The Life of Henry Fuckit
27 Ugly, unnerving, depressing
It was the end of February. An unseasonal black southeaster had been blowing for three days, bringing low cloud, drizzle and a welcome respite from the heat. On the fourth day the wind dropped, the skies cleared and the morning air was clean and cool. Henry decided to walk to Salt River along Albert Road. His appointment with Ivor W Hopper was for 11.30 at the Locomotive Hotel and they were to proceed from there to Observatory to inspect Ivor's new place of residence.
Feeling full of vigour Henry walked at a brisk pace. Some hundred yards from the Woodstock police station a van passed him and pulled up outside the charge office. Two cops jumped out and came round to the back. By then Henry was some twenty paces awayOne of them opened the back and they both reached in, grabbed a foot and pulled out a feebly struggling Coloured man. The violent force with which they worked enabled them to extract their captive in such a way that he emerged from the vehicle in a horizontal position. As it was not humanly possible to continue to apply such force to the man's body, it soon succumbed to gravity and one end, the head, fell heavily earthward. It struck the road with a heavy thump and the body went limp. Henry had come to a halt on the pavement. The policemen changed direction and marched into the station, dragging their quarry behind them. His head bounced on the kerb and bumped over the paving slabs, trailing behind it a single brush stroke of bright red. Unsteadily Henry continued on his easterly course towards the Locomotive Hotel in Salt River.
The usual assortment of human wreckage was coming and going and he began to feel marginally better. After two quick double brandies and Coke the sharp edges began to come off. These pathetic characters enriched him. Like the scene he had just witnessed in Woodstock must have enriched him somehow. Like the gun shop drama had enriched his life. He was busy getting rich. Homo sum. Yes, one day he would have it tattooed on his prick. The fact that he was a man meant that he was capable of anything, as long as it was in the ambit of human experience. He approved of Humani nil a me alienum puto. Much better than that similar but confused sentiment, But for the Grace of God there go I. Missed the point. The Grace of God, or Fate, or Luck, call it what you will, radiates upon all with the same cold intensity. It is unwavering, indiscriminate, invisible and deadly. Far better would be, WITH the Grace of God there go I. Inescapable. All the time he was learning more and more about what he might be capable of, what might lie in store for him. Sometimes one needs a dop or two to help the realisation sink in.
Ivor was sitting next to Henry at the bar.
"Henry, you look a little wan and distraught about the eyeballs, as if you had just been told you were suffering from a terminal disease."
"I don't need to be told. I already know I'm suffering from a terminal disease. So are you. It's called the Human Condition, and it's excruciatingly painful, it can be long and drawn-out, and is always fatal."
Over a beer Henry explained his most recent bout of nihilistic anxiety, describing the shockingly brutal manner in which the policemen had removed the Coloured man from the van. Then he recounted the dramatic events at City Guns, culminating in the culpable homicide.
"Jesus, Ivor, is there any wonder my nerves are a bit shot? You know what really gets me? It's the stupidity of all this insane racial hatred. Where will it end? I tell you, when I gaze into the future I see nothing but cruelty, reprisal and much letting of blood. My eyes fill with tears, my heart aches with despair, and my entrails quake with dread. Please contradict me, reassure me like you would the aged and the very young in times of calamity, tell me pretty lies, that things are not as dire as they look, that alles sal reg kom. Cheer me up."
But Ivor, the inveterate realist, merely sneered, said, "Your future-gazing is spot-on, Pal," and ordered himself another double cane and Oros with ice. "No, there's fuck-all future for us Whites. That's for sure. Look at this fuckin' rubbish. All White." His sweeping gesture encompassed the barman, who was wiping the counter in front of them, the two goons playing darts, and the five or six retired / boarded / unemployed no-goods at the bar. "Each one of them holds the same view: Blacks are stupid, lazy, dishonest, unreliable and treacherous. Above all, they believe Black men have bigger and better cocks that are constantly flexing and sniffing the air for white cunt. They are terrified." He gyrated his glass, setting the ice in motion. "And yet at least they have an identity: they are stupid White South African racist thugs. Not like us - we have no identity at all. We are the hollow men, the stuffed men. At least these pigs are of a type and think they are right. One day, when they're on their knees begging for mercy, they'll be able to say in all honesty, like the fuckin' Germans, we were misled by our politicians, by our church. But not us. To us it's all perfectly clear. We know exactly what's going on and we know it's an outrage. You know, one day when the Black man takes over, we're going to be asked some difficult questions." Now he had warmed to the subject and was enjoying himself in a morbid sort of way. "So you didn't approve of apartheid? That's what they'll ask us. No, we'll answer. You say you weren't a sympathiser or a supporter? No. They'll adjust the light and shine it in our faces. Did you do anything, any little thing, to stop it? No. You didn't plant any bombs, then? No, of course not. You didn't even participate in any protests? No, teargas is horrible stuff. You didn't go into exile? No. Not even emigration? No. You didn't suffer with the oppressed? No. We suffered alone. No sign of solidarity whatsoever? No, just a whole pile of angst. They'll pull up another light, turn it on, adjust it so that the full glare falls just where it should, on our sweaty faces. A change of tack. Did you ride in the Whites Only compartment? Yes. Did you piss in the Whites Only toilet? Yes. Did you swim in the Whites Only sea? Yes. Did you live in the Whites Only suburb? Yes. Did you go to the Whites Only school? Yes. Cinema? Yes. Fat of the land? Yes. Did your parents and all your relatives vote for apartheid? Yes. Were you familiar with the teachings of Jesus Christ? Yes. Ever read the Declaration of the Rights of Man? Yes. Are you a piece of shit? Yes, yes, yes. Then they will file their teeth." He lapsed into gloomy silence for some moments before concluding his speech. "You know, we don't understand a damn thing about them. We fear the Black man, deride the Brown, hate the Afrikaner, detest the English. Our countrymen! And we loathe ourselves. Oh, for Christ's sake! What are we supposed to do?!"
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