May; rays of golden sunlight slipped gently through the layers of crystalline fog that danced about the Earth after the winter rains had passed.
Hadedas screeched from high up in their Pin Oaks, and songs of people scuffling and hurrying by filled the streets.
Engines roared, vibrating through the concrete, going to and fro; one man heading to his blue-carpeted cubicle as another lurked, stroking his engorged phallus outside the nearest primary school while his insides howled.
She sat on the edge of the fissured kitchen countertop, fingering the dry cracks of her lips as cigarette smoke emanated wildly from her other hand, growing like milky branches toward the sky.
Gawking at the man before her, she ran her eyes over his pallid white flesh; studying his soft belly and his pink areolas with the wiry brown hairs poking out around them.
As he turned, she counted the freckles splashed across his upper back – tiny brown flecks that changed into an amorphous blob at first, but then melted and slipped into the outlines of a gaping pink wound, its pus trickling seductively down his spine.
Next, while undergoing some cathartic mortal awakening, these freckles gained an awareness of self and death and the universe beneath her steady gaze, and so, of course, cleverly disguised themselves as some genus of crooked and crippled arachnid –just as she blinked.
As a final retaliation for her pestilent curiosity, they decided to swirl into a three-dimensional crow.Celestial, its beak bladed and eyes bloodshot, it ripped violently at shreds of rotten yellow flesh.
“So, Shim,” his voice came, cracking the images she entertained of thrusting needles into her eyeball to the sound of Vivaldi’s ‘Spring.’
She squinted, focused on the blurry outlines of his face and as it cleared, nodded.
“It’s been quiet at the bar,” he continued.“Cash is tight with fuck all going on.”
“You mean to tell me no one is coming to your ill-lit, rancid rape shack?”
He looked up from the condom he had plucked from his flaccid penis just long enough to flash her one of his stupefied frowns.
“Anyway, I think I’ll only be getting some cash next week. Probably Monday.”
She forced a stiff and decrepit smile as to halt his overly dramatic gestures.
“Yeah, Tomei, you know I’ll take care of it.”
Her voice came out weary and gruff.
He nodded and avoided her gaze for a while, before shifting his attention to the deserted kitchen cupboards, scavenging through them, the old wooden doors creaking on their hinges as he yanked them open.
Resentment inflamed her, crawling under the skin and wrapping itself around her bones.
“You know, I wish you’d just cut that fucking thing off,” she hissed.
He tugged at his mullet. “You mean this? Yeah, but, it’s my identifier. How else are people supposed to recognise me?”
“Right,” she said, dropping the cigarette into the ashtray without killing it. She hopped off the countertop and made her way to the bedroom, singing Ella Fitzgerald’s rendition of‘Cry Me a River’under her breath.
“Boots, I need my boots. You seen my boots?”
“Next to the drawer,” answered Tomei. “Hey, I think I’m gonna go over to see Adam today. It’s been a week since the kid’s birthday; he might start wondering where his father is.”
Shimmy recognised this; it was the guilt residue that remained with Tomei for having an affair with a hooker, and the guilt that he carried for now living with her.
She’d watched his guilt consume him, day by day, eating at him like a slow cancer. It all but picked his organs clean, as he crawled around cotton-mouthed, searching for something familiar to cling to.
She had no children or close family, but would think of her mother from time to time, or see her in dreams of nuclear war.
In these dreams, Shimmy would run like a bewildered fawn, screaming soundless screams and scanning the rubble for the woman with the golden curls, cutting her feet on the sharp bones that protruded from the ground like pale vines.
These corrupted dreams that drain you and cling to the air like thick vapour. She would escape from these dreamy realities with her hair covered in sweat and vomit.
Her father – the dentist with the insatiable appetite for young flesh – hardly ever crossed her mind, but when he did, he never crossed as himself.
He was the wolf-man who hunted with sharpened sweets and kisses.
“You with me?”
“You should go,” she nodded, distracted by the faulty zipper of her black leather stiletto boots.
“Probably should,” he said with an unsubtle hint of expectation.
“Well,” she said. “Have fun.”
Tomei reappeared in the doorway, struggling to sever a piece from the stale half-a-loaf of bread he stood chewing on.
