Public Key (Lxxix)

I checked with Oakley the next day, just to make sure. The girl, Hannah, had checked out.

I also found out that she’d paid in rands, had insisted on sleeping in a rondavel, and Oakley was worse than a schoolgirl when the mood struck him.

So did you? he asked.


You and she.

None of your business.

So that’s a no.



Yes, I said, that’s a no.

Poor kid.


Really, I mean, up here all alone, no one to talk to, then this girl-

Oakley, God dam-

Hey, mate, I understand. She was a looker. I bet if she got out of the sun for a day or two she’d-


-got herself a facial, a massage, a full-body-

Oakley, I’ve never told you this, but your head would look really great on the end of a stick.

All I’m saying is that you’ve got good taste.

All I’m saying is HEAD. On a STICK.

He spent the afternoon pruning back weed bushes. I hung out with him in his grotto-cum-greenhouse, laying on the floor, playing with his eBook-reader. I didn’t want to be alone for a little while. Just then, alone felt like very bad company.

These things are strange, I said, waving the reader at him.

Because they don’t rip and get ink on your hands?

I was going to say, because they don’t give you massive headaches. But I’ve been reading off my computer screen for-

Yonks, I know.

It was kind of hard to hear what he was saying. Besides gloves and a coverall, he had a respirator over the lower half of his face (to keep out floating THC particles) and a pair of sunglasses (to keep out the artificial sun). He’d been working hard with scissors and foreceps for about three straight hours. I’d never seen him happier.

I don’t want to talk about it, I said.

Yes you do.

Yes I do. Which is why I can’t.

Or what, you’ll-

Go out of my mind again, yes.


You should be sorry. Darth.

Don’t call me Darth.

I think I will, I said.

You want to get off your bum, come lend a hand, then you can compare me to dark lords of the Sith.

Would you even let me get within five feet of one of your babies?

Not on your life, mate. And he went back to snipping. And I went back to my book.

And I went back to my life.

It wasn’t a big life. It wasn’t glamorous. It wasn’t exciting. That was the way it had to be. The man said it’s better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven. I don’t know about serving, but my life wa fairly well dictated by the whim of others. That being said, it didn’t suck. Maybe that’s where the man and I differ.

I cooked. I cleaned. I played my damned guitar. I walked. I jogged. I even went swimming in the bracing rushing river. I made a board for my chess-men. I all but stole Oakley’s e-reader. I got up. I went to bed. And I thought about her.

At first I tried not to. That made it worse. Then I tried to give into it. That didn’t help. Finally I resigned myself to it, to thinking about her all the time. Then Arabang started making fun of me to my face and I went back to trying not to think about her.

But I liked thinking about her. I replayed our conversations in my mind. I poured over them, line by line, to make sure I hadn’t said anything stupid. I realized I had said stupid things. I realized everything said made was stupid. I realized I was spending way too much time thinking about this. I realized I was in the middle of a lesson and Arabang was poking me with a stick.

I felt like I was back in school again. I absolutely hated it. Absolutely hated it. And I kind of liked it. Which I hated beyond measure.

You want me to be completely honest? Alright. But be it on your head. I was faced, as I had been before, as so many men, so many modern men, I’m sure have been before, with the masturbation dilemma.

Well, put yourself in my position. I hadn’t seen a dozen women in nearly as many months. The only regular human contact I had, besides my dear drug-dealing landlord, was a teenage girl whose first words had probably been flirting. The only sex I’d had – was good, to be sure, and the girl very pretty too. But that was a long time ago, and not enough of it, and that whole night had been so otherworldly my memories might as well have been daydreams.

Then I’d gone and spent a few days with a girl. A wonderful girl. A beautiful girl. Intelligent – her eyes were oceans. Kind. Self-possessed. Quiet. Tired. Free. Beautiful. Just wonderfully beautiful. And when her underwear got wet she looked like a fucking goddess stepped out of the sea.

She was in my mind. When I lay in bed you bet your ass she was in my mind. And I was a healthy young man. I had needs, which sure weren’t being met any other way. I could have thought about a supermodel or an actress or a porn star, daydreamed about the captain cheerleader, relived a night with an old girlfriend – anything. But there was one girl who was constantly on my mind. Why not just, y’know, fantasize about her?

I wanted to. Very badly. And to make a long story short: I didn’t.

I’m not quite sure why I didn’t. It just felt weird. It felt wrong. It felt like a violation. Not like I hadn’t violated a hundred girls with my mind – what guy hasn’t? What girl, I expect, likewise? It hadn’t felt like a violation before. It had felt like good clean fun. The cleanest sort, for it never really happened.

Maybe I was being sappy. Respectful. Masochistic. Romantic. Dumb. Anyway you sliced it: dumb. But at the end of the day, alone in my hammock, I left Hannah, and myself, alone.

If that wasn’t Too Much Information, you should probably consult your friendly neighborhood psychiatrist.



~ by davekov on 10 March 2011.

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