Monday, 6 October 2014

PAWNING PEARL - A Serial Novel - Chapter 9

They trooped downstairs to the underground garage where Mr Simon Thambisa's treasured motor car resided in solitary splendour. Mr Thambisa could have turned a pretty Rand hiring out space in the cavernous garage in crowded down-town Hilbrow, but he chose to keep it all for himself and his baby car...

It lay under a heavy specially-tailored canvas cover, and Mr Thambisa whisked it off with pride.
Underneath gleamed a gorgeous slick metal-muscled mean-machine...

A Mercedes Benz Clk convertible, black as a panther, twice as fast. NOT that Mr Thambisa had ever actually driven it very fast at all. He was a conscientious driver, and a stickler for safety and the speed limits. Besides, he had hardly ever driven it at all. He came down occasionally and drove it around inside the huge empty space of the underground garage, the rest of the time he drove his battered old Toyota van on his regular business. He had no leisure, and the Merc sent out the wrong signals to people he intended to negotiate with, and attracted the wrong kind of attention to him, as a man.

Beside him, Isaiah's mouth dropped wide open in a most satisfactory way:
"WOW! Man! WOW! That is MEAN! WOW!"

Simon Thambisa smirked "Yes...Isn't it?"

Pearl and Thali, however looked singularly unimpressed.
"Sir, Simon, I mean, are we all going to fit in? It looks a little small!"

"Yes!" Thali chimed in, "TINY!"

Simon Thambisa was most offended. This car was the only sign of wealth he had allowed himself, his congratulatory pat in the back; his one indulgence, his one vice, the one fantasy he's cared enough to realise as a man who'd struggled up from a hard, bitter, love-starved childhood. It was his "I love you" card to himself...

"It's a very good size indeed! It has plenty of leg-room, and it is very comfortable to ride, in the back seat too. It is just right!"

"YES!" Isaiah's eyes gleamed with excitement, "Let's ride!"

"Well..." Pearl looked dubiously at the low-slung sports car. "It's so close to the ground! Is it safe?"

"Miss Chabalala, it is the very best German engineering and the suspension system is unrivalled. Also the safety statistics..." He was explaining his baby! Justifying it. He sounded like a used car salesman instead of the proud owner of an incredible machine. He took a deep breath, went around to the passenger side and opened the door, slid forward the passenger seat and gestured the children in.
Isaiah was first of course, and Thalie followed slowly, wrinkling her nose.
"It smells strange."

"It is the new car smell," explained SImon Thambisa proudly. "There is a spray..."

"Why is the seat covered in plastic?" Thali asked, wriggling her bottom and producing the most annoying squeaky sound. SQUEAK SQUEAK SQUEAK

Simon gritted his teeth and replied: "It is Argentinian leather, the finest leather. The plastic protects it."

"Oh!" Thali nodded understanding. "it is pretty. But it is sad."

"Sad? Why sad?"

"Well if it was less fine you could enjoy it with out being afraid. This way you have the bestest sweet in the world, and you never take off the wrapper to taste it. It is sad."

Simon Thambisa helped Pearl into the passenger seat, closed the door, and got into his beloved car without a word.

With one casual observation  Thalie had invalidated his whole way of life. He saw himself as if though a magnifying glass that had suddenly focused; and focused on something he did not want to see. It was all meaningless if he couldn't bring himself to take off the wrapper, savour the sweet.
It was all for nothing if he didn't live, love...

He adjusted the rear-view mirror, saw the two children in the  back. Isaiah's breathless anticipation, Thalie's delicate frame; and right next to him, the bestest of all, Pearl.

"Ok, boy and girls! Are we ready to go? Lets take this show on the road!" and he revved up the engine and drove out of his garage into the Johannesburg city streets, not trying to hide; driving a fast car, with a treasure inside.


Manuela Cardiga

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