The Jonker Memorandum: chapter: Confession of a witness.

What follows is an extract from the text of the Jonker Memorandum. The full digital version will be uploaded in 2015. In the meantime you can listen to the story on the relevant podcast link.

Confession of a witness.

I once had a dream in which I
fired
a
rifle
and the shot was so LOUD I woke up,
and my ears
rangggggg
for weeks thereafter. The sheer
reality of the experience
disturbed me for months, in fact:
still disturbs me. Recently
I was again woken from a dream by its [the dream’s] sheer
reality.

Was it perhaps the intruder’s who came visiting at Christmas that
Triggered
it off? Perhaps the sound
of a gun being cocked woke me from a nightmare
then.
It may even have been a gun being cocked in my dream
that had woken me. But when I
woke it was with a crystal clear perception of something;
an incident
that had been so deeply buried by me that it was
forgotten until then.

How can a dream be so real yet
its truth
cannot be clarified?
An event
so real and yet so instantly
elusive?

I remembered that
there was a time, when I first went to the University that I pursued
the flames of passion and
railed against the oppressive State
in which we then lived. I even, I had believed
managed a marginal notoriety which
brought its own unwanted attention…
and terror. My low-key activist
period
lasted two years. The effect
was that there were three occasions
during those two years when I was plucked
from my world and shown the truth
of my situation. It took a while
but the penny finally dropped,
as they say.
Then I buried it all in denial and misdirection so
compressed
it took nearly
four decades to unlock it.

*****************8

On the first occasion a stranger approached
our group and shouted at me
in a downtown bar
where I was drinking
with some friends, “Keep your trap
shut!”
He shouted, unaccountably singling
me
out,
using the language of the, then,
oppressor class in our country. He produced
a revolver and pointed it at me. I reacted by leaping
through a handy window, fortuitously
unbarred
then
and got out of there fast. It had
simply seemed a strange albeit
not unheard of experience; and it was
a downtown bar, in one of their neighbourhoods. Now of course I know I could have been freaked out for days and probably was
Then… it was/is…? Uncool? To show that…
I put it out of my mind and
Got it on with living.

On the second
occasion
I had been travelling with two acquaintances: Duke
and Lex
in Duke’s car on a Saturday afternoon. We were
forced
to stop, by a car that pulled in front of us
on a quiet road, and a man
claiming to be from the feared Special Branch waved
his badge, told the
two in the front to keep
their eyes to the front,
pulled me to the window,
stuck a small revolver into my mouth and told me
to keep my trap shut
or else the finger would move … “You keep your fucken
trap shut.”
Again the language was that of our Oppressors and again
the phrase was common cause with those who would not hear the
truth. Curiously none of us discussed the incident
after they had gone. My acquaintances
dropped me off home and I never saw them again…. Did they know that the incident
was going to happen?

My photograph had appeared that week on the
front page of a
Zone One daily,
The Star,
in connection with “Mass protest action at the University”, where I was a first year student of politics and economics…1967.

I didn’t really understand
what it was all about…my subject choice
was dictated by how the lecture times could be
fitted around the many part-time jobs I needed to
pay
for the journey. People said that the system was bad
and generally I responded to it on the basis
that it was I was discriminated against by “them”. I was both an immigrant
and a country boy
and those “others” who were the true target of “Their”
discrimination
were largely unknown to me. I was in most ways a
product
of the intention. I never really ‘knew’
how “The system” worked
anyway
or had worked back then before the ‘new’
revised post ’48 system
came;
and what was “a system”
anyway… Still, that is the role of the front line trooper… to do but not to know.

I worried
that the mere sight of a photo could have the ever-omniscient Bureau of State Security on my back
or more specifically in my mouth. In my
personal hubris,
or perhaps denial, perhaps, something
even more horrible for it never occurred to me until this day
that there could be an ulterior motive. That could indicate the state of paranoia that prevails in a Police State. It reveals too the level of paranoia that we all lived with that
could blind me to a certainty for so long..

Then later, a year later, during Woodstock [which
I was unaware of at the time
like everyone else I knew] they came
for me
at three am. Bashed
the door until I awoke, and
hooded me,
and took me somewhere that was cold and dark and
shouted oaths at me
and told me what would happen if I
didn’t
“Keep my trap shut”…And in my foolish
innocence and deep committed
denial, I had
presumed them to be obsessed with
my unbelievably small part in the “Struggle”,
and that those more involved than I must get hell
for
these
guys
seemed to be always in my face.