“Almost forgot, some position just opened up over at Lorna’s. She said she’d consider you if–”
“No. Stop. Jesus, this again? You know, the thought of being herded like cattle makes me want to pop a revolver into my mouth. It’s that fucking blue carpeting,”
“Besides, you can’t contain this,” she said sarcastically, motioning to herself. “Now, I need to get going. Where’d you find that? Can’t remember the last time I bought a loaf of bread.”
“Fine, we’ll talk about–” he nodded and flashed an uneasy smile, nervously grabbing at his throat. The chunk of bread wassitting pretty inside his airway, refusing to budge.
“Yeah, yeah,” she said, turning away. “And Tom – put some pants on?”
Oh, God. She might have heard him whimper.
In hindsight, however, that could merely have been the muffled sound of him choking as she shut the door behind herself.
Shimmy had met Sol over two years ago, and had even worked for him for a while. She learned a lot from old Sol; the most important lesson of which was how to arm oneself discreetly, something that came in very handy when some greasy mechanic tried to fuck her in the ass without paying.
She could never understand the kind of man who would quest for anal without paying the necessary price.
Chivalry truly is dead.
Over an hour later, Shimmy neared the entrance of a four-storey building with fading red brick walls, tucked behind a busy taxi-rank.
The crisp air stabbed at her cheeks and instantly, she recognised the conspicuous man standing near the entrance of the building – with his hissing shoulder-length dreadlocks and razor-toothed grin.
“Samuel, my brother,” she said, smiling. “Is he in?”
“Sista!” he exclaimed. “Upstairs!”
Three flights of stairs and one hip spasm later, she reached Sol’s door. She knocked and waited until a tall, broad-shouldered man answered. He had thick cornrows and stank of ash.
“Sol, it’s good to see you again.”
“My da’ling,” he said with a thick Igbo accent.“I see you miss old Sol, you cannot stay away. Come! Come inside.”
He led her through the narrow hallway, to where four men sat on a worn old couch, passing around a joint. They sat among empty beer bottles, cigarette buds and plates with traces of brown food dried to them.
An overwhelming stench of sour vomit caught her off guard and she could barely focus on anything besides keeping her lips pressed firmly shut.
“So, what can I do for you today, da’ling? You lookin’ for that H?”
“Not today. I’m trying a detox this week. So, I was hoping you’d have some Roxanolor, you know, I need something for the blues.”
“You want some Speed?”
“No, no Speed. No uppers. I can’t…”
“You know I am not a pharmacy, girl.”
“I’m having trouble with prescriptions. It’s fine, it’s ok, I’ll take whatever you can give me.”
She looked away, picking at the scab on her arm. “Can I get it on retainer?”
Sol raised an eyebrow.
The thing about Sol, though, was that he was a sucker for pale flesh, and as much as he probably wanted to tell this white junkie bitch to fuck off and come back with the money, she counted on his primal instincts to take effect. This tactic never failed a woman who knew what she was doing.
Late one night, through breathy drunken slurs, he had confessed to her, almost incoherently, that he felt her; she was the woman with the fire inside.
And so, she gave him Genesis, the most indecent part of her to ever seep through the seams.
“You know I would never fuck you over,” she said.
“I never worry ‘bout that, Mama. I can find you easily. And that man with his ponytail.”
It’s a mullet.
“Come,” he motioned to the couch. “We can go in front of my friends. They are not going to bite.”
Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck.
It took approximately three minutes for him to undress her, twenty seconds for him to rub saliva on his cock and thrust it into her and four minutes of violent pounding and choking before she could feel Genesis rear her ugly head.
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh. Then the sudden smell of burning flesh.
“Fuck me!” she begged. “Fuck the darkness out of me!”
“You dirty bitch,” he thundered.
The other men stood behind Sol, rubbing themselves and licking their lips.One of them grabbed her foot and she felt the prick of a needle sinking into her vein. Warm goo squirted onto her thighs, and it was the next wolf’s turn.
“Sol,” she protested, but felt the heroin darting through her muscles and every one of her molecules.
Let God’s love fill you.
Another hard cock slipped into her, and she suddenly recognised the man on top and inside of her as someone she once knew, but who had died many years ago.
“Hey, I know you,” she smiled happily. “I know you.”
He ignored this and continued his worm-like movements on top of her. It would be their little secret.
