When Matthew Dreyer started life as a
baby he was one of those mewling and puking types: somewhat
sickly and runtish. In fact, during one of their frequent,
verbally abusive altercations, his father Bruce had suggested
to his mother Trudy that the infant was suffering from foetal
alcohol syndrome. On account of all that wine and gin and
tonic she had insisted on drinking during her pregnancy,
little Matt would grow up stunted in stature and intellectually
subnormal. It was a foul thing to say to a mother; just
a cheap gibe with little to substantiate it. It had the
desired effect though, which was to cause nagging guilt,
mental anguish and emotional torment.
A Posh School
Matt was enrolled at the best of schools. It was one
of those museum institutions that should have died out
as a despicable anachronism once the sun had set on the
British Empire. It was based on the English Public School
model, and was steeped in all sorts of bizarre and archaic
traditions that one would have thought had no place in
the 20th century, let alone the 21st. But the wealthy
elite who prosper at the expense of the stinking masses
seem determined to have their offspring educated in just
such old-fashioned bastions of privilege. Certainly the
“You see, darling,” she said, “it’s
most important not to appear
weak in any way.”
“Like how?” Matt wanted
“Well, for example, they’ll
offer you a cigarette and closely watch your response.
If you refuse, or start coughing and spluttering, or don’t
know how to inhale, you’ll be an object of ridicule.
I’m afraid they’ll see it as a chink in your
armour, my dear. Then they’ll look for other ways
to test you and before you know it you’ll be a laughing
stock and fair game for the bullies.”
Matt had stopped eating and was
“But don’t you worry,
my darling,” she went on. “We’re going
to give you lots of training over the next month. And
it’s not that complicated, really. You’ve
just got to be able to smoke, hold your liquor, and do
drugs. Also you must know about sex.”
A Real Lady
His feelings for his mother were more complex. He knew
she was a typical rich bitch, through and through –
loud, domineering, incredibly rude to domestic staff and
shop assistants, dishonest in word and deed, foul-mouthed,
lazy, quick to complain, callous, sexually promiscuous,
badly educated, opinionated, bigoted, pompous, pretentious
and, above all, supercilious. In short: a real Constantia
Worse Than Rats
“But there’s another reason why we
find them so fucking obscene; a psychological reason.
When we see a rat and shudder in revulsion it’s
partly a feeling of disgust for ourselves. Our base impulses,
our revolting habits, our treacherous nature, our murderous
inclinations, and our systematic degradation of everything
we touch. The rat is our nemesis: a reproach and a reminder
of how vile we really are.”
“But after all the persecution Jews have suffered
you can’t blame them for wanting their own homeland.”
“Ah, kak man.” Horry
didn’t agree. “Look, what makes a Jew a Jew?
You can’t tell me it’s genetic – that’s
the Nazi way of thinking. No, it’s the fucking stupid
religion that makes a Jew a Jew. The same with Christians,
Muslims, and Hindus. God, or the belief in a God, or in
any supernatural power, has failed the world. For there
to be any hope for the future the eradication of religion
should be tackled on a global scale, the way one would
fight AIDS, or avian flu, or malaria.”
Suddenly Horry sat up straight, as if he’d been
yanked upright by some invisible rope tied to his neck.
His eyes burst into flaming enthusiasm as inspiration
exploded somewhere in the cerebral background. He snapped
his fingers to show he’d just had a eureka moment.
“Tshabalala!” he shouted,
causing everyone in the coffee shop to turn their heads.
“Dr Godknows Tshabalala: that’s who you must
see. The best sangoma in Cape Town.”
In The Ghetto
It wasn’t far from the highway, but it felt like
the hinterland of darkest Africa. The potholed track led
into a jungle of shacks and took a turn. He was immediately
engulfed by walls of wood, iron, cardboard and plastic.
Most of the hovels were closed up, the residents away
at work or school, or off foraging for firewood, or scavenging
for bits of rubbish that might be of some use, or out
and about breaking into houses and stealing washing from
clotheslines, or off to town to do a little shoplifting
and begging. He saw a woman, some small children in rags,
an old man. A skinny dog barked a warning: if he stopped
it would piss on at least one of his wheels. Some chickens;
a goat. Everywhere the smell of human excrement.
