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Archive for the ‘South Africa’ Category

Familicides – how apartheid killed its own: An excerpt from The End of Whiteness by Nicky Falkof

Nicky Falkof, University of the Witwatersrand

The End of WhitenessIn this extract from her book, “The End of Whiteness: Satanism and Family Murder in Late Apartheid South Africa”, the University of the Witwatersrand’s Nicky Falkof explores how during the height of apartheid family murders became what was termed a “bloody epidemic”.

The terms “family murder”/“gesinsmoord” only came into frequent use in South Africa in the early 1980s. Murders within families had, of course, happened before but had not been defined in this way. Those deaths were reported as individual tragic killings rather than as symptoms of a larger social problem. Family murder as a phenomenon was particular to the late apartheid era and developed when it did because it had meaning outside of itself.

By 1984, amid burgeoning cultural awareness of a national “problem” of family murder, the term was sufficiently entrenched to merit a three-page article in the popular Afrikaans magazine Huisgenoot, often a social barometer of white Afrikanerdom. This considered three recent murders, of Aurica Costin, Mirian Swanepoel and Talitha Hamman, all killed by estranged spouses who subsequently committed suicide.

These deaths, coming at the start of the panic, did not fit with ideas about family murder that became set as the decade progressed. Family murder was later characterised as something separate from domestic violence, an act that involved a family structure – always children, sometimes other relatives too – rather than just a couple, and almost always ended in the suicide of the killer.

Nonetheless at this early stage Huisgenoot referred to the Costin, Swanepoel and Hamman killings as “gesinstragedies” (“family tragedies”) and to the killers as “family murderers”. The magazine called the deaths a “bloedige epidemie” (“bloody epidemic”).

Paranoia at work

Huisgenoot’s article was part of an emergent repertoire of representation about family murder that included the exhortation for the public to watch out for the “warning signs” listed in the pages of popular publications. There was a certain paranoia at work here.

If the family murderer was always white, male and Afrikaans then it followed that each white, male and Afrikaans person could have the seeds of murder within him. The injunction to watch each other potentially accused all people who fitted into this mould. All white Afrikaans men could be marked with the possibility of this type of evil and it became everyone’s duty to observe them.

Huisgenoot also reported, “[Family murder is] a sign of a sick society, say psychologists.” Press responses to family murder turned to psychiatry and medicalisation early on. The notion of expanded blame – that society as a whole rather than just the killer was responsible for these deaths – also came to the forefront early in the coverage of these killings.

Similarly, family murder was understood as a sign of larger ills. In an article on South Africa’s “new brutality”, the right wing Aida Parker Newsletter, secretly sponsored by intelligence divisions within the South African Police, classified family murder alongside child abuse and other social ills as the consequence of a “sick society”.

That was a society newly filled with pornography, “enlightened” churches that preached politics instead of religious obedience, high divorce rates, “trendy” sex across the colour line and newly “liberal” attitudes towards abortion, homosexuality and lesbianism. All of these ills were contrary to the rights of the majority who wished to “live in an ordered, humane, civilised society”.

Death of a daughter

On November 4 1984 Gert Botha (38) shot and killed his ex-wife Maretha (35), their daughter Madaleen (15) and himself. Although there had been two similar cases the previous month, this one garnered far more press coverage, at least partly because of the idealisation of the murdered daughter.

“Madaleen, 15, was the beauty of the family. She had already won one pageant … Next year she would be a prefect. That night the family was torn apart. Mrs Botha lay dead. Madaleen was shot in the stomach and the eye when she ran into the bedroom after the first bullets were fired. Gert Botha turned the gun on himself,” reported Huisgenoot at the time.

Madaleen’s healthy normality was repeatedly emphasised in the press. Her gender and ethnicity were combined to depict her as a perfect white Afrikaans daughter. She was the model victim of a social plague. This was in contrast to parental dysfunction. Newspapers insisted that Gert and Maretha’s constant fighting should have alerted their community to the looming tragedy.

