The Night Moses Died
“Back then I suppose I thought there was something so sexy about us snorting the dangerous night air in our fast car. I felt good-looking even though I was haggard and dehydrated, with neurotic fingers arching over the top of a window open a slit to let the Camel Light smoke creep out into the dry heat of a city with no expectations, my legs in their bold shiny jeans crossed, my cellphone between my thighs like I didn’t give a shit, ready to take on anything. Ya, it felt so fucking cool….The only reason I remember this is because it was the night Moses died” – writes Nicole Turner, in this no-holds-barred account of life, love and death in the city.
The night Moses died I was high on the smell of Joburg and the way the air, even when it was blasting through the flared nostrils of the Audi, was warm and sticky. Cruising though streets that might be at home in Falluja, skirting potholes under menacing bridges with our sleek black car arrogantly licking the flapping edges of lean men trudging nowhere alone through danger, we fed our sense of adventure.
Oh Please. What crap.
Of course it feels like an adventure when you are numbed by the strange chemical fruit of a city growing barbs and defences against the as-yet unnamed invasion. Under those bristled conditions you might be inclined to wear any old shit excuse of an outfit. Even a sortie across town to look nonchalant in a dark bar could take on the semblance of a quest.
Back then I suppose I thought there was something so sexy about us snorting the dangerous night air in our fast car. I felt good-looking even though I was haggard and dehydrated, with neurotic fingers arching over the top of a window open a slit to let the Camel Light smoke creep out into the dry heat of a city with no expectations, my legs in their bold shiny jeans crossed, my cellphone between my thighs like I didn’t give a shit, ready to take on anything. Ya, it felt so fucking cool.
Even though it was a hot summer night.
Those days we moved around town smug and seeing little more than our reflection in the side of a minibus taxi, or in the big lenses of a party girl’s sunglasses. I suppose we were the ultimate blow-up-couple.
They felt glamorous and important – all those forays toward stimulation. I can’t stand by intricate detail or remember any one of those evenings from start to end. The only reason I remember this is because it was the night Moses died.
We were not dressed up but we were going out for some reason. I remember now, it was Valentine’s day, a Tuesday or Wednesday, the kind of nebulous night where one would cruise around to find people on a similar helter-skelter trek toward dawn. I remember that I wanted to avoid the restaurants where couples would be holding hands across tables and poor lumpy whites would be hustling the tables with wilted single roses in cellophane.
It’s all coming back to me now.
Ralph and I were not happy together. I don’t know if it was the drugs that made us unhappy or if we took the drugs because they plastered over the cracks. If I searched for myself in the dark when he was sleeping I could not tell which were my limbs and which were his. I couldn’t figure out where I ended and he began. I suppose our mutual misery made us into a continuum. All we did was eat our tail.
I am sure neither of us is inherently violent, but the destruction was intermittent and it was vulgar. Eventually the drugs would wear off and the depression would retreat and we’d mop up the broken glass and be tender. In those interludes of domestic bliss we’d cook roast chicken and call each other darling and then one of us would say: ‘Let’s call Auntie.’
So that night we were numbed, cruising Louis Botha Avenue without much purpose except a vague sense of the need to rebel against romance, a concept that Johannesburg renders impotent anyway. In those early days of Joburg’s branding we needed only the flimsiest excuse to get trashed, to criss-cross the wounded arteries of the sprawled city, from Sandown to Mellville and back north again (perhaps) with the sun coming up as a reflexive glint in our wired sooty eyes, we’d mine the city for her soft smelly bits. By then the city was like a Wellconal addict, the infected veins collapsed but still pumping and hungry for pinks.
We always had sunglasses stowed in the glovebox for the inevitable hot weaving home through morning rush hour traffic: matchbox cars; swollen faced mums taking kids to school and freshly after-shaved men burrowing to work. The faces of the people in the cars edging around us were submitted to routine and rarely, if ever, smiled at us as we drove home against the traffic. They were glum and resigned. We were high.
