Thursday, February 21, 2008
The Butcher The Butcher (continued)
The First Meal
I can’t bite my tongue forever – lyrics from ‘Your Love Is A Lie’, SIMPLE PLAN
Walking up the centre of the main street, one white line at a time, the ruby ‘Y’ growing smaller behind them, Neethling glances at the dim figure of garage attendant. The man, the shadow, takes a few hesitant steps towards him. If he feels like kissing anyone right them, it is that old black man. The man lifts his car keys faintly; they tinkle. Neethling gives a beatific wave but keeps walking, his shoulder pressing against her soft back, nudging her, teasing her. The impulse; the spark, and now this, two strangers walking down the street like they owned the town!
Part of the thrill, of course, had to go to this mysterious creature – warm, glowing in the twilight – moving, dancing beside him with the end of day shadows. He noticed the bus restaurant, candles already twinkling through the windows. He saw the steeple, white, crawling steeply into the sky like a white waxy crayon. The followed the lazy curve of the road and walked until it opened up on the village’s modest suburb. A windmill rose whimsically out of someone’s backyard. Two young joggers, ponytails jolting with each step, fading on the side of the long road. They walked further, until she said, taking his hand in her strong fingers: “This way.”
Ahead of them was a small mob of youngsters. They carried a young girl on their shoulders. The cheeky looking pixie stood up; fingers butterflying, bobbing over their heads, a cheeky grin glowing yellow against the creamy blue sky. They yelled out in unison: “HELLO MORGAN MCDONALD!” “Hi julle.”
“They like you…like you’re the town’s celebrity.”
“You haven’t seen anything yet, Squire.”
The banter flowed between them. She smiled, laughed, poked a response at him, verbal jousting back and forth.
She asked him a few times: “Are you really a detective? But you’re just a kid!” He asked her: “You’re the butcher here? The butcher?”
She stops, the fans of the windmill forming a cold, hard, black halo around her head. “What brings you here to Ventersdorp then?”
“Perhaps you brought me here.”
“Answer the fucking question!” A flash of frustration, a flash of hair and teeth and her hand, a dagger in the dark.
“I’ve been recruited to investigate some things.”
He shrugged. “Maybe.” He was thinking that their time together might depend on how long she thought he might be around. If he led to believe he had business here, perhaps she’d give him more time than she otherwise would.
“Well, if you really are a detective, I feel sorry for you.”
“Because you should never have come here.”
“You think I’ll leave empty handed?”
“No, you won’t leave alive.”
He gave a little snort. “Coming from you, that’s quite funny.”
“That’s what I’m here for. To amuse you; I’m here for the whole dorp’s amusement.”
The sternness of this makes him sobre. He look sat her for a long moment, and she impatient looks over his head at the darkened clouds.
“Unless we’re all here to amuse you.”
With that she turns and starts climbing up the narrow ladder wired into the windmill’s frame.
They climbed like monkeys up the windmill. She had one hand on the razor blade steel fan, and another on his shoulder.
She gave him a small shove. “Don’t do that!”
She chuckled. “I have your little life in my little hand.”
“No you don’t.”
“Yes, I do.”
“No, you don’t.” She placed a foot in front of his, and pushed at his torso. He seemed to be keeling over, but at the last second swung his arm towards her hand, clinging to the windmill’s blade, and his body connected to hers. Just then a gust lifted over the fields, and the windmill began to turn, its edges whipping by their necks. His eyes butterfly kissed hers. His face folded into hers like a puzzle; not quite fitting. He pushed his lips into her hers and the puzzle piece fitted snugly for a moment. His heart leapt. The height, the wheeling windmill, the remaining scarlet sparks of sunlight – all conspired to make a moment that could not be anything other than dizzying happiness. For him. And yet her heart trembled. It did not race, but it was cantering along.
His lips moved to the delicious whorls of her soft, perfect ears: “I see you next to me; I feel you next to me but you still feel far away.”
The windmill begins to spin. She stares at him and he is forced to look away, at the blades.
“C’mon. Shows over,” he says. They clamber down; him giving her assistance. They walk to a dusty park nearby, the steel see saw and swings hanging from chains gleam in the dark and silver light.
On the seesaw: “You seeing anyone?” He asks. He kicks himself up hard so that she lands with a hard thud. She does the same, pushing up hard: “No, I’m between heartaches. You?” He kicks, and down she goes.
“No. I’m about to be one of them.” Down he goes.
“How do you know for sure?”
“I’m intuitive like that.” Up he goes.
The seesaw remains stationary with him at the top and her at the bottom. Now she gives him a sly smile, and edges slowly off her seat.
“Ha ha ha!”
She steps off and he comes down heavily, bouncing off his seat onto the ground, and immediately grasping his aching scrotum.
“Oh, are you okay?”
“Why is knowing you so bloody painful.”
A shriek of laughter. “You have no idea. Ha ha ha!”
He forgets the agony, grasps her ankle and pulls her down beside him, filling her hair with dead grass and dust.
“I’m okay, no thanks to the Butcher; the Butcher of this… God forsaken…fucking place.”
“I should warn you. The longer you stay here, the more powerful I get.”
“I’m prepared to take the chance.”
“I wouldn’t if I were you.”
“But you’re not me.”
“You’re right, I’m not.”
“I’d rather bite you.”
“Bite me then.”
Eyes swim; and then she hungrily bites his mouth, making him wince, a muffled grunt from him, and then her bite softens, to a hungry chewing of his lip, his blood spilling over her cheek.
“It’s been a while since I’ve seen someone take pain the way you do.”
“Does that mean you’re impressed?”
“Let’s just say…I’ll be more patient than I’m usually in the habit of being.”
“Are you susceptible to flattery?”
“That, and strong assertive women.”
“Great. Easy meat.”
They walk back to the bus, her hand in his, like a bird in a cage; in the safety of the cage, but a cage all the same. At the bus they ask for hotdogs. She takes the ketchup from him and soaks his hotdog in the red sauce.
“C’mon! You’re like a kid! Grow up,” he whines, annoyed.
“It’s just food.” She throws her hotdog into a dustbin, whips down her hand so that red sauce lands with a slop on the road at their feet.
They walk towards his car, him wolfing down his hotdog. She draws a finger into the tomato filled abyss, and paints red lines on his face using the red sauce.
“Oh my God you are so irritating!”
“You have no idea…” She lunges at him, fingers locked around his neck, her tteth pinching into his cheeks, tongue sucking at the red sauce on his face. He stands there, stunned, fingers half holding a morsel of food in his hand. He feels his body burst into flames under her tongue.