Saving families

Ideas about warning signs were part of the medicalisation of the family murder, the belief that there was a set of symptoms that could be spotted and avoided. This social-psychiatric narrative also implied that the unwary were to blame for disaster.

The Sunday Tribune, an English-language weekly newspaper published in what was then Natal province, went as far as to use the standfirst, “Family ignored danger signs – and paid with their loved ones’ lives”. Complacency and lack of communal care were blamed for the destruction of white South African youth. Society was failing to protect the young from dangers that could have been anticipated.

An editorial in the Afrikaans daily Beeld, titled “Kommerwekkend” (“Worrisome”), speculated that deaths like the Bothas’ were part of a national crime problem, the result of a society that was too violent, with firearms too easily available.

The Weekend Argus in Cape Town called the deaths part of a “frightening chronicle” of killings and printed a list of possible causes agreed upon by several unnamed psychologists: “unemployment, stress, sex, the availability of firearms, misplaced religious beliefs, immaturity, alcohol, fears about the future and ‘hot weather’”.

This list avoided the most influential, volatile and unsettling factor that affected South African society. Save from fear of the future, apartheid was given no place in a consideration of why family murders happened, although notions of Afrikanerness and gendered cultural identity crept in in the form of religion, immaturity and sexual issues.

Later in the period other experts suggested a different causal model for family murder that implicated the violence of apartheid as a primary factor. The family murder panic was thus part of a cultural shift. It helped to inaugurate a public discussion of the fact that apartheid could be dangerously brutalising for white people, allowing them to be critical of the system without having to acknowledge the far more damaging consequences it had had for black South Africans.

The Conversation

Nicky Falkof, Senior Lecturer in Media Studies, University of the Witwatersrand

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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Don’t miss Die Laughing – the new Short Sharp Stories Awards anthology

I am thrilled with the intriguing interpretations of this year’s theme. The inventiveness, the mix of raw and honed talent, and the dark humour make for a rewarding read. – Karina Szczurek

Die LaughingTattoo Press and Jacana Media are proud to bring you Die Laughing, an anthology of stories of wit, satire and humour:

Die Laughing is the fourth of the Short Sharp Stories Awards annual anthologies, following Bloody Satisfied (2013), Adults Only (2014) and Incredible Journey (2015).

In this anthology, writers have poked a little fun at our crazy country, at our politics, our idiosyncrasies, and our down-right ridiculous habits. A number of stories, all with a strong sense of the South African setting, look on the lighter, brighter side of life, and, of course, dark humour is included too – irony, satire and tragi-comedy.

With a foreword by Evita Bezuidenhout, introduction by Darrel Bristow-Bovey, and stories by new voices as well as prize-winning authors, including Greg Lazarus, Gail Schimmel, Fred Khumalo, Stephen Symons, Kobus Moolman, Ofentse Ribane, Barbara Erasmus and Diane Awerbuck, Die Laughing promises to be another stand-out anthology.

The judging panel of the competition was made up of Ken Barris, Karabo Kgoleng and Karina Szczurek.

Adults Only won the coveted 2016 NIHSS Award (National Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences) for Best Edited Collection, and two stories from Incredible Journey were nominated for the 2016 Caine Prize, with Lidudumalingani announced as the winner.

Die Laughing was published in July 2016 by Tattoo Press and is available in all good bookstores. Jacana Media are the distributors.

Adults OnlyIncredible JourneyBloody Satisfied

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2016 Sol Plaatje EU Poetry Award and Anthology – entries open

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Entries for the sixth annual Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award and Anthology are now open! The project is made possible thanks to the ongoing support of the European Union. The Jacana Literary Foundation is also thrilled to welcome on board the Mail & Guardian this year, who will join in on the sixth Award, as we celebrate the anniversary of Sol Plaatje’s 140th birthday.

Up to three poems in any of South Africa’s official languages can be submitted via the online entry form. Entrants are encouraged to submit poems written in their mother tongue. Entries will close at 8 AM on Friday, 29 July.

