Chapter 2 on my work-in-progress novel, which I would like to think is John le Carre meets Dune and Frantz Fanon, but fear will be more akin to The Magic Faraway Tree as described by Marvin the Paranoid Android. Still, provides me with pleasure …
Levity got grunt. She’s tough. And she’s a smart one. Like she went to university.
Levity’s parents wanted a girl as first-born. May their souls rest in peace. They reckoned she could help raise the sons. She came out last but still got the job lookin after her four big brothers. May all their souls rest in peace.
Her folks give her that name cause they thought she’d be light and airy. She turned out real serious. There were things that made her that way. Sure she can laugh, but her jokes are cold like.
We saw a dead guy once, a big fat one. The rats and dogs was rippin at his body. He must have crossed a gang cause they’s had cut a small hole in him and led his guts across the road so the cars would splatter it. Levity looked at the dead guy and said, “I guess he won’t be ordering eggs hollandaise for breakfast.”
Levity and me is bestest friends – ain’t nobody closer. I’m her confidant. The person she tells things to that she tells no one. And I tells things to her. I’m the eyes in the back of her head. Or like I’m inside her head. Usual you finds me on her shoulder. Levity needs me.
I saved Levity from the darkest of places. If youse kind to me then maybe one day I’ll tell ya how we met. She calls me her “fantastic phantasm” or her “happy skellem”. I likes that. Then she says “you are caught in your own purgatory and we need to get you out of there.” Which makes me confused.
It weren’t always so sweet. When we started out together Levity she crushed her nose and said, “Toko, you stink and your breath is putrid”. Well I had been lost a long time. With no friend or nuthin. Now Levity makes me wash myself at least one time each week, and she puts this green stuff in my mouth and swills it about. She holds me mouth shut so I can’t spit it out, and then she says “now you smell sweet”. Levity says that maybe its time to get me a new set of clothes but I says I likes them this way cause they lets the breeze through.
“If you dressed well then you would be much more presentable.”
“Yeah but the one’s that can sees me don’t care and them’s that cain’t don’t matter.”
“It would help me. Sometimes I feel embarrassed. I mean like it is really hard standing up to people who always seem to know what they are doing. My confidence –“
“Youse the smartest person is the whole wide world,” I says but Levity gives me such a brutal look I shuts up. Levity can cuts a person to bits with just one look.
She got a sort of tough stocky ‘come-on’ thing about her. Her lips are tight and determined, and her nose crunches up. Yet her eyes sparkle like black jewels shooting stars.
I says, “I reckons you got mountain blood in yer,” and a tear pops into Levity’s eye. That means I’ve rumbled somethin and she’s thinkin of her family so I goes and gives her a big hug. Then she smiles, one of them glory smiles where her teeth glitter like mirrors in the sun. Then she tickles me under the chin cause she knows I loves that.
“You are right. Grandma was Piriantu. She came to the lowlands when the government drove them off.”
“Why’s they do that? Government don’t like peoples do they?”
“They turned it into a national park, and then sold it to themselves. So they had to get everyone out. Grandma made azak which strong men claimed sent them flying. No one messed with Grandma.” She rubs the back of her neck where the tatt is.
Levity swings her arms and stomps her feet to show how strong she is. I seen Levity lift bags of maize just to prove she can. And she done it a dozen times cause the boys said she couldn’t. She strutted off proud. She spent the next few days in bed nursin hurt muscles, but she didn’t let anyone know that. And nows I sees her thinkin and I knows whats she’s thinkin. She’s thinkin about her grandma who was a wild one and wonderin if she took on more than just the shape. Then she goes back to tying to fix the window.
The burglar bars are rusted and Levity can’t afford a welder and the landlord sure not going to pay for it. So I freed some razor wire from the wall of a posh folks house but we’ve not got any gloves and it is real nasty sharp. So we got to be extra careful twisting it around the bars to hold them together, and we get little pricks on our fingers and bits of blood on our hands. Blood don’t bother Levity cause she seen too much before now. Everyone here done seen death since when they was a little kid. It’s things from what peoples done seen that goes and makes them.
Once we fix the burglar bars we goes to the bus station cause Levity got another job. She keeps doin different things cause she gotta survive. This time she’s callin herself a researcher. She dun that before and peoples at the university reckons she’s a good one. Well nots all. There’s this professor don’t like her but others say she does a good job. Levity prides herself on a good job.
Levity’s lookin into what she calls fatalism – which I think means why peoples don’t do nothing even ifs they should. It’s not a sickness but if it was then I reckon the whole worlds got it.
We’s at the bus station cause Levity wants to talk to the passengers that protested to stop the price hikes. She wants to know why they don’t do nothing about shoddy buses and deadly drivers, or mebbe that’s shoddy drivers and deadly buses. But theys the same same. Levity figures understandin whys they don’t do nothin, even when they shown they can do something, says somethin about “the intrinsic interrelationship between fatalism and disempowerment.” Whatever that means.
I likes the bus station cause there’s always lots goin’ on. Over there is two cops shakin down someone they reckons got a spare dollar or two. There’s a couple of sharks conning a woman to open her purse. And then you gets the soapbox preachers fleecing anyone that gets too close.
The sun’s real bright today and it comes through the dust making the touts sellin tickets look like red ghosts. Sorta ether real. “They’s shoutin’ “Hurry, hurry the bus is about to go”, even when no ones on board.
Then there’s the young mens and womens selling water or softs or lollies or nuts or fake sunnys. They sells maps or baby toys, anythink to try and make a livin. There’s the smells of cookin all different things – dough balls in oil, eggs and sausages, plantains. Thes people are artists cause they can cook, talk, sell, take money and move all at once.
