy. They were quite lonely folk. Mr Rou is different, he has a wife, two children and a pet dog. I did my research, I figure that this will definitely impress Mr Rou even further.
I know people always prefer to interact with Trevor more than me, but Mr Rou liked him way too much if you ask me or any one for that matter. Mr Rou even said he prefers to call me Top as well, “just like Trevor calls you” those wee his exact words. I choose to brush people’s comments or judgements about me under a carpet so it doesn’t hurt me as much.
“Trev, how’s about you come for dinner at my place tonight? My wife makes the best lasagne” said Mr Rou. “hmm I’m not quite sure, I…” said Trevor. Right there, his response, is the reason we are great friends. “Please, you can bring Top along with you.” Mr Rou said as he put his arm around my shoulder. I was like a bargaining chip, I guess. “I guess we can come “ Trevor responded.
At this point I wondered if it had occurred to any of them that I might just have plans or better yet wouldn’t want to go to Mr Rou’s house. Anyway being the good fellow that I am I played along and accompanied Trevor to Mr Rous place. Not what I imagined, I though a well established man like him would have something a little more decent. I guess the cost of living is too high these days, even for the big boss himself. Mrs Rou is the most beautiful women I have ever set eyes on. She is the perfect shade, shape and height. I think I’m in love or maybe just attracted to her.
“Hello, come in come in!” she said as she welcomed us into her home. Although the house was old and not what you would expect from a big shot like Mr Rou, Mrs Rou made it look beautiful. “What a lovely home you have Mrs Rou” said the charmer, Trevor, as he softly kissed her hand. “Oh thank you, please just call me Evelyn” she said as she blushed like every other one night stand that Trevor has been with.
“Boys don’t just stand there drilling at my lovely wife, come in and join me for a drink or two before we sup” said Mr Rou sitting in the lounge area. Evelyn said something, neither myself nor Trevor could make out what she had said. I had a strong feeling that there was trouble in paradise. “Come tell me about your trip to Italy” Mr Rou requested very enthusiastically. What was thee to tell? Nothing really, just great food, great people and a little snippet of what could have been a murder.

To be continued….


thats the question is everyones lips. others agree that it seems like they are more concerned with the idea of dying than accepting that indeed the’ll die. if someone dies he/she will be born in a different country or continent and that particular person wont recall that he/she once lived. somehow this is true, there is a time in which you might bump at someone who looks exactly like someone you know from somewhere. you may consider this a coincidence, but i guess that’s how god wanted you to think when a person diesw, another one is biorn to rep,lac e the one who has departed.this whole thing is like a spiral, that’s we wont figure out if there’s life after death.the only thing that divides us is religion. for example; indians ; when a baby is born they cry and mourn for the fact that the baby has come into the world of problems. on the other hand when someone of their race passes away, they celebrate gesticulating, this shows that the departed person has been subdued from all the troubles and sufferings of this life

Moving On

We met in a biker bar outside of Joburg. She was dressed in white fake leather and glitter. I stood out like a black man at a Bar Mitzvah. Everyone was in boots and biker gear. I was wearing a pink dress, white angel wings and green sneakers. I don’t do half measures, so I even had the crown and blue mascara to match. My mates thought it would be a laugh to tell me that we were going to a cross-dressing party. They all showed up in their jeans and jackets, while I looked like a drag queen with an identity crisis. I was obviously meant to be the punch line of a bad joke.

I decided to take it like a man. Man being a very loose term under the circumstances. Bravely I walked up to the bar, trying to look as macho as a man in pink with a princess crown can possibly look.

“We don’t serve queens asshole. Get the hell out of my bar!” The last words I heard before I felt the pain shoot through my nose.

When I came to, the boys were nowhere in sight. I was outside the backdoor, with a few cigarette stubs clinging to my angelic wings and my crown lying broken next to my head. My friends probably didn’t see all the action across the crowded bar. My head was pounding and my snozz was at least four times the size it had been when I arrived.

She appeared out of nowhere – my eighties angel in leather and sequins.
“Are you ok?” She held some ice against my aching head and I noticed a piece of string hanging from my nose.

“Sorry, your nose wouldn’t stop bleeding and there’s no crap paper here, so it’s the best I could come up with.” She explained quickly, noticing the confused expression on my face.

“It’s cool that you put yourself out there like that, but it’s a bit stupid to come to a biker bar in drag my darling. Can I take you somewhere more, um… fairy friendly?” She said sympathetically. I wanted to laugh, but it hurt too much.

I’ve never felt more embarrassed. Dressed like a queen, with a bleeding mouth and a tampon stuck up my nose. No amount of explaining could make me look any better or worse at this point, so I told her that I’d get where I needed to go on my own.

“Can I come with you? This isn’t really my scene.” Not her scene? She looked like she’d been conceived, born and raised in a biker bar? But I decided to let her tag along anyway, she helped me out after all, and she seemed pretty harmless.

“Let’s go bowling.” She suggested.

Why the hell not I thought, this evening couldn’t get any worse. I hate bowling by the way, but putting on dirty shoes and showing off my complete lack of coordination just seemed like the way this night was destined to go.

So there we were, the biker babe and the fairy queen sharing a lane, our game stinking worse than my sockless feet in the scary maroon shoes. She was either the worst bowler ever or she was just trying to protect my fragile ego, because she sucked like… well something that sucks a lot.

“Oh shit! I just broke a nail.” She exclaimed, looking completely shattered. I thought that I should at least try to feign some concern.

“Can it be saved?” I asked as sincerely as possible.

“No honey. It’s a goner.”

“Does it hurt?” I said taking her cold hand in mine.

“Only when I laugh.” She replied, calling my bluff.

“It’s only a fricken nail. It’ll grow again. But I think it’s a sign that this game is over. Besides, we’re making everybody else look bad.” She said and smiled.

Only then did I notice how pretty she was, or could be for that matter. Underneath the clothes that were much too tight and the thickly painted on make-up she wasn’t half-bad. I smiled back self-consciously, wondering if she noticed me staring a bit too long.

“Could you drop me back at Full Throttle please?” She asked as she slipped on her blinding white boots again.

“Sure, but I know you’ll understand if I don’t go in again.”

“Why not? You were so popular there earlier on.” She smiled casually again. I liked the easy way she could smile and laugh.

I drove back to the hellhole and dropped her at the gate.

“Will you get home ok?” I said, giving her a bit of an awkward hug.

“I’m always ok.” She said, and somehow I believed her. I thanked her again for coming to my rescue. She said something about me actually being her hero, but before I could ask her to repeat or explain it, she was already out of earshot.


“So you picked up a chick, and you didn’t even introduce us to her friends?” George belted as he came running up to my car. Apparently they were looking for me in the parking lot.

“I didn’t pick up a girl. She saved my ass, when you guys were too busy partying to even notice that I’d been beaten up and thrown outside.” I said, pointing to my nose for effect.

“Geeze dude, that’s hectic! Are you ok?” George said as he finally realised that my blue nose wasn’t just part of the outfit.

Apparently they had been trying to phone me for ages, but my phone had been switched off. Only then did I realise that my mobile was gone. Maybe it was because I was a bit concussed, or the confusion of it all, but I didn’t even think of using it. My wallet and car keys were still with me, so I couldn’t figure out at which point I might have lost it.

All the guys started apologising and asking me to retell the night’s events. I may have embellished some of the details slightly, but it’s like an unwritten rule “if you get beaten up, you’re allowed to tell your version of the events.” Once I’d given a blow-by-blow account of the night, everyone wanted to know about the biker babe. They made the typical laddish comments, asking if she mounted me like a Harley and whether she kept her boots on.

Usually I would laugh along and play it all up. But this time I got angry. She was sweet and I didn’t think for a second that she had any ulterior motives. As I thought about the night, I realised that there was no point where she was trying to seduce me. She was just being genuinely friendly. The boys didn’t get why I was so offended, but for some reason I felt like she deserved to be defended.

