[Part 3 HERE]
Everybodyâ€™s gone home.
I sit on Brickhill Roadâ€™s curb with my feet near the gutter. I want my wallet. Find that action difficult â€˜cause itâ€™s in my back pocket between arse cheek and concrete engraved with the names of false lovers. I solve the problem by lying sideways on the cold pavement with my arse in the air. I retrieve my wallet with the nearest, fumbling hand. I sit up slowly but the world spins anyway.
Damn! Thirty-five cents. I toss it into the street. Nocturnal street children are quick to follow. Iâ€™m broke again. I need to sell something again. Wait. A glimpse of paper gives me hope. Itâ€™s not a fifty. Not a twenty or a ten. Itâ€™s a bloody poem. My eyes squint:
Do you intend to make me commitmentâ€™s host,
make me laugh and cry,
make me walk and talk with ghost,
love me and leave me to die?
Memory flushes me like toilet debris. Rene. Tears climb into my eyes and abseil down my cheeks. This makes me angry. Myself? Her? The world? Life? Probably all.
Iâ€™ve got a pen. Always do. It takes me a while to remember that Iâ€™ve got a top pocket and that itâ€™s in there. The tears have splattered. Stopped. I scribble furiously.
or is it?
a succumbing to the slavering of your tongue,
to have your thighs writhe in panting time
and your nails to claw for blood,
have your waterhole filled only to drown me
deep in IT
â€œLoveâ€ you reply
Did your mother forget to teach you that love
is a myth and the reality of myth is pain
A nearby shout disturbs me. I search. More curiosity than anything else. I am a South African.
A yellow Golf. Two bays down. Oh, shit â€“ donâ€™t let it be. A glimpse of blonde hair on the passengerâ€™s side.
Alcoholâ€™s forgotten.Â My bodyâ€™s moving quicker than my mind but I catch up as my hand reaches Barryâ€™s door; in time to horribly witness him horribly punch Linda.
His door is locked. The pitch of his yell at her alters as I kick his window into angry tears that shower him. I unlatch the door and swing it open. Gripping his collar firmly, I pull but he hardly moves because one handâ€™s on the brake and the other on the steering wheel. â€œLindaâ€™s the quicker with, â€œMike. No. Donâ€™t.â€
â€œMIKE! LET FUCKING GO OF ME! Youâ€™ll pay for this!â€
â€œYou will, you bastard.â€ Using both my hands, I yank full strength. He lurches through where the window had been and spills onto the street. Before I can follow through, and accompanied by the sound of Linda screaming, Barry tugs away and stands roaring. His face is malformed by violent intention. He quivers with its force.
During the recent months, my own bricks of rage have built into a wall so tall that it finally topples on me and fills the hole that I am. At six foot three, Barryâ€™s nose is where my forehead is â€¦ and heâ€™s at least twenty kilograms heavier. Iâ€™m not a fighter and heâ€™s the epitome of a brawler.
He stands no chance.
My arms and legs fling forward without conscious command. Upper chest. Between neck and collarbone. Beneath the sternum. Heâ€™s in pain, struggling to suck air. He drops to one knee in invitation for my knee.
A tug on my arm. Sucked into my maelstromâ€™s outlet, I canâ€™t be sure how long that Lindaâ€™s been doing that. Sheâ€™s crying. Twice in one night is beyond too much.
â€œYeah â€¦ fine.â€ I have to force the words from my mouth. I hug her hard. She hugs back. â€œPromise me that youâ€™ll leave this jerk.â€ She remains silent. â€œPromise.â€
â€œI just canâ€™t.â€
â€œYou donâ€™t need him. Youâ€™re beautiful. Great company. Thereâ€™s a million guys out there, none a fucker, that would love to have you. And youâ€™ll find one that youâ€™ll love to have.â€
â€œItâ€™s not that.â€
â€œThen what, goddamnit.â€
â€œI love him â€¦ I really do.â€
â€œShit-â€œ Iâ€™m spun loose of my sentence and Lindaâ€™s arms as Barryâ€™s bullish fist avenges itself into my nose to recover blood. I stagger backwards into the traffic lane. A car barely misses me. I stand still. I need to reorient. God, Iâ€™ve never been hit so hard before. Barryâ€™s too cowardly to follow. A truck dodges me with incessant hooting that rips through my ears. Increases my headache but gives me something to focus on besides the pain of my broken nose. My shoulder wipes the tears from my eyes, brushing my nose and no doubt smearing blood on my cheeks. What a sight I must be to the people (where did they come from?) collective on the pavement. No cops or bouncers amongst them. Good. Barryâ€™s waiting. Even from here I can tell that heâ€™s worried and uncertain. I wonder what my eyes look like to him.
He can expect me and all my emotions, those that concern him and Linda â€¦ and those that donâ€™t.
It happens so quickly yet in slow motion. Itâ€™s like heâ€™s swimming and Iâ€™m a harpoon. Soon heâ€™s back on his knees.
â€œYou like to hurt woman â€¦ donâ€™t you?â€
â€œOf cause you do.â€
â€œI didnâ€™t mean it.â€
â€œHa!â€ A kick to his groin. He yells but I donâ€™t know if itâ€™s from pain or embarrassment â€˜cause heâ€™s flooded his pants. One too many of those full-priced beers. Lions, they were. Who drinks Lion in Durban?
â€œIâ€™m getting in touch with my feminine side. How do you like it so far? Hey?â€ He doesnâ€™t respond.