“Why is that baby crying?” she attempted to sit up, but the now faceless man held her down, indicating that he was not yet done.
Once they’d all taken their turns, Shimmy was directed to the bathroom that reeked all the more of vomit and urine. She used a shirt from the laundry pile on the floor to wipe away the sickly white liquid speckled with little red dots that covered her thighs, and some wet toilet paper to wipe away the blood from her vagina.
“That burns like a thousand sons of bitches,” she whimpered.
There stood a discoloured old toilet brush next to the seat, which she imagined pushing up insides her, first cleaning the vaginal wall, womb and bladder, then working her way past the liver, kidneys and stomach, into her heart, and scrubbing away all the muck within her blood and soul.
She walked home with the sun on her face and her brown curls dancing in the wind, even if that took her in the wrong direction.
The only time she felt human was when she had the sun on her face.
It took a few days for her to recover from the withdrawals of the shot she was given at Sol’s, three days of Percodan and cold bathroom tiles.
Now she sat, slumped in front of her red oak bureau, running a brush through her thick, brown locks.
“I won R50 in the Lottery,” said a voice from behind her.
Shimmy spun around, clasping a hand to her chest. “You’ve just scared the bejesus out of me,” she said.
“Did you hear me? I said I won–”
“R50 in the Lotto, yes, I heard you.”
“Hmm! Not too shabby,” Tomei bragged, disappearing into the hallway.
“Oh,” he popped his head back around the corner. “I’m going over to Adam’s again today, promised him I would.”
“Have fun,” she said without looking up from her make-up case. She knew that he was most likely fucking his ex-wife again, but unsurprisingly, felt nothing.
“I know, I know. It’s been a fucking nightmare. I’ve had cramps all day and I couldn’t find my keys…”
“Stop, I don’t care,” said Liz, squeezing her arm playfully. “I want to introduce you to some people. Two guys that Rory invited, I don’t know them. Basically, the tall one is looking for an escort for the short one, a virgin, probably. Poor thing, can you imagine? I don’t think he’s in on it yet, so don’t say anything.”
Liz was blissfully unaware of the people she had been smacking into with her wide arm gestures as she spoke.Sweet, effervescent Liz; who she met around ten years ago, when responding to an ad that Liz’s husband, Rory, had run in the local newspaper for young girls needing a ‘quick buck’. She’d been trying to raise Shimmy ever since, even though, being twenty-eight, meant that she was only two years older.
Rory produced low-budget hardcore porn and owned a gentlemen’s nightclub that both of them used to work in.
“Escort? I assume you’re using that loosely,” Shimmy rolled her eyes. “Introduce me as Ruth.”
Later, the two menintroduced themselves as Anthony and Chris and cut right to explaining that they were cousins running an industrial cleaning service.Liz had her arm flung over Anthony’s shoulder: significantly taller than the other, he was gawky and had deep acne scars cluttering his face.Chris, the shorter one, was chubby and all the more gawky – and the two seemed to have dressed each other while blindfolded, as they appeared almost identically heinous; with popped-collar Polo shirts and gelled up hair.
Anthony, the poor acne-faced sweetheart, bent at the knee enough to accommodate Liz’s lacking height and his frown clearly emphasised his discomfort.
“So, this is my friend,Sh… Ruth,” she quickly corrected. “My friend I’ve been telling you about, this is her. Actually, would you nice gentlemen excuse us for a second? Just going to freshen up.”
In the bathroom, Liz unbuttoned her blue silk blouse, revealing the bulging purple scars covering her back.
“That fucker got me with the whip again,” she sneered.
“Jesus. That looks bad. Let me put something on it?”
“No, I’m alright. The problem is he doesn’t want me. I don’t think he’s happy with my pussy. It can’t satisfy him anymore.”
“Oh, stop it. I’m sure it’s lovely.”
“He says it’s filthy, he doesn’t want it, because I’m a whore and so can’t be loved.”
Tears stained the silk blouse as she buttoned it up.
“Liz, your husband is a diseased cunt,” said Shimmy. “I’d love to see what his fucking insides look like.”
“Hey, you, don’t worry your pretty little head. So long as the world is still here tomorrow.” Liz smiled. “I have some coke…”
“No. I really can’t. I’m trying to detox. My brain… it’s just all fucked up.”
