Date: December 2012
It buzzes around…
It seems so harmless.
It nuzzles into my skin and extracts some blood.
It seems so plain.
And with one swat It no longer exists.
Beware the home of the mosquito…
Fevers of yellow and dengue.
Harmless little creature? But you are Its prey.
Easily squashed. Easily squashed?
Take care, you, the man that does not see the risk.
For the waters are clear and clean and free to drink.
Pushing his lovers naked body up against the glass door, Emmanuel glared down at the Tattoo that enveloped his lovers back – A tree. The water ran down the bronzed skin that bled with the black outline of a huge baobab tree. Its branches stretched out towards the shoulders edge – like it’s reaching up to the sun. They then curled around the triceps and stretched down the arms. The thick trunk twisted and curled down the middle and at the base roots shot out, clasping out toward a pert ass. Their bodies thrust in perfect unison but soon as they began to speed up, to a gallop, they suddenly started to slow down, until they climaxed, together.
Emmanuel remained in the shower, Jerome hopped out and began to rub down the water that remained on his smooth skin with a towel. While Emmanuel preoccupied himself with lathering up his head with shampoo and working it to a thick foam he wasn’t able to notice Jerome stare at him, perplexed, as if he had so much he wanted to say. Jerome rubbed the towel up and down his ripped stomach, like a zombie, as though he was zoning in on something else, something bothering him until eventually he opened his mouth:
“I can’t do this anymore. You fuck like a champion, admittedly. And I really do love you… but I can’t stick it out anymore. I think there’s a problem”
“What are you saying to me, Jerome?”
“I’m leaving. I’m leaving tonight, if I stay we will just talk and fight and cry and inevitably have some amazing sex… but I don’t want to ride this ride anymore. We are not made for each other, forever. Don’t you feel that too? I mean, your Tattoo hasn’t grown since I met you Emmanuel.”
Emmanuel did not blink. He did not move. The thick shampoo ran down the side of his head and eventually, as some of the soap started to creep into his eyes, he blinked and wiped it away. He stepped back into the water to rinse his head. Emmanuel was momentarily calm, he moved his head from side to side shaking the shampoo off. Once all the foam was rinsed, he reached out to the glass that hazed the view of Jerome and swiped it clean then wiped the excess water from his face:
“So, what was this? One last great fuck? You used me Jerome, you’re disgusting.”
“Babe, don’t call me disgusting. Don’t make this ugly…”
“UGLY. You’re the ugly one. Your black heart, pumping tar… don’t you dare call me your fucking babe.”
“Look, I’ll be out of here tonight. Just calm down. Don’t behave like a child.”
Emmanuel finally turned the water off and stepped out of the shower. Jerome passed him a towel, but Emmanuel reached for another one.
“Don’t even bother. Take your time getting out. I don’t care. I’ll give you till the end of the month,” Emmanuel said while leaving the bathroom.
After years with Jerome it’s all come down to this childish behavior. The truth was that Emmanuel’s feeling the end of the relationship too, but still unwilling to admit it. Emmanuel and Jerome were both the same age, and as their thirtieth birthdays pulled around the corner they felt the urge to run free. Owning a business together didn’t help.
Jerome’s Tattoo was a tree, a fully formed one at that, but totally devoid of colour at the time. He did not know the tricks to enlightening his Tatt. Emmanuel’s Tattoo had started to develop from an early age, along with some fierce colour. First as a long strand that stretched from the middle of the back of his neck towards the back of his right thigh. Then suddenly a different looking strand – in the sense that it was a little rougher with a slightly perforated edge – stretched from the same starting point out down the back of his arm. By the time Emmanuel was in his late teens the back of his body had six defining, bright green tendrils stretching out. All different but no leaves attached to any tendril to spite the fact that he only assumed what it was a plant. His Tattoo might be a plant – maybe a creeper – but what creeper? It stopped growing long before he met Jerome, to spite having one of the most impressive foundations.