When sleep finally came the thousands of flirts and smiles and winks and twitches of pretty girls and their pert nipples or the what-seemed-really-deep-confessions in tiny club cubicle toilets (‘you have the most gorgeous belly button I have ever seen’) evaporated: none of the content survived. All I can attest to now is the method, the routine.
First port of call was always Auntie. ‘Let’s call Auntie, let’s celeberate,’ says Ralph in our mutual lovers’ slang, a pitter-patter of stuff that was the language of familiarity. So celebrate was celeb-erate and serious was Sirrius and the coke dealer was Auntie.
‘Call her what?’ I’d say.
That was Ralph’s joke. I never thought I would end up with a guy called Ralph. I also never thought that evenings signalled by the Ponte flashing its sick green neon across the valley would make me tingly and slightly feverish, scheming ways to summons sunrise.
But patterns, these kinds of brands and tattoos in the soft skin of one’s life are not things that you choose, they just come along and before long they are gouged and track marks and they are ugly and infected. Then we ask idiotically, how did we get here? Where did that come from?
It started out as a weekend thing, but soon every late afternoon and the creep of evening would do it. Invariably one of us would start flirting with the idea of Auntie but it took two of us to capitulate and then the call would be made and it would go something like this: ‘Hello dear, can I see you… One.’
Sometimes two, perhaps even three.
Half an hour later a battered old blue Toyota would pull up and there was Auntie. Gospel music, Rebecca Malope or some shoddily produced recording of the golden voices of meadowlands or the precious sweet voices of god from Kimberley on the half-blast. Some times her kids (maybe they belonged to the neighbour and were just out on loan) would be sitting in the furry gloom of the backseat doing their homework or there would be a skinny guy driving.
Auntie was plump, placid and big bosomed – the best antonym to a Joburg drug dealer you could imagine.
It was usually me who would skip down the many stairs of the Kensington house to the electronic gate to meet Auntie with her customary greeting: ‘Hello dear’, as if we were two old ladies at a tea party. Pleasantries over, I would hand over a warm wad amounting to three fifty, which she never counted. Once in a while I did think that could have been a pair of Levi jeans, or a visit to the dentist, or a month of school fees to the kids in the back seat but mostly, I suppose, I tried not to think about it.
Auntie would do her slow auntie thing and eventually from somewhere secret and warm, perhaps the inside of her thighs or from the depths of her bosom, she would pass me a teeny sliver envelope that I would have to snatch from fat fingers. Then there would be a cheery goodbye and Auntie would swing back into her night with a whiff of youth dew and a fart of gospel music. I would press the electric gates shut with the heart going thud thud skip sashay and hop back up those suburban stairs with their incredible view of Joburg city, an origamic miniature envelope in sweaty fingers.
Before the acrid stuff was running down the back of my throat I would be in the bathroom gagging and holding back the crap, eyes momentarily scared and leaking a little. It was always a moment of reckoning. I would flirt with myself in the mirror and plump myself up to face the night, putting that smirk on my face that said even though I am empty and hurting inside, I will be the girl with the semi-hardened eyes that challenge. I will be cool, I will have fun.
I am here.
That smutty little envelope, probably folded after school by the backseat kids, was a social article of trade. It would be passed underneath tables, furtively exchanged along with hooded winks and arched eyebrows. When I had it I played foreman: a little flick of my glossy head and some gushing girl would be following me to the toilet.
Inside the stalls conversation would loiter on the edge of the impossible though mostly plough through pedestrian personal confessions. Sometimes one or both of us would pee and I’d find myself feigning interest in whatever the tiresome girl was saying – trying to sneak a peak at her pussy and asking her with overworked sincerity about her dead-end job. Then I’d be standing back watching her run her finger over the porcelain looking for lost crumbs and firing off one-liners about botulism before we’d slip out with half smiles and for the rest of the night I’d have to watch her flirting with Ralph Fuck. Even if I could remember them, those conversations would barely be worth recording – those frenetic smothered whispers we coyly shared before stuffing rolled up fifty-Tito notes into our gummy nostrils.