“Aw, I love how much you try,” Liz teased.
“Could you even imagine not being a part of this place? It’s probably not the best point to be making inside a shitter, but you get the gist of it, right?”
Shimmy shook her head.
“I feel myself, in moments of silence. You know, when you can feel the blood coarse through you, or how these walls vibrate to the roaring waves of your voice when you’re angry, that’s the music of life beating through your chest. Here we are, you and I, even if only for a little while, here we are against all the odds. Here we are, on this spherical platform, spinning, spinning to the rhythm of the sun. It’s not so much being alive that I crave, but the mere thought of missing even one sunset is just… atrocious. It’s unbearable.”
“What did you take?” asked Liz with completely sincerity. “Was it Adderall?”
“… so we went out, shot a couple of Kudus; Gavin knew some guy who skinned them right there on the farm, no problems…”
Back in the bar area, Rory stood talking to everyone and no one.
Tonight, I’m going to get myself off to the image of your limbless torso squirming around on my floor, Shimmy thought, biting her lip until she tasted blood.
As planned, the following Friday night, Shimmy arrived at the address Anthony had given her. Chris answered the door wearing a faded grey suit that reeked of cheap cologne and burning wood.
“It’s nice to see you again, Ruth,” he said in a shaky voice, his sweaty palm sticking to hers as he clumsily shook her hand.
“Nice to see you,” she said gently, planting a soft kiss on his earlobe. “I feel a little under-dressed.”
“You look amazing,” he said, leading her to the lounge area. “Get comfortable. Can I get you a drink?”
“Anything’s fine, thanks.”
“So,” he said after a few minutes, returning with two glasses of red wine. “What do you think?”
“Nice place. Did you decorate it yourself?”
“Well, I like it,” she nodded.
“I want to take you somewhere.”
She nodded once more. “And where are we going?”
“Well, if I told you, I’d have to kill you,” he chuckled. “I’m just kidding.”
To her surprise, the destination was not an isolated rape dungeon, but instead, he took her to the top of a hill, overlooking the night and the city.Bright lights littered the ground, gently writing their stories upon the soft charcoal sky.
“Incredible,” Shimmy murmured.
“I like to bring girls here. I find they’re quite attracted to bright things.”
“How very scientific of you,” she teased.
“But girls don’t seem to like what I have to offer. I guess maybe I‘m not attractive enough.”
Shimmy kept her eyes fixed on the lights, and a feeling of content warmed her heart, just as it did when she was young.
Under the same moon, the same stars and staring at the same city, it was not hard to imagine that time itself stood still, and she was the only one who could move.
I am terrified by this dark thing
That sleeps in me;
All day I feel its soft, feathery turnings, its malignity.
“No, honey, that’s not it. It’s that, girls may not have the capacity to appreciate you, in all your splendour just yet.”
She winked at him.
“But women are a different story. You just need to meet a real woman.”
“Yeah. I don’t mind. I like girls. I like them young. I think the younger the flesh, the sweeter the nectar.”
“Oh, well, not sure why I’m here then,” she jested.
“You’re here because I wanna see what the inside of your cunt looks like,” he said abruptly.“Come here and bend over the bonnet.”
She followed the orders obediently, as Ruth would.
Retrieving a plastic bag from the back seat of his car, he plopped it down beside her and instructed her to face down.
He studied her for a moment, then pulled her dress up and began to tear ravenously at her stockings.
“Need a hand?”
“Bend over and shut your mouth. Shut your filthy fucking mouth!” he barked.
She obeyed, all the while thinking;So much dust, why’d I have to wear a black dress tonight?
Then, a sudden jolt of electricity jerked through her body, reanimating her motionless limbs.
“Is that a fucking taser?” she screamed.
“What? No. It’s just a flashlight. I want to see inside you,” he said from behind her.
Her atoms wailed.
Bodies appeared, dropping from the trees nearby; the thick rope of their nooses creaking on the branches as they rambled simultaneously.
A choir of voices began to chant nothings, the sounds coming closer and then fading away, coming closer and fading away.She glanced over her shoulder at Chris, whose face had twisted into a scream and paused, mouth gaping, in complete silence, as he stared at her.
Then the wolf howled.
Cold steel pressed hard against her as he began to push the end of the flashlight into her vagina.
