Friday, 28 November 2014


They met Mr Ratsik at his dressing room. It was crowded with well-wishers and friends, and Mr Ratsik moved from hand-clasp to hand-clasp with a dazed smile, until he came to Pearl. The man lit up. “Miss Pearl! Did you like it? The Serenade?”

“Oh Mr Ratsik, I loved it! You were wonderful, wonderful.”

Simon harrumphed and grudgingly offered his hand in congratulations “Very pleasant, yes, Mr Ratsik. Very.”

Pearl glowed back at Ratsik “It was beautiful. You are a talented composer.”

“Indeed! The Lady is correct, Charles...” The voice was deep and smooth with the faintest hint of a German accent.

It was the famous violinist Karl whatshisname, standing beside them and looking at Pearl with greedy, acquisitive eyes...

“Aren't you going to introduce us?”

Mr Ratsik nodded proudly: “Mr von Dursten, allow me to present to you my Muse: Miss Pearl Chabalala.”

The man was slim, elegant, with a thick shock of shoulder-length silvery hair and disturbing electric-blue eyes. “Pearl...Ah...Now I understand...Your name, my dearest lady suits you perfectly... “Oh she doth hang upon the cheek of night like some rich jewel in an Ethiop's ear”. You are indeed the richest of jewels, not carved violently, raw from the earth's womb; but offered up in smooth perfection from the liquid heaving heart of the World's ocean.” And the debonair, world-famous, handsome, dashing Karl von Dursten bowed over Pearl's gloved hand, all the while staring at her succulent mouth.

Simon saw red. From the corner of his eye he observed Mr Ratsik's expression turn from ecstasy to horror.

TWO! Two of them had Pearl (HIS PEARL) in their sights!

Pearl was laughing up at the bloody German as if she were used to such flattery, with the graceful ease of a sophisticated beautiful woman; not a clumsy country girl traded for a handful of Rand at a Pawn Shop in sleazy Hilbrow.

“Mr von Dursten, Sir, you could talk the little birds down from the trees! How can a simple girl resist?”

“Do not resist, I beg you! Say you will dine at my table tonight,” he turned to include Simon and Ratsik, “The three of you are my very special guests!”

“Mr von Dursten...”

“Karl, please, my Pearl, call me Karl...”

“Karl,” Pearl smiled at him, and a dimple flashed in her cheek.


Why had he never noticed before?

“Karl allow me to introduce you to Mr Simon Thambisa...”

“My patron, Sir!” Interrupted Mr Ratsik, “and a very great man.”

“Mr Thambisa, I salute you for your vision. Mr Ratsik is an extraordinary talent. Africa must invest in its human resources as much as in its minerals. That is a richer mother-load than any other, and one which will never run out. Mr Ratsik's Serenade is an astonishing blend of classical instrumentation with the purely African sense of tempo, the nuances, the musical phrasing...Intoxicating, innovative. You can be proud of your protegĂ©.”

“I am. Very proud.” Simon smiled tightly.

It was going to be a long, long night.


Later, much, much later, after hours spent staring at Pearl's bare shoulder while she talked animatedly to Karl von Durnst about all sorts of things Simon knew absolutely nothing about. After hours and hours of this torture, made bearable only by the mirrored agony in Mr Ratsik's face, the dinner was finally over.

“Well then, it is time to go Pearl.” he smiled his anticipated relief.

“Oh no! Surely not so soon.” exclaimed the Nazi, with a sickening smile, “I am having a few friends over for drinks at my Hotel suit, and I would love to have you join me.”

“I am afraid that is not possible.” said Simon firmly, “We have two children waiting for us.”

A pall of disappointment fell over von Durnst face. “Oh! You two have children? I thought...”

“Mr Thambisa has adopted two abandoned children, Thalie and Isaiah. He is a wonderful man.”

“So...You and Mr Thambisa...” Karl von Durnst paused delicately.

“No, not at a all. Mr Thambisa is my employer, and a most precious friend.”

Sour rage rang through Simon's ears. How could fury make a sound inside one's mind? He wanted to scream, punch, kick, he wanted to shout: “Mine! She's mine!”

Von Durnst was smiling hopefully at Pearl: “Can I call you? I have been invited to a Vernissage, and don't really feel like going alone,” he shrugged charmingly, “I am a stranger here, I know no one, and I am hoping you will be kind and keep me company.”

“That would be lovely. Please, do call.” Pearl was making a date right in front of him. She was going out with this sly and obvious lady-killer. He would seduce her, use her, abandon her, break her heart...

“Goodnight, Mr Thambisa,” the Nazi smiled, “It was a pleasure meeting you.”

“Likewise, Sir.” Simon snarled.

He stomped off to the car, stretching his long legs into a gallop, forcing Pearl to run after him on her high heels. He opened the Merc's door on the driver's side, forcing her to juggle her little purse and her wrap while she struggled to open the passenger door. Pearl slid in, pulled on her safety belt, turned to him and smiled.

“Thank you, Simon, for a wonderful night.”

“You thank ME? You should thank Mr Ratsik, or the Nazi. I just drove you here.”

“But...” Pearl folded her hands onto her wrap and fell silent. 

Simon pulled into the garage, brought the car to a screeching, protesting halt, opened the door and got out. “Are you staying there, Pearl? Staying the night?”

Pearl got out with quiet dignity and replied: “No Sir, Mr Thambisa. I will go upstairs and get the children. You needn't stay up, Sir. Goodnight.”



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