Over there watchin from the side and acting like rulers is Griffin and his Syphilicts. They’s nasty. They got knives and big guns. ‘N small brains. We don’t like them so we’s stays in the middle where’s everyone can sees us so theys can’t touch us. They don’t like Levity cause she smart and makes them look stupid. They’s both fears me and they’s wants me. Theys scared cause they knows what’s I can do to em. But they’s knows me parts is worth lots and they wants to get holds of me. So we keeps away from them.
Levity don’t like bus stations too much. “It is the epitome of the world. Everyone rushing everywhere and not really sure why they’re doing it.” She still don’t fully trust people and she reckons when theys going in all directions thens you can’t see whats happenin and that’s when you get dun. Like the guy that came up and started rubbing against her and she felt his hard on in the small of her back. She swung around and hit him in the goolies with her right hand, the one where her fingers are missing and the stubs are like fork prongs. That woulda hurt him. I stood on her shoulders and bit him on the nose so he ran away squealin. I thoughts it was real funny and was laughin till I thought’s me head was gonna fall off. Levity she was ferocious and steamed so much that the top of her head did come off. You shoulda seen the fumes. Phewee. It was so hot that’s I got scolded.
“Come back here you slimy piece of dead goat’s sperm,” she screamed after the guy. But I reckon he hasn’t stopped runnin. And he’s probably still trying to find his ball sac.
Anyways enough with the introductions. We got a story to tell and it’s a big one.
Levity done interviewed a few people. Some folks don’t want to talk, somes talk a bit then rush off, and others once they start there’s no stopping them. It’s like no one ever asked them anything before now they gots a chance then nuthins stopping them. When there’s ones like this I lets off a smelly and that makes em move.
Levity says, “I have to go the Mothers Club.”
“I know,” I sez, “cause you told me.”
“It is their anniversary and I am close to them.”
“I knows. And you said you gotta go and then we’s gotta be back later cause you got another job tonight.”
“Are you coming with me?”
“Yeah. Of course.”
Levity looks at me curious, like as if she don’t believe, and says, “OK.”
I sez, “Them clouds lookin like they gotta a grumble so mebbe a pikipiki no good. We better take a bus.”
Levity groaned but we gets on one and sits at the back so we can see everything happenin, Levity munchin on a mix of grilled cicada dipped in honey washin it down with fermented sugar cane. I was right bout the clouds cause day went night and the sky became a waterfall. That don’t stop the driver none. He’s just driving like he’s trying to prove Einstein wrong. Maybe he’s full a ‘phenes, what with his reflector sunnies, seat set back as far as it can go, and foot glued to the floor.
Levity’s screamin’, “Slow down! You will kill us all you fool!” but the driver don’t hear. He’s got a bit of hippity-hop berrydoo-chop-chop playin so loud he can’t even hear his brain changing gear.
‘N old lady lean over, well I reckon she’s old cause she got grey hair and wrinkles and I ain’t got one of that and I’s infinite, and she says, “Don’t worry dear. It is all in God’s hands.”
Levity says, “Maybe God wants us to make a decision instead of us expecting everything all the time.”
“God is always with us dear. Just pray and you can be assured.”
“What if God’s gone for a cup of tea?”
“Then that is God’s will and we will join him all the more sooner.” The old lady gives Levity the sweetest smile, like fair floss with chocolate sauce on top. Levity gives back a smile like vomit in a vanilla slice. She give up prayin a long time back. She did it once, then lost it, and then now she’s somewhere between sort of. It’s like … well I’s digressin and that’s part of how we’s met so it can wait.
We does get’s to the end of the route OK.
“Have a wonderful day,” Levity says to the old lady as if she means it.
“Always dear. Life is full of praises. You just keep that song in your heart as it will help you get rid of the ugly on your shoulder.”
I was gonna bite her for that but Levity’s grabs me and pulls me away.
The Mother’s Club is havin their anniversary at the Church Hall. There’s lots of coloured streamers showin the way and inside we can hear voices. Lots of peoples there.
“You can’t come in,” Levity says.
“What do you mean? I always come with you.”
“It’s a women only celebration.”
“That’s OK cause I’s not a man.”
“You are also not a woman.”
“Don’t blame me cause I’s that way.”
“Look,” I sees Levity’s feet shiftin’ which means she gonna sez somethin she reckons I don’t want to hear. But I wants to hear everythink. “Perhaps I should have told you but I didn’t want to hurt your feelings. The old women. They can see you and you scare them.”
“I won’t do them no harm.”
“I know that Toko, but they don’t. Please wait outside. You can listen through the door.”
Then she goes in and closes the door on me. I don’t likes this place. It smells funny. I wants to know what’s happenin so I’s close me eyes and press my ear real hard to the door. I wuz tryin’ to listen to what they was talkin’ about but being outside it was tough. Like I was hearing the volume on voices going up and down but I couldn’t make out the words.
Something was under me skin that made me unsettled. That’s true. It wasn’t quite right and my alerts were full bore, yet cause my head was into listenin I didn’t see them come round the corner. It took me by surprise and that made it easy for them’s to grab me.
This was the fear that I had me worried. Cause it weren’t my home turf and I’s get snapped. I got swarmed by a plague of mongrels who took me as their afternoon’s entertainment. First I thinks maybe theys either wants to kill me, or chop off me parts. But I’s lucky ‘cause at least they ain’t the rampaging rabies – if it had been them then I wouldn’t be here to write these words. These mongrels just want to use me as a game. They did try for me eyes – everyone flips over my eyes – but I foughts them off.
I was mocked and prodded. My pockets were emptied into their hands. I got kicked from to the other and back again. Then they tied me shoes over a power line while my feets was still inside them. Theys left me hanging the wrong way up.
That’s when things started happenin that no one person ever could figure would. Like the world went real weird and started shiftin. And I’s there helpless, dangling upside down watchin it.