Skipping Reels Of Rhyme
He was going on the trip with Fred, and they would stay at an old friend of
John, whose parents had a house in Irene.
Fred's mom dropped them off at Lydenburg station in the early evening one day
during their mid year break. They were both in high spirit at the prospect of
the adventure, which lay before them. They soon found the platform that the
train they were going to take was on, and it was not long before they found
their coach. They traveled second class so that they would be able to smoke.
It was well dark by eight o' clock when the train pulled out of the station.
They made friends with the two older chaps that were sharing their compartment;
their names were Bob and Roy. The boys told them about their planned adventure,
and the mission, which was John's love.
The train rolled on through the night, and a vendor came round offering
refreshments and drink. The boys each had a few beers with the older men, and
then lay down on the two top bunks to sleep. At about eleven they were awakened
by the older men, and told that they had arrived at Middelburg station.
As it was late in the night, there was not much traffic passing on the onramp
to the highway. They tried their luck for another two hours, thumbing the
approaching traffic, but found no takers. Then they walked to a nearby park
surrounded by veldt, a stopping place for motorist to have a snack and a rest.
Here they made camp under a small torn tree in one corner, and soon they would
both fall asleep.
As John took out his sleeping bag, his hand felt the small Bible, which he
had brought with, as well as the copy of 'Alice in Wonderland', which Natasha
had given him. Holding it in his hands under the pale light of the moon and the
stars, he thought of her, and smiled. He loved her so.
The Southern Cross shone brightly in the southern sky, as he crawled in for a
few hours sleep before, dawn came. Soon he was dreaming sweet dreams of Natasha,
despite the hard ground that he lay on.
The next morning they woke with a start as a big truck roared past them. They
were lying closer to the road than they had estimated in the darkness.
There were only a few meters, which separated them from the road, with a
rickety fence in between. They packed their kit, had a bite to eat, a smoke, and
then crossed the fence and stood next to the road. They got a lift soon after
they had started hitching. Two drunken men about ten years older than
themselves. Still they were happy with the lift, as a few hours next to the
roadside can make one. They jumped in and were soon introduced to the occupants
of the car; Jan and Koos.
Jan and Koos were pissed on Klipdrift brandy and coke, and in the background
blared the music which revealed the era of their origin, Bruce Springsteen; Born
in the USA. The song was at the point where uncle Sam was putting a gun in
Bruce's hand, and sending him off to go and kill the yellow man, when Koos, the
passenger, put a tumbler of brandy and coke in each of the youngsters hands.
Which they accepted with reluctance, which was soon dispatched by Koos's command
The car sped off at phenomenal speed down the straight black highway, with
Jan behind the wheel, peddaling the juice. It was not long before Bruce
Springsteen 'rocked', and the brandy started to taste good. As the car sped on
Koos raised a toast to Jan. "To the war! he said. "To the war, damn it was a
good one, was Koos's response, then he added for the benefit of the youngsters
in the back, "Back in Nam, we didn't give a damn!
And the youngsters laughed as the red car cruised on the black stretch of
tar, down the hill.
They arrived at the Irene/Lyttelton turn off just before Pretoria, and Jan
and Koos dropped them off here. John and Fred quickly walked the three
kilometers from there to his friends place in Queen Street. His friends name was
Hugo, but they called him Gig
The first thing John did once he had settled in his friends out room, was to
contact Natasha and make a date. They would meet tonight at eight down by the
waterfront. He could hardly wait. He showered, shaved and brushed his teeth.
Then he put on some of Gig's expensive aftershave, and he was set for the
She spotted him soon at the steps near the fountain where he said he would
be, in a red T-shirt and a pair of blue jeans, wearing the freakish set of John
Lennon shades she had ever seen.
She wore a lovely short white dress, with red hearts all over. She looked so
beautiful, for a moment he felt like crying. They embraced and kissed on the
steps by the blue fountain, and he hugged her tightly to him, with the joy of
They went to watch a movie, and it was 'Nothing to lose' which made them
laugh, as it was quite funny. Then they went to have a milkshake and pizza at
Milanese, and sat and watched the beautiful colors of the water fountain as it
sprayed its fountains to the music.