Emmanuel was just too scared to untie himself first. He knew how special and rare a tree was and he wanted to hold onto that. But unfortunately he’s the one who was let go of ,so with the agony of rejection he pulled an impulsive move and headed out of Johannesburg on an… adventure?
He’s thrown everything in the back seat and left before Jerome had even started packing up. Should he have stayed and fought a little? Did he give up too easy? Was he walking away from the only man he really ever loved? But all those questions would not be answered as he beat the traffic, racing out of Jozzie town. Instead, driving would consume his thoughts. And a few mindless hours in the car fly by, as easy as blowing feathers off a table, before he arrived in Bloemfontein.
Not knowing what to do or where to go he reached back for his bag, and his iPhone. He had left it off for the entire trip, out of fear of dealing with a phone fight, so he switched it on and waited for it to get a signal. He searched for the nearest Tatt bar, finding the one and only, copied the address and pasted it into his GPS, before making his way to it. Once he arrived he waited in the parking lot for a few minutes, contemplating what he’s doing.
“Just go inside and find a place. Come on, Manny, you can do it” he said to himself as he stared into the rear view mirror. He rarely referred to himself as Manny, but always found it comforting to say when he sensed doubt.
Nothing was ‘Tatt’ obvious from the outside of the bar, except for the flag that waved gently from side to side almost calling him to come in. He was hesitant; Emmanuel had not been cruising on his own for a long time. He’s been so dependent on Jerome that he didn’t know who he was anymore. And that left Emmanuel with ideas on whether or not he was capable of going back, back to a time where he did everything for himself and by himself. Could he even remember such a time? But he refused to believe a man fuelled his confidence.
He entered the bar and stood at the entrance for a while, taking all into surveillance as his eyes panned across the room. Everyone seemed a little worn out and tired but the site of a brand new face entering the bar was prevalent in the atmosphere as everyone either stood or sat up straight to take note.
Emmanuel’s a very attractive young man. In his late twenties with a toned yet stocky build. He looked like a little Mediterranean He-Man, with jet-black hair and soft brown eyes that complemented his olive skin. And as he stood at the entrance, with his Spanish Island come Israeli Militia looks, he seemed to be a foreigner amongst the Afrikaans faces in the bar, and they were all instantly drawn to him for that mere fact. He immediately thought:
“Maybe finding a place is not going to be nearly as difficult as I had imagined.”
Emmanuel stalked off to the bar, “Single whiskey and water please” he asked the bartender.
“Bells or Jamesons, Sir?”
“Jameson, please. How much is that?”
“Twelve rand, Sir.”
Emmanuel paid the barman and began to scout the area again. Trying to make eye contact with the other patrons in hopes that he’d find something a little attractive to try and hustle. But most of the men look the same. Not that they were bad, but he was looking for a Bougainvillea in the maize fields.
Emmanuel seemed so out of place. Maybe he was the Bougainvillea? So the men wait for him to make a move, which in turn makes him more nervous about initiating anything. He’s aware that it’s all up to him. The longer he waited the more the men began to pay attention, the more he wanted to run. Searching for some sort of comfort – like a blanket – he reached for his phone. Looking at his various apps, it hit him, Grindr – Facebook for Tattoo guys. If nothing else, it would be easier to cruise that way. He waited, it loaded other Grindr users – closest appeared first – he waited some more, then scrolled down and glanced at the faces. He’s not logged on long before he gets a message:
…so he replied,
– I think I can see you…
– Oh, really. What am I drinking?
– It looks like whiskey and water…
– Come say hello then…?
Emmanuel sat for a while too afraid to look around for what might actually be coming his way to say hello. Then a blonde, which was not usually his type, very tall and lean, a pretty boy, approached him:
“Hello, I’m Bloemman. Nice to meet you?” He stretched out his hand and the flabbergasted Emmanuel, without thinking, reacts by stretching his arm out. He doesn’t say anything, merely stretched his limp hand out. They shook hands for a few seconds too long when Emmanuel realised how retarded he was behaving, “H…hhhhello. I’m Rick but really my name is Emmanuel. Nice to meet you…ummm, bloem… I assume you have a real name though?”