The work submitted is judged blind, by a panel of four esteemed poets. As in previous years, a longlist of the best entries received will be published in Volume 6 of the anthology. A shortlist of three poets is selected from the longlist, and those finalists will be invited to attend an event at the seventh annual Mail & Guardian Literary Festival in early October, where the winner will be announced and cash prizes awarded.

Named after Solomon Tshekisho Plaatje (1876-1932), the Award recognises the life and vision of this highly respected political and social activist. We always hope that it reveals the political and social attitudes of our time, and reflects the complex, nuanced and uncomfortable truths of life in South Africa, and thus poems which reflect our current realities are warmly welcomed.

For more information, contact the Jacana Literary Foundation on awards@jacana.co.za

The Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology 2011The Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology Vol IIThe Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology Vol IIIThe Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology Vol IVThe Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology

Prizes:

  • A shortlist of three poets will be selected by the judging panel. They will be invited to attend an awards ceremony and book launch at the Mail & Guardian Literary Festival on 9 October, 2016 in Johannesburg.
  • Prizes are awarded to the shortlist:

    1st place: R6,000
    2nd place: R4,000
    3rd place: R2,000

  • A longlist of the best poems entered will be selected by the judging panel, and published in Volume 6 of the anthology, which will be launched at the Mail & Guardian Literary Festival.

Rules:

  • Entries open at 5 PM on Friday, 15 July and close at 8 AM on Friday, 29 July.
  • Poems in the 11 official languages of South Africa are accepted.
  • Poets may enter in more than one language.
  • Entrants must be South African citizens residing in South Africa.
  • Poems submitted may not have appeared in any publication, online (including blogs and social media) or in print. Only unpublished poetry is accepted.
  • Intertextuality and references must be appropriately attributed.
  • A maximum of three poems may be entered, although one or two poems per author is also acceptable.
  • If you are entering more than one poem, please ensure that they are each saved and uploaded as separate Word documents.
  • Poems must not exceed 100 lines.
  • Poems must be submitted as a Word document – doc or docx files. No other file formats are accepted.
  • Please ensure that the poet’s name does not appear on the Word document. It should only include the title and poem.
  • The file name should be the title of the poem.
  • Ariel size 11 or Times New Roman size 12 fonts are preferred. No “fancy” fonts, borders or images should be included on the Word document.
  • Handwritten entries are not eligible.

Declaration and permissions:

By entering, the poet declares that the entry is their original work and neither whole nor part of their poem has been published previously. They give permission for the publication of their poem in the anthology, without payment, if longlisted. Poets agree to have their work translated into English for adjudication and publication purposes.

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Panashe Chigumadzi to present the next Jacana Media Masterclass for aspiring writers

Panashe Chigumadzi presents the next Jacana Media Masterclass for aspiring writers

 

Sweet MedicineJacana Media is running a series of Masterclasses for aspiring writers in 2016 – the next one will be hosted by Panashe Chigumadzi.

All Masterclasses will be held on a Thursday at the Jacana offices in Auckland Park, Johannesburg. The cost of the class includes a copy of the author’s latest book.

Chigumadzi is the author of Sweet Medicine.

This is not to be missed!

Event Details

  • Date: Thursday, 28 July 2016
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM
  • Venue: Jacana Media
    10 Orange Street
    Auckland Park
    Johannesburg | Map
  • Guest: Panashe Chigumadzi
  • Refreshments: Come and join us for a glass of wine
  • Cover charge: R60 for students, R100 for everyone else (each delegate will receive a copy of Sweet Medicine)
  • RSVP: Takalani Lubengo, Jacana Media, rsvp@jacana.co.za, 011 628 3200

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Announcing the 2016 Dinaane Debut Fiction Award shortlist

 
The Jacana Literary Foundation is delighted to announce the highly commended and shortlisted finalists for the 2015/16 Dinaane Debut Fiction Award.

Entries were judged blind by a panel comprising Pamela Nichols (chair), Fred Khumalo and Maureen Isaacson.