At last, at three in the morning, I made my way home feeling ill from the pain and very tired, but even with a couple of painkillers and a shot of Jack I still couldn’t sleep. I didn’t even take her number, in fact, I wasn’t really sure if her name was Gina or Bernie. Then again, I didn’t even have a phone to call her with even if I did get her details. Maybe I was better off not dreaming with my subconscious floating to scenes of bowling balls, broken nails and broken noses. What a night!

I woke up to a breezy: “Whoohooo! Mikey” Somebody was shouting right outside, nails tapping on my window. “Mikey! You awake sweetie?” As I pulled away the curtain, I saw my mom, smiling like she just became a grandmother. O crap, I thought to myself… please don’t tell me my sister and her numb-nuts husband actually decided the world needed to be punished with a little numb-nuts junior. But, this wasn’t the reason for the happy visit.

Mom pulled my cell phone from her purse and waved it around. “Looking for this? Ah, Mikey, she’s lovely. Why haven’t you told me about her? She’s so polite and smart and a looker… oh Mikey, I’m so happy for you. This is so great. You should bring her over for dinner.” Mom made all this sound like one long sentence. I had no clue who she was talking about and what the hell it had to do with my phone. Turns out, my friend from last night, had my phone and she assumed MOM would be the safest number to phone, to make sure it gets back to me. Not only has she already met my mom, but she also happens to live just three blocks down from my parents, which is why she decided to just quickly drop it off there.

“Why didn’t she just ask me to come and pick it up? It wasn’t necessary for her to go to you guys?”

“I also thought she could just give it to you when you see each other again. But she insisted on just dropping it off there.”

“When we see each other again? Did she mention anything like that?”

“No, but I just assumed… Well, she did have your phone with her…”

Suddenly Mom went quiet, and her eyes and mouth shot open, with that same horrified look she gave me the first time she found me defiling her new Cosmo magazine.

“Michael! Your nose! What happened. Your beautiful, beautiful nose. My baby!”

“It’s not a big deal mom. I dove into the shallow end of the pool. It hurts, but it’s going to be ok.”

I wasn’t about to tell her that I got beat up at a biker bar, because I looked like a cross-dresser. It just raises too many questions… Like what’s a cross-dresser? Mom is so innocent and naïve. The kind that still thinks Lesbia is a country and spells out D-I-V-O-R-C-E like it’s a swearword.

“A pool? How awful. You look awful. Do you need me to take you to the doctor?” She asked studying my nose up close.

“I’m fine mom. Everything’s fine. Thanks for bringing my phone, but I really have to get ready now. I’ll see you later.”

I gave her a kiss on the cheek and closed the curtain, hoping she’d understand that she wasn’t going to be invited in. But Bernice (yes her name was Bernie, not Gina) had invited herself into my life.


I found Bernie’s number on my phone, she must have saved it. I made a call, I made her dinner that night. Since then I’ve made her laugh countless times, made her bed and years later we made the decision that it was time to end things. We stopped remembering what was good about us and started fighting about everything. Fond memories of a broken nose, became two broken people, who put white leather and fairy wings in a black bag to give away. In the same way we started stuffing who we once were into the bottom drawer. We used to love each others smells and quirks, but now we sit with them hanging in a room, stifling us and silencing the nice things we used to say to each other.

We said our final goodbye at a coffee shop, neutral territory.

No amount of talking could make me feel any better or worse at this point, so I told her that I’d get where I needed to go on my own.

“Will you get home ok?” I said, giving her a bit of an awkward hug.

“I’m always ok, Mike.” She said, and again I believed her.

I thanked her for everything, for coming to my rescue so many times. She said something about me actually being her hero, but before I could ask her to explain what she meant, she’d already moved on.

The Guilt Trip

Spoiling myself, I bought four new incredibly hot outfits. When I saw them, it was love at first sight, so I didn’t bother fitting. I simply pictured myself in them, and that was enough. Now, here is the disappointing part, when I got home, they simply didn’t fit. Even worse, they are my size, the last size in the shop. A sad reality hit me; I had to return all of them. I hate returning merchandise; the tellers have a way of making you feel like you committed the worse crime of the century, an unforgivable sin. There I was, walking stupidly feeling nervous and scared like a kid called into the principal’s office for being mischievous. I told myself that I was going to put up a straight face just to make sure those cashiers don’t make silly comments that will lead to worse guilt than I already felt. I joined the long queue , and endured each passing second and minute with the sound of the ticking clock in my head. By that time, I so strongly wished I were done and on my way to the exit. The queue moved in its slowest pace, and by the grace of higher powers, I reached the cashiers. “Good morning, how can I help you?” The nice lady asked with a sweet smile. “Hi, I would like to return these please.” I told her as I handed over the items. The nice lady’s face changed to a mean lady’s face, reminding me of my grandmother’s face when I accidentally knocked over her Sunday lunch salad. “All of them?” She asked in awe. “Yes, they don’t fit.” I said, half scared and half trying to put on a brave face. “Returns and Exchanges are done upstairs on the second floor.” She said, pointing me to the direction of the escalators. Great, I had to go and join another long que for a good thirty minutes. Just when I was about to go next, some woman and her husband cut in front of me. I was so angry and irritated. The woman noticed, and felt the need to explain, “sorry about this, we were in the queue downstairs and we were told to come here.” Why didn’t I do that? Yes, my guilt wouldn’t allow me. I had to release the tension on my face and look more understanding. I waited patiently for them to finish. I was skeptical of going back to the line thinking it would cause tension with the other customers, so I just stood in the middle of the isle feeling embarrassed. I was trying to divert my attention to something else when I felt the pang in my stomach. Yes, I was hungry. My head began to pound, the bright naked lights in the store made me feel dizzy and sick. I wanted to sit down so badly. I looked at the lady and her husband again, to see how far they were. To my surprise, they were doing the same thing I was about to do. The worst part for them was that their account had reached its limit and they couldn’t take items on credit. They had to return a full basket, imagine, a full basket! I felt a bit sad for them since they also had to return baby food, poor baby. They left the counter empty handed, and I moved closer. The teller slowly got up from her chair and limped around returning some of the items to their respective shelves. “Couldn’t she have done this some other time?” I asked myself in half a whisper completely annoyed. The teller had a bandage on her uncle, hence the limping. I couldn’t understand why she had to be macho and do the task, neither did her fellow colleagues who told her to stop. “Are you exchanging?” she asked as she half dragged her lower body sitting on the high chair behind the counter. “No, returning.” I said, pushing the items to her. “They don’t fit the person I was buying them for.” I explained further just to avoid follow-up questions. I saw her lips shaping into half a pout and I could swear she was about to yawn as she scanned the items one by one. A snail could have done the job much faster than she did, but I wasn’t exactly in the position to complain. I had my fingers crossed and prayed internally for her to finish without complaining or saying there is a problem with the items. She finally finished, and I had my cash in my hand. As I made my way out of the store I had to fight the urge to run, scared that I would be called back and told that there is a problem with the merchandise. If the shopping center didn’t happen to be so packed, I would have shouted “free at last!” on my way out.

LOVE (The Weird Dream)


Everytime he saw her, she would throw a grin at him when he’ll do the same from first they met. It became ocassional for Sam to pass by Ben’s house, certain she’ll find him as if, he was expecting her. Ben’s house was positioned on a corner between two busy lanes people used to get to the super market which was side opposite to his home. It was more like something they’ve planned, Ben knew when to get outside and wait for Sam to pass, blash to each other silently with a hand wave followed by a grin, it seemed a routine they both enjoyed but surprisingly they never said a word to each other. The super market seemed a perfect excuse for Sam to pass by Ben’s every single day, once, twice or trice sometimes, she just seemed not to get enough of seeing Ben’s face, either was Ben.
As time pass, Ben then realised he was in love with someone he berely knew, but it seemed he wasn’t intending to make an effort of getting to know her better; approaching her and ask for a name at least or numbers, he desperately relied on seeing her passing by his home to the market. Sometimes he would sadden himself with scenarios like, what would happen if the super market closes, that would mean Sam won’t have to pass by anymore to flash that grin. Or what if she happens to runs out of cents to just crab something at the markert, she wont be able to come to the market and he won’t be able to see her, he somehow knew that he was the reason Sam appeard so often to his side and just a thought of Sam’s absence, was enough to shatter his feelings and darken most of his day till Sam would appear.


