Category Archives: Writing

Promise…

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I wonder what the Statute of Limitations is on a promise?

Lets hope its only a year, because a year ago, I made a promise not to split, on pain of death!

Almost exactly year ago, we were called to a mine to find water…they had an English consultant tell them that the water from the (tiny) existing dam would be adequate! The moment they commissioned the new plant, management realised this evaluation was not even close to accurate.

They wanted to be panicking but they couldn’t, because they had all their investors and future buyers visiting! The place was packed with them, the first day we arrived, so we sort of sneaked in, spoke to the manager and the major shareholder and went about our business.

The orebody was mined until the mid 70’s when it was bombed during the war. The buildings were later used by a safari operator who held the hunting concession for the National Parks land. They built a “lapa” or large oval thatched building, (pictured below) to entertain their clients and when the property reverted to the mine, the new management used it to eat, and hold meetings; entertain investors!

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With a kitchen at one end and a game viewing platform on the other, the lapa faces the setting sun, across the vlei. To one side is a sunken fire pit with seats built around it. The hunting season, here in Zimbabwe, spans the winter months, and its cold! Sitting under the wide African skies around a roaring fire, singing along to a guitar, is a favourite with hunters.

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Right next to the kitchen are two ablution units, only one of which has a lock. With a thin common wall, they are not sound-proofed, each unit consisting of a loo separated from the shower by a low wall, (which is stupid really, because the water bounces off the wall and wets the loo seat, the loo rolls, your clothes etc…)

It’s pretty rudimentary, the pipes exposed and a hole in the wall for the water to drain out off. BUT for us, it was luxury. Most places we go, there is absolutely NO water, and certainly not a shower!

When I was shown the shower (the men’s ablutions, near the camping area are rather open plan!) I made a mental note to check for snakes. The number of times I have seen snakes in showers with a drain like that! Slittering along the outside wall, snakes head for a ‘dark hole,’ conveniently located near the ground, only to find themselves trapped inside a slippery cubicle.

The water is heated with this:

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It’s called a “Donkey boiler,” in most parts of the world, but here in Zimbabwe, its called a “Rhodesian Boiler.” As you can see, its only a few metres tall, so the pressure isn’t enough for more than one person to shower at a time.

The day we arrived, the lapa was packed with people and it was pretty difficult to catch everyone’s name and occupation. I didn’t like to ask a question such as “Are you an investor in this mine?” only to have the reply, “No I’m a metallurgist…!”

But by the third day, most of the investors had left and the remainder were mostly checking on the plant, fixing glitches, or like us, catching up on things that should have been done long ago.

Coming in from the bush, dirty and sweaty, I went into the unit with the door-lock (I’d been told repeatedly by the camp manager that although these showers were not for general use, some people still went into them, too lazy to walk to the ablution block) and began showering.

When I heard someone go into the unit next to mine, I immediately rinsed off. I’ve been left too many times with soap suds all over me when someone turns on a second shower, reducing the flow to a dribble.

I dried off and about to get dressed, heard a distressed squeak from next door followed by a very quiet, wavering howl, “help…please no…” Followed by something else in a language I didn’t recognise.

The guy was clearly terrified, he wasn’t making up that noise, I knew.

Convinced that a snake had slithered through the drain, I wrapped the towel around my boobs and dashed off to the next door unit. I opened the door to find a man crouched on the partitioning wall, pale and shaking – pointing into the shower. I carefully peered around the edge of the half wall, (anticipating a poisonous jet from a spitting cobra) but…no snake. Nothing at all in the shower cubicle.

Something had turned this guy into a gibbering wreck, but I couldn’t see what.

“What is it?” I asked.

He didn’t reply, only pointed at the opposite wall.

I couldn’t see anything until a water droplet landed and a teenie tiny spider, smaller than a daddy long legs, dashed over to it, hoping it was prey.

“This?” I asked the guy. He nodded and shuddered. He pointed to several more I had not noticed, one of them on the loo side of the unit!

I picked the poor thing up (the spider, not the guy) and pushed it out through the drain hole. I chased the one on the loo side up the wall and out of the room. I handed the chap his towel and helped him off the wall.

And through all of this, I didn’t laugh once, I swear.

A little uncomfortable with discussing creepy crawlies and the dangers of snakes in showers, while dressed only in a towel, I scuttled next door intending to dress and make my way back to our tent.

When I opened the door, I found the guy standing outside, already fully dressed and looking more human! With his clothes on, I took a longer look at him. Mid forties I guessed, slim, wiry build, about six foot, dark hair just going grey; big nose.

“I’m terrified of spiders,” he said and I nodded. Duh!

“Actually all creepy crawlies. I can’t stand this place…” he shuddered. “It’s full of them, and then last night the lions…” Again I nodded. The lions had come right into the camp and spent most of the night roaring and growling right outside our tent. A man who was scared of a spider must have nearly died of fright at that sound!

“I thought it was a snake…” I began, but stopped before telling him I presumed it had slithered in through the drain hole. It was obvious that it hadn’t occurred to him that we get snakes too, as well as the creepy crawlies he abhorred.

He thanked me, over and over, begging me not to tell anyone, all the while speaking in a low voice as if he were scared someone would over-hear.

He had me crowded against the door and just when I thought I’d never get away, the camp manager interrupted us, concerned that my shower had been cut short!

“He is a foreigner,” he said, after he had shoo’d the guy away.

“He doesn’t know that two people can’t shower with this kind of boiler. And anyway, he is supposed to  be showering in the camp ablutions there,” he said, pointing to a newly built block, visible behind the tents.

“I don’t recognise his accent,” I said.

“Oh, he’s Israeli. A minerals buyer,” he added. “Ex special forces. Extra tough guy.”

“He is?”