The shock Matt’s in for revolves around a certain
cultural phenomenon. We all know what culture is, don’t
we? Anyway, the culture Matt was familiar with was largely
worthless culture of the West, heavily loaded with influences
from the US of A. Some call it postmodern culture, or
post-postmodern culture. Whatever. The main feature of
this culture is its worthlessness.
Not For Art's Sake
Anorexic Prostitute with Baboon Foetus. All this pseudo
aesthetic refinement and sensitivity. When just beneath
the surface they were gross materialists. It was a con,
this display of Art objects. They weren’t interested
in the art at all. Money and status – that’s
what it was about. Like that bloody William Kentridge
on the wall over there. How many hundred thousand had
they paid? Christ! Klipdrift and Chocolate Kotched on
The Dark Foe
Matt peeped into the room. Claude was in his chair behind
the desk where he’d been told to sit. The burglar
stood facing him, his back to the door. He was examining
one of Claude’s guns prior to firing it.
The thieving black bastard. Dormant
hatred erupted in him. Coal black, actually. Ebony black.
Must be an Angolan, or Congolese, or something. Xenophobia
and righteous indignation were injected into the engine
of rage. These foreign black bastards were stealing and
raping right here in Constantia under the very noses of
the black bastards whose birthright it was to steal from
the white trash and rape the white bitches.
It was a scruffy little town built on a narrow plain
and radiating into the surrounding hills. Most of the
buildings were old and in need of maintenance. This must
be British colonial architecture, he thought. Not like
the Cape Dutch style of Stellenbosch, which he remembered
as having a much more vibrant and prosperous feel to it.
There was refuse in the storm water channels, and groups
of shabbily dressed darkies were already gathering under
trees or on street corners, having despaired of finding
work for the day.
A Normal Kid
She did most of the things her friends did. She went
to the parties, and danced, and popped pills, and drank
vodka and cream soda, and even sucked a cock or two. But
that was it.
“Members of the Foundation are encouraged to take
a pledge,” he said. “It goes like this: ‘I
vow to use every opportunity that comes my way to defecate
on the altar of religious conviction, and wipe my arse
on the flag of national pride.’ Offensive, hey?”
The Ghost of Bruce
It was in Godknows Tshabalala’s
back room, the one where he practiced traditional medicine.
They were squatting on low bankies either side of the
fire burning on the earth floor in the middle of the room.
Both were squinting into the thick acrid smoke. It plumed
up from the coals where the doctor had just thrown some
handfuls of dried and powdered goeters. Matt was battling
to make out the shape of his father’s spirit, but
the doctor, with all his years of experience, could see
it plainly, as if he was wearing night vision goggles.
Drink Up, or Else
Somewhat surprisingly, his
drinking habits weren’t a problem, even when he
stank of booze and slurred his words in tutorials. In
fact, it seemed that drunkenness was actively encouraged
on campus. He spoke to Ed about this.
“Yes,” said Ed, “it’s
a cultural tradition at Rhodes, reinforced by the growing
use of alcohol and drugs by schoolchildren. It’s
a weird kind of conformity to inverted values. I hardly
drank at all before I arrived here, and I don’t
see why I should start if I don’t feel the need.
But the warden has spoken to me on two occasions already,
urging me to get pissed like the other students. He’s
even threatened me with psychological counselling to help
me with my problem. Incredible hey?”
Greedy and Selfish
he said, “you’re painting a horribly bleak
picture. No wonder you say we’ve been robbed of
a future. I suppose we can only blame human nature for
this. I mean, if we’re atheists we can’t even
blame God or the Devil.”
“No,” said Ed, grinning.
“But we can blame previous generations; especially
our parents’ generation.” A cold, ruthless
look came into his eyes. “We might be rather fond
of Mummy and Daddy, but they’ve got a lot to answer
for. They’ve been very greedy and selfish. They’ve
recklessly and negligently gone and fucked up their children’s
future. Let’s just hope they don’t expect
us to pamper them in their old age. No, I’m afraid
we’re going to have to euthanize whole multitudes
of them in order to gain some breathing space.”
