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Extract from ‘Pius’

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A man is murdered for his shoes.


“I’ve got a funeral policy.” He tells me, first thing.

They always say the police, the police don’t do their jobs. Fock. Fock them, I am sorry, I am sorry because this time here we are, quickly, the man from the Zenex phoned and we came and when I got out of the car I saw first thing, he’d lost a lot of blood. He was a giant. He was talking, can you believe, he was lying there nearly, maybe dying and he’s talking on his cellphone. So I phone the ambulance and I think he’s a giant, maybe that’s why there’s so much blood, maybe he’s not so bad. Maybe it’s just the dark, you know, it isn’t so much blood.

The sergeant shakes his head, then gets right back in the car and reverses a bit so we can shine the lights on him. He talks to me, when he finishes softly, softly, on his cellphone. He tells me they were very young, he says they were like his kids, like his second born, maybe twelve, maybe thirteen, just children. We wait and more people come and he tells me about his job driving he says we must tell his company he will be late. Then he stops talking, his face twists, and his eyes open and close quickly. The sergeant gets out the car and his face is like thunder, I know this man is angry mad, he looks at his watch then he phones the ambulance again and shouts, he fluks them in Afrikaans.

Then he starts to shiver, the big man. He shivers and shivers. I try to hold his hand, the one hand that is free, he’s fallen on the right one and I can’t move him. But he won’t let go of his cellphone. He closes his eyes and he tells me he’s waiting for his wife. The man from Zenex comes with a blanket and covers him. He still shivers so much. I go and phone focking again. The ambulance. You know they always say it’s the police we don’t do our job but here I am and they don’t come. Even when he stops shivering, we are still waiting.

A mote floats in the air. Dust upon nothing. There is more of nothing than there is something. In the atom, there is more space between than there is mass formulated in structure. It is the space between: which holds everything. The space where there is nothing.

The space the rational construct bounds, yet cannot reach. The unknowable. What happens when we die? We go to the space between. And then we can’t come back to tell. Keeping the unbounded bound. A good construction, keeps itself from tumbling down.

On Thursday he told me where his funeral policy was.

On Saturday he slept late. He woke up just half an hour before work. So he was going to be late. But I let him sleep, I don’t know why I didn’t wake him, I don’t know how he slept even though the light straight above him was shining, and I was cooking, the pan was making its own sh hss shss sounds, and the television was on. I let him sleep. I watched him while I cooked for him. He looked like he was happy, sleeping. He looked like there was no worry inside him. He looked clean and shining like when I first knew him, he looked like our last born, big and strong.

When he woke up he just said “I’m going to be late.” No shouting, no, no cursing and slapping things around, he just put his new shirt on quickly, and came to the pan and took a sausage before I could even put the plate with the pap next to him. He ate standing, scooped a few mouthfuls, then he took another sausage and opened the door and said “I’ll see you tomorrow.” Then he went out and I noticed his new shoes were still in the corner. Near the cupboard where he kept an old shoebox full of papers, including the funeral policy.

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