Skipping Reels Of Rhyme
John arrived at the departure point for the bus in Margate at half-past-four
in the afternoon. The bus arrived at twenty to and the baggage was loaded. He
only had two suitcases, one large and one medium. He boarded the bus with the
other passengers and took his appointed seat.
The bus was average, being that of a small independent local liner, that
operated up and down the coast. The were called 'Vermeulen'- busses. The bus
drivers were both white middle-aged men, and the stewardess was a friendly
colored girl from Cape Town. The bus was neat, and seemed in good order, even
though it was owned by a small company.
At five o'clock the bus took off for
its journey through the night. The expected time of arrival in the mother city
was ten o' clock on Friday morning. It would take so long because the road
through the Transkei was not in good order, and they would also be loading
passengers on and off at all the large cities en route; East London, Port
Elizabeth, Plettenberg Bay and Knysna.
Soon the bus was traveling south, past his old hometown; Munster. He gave the
place a look of goodbye as they drove past. As the bus rolled on smoothly on
narrow strip of black tar, he remembered the old man, McDonald who had given him
work and a place to stay. He had been good to John. Yes, he would miss Munster
and the old man.
The bus crossed the large span bridge into the Transkei, and the dwindling
sunlight cast brilliant golden rays on the water of the river mouth. As they
drove south the sea was often at their left, except at places where the road was
situated more inland. They drove through Port St. Johns and Lisiki-siki, and the
road curved ever southward.
At about seven o' clock in the evening the sun went down over the ocean, and
they had a nice view of it in the bus, as it drove along the coastline. Then the
darkness fell over them, and still the big bus sped on through the night. There
were some videos on the small television screens around the bus, but it was as
always, movies everyone in the bus had seen a dozen times before.
His thoughts drifted towards Natasha where she waited for his arrival in Cape
Town. How happy he would be to see her, he hoped she would be pleased at seeing
him too. How much he missed her, now that they were so close to being re-united
after so long. How he loved her. How he loved her.
Would she still be the same, would she find him the same. Would their love be
unchanged over the years. He knew his love for her would be, he had always loved
her and no other, and he always would. He hoped she would love him in return,
and he believed in his heart that she would. How much he longed for the night to
end, and the journey to be over. To be back in the arms of Natasha once
The large metallic gray bus cruised on, without falter, on the narrow black
road, through the star-spangled night. The moon beamed brightly overhead, and
the wind blew gently.
It was twenty to five in the afternoon in Cape Town, and the afternoon
traffic was heavy. Natasha walked down the sidewalk to where she would cross the
street to get to her car.
She had so much to think of. John would be arriving tomorrow morning at ten.
Cecil and her hardly spoke any more after she told him John was coming to Cape
Town. She hoped the two of them did not fight. She hated the idea of two grown
men fighting over her.
Her thoughts were preoccupied with this, and some article she was working on
for the newspaper, so that she was juggling several thoughts at the same time,
as she crossed the street. Her mind was not fully focused on the present, and to
her it was as if the black sedan came out of nowhere. The driver was only doing
sixty kilometers an our, but when he saw step in front of his car, he had no
time to swerve out of the way.
The car hit her with its full momentum, and the impact was enough to send her
rolling across the street, until she lay still. She lay there thinking of John
and their love one last time, before all grew dark around her, and she died.
Natasha Booysen died there on the busy road in the city center, with a small
crowd gathering around her, and she left behind her love.
After the police and paramedics had come and gone, order was restored to the
road, and the flow of traffic resumed. The cars and trucks roared by with out
knowing what had happened here an hour ago.
When John arrived at ten the next morning he waited in vain for Natasha to
come and pick him up at the bus depot. After he had waited an hour, he went to
phone her home at a nearby pay phone.
The maid pick up and he said "Hello, can I speak to Mrs. Rabinovic,
"Who is speaking please? said Margaret.
"It's John speaking. He
"I'll go and call Mr. Rabinovic. Said the maid.
John wondered what all this was about, why would she want to go and call him?
Nonetheless, he waited. After a few moments Cecil spoke on the other end.
"Cecil Rabinovic here. He said.
"John Britz speaking here Cecil, I would
lie to speak to Natasha. Said John.
"I'm afraid that would be impossible,
not now or ever, she died last night in a car accident. Said Cecil voice on the
other end of the line.
John was quiet, he did not know what to say. He could hear from Cecil tone of
voice that he was not lying. Natasha was dead. What would he do now?
"Hello? You still there? asked Cecil.
"Yes. How did it happen? asked
"She got hit by a car late yesterday afternoon while crossing the road,
look I really can't talk at the moment, said Cecil, " The funeral will be held
at the Dutch Reformed Church in town on Wednesday, you are welcome to come then,
and perhaps then we could speak.
"That would be fine, thank you. Said John,
and he hung up the phone.