 
In alphabetical order, the following manuscripts have been shortlisted:

  • No word like home by Saul Musker
  • Selling LipService by Tammy Baikie
  • The Last Stop by Thabiso Mofokeng

 

The overall winner will be announced at an award ceremony later this year, at which their book will be revealed in print and the prize of R35 000 will be awarded.

The following manuscripts were highly commended:

  • Braids and Migraines by Andile Cele
  • Settlement by Phillip Doran
  • The Binding Hut by Mathabo Masilela
  • The Unfamous Five by Nedine Moonsamy

 
In a “first of its kind” the JLF will also present the inaugural Kraak Writing Award, with the winning writer selected from the 2014-2016 runners-up. The grant is valued at R25,000 and dedicated to the memory of Gerald Kraak, and it will offer the recipient mentoring and intensive coaching from an editor/publishing expert enabling the author to refine and develop their work still further.

Pamela Nichols, chair of the judging panel, says: “One of the best features of this award is the complete anonymity of the authors. This means that we frequently get surprised at the end of the process. And our judgement doesn’t get complicated by friendship or reputation because we have no idea of who wrote what. This is important in a literary culture which is frequently closed and inward looking.

“So the Dinaane Literary Debut Award is important because it has encouraged a complete cross section of entries. And the winning authors are able to get new fiction into an extended public repertoire of southern African literature. The 2015 winner [Andrew Miller] said that he had never made any shortlist or got anywhere with a publisher before. We hope that he and the 2016 winner are at the beginning of their contribution to extending our literary horizons.”

Dub StepsThe Story of Anna P, as Told by HerselfKhalil's JourneyDeeper Than ColourSaracen at the Gates
Till We Can Keep An AnimalCoconutBitches' BrewIce in the LungsThe Silent Minaret

 

 
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The slow ignominious death of white entitlement: In the Maid’s Room, the new novel by Hagen Engler

In the Maid's RoomJacana Media is proud to present In the Maid’s Room, the new novel from Hagen Engler

How to be white when you’re no longer centre of attention? When you no longer even matter? How to be white when everyone’s patience runs out? These existential questions are addressed in Hagen Engler’s third novel, the satirical farce In the Maid’s Room.

Other crucial learnings are how to buy weed, how to handle a “brown mouse” and how not to rhyme 16 bars about wanking. Disco Dave is a South African hipster on the Port Elizabeth social scene, such as it is.

His dreams of media moguldom evaporate before his eyes as the scene becomes overwhelmingly blacker and his understanding of it more tenuous. Hard-up for bucks, he moves into the maid’s room on his property and rents out the main house. Sizwe arrives and swiftly sets about taking over Disco’s life.

He impregnates his ex-girlfriend Jazz, founds a rival scene magazine and slides into a job Disco had his eye on. The blacks are taking over! Disco finds a black girlfriend, but even that doesn’t stop it. Desperate for relevance, he resolves to get famous somehow. But who even needs white celebs any more? While his fellow non-blacks make a go of things through ignorance, hippy oblivio nand gangsterism, Disco knows just enough to know he doesn’t know enough.

As South Africa finally becomes a black country, he finds himself asking, what about me? In the Maid’s Room is a scruffy, hilarious, outrageous shambles of an episodic novel embedded in the coastal city of Port Elizabeth, that trendsetting bellwether of national change. This is about the surfer and stoner culture of the Bay, but also about the slow ignominious death of white entitlement. There’s also lank pomping.

Because when your prospects go to hell in a haversack, when you develop a sneaking suspicion you might be a racist… well, that sucks. You might as well smoke weed, shag half of PE and show your balls on TV.

About the author

Hagen Engler has co-written, ghost-written and edited more than 10 books. In the Maid’s Room is his third novel. He is the former editor of a doomed consumer magazine, a white guy from PE and no longer the big deal he used to be. So you see now.

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Join Sam Cowen for the launch of From Whiskey to Water with Melinda Ferguson at Love Books

Invitation to the launch of From Whiskey to Water

 
From Whiskey to WaterJacana Media and Love Books invite you to the launch of From Whiskey to Water, the no-holds-barred memoir by beloved radio talk show host Sam Cowen.