As the fountain spurted and danced in dark red glory she said; "I love
"And I love you, said John.
"Have you still got the book? she
"Yes, I will always carry it with me, he replied.
They embraced as
they sat on the steps of the amphitheatre and watched the fountain. They kissed
For the rest of the holidays they were inseparable, he was always over out
her house, or they were out someplace. And still they did not get intimate
enough to have sexual relations, they both wanted to wait. The days passed in
the bliss of their youthful love.
Soon he and Fred were on the Botha Avenue on ramp to the N1-north, hitch
hiking back to Lydenburg. As he was standing there his heart was already aching
They started hiking early in the morning, at about seven o' clock. The early
morning peak hour traffic was picking up, and soon the highway lanes were filled
to capacity with cars and trucks.
A large eighteen-wheeler truck pulled over on to the side of the road for
them. It was an International 5000. The boys clambered up the steeps steps and
climb into the cab. The driver was a short, thick set, gray haired man. He was
probably in his late forties or early fifties. He introduced himself as Peter.
The boys introduced themselves in return, and told the truck driver where they
"Lydenburg hey? Well I can take you boys as far Belfast, where I will be
dropping my load at the station, said Peter.
"Thanks very much, the boys
They asked what freight he was hauling; he something about 'pulp', but the
boys didn't quite catch what he had said, and not wanting to appear ignorant,
made as if they did by nodding their heads, as if in understanding of what he
was talking about.
He handed them over a large plastic liter bottle of fresh milk, which they
guzzled down eagerly. "I keep liters of that stuff with me in the truck. It
keeps me going, said Peter. Then he asked them about their trip and stay in
Pretoria. John told him of Natasha, and how much she meant to him, upon which
both Peter and Fred gave him some playful verbal hassle. He just laughed with
them at their lewd jokes about him and his girl. It never became too personal,
so he could laugh along.
They turned East on the Witbank highway, and were soon passing through
Bronkhorstspruit. The huge truck rolled majestically over the smooth tar
surface. Beautiful African veldt and lush green farms dotted the roadside. It
was a splendid view from the height of the trucks cab.
The eighteen big wheels of the International rolled smoothly over the road
surface, as the man and the boys talked inside it and listened to the music on
the radio. He also had a CB rig in the cab, which truck drivers used to warn
each other of traffic cops. CB slang for traffic cops was 'bandits'. He would
call up other truck drivers and ask if there was any 'bandits' on the road he
was traveling. If the response was that there was not, he knew the road was
open, and he could put his pedal to the metal.
As the road was apparently clear ahead of bandits after Witbank, he did just
that, and soon the truck cruised onward down the highway a great speed. The
mighty engine purred like a cat, and the tires kissed the road, as they sped on
into the morning. The sun shone brightly ahead of them as it climbed higher in
By half passed ten they passed through Middleburg, and on the other side of
town, Peter again gave the International juice, and it rolled on. At half past
eleven they were in Belfast. Peter stopped the truck near the railway yard, and
the boys got off and thanked him.
"It's a pleasure you guys, I can remember when I was young, and hiked through
to a girlfriend a few times. You boys take care now, and be careful, this can be
a dangerous country.
They thanked him again and then walked the lengthy distance through town to
go and hike on the other side of it. When they reached the outskirts of Belfast,
they sat down under a big old willow tree by the road, and started hiking.
It was not long before an Asian man pulled up in an old jalopy of a pick-up.
It had chicken cages on top of its canopy, all filled with clucking chickens.
The inside of the canopy was equally stacked with chickens, which were also
happily clucking away.
They jumped in and the guy introduced himself as Rodney from Durban. This
promised to be an interesting final stretch to their journey.
Rodney gunned the old jalopy down the steep passes, and it was a hair-raising
experience for both boys as the rickety pick up tumbled down the road, with the
chickens ceckling in the back.
Bob Marley was singing 'no woman no cry' on the old car radio in the dash. It
was not long before Rodney produced a large joint.
"The best Durban poison. He proclaimed proudly and then asked, "You guys
feel like some?