“Yup, all sorts of martial arts belts; can kill you with his bare hands, type guy. He goes all over the world buying, diamonds, gold, platinum…anything. You gotta be tough and able to protect yourself, be in dangerous places,” he added authoritatively. “And the Israeli Army is no walk in the park!”

Once again, I swear, I didn’t laugh!

I took my supper to the sunken fire pit and was immediately followed by this Israeli guy. He sat right next to me staring soulfully at me while I ate.

I tried to make conversation; change the subject away from spiders and lions. When that didnt work, I tried to talk to someone else, but he butted in, glaring and I guess since he had a reputation for being a scary type, the other guy backed off leaving me with Mr. Special Forces Man again!

I tried to make him laugh, to no avail! I could not get him to believe that I wouldn’t tell everyone I’d found him cowering in the shower! I couldn’t get him to change the subject either, away from creepy crawlies, or his HE man image. He told me over and over that he had spent years in the army, had killed people, infiltrated the enemy…blah blah blah

Clearly his enemy didn’t know, that all they need do, is throw a handful of spiders at their attacker and he would end up a jelly!

Staring deep into my eyes, he made me solemnly promise never to say anything to anyone about his fear of spiders. He insisted it would forever tarnish his reputation and he would lose the edge he had as a buyer of precious commodities! I got the feeling, that if I did break my promise, I’d be tracked down and made to pay!

Eventually I gave up trying to talk sense into him and went to bed but for a whole year, this story has been burning a hole in my brain.

I’m sure by now, Mr Special Forces Tough Guy has forgotten about his trip to darkest Africa, to the mine full of creepy crawlies, snakes and lions and women who gently persuade spiders to vacate the shower.

Well here’s hoping…!

Innocents – A short story from the Rhodesian Bush War

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Innocents – A short story from the Rhodesian Bush War

The child lay in her habitual position under a slab of concrete, the remains of a tiny dam wall, blasted to smithereens in a long ago argument between neighbours.
Sheltered from the mid afternoon sun, her cheek against the cool, damp sand, she heard the man long before she saw him.
Tired beyond caring, lame and injured; desperate.
She heard his leg drag along the ground with every step; his laboured breathing.
The bank leading to the stream was fairly steep, the path cutting deep ruts, boulders holding the red soil alongside.
Watching him stagger into view she propped her chin under the palm of one hand.

Sitting on the soft bank, his bleeding feet trailing in the current, Julius drank with huge slurping gulps. The water, gushing down his throat, soothed him, filling his empty stomach.
He had to push on, his tired mind screamed, although he wanted to curl up and sleep for eternity.
Splashing the cold water on his face, he breathed deep, striving for energy and when he finally forced his eyes open, found the wide, dark gaze of the girl on him, less than two metres way.
She was a white child, he could see that much in the shade of the overhanging concrete. Eight, maybe ten years of age. Thick, straight hair, dark in the shade of the overhang, framed a pointy, pixie face.
Dread hit him square in his core; his immediate thought, “Oh no, not another one. Not another child…”

Read the rest of this entry

To describe, or not to describe…

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When I wrote Silk Threads, I had no preconceived ideas about the setting, because I mostly wanted to write about a person with Aspergers Syndrome.  Obviously the book had to be set somewhere and since hardly anyone knows where Bulawayo is…

However, that in itself creates a problem. Things that are obvious to me, views I see every day, are not so to a foreigner. Take the blue skies! Most days, here in Bulawayo, we have blue skies. Did I mention that, even once, in any of my books? I know I mentioned the heat in October, because even residents notice that!

Another thing I didn’t consider and now, (reading books about ‘how to write books!’)  I’m told is crucial, is my ‘Target Audience!’ Am I trying to sell Silk Threads worldwide, or to people who come from Southern Africa? (I sure don’t have to tell THEM about the sunny skies.) Several people have mentioned that I avoid descriptions and its true, I’d rather the reader created their own imagery. Who cares what the inside of the Academy of Music looks like?All the reader need know, is that it was private!

Below is a picture taken in the Matopos.

Matopos

Anyone who has lived in Matabeleland has been there. I’m guessing, if they had to wade through me trying to describe the Matopos they would certainly put the book down. But how do I describe to a foreigner what the Matopos is like? How do I describe the massive domes, the balancing rocks and that amazing ‘feel,’ the almost magical atmosphere? But I must, because most foreigners have never even heard of the place. At the same time, I must not lose my local audience too!

A picture saves a thousand words! I wish I could add photographs into my books. I’ve tried to come up with similies to describe Matopos! “Rocks split by a giant cleaver…” “Giant boulders strewn by an angry god…” Whatever the descriptive words, they include giant, huge, boulders…But how giant?Matopos

I’ve left the vehicle and person in this photo because it gives some idea how big (and these are relatively small, as Matopos goes) the boulders are.

This is the same ‘kopjie,’ without the vehicle.

Matopos

I’m guessing people in cities judge sizes by the buildings around them! Take this photograph below:

Matopos

How many fifty story buildings would fit into this one? Could I possibly fit a building into such a rural setting, surely the mental image just doesn’t fit? If I said it’s twenty square miles around would that mean anything? Perhaps I should say, this boulder would fit into the lower part of Manhattan from such and such a street…

Another thing I learned from reading books about how to write books, is this ‘genre’ issue…did you know, a ‘Romance’ has to fit a certain formula! It has to have a ‘happy-ever-after’ ending! I guess in our modern world, it can be about a gay couple….so where does Silk Threads fit? Without an obvious ‘hero’ and the ‘romance’ probably unresolved, where does it fit? I thought it was what I call drama until I discovered that drama refers to plays!  How about Saga? Well its long enough!