He was in a state of shock. He went and sat in a nearby park under some trees
with bare branches. They had long ago shed their leaves to the winter wind.
He just sat there and watched the birds flutter among the trees, chirping.
And felt the wind gently caressing his face. And he remembered Natasha, and how
much they loved each other. He remembered her smiled. He would never be the same
without her. He was almost too sad to cry, but eventually a tear rolled down his
The wind kept blowing and the birds kept singing as the Saturday morning
crowds of pedestrians passed him by. And he sat there crying unashamed.
The funeral was held on Wednesday, and he attended it, in a suit he had
rented from a local shop. He and Cecil spoke a bit, and to John he did not seem
to be such a bad guy, after all, judging on his first impression. He also gave
his condolences to Natasha's parents.
Afterwards, he went for something to eat at a small place near the
waterfront, and to decide what he was to do next, and think over what had
happened. He could not go back home, he and his father had grown into complete
strangers over the years, no, he could never go back home. He had lost contact
with his brother, who was working in northern Botswana somewhere, and he had no
way of reaching him.
What about going back to McDonald. He could do that, but he did not want to.
For a while he wanted to do nothing at all. Just bum around, live off his small
savings for a while, and do basically; nothing.
And then after a few months of that, maybe he will have the strength and
courage to pull himself together again. Maybe then he could start over and
forget about everything that had happened. But he knew deep in his heart this
was not true; he would never forget Natasha. And he would never love another as
he had loved her.
How he still loved her. A seagull soared lightly in the sky above the water,
floating gently on the light sea breeze.
It was early in 2006 and John was still in Cape Town as he had been these
past six months. The holiday season was over, but he was not planning on going
He just bummed around the city center, and some times one could find him
begging in Adderleystreet, or some other busy road. He had no more dreams and
aspirations of love and happiness. He just lived each day as it came. He made no
plans for tomorrow.
When Natasha had died, all his dreams died with her. He had no more joy in
life, other than to loaf around the beaches and public parks, getting drunk on
cheap wine. For this he bummed money for strangers, on the pretext that he
needed to buy himself a half loaf of bread to eat, for want of hunger.
Once he had enough money he would go to a bottle store and buy himself a
cheap bottle of wine. Then he would go and sit under a tree, on a bench in the
park, and drink it all, drowning his sorrows. Sometimes he would smoke a small
zoll of dagga as he sat there under shade of the trees. The wine and marijuana
mixed would help him forget his great sadness, and his longing for his lost
He became a real 'bergie' living in the bushes along the beach, or on the
mountain, depending on the time and circumstance. He kept to himself, and
avoided the company of others, even others like himself. He was lone recluse
pining over the death of the only girl he had ever loved, and would ever love.
In his small haversack, one of his few possessions was the 'Alice in
Wonderland' book, which she had given him when they were young. It was his only
prized worldly possession and he would read from it frequently, wherever he was
To him his life was over, and he was just waiting for it to end. Natasha was
gone, and his hopes and dreams had flown with her soul.
He was begging at the bottom of the mountain one day, where the road coming
down made a t-junction with the one at the bottom. He was begging from the rich
folks cars that stopped there on their way down from a Sunday afternoon on the
A couple in a new white Mercedes coupe stopped at the junction, and he
approached the passenger's side where a beautiful blonde lady sat.
"A small tip please, he begged of her.
The man next her shouted at her as
she was about to extract some money from her purse; "Mary, don't give that bum a
cent, you shouldn't encourage them. And then he sped away leaving John standing
dirty and bedraggled at the roadside.
"Bastard! John shouted after him.
Another luxury motor vehicle was already coming down the road from the top of
the mountain, and he prepared himself for another try.
In the west the yellow sun was slowly finding its way down to settle into the
great Atlantic Ocean.
The wind swept over the waves, as the ocean emptied its load onto the
beaches. And the beaches were spread out along the coast in endless strips of
At night the moon and stars threw their brilliant glow on the fair city, as
it glimmered in the darkness below. The dawn was a spectacle of colors; red,
purple, orange and yellow, as the sun broke and heralded in a new day.
The feint mist would wash of in from the sea, and mingle with the smog and
smoke of early morning city life. The streets would come alive with people and
traffic, and the city would bustle during the day. As the day progressed the
wind would blow the smog and smoke back out over the sea, and clean the
The people went about their work and business, and late in the afternoon the
day would again draw to a close, and the activity in the city center would
decrease, as families settled down for the evening. The sun would set in
brilliance out in the west, over the ocean, and the night would come
The moon and stars would keep their eternal vigil over the sea, and pull her
waters high and low, as the lights of Cape Town sparkle brightly below.
"and if you hear vague traces
of skippin' reels of rhyme
tambourine in time
its just a ragged clown behind
I wouldn't pay it any
it's just a shadow you're seeing that he's chasing.
Bob Dylan ' 'Mr. Tambourine Man'.
Copyright ' JP Brown ' 24/05/2005