Try to finish a sentence or a thought with any grace when you are racing through blockaded roads manned by disinterested guards. Try.
None of this has anything to do with Moses. I didn’t even know him although I know that I listened to him perform several times. Before I met Ralph and somehow lost my outline, I used to go to the Bassline jazz club often with friends who said Moses’s name with some kind of reverence, but I was usually too drunk to make him out on the small stage. I knew that he was our generation’s jazz man, that he was important, but I don’t know if I ever met him or touched him and if I had I wouldn’t remember because nights at the Bassline were all a delicious haze of closed eye swaying and heavy drinking.
Although I keep referring to the night Moses died this is not exactly true. It was the night that his death became known. Ralph and I were cruising dry mouthed down Louis Botha in his Audi Gusheshe, completely unaware, the night of the day that Johannesburg woke to the urban electric bushfire story that Moses was dead and people said ‘No, No, How?’ and had all those rambling conjectural conversations that accompany an event like that, with frantic rumours pushing through the numb ‘No No’.
I said: ‘Lets go to the blue nazi,’ in a sudden gush and Ralph said ‘Ok’. I wanted to be somewhere that was the opposite of romance, and the orange alien infested walls of the Blue Nartjie bar in Orange Grove fit that bill. It’s a place usually home to locals, mostly singular and lonely men. On Valentine’s Day it would be the perfect refuge for emotional retards like us.
As Ralph and I moved into the upstairs bar I saw: The Ambassador, Aruthi Rooi and a man called Thapelo caught up in a joyous teary huddle near the balcony – bouncing against the fractions of the far corner. My greeting smile became fixed then faded after something in their communal posture said to keep a distance.
I kept my corner with Ralph, telling him who those non-white people were how I came to know the Ambassador, which government department Aruthi Rooi worked for and how I didn’t really know the man called Thapelo but he was a poet and a friend of the Ambassador. Ralph was impressed that I knew the Ambassador, he’d heard about him, he’d seen the billboards.
I kept an eye on the far corner and eventually when their conversation octopus unclenched, it was the Ambassador who cut through the stragglers to plant a wet kiss on my cheek. MOSES IS DEAD, he announced with a flourish. Moses is dead. He was joyously gallant and incapable with grief, smiling and joking and hyping his way through the pain.
I could see he had been drinking in that news all afternoon and that there was nothing to say, except Fuck NO. I was scrabbling for a place to stand still, for a fragment to lean against. I wanted desperately to see a face or feel something resembling grief; I almost fell off my barstool searching for soothing words, when Ralph saved me. ‘Who was he?’ he asked. The Ambassador drew a lungful and told him.
A hapless tourist, I took part in the frantic tequila ordering and drinking that followed. At some point Thapelo was with us and the intensely beautiful Aruthi Rooi took her wet eyes home. Ralph was entranced by the Ambassador, and I was left to talk to a haunted and handsome man called Thapelo. I had met him once before. It was he who told me, in barely discernable, muffled machine gun prattle that the wife of Moses was also dead.
Like the padded waft of Rebecca Malope in the drug dealer’s car, like the scab on a friend’s once whippet-sharp nose, like the smell of fear on a flabby girl who once was lean and inflated with assurance: these glimpses into human frailty are fleeting passages of shadow. Then we order another round of tequilas and the poison works momentarily to make us gag and forget.
It was a night of bonding and skewering. Ralph took the Ambassador downstairs for some of Auntie and I stood still at the bar so the man called Thapelo could look me over.
I suppose it was then that I may have fallen in with him. He is big but slight and has mineshafts for eyes. Once you step in, you inhabit a sub-terrestrial honeycomb, you are a naked miner in a white overall holding your torch to your forehead, the other hand stroking the rock face, hoping the shift will end and there’ll be sunlight again but stubbornly wishing that this shift will just keep shifting.
When Ralph and the Ambassador came back Thapelo and I were deep in silence. Ralph was on chummy terms with “Amba” who was laughing too loudly to make me feel comfortable. Ralph moved between me and Thapelo, but only to press Auntie’s origami into my palm. Suddenly assured he slapped Thapelo on the back and announced that I would show him the way to the toilets.