This morning I noticed a review of  Silk Threads on Amazon! (It was posted ages ago. Ooops!!!) I don’t visit the site very often since I hardly sell any books there. Strangely, Amazon allowed me to reply to his comment! (Last time I tried, I was refused entry as I didn’t have an account??? Duh – so writing a book and putting it on Amazon doesn’t warrant an account?)
Anyway, this is what he said:

I haven’t finished reading the book. From the portion I’ve read so far I think the author is an excellent writer. I have no problem at all with the sex. I’ve read very good erotic literature that is far more explicit than this. I have a minor problem with the plot premise. It’s about a search for a person that has spanned the globe for many many years and now the search has decided to concentrate on the area from which the person originated. Really? Did I miss something? You’re looking for a person and look everywhere on the planet but ‘home’ and now decide to look there? I don’t get it. Not at all logical to me.

Why can’t I finish the book? For me as a guy, ultimately, the book strikes me as a romance novel and for my own personal tastes I have zero interest in romance novels. That is my preference and not a fault with the author. I tried to read one other ‘new author’s’ book and had the same experience. (Though I didn’t think that other book was well written.) I’m sure some can argue this book is different but the periods of Svengali/Pygmalion transformation seemed too long and slow and didn’t appeal to me.

I encourage the author to keep writing. There is a huge audience for this type of good work IMO. I am just not that audience.

It didn’t occur to me, that a foreigner wouldn’t know, that people who left Zimbabwe, in the 1980’s didn’t return! For me, it was obvious Lisa wasn’t in Zimbabwe. She left in 1988 and why would she return, with the country going downhill fast? Inflation of the currency, corruption at high levels of government, currency controls! With European parents and plenty of money to spend, why would she remain in a dump like Bulawayo? And anyway, if she did, someone would know her, Bulawayo is a small place!

Now, with the immediacy of the internet, I not only get to identify that a United States reader doesn’t know that many whites were unprepared to remain in a post-Independent Zimbabwe, but that all my editing of the first part was still inadequate! (For the male readers!)

Of course, with e-books, I can easily change it! Tweek it with a few well chosen words and re-publish. It will only take a minute or two! I won’t change ‘Jack and Jill’ – I’m terrified of losing the anger I felt when I wrote it – maybe one day Il get round to editing it!

What is great, nowadays, are the discussions you can have with your audience. I love it when someone contacts me and we exchange emails about my characters or my plot! And how nice is this guy who hasn’t even finished the book to write such a nice review… AND give me four stars! Its horrid when you see a two star rating pop up with no reasons why the writer didn’t like it. Was it shallow? Confusing? Boring?

As for his last sentence. I’ve decided that I have to get on with my life – writing is an all-consuming occupation. I get totally involved, to the exclusion of all else, and that isn’t really fair to family and clients! And anyway, I’m going to need all the spare time I have to continue with my studies! I have nearly finished with ‘African Cuckoo,’ its only the editing that is required and then I will pack in my pencil, (maybe just keep my hand in with short stories or funny things that occur to me.)

 

Click here, to download Silk Threads from Amazon

Silk Threads

Click here to download A Pale

A Pale

Please post comments on the books here on my blog, or at Amazon.

You can email me at:

forfrankiekay@gmail.com

I love fan mail and discussing my books via email, so please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Silk Threads is free on Smashwords… please download a copy of Silk Threads  here:

Silk Threads

Reckless Gambol, a Silk Threads vignette can be downloaded here:

RG2.

And a copy of Jack and Jill here

Jack and Jill a short story

Please leave a comment on Smashwords

Do you ever wonder…?

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If people who cuss when driving on the highway, all alone in the car, know how stupid they look?

Recently, when visiting South Africa I invited my kids to see the Lipizzaner horses – Yup that is what happens in old age, when your kids grow up and leave home – you invite them to the Lipizzaner show, and worse, they say, “OK mum…”

We were staying in Vereeniging which is about 100km from Johannesburg and to get to where the kids live, I skirt Soweto,  pass Baragwanath Hospital and Southgate Mall!

Hey, it makes me feel at home, among the mini buses and litter.

Now, since Jeremy Clarkson has been booted, I have to tell you about my car myself! To start with, it’s big. Four wheel drive, with a three litre, inter-cooled, turbo diesel engine, it guzzles juice. It has wheels like, nine inches wide and it can go for 1600km without the need for a stop at the filling station. It’s called a Vigo and you don’t get them in SA, so every hairy Boer who ever claps eyes on it HAS to ask if they can play with the little back door that opens the wrong way. We buy them here in Zim instead of a double cab, so that every policeman along the road doesn’t ask for a lift – rather than squash into the jump seat, they rather wait for a double cab to come along!

Toyota Hilux Vigo

(See the little door? Its that half size one, behind the passenger door – and it opens backwards!)

These Toyota Vigo’s are imported by my brother in law from Thailand…

ADVERT ALERT – if any of you rich aid organisations out there are reading this blog and looking for a brilliant vehicle, that has the right mix of luxury and off road capability, you can get one from my brother in law in Bulawayo at the “Toy Shop!” Not only does he provide excellent ‘after purchase service’ he is SO cute – so even if you are not an aid organisation and just want a hunky mechanic to discuss anything at all about your car…visit the Toy Shop.

Sorry about that – where was I? Oh yes…my brother in law…

no, my car…

NO – people swearing when they are totally and completely alone, driving along the highway.

Leaving Soweto behind me, I hit the Western Bypass on the N1 and let me tell you, on a Sunday morning before nine, it’s a magic road. Widened and completely re-surfaced  to handle the vast traffic expected for the World Cup Soccer 2010, it is four lanes of driving bliss and yes, it’s not hard for my speed to creep. I wasn’t late, I don’t have that excuse, I just can’t resist that open road, gently rolling hills and awesome curves. A concrete wall about a meter and a half high, separates the incoming and outgoing lanes, ensuring that when there is an accident, you have to wait the obligatory four hours for the traffic to clear.

