Selected Madness – the wall of text

I’ve been bad, folks.
My blog hygiene lately has been poor. Unfortunately, with the amount of stuff I’m juggling at the moment, doing the regular sort of societal commentary with the rapier wit that you (invisible people) expect has become just a little bit harder. On the plus side, I’ve done a lot more writing in practice for some greater literary endeavor… until the month of August, that is.

During August, I hit a wall. I can still write pages and pages of text, but none of it sounds quite right. With that in mind, I thought I might clear the clutter in my mind by shedding some of the old and accepting some of the new. It’s Spring Day, after all, and what’s September 1st without a lame analogy about cleaning things?

So, with the spirit of the rainy (or hot & dry out here in Jo’burg) season in mind, I will be using the blog to showcase snippets and excerpts of my writing for a little bit. Let me know what you think of it; either here, or on Facebook or Twitter (yes, I’m one of those). Don’t be nice just for the sake of it. Rip it to shreds if you feel you must.

And now, without further ado, here’s something Nas-penned.

In the moments after our relationship breathed its last, I had a lot to process in a very short period of time. I was behind the wheel of my car, fighting with myself and with her. I swear that, right then and there, I went through the five stages of grief.
Denial: ‘You did not just end this!’
Anger: ‘I won’t let you end this!’
Bargaining: ‘…promise I can change if you don’t end this!’
Depression: ‘It’s…it…I don’t even know what to say to you anymore.’
Acceptance: ‘It’s over. You ended it. Okay.’
The drive home was like a carnival ride, filled with lights and blurring motion and noise from all around. When we got to her house, Bianca was done crying. She threw up just outside my car door and left a splatter mark on the edge of it, just below the little compartment where she used to stick all the flyers she picked up.
I helped her inside then left. Or rather, I cried in the car, first outside her place and then on the drive home. And then again once I’d parked at my flat.
The next morning I found myself staring longingly at the vomit stain on the bottom of my car door. I wanted so desperately for it to smell like all the good things about her. I got near enough to it to know that it didn’t.

The next time I was out with friends was shortly thereafter, trying to “man up” and forget Bianca.
I ended up using her name in conversation to everyone who would listen, then breathing it out lightly between gushes of puke from my wide open mouth. In my car on the way home, with my best friend at the wheel, I caressed the stain she’d left behind on the door.


Every day, at least once a day, after the break-up, I utter or think the words ‘I want to kill myself’. I’ve heard that’s pretty common amongst people who eventually commit suicide. I’ve also heard that it’s a pretty common complaint among human beings in general.
Maybe then it has less to do with how you die and more to do with the fact that you die at all. Maybe it’s our own dissatisfaction with God and the fact that death gets to, for the most part, act on its own whims and impulses.
I picture, vaguely, the grinning female spectre of the Grim Reaper as I go through every day life. When I look around at a crowded restaurant or use a bathroom stall, her gaunt rattling frame remains present, like in deja vu of the soul. In peak traffic, she rides shotgun with Cupid; off again together to break some hearts.
Driving alone makes me think of Bianca, and how she always used me for free rides before we ever started going out. In the lucid daydreams I experience when things get bumper-to-bumper, she’s always wearing red and black. A black waistcoat and pants and a devil red shirt. Ironically, I’ve never seen her wear that outfit except in a photograph from before we’d met.
Driving becomes a constant reminder of my mortality. Either this is because my daydreaming earns me the violent ire of the drivers around me, or it’s because of Death, Cupid and Bianca sitting in the backseat.
Everywhere I drive I start to notice more roadkill. Dead birds lay on their backs in the street. Their snapped necks and avian posture make it impossible for them to look back up into the sky. I pass the same flattened dog corpse in the street for a week straight. The day I finally decide to go move it, my dad’s shovel in hand, a small audience has shown up to do the same.
I think.

