More Than Somewhat.

So I am standing on a street corner in the part of the Big City known as the Yeoville Waterfront on a cold winter’s night wondering where my next thin dime is to come from. This Waterfront is not exactly a Waterfront and it is not precisely in Yeoville either but I am not such a guy as asks too many questions about such matters. I figure in this town a guy has enough troubles without creating such troubles as tend to be created by getting a reputation for asking too many questions. Furthermore a guy does not need to ask too many questions if he has ears of good quality and is careful not to pursue any activities such as are liable to get his ears sliced right off.
It is while I am standing there, admiring some young ladies of elegant attire and listening to music with decided drum and bass through doorways, that I happen to be seen by someone whom I have known around these parts, and who is called McGurk, and who comes up to me and makes sounds resembling those possibly made by a hippopotamus with double pneumonia, but which I gather are intended to show that he is nearly as sad as I am, and maybe more so.
“Well,” say I, “and how are we this evening, which all things considered is a fine evening, if a trifle cool?”
“Fucked,” expresses McGurk. McGurk is a fine figure of a man and when he grasps me by the shoulder and propels me through a doorway and up against the bar, I am the last guy to complain. Indeed people who complain about the things which McGurk does often face difficulties in their subsequent careers. So I am happy to provide one of my last thin dimes to buy McGurk some spirituous refreshment, on the basis of which McGurk explains that he is in extremis with the law, whose representatives wish to fit McGurk with an orange jump-suit with CORRECTIONAL SERVICES written on it frequently. McGurk feels that orange does not suit his eye colour, and that in any case, being such a fine figure of a man, about two and a half metres tall and maybe two metres across, there will be no jump-suits available in his size.
I inquire what may the matter be, and what frame is being hung on him this time, this being the sensible way to phrase such questions. McGurk explains that he is blamed for offing Brett Kebble. Now, offing people is something for which McGurk is by way of acquiring something of a reputation. In these times people are offed left and right around the countryside, although personally I have a strong objection to visiting the countryside under any circumstances. But of course, while there is a deal of social embarrassment to do with offing people, and those performing the offing process are not always welcome at the best parties, still I am not one who will express prejudice on these matters. Indeed, many contend that those people being offed are often surplus to requirements.
But somehow it is strange that so many people are offed when McGurk is nearby. I once suggest to him that he join an organisation called the Surplus People’s Project because of this, but McGurk says he is not interested in politics. It is true, however, that when a person is offed in Pietersburg, McGurk happens to be visiting that town that day, and when a person, or maybe several persons, happen to be offed in Potchefstroom, McGurk is leaving that town a few minutes later. In these times the names of towns are constantly changed for reasons which are no doubt good, but some suggest that these changes are due to McGurk’s friends, so that McGurk can tell anyone asking questions about an offing in Potchefstroom that he is in Tlokwe that day, or about an offing in Pietersburg, that he is far away in Polokwane.
I am not going to seek details on this matter, but it transpires that McGurk is one of three people who are blamed for having offed Brett. It seems that there is quite a queue around Brett’s roadster that night, or maybe a lot of pushing and shoving, so that it is a miracle that nobody is shot, by reason of road-rage, except maybe Brett himself, of course. But McGurk is particularly incensed when he is being accused of murder, which he considers a very insulting term, indeed. He informs me that Brett is by way of committing self-slaughter, so that in fact nobody is to blame for the offing except maybe Brett himself, who is naturally hard to catch, these days.
Now it is true I know McGurk from the old days (although I am not such a person as will handle a Roscoe, except under very special circumstances, and indeed I do not know one end from the other to speak of) and so I buy him another spirituous beverage. I am careful not to buy McGurk too many, however, for I know that when McGurk has taken several on board he is apt to become highly critical of the interior decorations of his drinking places, and indeed to disintegrate those decorations and scatter them around, along with the interior decorators and practically anybody standing near them. It is because I have no wish to see these things happen that I fail to mention that I am personally not ill-acquainted with Brett from the old days.
I am very careful not to speak of this until McGurk leaves, but I can remember Brett once says to me that he is very unhappy. Brett is a guy who has plentiful potatoes, but there are those who spread stories that he has not so many potatoes as he pretends, or that he takes his potatoes from fields which do not belong to him, such as the pension funds. In fact, there are those who say that Brett is nothing more nor less than a hoopla artist or a fraudster, which are terms liable to make people such as Brett extremely displeased when such terms are applied to them, since when such terms are bandied about it becomes extremely difficult to chisel potatoes out of people. I am aware of these things because I am a guy about town who does the best he can, and while I am not conversant with such excellent circles as Brett moves in, he and I can see eye to eye, especially since Brett is by no means exceedingly tall.