I got into the outside lane, and putting foot flat, admired the Florida Hills on my left, stared down my nose at the tiny pink match-box houses and….all in a heart stopping second, my hands vibrated on the steering wheel and an indescribable noise assaulted my ears. For a gut wrenching moment, I thought I was back in the Rhodesian Bush War, the sound of incoming AK-47 bullets, and the return fire from the MAG on the gun turret of the convoy vehicle. Or perhaps my gear box had come undone from its mountings and was whizzing around and around on the prop shaft, or maybe a guy on a jackhammer in the back seat?

No. It was simply those nine inch wide tyres I was boasting about earlier. They had crossed over a rumble strip cunningly disguised/included in the white line demarcating the extreme right of the road. Its put there to give sleepy drivers – about to crash into the wall – that last minute wake up call. Well, it works. It woke me up.

And I know, that somewhere up there in the bright blue afterlife is a Dominie chuckling and chalking another one up to the South African Roads Department. Another foreigner – yelling praises to the Lord on a bright sunny Sunday morning!

OK – so I cussed. All alone in the car and without thought to how stupid I looked, I cussed out loud. And no, I’m not going to repeat my  cuss words, or I will have to move this post to my bad language page!

But I can tell you WHO I cussed:

Zuma!

After all, when in Rome, do as the Romans do!

I made it to the Lipizzaner show:

LipizzanerLipizzaner Lipizzaner Lipizzaner

 

Of course, the part I really enjoyed was meeting the horses later at the stables behind the arena….

Lipizzaner Lipizzaner

 

Please have a look at my books.

Click here, to download Silk Threads from Amazon

Silk Threads

Click here to download A Pale

A Pale

Please post comments on the books here on my blog, or at Amazon.

You can email me at:

forfrankiekay@gmail.com

I love fan mail and discussing my books via email, so please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Silk Threads is free on Smashwords… please download a copy of Silk Threads  here:

Silk Threads

Reckless Gambol, a Silk Threads vignette can be downloaded here:

RG2.

And a copy of Jack and Jill here

Jack and Jill a short story

Please leave a comment on Smashwords

 

What’s in a name…?

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What’s in a name…?

What does one take to the old age home? Pardon me: retirement village!

