They never bit anyone beforeI promised myself a long, long time ago, that I would try and get some writing done while the bills are being paid by regular employment but sadly, I can't seem to find the enthusiasm after a hectic day at work. Additionally, when I do get something down, it's uninspired and insipid. I can honestly say, without false modesty, that I have often been surprised when people praised my writing because I usually take a very critical view thereof, but I think at the moment I may be justified. This is largely thanks to my discovery, this afternoon, of a lost page from my still unfinished website about my gap year which I wrote back in 1999. It remains my first ever website, so it feels wrong to go back and fill in all the gaps (there are many more images waiting to be written up than are in the site already) but this, as it has not been published before, I consider fair game. I think it's great; I just wish I had listened when people told me just how great, because it is not nearly as easy to write like this now.
Nyiko's house was huge; a house that would have been completely at home on the posh end of Ascot; the garden was vast, the pool deep and tremendously inviting. It was a classic South African place; stylish and expensive-looking, but a clear hour's drive from anywhere useful. Nyiko let the car in and I asked him about his dogs - but he reassured me.
"They never bit anyone before"
Well that sounded fair enough. We wandered into the house, through a front door which was more a hinged wall, at least 15 feet wide and mounted on a swivelling base. The interior of the house carried on the theme, with parallelogram windows and walls at deco angles. The faux-wood dresser held an ancient, yellowing TV which was slightly off-tuned. A black woman in a mauve suit was mouthing headlines to the English news, her face splitting and moulding into itself every few seconds.
Eventually, Nyiko reappeared, bag in hand.
I turned and made for the door, edging round it rather than try to open it properly. Out in the raw light of the driveway, the dogs approached us. Knowing that animals are made nervous by reaching over their heads, I bent over and tickled the larger one on his chest. In an instant, the smaller dog lunged in - all I felt was the brief heat of the wet mouth - and when it let go, there were two deep punctures in the skin of my wrist. I lifted it to my face, disbelieving and somewhat worried.
To tell the truth, my first reaction was one of curiousity. I stared into the holes and tried to make out if the skin had broken, or merely stretched. They stared back at me, hollow and bloodless. Then I noticed the lack of pain, and was about to brush it off when it landed - an aching roar deep in the joint; not a hot, sharp pain, but a chill shiver, as if something deep inside was being crushed very slowly..
I turned and threw my keys into the car, ricocheting them off the edge of the driver's seat so hard that they bounced back over my head. I would have laughed but my wrist was sucking all my breath away in one long, soundless cry of agony. Nyiko looked concerned.
"Man are you OK?"
"Yeh." I said. "Yeh, I'm bloody fine." The blood began to drip on the floor. "How about some water, eh?"
Inside, I planted my wrist under the tap and started flushing the punctures out. Blood boiled up and ran down the sides of my wrist and down my fingers. It never seemed to end, the blood just flowed freely and copiously, without looking like it was going to slow down. I twigged that the water wasn't helping. Nyiko's cousin came in with some kitchen paper.
"We don't have any antiseptic," she said.
I asked where the doctor's was, but nobody knew; both of them were only visiting. My mouth was utterly parched - images of rabies tests ran through my brain like a panicked lynch mob. I clamped a few folds of paper to my wrist and stalked to the kitchen, where I swallowed some water.
"Nyiko, you can drive, yes?" My calmness was half adrenaline, half understated anger. He nodded his head, and I walked back outside, kicking the bunch of keys to him across the floor.
It sort of peters out a bit after that, but you get the idea. Incidentally, I still have a noticeable scar on my left wrist from this incident - and I'm also STILL peeved that most the money left over from paying the doctor ended up going on a cop bribe because I accidentally pulled out two R100 notes instead of one R50 from my pocket. I didn't even get my money's worth from the doc - when I asked him about rabies, he just said, "If you'liave in the morning, it wuzzn't rebid." Which was reassuring.