‘Oh, I can’t even look at it,’ an old jogger dressed in neon pink tights says as I approach it.
Her hair is tucked back behind a large disguising pair of sunglasses. It’s a shaggy silver and grey colour, like the fur of some old wild animal. It contrasts with her so-tanned-its-bronze skin, which freckles and dries at every creased inch.
‘Shame,’ she says, inspecting its exploded bowels from a safe distance. ‘The people who ran him over should have done this.’
I look down at the dog’s remains. It looks like some sort of urban ink blot test, or like an impressionist’s rendition of some driver’s daydreams in traffic.
‘Did you run him over?’ the jogger asks politely. ‘I pass him every day on my run, you know?’
I look at her, expecting a pointed finger and maybe a lynch mob. Instead it’s just her, arms crossed and head shaking from side to side like a displeased bobblehead.
‘Me too,’ I say softly. ‘I pass him, I mean.’
‘You know, people just don’t look after their animals.’ She’s still just standing there, half watching as I start scraping under a shrivelled intestine. ‘When we had dogs, my husband treated them like family.’
I feel bile creep up my throat as I peel away at the tar. The spade makes a nasty transition from grinding against gravel and stone to tearing at sticky innards that make sounds like ripping tape and stretching glue.
Envy creeps into the jogger’s voice as she continues. ‘He would always feed them and walk them, you know?’
But we never had dogs when I was growing up, so I don’t.
‘Dogs need that,’ she rambles on. ‘They need to be walked, because they don’t like the captivity. They just don’t.’
Somewhere in the recesses of my mind, this woman is abusing her husband’s poor Rotweilers. A century or so before, she’s advocating the domestication of animals.
‘You can’t do it to the animals,’ she pauses.
‘Ja, mam,’ an older voice says, and I realize that she’s now been addressing a fuzzy-bearded black man in blue workman’s overalls.
He’s come to watch me work from the park that runs alongside this road, and to make awkward hissing sounds as I struggle with the really stringy bits.
‘Didn’t you see this?’ she asks him, still disapprovingly bobbling. ‘You should’ve come and cleaned it up.’
The nasal British pinch in her voice gives way to a falsified rural twang.
‘I didn’t see it, mam, until today,’ he explains. He’s probably not even lying. I doubt that he spends all his time at this one park, but that’s irrelevant to the jogger. She ‘hmphs’, then sways from foot to foot.
‘You’re doing a good thing,’ she reassures me. ‘It’s not your job to clean this up.’
The quick look I devote to this comment sees her eyes, now released from the sunglasses, dart to her left, where the old man is standing, scratching his head.
I finally finish pulling the dog’s remains onto my spade and drop them into the cracked old bucket I brought with.
Another, decidedly younger, housewife comes along from the house just behind us.
‘Shaaame,’ she hums, biting her lip. ‘Was it your dog?’
‘No, I just saw him.’ I start, then decide to let the jogger finish for me.
‘I tell you, he’s been here for a week,’ the melodrama rolls right off her tongue.
‘Oh,’ the housewife says, scratching at the wrinkling skin around her neck. ‘I didn’t even see him.’
I ignore the white lies as I put the bucket in a packet and the packet in my car.
‘What are you doing to do with him?’ the housewife asks me. ‘Bury him?’
‘Yes, in my dad’s yard,’ I stop short of making a morbid recycling joke. ‘I’ve already dug the hole.’
The jogger and the housewife move to the safety of the well-groomed embankment and talk up the shame and neglect of it all. I hear the jogger retell the bits about her husband and his dogs.
The man in the overalls is drifting back to the park when she raises her voice after him.
‘You should hose this spot down.’ She points to the gaping absence of dog remains. ‘Do you have a hose there in the park?’
‘Yes, mam,’ he says, then clicks his tongue as he swivels back round to the park.
I look down at the place where I’d just done my work. I can hear the jogger hushedly losing her twang as she tells the agreeing housewife about “these bloody Parks Board people”. There’s the cartoonish outline of impact staring back up at me from the road. It’s like a crater drawn on the paved landscape. The dead dog is gone. All that remains is the red and black silhouette of its death.

One Response to “Selected Madness – the wall of text”
  1. Jonni says:

    Thank u for this

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