It was tueday when a day had went dawn with no sign of Sam anywere. Ben was sad that whole day, he set the whole night secretly crying for not seeing Sam it was hard for him to catch a sleep with all the wonders why she didn’t show that day. About 3am in the morning, he unexpectetly fell to sleep with tears all over his face.
Next day same thing happened, Sam didn’t pitch like she usually does, and that really hurt Ben’s heart so much that he locked himself in his room till he fell to sleep. That same day he woke up and went outside to pee, he didn’t really notice what time it was or else he wasn’t to go outside at that time. After peeing he zipped his pants, when he was about to turn to the door back inside the house, there she was, Sam in the middle of the night, in the dark passing by Ben’s. As usual, she flashed a grin and waved, stared at Ben. Ben was gazed for some seconds and blinked, to his suprise she wasn’t there anymore. Ben looked all sides but had no luck tracing where she had dissappeard. He then went back to the house and realised after checking on the time it was too late for someone to be roaming out in the street, or for someone to be peeing outside that late, he was just confused but then, went to bed. By sunrise, he sit outside determined to break the silence between him and Sam so he can ask why she didn’t come to check up on him like it was an appointment, but still she didn’t show.
Ben had slept for some hours during the day when he was woke by a dream again, a dream where Sam was flashing a grin at him, waving hand saying goodbye with an empty voice. He was confused and couldn’t really understand the dream, but he thought maybe she had left the township maybe. Thoughts kept flowing but then decided he will go out and try to track her. Suddenly the weather changed and became rainy. Looking through the window from his room, there she was again in a stormy weather, alone in the streets. Ben then rashed to her for the first time, the routine then he hollered; “hey, what are you doing in such a weather?”, asked Ben with rain drops flowin off his face. Sam smiled staring at him and didn’t reply. “Are you okay? Do you wanna come inside maybe, it’s raining out here”.
“I can see, Ben. I can see”, replied Sam.
“Then why are you out here, geez how you know my name..we never spoke”,said Ben as he attempted to hold Sam, but he couldn’t touch her.
“Stop that Ben, you can’t hold me..i wish i could hold you in my arms and never let you go but…i can’t”, said Sam with a tear dropping off her face down her chin, but rain drops modyfied her tears. Ben couldn’t understand what Sam was saying really, then he asked with a sore heart.
“What do you mean i can’t touch you, just let me come close and feel you..”.
“You can’t!”, Sam interupted. “I reckon you dreamnt of me today”
“What…how did you know that, are you a ghost or something?”
“That was a way of me saying goodbye ’cause you’ll never see me again Ben. I LOVE YOU!”.
“But…bu..i never even got a chance to know you..i”, he then woke up tears shed from his eyes.


Next morning he managed to track and enters Sam’s home looking for her.
“Oh, you must be a friend of Sam who she used to always talk of recently in the house”, said Sam’s aunt to Ben.
“Oh really, she used to..and now, don’t she mentions me anymore?”, asked Ben with an impotent voice. Sam’s aunt saw love written all over Ben’s face and she knew how, probably the two were deeply in love with each other so she defended her statement; “when i say used to, is when she was still here, right now she’s not here she’s home”.
“Oh, for a visit?”
“Yes..something like that.”
“But she didn’t tell me”
“I’m sorry, it’s just that she told me that you guys never speak you are afraid of each other, somehow”
“Oh, i’ll come back when she comes back then. Stay well miss”
“Ok, boy”, a tear dropped from Aunty’s face watching Ben leaving in despair. She thought to her self it was too early to let Ben know that his loved one had a car accident with her mom and dad, and no one made it alive, even Sam’s pet.
“But i just wanna tell her that i love her”, Ben murmmered to himself with face down as he leaves Sam’s house, he could feel something was not right but kept on a hope that Sam returns home sooner so to tell her his feelings on her.

Phantom Forest

Ghosts? Yes I know of ghosts. I know that there are various sorts of them, from poltergeists to vengeful spirits and of course, phantoms. Poltergeists like to get up to all sorts of mischief and are in fact very common. I know of many a person who has fallen for the deceitful tricks of poltergeists. Take Lenny Kleinbooi for example. Lenny had suffered from asthma his whole life and as such, he always carried a pump with him. When he was at home, the pump had a place on the bottom shelf above the kitchen sink. Then one day when Lenny fell into asthma induced breathing fit, he found that his pump was gone. Fortunately for him he was able to stumble his way outside and was seen by a concerned neighbour who then took him to hospital. Later, Lenny’s pump was found in the fruit bowl on the dining room table underneath a bunch of bananas. A group of us deduced that such a shrewd hiding place could only be the work of a poltergeist as Lenny had a very good memory and organised manner about him. That was not the only occasion that Lenny had found himself the victim of a Poltergeist’s prank. He had left home one morning to go into town only to come back later and find to his horror that his house was burning down. It was found later that the gas stove had been turned on sometime that morning and a candle had been lit and had fallen over onto the stove, igniting the gas and starting a fire in the kitchen which then spread throughout the house. The chief investigator for the insurance company deemed it to be a deliberate case of starting a fire and was ruled to be arson and so the insurance would not pay out until the culprit could be apprehended. Many people thought that it was Lenny himself who had started the blaze so as to claim the insurance money and take an overseas holiday to Malta, but I knew that it could only have been a poltergeist and a poltergeist being what it was could not be apprehended and tried for his crimes. Thus, Lenny had to move into low budget accommodation downtown. That was before they discovered that he had Alzheimer’s, otherwise Lenny’s attorney could have claimed that, due to his condition, Lenny had been unable to find the light switch that morning and had to light a candle to see what he was doing when making his breakfast. He then could have further claimed that, again due to Lenny’s condition, he simply forgot to both turn off the stove and put out the candle next to it. Had such knowledge been available, Lenny could have bluffed his way through and need not have made mention of any poltergeist in the process. Partly due to his condition and partly due to the poltergeist constantly stalking him, Lenny passed away a few months later. A few days after that however, the chief inspector in the arson case died of a heart attack while munching on a boerewors roll. This brings up the next type of ghost: The vengeful spirit. The coroner put the inspector’s death down to poor diet and failing health but I knew that it was really an act of retribution exacted by the vengeful soul of Lenny Kleinbooi. Such was plain.

So you see where poltergeists enjoy committing mischievous deeds, vengeful spirits carry out acts of revenge and retribution. Now we look at the last kind of ghost: Phantoms. What makes phantoms so mysteriously different from the rest is that one simply cannot tell when they are there and when they are not. It is easy to tell when one’s car keys have been misplaced that a poltergeist is about or that when one is met with series of misfortunes that the vengeful spirit of one’s old mathematics teacher is paying one back for every time one fell asleep in his class, but with phantoms it is more difficult. As I have said, it is difficult to tell when one in fact is in the presence of a phantom as they take great care to conceal themselves when they are in the vicinity. I have had experiences in which I have been sitting in the living room and felt a sudden chill come over my shoulders. I would spring up and spin around hoping to observe some sort of paranormal phenomena but as I have said Phantoms are difficult to see, especially when invisible as they often are. The most that I would observe is that I had left the kitchen window open. The distinction between a phantom and an evening draught is also a difficult one to draw, but one who has ever encountered a phantom may be able to tell you the difference. I am one such person, having first encountered such a spectre in my naïve and simple youth before I believed in such things. A long time ago it was, but the memory is no less clear now than it was back when it happened all those years ago.

