Butterfly Capture

By Travis Lyle a.k.a DJ Hedmekanik
‘A creature of habit’ he called himself. That may be putting things a little simpler than they are. In reality, he was a creature of curious rituals. The head of the mechanical toothbrush was put in its exact place each day for a very good reason: it caught the morning sun on the narrow windowsill above the washbasin and sunlight is an effective steriliser. The post-prandial cigarette: for digestion. Always taking one of four different ways to get home: to ensure that his movements were unpredictable, should anyone with untoward intentions take it upon themselves to mug him, as slim as their pickings, should they have done so, would have been. And so on; myriad choices made for sound enough reasons, most of which were known only to himself. Over time I came to see that he had some privately ordained plan, and was not under the spell of an obsessive disorder but rather made his way through life by justifying the small decisions with a peculiar logic all his own. Compulsively exacting, sure. Crazy? No.

It’s not a long drive to Bloemfontein from Cape Town, well, not as long as the journey to Johannesburg, certainly. He had decided, after twelve whiskies, that it was a good idea to drive that distance, which may have seemed all the shorter as a result of his drinking. Whether it was wise of him after so much drink to take to the road is neither here nor there. The fact is that in his own way he made it there and back for one reason and one reason alone – to attend Hansie Cronje’s funeral. As the erstwhile god of South African cricket, it was only fitting that Straud pay his respects. With a faithful fifteen seasons of attendance under his belt and a deeply ingrained sense of the irrefutability of cricket as being as close to a divine sport as any could get, it was his duty to attend. Anything less would be inexcusable in his mind. So after twelve Jameson’s he bid adieu to his drinking buddies, who looked on with a mixture of grave apprehension and secret admiration, and made his way to the usual rendezvous, chosen for its discreet position. Located as it was on the sharp bend of a quiet residential street that afforded a clear view in both directions, he had always met the Nigerian there. Even now, some five years down the line, he would not meet his connection anywhere else, even if it meant waiting longer when time was of the essence. And it was, with a steadily increasing frequency, but this never swayed him from his determination to stay within the plan. Again, nothing much was done flippantly, and as usual the rationale was close to the surface, if at first a little unclear.

As always, the dark blue Cortina was a few minutes late, during which Straud attended to the list he had scrawled on the back of a 30’s pack of Stuyvesant Red. Going on a solo mission to Bloem in the dead of night required meticulous planning if he was to pull it off in one piece. He had to make absolutely sure he had just enough of the coke to last him till he returned. Any less and his body would inevitably win the battle and he would fall asleep, perhaps at the wheel, something that was unthinkable for someone who prided himself on being an impeccable driver, and there was no chance he could restock in Bloem. The list was drawn and redrawn as various factors were considered, until he was happy that he had both the time and supplies to make it there and back without any hitches.

Taking to the long road with a pocket full of dynamite, a passenger seat occupied by a hulking cooler box filled to the brim with beer on ice and a back seat that was crowded with two weeks’ worth of washing, upstaged as it was by the urgency of attending the funeral, he felt that he was doing the right thing. Not that he had given it much thought: he had decided before Hansie had even died in that plane crash on a misty Outeniqua mountainside that his was a funeral which would be attended.

Just outside Touwsrivier he pulled the plastic-wrapped white knuckle of coke from his underpants and single-handedly administered a hoof to his nose. With the blur of alcohol now making way for the focus of the stimulant, it was a refreshed and talkative Straud that pulled into the glow of the petrol station with a squeal of tyres.

‘Howzit my bru, how’s a two-fifty Unleaded there, please bra. You o's got a toilet?’ Straud asked as he handed over the three hundred.
Taking the cash, Marten the petrol jockey replied:
‘J-j-j-a, m-m-mister. J-j-just by the beck. Where you g-g-g-going so late, ay?’ asked Marten. Straud gave him a quizzical look and continued:
‘Jussis my bru. I’m driving to Bloem.’
‘B-b-bloemfontein? For what?’
‘Hansie’s funeral, bru. Pay my respects, y’know?’
‘O j-j-j-ja, the o was a y-y-yiro.’
‘Ja. Hero. Ja! The best! He was poetry in motion, my bru, one in a million, head and shoulders above the best, the cream of the crop, the cherry on top! There'll never be a cricketer like him, I tune you. Never.’ Straud said firmly, with a stare that dared Marten to say otherwise.
‘For s-s-sure, m-m-mister. Oil anna water?’ Marten looked on, nodding.
‘Nought, bru. Just fill her so I can drill her, shot.’

Straud got to thinking that he could live out here; this barren land was so clean and quiet. Cape Town was becoming increasingly dangerous, now that the Tik epidemic was making criminals bolder and crazier. Only two weeks before he had had to chase a psychotic addict out of his garden at 5am, after finding the guy trying to prise the gate mechanism from its bolts. With a wild look in his eye and a flashing knife, Straud needed no encouragement to wallop him one over the left ear with his Gunn & Moore, which sent the nutter scrambling back over the barbed wire fence that protected his small Tamboerskloof home. Later in the day as he took off for work he saw the spots of dried blood leading a trail up the narrow alley that backed onto his wall. He'd thought about following the trail, on the off chance that he could find the would-be-thief and give him another whack, just to make a point.

‘Tik. Such a dirty drug. Makes you crazy. Can’t understand how anyone would want to let drugs do that to them.’ Straud mused as he nailed the third line of the night off the lid of the petrol station toilet. The irony was not lost on him, and he emerged into the blazing lights of the lonely Karoo forecourt with a smirk.

Marten was waiting alongside the car with his change, hoping for a tip from this obviously edgy white boy.
‘D-d-d-daarsy, mister. F-f-f-f-fixed up for the long drive.’
‘Cheers, man. Hey, you wanna tip? I’ll give you a tip: Always look left and right before you cross the road. Hehe.’ And with that, he was off.
‘Poes.’ Said Marten quietly as the taillights faded towards Bloemfontein.


Here's a fine tune from one of the members of Leftfield for your aural indulgence. (For more on them, see above) Go ahead, knock yourself out. No, really:


1 comment so far.

  1. Anonymous February 23, 2008 at 3:54 AM
    moar! moar!

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