Brett is a pleasant person, or not unpleasant, or anyway any person with such a supply of potatoes is not going to hear from me that he is unpleasant. Hence it is easy for me to introduce him to people who may assist him in ensuring a steady supply of such potatoes, except that the supply sometimes miscarries, or the potatoes turn out to be mouldy, or when the box is opened it turns out to contain not potatoes but some less savoury things. Here I am speaking of potatoes, but of course by potatoes I mean lucre, which is not always so filthy as those who have not got it pretend. (I am not speaking ill of potatoes, of course, which are nutritious, especially when eaten in an Irish stew.) Brett is in trade, and the things which he trades are valuable, but somehow this proves not to be so valuable as it seems when push comes to shove, as it usually does. In any case my help is of little value to Brett, and at the time I speak of he is down to his last half billion, which causes him to be extremely miserable. I am not going to tell him, of course, that if I am down to my last half billion, or even half million, I am going to consider myself most particularly well set up, indeed.
But it seems that this half billion is itself not even Brett’s own half personal billion but is already lost in trade, and Brett is to give it up, and give up his company, and his mansion, and other such things of this and other ilks. So Brett throws back his spirituous beverage (and Brett is a good judge of spirituous beverages so this shows that he is in a specially sad mood) and says “I wish that I were dead!”.
When a person has so many potatoes as Brett claims to possess, even if those potatoes do not actually exist in the warehouse or the field, it is usually said that his wish is much like a command, and what he says goes. So I am not surprised to hear soon after that Brett is dead. My concern is merely if Brett means what he says, and is happy to leave this vale of tears, or if he changes his mind at all when he sobers up, and whether whoever offs Brett therefore does something which displeases Brett. Although after the fact I admit that it is all much the same in the end.
So I am sitting in a drinking place on the Yeoville Waterfront, feeling alternately cold and warm, being extremely careful in my speech as to tell the truth I always am, when I see someone come through the door by the name of Clinton, whom I know from a long time ago. I am usually very pleased to see old friends because there is always an opportunity to discuss old times with them but on this particular occasion I am a little troubled because McGurk and Clinton also know each other from a long time ago. It can be said that these two are no longer such firm friends as formerly, in fact they are spoken of as having had a falling-out in the same sense that the city of Hiroshima had a falling-out, and I am apprehensive that there may be violence of some kind. (I am such a guy as does not applaud violence of any kind, being a most peaceful character at all times.) But fortunately this does not take place, perhaps because Clinton is coming in with two persons who are almost as fine figures of men as McGurk, and who are also carrying exceedingly large John Roscoes on their hips.
This does not so much disconcert me as it disconcerts me when McGurk walks out, giving Clinton one look only which is not the look of a friend, and Clinton comes and sits at my table and suggests that I may wish to buy him a drink, not worrying about the effects of the drink because one of the two persons with John Roscoes is also Clinton’s driver. However it seems this is not the right time to speak of thin dimes and such matters, so I provide the necessary and hope to hear what Clinton has to say, and not to interrupt, for Clinton is quite particular about not appreciating being interrupted, and the two persons with John Roscoes (which are actually 9mm Glocks in quick-release holsters with 19-round magazines) are liable to beat me on the schnozzle with them if I am not respectful to Clinton.
Clinton is what may be called the head of security for Brett and I assume he is in town for the same reason that McGurk is in town, which proves to be very nearly the case. To be precise he is in town for the opposite reason, because McGurk is in town to be fitted for the orange jump-suit while Clinton is in town to fit McGurk with said jump-suit. I am surprised to learn that Clinton is not happy to be doing this thing, for I am aware that Clinton considers McGurk as little better than a pantsula, a pantsula being such a guy as is unwelcome in the right circles, though he is considered most useful by those who wish special tasks to be performed, such as offing people, or separating them from their lucre. A pantsula is expected to go away somewhere else once the task is performed, as indeed McGurk has done.
“Yes,” says Clinton, “McGurk is a bad egg, and in fact I am even told he is once an impimpi.” (An impimpi is a pantsula with friends in the constabulary forces, and while I have every respect for the constabulary forces I will not choose to count them as my friends if I have any option in the matter, which I usually do not.)
When I express the proper surprise, Clinton goes on to say “But I believe it is nothing more nor less than a frame which is being hung on McGurk, and if it is not hung on McGurk it will be hung on one of the other two, or perhaps it will be hung on me. For it seems that someone wishes to see a frame hung on someone. I wish I knew someone who knew someone who knew something. You have the reputation of being a guy who knows and it is exceedingly interesting to me that I hear you are sitting at a table with McGurk and he is telling you stories. I do not wish to appear intrusive but I am very interested in stories.”
“McGurk is expecting to be fitted for a jumpsuit,” say I, not wishing to arouse ire. “He is not such a guy as will spread stories unnecessarily, except stories of the type which may be repeated in mixed company without blushes or gasps. Nobody says that he is not a reputable guy, impimpi or not.”
“I am not so sure that you are telling me the whole truth,” says Clinton, in a manner which personally I find most offensive although I naturally do not show this in my expression. “For two pins I can invite you to step outside with Jack and John to have a consultation on the subject of speaking truth to power. In fact, for less than two pins.”