Cowen will be in conversation with Crashed author Melinda Ferguson on Thursday, 7 July, at Love Books in Melville. The launch will start at 5:30 for 6 PM.

From Whiskey to Water tells the story of Cowen’s struggle with her addiction to whiskey, food and finally to a passion that saved her life – marathon swimming.

Don’t miss it!

Event Details

  • Date: Thursday, 7 July 2016
  • Time: 5:30 for 6 PM
  • Venue: Love Books
    The Bamboo Lifestyle Centre
    53 Rustenburg Road
    Melville
    Johannesburg | Map
  • Interviewer: Melinda Ferguson
  • RSVP: Takalani, rsvp@jacana.co.za, 011 628 3200

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Sam Cowen opens up about beating alcohol addiction in From Whiskey to Water

My name is Samantha and I’m an alcoholic.

From Whiskey to WaterFrom Whiskey to Water is the no-holds-barred memoir by beloved radio talk show host Sam Cowen:

Having kept her alcohol addiction well away from the public eye for over 14 years, in this tell-all tale Cowen finds the courage to talk about her struggle with her addiction to whiskey, food and finally to a passion that saved her life – marathon swimming. Told in her characteristically hilarious deadpan style, this is one of the bravest books you’ll read this year.

“So this is a book on how I stopped drinking? No, it’s not. It’s how I stopped drinking, started eating, became clinically severely obese, stopped eating (everything that wasn’t nailed down) and swam my way to freedom. No, it’s not. It’s actually about addiction and learning and sadness and anxiety and love and drive. It’s about channelling the unchangeable into the miraculous. It’s about dragons and learning how to put them to sleep when you can’t slay them. It’s about being my own Daenarys.”

If you’re battling with addiction or looking for inspiration on self-acceptance then this is a book you should pick up … it’s about trying to swop being perfect for being human, a daily challenge. - Woman and Home

About the author

Sam Cowen is the longest-running female morning show host in the country, having worked Joburg’s biggest breakfast show on 94.7 for over 18 years with Jeremy Mansfield and Darren Whackhead Simpson. In 2015 she replaced Jenny Crwys-Williams on the wildly popular 1 PM – 3 PM slot on 702. She currently co-hosts the Weekend Breakfast Show on 702/Cape Talk with Africa Melane. Sam is also the bestselling author of Waiting for Christopher and Good Enough Mother, two popular books on motherhood.

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‘You’re only as sick as your secrets’ – Read an excerpt from Sweet Paradise by Joanne Hichens

 
Sweet ParadiseJacana Media has shared an excerpt from Sweet Paradise by Joanne Hichens.

Sweet Paradise tells the story of Rae Valentine, the most compassionate but gullible PI in the business, who’s on a mission to find a missing teenager.

Rae’s investigation brings her to the Paradise Place Clinic, where no-one is who they appear to be and everyone has their secrets.

In Part One, we meet Vincent Saldana – Rae’s PI partner – and his fellow residents at Paradise Place during a group meeting. How did Vincent end up in Paradise Place and will he be able to convince Rae to spring him loose?

Read the excerpt:
 

* * * * *

 

PART ONE
You’re only as sick as your secrets

 

MONDAY: THE ROAD TO HELL IS PAVED WITH GOOD INTENTIONS

 
A day in Paradise

Vincent Saldana bitterly regretted scrubbing his tongue with aftershave to get rid of the smell of booze. His throat burnt like hellfire. Hotter than the stagnant air building up in the room and the sweltering heat
outside in the Garden of Paradise.

     His head felt as if it had been hit by a brick.

     He sat in a circle with his new pals all rocking and fidgeting in their plastic chairs, each waiting their turn to spill their guts onto the beetleeroded pine floor, wanting recognition for their efforts.