Moving in a flush I stupidly remembered a scene from a television show where Barbara Cartland shows Diana Spencer how to descend stairs like a princess. One hand lightly on the banister (in this case a rusty railing), head high and light clipping steps down. I played princess. Thapelo was laughing behind me, nervously. I bolted us inside the pissy stall and avoided the eyes. I did take in the conservative clothing and his clean smell.
That was all, there was no gushy conversation. We did the stuff, and when I said I wanted to piss he slipped out and went back upstairs. I spent a long time looking at myself in the cloud-shaped basin mirrors. There was a woman staring back at me I had not met before. Hello you, I said, hello. Then I bolted back up, lumps of steps at a time.
Boris the meaty patron was examining his palm when I got back to the men, who were shuffling about, nudging their empty shot glasses through bar-top puddles. It was leaving time. ‘Let’s go to The Summit,’ I said, taking myself by surprise. They looked at one another, I pressed on, ‘It’s the perfect place to be on Valentine’s Day,’ bar stools scraped the floor, ‘and it’s the only place open now.’
Boris nodded enthusiastically, Ralph patted his new friend, ‘Amba, come, one for the road,’ his arm around my shoulders. I looked at Thapelo and he simply looked homeless. It was sealed. We let Ralph pay the bill and I let Amba sit in front of the Audi. Nice car he said.
Sleeking through the night city toward Hillbrow, it was Thapelo who asked where we were going and why. I filled him in, slurring with numb and tequila: The Summit is Joburg’s oldest strip bar, I go there often, they know me. It’s an institution in Hillbrow. ‘You’re an institution in Hillbrow,’ Ralph drawled, both hands on the wheel.
I was the only one who laughed. The Ambassador was silent and Thapelo was glum. I leaned through the gap between the leather seats to give instructions and directions, right into the ten rand parking opposite The Summit club where I dealt with the parking attendants and herded the men across the road. ‘Hey Amba,’ I sidled into the rib cage of the tall bearded man whose pain was leaving slime trails across Claim street. “Hey you,” he said, falling in with me.
‘Amba!’ I said derisively.
‘Whatever it takes,’ said he, ‘I never asked you why you’re with this white man…’
‘I’m asking why you’re letting him diminutise you,’ I pushed back weakly. The Ambassador called his famous last grin into play, he tousled my hair and pushed me away in one clean gesture, ‘We’re here.’
At the door they demanded money but I hustled and name dropped (just call Louis, tell him I’m here) until they relented and let me in free. Ralph paid for the three of them (thirty-five rand each gentlemen) without much provocation and I raced ahead, up the bronzed stairs past cheap friezes of Greek athletes on the wall and the sullen whores heading down the stairs to the street to buy rocks or pinks or whatever the fuck made them forget their pain momentarily.
Once inside the papier maché falsetto ghetto of the Starkers Bar I deflated, slumping into my high chrome chair.
‘What?’ asked Thapelo with wide eyes, sitting erect beside me. The white of his shirt like a flag, the rest of him obscured but for the white eggs of his eyes and small slivers of white socks. ‘This neon is cruel,’ I said, as Ralph‘s face loomed purple with green eyes asking us what we wanted to drink.
‘Black Sambuca’, I pronounced, whispering into Ralph’s ear ‘at least it won‘t shine.’
He nodded not hearing and bumbled away. I could feel his anger rising. I resolved to pay some attention to him then noticed the Chinese girls swarm around him at the bar and decided not to. He’d be fine.
I knew I looked nasty, green in the face, the rest of me flecked with every ancient bit of dust and dirt showing up on my black shirt. I leaned back so Thapelo would not see all of that. But looking at him all I could I see was my shoulder grossly flecked with neon dandruff. I took a mental note, once again, never to wear black at The Summit club, and at a loss, frisked myself for cigarettes, watching the Chinese girls stroke Ralph’s leg at the bar, watching the Ambassador about to cry now that he was in the dark, watching women drift by with hollow eyes.