I had no idea. I asked my daughter. She looked around vaguely, shrugged and said, “I don’t know Mother. Not much. It’s furnished.”
My oldest friend and soon to be neighbour was much clearer.
“Memories, Sybil. Memories,” she said. “Your photos, favourite books, small knick-knacks. Anything that triggers a memory; good or bad. As we get older, we need those little reminders.”
I took her at her word; wandered around the house touching objects, testing if they were special. I chose a painting because it reminded me of a holiday in the Karoo, a glass figurine from Venice. All the photograph albums.
“What about the box of photos?” Dorelle asked. “The rejects that never made it into the albums.”
We finally hunted them down in the store room off the pantry, stacked high up on a shelf. We took them up to the lounge and sat together like schoolgirls, picking through them at random, laughing at some frowning at others, straining to remember why I’d taken them.
“Yes, bring them,” Dorelle said hunching over the box. “We will have plenty of time to work out who all the people were, boring neighbours with our stories.” She withdrew one from the box.
“Tell me about this one?” she said.
Frowning, I peered at the photo she held in her hand. It was old and faded, the edges curled; purple and pink, the image very hazy. A woman, walking away from an aeroplane, carrying a huge teddy bear. It wasn’t a posed picture.
“It’s definitely you. That’s your Teddy Bear.”
She was right. It was me, sporting a beehive hairstyle and the high, high shoes that gave me such bunions, toting my giant pink teddy bear. Where on earth was this photograph taken? I could see no buildings in the background to help me identify the airport. No trees, mountains or any other features.
I shut my eyes, trying to remember back when I could wear that sculpted outfit. It pushed my front up and cut off mid thigh. I snatched at a glimmer of a memory. Shopping for shoes. Choosing a conservative heel, only three inches, but I remember conceding, an elegant thin one with a pointy toe. I realised the purple-pink, brown haze wasn’t from the age of the photo. It had really looked like that and sitting in my air-conditioned lounge I experienced a hot blast; felt my skin prickle.
“Botswana. The photograph was taken in Botswana,” I said.
Dorelle glanced at me and settled back in the sofa.
“Holiday?” she asked in that tone she has when she intends to hear every embarrassing detail.
“Hitching Post.”
Dorelle was silent for a beat. Then she barked out a laugh.
I shrugged. What a disaster. The worst six weeks of my life. How could I forget?
“I was approaching thirty, Dorelle. I wanted to settle down. I didn’t want what I saw my friends do: get married, remain in the rat race. Work while raising children. I wanted to take my time, loaf around and look after them myself. I spent a weekend on a farm in the Magalies and I decided I would like to marry a farmer. It seemed a slow life, plenty of spare time.” Dorelle’s immaculate eyebrows disappeared into her fringe, but she said nothing.
“So I put an advert into the ‘Hitching Post’ in the Farmer’s Weekly.”
Dorellle pushed her hand against her mouth, biting at her knuckles.
“A guy answered. We corresponded for some time and I flew out to Botswana.” Holding my hands up in surrender I added, “Hey, I had it all sorted. I had a list of things I wanted.”
I counted on my fingers.
“I wanted him to have a house. A car, and live on a farm. And this guy wrote so enthusiastically about the farm, his work. He told me how beautiful it was: the acacia woodland, the miles and miles of open farmland.
“How was I to know that he meant thorn trees and nothing but barren dust, three-sixty? And do you know, Dorelle he really did like that; saw something beautiful in that endless, brown nothingness.
I thought all farms had green fields and white fences with sheep and cattle. I hardly saw cattle, other than when they were collected up. Then they made more dust; workers whistling and waving their arms about, cracking huge whips. I only went once; stayed in the car, swatting the flies.”
“At least he had a car?” Dorelle said and I pulled a face.
I tapped the photograph. “Shortly after he took this, he took me out to the car park. I remember looking around, and the only car was a clapped out thing, rusting along the doors, dust all over it. I think it was once upon a time a cream colour. Can you believe that? This was the car he had raved about,” I heard my voice rising. “The car he said could go anywhere and was the most comfortable one he knew for ‘the conditions.’” I made air speech-marks. “It would go forever, he said. Bloody looked like it had been going forever,” I muttered, still furious after forty years.
Sitting on my stylish sofa, I remember the urge I had to walk back into the air-conditioned airport; away from the dry, shimmering heat, that claptrap land-cruiser and the taciturn man carrying my suitcase.
“There wasn’t enough room in the front for my luggage. He just dumped it in the back; opened the door for me.”
“Well,” said Dorelle, her voice unsteady. “At least he had manners.”
“No. The door didn’t open unless you picked it up and yanked.” I said, and she laughed. “And then when it drove on the sand, because there is nothing in Botswana except sand and dust and thorns, it sort of swam along and the guy had to wrestle it to stay on the road. So we didn’t say much on the way to the farm.”
“What was his name?” Dorelle asked.
I pressed my fingers against my forehead digging deep, but I couldn’t remember. It was something odd; something exotic. Some sort of a beautiful animal. A bird I think… but a beautiful bird. With beautiful plumage. A bird that shows off with elaborate displays to attract a mate. I remember thinking a brown man, wearing khaki and a dirty old hat, shouldn’t have a name like that. He used conservative language, and only made the minimum effort to please. He didn’t posture, or show off. Or dress up.
“His first name was common, like John or Harry. But his surname wasn’t. Something like Parrot, or Swann. Partridge perhaps.” I shook my head, striving for recollection.
“Maybe it will come to you,” Dorelle said dismissively. “The house, Sybil. Tell me about the house.”
“It wasn’t painted white, it didn’t have a cute gable and no white fences anywhere,” I said sourly. “It had a veranda right around it with broken mesh that let in every creepy crawly for miles around when he turned on the lights. And the lights, Dorelle, only paraffin lamps. Or candles.”
“Oh, how romantic!” she gushed and I scowled.
“Yes, I could light the candles, but not those lamps. The only time I tried, I broke a fingernail and nearly set my hair alight. You see, he would sit out on the veranda smoking and watching the sunset and I couldn’t join him because the mosquitoes attacked me. He would sit there, puffing away and not one of the little blighters would chew him.
“I was scared to move about the house in case I stood on a snake. I couldn’t walk around very easily anyway, because I didn’t take any flatties. The shortest heels I had were the three inch ones I bought especially for the trip. And the maid spent ages shining the cement floors until they were so slippery, walking on them was hell. She did all the housecleaning and there was a cook too. I was bored to tears, Dorelle. I had nothing to read except that stupid Farmer’s Weekly, but I didn’t want to lie in my room in the dark.
“You had your own room?”
I nodded. “He had manners, I’ll give him that much. Actually,” I added, “I had to get the action going. If I hadn’t, we would never have got round to doing anything…” I broke off and a flush came up my neck, spreading from my chest. Dorelle jumped at it.
“What?”
“Even that!” I said angrily. “I cozied up to him one evening, intending to move the relationship to the next level and he asked me if I had the clap!”
Delighted, Dorelle leaned back against the sofa, giggling uncontrollably.
“Yup. He said the last girl he had been with had given him a dose, and he didn’t want it to happen again.”
“Oh, Sybil,” Dorelle moaned, dabbing at her dark mascara. “What a Philistine,” she added and I finally grinned at her. It was funny. Now. Forty years later; three husbands and several lovers ago.
“But don’t worry, for all his protestations, he was a dog after all. Like most men.
“We were invited by our neighbour for a braai. And let me tell you, it was not just down the road or anything. Getting there was sort of like the Dakar Rally. We left early, just after three and arrived after dark. There were a few other people there, and we all stood about talking…and our hostess positively drooled all over him. I can remember being furious. So much for Mr Polite Guy. On the way home, he had some BS story about how he usually didn’t visit them because she had the hots for him and he was principled and blah de blah…I got so cross with him…he told me that I should either shut up or walk. Can you imagine that?”
“So you got out and walked?”
I nodded.
“In your high heels.”
I nodded again and she sniffed into her hankie.
“He just drove off. Thank goodness his man jumped off the back.
“The only part of the entire visit I really enjoyed was listening to the guy crap all over his boss the next day; moaning about how he was not employed to chop leaves for me to walk on.”
Puzzled, Dorelle looked a question.
“He cut bushes and laid them down on the ground to protect my bare feet from the stones.” I explained and she grinned.
“At least someone had manners!”
“I’m not so sure about that,” I said. “When his boss muttered something like, it was either that, or explaining things “the African Way…” his man snorted and then spat, a long, brown disgusting spray and walked away.” I shuddered.
“I flew back to Jo’burg a few days later and not long after, I met Denzil.”
“You see,” said Dorelle. “You need to have something to jog your memory. Don’t forget to pack that box.” She hiccuped again and made another unsuccessful attempt at clearing her make-up.
“What a great story, Sibyl,” she said standing.