“It really is strange,”
he said. “This is supposed to be a fucking university,
and yet ninety percent of the students have a phobia-like
aversion to anything remotely intellectual. Rather than
discuss or even contemplate a mental abstraction, they
prefer to dwell vicariously on stuff like sport, Hollywood
movies, cars, trendy gadgets, and other people’s
sex lives. But to hell with them; what were we saying
before that oaf knocked on the door?”
Matt had never been what’s
known as ‘a ray of sunshine’. But now he entered
an introverted state of brooding sullenness. He began
to miss lectures and spent more and more time lying in
bed staring at the ceiling. Or sitting at his desk watching
movies on his laptop, a bottle of gin and a litre of tonic
to hand. Or aiming his firearm at the bastards on the
His personal hygiene suffered,
too. He would wear his clothes until they began to stink,
then he would change into dirty clothes that had been
hanging on the back of a chair. He stopped shaving. Also,
he took to pissing in the hand basin in the corner. Who
was he trying to impress, anyway? Fuck the world. But
he never neglected to go to rifle practice. That was what
made him feel calm and strengthened his resolve.
In the morning all three
of them woke up feeling a bit babalas and lacking in a
sense of purpose. After two cups of coffee Gilbert went
to get the car out. The old toppie was pottering about
in his garden, surrounded by a collection of disgusting
Disney-style gnomes made of concrete and painted in bright
colours with alkali-resistant acrylic.
“You know,” said the
old toppie, “there was a surfer got washed up on
the beach in the night. Had his leg and his head bitten
off by the sharks. Now that’s a sign of the times.”
“Yah?” said Gilbert,
wondering what the old cunt meant by this stupid statement,
and wishing he didn’t have to engage in this pointless
“Yah,” said the old
toppie. “All the fish in the sea has been fished
out and now the sharks are hungry. They got to eat something,
Just then the main door
opened and the attendant marched in. He stopped in his
tracks, listened for a moment, and then hurried over to
one of the toilet cubicles and hammered on the door.
“Hey you!” he shouted.
“Stop that! Hou op met daai fokken draadtrek! Only
shitting, only shitting!” He turned away muttering,
a look of disgust contorting his face. “I’m
the one who has to clean up. Fokken animal.”
Stealth, cunning, furtiveness,
guilt and shame all mingled together to produce a suffocating
Matt. “This is a fucking time warp. This is AWB
country. This is the Boeremag.”
And indeed it was a flashback
to the old South Africa. These people cooking their suppers
on open fires, trying to hold on to a time when things
were better, far better. Times when you could treat a
kaffir like a kaffir and everyone knew where they stood.
Not like now, when white people are being murdered and
raped all over the republic, systematically, like it was
She glanced up. Ah! There it was.
Her charcoal eyes were filled with fear. Would you believe
it? Rose was quivering with terror, not knowing what he,
Matt Arsehole Dreyer, was going to do next.
Of No Consequence
“Why did you have
to kill them like that?” she asked.
“The monkeys?” He
was taken aback. He’d already forgotten about the
monkeys. But why had he killed them? “They were
messing up the car,” he said, knowing that this
didn’t in any way explain his behaviour. What the
hell. It was of no consequence and he felt no remorse.
These monkeys were vermin, anyway, just like humans. In
a million years time they would have evolved into some
abominable species to take the place of humans, who’d
be long extinct. Then they too would go about fucking
up the planet.
He was in a hurry but now
he must calm down, savour the moment. He stood with his
toes over the edge and looked down. This was pathetic.
Sixty-five metres down to the riverbed. Bloukranz was
more than three times this. Oh well, fuck all of humanity,
and fuck this lousy life. He slowly let himself lean and
then fall forward.
At the critical moment of no return
he expected to feel terror. Instead he felt the detached
objectivity of an observer. The wind was in his face and
the rocks rushed up to meet him. In place of the jerk
on the harness he would have preferred the extra metres
of free fall and the exquisite intensity of that last
moment before his stupid existence was plunged into eternal
One of them broke open the
door, which was unnecessary because it wasn’t locked.
They entered the shop and immediately began messing up
the crime scene by doing things they’d been specifically
trained not to do. Like moving the bodies and handling
the murder weapons and leaving their sweaty fingerprints