I couldn’t discuss it with anyone, ‘cos they
said
if I did
something bad would happen to my folks; and they
knew
my father had an aneurysm explode
in his brain the previous year; and he could barely work
and how much
he owed to the State for
Medi’
care, and they would call
in his account. In any event
I had no idea who I could trust or why I
seemed to be singled out, and being
truly intimidated by then foreswore the struggle for solitude
and avoidance; for
the whole Sixties thing of lust, booze and dope. Later I dropped
out
and never dropped back in again.

And the voice still rattling in my nightmare came now with absolute clarity…it never had anything to do with ‘The Struggle’ it said. No…it was more prosaic than that…it had simply to do with “Murder”.

***********

Is there an act of evil
more calculated to inspire terror
in the gathered citizen,
than the sound of murder on the night-still air, carried out for all
the world to hear because those who carry
out the act do not seem to care that they commit evil?
Truly they do
not believe
that they commit a crime.

What after all is a “crime” and
Is not
One person’s “crime” another person’s act of liberation?
And should we
Go that
Dionysian
route?

In my adopted country
at the time when I was growing up
there were three classes of
Citizen, respectively first class, second class and
third
class
and what applied to the country applied to my adopted ‘homey’: a mining/ industrial town
that formally committed suicide in more or less
the year
that the incident resurrected from my dream
took place.

The town itself was
a modestly prosperous archetype, of a formerly first class,
now relegated to second class, Koloniste
controlled
pre-revolutionary Azanian
urban place.

It was
in reality
modestly prosperous
for only a small part of the recently deposed, former Koloniste ruling class, now known as the second class.

The rest of us lived bleak lives, forever at the edge of catastrophe.

Understand that we are talking about days far,
far away. A time
soon after the war that Mehta* calls the First World War and others call the Second.

We [my immigrant parents and I] were technically
part of the former ruling
class, the Anglos, and we,
[our tiny family],
were a particularly despised part, because
we had come directly from the “motherland”,
and were poor,
and were regarded with deep suspicion
by both of the established
Koloniste groupings.

Indeed life in our adopted town was harsh, and
consisted
of real grinding poverty
for most of the newly empowered
jackbooted, ruling Koloniste class, or ‘The Maboere’, as the Dissies
liked to call them.
There was naturally a small established and establishing
Cronyist elite
Whose lives
were more pleasant.

Life amongst the Maboere was
so harsh
they made a virtue out of sending their children barefoot to school,
and those scions of the newly enriched
amongst them
would leave home shod, then hide their shoes, so as to fit in with their peers. They would see us watching
them do it and we knew
to run or cycle off at speed.

These brutal antagonists who came to dominate and overwhelm
our lives
were themselves confusing:
capable almost simultaneously of unspeakable cruelty
and gregarious warm hearted kindness
coupled with
a certain brutal honesty
quite absent from the more duplicitous species,
with whom we were forced
to bond
by legislative decree,
and with whom I found scant comfort.

And then; beyond we two groups: the old Koloniste class and the newly empowered ‘other’ Koloniste class, the Maboere,
were the Dispossessed, third class, living in a place
so dark
most of us were unaware of their existence, even though
we were completely aware of their existence.

“They” were “those”: known only as “THEM”: the ‘Dispossessed’, ‘Dissies’… the “despised”, the disenfranchised…the despairing.

The new ruling class was forever in our
faces with their “RULES”.
For back-up their philosophy was
reinforced by an entity called God, that
was omnipotent apparently, and omniscient
and couldn’t be seen by unbelievers, and spoke the “truth”, only
to our new rulers. And we saw
this “God” to be an evil entity that
ruled on the myriad things we weren’t allowed to do.

The most important of “the rules” was that
it was forbidden
to be even remotely polite or
“nice” to anyone
from the Dispossessed class,
and so,
ironically,
as a result, the Dispossessed Klass came to completely obsess
and
[ultimately]
overwhelm the new ruling klass, [ those known as the “Maboere”] who
feared all along that these
entities,
as they perceived them,
would ultimately undermine and usurp
their own revolution. And as we now know, this eventually came to pass.