I put my mouth to Thapelo’s ear, trying to hit the right pitch between shouting and whispering that allows you to communicate serenely in a nightclub, I said: ‘There‘s something about the fat black waiters in their red jackets and the hard-eyed whores and the nasty neon light that makes you reflect on the meaning of your life and what an arsehole you are. I suppose that’s why I like The Summit.’
Thapelo drew back. Then he leaned in and he said: ‘You like being an arsehole?’
Then he put his hand on my thigh and said: ‘How much do you think they cost?’
‘Them,’ he gestured the straggling whores at the bar.
‘About three hundred rand I think,’ alarmed, or was it jealous?
‘Why?’ I asked, ‘do you want to fuck one of them?’
‘Who else is there,’ he said as a statement watching Ralph being played across the pitted floor.
I stalked across the stained carpet. ‘Excuse me girls,’ I said perhaps too harshly. Ralph stayed where he was. I leaned to his ear and demanded: is there any left? Get your own, Ralph snarled, with a viscous ‘baby’ added as an afterthought. I stared him down.
‘Give me some money, so I can get my own.’
He laughed, it was more a splutter, and reached for his wallet. The working girls saw with their glinty eyes the fatness of his wallet. He pulled out several hundred and squashed the notes into my hand.
Then he sat back, smug and belligerent: ‘Watch your wallet,’ I said as gently as I could because even though I hated him then, I still loved him a little, ‘these girls steal.’ He pulled back and looked at me, not nicely.
All I had to do was leave but I couldn‘t. ‘Ralph!’ I tugged his smarmy wrist, ‘don‘t be a fuckhead.’
He just smiled at me, a nasty smile that turned me on my head but I still stood there and watched while he curled a short white arm around the nearest woman’s waist.
I had no choice but to stalk away. I pranced around the deserted perimeter of the strip stage, my fingers trailing the Vaseline bars. When I got back to the Ambassador and Thapelo there was a stout woman in black leggings between them. Ambassador was doing all the talking. Thapelo was looking in.
I flashed my cash, ordered another round of sticky shooters. Besides a few skinny Indian men drinking warm beer and a well-preserved lady with a topknot and a pencil skirt dancing athletic disco, we were the only clients left. Ignoring Ralph and his coterie, I leaned across Thapelo‘s thighs and stroked the arm of the short legged woman in the black tights. When she finally turned to me I asked her if she could organise some drugs.
‘Come with me,’ she said.
‘Come boys,’ I gyrated a little, ‘we‘re going upstairs.’
‘Are you sure?’ said the Ambassador, already off his seat.
‘What for?’ asked Thapelo.
‘Just come,’ we said.
Ralph must have seen us leave, but I know we didn’t look back. We squashed into a lift that smelled of medicine. My name is Maria said our girl. The Ambassador was behind me, his fingers indolently fondling my cunt. I had both hands full, one hand on Maria’s waistband trying to get inside her tight leggings and the other on Thapelo’s soft-on. His hands were covering my hand, not to stop me, and his head was burrowed into my neck. All this time I was firing questions at Maria of the tight waistband. She said she was from Mozambique and had three kids.
The lift stopped at the seventh floor. Maria slipped out to patter down the corridor. We found her waiting outside a door, the window of the kitchen was lined with detergents. As if to say to visitors, clean people live here. My phone started to vibrate.
‘Ralph’ I said, the same way I might say vomit.
Maria’s friend in a nightdress had opened the door and the boys stumbled in.
I held my hand up in a global gesture of wait and I took the call.
‘Where are you?’
‘Upstairs… scoring… ’
I paced the small tiles of the corridor.
‘I want to leave,’ Ralph said.
‘Why? Just wait, we‘ll be quick. Get a blow job, it‘s half price.’
It was always me who found the compromise. ‘We‘ll come down now.’
‘Where are you?’
‘I‘m leaving,’ Ralph announced pitiably.
I swung into the flat like a cowboy. The Ambassador and Thapelo sitting on the bed and dressing table respectively. The mama in the leggings also on the bed. Her friend adjusting her brassiere.
