by Paul du Preez
DARREN – UP CLOSE
While Leandré has been busy at the The Compass, entrancing the crowd with a performance inspired by Poliamuel, her angel, Darren had been out walking.
Like shoelaces pulled way too tight. A bow – technically a double slip-knot – come out the wrong way, yanked tight, till it’s a crimped lump on the lace. That takes forever to un-pick.
That’s what my mind feels like.
Normally, I just yank the trainer off my foot, get back to it later. But that won’t work now. Because…
…The pavement is rough and dirty.
Though, pulling off my trainers would be a relief.
Because, I’ve been walking for ten minutes, more. Trying to tease apart the knot of tension. And my feet are sore – sore from being on stage…
Sore from walking.
Ten minutes of walking. Away from Leandré, The Compass, out of central Claremont, along the Main Road, from street-light to deserted street-light, quarter moon showing above the roofs as the tall buildings fall behind.
Left my bike behind, chained to a lamp-post. To give space, so I can undo my tension. But…
My mind-knot won’t unpick – can’t get fingernails under it.
Up ahead, on the right, the entrance to the Arderne Gardens.
Thirty metres up the path, and there’s this ginormous tree; twisted, corded. It’s a totally built tree.
I should go in. Lie on the grass.
…It’s not that cold.
The gate is locked, but it’s only waist height – a wooden bi-valved antique, with heavy cross-members – and, in a moment, I’m walking along the winding brick path, away from the sodium glare of the road, amid plants that loom and gleam in the slanting, shadow-pitted moonlight.
Free in the wild. Hah!
Among the ‘Spooky Plant-Monsters’.
“‘Fear is the mind-killer…I will face my fear,” I mumble to myself, a-la-‘Dune’. Then, stepping through a floral border and up to a prehistoric palm, bark, “And what the zap is this?” Unexpectedly, my AR glasses glitch, interpreting my self-talk as a command. They boot out of standby, bracket the monster-palm, access GPS, information markers, and flare a pic on my lenses, night-blinding me. “Whoa – it’s zapping ‘Queen Sago’!” I jeer. “‘Cycas Circinalis’ – if I want to be precise.”
I’m irritated… Zapping AR! I pull the glasses off my face.
“Off!” I tell them. This is no time for augmented reality.
…Just ordinary reality.
I stow the glasses in their micro fibre baggie. In my denim jacket.
And saunter off looking for the next Monster-frontation.
Thirty metres up the path, and there’s this ginormous tree; twisted, corded. It’s a totally built tree. A GYM-no-SPERM (ha, ha). I stumble off-path, across ridged roots, up to its monster trunk. “Hey, big tree, what’s your name. I’m Darren.” I start looking for one of those aluminium plaques they nail on trees, but the moonlight is deceptive, faint.
Here it is.
Can’t see much though. Shadows… ‘Mor’…something, something…‘fig’.
“No way – this is a fig-tree?
This is Good.
“Bye Big Fig.”
And I’m off, marching along the path, feeling more confident. ‘Blythe’ even, in retro-speak, and looking for a patch of grass where I can unwind, absolutely, and re-become my normal, philosophical self.
No such luck.
He’s sitting on a park bench, facing the rising moon. I only notice him because he lifts a hand, waves at me as I go skipping past.
“What’s the rush, kerel [young man]?” he asks, getting slowly to his feet. “You don’t greet your oom [uncle] anymore?”
“No, Uncle Arno, I just didn’t expect…”
“Yes you did.” he breaks in.
He’s right. I should have known…
“It’s a beautiful night. Walk with me.”
He starts walking back along the path towards the road. Not even looking back at me. “No, Uncle Arno, I want to find some grass, and…”
Seems so ordinary. A square face, normally pale, now chalk-white in the moonlight. Above it, fine dark-brown hair, tousled, now a slash of black marker pen through darkness. His face is focused by a pair of large square-lensed spectacles – glittering, silver-framed, pre AR antiques – that disguise the pouchy eyes behind them, eyes that are normally amber, but now sparkle like shards of ice.
“Agh, no man,” Arno insists. “You’re not going to start by giving me kak. I told you, ‘walk with me’.”
Syblings Masthead by Paul du Preez
Angel Wings by Sergei Tomakov on Pixabay https://pixabay.com/illustrations/angel-wings-fairy-isolated-4870050/
Twin Figures Beneath a Starry Sky https://pxhere.com/en/photo/977164
Intro Music (on Podcast)
Excerpt from Black, White and Blue by Paul du Preez
Disclaimer, Copyright and Permissions
Syblings the Syrial is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, events, and incidents are the product of Paul du Preez’ imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
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