“Well,” say I, “I have no desire to participate in such a consultation. Anyone around town will tell you that I am a most cooperative person. On the other hand, I am happy to be sitting here and I do not particularly wish to leave, not even in the company of your honourable friends, meaning no offense to themselves or yourself. If I am in the company of McGurk anyone will tell you that I have no connections with McGurk whatsoever and I can honestly say I take no pleasure in meeting him again after our long separation which took place at my initiative. Or do you not believe my word of honour as a gentleman?”
I can see from the expression on his face that he is not satisfied with this, and I greatly apprehend that he intends to deliver a statement in connection with my status as a man of integrity which both of us will eventually regret. But fortunately at this moment the television set appears to become very loud, and this is not because some proud soccer supporter turns up the volume, but because everyone else in the establishment grows very quiet, which is unusual given the spirituous refreshment served at such establishments.
What happens is that another guy whom I know from the old days, namely Glenn, comes through the door. When Glenn comes in people naturally fall silent, partly out of respect and partly out of the fear that if they speak it may be written down and passed on to someone in authority. Glenn is a very serious example of my personal philosophy that it is ill-advised to spend too much time in the company of members of the constabulary, as this invariably brings on trouble of a kind which is not easily set right. Indeed because of his bad choice of companions, Glenn is being fitted for an orange jump-suit as part of the frame which I happen to know is being hung on McGurk, and as Glenn is very, very particular about his haberdashery indeed, Glenn is not glad to be considering this costumery.
Clinton looks at Glenn and Glenn looks at Clinton and for a moment there is a moment which reminds me of the old days, and I fear that something may happen, but it is clear that neither party wishes to return to the old days. Instead Clinton gets up and goes out with his friends and their John Roscoes. I am grateful that I am familiar with this establishment in the old days when it has another name, because this means that I happen to know a way of getting from this establishment into another establishment and from there to the taxi rank, so that if Clinton and his friends are waiting for me in expectation of a more structured interview, they are going to wait until hell freezes over, which is in my view a desirable outcome, as Clinton is such a man as does not appreciate cool climates.
“Good evening,” I say to Glenn when he approaches.
“What is good about it?” asks Glenn, and under the circumstances I have to confess that it is a hard question to answer, though naturally I always believe in looking on the bright side of life.
“Well,” I say, “there are so many reminders of the good old days passing through this establishment that it is almost as if the good old days are back.”
“I am not so sure that they are ever good or ever gone,” he replies, sitting down, although I do not invite him to, he being always prepared to defy the wishes of the general public.
This is not always true, however, because Glenn is in the importing trade. There has been a time when he is importing people — although this is not the usual importation, such as lithe ladies from Slovakia. No, Glenn instead has ways of moving people around without anyone knowing about them. If sometimes the people do not get where they expect to go, and if indeed they are sometimes never seen again, this is not Glenn’s fault, or at least this is what Glenn says, and I am not going to be the first guy to contradict Glenn, especially when he is in a very unsympathetic mood because like Brett he is experiencing problems.
Unlike Brett he finds his way to a kind of importing trade which generates considerable lucre, namely importing worthwhile spice to smoke in a hookah. This is a very agreeable and healthy way of passing time, especially since Glenn provides aromatic spice which is extremely relaxing to smoke. I am personally fond of such spices,, although they is by way of being illegal. But Glenn does not mind because he has his friend from the constabulary to stand by him. Which is why he is now standing in a place where he is liable to be fitted for an orange jump-suit.
“So, how is it going with you, then, Glenn,” I inquire because I do not like the silence which keeps falling whenever Glenn is around, not because I need an answer or to ask a question.
“The usual,” he says. This is a good answer by any standard, and which makes it possible for me to spend almost my very last thin dime on some spirituous refreshment for him. Then he tells me the usual story about how things are not going well but he sees clearly now and the future is not bright but he has hope. I tell him he is in a bad way but I am sure it could be worse and that he must be careful to make sure he has the right sort of friends. I do not listen very carefully while I am talking because what I am saying is nothing but shooting the breeze, something which I am happy to shoot any time. But Glenn has nothing else to do and nobody else to help him, and also nobody to buy refreshment for him (although he is a man who buys a good deal in his time). Then he proceeds to talk in a way which suggests that he is not listening to me either and not deeply considering his personal interests. But I listen.
It is maybe the middle of the small hours of the morning when I make it back to my newspaper office where I write this all down and e-mail it to certain guys and dolls who e-mail it back to me so that I am free to pretend that it came from them. This is how I make my living and if it is not always of themost salubrious, it is steady. It is not wise to admit that you know too many things in this town. I am the kind of guy who wishes to be modest about his knowledge. This is because I am, more than somewhat, the kind of guy who wants to live a long time.


One Response to More Than Somewhat.

  1. Nokwindla says:


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