Each night has it’s, um, highlights, shall we say? And each action having a similarly powered reaction, there are inevitably also some lowlights. In this game I have realized very quickly that a highlight for some is a lowlight for others. So, for me, being an optimist, there are only grades of highlights. Even the worst possible experience, for example, one of my favourite regulars, C, on shrooms, has some very definate lowlight indicators, but remains a highlight in some way….
It’s Saturday evening, and I head down to the bar. As I round the bend at the bottom of Kloof Street, I hear that ol’ familiar laugh, one that I have been hearing regularly for about 18 months now, an unsettling cross between a heavy truck changing gears and a donkey with it’s knockers in a twist, topped with several intakes of breath right at the end. Aha, I think, C has arrived. And indeed, as I walk up the stairs, there he is, looking at me, but not, if you know what I mean, shouting “who loves you most, mothafukka?” We hug, and he slides his hand provocatively down my back, ending just where my shrinking buttocks used to curve.
“What’s with you?” I say indignantly.
“What do you mean?” he says, faux surprised.
“The hand sliding down, cupping my fucking ass, C!”
“Oh, that”, he says, “sorry, I got confused” followed by the laugh described above. “You won’t believe what I’m on” he adds, tone lowered slightly but not nearly enough.
“You’re right …” I say.
“No dude, I’m wrong … very, very wrong, and it’s just coming on now…” he giggles, setting us up for the little scenario that follows.
A cop car stops right in front of the gate on the red line, the passenger cop calling me closer with a lazy, limp-wristed hand movement. He pulls on his cigarette, and shoots the butt into the gutter. I recognise him. We’ve been hassled by these two overweight numbers for three nights running now, wanting to know if the kitchen is still open for them. Usually they arrive after the kitchen has closed, but tonight they’re early.
“Heeeeyyy, are you delivering or collecting” hollers C , followed by the laugh described above.
They give him a look, a threatening you-talking-to-me? kinda look, like De Niro in Taxidriver.
“Just asking, Ossifer” he adds, “Cos we’re not sure…”
“Shut the fuck up C!” I hiss, and walk quickly to their van, saying “Ja, kitchen’s still open. Tell you what, guys, I’ll give you a pizza at cost.”
This is not what they want to hear, of course. They’re looking for a freebee, the threat of a skud or some form of hassle not quite apparent, but nevertheless hanging in the air like a ripe fart. The passenger cop scratches his nose, looks at his buddy, who only has eyes for C. He leans sideways to get a better look.
C is the local dealer. He sells mainly dope, but he claims he can get you anything you want, even stuff you don’t want. “Just saying…”, he always adds. Usually he’s a bit more circumspect – obviously his goods are mostly illegal – but tonight he’s clearly on a ‘shroom roll. Actually, he’s more like a seething runaway articulated road-train that can speak.
C steps closer, leans on the windowsill, checks the cops out, which in itself is unnerving, because he’s cross-eyed.
“Got a smoke for me, ossifer?” Both reach for their packets.
“Why you calling us ‘ossifer’, hey? We’re mos officers…” the passenger cop says
“Thats what I said.” C says, lighting up, squinting at them
“haikona! you said ‘ossifer’ ”
“Oh, right…” he says, giggling, “sorry ossifer, I’m lysdexix” the giggle grows into that truck-donkey hybrid bellow, lasts a bit too long, and ends with C wiping the tears from his eyes, still giggling. The cops are staring at him with wide eyes, starting to get the idea that all is not how is should be.
“you won’t belive what …” he starts.
“I won’t let him drive, don’t worry” I interupt, “do you still want that pizza? cost price?”
Their radio comes to life, crackling something about a delivery. They glance at each other, the driver puts the car into gear, and they pull away with screeching wheels.
“Bye-bye blickbards! ” C’s farewell echoes after them.
I walk into the bar, heart not quite sinking yet, but I decide to get ready for a night and a half, because if it starts like this, it can only get better. Cos I’m an optimist…