It was late one spring afternoon that myself and some friends of my youth set off on a camping trip to the place known as Phantom Forest. “Why is it called Phantom Forest?” asked Arnold Aldridge, the new boy in town. “Because” answered Jimmy Jones while taking a moment to take a bite out of a green apple “there are phantoms living in there.” Joseph Mdaka and I sniggered as he walked behind them but Arnold nodded with wide eyes as if this were some profound revelation. “What’s the matter Arnie?” Joseph goaded, “Are you scared?” Arnold immediately puffed out his chest in indignation and vigorously shook his head. “No, no, no. Scared? Definitely not!” We all chuckled again. As the new boy in town, it was our job to initiate Arnie by taking him into the heart of Phantom Forest, waiting until darkness fell and then getting him to tell us the spookiest story that he could. Following that, one of us would put out the fire and then we would all silently step away from the campsite in the dark, leaving Arnie alone to fear for his life. The purpose of this scare tactic is to test the mettle of the new boy and see if his character is worthy enough to join our crew. Even if the poor guy was scared stiff we would still welcome him in. We had all gone through this rite of passage and tonight it was Arnie’s turn. We had crossed the White Bridge and taken the right turn off of the main road. We now followed the dirt road with the estuary on our right, shimmering gold as the setting sun shone upon it. It was warm and the late day had a docile almost lazy feel to it. The four of us continued along the road for about another quarter of an hour before Joseph pointed to the hidden path leading off of the road. We stepped off the sand and gravel and onto the cooler, softer dirt of the path leading into the undergrowth. The shade provided a cooling sensation and the sweat on my back began turning icy, which was pleasant at first but as always it inevitably became too cold for one’s liking. “How far into the woods are we going?” Arnie somewhat nervously asked. “You’ll see.” was Jimmy’s simple reply.
The undergrowth was thick but it was not so thick that we could not see that the sun had almost set. It was dark in the forest, dark enough to warrant taking out and turning on our torches to illuminate the path before us. We had been walking for quite some time before Arnie spoke again. “How much farther?”
“Five minutes or so.”
About that amount of time later Jimmy halted causing the rest of us to stop as well. He slowly shone the light from his torch around him in a complete circle to observe the surroundings then turned to us and proclaimed: “We’re here” and abruptly dropped his pack and knelt down to begin setting up. The rest of us followed suit and together we set about establishing our base for the night. We had two tents between the four of us and one sleeping bag each. Joseph and Arnie took charge of starting the fire and Jimmy and I busied ourselves with erecting the tents. It did not take a considerable amount of time nor effort and soon we were all camped around the fire, joking about habits of our teachers and coaches while passing around a bottle of brandy that Jimmy had nicked from his old man’s cupboard. “Hey Jimmy bru,” I piped up, wincing after having taken a swig myself, “won’t your pa have your balls for breakfast for pinching his dop?” He just sniggered as the bottle came his way before saying “Nah, trust me bru, man is drunk enough when he comes home to worry about what’s not in his cupboard. Besides, my ma gets really pissed at him whenever he comes home with booze; he’s actually forbidden to have it. If he ever realises that the shit’s missing, he’ll just think that she threw it out.” We all chuckled at this and continued with the comments and wisecracks, this time about each other’s parents and the misadventures many of them had had in the past. Joseph recounted an absolute gem about a time when his mom drove into the shallows of the estuary while she was inebriated. She was able to get help and get her car lifted out of the waters and still get home before sunrise. She never told Joseph’s pa and he would only find out several years later when by freak chance he happened to be sitting next to a man who had been there on the night of the occurrence while he was recounting the story to a friend. We had a good laugh at that one. Arnie had been rather quiet which was to be expected given that he was new in town and did not know anyone too well. It was alright though as his time to speak was soon to come. After a period in which our laughter and conversation had died down, Jimmy called on Arnie. “Arnie, now the time has come for you to prove your worth to us.” There was a nervous yet determined look in Arnie’s eyes, he was nervous, yes, but refused to be intimidated. “You have to tell us,” Jimmy continued, “one scary story, the scariest that you can come up with and then the three of us,” he indicated to himself, Joseph and myself, “will judge whether or not you are worthy to join our crew.” The three of us chuckled but Arnie stayed silent. “So,” Jimmy went on, “without any further crap, let’s hear what you have to tell.” He was silent for a few moments and was staring at the fire in front of him, probably running whatever story he had over in his head in order to ensure for an immaculate delivery. Then he lifted his head, looked at each one of us in turn and began. “Okay, let me tell you the story of Tabitha Swindley and her family.” There were still a few quietened sniggers to be heard from the rest of us. Arnie was not to be perturbed and commenced with his tale. “Tabitha, her husband and their two children lived in a cosy cottage overlooking the bay, right next to the beach. They lived happily together and often went out onto the beach to go swimming and collect shells and sorts in the sand and in the rock pools. This was routine for them pretty much every day after the children had come home from school. The two children and their mother, Tabitha, would go to the beach while their father would usually read the paper, joining them only about once every week. This was almost an integral ritual of sorts for the family and always ended happily with the three, or sometimes four of them going home to make supper. Then it happened on one Friday afternoon, something terrible. It seemed a day like any other where everything was as ordinary as it could be, with the children playing on the rocks by the pools by Castle Rock and Tabitha watching them from the beach. Her sights were usually fixed upon her little ones and their antics but on this day it was different. It is said that the ocean has a way of sometimes playing tricks with one’s mind and on this day it had apparently done so with Tabitha. Rather than keeping her eyes on the children, her gaze had been captured by the sea, causing her to stare out towards the horizon. It was while she was in this mesmerised state that a rogue wave had snuck up without anyone noticing and swept the daughter, Alicia was her name, off of the rock on which she was stepping. Tabitha saw this out of the corner of her eye and it was enough to break the spell of the ocean and prompted her to scream for her daughter and run towards the spot where she had been taken. She tore over the rocks and stones and was there in a flash but it was still too late. The back-wash as I hear is strong up at Brenton and there was no sign of Alicia at all. In the ensuing hours search parties were dispatched and boats and helicopters went out to find any sign of the poor little girl but to no avail. She was lost.” There was no hint of laughter amongst any of us now and we listened intently to the story which Arnie was telling us. “The father, John as he was called, took the loss hard and felt it difficult to forgive Tabitha for her negligence and so too did Tabitha struggle to forgive herself but it was for different reasons that neither of them felt that forgiveness was forthcoming. In John’s case it was anger and in Tabitha’s it was guilt, something which burned one’s insides greater than anger of any sort ever could. They both struggled immensely with the loss, Tabitha probably more so. Such was her guilt that one night John awoke from an uneasy sleep to find that he was alone in bed. He called for his wife but to no answer. He walked into the living room and saw that the front door had been left open. He then called for her again outside but still no reply came. He then grabbed a torch from his cupboard, checked on his remaining child; the son named Harry, and then went outside to search for his wife. Despite the number of times that he called there came no response and he could see her nowhere either. After having made his way onto the beach he was able to make out what vaguely resembled a fresh set of footprints. It was a difficult task to spot such in the sand, especially in places where many had walked during the day but John had lived by the sea all his life and could tell fresh prints from older ones. He followed the trail from the soft sand until it reached the harder, moistened sand which had been touched by the waves and saw that the trail led directly into the breakers. She had simply,” he paused for a moment “walked into the sea.” He stayed quiet for a while after this, joining us in silence. What had intrigued me the most was not his story, impressive though it was, but rather his knowledge of the beachfront and the ways of the ocean considering the short amount of time he had been here.
Joseph then stirred. “What happened to her?” he asked.
“She was taken by the sea.” Arnie said simply. “Some think that she had been driven to madness and walked into the ocean to search for her missing child and retrieve her from its treacherous depths but it would simply claim her as well, or so they thought…” I interjected at this point.
“What do you mean by ‘or so they thought?’”
“What I mean is that that is not where the story ends.” The rest of us shifted in excited yet slightly uncomfortable anticipation. I thought to myself that surely Joseph had to make a move to put out the fire now so that we could slip away and give Arnie the scare but he seemed transfixed by the story and was as eager to hear the end of it as Arnie was to tell it. He went on, “A few days after his wife had gone missing a distraught John, who had begun to drink himself to death following the loss of two of his closest family members, awoke on the living room couch after having passed out from too much brandy to see that once again the front door was open and leading from and to the open door across the room were what appeared to be two sets of wet footprints. He jumped up to follow the first trail which led into Harry’s room and was shocked to see that Harry’s bed was empty and there was no sign of him at all. John then ran out of the front door and in a drunken haze, he stumbled down to the beach. There was no telling what he saw next. Some will say that we was simply drunk and was hallucinating but others believe that what he saw scared him to death, for…” and at that moment an eerie and chilly gust of wind was suddenly conjured from nothing and possessed such force that it extinguished the fire in a pinch. “Perfect timing” I thought to myself and slowly crept away on my hands and knees out of the clearing and into the bushes. “Jeez, where’d that come from ey?” I heard Arnie say, but to no answer from the rest of us. Although it was dark, it was a task which myself, Jimmy and Joseph had performed on numerous occasions and as such we knew exactly where to tread and where to find each other. “Guys?” Arnie called out with a slightly worried tone in his voice. After about a minute and thirty metres crawl out of the campsite, the three of us found each other. “What you think hey?” Jimmy whispered.
“Ja, it was good.” I said. “But in any case, regardless of the story, he was in from the moment he agreed to come along. Now let’s get to seeing what he’s really made of.” Arnie’s inquiries as to our whereabouts were becoming more frantic now. “Seriously okes, this is not funny.” We all quietly chuckled. “Good job with the fire by the way Joe, perfect work.” I said. Joseph stayed silent for a moment and then said in a somewhat confused voice, “I thought that was you.” Now I was a little confused myself and turned to Jimmy. “Jimmy?”
“Random gust of wind?” he said worriedly. Then we heard the scream. It was enough to curdle the blood and root all of us to the spot as if we had become trees of the forest ourselves. It took a moment before any of us were able to uproot ourselves and run through the bushes to the campsite to see if he was alright. Upon immediate inspection it was found that he was nowhere to be seen. We had all become panic stricken. What was it that extinguished the fire? What had caused Arnie to scream so terribly? And most importantly, where was he now? “Did anyone see anything that could have put the fire out?” I asked in an exasperated breath, “That could be what scared him.”
“I saw nothing. Nothing at all” said Joseph. And with that, Jimmy thought of the only plausible explanation that there was to be had. “Phantoms.” he said aloud, dreading his own words. I was sceptical. “Naai man, phantoms don’t exist. They’re make-believe, like the Easter bunny.”
“They’re not make-believe, you just can’t see them!” He said.
“If you can’t see it, it’s not there!”
“So are you saying that there is no such thing as air? Or the Holy Spirit for that matter.”
“That’s different!”
“The Holy Spirit, we know exists because it says so in the bible, air we know exists because of science.”
“Wait, is the Holy Spirit a phantom?” asked Joseph.
“No Joe,” I said, “The Holy Spirit is a spirit.” Joseph seemed satisfied with his answer but Jimmy was not convinced. “What’s the difference?” he said. I thought for a while and then replied, “Phantoms haunt people while the Holy Spirit offers only salvation.”
“Maybe the Holy Spirit came to offer you salvation Jimmy, by coming to get you to repent for stealing your pa’s brandy.” said Joseph.
“Yes, but he mistook poor Arnie for you, Jimmy, and he must have been so overcome by the glory that he could only scream in disbelief.” My words had reminded us of the real problem we faced, that Arnie was still missing. “Yes, speaking of Arnie, we should go look for him.” Joseph said simply. We all nodded and set off with our torches to try to find our missing comrade.
In spite of what must have been about an hour of walking through the undergrowth in the dark calling out his name, we were unsuccessful and eventually decided that it was a futile search in the dark and that it would be better to resume the search in the morning and that we need not worry about him too much as he would be in the presence of the Holy Spirit. Jimmy still disagreed that it was the Holy Spirit as such an entity would not have made such a mistake as confusing Arnie for himself. Joseph and I agreed that should such be the case, it must be a phantom in whose presence Arnie now finds himself and we should thus resume the search immediately so as to rescue him from further harm. At this suggestion, Jimmy suddenly agreed that it must have been the Holy Spirit, that he was safe and that we should go to bed. He then promptly fell asleep and was followed into dreamland by Joseph and myself shortly after.