â€œMikey, leave him alone.â€ Lindaâ€™s found her voice again. â€œIâ€™m begging you â€¦ pleeese.â€
Thereâ€™s a menagerie of emotions in her eyes. Confusion and pain. Concern and pain. Fear for him? Fear for herself? Her anguish stakes me but for some alien reason, Iâ€™ll not let the situation hang. Besides, I hate anti-climaxes.
â€œYou shouldnâ€™t be begging. Thatâ€™s Barryâ€™s calling.â€ I prod him in the ribs with the toe of my takkie. â€œIsnâ€™t it?â€ He overcomes his physical pain and throws me a look of neat hate. No, heâ€™s not a broken man. Not yet. â€œNot to me, mind you â€¦ but to Linda. Not so?â€ I feel like Iâ€™m on a roll. â€œDonâ€™t worry. Iâ€™ll teach you â€˜cause I understand that you were never taught manners by the animals that bred you.â€
â€œLeave it, Mikey,â€ Linda cuts in. â€œI forgive him. I do. We can work it out, hey Barry?â€ Thereâ€™s a glimmer of hope in her eyes but I extinguish that delusion.
â€œThatâ€™s not the way this is gonna work,â€ I respond. â€œBarry the Man will not mean it unless he says it.â€ Linda almost interrupts but I silence her with a glare and a finger on my lips. â€œI said that Iâ€™d help you, Barry. And so I will.Â I,Â B A R R Y,Â am aÂ S H I T and Iâ€™m terriblyÂ S O R R Y for being one,Â L I N D A. Iâ€™m sure that thatâ€™s what you want to say.â€
â€œFuck you,â€ from Barry.
â€œNo,â€ from Linda.
Iâ€™m not exactly sure why Iâ€™m about to do what Iâ€™m about to do. Maybe itâ€™s my love for friendship (and love can be a powerful monster) or general distaste for men that donâ€™t respect women. Just maybe itâ€™s a pouring outlet for a woman that I loved who hurt me real bad but I would never hurt back. Add the alcohol giant. What about an X factor? What about all of them mixed in a cocktail that damages the heart and mind?
But those thoughts arrive much later. Now, thereâ€™s no true pondering whilst I stand behind Barry, viewing his tousled hair and disheveled shirt, and loosening my fly (the silent type that should be advertised with the slogan â€˜Our flies donâ€™t have wingsâ€™ for the shy amongst us). My penis doesnâ€™t fall out so I pull it out. I wish that it were bigger but itâ€™s perfect for the task. Now the crowd sacrifices its voyeurism with a swelling of murmurs. But all they do is aid my task for Barry swivels his head to find out what Iâ€™m doing. His timingâ€™s like a three-point turn: the physical motion of turning towards me, surprise and disgust attacking him at the same time as my steaming piss, and his delayed reaction of spinning away, smelly and acidly wettened.
â€œYOU BASTARD!â€ and Iâ€™m almost knocked off my feet by a tigressed Linda. â€œHow â€¦ could â€¦ you.â€ Sheâ€™s hitting me in a loose kind of way. Penis dribbling, I try to back away but sheâ€™s unforgiving and I relent to the spot and her onslaught. Part of me is surprised and another understands and wants to be hit.
Later, Iâ€™ll face the mirror and coldly observe the furrows that her long nails have gouged through my face and broken nose. But for now, Iâ€™m disjointed to an uglier place more unmerciful and pitiful. Lindaâ€™s no longer Linda. I donâ€™t subscribe to schizophrenia but her hair has darkened and her height shortened. Her voice climbs an octave. â€œI hate you. Do you hear me? I hate you and I love him!â€ That jolts my return.
Sheâ€™s stopped hitting. Sheâ€™s stopped crying. Her arms are limp and head bowed. Youâ€™d swear that Iâ€™d beaten her. Maybe in a way I had. Maybe Iâ€™d made her beat herself.
Iâ€™ve had enough. I lock my penis away. That need to hug and comfort her almost overwhelms me but Iâ€™ve seen the Devil tonight and can resist that which Iâ€™m sure would be rejected anyway. I want to say sorry. I donâ€™t. Itâ€™s time to go home. As I pass her, she doesnâ€™t raise her head but says softly yet audibly, â€œYouâ€™ve killed what was special between us. I can find friendship less expensive.Â Donâ€™t contact me. Never ever.â€
My stride doesnâ€™t falter. Barryâ€™s no threat; too absorbed in his defeated and smelly state. The onlookers walk away as well, disgusted but happy to be disgusted.
I screwed up. Iâ€™ve lost a friend. Thatâ€™s gonna hurt far more and far longer than my nose. There was good intention buried in all that but it doesnâ€™t destroy the anger at my self. But those are not the main occupiers of my mind. That belongs to the vision my deluded eye gave me whilst Linda struck me. Rene. Still now, I allow you to play with my life. If love can be forever, does that mean that pain can to?
And my story … It doesnâ€™t take much telling.
Joy. Love. Eternity in a smile. Comfort in holding hands or being in her and One. That type of stuff before being cheated and left. It happens to someone somewhere every dayâ€¦very second. But logicâ€™s no cure for selfish hurt. Itâ€™s a story that doesnâ€™t need a beginning or middle. But i will give you an end.
What storyteller wouldnâ€™t?
At least i loved. Thereâ€™s always that fucking catch-22.
The wind forces my lips into a smile.