     He raised his head and assessed the motley bunch: Sybilla from the US of A, a regte vet vreetertjie, glowering from the corner. Skinny expart-time-model Joleen, eye-candy if you were into stick insects. Paul the Polyphobic terrified of every damn thing. Jamiro the compulsive sex addict and pseudo airline pilot. The school principal who insisted on being addressed as Sir. A Sidney Poitier lookalike, he was dubbed Sir-with-Love, and most of that love came from Jamiro. Sir’s head was tightly bandaged today, Betadine and blood seeping through from the cut on his forehead.

     The morning’s excitement hadn’t helped Vincent’s hangover one jot.

     Sybilla farting at the breakfast table, then pulling the puke-pink Whoopee cushion out from under her fat arse. Jamiro spitting his doctored coffee over the table: ‘Who put salt in the sugar bowl!’ Followed by a burst of light and smoke. Sir held the jagged remnants of the rigged jar, blood streaming from his lacerated forehead, as clumps of strawberry jam dripped from the high ceiling. His howling had hardly diminished as Nina led him from the table.

     Vince was sick and tired of the practical jokes, but mostly he was sick and tired of shooting the breeze with addicts of every kind, of sex, food, pills, you name it, all lumped together like a packet of fruit mix.

     He wished bloody group was done.

     How’d he stuck it out so long in this bloody madhouse?
 
***
 
Doctor Max Kramer had fine-tuned the art of following the gist of the same-old same-old. He knew how to manipulate the sluice gates with his occasional ‘Mmhmm’ interspersed at proper intervals, his sotto voce teasing out the details of his patients’ miserable lives. His head settled at just the right angle, his ear perfectly cocked as if he was truly listening, he reminded himself of the goal: remain outwardly appreciative of the sharing, show concern at the right time… Yes, Joleen, I know how difficult it is to consume three jujubes, I know insects freak you out, Paul… As Sybilla’s lank hair fell across her forehead, as her triple chins quivered… As Jamiro stretched a toothy smile and spread his wings… As the Principal sat upright and uptight in his pinstripe pants and his lace-up brogues, blood stains still damp on the collar of his white buttondown shirt…

     ‘Let’s get to the matter at hand, shall we? Three days ago, it was plastic cockroaches in the dinner and red dye in the grape juice’ — the whole lot gagging at mealtime, and pissing “blood” afterwards — ‘since then there’s been itching powder sprinkled on mattresses,’ — Jamiro writhing in group, as if in the throes of continuous orgasm —‘cling film on toilets,’ — floors awash with urine — ‘now this. I’ve turned a blind eye to atrociously juvenile behaviour. This time, however, whoever is showing a penchant for destruction has gone too far.’

     Blank stares meant he’d get no satisfaction. He’d been down this route too many times. The lot remained the passive picture of innocence.

     He breathed deeply, an exemplar of patience. The fingernails of his left hand dug into the linked fingers of his right. He waited in vain for one of them to own up, even as Sir, fingering the edge of the bandage unravelling at his ear, blurted, ‘Someone will pay.’

     Max cared that Paradise should not explode in his face like the rigged jar. He felt his palms break out in sweat.

     ‘There’s nothing, per se, dangerous or illegal about humour, harmless pranks as a way of coping with the situation and with each other’ — his voice rose — ‘but pranks that lead to anger, bitterness, total humiliation or heightened paranoia, I won’t have it.’ He wanted to spit out Who’s the fucking joker in the pack?

     Could be any of them. Or a staff member, a cleaner, the gardener, the physiotherapist, any one of the freelance staff for all he knew. He unlaced his hands, stroked his fingertips down tracks of corduroy, his fabric of choice.

     ‘Pranks resulting in physical injury,’ he emphasised, ‘are a no-no. Whoever painted the jar with nitrogen triiodide had to know that when it dries you don’t move, you don’t even breathe for fear of the coated article exploding.’

     Blank stares.

     ‘It’s a hostile impulse, a comic façade belying more serious anger, the sort generally taboo.’

     He’d get no admission of guilt.

     ‘We’ll get on with other things, then, shall we? Let’s start with you. How’re we feeling today, Vincent?’

     ‘Top of the world,’ he played along.
 