We recommenced with our search immediately upon waking and could not have been walking for any more than a minute when we came across our previously absent friend lying down in a foetal position at the base of a large tree. He was awake when we found him, unless of course he had taught himself to sleep with his eyes wide open as if he had seen a ghost, which we all agreed that he probably had or at least felt its presence since certain types of ghosts cannot be seen. We got him up and walking after a few prods and picks at him and we walked back to camp to pack up. We had hoped that by telling him that he was now officially part of our crew he would cheer up a little but he still said nothing and would maintain his silence throughout the entire journey home. We were worried about poor Arnie for a few days afterwards, especially when we did not see him at school on Monday but as it turned out, he had left town with his father who was apparently a diplomat and spent most of his time moving from town to town. But we knew that the reason for him leaving probably had something to do with our misadventure in Phantom Forest. Looking back at the manner in which he behaved after that night, the remaining three of us deduced that it in all likelihood had not been the Holy Spirit that visited us but something far more sinister and what it had said or done to Arnie was something of which we would never know anything other than it was probably less than pleasant. It is funny how such things happen to the most unlikely of candidates and why but regardless of who was plagued by ghosts of whatever sort, myself, Jimmy and Joseph saw it fit to never tread upon the earth of Phantom Forest again.


So I recently bumped into one of my colleagues whom I had not seen in months thanks to the horrible shifts we endure. This is the same girl whose recent Facebook pictures have left mouths hanging, wide open. Over months this girl had literary turned into snow white. Her lips were the last piece of her once brown, glowing skin.

Judging by the frequency of her Facebook uploads this was definitely a dream come true for her. I could not look her in the eye either because I did not want to give away the look of disapproval and a bit of jealousy. Why was I jealous? I had been a “fair skinned” girl all my life and even though I had never admitted it openly it came with added advantages. I guess “fair skinned” barely goes unnoticed and I enjoyed the envy on “the ordinary women’s” eyes who constantly ambushed me for my skin routine. Nobody could understand how my “latte skin” was all thanks to good genes.

A part of me felt like I’m entitled to my looks and the added perks of course, something more like a talent and sets one apart. For one to fake the one thing admirable about me meant my value was depreciating. It just felt unfair that I could never buy a miracle cream that will make me a good soccer player then why should there be a cream that copies my trait. In groups we would sit and gossip about this girl and her shameful acts. But I knew that a large part of the gossiping was fuelled by jealousy.

Alone in my room I tried to understand the psychology of a girl who wants to look like anything but herself. Read a list of articles where darker girls confessed their life struggles. After seeing how the darker skinned girl who had made it was greatly celebrated, as though it is unusual for “their kind” to climb ladders, I was stunned. Still I battled to under the psychology behind it all. Miss “admirable me” could not identify with the “wanna be’s”.

Next morning whilst I’m smearing cream across my flawless face something came to my attention. If I truly perceived myself to be flawless why do I spend such substantial amounts on sleek, long weaves every month? I was even surprised by the subconciousness of my behavior. Spending hundreds of rands at the salon without thinking twice and never missing an appointment. Interesting how quick I was to conclude low self- esteem on the skin bleaching girls and once the subject in question changed, I was quick to find reasons for myself imposed modifications. And somewhere in my psyche laid a million reasons why my behavior ought to be acceptable. My heart new the truth, whoever rated skin bleaching an offence must have done the same with weaves because both behaviors serve to satisfy a need to look better. There’s a Xhosa saying that say “iqaqa alizizwa kunuka”, one can never spot her/his own faults. It will take time for me to finally accept that I find my naturally coarse, curly, dark hair faulty. I’m ashamed of it and try so hard to be anything but my true self.