“Ja, my name is Francois.”
“Can I buy you a drink?”
“Ja that will be nice”
“What do you drink?”
“Same as you will be fine”
“Bartender… another Jameson and water please.” Emmanuel turned back to face Francois to deliver a corny line, “So, do you come here often?”
“Not really. I don’t live here, but occasionally I come to town for a little bit of fun, although tonight seems a bit dull. Well, until you walked in here” and Francois grinned at Emmanuel.
“Well, I am glad I can perk you up then. Hopefully I can get you up even more…”
“Where are you from? You are obviously not from around here. What are you doing here?”
“Looking for someone like you” and he grinned even more with a subtle addition, a slight lick across the top lip. Emmanuel was pulling out all the stops, all the cheesy one-liners in hopes that it would guarantee him what he was looking for. He was hustling to the max, he didn’t want to leave a credit card trail nor did he want to splurge through the cash he had. So he was working it more than he ever thought he could. And just as he thought he was being overboard, overtop and maybe overkill, he goes all the way, “Want to get out of here Francois?”
“Ummm, ja. Sure!”
“OK, first things first, what Tatt do you have?” Emmanuel probed.
“Is it in color…?”
“Ok, where are you staying?”
“Lily Guesthouse in the North. Shall we go there? The room is mine, so a guest wont be a problem. I usually do it just in case,” now Francois is the one with the naughty giggle – he’s taken the bait, hook, line and sinker.
“Great. Lets get out of here. I’ll follow you.”
Once they arrived at the guesthouse they run off straight to the room. Surprisingly, they submerged themselves in deep conversation with rich subject matter rather than submerging themselves deep inside each other. They spoke for hours, nothing personal however not superfluous either. They shared wonderful things while going through the complimentary wine left in the room. Then they began the ex talk.
“Have you ever dated a Bird?”
“Ja” Francois replied, “My first boyfriend had a huge bird burnt on his back. It wasn’t a fantastic bird, just a Shrike, but the red patch on the breast was so bright. So very bright.”
“My last guy had a tree…”
“What…?” Francois got a little excited at the idea.
“Yeah, a tree. A huge baobab.”
“Do you know how rare a tree is? Actually, what do you have?”
“I don’t know yet. It’s a plant though.”
“Show me…” so Emmanuel took off his shirt and turned his back on him. “There is water at the base. Did you know that?”
“No… Is that a bad thing? The water. Is it bad?”
“You are going to have to wait and see what comes out of it. Water gives life you know. But I cant see what your plant is either. That means you’re hiding something Emmanuel… Do you know that?” François looked over at Emmanuel, awaiting a response and he noticed that Emmanuel was getting uncomfortable.
“Ummm… yeah, ok. This is getting a little weird…” Emmanuel said.
“Maybe you are right. Lets just relax and enjoy the wyn”, they cling their glasses and have a sip.
Once the empty wine bottle’s rolling on the floor, so were their clothes. As they knelt on the soft rug, face-to-face, clutching each other, Francois ran his fingers down Emmanuel’s spine towards his ass, slipping his finger through the pert cheeks.
Emmanuel grabbed his hand “Ehhh, my ass, its kinda off limits. Cool.” And he pulled Francois’ face closer and carried on kissing him.
Emmanuel woke up first the next morning and was planning on leaving before his pick up wakes up too. But Francois woke before he could even get close to the front door, “Don’t leave just yet sexy, we can have some breakfast before you carry on running. Really man. Relax a bit.”
The fact he used the term ‘running’ was priceless, Emmanuel felt instantly more relaxed. They went for breakfast in the little kitchen of the main house and parted ways. Then Emmanuel carried on running. With the road out before him, he felt like he could go anywhere.
