Day in town

FRIDAY, 20 AUGUST 2004

Afternoon, between four and five, under a tree; light-brown socks, old leather shoes, green shorts, yellow underwear and a red short-sleeved shirt with white speckles.

Just walked back from town to the smallholding, last stretch on a dirt road. In town, I purchased three books at the total cost of one R5 coin: When White People Were Poor, a Truman Capote book and the screenplay for an Italian play with the title, Six Characters In Search Of An Author. Paid a visit to some second-hand furniture stores, did my banking at Standard Bank and Postnet, and had lunch at the Spur Steak Ranch.

At the Spur, I sat in the smoker’s section. An elderly woman was sitting alone at a table behind me. I don’t know what she was drinking, but she yelled “One more!” in the direction of the nearest waiter soon after I had arrived. Also sitting alone was an attractive young woman at a table diagonally across from me. She was talking on her cell phone the entire time, drinking iced coffee and smoking one Paul Revere after another.

I ordered a Spur burger for R23.95, extra garlic sauce for R7.95 and a Black Label for R9.95. I read the County News (R1), and lit up two Nat Shermans with Lion matches.

In the middle of town, I read some interesting facts on a notice board: Pretoria is 50 kilometres from Bronkhorstspruit, Cape Town 1380 kilometres, Johannesburg a hundred kilometres, Taipei 11620 kilometres and Hong Kong 10800 kilometres. Then I walked back to the smallholding.

Now, I’m sitting under a tree, and I’m thinking: Life is … pigeons cooing, cars driving past, the wind blowing through the leaves, something between my teeth, footsteps in the background, small birds and insects making a commotion in the trees, the smell of vegetable soup from the kitchen, a radio playing lounge music from the sixties, a telephone ringing …

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