Packing the photographs back into the box, I realised the others he had taken during that six weeks must be in there somewhere. I scrabbled about, pulling one out.
Me, standing on the steps leading to the veranda. Another of me under a huge thorn tree near the gate.
Peering closer, I saw a dark blob on one side, high up in the branches. A bird had nested there, I remember; tall brown and scrappy, making its messy nest from thorns. Staring down at the photograph, I finally remembered the man’s name.

.
Peacock. John Peacock

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.

.

Peacock
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Please have a look at my books.

Click here, to download the Amazon version of Silk Threads

Click here to download A Pale

A Pale

Please post comments on the books here on my blog, or at Amazon.

You can email me at:

forfrankiekay@gmail.com

I love fan mail and discussing my books via email, so please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Silk Threads is available on Smashwords…if you are into BDSM and more explicit scenes, please download a copy of Silk Threads  here:

Silk Threads

And a copy of Jack and Jill here

Jack and Jill a short story

Please leave a comment on Smashwords

SafLodge…

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I want to paint a mind picture. A picture of Africa. I’ll splash the broad brush-strokes across the canvas, but I’m hoping you will fill in the detail.
Picture a vlei with a pan at the bottom. Giraffe awkwardly drinking.
Hippo grunt in the early morning. Yawn. Zebra graze peacefully with wildebeeste, close to the pan. Perhaps there is a crocodile in the water, I don’t know. Paint in his nostrils, two little bumps above the water, if you wish. There are birds. Lots of them. I don’t know their names and its not important, really. I’d just throw dots and slashes across the canvas for them. Next there is a pole rail and a blue, blue swimming pool, a green lawn and lots of little round hardwood tables with cute umbrellas. Huge acacia thorn trees with flat tops tower. Its easy to fill in those, that flat top is just a squiggle of the brush.
This place we have drawn is the Hwange Safari Lodge, or SafLodge as its affectionately known.
Every room at the hotel faces the pan and from there you can fill in more details. Shut your eyes and paint the safire blue of the malachite kingfishers as they plunge from overhead branches, delighting breakfasting holidaymakers. The stark white shirts of the dignified waiters, their balanced trays, sparkling ice.
And elephant. Don’t forget the elephants, mind artists. Babies gamboling, mama’s watching, teenagers agitating. The dust rising, especially in the evenings against the blood red sunset.
In the very early mornings before anyone stirs, warthog grovel on their knees, digging with their noses. Don’t forget that little upwards stroke of the brush – periscope tails.

Warthog

 

Unlike more modern hotels elsewhere, SafLodge doesn’t offer broadband internet in each room, or those fancy smelling soaps and hand creams. But from how many other hotels can visitors hear lions roar? Or the unmistakable cough of a leopard, the insane giggle of a feeding hyena?
Like any hotel anywhere in the world, there is a concerted effort to portray a certain image. I’m sure some like to appear busy, exciting, vibrant. SafLodge want their clientèle to feel the timelessness of Africa, the enormity. Staff move slowly, majestically; silently, like the elephant visitors who stroll through the grounds. To match the murmuring birds, they speak in low, soothing voices. Rooms are cleaned quietly, efficiently.
It’s a well run hotel with a flow that is rigorously maintained. The kitchens too, although rather noisier, are well organised. Food out one end, refuse out the other. Waste packed into bags, tied off at the top are put into larger bins; separated into organic waste, paper and plastic. Cans. Long before it became fashionable to compost hotel waste, SafLodge began sorting decomposables.
When game viewing vehicles return to the garages, they are swept clean, the food debris of the ever munching tourists removed. Gardeners move about continually removing litter, animal droppings. While it is very exciting for a tourist to see a wild cat slink into the lighted area at night, standing in the scat he leaves is not.
A small eco-system has developed around the hotel. Crows find enough pickings, mice are resident in store-rooms, in the garages. The malachite kingfishers find more worms than they would have had this vlei remained a dusty clearing. The inhabitants of this world were happy, contented, living their lives together.

Until one day…, into this serene, idyllic paradise a huge male baboon strolled.

And now I ask you, to once again pick up that imaginary paint brush and detail his battle scars, his bright red bum, huge discoloured teeth. Kicked out of his troupe, he now sits in the middle distance at SafLodge, scratching himself, or staring off into the distance. No longer can the crows make elegant swoops to pick up crusts dropped by children walking to the tennis courts. Now they need to make haste or the baboon will be there first. He shuffles in fast, snatches, stuffs the food into his mouth. Barks his triumph. He is not elegant. And the staff cant stand him. Especially the women.
And let’s get one thing clear here: this causes the big baboon not one sleepless night. No one has liked him for a very long time. It’s not a requirement of the male of the tribe: popularity.
He is bold. Bolder when there are no men about. He watches them move to the front gardens, or drive away in the game viewing vehicles. Then, with his awkward lope, his crooked tail, he makes his dash to the kitchen stoop. He throws aside the dustbin lids, grabs bags from the organic bins. Littering lettuce leaves, tomato tops, potato peels, he retreats to his spot. Small beady eyes on yelling, fist waving maids, he digs in and stuffing his mouth, barks his triumph.