He didn’t know exactly where he was driving. Emmanuel had no real plan in mind and figured he’d just follow the sun.
The sun beamed down on his body in his topless Jeep and he loved it. The rays tingled as it heated his skin, tanning it slightly with every passing moment. So many times he felt like it’s all coming to a crashing halt but the sun was constant. And that consistency was a reminder that no matter what may occur, after the rains, things always return to something a little normal, a little calmer, to something more or less the same as it was before.
As he drove down the long, straight and, what seemed like, endless road in the open and vast Karoo, he’s plagued with thoughts of the love he’s so clearly running away from: Is there a fighting chance?
Gently in the sky, an eagle soared above his head, he noticed the beautiful bird and started to feel a connection as the wind blew through his hair. It’s the feeling of open-air freedom. The bird probably felt the same rush of airflow over its head while it drifted through the sky. The bird swooped down and snatched up a snake slithering at the edge of the road, ahead of Emmanuel.
Do I even love him still?
The bird battled to control the snake as it tried to regain height, and the snake fell back to the ground wriggling all the way down. It bounced as it hit the floor, as though it’s just a rubber toy, immediately scrambling for some sort of cover. Emmanuel slowed down to better witness the scene: Nature was happening before his very eyes. The bird soared around before it seemed to hover over a particular area. Scouting it. Or marking it? But the eagle was fastening in on a particular zone. Emmanuel couldn’t help but feel that he wanted the snake to be caught. He wanted to see the slithering little fucker come to its end.
What do I even want…? What do I have to give?
And the bird swooped down, grasping the prey in its claws. The vicious dance of predator and prey had come to its end. And with that Emmanuel carried on driving towards the sunset.
As the sky started to fill up with all the different sprays of orange, pink, magenta and a deep splash of blue, Emmanuel realised that it was time to think of the next place to stay, he’s hardly going to be able to use modern social networking to bump uglies with a stranger in his B & B bed for the night – he’s too far out to rely on modernized life. Putting hustling aside for the moment, he took out his phone. Opening the StayCloseApp, he’s able to find the nearest place to stay that closest meets his needs and requirements – price. With a great signal he managed to get the number of a quaint little spot called Gardenia Guesthouse. One quick cut and paste before a phone call is made and in no time Emmanuel was booked into the Gardenia Guesthouse and on his way there. Another cut and paste to GPS and he’s on route.
The guesthouse’s nestled next to the Orange River in the middle of the Karoo. The sound of croaking frogs were overwhelming and the air’s still hot from the relentless sunshine, mosquitoes were buzzing about like crazy as a result. Emmanuel swatted at the bugs near his face like an insane person, feeling them occasionally going up his nostrils and tickling his ears.
“Will you please just take me to my damn room and away from these bugs” he snapped at the woman dealing with his check in.
“Sure sir, sorry about the nature. But there really is nothing I can do about it. Your bed is fitted with a mosquito net and we have sprayed…”
“I still don’t understand why we should stand outside talking about this.”
“You are right sir. This way”
As they walked to his room Emmanuel realised that he overreacted and was probably taking out his frustrations on the poor girl working late because he arrived late. But he thought it best to remain stern; figuring that once that first impression’s made it’s permanent, and in this case staining. The woman showed him the room and left very quickly. Removing his clothes even quicker, Emmanuel flopped onto his bed and fell asleep straight away…
…Stumbling around the pool table he can see many faces.
His lover returns to him and passes him a drink…
“They think you are very sexy”, he says.
“I think you’re sexy”, Emmanuel replies.
Emmanuel woke in the middle of the night with tears in his eyes. It’s the first time he felt it. The loss. He struggled at first to get back to sleep, instead kept himself awake wiping the tears that persisted. Soon enough he’s lying on his back drying his face of any salty water residue and drifting off to sleep…