***
 
Doc Max bobbed, a regular Noddy. Vince caught a glimpse of his bald patch every time he dipped his head. ‘I couldn’t be better,’ Vince lied. He hated most the carping on about feelings. How much longer could he put up with this bullshit? Couldn’t stand being kept under thumb: do this, do that, be here, be there, at group, at one-on-one. Every single moment planned. Eat this, swallow that. He took the mood enhancers and anti-depressants when he felt like it, but refused ever to stomach the platitudes, promises and the belief in a Higher Power supposedly there to help him. Too many steps, too much talk. All a bloody waste of time. He wanted to yell, wanted to break the news to every patient, to Mr Sexy, to Skinny Joleen, to Sir, to Paul the Petrified, he wanted to tell motor-mouth Sybilla with her grating American drawl picked up from the Bold and the Beautiful (he’d placed his bets she was no genuine American, that the closest she’d ever been to the USA was the TV soapies), he wanted to tell them all in no uncertain terms that rehab was as much good as his mom lighting a joss stick and praying for good fortune to the effigies laid out at her front doorstep.

     It was on the tip of his tongue to vent What the hell difference does any of this make? He blurted instead, ‘Just get me a sponsor so I can walk out of here.’ Yeah, the sponsor would carp on about Let Go and Let God, and he’d keep thinking what a load of bloody bullshit.

     ‘After only two weeks, perhaps you’re not quite yet ready for that,’ persisted Doc Max. ‘So share with us, Vincent, the jokes, have they affected you? How do you feel about what’s going on?’

     Vince knew the taste of the barrel of a gun, had cell memory of his tongue probing cold steel, tasting the black hole… suicidal ideation Max called it… South African cops were trigger happy. When they couldn’t handle crime any longer, or life, they turned too easily to find salvation in a blessed bullet… they took their families with them… the ultimate joke, the ultimate ‘fuck you’ to a fucked-up society.

     ‘How d’you think I feel?’ Vince hissed. ‘Everyone in this place would benefit from a fucking lobotomy!’ He pushed up from the plastic chair, sent it flying behind him. Enjoying the look of fear flitting across Max’s face, and letting go the red-hot fuck-you feeling, he shouted, ‘Fuck the practical jokes. Fuck therapy, fuck the Twelve Steps, and if God exists, I’ll bet he’s crying his fucking eyes out, poor God, the misery and the distress of this world would break his fucking heart!’

     Eyes stared wide with shock.

     He strode across the room. He let fly a volley of punches, every knuckle meeting its mark; he relished the beating he dished out to George. ‘Vincie!’ Admiration glinted in Jamiro’s eyes, the quick seductive lick of glossed lips not lost on the group. ‘Us pilots see that kind of boozeinduced aggro all the time.’

     Vince growled, ‘What’re you insinuating?’ He retrieved his chair and sat down. ‘If you don’t watch it, Jamiro,’ spat Vince, ‘you’ll be next in line.’

     ‘Oooh Vincie, I’d love a good going over…’
 
***
 
Max cleared his throat. ‘Negative transference is directed to where it can do the least damage. Anyone else with issues? You’re welcome to discharge any aggression at George.’ Indeed, the anger-management puppet was worked out regularly by Vincent Saldana, the problem patient, the cop with anger issues. ‘No-one else interested? Then we’re done,’ concluded Max. ‘But after this morning’s commotion and your emotional rendition of Nietzsche, Vincent, we’re certainly in need of a’ — Vince registered the dreaded words — ‘group hug.’

     Vince shuddered. Fun fun. This he hated.

     Sybilla’s bosoms quivered with anticipation in her floral XXXL T- shirt. Joleen froze, a bokkie caught in headlights. Paul the Polyphobic, terrified of death, of bugs, of different food groups touching on his plate, frightened of his own shadow, sat rigid and squeaked, ‘Don’t any of you dare touch me!’

     ‘How about on your studio,’ quipped Jamiro.

     Vince warned, ‘Get your hand off my arse.’ Group grope was the pits.

     ‘Don’t dare paw me.’