SafLodge is very close to the Hwange National Park along a fairly busy road. Busses pass, tourists in four wheel drives. Accidents happen. Animals more accustomed to the pace of the National Park, underestimate speed. Stories abound about kudu, impala misjudging magestic leaps, crumpling under wheels. Or perhaps we are all wrong, and it’s simply suicide. Lemmings, leaping into passing landrovers.
I cant say if the huge snake lying across the road intended to commit suicide or if he went there for the warmth of the road. But he did, he sprawled himself right across the road his ends disappearing into the bush on either side, and the result was the same as if someone had taken a shot gun to him.
Trundling past, an inspiration came to a SafLodge bus driver, not unlike an artistic moment of vision. He coiled the dead snake into a bag and carried it back thus concealed, to the hotel.
Now I ask you to add a gaggle of maids to your picture, plotting revenge; the target of their intrigue squatting in his habitual position, chin resting on his hand. Contemplating; occasionally picking something from his coat, and popping it in his mouth.
The baboon noticed nothing untoward. He watched the men clean out the game viewing vehicles; move to the front, to tend the pool, sweep the paths. He watched the kitchen doors swish shut; a maid’s large behind retreating. Silence descended and the baboon made his move. He threw the bin-lid aside, delighting I swear, at the cymbal sounding crash.
The kitchen doors burst open. The baboon grabbed the closest bag and ran, his hoard awkwardly dragging behind. Barking in defiance he stared around at the ever increasing number of people. Men from the kitchens, from the garages. The cooks, bottle-washers. Even waiters. Barking victory, his eyes on his audience, the male baboon reached into the bag pulling out the contents. When he finally looked down at what he had stolen he found himself face to face with his nemesis. A huge, menacing, coiled monstrosity. This is the vision that haunts all baboon’s terrors; nightmares. It stared him right in the face, and the baboon saw his life passing in front of his slowly, upwardly rolling eyes.

Involuntarily squeezing the throat of the dead snake, Mr Big Baboon swooned. Yes, fellow artists. Still holding the snake, he rolled over backwards in a dead faint, his bright red bum clear, his little baboon feet facing the blue African sky. And the staff laughed. They bent double, some fell to the floor. They roared, they pointed. The baboon woke to them.
Throwing the snake violently aside, he stood to his full height barking defiantly. He bared his rotten teeth at the SafLodge and loped away.
And immediately, life returned to normal. Dustbin lids no longer required weights nor maids to take the long way back to their quarters. The crows once again made their slow majestic, unhurried swoops over pristine lawns.
I hope you will hang onto this little sketch we’ve made. This story doesn’t have a moral; parallels rather, and it’s a true story
Another story of Africa.

 

Please have a look at my books.

Click here, to download the Amazon version of Silk Threads

 

Click here to download A Pale

A Pale

Please post comments on the books here on my blog, or at Amazon.

You can email me at:

forfrankiekay@gmail.com

I love fan mail and discussing my books via email, so please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Silk Threads is available on Smashwords…if you are into BDSM and more explicit scenes, please download a copy of Silk Threads  here:

Silk Threads

And a copy of Jack and Jill here

Jack and Jill a short story

Please leave a comment on Smashwords

 

Last Post…

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Last Post…

Content warning: If you do not like cats, or if soppy stories give you shingles – avoid this one…

I sneak through the long grass, tummy to the ground moving slowly, slowly, just like a cat. In the very early morning while its still dark, small mice come out, a few insects hop about avoiding early birds and I stalk them. Practicing being a cat.
I’m startled by a noise, I jump, dash away, a squeal of brakes, a blinding light, a flash of pain. I roll over, run some more. I catch my breath near our gate. I’m a little disorientated. Is this our gate?
I have one thought in my mind: I need to get home. I need to get to mum. And not my cat mum, mind you…no, she died at the end of my first life.
Only one of my eyes had opened when a snake slithered into our little cozy nest. A Mozambican Spitting Cobra mum has since told many people. Mrs Raven, my cat mum stood her ground to protect us and the cobra spat, a long spray of burny poison. I happened to be behind Mrs Raven and I was obviously blinking because I didn’t get any on me. My two brothers didn’t fare as well, I’m afraid. The snake struck at Mrs Raven although she puffed herself up and tried to look twice her size.
The end of my second life was when my mum arrived. I know I have laughed at the silly things she says, but now, catching my breath in the flowerbed outside the gate, I long for that “Oh man…look at this poor little thing…”

Twinks
It had been nearly a week since the snake incident, I couldn’t swallow, I was only dimly aware of my surroundings when mum picked me up. I stank of the fish people had tried to feed me and my head plopped over her hand. She didn’t mess about with unpacking the car, or making coffee (which I later discovered is a prerequisite to our continued existence!) She took a dropper and plopped one exquisite drop of milk into my mouth. I can’t describe the feeling – it was oh…liqueur chocolate over coffee, or a quadruple malt whiskey to the drying out soak, or…perhaps water to a man in the desert.
Anyway, I revived pretty quickly and began to hear some of the “Frankie-isms” I so often laughed at in the future.
“Oh man…” said Frankie. “You pong…” and “Yisslike, this little guy is lucky to be alive…”
Although a cat tongue is nothing like a toothbrush, I got “washed” as often as mum thought I needed it, she taught me to lap by stuffing my nose into the milk bowl. She also taught me other more embarrassing things in the sand box.
And then…she crushed up a cat nibble…called WHISKERS – and to coin mum’s phrase “Oh Man…” Cat heaven. It was the beginning of my addiction. It was the ‘gateway.’ I HAD to have Whiskers and I had to have only the variety that comes in the blue bag. I remember once, not long ago, none of the shops in Bulawayo stocked it – I nearly went out of my tiny mind.
Mum called me Twinkle-toes because of my cute white feet and she had many endearing versions…Tweeknee, Twinks or Twee. Some times Eee. Or Eee-ow even Eee-knee. I’ll leave working them out to you…

Twinks
And everywhere that Frankie went, I was sure to go…the first time I went in the car, I thought life number nine had arrived prematurely. Although I was held in the cupped hands of Frank, it didn’t help. I felt quite queezie.
Like all humans, I developed a fascination with water. And it’s everywhere…we humans drink it…

Twinks

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we bath in it, we watch our fish swim slowly round and round the pond in it and we umm deposit in it and here is the end of life number three…
I jumped onto the loo seat to see if I too could use this instead of the smelly sand, slipped on the smooth plastic and plop…