“Say nothing,” he demanded sternly.
I want to push I knife into your rectum and twist until your guts spill out over my shoes, baby love.
Sprawled out over the bonnet of his car for what felt like hours; with these dangling bodies hissing hymns all around her, until eventually, Chris stopped prodding foreign objects into her body and settled for his penis, instead.
Relief washed over her muscles as she felt the soft flesh slide into her.
He was surprisingly gentle at first, wrapping his arms around her and holding her tightly as he slipped in and out.
“Call me Daddy,” he said.“Beg me not to.”
“Mister, please no,” she moaned. “You’re hurting me.”
“No, bitch, I want you to call me Daddy!”
With this, my acid tongue.
“Daddy! Please don’t!”
He placed his clammy paw over her face, covering her mouth and nostrils. Just as she began to panic for air, he pulled out and came on her ass and thighs.
The drive back home consisted of awkward silences and Chris clearing his throat.
“Why do you do this?” he asked before they neared his driveway. “Why do you fuck guys for money?”
She thought for a moment and shrugged. “Funny thing about that is, reality is so much different for every person. Seldom do I have explanations or reasons for anything. I just find myself saying, ‘because it happened’. Shit happens, to everyone. Even a Magnolia, at one point or another, will need to push its way through the soil.”
“Yeah, maybe my petals are a little fucked up,” she continued. “Now it’s more like this inner blue silence, like I’m an observer in a meaty vessel I don’t care much for. I am not of my body, I am of my mind. And my mind is always searching for something I never lost.”
He nodded. “Yeah, totally.”
‘Sometimes I wonder why I did such a horrible thing. Maybe it’s because I come from another planet, or another dimension, and I accidentally fell to Earth like a meteorite, disguised as a baby crying on the street. My mother walked by and took pity on me. I must have come from a place of cannibals and I’m the only one of my kind who exists on this planet.’
“Eight missed calls,” she read out loud.
Shimmy hit the call back dial and the ring was cut short by a familiar voice.
“Hi, I received a call from this number, not sure–”
“Shimmy?This is Liz’s mother, Maureen,” said the trembling voice.“I’ve been trying to get a hold of you with some news. Liz is in the hospital.”
Shimmy met Maureen in the waiting room; the old woman stood shaking, patting the tears from the delicate, veiny skin around her eyes.
“I don’t understand. What did the doctor say?”
“They’re treating her for injuries to her face, neck, ribs, and I think her legs,” Maureen fixed her gaze to a spot on the floor. “And someone cut off three of her toes. There were signs of sexual assault.”
“Christ,” she gasped, clasping a hand over her mouth.
“I’ll tell you what, I know it was him. She hasn’t said anything, but I’m her mother, I know. Doesn’t matter, they won’t do anything to him, because of her… profession, and the films they make. And you know he knows the right people, that man.”
“Go on inside, I’ll wait out here and give you two some time to talk.”
Liz erupted into uncontrollable sobs at the sight of her friend.
“Hi, baby,” she said, frantically wiping away the tears.
“Lizzie, are you alright?”
“I’m fine. You should see the other guy,” she smiled meekly. “This is so silly.”
“How are you feeling?” asked Shimmy.
“The Morphine in this place is life altering.”
“You know I have to ask you what happened,” said Shimmy, pulling up a chair next to the bed.
“It all started when I asked him if he could just give me a break, because I’m so fucking raw and he’d just wanted to do anal. But he’s so rough, Shim, I just needed a break. So he doesn’t see it my way, says he can’t look at my face. I should have left it at that, I don’t know.”
“I’m going to collect your things,” said Shimmy. “I think you should stay with Maureen for a while, until we can figure this out.”
After taking in what seemed like the most golden sunset, she poured herself a glass of wine and slipped into her favourite little blue dress.
“I’m on my way out, I promised Adam–”
“I’m fucking busy!Not now!”
“See you later, then.”
“Wait, Tomei,” she walked up and kissed him softly on the cheek. “See you later.”
After he left, she popped a few Adderall into her mouth, gathered the rest of the pill bottles and tossed them into her handbag.Grabbing her keys, she headed for the wolf’s house.
It was her turn to do a little huffing and puffing.
“What do you want, Shimmy? I’m a busy man.”
Rory stank of Whiskey.