     ‘You’d give anything for the hair of the dog right now,’ Jamiro pressed his erection against his quarry’s thigh and licked Vince’s ear.

     ‘You sure smell like a distillery, Vince,’ drawled Sybilla, ‘no amount of aftershave will disguise the ooze from your pores.’

     ‘Ever noticed,’ smirked Vince, ‘how smug sober people are?’

     ‘The booze holds you hostage, Vincie,’ winked Jamiro.

     ‘The booze sets me free.’

     Vince pushed away the freaks. ‘I’m done, I’m packing my bags. I’m outta here.’ He looked at Max. ‘Your nurses, dieticians, psychologists with your blue uniforms and white coats and stripes and fob watches and answers for every fucking thing will no doubt have a field-day chit-chat about my borderline personality disorder, my self-destructive behaviour, my anger that forgot where it came from… To hell with the pranks and the petty squabbles. I’m turning my back on the loser-bin.’ He slammed the door.

     Doc Max sighed, ‘Vincent, you’re going nowhere.’ He turned to Tariq.

     ‘Go after him.’

     Max stared at the others. He was no closer to uncovering the truth.
 
***
 
     Vince complained: ‘Why can’t I just discharge myself?’

     ‘You signed on the dotted line,’ said Tariq. ‘You lose your PI licence if you don’t finish the programme.’ He squeezed Vincent’s arm as he escorted him up the main staircase to his room, handed him over to Nurse Nina.

     Vince said, ‘I’m happy to see you, darling.’

     ‘Bed rest for you, naughty boy,’ she settled him, plumped his pillows, ‘getting all riled like that, shame on you. Now settle down.’ She offered him a straw with his vodka in a geriatric’s spill-free cup. She patted his cheek. ‘Vincie,’ she whispered, ‘why on earth would you want to leave us when we treat you so well?’

     ‘Rehab’s too much like hard work.’

     ‘You won’t run away, now will you, Vincie? Stay put for the afternoon.’

     He missed the smell of stale beer and cigarette smoke. Bar smell. Nothing quite like it. For now this would do. He pulled the duvet under his chin, sucked on the straw. He’d tried, he’d really tried. Had kept up with the steps. Had done whatever they’d asked him to. None of it had shifted his bleak outlook. He’d written the letters to his dead wife, to his mother, to his remaining PI partner…

     Dear Amber
I’m so sorry for every time I worked late, for every time I lied to you to you.
I loved you. I love you. You wanted me to come home early. We fought.
You said you’d follow my example, take yourself off for a drink. I’m sorry
I wasn’t there for you.

     Hey Ma
I’m sorry I didn’t amount to the son you wanted. I never learned Mandarin. I’m not interested in taking over the restaurant. Sorry for all the times I came home drunk and you cleaned up after me.
Sorry I don’t call you every day. I know you’ll say there’s nothing to forgive, but I need your forgiveness. I love you, Ma.

Hey Rae
I’ve let you down.
I’m sorry.

     I’m sorry sorry sorry, so fucking sorry…

     With Freaky-Deaky out the room he pulled his cell phone from under the mattress. He sucked at the booze for Dutch courage. He had to get out. Rae was no pushover. She’d be difficult to convince.

 
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Do you want to get your book published, but don’t know how?

Invitation to a publishing masterclass
Out of LineThe LegacyRainfallMy Lion's HeartThird World Child

 
Jacana Media is hosting a question-and-answer session covering everything you’ve ever wanted to ask about trade publishing in South Africa!

Join us in conversation at this first talk in the publishing crash-course series, hosted by Staging Post.

Event Details

  • Date: Thursday, 30 June 2016
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM
  • Venue: Jacana Media
    10 Orange St
    Auckland Park | Map
  • Guest Speakers: Tracey McDonald (Tracey McDonald Publishers), Bridget Impey (MD of Jacana) and Klara Skinner (Staging Post)
  • Refreshments: Come and join us for a glass of wine
  • Cost: Pay with a follow! Follow Staging Post on Twitter or Facebook

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