A Touch of Class

The invitation took Lucy by surprise. It was the last thing she expected. After reading it, she ‘phoned her best friend Patsy.
“Pats, have you also received an invite to Tara Blake’s pre-graduation ladies’ luncheon?”
“Didn’t know she was having one. No, she can’t stand me; I’m much too common. Trust our Tara to do things on a grand scale. No plonk and peanuts in the local pub for Tara; she has to have a “ladies’ luncheon” no less. I take it you’re invited?”
“Yes, but I’m not going,” Lucy said quickly.
“Don’t be daft, woman, of course you’re going! Haven’t we always hankered to know what kind of mansion lurks behind those wrought iron gates? Now’s your chance to see how the upper-crust live. I’ve always wondered whether she’s just a big mouth or if there’s some substance to Tara’s grandiose tales of the doings of the rich.”
“Well I can tell you what they’ll be doing after lunch on the 14th. According to the invitation, either playing tennis or swimming, neither of which grab me. I’m hopeless at tennis and will feel an utter klutz cavorting around in my one-piece while they sport their stuff in itzy-bitzy bikinis.”
“What stuff? It’s because they haven’t any that they can wear them, so be grateful for what you’ve got.”
“Oh Lord, Pats, that raises another problem. We’ll probably have to change together. Can you imagine the jokes that’ll fly round when they see my underwear? Why is it that flat-chested girls can pick and choose from a range of lacy nothings, but anyone taking more than a C-cup has to settle for khaki-coloured tents? I’m definitely not going!”
“Yes you are. We’ll go to ‘Victoria’s Secret’ and buy the sexiest underwear you’ve ever seen.”

Which they did, leaving Lucy penniless for the rest of the month.
“That’s my whole allowance blown,” she moaned, secretly delighting in the sight of the glamorous undergarments.
Which purchases in the end proved unnecessary.

On the day, Lucy took surreptitious notice of the opulent décor of what was indeed a grand mansion, knowing her friend would want a detailed account. Tara’s parents were either out or discreetly keeping out of the way as there was no sign of them. After a gourmet meal that would have had Patsy smacking her lips, when given the option of tennis or swimming, only three girls other than herself chose the latter.
“You three can change in the bathrooms,” Tara said, waving a hand vaguely towards the stairs, “and you, Lucy, can use the downstairs cloak. On the right over there.”

The first room on the right happened to be the study, but as it was vacant and had a key in the door, Lucy decided it would do just as well. She locked herself in and changed into her one-piece in solitary splendour, grumbling quietly to herself at her foolishness in trying to match the standards of these wealthy girls. “Serves me right,” she muttered. “No-one will even see the fripperies I’ve spent a fortune on.” She tucked her extravagant new purchases behind a cushion on one of the leather chairs, feeling disapproval oozing from it at this act of desecration of such a serious setting.

In the event she was proved wrong. After an afternoon in the pool, followed by some sun-bathing, a white-clad servant emerged from the house ringing a bell signalling teatime. As Lucy was by then bone-dry, she hurriedly pulled jeans and T-shirt on over her costume, retrieved her undergarments, wrapped them in her towel and joined Tara and friends for tea under the gazebo on the rolling green lawns. She enjoyed the exchange of banter although she couldn’t do justice to the array of fancy cakes on offer and when she left shortly after, thanked Tara with genuine warmth for an enjoyable day.

On reaching her university res, Lucy changed out of her costume, but when she unwrapped the towel, found only her pair of briefs. Where was her bra? In a panic, she mentally retraced her steps and came to the conclusion that in her haste, she must have left it behind the cushion in the study as her towel certainly hadn’t come undone at any stage.
“At that price I’m damned if I’m leaving it there,” she said aloud, grabbing her car keys.
On reaching Tara’s house she saw that the gates had not yet been closed, so some of the guests must still be there. Lucy hadn’t planned what to say, but instead of going to the front door, went round the side of the house as the study had double doors opening onto the big veranda. Perhaps she could just slip in and grab the bra without anyone being the wiser? Best to go in boldly so that if she did meet someone it wouldn’t seem as if she were skulking furtively around.

Which she did, only to find herself face to face with a youth of about sixteen who could only be Tara’s younger brother as they looked so alike. He was standing by the window holding her bra up to the light, looking at it admiringly. Lucy’s brain seized up. What now? For a moment she and the boy looked wordlessly at one another, then Lucy said breathlessly.
“Oh. Sorry. I left something behind.” She went across to the imposing mahogany desk and made a pretence of looking for the lost item. “My specs,” she said apologetically, improvising madly.
The blushing boy stuffed the bra into his pocket, pulled open the top drawer and silently handed over a spectacle case.
“Here. I thought they were Andy’s,” he mumbled.
Lucy was completely thrown. The boy seemed equally so.
“Thanks,” she said, and fled.

Once back in res, she sat on her bed in a daze. Then ‘phoned Patsy.
“Pats, I’m in trouble.”
“Must’ve been a good party, but I thought it was only for girls? Oh, pardon me, ladies! As for being in trouble, isn’t it a bit early to tell?”
“Not that kind of trouble, idiot. Pats, I’ve lost my new bra. Tara’s brother has it!”
“My, you are a fast worker,” Patsy said admiringly. “I suppose with all that competition you had to do something drastic to grab his attention.”
Ignoring this sally, Lucy continued: “And I’ve now got a pair of spectacles with thick lenses belonging to a guy named Andy.”
“Sounds like a poor exchange. Did you catch this Andy peeking while you were stripping for Tara’s brother? Did you snatch them from his nose? Seems I owe Tara an apology. Those high-flyers really do live dissolute lives.”
“Pats, shut up and listen!” She told her friend what had happened. Patsy crowed with laughter.
“What do I do now? These specs look expensive. They’re prescription, Pats. I haven’t a clue who this Andy is, so how do I return them?”
“Let’s sleep on it,” said Patsy once she stopped chortling.

The next day, being well brought up, Lucy ‘phoned Tara to thank her again.
“I’m glad you had a good time,” Tara replied. “You left before all the drama erupted. My dad found my toad of a brother Brad with a girl’s bra dangling from his pocket and a smirk on his face. He said he’d found it but wouldn’t say where and had obviously been groping some cheap little piece in a back alley or somewhere equally squalid.”
“Oh?” Lucy said faintly. (Cheap? Wearing a ‘Victoria’s Secret’ bra?)
“And then he had the gall to try to lie his way out of it. He said he had no idea where it came from. God, Lucy, the size of those cups! Trust Brad to take up with some big-boobed, brainless bird. He’s ruled by his hormones. He also accused one of my friends of pinching his friend Andy’s glasses. He said she came into dad’s study and lifted them!”
“Oh,” said Lucy again, thinking dark thoughts about Brad. Lifted them indeed, when he had handed them to her with his own scurvy little mitts!
“And now he’s going around showing off that bra to all his classmates acting like Jack the Lad and impressing the hell out of them. Until now he’s been a bit of an outcast but is now the ‘main man!’ Boys of that age are so utterly, utterly juvenile.”
“Really?” Lucy flinched at the thought of her gorgeous bra doing the rounds in the hands of Brad’s smutty friends. Well, she certainly didn’t want it back now! Remembering what she’d paid for it, she stifled a groan.

Patsy stifled a groan too when she heard.
“You can say goodbye to it girl. Why didn’t you grab it and run when you first saw the little twerp with it?”
“I have my pride,” Lucy said stiffly.
“And a fat lot of good it’s done you! Well these days ‘Victoria’s Secret’ has one less secret to boast about now that your bra’s been pawed by all of Brad’s adolescent mates.”
“Stop Pats. I’ve had enough and don’t want to hear another word about the cursed thing. Besides, I’ve still got to find a way to get the specs back to Andy. He must be blind as a bat without them, poor thing, considering the thickness of the lenses.”
“Oh, that’s no problem. What you do is enclose them in bubblewrap, stick them in a cardboard cylinder – I’ve got one for you – plug the ends with tissues and post the lot off to Brad the Prat in brown paper wrapping, no return address. He can give them to his pal Andy.”
“Oh, I’m not just a pretty face. I’m graduating next week, remember?”