‘No more compromise.’ I announced.
‘What does that mean?’ asked Ambassador, eyes sparkling.
I burrowed into the lean pockets of my jeans and pulled out the money. ‘Four hundred, five, six hundred and twenty.’
‘What does that buy us?’ asked Thapelo.
‘Sweetie?’ I asked Maria, ‘what can we get.’
Maria moved over, she looked at the money, then she said kindly: ‘six rocks and two fucks.’
‘Wow,’ I had to say, ‘who wants to fuck?’
Thapelo looked at me with liquid eyes. Amba sat still.
‘Can we have one fuck and eight rocks?’
Maria consulted her friend.
‘One pipe?’ Maria asked.
‘Yeah,’ I said, my cellphone buzzing.
‘Turn it off,’ Thapelo said, not forcibly but I liked it that he said it.
I moved over to Thapelo, wedged next to him on the dressing table. The phone started up again. ‘Ralph?…We’ll be there in ten minutes.’
‘Ha Ha ha,’ Thapelo said.
Friend came back, a little package in toilet paper and a lithium tube were deposited on the bed. Maria looked hungrily at it. ‘I start?’ she asked.
Thapelo and I watched amazed, because first she took off her clothes, slithering out of the leggings and a strange nylon shirt, she undid her bra to unleash pendulous tits. A looked on hungrily. She unzipped her boots. She was wearing bloomers, small edges of her buttocks straying out.
Maria sighed and hitched herself up onto the bed so her arse was facing A. She started working on the pipe. While she got busy burning the coarse hair of the copper wire A started touching her. Running his fingers lightly up and down the inside of her thighs. I was excited. She didn’t notice. She farted.
Amba laughed and jumped away. My phone was ringing. ‘Switch it off,’ Thapelo said, now quite resolute.
I put the phone down on the dressing table, neatly arranged with cheap cosmetics. Lemon Lite and Hair Food.
Maria was unperturbed. ‘Your husband,’ she said ‘he is a pig.’
The phone stopped. Abruptly.
‘He’s not my husband.’
She smiled at me, ‘I like you.’
‘I like you too.’
Maria stuffed the charred wire into the glass vial. Amba was behind her again, but then she sat up on the bed. Amba ran his hands over her back and shoulders… I reached out for Thapelo, just one hand lightly on his thigh.
‘Oh,’ I heard him say.
‘I go?’ Maria asked?
‘You go,’ I said with a muffled voice.
‘Give me lighter.’
‘You go girl,’ A said.
Thapelo‘s fingertips touched mine. The phone started ringing.
We all ignored the phone. Maria ripped a plastic globule open with her teeth and with a clumsy finger she put a kernel of crack onto the pipe nozzle. Shunting Amba away, ‘stop, not yet,’ she shifted to melt the stuff into the wire. Firing the lighter with impatient fingers, she sat back on the bed, her lovely belly quivering, she pulled on the pipe unhappily.
Maria sat back, Thapelo’s hands were on my back, on my waist, Maria passed the pipe to me. I took it, held it to my lips. ‘It’s not a cigarette,’ A said, ‘hold it properly,’ his big hands pulling Maria’s rump towards his unzipped trousers. Maria scrambled across the bed toward me.
I thought she would show me how to do it, but she lunged past me to open a draw under Thapelo’s thighs. My phone started ringing again. ‘Switch the fucking phone off,’ Amba growled. Thapelo took the phone and marched across the room. He started opening a window, struggling with the crude mechanism. ‘Don’t,’ I pleaded, the phone went dead and Thapelo stopped and rocked on his heels, smiling at me.
Maria had a string of government-issued condoms, in hand, small white teeth ripping the top one open. Slipping the greasy latex ring out with her big lips she curled back to Amba who lay back on the flowery bedspread and unleashed his cock. I stared for a while but then I held Thapelo in my eyes while my hand found a lighter. I found a flame and sucked in slowly, ignoring the fucking.