“I’ve just come to collect Liz’s things,” said Shimmy, fighting the urge to gouge out his eyes.
“What the fuck for? Where is she jetting off to?”
“Oh, relax,” said Shimmy, running her finger down his chest. “She always comes back, doesn’t she? You know the drill by now.Besides, I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but she’s not feeling so hot right now.”
“Why are you dressed like that? Are you on your way to work or something?”
“Or something,” she giggled.
Reluctantly, he let her push past him as she made her way to the kitchen.
“Nothing in here belongs to her because she doesn’t own shit,” he said, snickering. “Just clean out her closet. But I can promise you, she’ll come running back in a few days.”
“You’re… very perceptive. I’m gonna grab a drink. Do you want anything?”
“What I want is for you to stop wasting my fucking time,” he sneered, looking down at his wristwatch. “What are you trying to pull here?”
“See, Rory, I can tell you’ve simply never had the right woman in your life; the kind that tells you to shut the fuck up when you need to hear it.”
“And I suppose you know what I need? Just because you know how to take a dick, doesn’t mean you’re superior. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s the opposite.”
“Your mother, was she too much of a drunken waste to teach you any manners?” Shimmy laughed. “You don’t scare me. How does that make you feel?”
“You need to get out of my house before I take a belt to you, whore.”
He grabbed her by the arm, pushing her up against the wall.
“I see you have a little fight left in you yet,” she taunted, scratching her nails down his arms. “But then, so do I.”
“I don’t remember you putting up this much of a fight the last time I came inside you,” he said through clenched teeth.
She grabbed his hand and placed it against her throat, moaning as he tightened his grip.
“I have a feeling you’ll like Exodus,” she choked.
“Exodus?” he chuckled. “What kind of name is that for a hooker?”
Shimmy smiled and hopped onto the kitchen countertop, spreading her legs and running a finger over her pantyhose, gently unclipping them from her silk panties.
He undressed her, growing impatient with the zipper of her dress and ripping at her stockings until they dangled in tatters from her legs.
“No, I want to keep my boots on,” she waved a finger in the air before he could unzip them.
He unzipped his pants and stroked his cock.
“Come here,” Shimmy sat, wide eyed and shaky.
She pressed her lips against his forehead as he slipped into her, and already, she could feel Exodus growing impatient.
Pulling out her trusty little M16 knife from the sheath that sat, tucked into the back of her black leather boot, jolts of pleasure sent her moaning as she shoved the blade into the side of his jugular.
His face; the shock and disbelief, stunned, mouth gaping.
Guttural sounds escaped from him, greedy gasps for air as the blood flooded his oesophagus.
“I wonder how different the world could have been if people like us never existed,” she said from behind a cigarette.
The sound of blood and air gushing through the wound made her stop and listen.
“That sounds serious. You should have it checked out.”
She shook her head.
“Anyway, I was thinking about how different my life could have been if I’d never met you. But that’s not the point, the point is… the point is, there is no point. There is no fucking point. I don’t think any of us ever belonged here in the first place. Some of us are star matter, others, the debris that knocks everyone else out of orbit. I’m a junkie, a dying star and when I exit, it will be with a bang, as I attempt to find that point between beauty and chaos,” she paused.
Rory’s white t-shirt was now drenched bright scarlet.
“You look like a tampon. Rory, you look like a tampon and the thing is… supernovas, implosions, these make way for beauty in the dark and uncommon spaces. If I could, I would take them all with me, the crooked politicians and silver tongues, the dog fuckers and the rapists, I would obliterate them; I would spew forth cleansing flames and burn all them all. But alas, my dear, here we are, just you and I, and you will just have to do.”
Blood spat from the motionless body on the floor like liquid fireworks.
She sat on the edge of the kitchen countertop, fingering the dry cracks of her lips as cigarette smoke emanated wildly from her other hand, growing like milky branches toward the sky.
“This place will be beautiful one day. I can already feel it.”
Chané Coetzee could tell you about her love for violence glorification or why she thinks modern feminism is a joke. She could tell you about her unhealthy obsessions or how she hates the sound of the word “moist” – which she doesn’t. She could tell you about her interest in travel or about the things which led to her putting thoughts into word quite the way she does. She could tell you about her passion for music or poetry or crippling nostalgia.