The following Monday all the graduands had to meet at the university to collect the gowns they had hired for the ceremony. Lucy saw Tara in the queue and waited for her, wanting to find out whether the spectacles had reached Brad safely. She could hardly ask, so tried a tentative question.
“Hi, Tara. Er, how’s your brother?”
“As obnoxious as usual, still playing the man of mystery. He got something in the mail yesterday wrapped in brown paper. When I asked what it was, he said it was a porn
“It was not!” Lucy denied hotly before she could help herself, but it must have sounded like an exclamation, as Tara continued:
“Who knows? I wouldn’t put it past him to rush out and buy one just to fan the flames of his burgeoning reputation as a man of the world. He’ll probably tell his set that the babe with the big boobs posted it to him.” (The only grain of truth in his latest fabrication of lies, Lucy thought sourly.)
Tara grinned. “He’s such a child! Sweet really. Did I tell you he’s coming to see me graduate? My dad can’t make it as he’ll be away on business, so Brad’s using his ticket and accompanying my mum.”

Lucy caught up with Patsy in the cafeteria.
“What’s up, kid? You look pale.”
“I’ve reason to. Tara’s horrible brother’s coming to the graduation ceremony. Pats, the moment I walk across that stage he’ll recognise me; we were only feet apart in the study. If he’s got half a brain he’ll have worked out by now that I was coming back for my bra, not Andy’s specs. Once he’s seen me again he’ll quiz Tara about me and as he obviously doesn’t have an ounce of subtlety, it’s only a matter of time before it’ll all come out. Oh hell, I wish I was dead!”
“Hey, hey, steady on. We’ll think of something.”

The ‘something’ they resorted to was to change Lucy’s appearance as much as possible. As her body would be draped in an academic gown it would indistinguishable from that of the other graduands, so they concentrated on her head.
“You’ll have to cut your hair. Dye it blonde. That should do it.”
“I’m broke, remember? I can’t afford a hairdresser.”
“Neither can I. Well, you’ll just have to trust me. I’ll do my best.”

Patsy’s best turned out to be far from good. Looking at her image in the mirror just before the ceremony, Lucy wondered what her parents would make of her. They were travelling in from the country village they’d retired to, especially for the ceremony and would be appalled by her appearance. Patsy had used the pair of scissors ruthlessly, shearing off all her black curls. What little hair was left was now brassy blonde and protruded from her scalp in defiant spikes.
“I really do look like a bosomy cheap tart,” she mourned, “All I need to complete the picture are black leathers and a motor bike!”
“Look on the bright side, doll. No-one will recognise you.”
“Not even my parents,” Lucy agreed.

Nor did they when she waved to them before taking her allotted seat near the front of the auditorium. As they’d had a long journey, there had been no time to meet up with their daughter beforehand.
Mr and Mrs Anthony exchanged horrified glances.
“What has she done?” Mrs Anthony whispered, “and why?”
“God alone knows.” Mr Anthony was gob-smacked. He’d always taken great pride in his daughter’s good sense, yet here she was appearing in public looking like … well, like someone other parents wouldn’t want their offspring associating with!

Lucy only relaxed at the “cheese and wine” after the ceremony, when Tara gave her a glassy stare and turned her back on her. No fear of being introduced to Tara’s family and hence no further danger.
“I know I should feel pleased about it,” she told Patsy when they found a quiet spot to converse, “but actually I feel slighted! There’s got to be a lesson in all of this, but I can’t fathom out what it is.”
“Stick to your own kind? Pride goes before a fall? What does it matter, anyway. You never cared much for Tara so it’s no skin off your nose. Look on the bright side. Good comes from everything.”
“Oh yeh? Do tell. Who benefited from this debacle?”
“Well, Brad’s friend for one. He got his glasses back.”
“He wouldn’t have lost them if I hadn’t nicked ’em.”
“OK. So what about Brad himself? You’ve done his self-image a power of good.”
“In time his dad’s money would have done that for him. Besides, it’s no comfort to know all I’m good for is revving up the testosterone level of some horny adolescent.”
“Jees, Lucy, you’re hard to please! How about your make-over?”
Lucy sighed. “Look at me, Pats. Something from a freaking comic strip. My parents are in a state of shock.”
“They are, aren’t they? Your dad looks as if he’ll never recover,” Patsy giggled.
“No doubt in time I’ll look back on all this and find it hilarious.”
“It’s hilarious now, babe. Take my word for it.” Patsy took a swig of wine before adding “Cheers, Luce. Here’s to the future.”
“May it be blissfully uneventful!”
The two girls looked at one another and dissolved into laughter. Mrs Anthony turned to her husband who had been chatting to the vice-chancellor.
“She might look different, Harry, but she hasn’t changed. Not really. Look at her.”
Mr Anthony looked but all he could see was a caricature of his beautiful daughter.
“Let’s hope so, Celia. She’s obviously got more of your frivolous side of the family in her than I realised.”

Snow White must die

Who am I?

I live alone on the top floor in the 4th story of a rental tenement in some small-town somewhere in the Northeast of the USA. I definitely don´t want to live there forever. There are more beautiful places, sunnier places, that is where I would love to live, of course, in the best case together with some hot chick. My parents named me Frank, some 42 years ago. The neighbors know me as Mister Miller; the old lady with the freaky dog always only calls me The Man with the Hat. I always wear this hat, though I defiantly take it off on sunny days, though I as well take it off, when the shit hits the fan. I obediently obey my business partners under the name of Fred Winter. I chose that pseudonym some ten years ago, when I became a killer.

My pastimes? You won´t believe it… cooking! Anyone thinking that some contract killer wouldn´t be able to serve any fish sticks appropriate to the species, should visit me in my kitchen! And anyone who thinks he never ate dog should just surprise a Chinese cook on the job.

Another pastime is to tell people lies about my true life, my true identity. This is a sure sign of having a lot of fantasy that I put to paper in my spare time. Of course, I´ve always dreamt of a bestseller, those score like a cheap whore in some residential home for men, with no other intention then to finally retire in Miami, together with my hot chick of course.

On the weekends, I drive the 40 miles with my car into the big city jungle. There is one late night dive, where everyone who is special meets. But most of the ones, meeting there late night, just think, they are something very special. Hot styled chicks stalk on high heels, on their forever quest for the Mr. Right, the one with the thick wallet. But usually, they just run into some bragger, highly indebted, that hauls them home to nevertheless have the night at least end with some kind of sex. When I am really lucky, then I am one of these dazzlers, passing as a banker, that is going to fly to the Bahamas next week with his private jet, and the damn little cute beast gives me some blowjob in my car. When I am even luckier, I get a job. Not referring to any harmless oral sex here, though this can of course have some fatal consequences, too. During the Clinton era, it was one plain blowjob that terminated America´s last chance for any functioning democracy.

Saturday, September 11th, 2004

It is shortly past ten p.m. and I enter the nightclub. The owner of this very dump is Will, a black man, I know him from those days back yonder, from my early days. He already had some criminal tendencies; he was arrested on and off, but always got off with some slap on the wrist. Will or “Wild Willy” as we used to call him, never spent too long in jail. By the way, I myself personally never spent any time behind the bars, but the 12 years I spent in the army, came down to the same. I signed up in my younger years, to serve my country that way. There, in the army, you definitely learn to shoot. There you defiantly learn precisely to kill.

I sit down at the bar, keep my hat on, order a double bourbon on ice and ask for Will. The waitress, Carmen, grabs the phone, she is definitely easy on the eyes. One minute later, my old pal shakes my hand. “Hi Frank!” He welcomes me and when being undisturbed, he states: “Snow White is dead. They found the corpse in the forest, big time headlines in the newspapers. The dead woman in the deadwood, matches somewhat, right?” “Additionally, her last name was Woodman. Abigail Woodman, 22 years and unmarried, I read it in the papers. But why then Snow White?” “Because she was that cute. Here, your $17,000.” Will pushes my share over. “Thank you, Will. “Five up, Frank. Just come over next week, I ´ve got a new client, he contacted me yesterday.” “Well, hopefully not someone being interested to get rid of Wild Willy,” I allow myself to joke. Will laughs back. “Your humor is even blacker than my skin, Frank. “The crass contrast to that, the snow-white cocaine that you always huckster, now then my dear old chap.”