The Summit club took off like a big martini rocket. Thapelo came back and took the pipe from me, ‘fuck it,’ he said, finding the little package of rocks about to be crushed by Maria’s rump, working its way onto Amba’s bursting cock. ‘That was close.’ He loaded the pipe and sucked it slowly, the lighter flickering hungrily into the wire, until I thought he would explode, then he moved toward me and put his mouth on mine, exhaling into my lungs. As he did his hands grappled for my cunt.
‘Give me the pipe,’ Amba said gasping as Maria rode him, ooh ooh ooh she said.
Thapelo handed him the pipe in the same fluid gesture as he lifted me up, turned me around and placed me on the floor with my chin nudging the mattress, heaving gently now as Maria allowed Amba a chance to get high. I had a beautiful view of Maria cunt, swollen and dry, hovering around Amba’s balls as he sucked on the pipe. ‘Give me another one,’ Amba demanded and I felt Thapelo leave me as he found the package and daintily handed Amba a small wedge of crack.
I heard Thapelo behind me, unzipping himself while I watched Maria’s cunt sucking like a gold fish, waiting for Amba’s cock. Moaning, I reached out and grabbed her pussy, squeezing her fat lips together, scrambling for her clitoris, a small humming nub, my fingers found the slippery sides of it and with two fingers stroked them. Maria said ‘Oooh.’
Amba said ‘Aaah.’
Thapelo was behind me again, wrenching at my jeans, I had to lie flat on the floor so he could work them off then he hoisted me back and I felt the tip of his cock nudge inside me.
‘My turn,’ Maria said, swivelling on Amba‘s cock. Thapelo reached over so his cock bent inside me and reloaded the pipe. He took the pipe from me and as I rode him gently, he inhaled slowly and surely and held his stuff inside him until he couldn‘t any more, then he exhaled down into my lungs and came inside me splendidly.
My phone was ringing again. Amba, still being fucked by Maria, who by then was having another hit, fucking and sucking, reached out lazily and passed me the phone. Ralph was on the line. I don’t know if he heard the slurp of fuck, he sounded matter of fact. I’m in the parking lot, he said, someone cut my accelerator cable and I gave all my money to you.
I passed that information on. Thapelo said nothing just slipped in and out of me with big long strokes and Maria kept riding Amba who was loading the pipe with one last big hit. I watched him come, for a few minutes he was speechless and then he said ‘We better go help him.’
Thapelo stopped fucking and started to kiss me. ‘I want to take you to the opera,’ he said. Then he slipped out of me and zipped up his pants. Maria was outraged: No condom. No condom. You crazy she said, pulling her black leggings back over her substantial thighs.
I wanted more but Amba slapped my wrist, no more, he said. We have to go. Your husband is downstairs in trouble.
He’s not my husband.
Fifteen minutes later we emerged from the lift, flushed but completely sober. Ralph was in the parking lot, pacing. ‘You fucking cunts, you arseholes!’ he started to scream. My car’s been sabotaged, we’ll never get out.’
We tried to cool him down. ‘Let’s leave the car here,’ Amba suggested, and take a taxi.’ Ralph started to growl, he was an ugly man. ‘I gave all my money to her,’ he said, not looking at me. I hid behind Thapelo, whispering ‘what about his credit card?’
‘What about your credit card?’ Thapelo said, in a booming voice.
I loved him then and put my hand on his lower back. He shifted away, leaving me exposed to Ralph screaming like a girl.
‘The fucking bitches stole my wallet.’
‘I warned you’ I said in a hysterical voice not my own.
Both Thapelo and the Ambassador looked at me sternly.
‘You stupid arsehole,’ I continued.
‘Where were you, you ugly fucking whore?’
The gloves were off. Thapelo and Amba shirked aside, consulting in Zulu. A few moments later they were back. ‘We’re going,’ Thapelo announced. ‘Yes,’ said Amba, ‘our friend died, we have things to do.’ They walked with hunched shoulders, away.
First published in Chimurenga 7: Kaapstad! (and Jozi, The Night Moses Died) (Chimurenga, 2005)