[from Peter Orner's The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo, 2006 — brilliant brilliant novel, thank you Sally Keith for the recommendation]
75 Intoxicationists in a Datsun
Bottle of Zorba on the dash, long since emptied. Obadiah and Kaplansk. All that’s left are their voices, their bodies are gone, floated up, poofed.
Obadiah: I understand that many Talmudic blessings require repetition as a way of ritualizing one’s contact with God.
Obadiah: In other words, God not as a bolt of thunder but there in the simple everyday moments, in the tying and retying of one’s shoes. In a belch, if you will.
Kaplansk: Interesting, I hadn’t —
Obadiah: I myself believe in absolutely nothing. At least not today. This of course is the paradox. One never knows when faith — like love — will wander back like an old dog you thought was dead. It would all be easier if it stayed away for good. Don’t you think?
Kaplansk: Probably, but —
Obadiah: Would you like a mint?
For her, it’s nearly a love story. She tells it as she beats a carpet she’s hung off the mapone in her garden. She beats the carpet with a wooden spoon the size of a small child’s head. At her feet the wash towels are boiling. Her apron is tight around her chest like body armor.
Thump. Dust waffles up.
There was once a man who stuck his wife’s hand with a fork to prove he loved her, and she walked around with this scar, proudly showing it to people. Then one morning she hacked off his legs with a panga and he bled to death in bed.
Thump. Dust waffles up.
But even after that, she showed her hand with pride. Four little valleys pronged in the flesh. Thy will be done. On earth as it is in heaven.
Thump. Thump. Dust waffles up.
77 Magnus Axahoes
He runs barefoot in the limp sand of the riverbed. He loves the feel of it between his toes. That sound, that shish shish, of sand being thrown behind him. There are days it is the sound alone that keeps his feet moving. That beautiful grinding. One day he’ll run as fast as Rubrecht Kanhala. To run with a pucker thorn in your foot is better, because then you feel no fatigue in the muscles, only the wound in your foot. The pain builds more than endurance. It creates forgetting — and if you can forget, that’s all that matters. He’s read this in a runners’ magazine. A Kenyan said it and it’s the truth.
And the goats snoofing each other’s asses and us sprawled, dunking buttermilk rusks in cold tea, and Pohamba’s got another brother.
“God have mercy,” Festus howls. “Spread-leg woman gave birth to an army.”
Pohamba’s on his stomach. A Standard Two he’s hired to do some chiropractic work walks up and down on his back as he talks.
“Abner, my fourth brother. He worked at the Budget on Peter Mueller Strasse. My other Windhoek brother. He cleaned the cars when the tourists brought them back from a week of chasing elephants at Etosha. Dirty dirty cars, and my brother Abner washed them like babies’ arses. . . .