Saturday, September 18th, 2004

It is shortly past ten p.m. and I enter the nightclub. The owner of the dump is Will and he already expected me. “Frankie, old chap, I got something for you.” We sit down at a table in some quiet corner and I actually take my hat off. Will gets started. “The guy was called Boomerang and passed puberty probably some 45 years ago. Must be someone high on top of some decent American corporation, producing weapons. Thus, he lives rather drawn back and wants nothing to do with any public. “Probably, he isn´t standing up to his job.” “None of our interests. Our interest is what he pays, and he pays a five number sums.” “I haven´t ever worked for less, man. For the bucks I would only shoot this bitch of a dog of my neighbor, this thing really sucks big-time with its barking. To make up for it, I would serve it to the old lady as a hot dog that really suits its name. The main dish would be some nice mushroom soup that she would definitely not survive. But well, where we´ve been? Who am I supposed to blow to kingdom come?” “That´s exactly what this Monsieur Boomerang will tell you in person. Tomorrow at three you will have your audience. Only accept cash, ok?” I take a sip off my glass. Sure, it´s ok.

Sunday, September 19th, 2004

Around three in the afternoon. The pompous villa lies a little off track and immediately attracts attention. As much as the name plaque, not to be overlooked. B. Boomerang. I ring the doorbell and wait kind of excited in front of the door. A hussy, somewhere around 30 opens the door. “You´re surely Mr. Winter?” asks the broad, really attractively dressed; I have to acknowledge, after some high-speed full body scans. Only her visage could be prettier. Who is that chick, somehow looking familiar? His daughter? His affair? His wife? His housemaid? Or just the cleaning woman? It must be either his daughter or his affair. Or his wife, the housemaid and cleaning woman as one.

“Are you Mr. Winter now?” Forced to hear the question a second time. I nod, wordless and enter the house. We traipse through some rooms to the terrace, there; I am welcomed by Mr. Boomerang, pretty well conserved for his age, actually. “Hi Mr. Boomerang, Fred Winter.” We shake hands. “Ben Boomerang. Ok, Mr. Winter, straight away. My wife Kylie was murdered a few days ago. I can imagine, who it was and don´t ever want to see the person alive. “Hear ya. Okay, no problem. The price. One person twenty thousand! Two person´s thirty eight, three persons fifty thousand.” “No, eighteen thousand for one and I count on you.” Eighteen isn´t too bad, fifteen percent for Will. The last job via this Italian with his theocratic tendencies brought some 2,000 more, but well, you shouldn´t brag during a recession and while forced to handle all the concurrence from the former East. That´s business

“You can count on me, Mr. Boomerang, you can count on me. Eighteen is ok, but cash, please.” My new business partner excuses himself, shortly leaves the room and then hands the bundle of notes over. I count them and am definitely content. Then we shake hands again, the contract, a done deal. Ben Boomerang directs me to the living room. “I show you a picture of my wife.” He takes a framed photo from the shelve and shows it to me. “That is your wife Kylie?” I take my hat off and scratch my head. “Yes, exactly, we were just freshly married in Europe some three weeks ago. In Paris, the city of love. Kylie was her pet name, no one else but me called her that way. The change of personal status and name were not transmitted to the county yet, thus, the authorities were only informed somewhat later about the marriage, of course, and I informed them.

I study the photo of Abigail Woodman, as if I would have never seen it before. “Mmmh, who could have killed her now?” I ask him. “I am rather sure, her ex. He was allied with her for two months. “They married fast. Who is the ex?” “A hot-blooded Italian from the south.” That is right, as right as rain. But he only hijacked her and it was me, shooting her. With a pistol. In the forest. The dead woman in the deadwood. The little mobster couldn´t probably find any better location that fast, to have her casted in concrete. According to him, he would rather shit his pants than kill his ex girl and thus consulted Will.

“Yes, I am rather sure it was him, the one, trying to blackmail me. Right after our return from Europe, this Italian high jacked my wife and wanted all my money, wanted to absolutely impoverish me, but I didn´t pay. I didn´t inform the police, they don´t know anything about the high jacking, even today. “So, it´s the Italian?” “Find out, whether this jerk did it. If so, kill him. But when he passed this job, then grab the wop at his balls, and drag his cock as long as some spaghetti, till he spits out the name of the killer.”

Saturday, September 25th, 2004

It is shortly past ten p.m. and I enter the nightclub. The owner of the dump is Will and everything is due to him. We sit down at some table. “How´s it going, Frank? Job done?” “Not yet, Will, but tonight. Here, your $2,700.” I push over his share. “But it is really a shit job, Will.” “Hey, it cannot be that bad, right? Where is your humor? Are you something like a rabbit that I asked to dig some tunnel through the Rockies? “No, man, even worse. This time it is a really damn lousy shit job. But I´m going to do it.” “Ok, Frank, you are outmost dutiful, reliable and never fail. Who should know better then me? C´mon, I´ll buy you for a drink.” Will whistles for the waitress that serves the double bourbon immediately. But neither the free drink, nor the hottie Carmen help to better my mood. Will takes care, but I would rather beat him up brutally, to then steal his health insurance card, that way the paramedics wouldn´t try to drive him to any hospital in the first place.

Sunday, September 26th, 2004

About three a.m., time to hit the sack. But instead, I drive with my car close to the place, where I shot Abigail “Kylie” Woodman, our Snow White. A dark parking lot is the terminal stop of that drive. I get out of the car and walk deep into the forest. I am proud. That I dare to make that step. In some minutes I will lie dead on the ground. Surely not, because I´d be any suicidal, but because I am determined to do my job well. Because I am dutiful and reliable. The pistol that got Kylie into eternity will get me there, too. Maybe some dog walker will find my corpse? Someone collecting mushrooms? Well, someone sure will. Then, I won´t live on the top floor, but somewhere completely else. Somewhere underground, buried in some cemetery.

Who am I?

I live in some really great villa somewhere in sunny Florida. I sold the nightclub some three months later, after someone found the corpse of Frank in the forest. Karen Woodman meanwhile, did inherit all the millions of her father, being more than dead sick and tied to his bed, when she contacted me, to get rid of her sister, that was never ever married anyway, by the way. Snow White must die, she said to me, ice-cold. Her jealousy for her beautiful sister and the greed for the money washer motive. The police were sure about Frank, being the killer, that planned a blackmail that went wrong and then killed himself.

Everything was staged. The name plaque on the Villa Woodman was shortly and temporarily changed. A good old business partner of mine was allowed to play Mr. Boomerang. Karen Woodmen, my boss, the lady at the counter and Emilio, the Colombian drug carrier, the money greedy Italian ex. All persons, where I was sure, that Frank couldn´t know them. And I was sure, that Frank was reliable and dutiful and did every job 100 percent even, when it hurts. Regarding his health, Frankie should have rather become President. Since Kennedy, no one has gotten that severely caught, even if Lewinsky would have bitten harder.

Karen Woodman paid me well. From now on: No jobs passed out to any contract killers, no drug business, and no crooked dealings. No, nothing anymore in that direction. I lead a respectable life, together with my former employee Carmen. who I married meantime. Not in Europe though, but we already married. In some small chapel somewhere in the States. And this time, no lie.

Snow White must die – Epilog

Who am I?

I live in some really great villa somewhere on this planet. It was no problem to pay the contract killer, because Will is dead rich. This time he himself was the victim, well, that´s life. He was always a mean rat; he had to have so many skeletons in the closet that you could hardly count them at all. His scrutiny was the basis of his huge fortune. Okay, he bettered himself somewhat in the end, but he already bunkered money big times, without end.

I got myself a completely new identity, and I´m not reacting to the name Carmen at all, ever. And when someone in the bar whistles for me and orders a drink, then I do not feel addressed at all. My very high consumption of cocaine lead the new pet name: Snow White …