"Sure. Both boys replied simultaneously, eager to try the
Rodney lit the joint with his Zippo lighter, and soon it did the rounds. Each
boy smoked more than his fair share, and Rodney had not lied, it was a-grade
stuff. They were flying high, as the old jalopy rattled down the steep pass.
They laughed and joked with Rodney, and were only vaguely aware that the journey
was taking much longer than it should, because of the ancient rickety car, and
its stoned driver.
It was just before four o' clock that the bizarre journey came to an end, as
they arrived in Lydenburg. They turned left at the t-junction outside town and
soon they were on the outskirts where Rodney dropped them. They walked the short
distance home, saying their goodbyes in front of John's home, they were still
both well and truly stoned.
His father was home early from work, and noticed immediately that he was
stoned. A heavy argument ensued.
"How can you enter my house stoned! demanded the father.
"Hey dad, chill,
it was only a small joint. He lied.
"If ever come into my house stoned again
you are out on the street, do you understand, threatened the father.
better than to argue and jus said, "Yes dad.
"Now go to your room, and don't
come out till you have sobered up! said his father.
"Yes dad. He said, and
did as he was told.
In his room he put on the radio and listened to the late afternoon news. He
was only vaguely aware of the news of carnage and killing in the background, as
he was busy thinking of the trip they had undertaken. It had all been worth it,
even the fight with his father. It had been worth it all just to see
How he loved her, more than ever.
And he kept on loving and longing for her, through the year, and the one that
followed. He did not get an opportunity to see her again, and now they were both
in their final year of school.
They remained loyal to one another's love, and never did the one betray the
other's trust. They kept in touch by mail, and he phoned her religiously once a
week. They sent one another birthday and Christmas cards, and they also
exchanged a few photos by post. Their love never dwindled.
He did matric in Lydenburg, and she did matric in Centurion. They both
passed, and where he did average, she did extremely well in her studies. He knew
she wanted to study, and he would probably not, that meant they would probably
be apart a while longer. Yet they both hoped that they could ultimately be
During their final holidays she went down to Witsand with her folks as they
did every year, and he went down to the Natal south coast with his grandparents
for the December They telephoned one another frequently from their respective
holiday destinations, and told one another he much they wished they could be
"One day we will be together. He told over the phone one night.
we've been apart so long? Do you really think we will find one another
"We'll be together one day, I promise. He said.
His matric holiday was enjoyable, even though he missed Natasha
He made friends with a Zulu boy his age, and went to play football with him
and his friends on a nearby field. It was a rough and uneven homemade pitch, and
the goals were roughly made from wooden poles. It was tough games as only
football on an African field, and with Africans can be. They play hard, and one
has to play hard in return.
Still, it was good fun, and the game was especially enjoyable if they had had
a joint beforehand. He loved the feeling of being stoned and running after the
ball, virtually the entire day, without tiring. And what made it even more fun
was that he himself managed to score a goal occasionally. He loved the feeling
of power and completion he felt when he ball flew through the posts.
He was a good runner, and comprehended passing tactics well. In short, he was
a good ball player, and that is why he enjoyed football. It was memorable summer
days, chasing the dirty white ball over the rough, lush green field. It was a
feeling he would never forget.
He met an old man out on the rocks one day, who was busy fishing. They got to
talking, and he told the man he had just finished school. The old man asked him
what he was going to do now that his schooling was complete. He said he would
have to find a job. The older man took a liking to the younger one as they spoke
there on the rocks.
"Why don't you come and work for me, the man said, "I have re-roofing firm
here on the south coast, and I have an out room you can rent
"Thanks, that sounds great. Said John as he took the old man's
"Let me know when you are coming down, and we will have a job ready for
you. said the man. His name was Ian McDonald.
That night John told his grandparents of the job offer, and told them he
would be taking it up. They were delighted, and said that it would be nice
having him nearby.
He went back home after the holidays the way he had come, and would be coming
back down again; by bus. At home he made the final arrangements with his
parents, and then headed for the coast, and freedom. He only had two large bags,
which contained his clothes, and a few odd books.
The most prized of these was the copy of 'Alice in Wonderland' which Natasha
had given him, and which he close, because it reminded him of her.