THE TEXT

The Life of Henry Fuckit
(1950 - 2015)

 

23   Two dreams

When he opened the envelope on Saturday morning he was surprised to find that it contained not only a cheque but a letter as well. Hard on the heels of surprise came shock, humiliation, anger. Then followed acceptance, amusement and euphoria. Finally came sobriety. The missive was brief and to the point. On account of his disgraceful behaviour in the filing room he was fired. They were paying him two months salary and did not require his presence beyond the end of November.

On Sunday morning he awoke early to the sound of the muezzin rousing the Muslim sinners to prayer. He lay on his back enjoying the grey light and the cool air coming in at the open sash window. He felt drowsy and at peace with the world. What a relief it was to be free from the shackles of employment. He luxuriated under the light, downy warmth of his double cheque. With his left hand he fondled the firm reassurance of his money order. If he was careful he would be able to survive for at least four months on the recently received funds. He drifted in and out of sleep and had two dreams, one hypnagogic, the other hypnopompic.

He was on his back in bed at Ingachini. It was his mother's room. He was exhausted but happy, having just given birth to a healthy girl. He looked down between his raised knees to watch Herr Friedemann at work. "Now for ze umbilical cord." In his right hand, which was dripping with crimson gore, he held up a pair of dressmaker's shears and snipped the air three times before bending to his task. Tears of joy (or sorrow) rolling down her plump cheeks, Mrs Rabinowitz took the infant and swaddled it in a purple shawl. "And now for ze afterbirf." There was a painless sucking, gurgling and squelching and Herr Fritz held up for his inspection a mountainous tray of steaming offal. He recognized the tray as the Ingachini Coronation Tray - the one with the six castles grouped about the central cameo of the youthful queen. "Right, vere is zat schwein?" Meneer Welgemoed was standing inside the door looking grim-faced and dour. He took the tray and sniffed at it. "I give this to Mevrou De Groot. She can mix it in with the boys'-meat. Dis goeie kos vir 'n kaffer." He was visibly pleased it would not be going to waste. Witherspoon and Braithwaite entered the room, lifted the sheet and made noises of admiration, then came and stood either side of the bed. Braithwaite took his left hand. "Congratulations dear boy. Knew you could do it if you really needed to. This is a wonderful beginning." Witherspoon grasped his right hand. "Henry old chap, I'm terribly proud of you. May there be many more." He released Henry's hand and stood back for Mrs Rabinowitz who placed the baby in Henry's arms. He held the child against his hairy chest and looked down into its face. His surprise was so great, his embarrassment so acute that the dream dissolved in an instant. This was no helpless newborn. Instead he had stared into the eyes of a young woman whose gaze was bold and mischievous. When she smiled he knew instantly that they were lovers and that she knew him intimately.

The second dream, which followed at the end of a short stretch of oblivion, was also set in Ingachini and was very brief. He found himself on the footpath leading to the cave. In his right hand he was carrying an empty five-gallon paint drum and under his left arm was a cardboard box. He walked in bright sunshine and then descended into the shade of the trees and entered the cave. From the box he took the crystal set, earphones and roll of copper wire. The inverted box served as a table for the receiver. He passed some six inches of copper wire through a grommet in the base of the upturned drum. Lying flat on his stomach at the back of the cave he fitted the open end of the drum snugly into the black orifice, and then made his way back, paying out the wire as he went. The free end of the wire was fitted with a terminal that he plugged into the aerial socket of the set. He donned the headphones and slowly began to turn the tuning dial. Almost immediately there was a crackle and he turned back. The signal was strong and clear. He recognised the music immediately as from Bach's Goldberg Variations - how could he not have recognised it, Mrs R had played it on so many occasions? Then the piano stopped abruptly and a faintly heard voice began to babble excitedly. "Hello, hello, hello, hello, hello. Please stand by, please don't… where's the boss? Quick man, call Mr Bergson. Tell him someone's picked us up, it's incredible. Hello, hello, hello, please don't go away. We're just getting…" The voice faded and was replaced by the sound of a bell tolling.

He opened his eyes and found the light of day had filled the room and the bells of St George's Cathedral were calling the Christian sinners to church.

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