 

Now…
All mum’s have an instinctive knowledge of where their babies are, and mine was no different. Thud thud thud, she runs into the bathroom…
“Oh man..Twee…you narhna. Come on here, silly billy. Whatshathinkyadoing, man?” On and on she soothed while rubbing me in a towel. She laughed at how much like a drowned rat I looked and then blew a hair dryer at me.
She went off and bought cat-litter crystals. “Now these have deodorant, Eee-ow,” she said. So you won’t mind “going” in them OK? And she was right…but that didn’t stop my fascination with water. I too wanted to bath and I hated the way she wouldn’t let me shower, and I hate her loud laugh when I shake my head from the spots landing on me when she opens the shower door…
I need to give you a little background here – we live in two places. In Bulawayo in a house in Suburbs and although I often go with mum places, I knew how to get back to this house, cos here I have roamed since I could jump out of the bed room window.

Park Road

The other place is a house far, far away over a very bumpy road. In order not to repeat the incident with the snake, I remained inside Frankie’s bedroom. I have no need to be anywhere else – I have food, company, water, bed…loo…

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although when mum is about with her camera, I have been known to venture out…

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It was in town I met with life number five… or was it six?. I was walking along the top of the neighbors wall, and NO I was NOT teasing the dog…how was I to know that some clot had put a drum near the roof. How could I know the dog was a staffie cross baboon? Suddenly I was met with huge snapping white teeth drawn back in a most unattractive manner. Nothing like Nandi and her cute pink tongue and “lickie lickie” as mum says…I knew standing my ground and puffing myself up was not going to work, just as it didn’t work for Mrs Raven. I was forced to jump down an ignominious eight feet leaving the slavering beast, both paws over the wall for Nandi to reprimand. I heard her tell him that he had better watch his step, that his territory didn’t even end on the wall, only half the wall, that if he even thought of jumping down she would make mince meat of him. She went on, worse than Frankie, telling him off. Of course Nandi is old and her teeth only half size (I should know) and he is a very young staffie cross. But he hesitated long enough for me to jump into the bedroom window, find Frank’s head and knead… guaranteed to force him out of bed and give me some Whiskers…

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You know there is nothing better than the life of a human…I have a wonderful bed…so comfy and I’m not often disturbed, and if I am…I can give a hint, just as easily as the next guy…

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Like any modern human, I blog. It began with a simple post by another cat living in the UK. “Silly balinkie…” likes to live in a car park – when Frankie read that one out to me, I laughed. Why did he live in a carpark – its cold and wet. (I’m afraid, I can’t read yet…Ive tried, and I’m sure many of you have seen some of my typing efforts: *+-6///fhfj…) so Frankie writes my posts. And I’m quite famous.

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The end of my next life was boring and although pretty frightening involved the car and me sleeping on the wheel. I’d have been dead meat if it weren’t for Frankie and her incessant talking…she turned on the car, put it into gear, rolled ever so slightly, realised she had forgotten something, jacked up the handbrake…it gave me enough time to “bullet” off that wheel and to the safety of “Burronks” or this guy…who insists I’m a cat even when faced with overwhelming evidence to the contrary…He loves me, cleans my coat and is always going on and on about how I must not go out of the yard…

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Another time, in the car, I went to Frankie’s feet for the cold rush of the air-conditioner down there, and she put her foot on the clutch!!!! It’s attached to a long bar, kinda like a French Guillotine…Eeeuw, I only just got my head out from under that thing in time…
This narrative would not be complete if I didn’t describe, or at least post some pics of another milestone. I got “fixed” at the SPCA and it was terrifying, from start to finish. The smells and the indignity of being locked in a cage are indescribable, but as I wrote on my blog…”It had to be done..” I have no wish to ruin my wonderful figure, pictured below…

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It is our gate. I creep in, slink to the woodpile I use for day time suntanning, curl up trying to ignore the pain. I wait for that “Twee. Where are you Eee… Come on Knee knee”
I can’t move. I put my head down again. I’ll try to move “just now.”
Noises. The world is waking up…mum. Her hand stroking me, picking me up.
“Oh Twee. What is this?” She touches the wound on my side.
“She is not purring, Frank,” says mum. “I’m not happy about this. This is a funny wound on her side…I’m taking her to the vet…”

The car…those horrible antiseptic smells I remember, but mum is here…she is talking to the vet..he tells her he will have a look, that he has it all under control. She faffs about the cage, explains that I don’t like it in the cage with the smells of hospital all around, and dogs barking. He shoo’s her out, slips the needle in….ah, relief…this is better than Whiskers.

The world goes all soft and wavy around the edges…I floated away, far away to cloud number nine…

Frankie – there are a stack of happy animals here with your surname you know – I reconnected with Tara, (who until last week lived on the farm.) Also a horrid, pretentious cat called Scar and a beautiful grey horse. But they all need to get in line, cos I’m still tops…

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I’m glad mum has moved on…

The new dog is Rufus…

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And the kittens are Rianna and Pink…

And mum – tell the world I can no longer be found here…I am at double u double u double u dot gone-to-cat-heaven dot com

 

Please have a look at Frankie’s books. I sat right near her most of the time when she wrote Silk Threads and it’s good…

Click here, to download the Amazon version of Silk Threads

Click here to download A Pale

A Pale

Please post comments on the books here on her blog, or at Amazon.

You can email her at:

forfrankiekay@gmail.com

She gets such a kick out of fan mail you have no idea so please don’t hesitate to contact her.

Silk Threads is available on Smashwords…if you are into BDSM and more explicit scenes, please download a copy of Silk Threads  here:

Silk Threads

And a copy of Jack and Jill here

Jack and Jill a short story

Please leave a comment on Smashwords