The Second Leg and Cats in the Room
As usual I wake around 5am and write a load of work emails. I catch up on a conversation with my fellow buddies and directors about rolling out company mobile phone policies. They are android users and I am iOS and the divide couldn’t be greater.
I shower under perfect pressure and temperature and couldn’t be happier. Then I open our boudoir door to the pre sunrise darkness to check on “my car” a tank of a 2.4l diesel Toyota Fortuner. I check myself and wonder if I’m becoming one of those men who really, really, like their cars. As I look to my car a grey chubby flirtatious cat invites itself into our room. My sister is allergic to cats and stands on the bed and takes an antihistamine while I rub it’s belly.
I then ask my sister to take a photograph of the car and I. She posts it on the family group chat with the caption ”the car is almost as big as her ego” which I chuckle at, mainly because it’s true.
We knock on my grandfathers door and he opens it, looking great in his blue shirt, jeans and loafers. He’s finishing up a coffee so we pop into his room. He says he watched the news for a few hours last night. I brush it off not realising how big a deal that statement is until later when the penny drops. In his house they don’t have TVs, for a multitude of reasons including that the mainstream media can be a tool for mass control and my uncle is very protective when it comes to propaganda exposure. With enthusiasm Grandpa talks about the Genoa bridge collapse and the driver attacking pedestrians outside Parliament and the weather.
We go to breakfast and the restaurant is beautifully set. The manager chats with us, she is delightful, and asks what cooked breakfast we fancy. I’m the last to order and say “I can’t eat meat or dairy at the moment, could I have a few tomatoes and any veg you have - anything vegetable?”
We sit at the table and sip our coffees. She brings out a plate that breaks my heart. I want to cry. It’s beautiful. It has grilled tomatoes and bubble and squeak type veg and it’s massive and it’s delicious and I am so grateful. I thank her about a dozen times, it was delicious and I was so appreciative.
We plan the route for the day ahead. We’re driving into Johannesburg and after the safety briefing a few days prior I’m bricking it. My uncle advised the weakest parts of different vehicles and in a taxi attack I am to position the nose of the car just in front of the back wheel of a taxi and accelerate this flipping their vehicle. We also have a taser in the passenger door. As I layer jewellery I place one of my company pens in my neckline, we went through close combat attacks too during the safety briefing and the pen is to stab into the neck of an attacker.
My father passes the room keys to me to drop into reception. I walk into reception to find the room cat sitting on the desk with a buddy with has perfect moustache akin to that of hitlers, I say “oh hello hitler” drop the keys and we hit the road. It’s just under two hours to our family’s home in South Johannesburg. We’re ahead of schedule so stop at a service station. We park in a dubious part of the car park and I ask an attendant his name, call him buddy, and ask him to look after car, all the time with a Jacquard weave noir baseball cap and my hand on my branded pen. We tip him and I say “god bless” I never say that. I wonder what the hell is wrong with me.
Driving through Johannesburg my sister and father provide clear directions. I have put myself in the headspace to run vehicles off the road if the situation turns. As we approach red traffic lights, or Robots as they are called here, I “stalk the traffic” as per the safety briefing, never fully stopping and always rolling with room between ours and the car in from to pull out if “it goes down”. As we pass under bridges I notice myself ducking my head, ready for an attack.
We arrive at our family’s gated complex and hang around outside while we call them. One hand is on the hand break and the foot in on the accelerator.
We arrive, park up, and big family to say hello. My mother is so so so happy. I photograph photo albums and documents and we eat a delicious meal - I get the veggie options and I’m so so happy. Everything is wonderful. I am conscious of time and we leave with our cousins, they live near to the hotel where we’re staying and offer to take us there. We follow in convoy and I get pulled over by the police for the third day running. I have Cape Town plates and they check whether I’m a drugs runner with my eighty year old gramps as a wingman. As we drive away from the police I ask my grandfather if he fancies going into business with me, we are the perfect cover. He laughs it off and I run up a business plan in my mind and work out the maths.
We are dropped at the hotel and pass through two security blocks. Yessss. We’re in a bubble and damn there are good looking people of all nationalities here and I am so happy.
Two rooms are booked, one huge deluxe queen with balcony for grandpa, one family room for the rest of us. Drop the bags and my father and sister and I head out for a walk and to wait for my fathers best man to meet us for drinks. He meets us, I drink. I leave to find my mother, I can’t find her, and return to conversations about things so dubious I couldn’t possibly repeat. I’m on half pints of lager and have another. My grandfathers sister daughter and child arrive, the bar is narrow and the staff kindly take us into a wine cellar room to use for a family event, I thank them profusely then later over tip them. My fathers best man has a pedigree champion GSP in the car. We take her for a walk around the golf course and I couldn’t be happier.
We arrive back and I have another half pint, I’m up to 5 now and feeling peckish, it’s getting late and our friend and I finish with a single malt. I chat to the bar staff and chug down a litre of coke to rehydrate - idiot mistake.
The night fizzles our and we say our goodbyes. I’m tired and lay in bed burping profusely. Then pensively I undress and declare that I’m going to go swimming - what better way to sort yourself out in a cold outdoor pool. My mother stops me and says no way and sends me back to bed. I belch, quite literally pass out and wake in the night to two buckets beside me and a towel on the floor. None of which are required by the way.