Trencherman

Eben Venter (trans. Luke Stubbs)

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She slurps at her drink. After all these years in Australia she’s clung to the old boere habit of brandy and Coke for a sundowner. She’s drunk and hard and sharp as ice, because – God knows – Heleen can be a bitch if she wants to. I suggest I come over, order a taxi. The warm milk will have to wait; I’m willing to disrupt my routine.

“Marlouw, you don’t have to come out in this weather. Just promise me you’ll go and find Koert and bring him back. That’s all. Am I asking too much? Am I?” “And what about my life? What about my responsibilities? How long do you think it will take to track Koert down? Months and months – who knows? I do have a life, Heleen. You’re phoning me in the middle of the night.” I know right away that I’ve slipped up: this is exactly what she wants so that she can torment me.

“Your life, Marlouw? God, don’t make me laugh. You with all your education – and you end up in Australia selling pots.”

“You’re full of shit, Heleen.” A gust of wind hurls sheets of rain against the wall-to-wall window. My whole apartment shudders. Let her blabber on. She won’t wind me up this easily. I’m better off than she is. I’m an agent for Paderno stainless steel pots, and I’ve never been ashamed of it. Heleen can’t even afford them. They’re the most luxurious cookware on the market and my clients include some of Melbourne’s top restaurants. Though to be honest, there have been times when I’ve thought that chefs only buy my pots because they feel sorry for me. Because of my foot. But then I tell myself: Don’t be silly, Marlouw.

“Don’t mess with me and my job.” 

Trencherman Eben Venter (tr. Luke Stubbs)