The Dispossessed were called “Sataans” by
the newly empowered, yet brutalised, new, first
or
Ruling Klass “Maboer” citizen…Old women would
watch a passing dispossessed
entity, a ‘dissie’,
and hiss… “Sataans”… “Children of evil,” and we were told
by our teachers, who
were more often than not Maboere, who beat us regularly in
the name of the new religion
with planks taken from the tops
of the school desks, and ripped at sinews
under our flesh until in
agony we agreed that “they” must
be left to do their own thing, because
“they” were incorrigibly wedded to darkness…This was an unforgiving mantra.

We were further instructed to believe that “these
people” were condemned by the
sin [whatever that was]
of a name called Adam, and
marked by a name called Cain to live
lives of enslaved servitude
in awful bondage to brutal leaders who would make them suffer because
“they deserved it”. And
in our own ignorance we heard how
“they” had been rescued
from ignorance, and
perdition and
the desperation of their previous existence, whatever
that had been,
to subsist in some discarded refuse heap where their choice was dispossession
or death.

In other parts of the planet, we learned, really
evil Koloniste
had exterminated those they could not
subdue [and in so doing discovered the real
meaning
of freedom: something
we were not told] We [ the ‘Dissie’s” latest oppressors] on the
other hand
had discerned a latent
humanity
[apparently] in the “Dissies”
as “they” were called, and therefore our treatment of them
was more humane. As proof of their [Maboer] humanity
they would point to how “their” [Dissie] population was
consistently
growing for the first time in their [Dissie] recorded history; maybe even ‘their’ [Dissie] unrecorded history too. indicating,
they asserted, with beatings and threats
that “they” were thriving
in captivity. The idea that “they” were dispossessed was never raised
or if it was
it was argued, again with beatings implied or actual, that all groups of citizens were really Koloniste
and that
the “real” inhabitants, now nearly all dead,
were never “owners’, actually, notwithstanding unfettered
occupation for a hundred thousand years.
They had never learned to read and
write and develop property rights so logically
they
had
none.
The original
Inhabitants had been caught in a vice
Exterminated from both ends; hunted down
and killed
for loving freedom more than
servitude. “…And for living on the land
like a wild animal…”

We thus lived in a wonderful
plastic
bubble of
Grande illusion, which existed within a structured
hierarchy
of benefits.
These benefits permitted swill to be gobbled from the trough
of goodies
available to the “successful” in such an ordered world.

While we [the new second class Koloniste] had “rights” to ‘it all’
they
were tempered
by the obligation,
sponsored by the book inspired ethos
“Thou shalt be mean to the
dispossessed.” And therefore, since
the dispossessed could be anybody
simply by association… those who were
“nice” to the “Dissies” must be
“Dissielovers!”
secretly lusting to enjoy the
VERBOTEN
bodies of the “Dissies”. For as everyone
“knew” [and was evidenced by the rapidly expanding population], ‘Dissies’
“fucked like rabbits” and that
was true
as it turned out for the “dissies”
soon outnumbered the new ruling Klass by far.

So the New Ruling Klass [NRK] carried their power with increasing
fervour: a holy
book in one hand and a rifle
in the other… Do as I say or die…those were the options.

For many years life was bleak
and tedious and within
the narrow perimeters set by zealous
god obsessed,
dispossessed obsessed,
dark suited, dark hatted Bureakrats, we,
who were now being called the “baby boomers” got on with the business of living.

Through short wave we discovered:
Rock n Roll, Elvis
Presley n Micky
Most, n jive
n
bop, n
things that were alive
like warm wet places, and that first
tentative
open-mouthed
exchange before the tongue arrived and gave
erotic
edge to sudden hardness.

Rock n Roll came, via a crystal set, or short wave
In the days
Before frequency modulation
Made our
Control
easier
maybe,
the long, main wave went for their god as often as not
with mournful dirges
interspersed with long speeches
by dark-suited voices. And in
between were the commodity prices and the price
of wool and maize and millet and hay and gold was
pegged at thirty three dollars
and we lived on a gold standard and what everybody loved
and obsessed about almost as much as they obsessed about the dispossessed, was gold.

Our family came to live amongst the former now declining
ruling cl
ass who were mostly
Well off and established while we
were new and poor and not. Immigrating
to east south central back [aka: east central Zone One] then at that particular time proved to be imprudent ultimately, for the adults in the family, and fraught with daily violence for us kids.

And so we found that behaviour
is indivisible. To spend your life ignoring
the horror of what was being done
gradually corroded the very soul of pity
and peeple took whatever opportunity

they could
to dis a neighbour, harm another person if they could.

If the first mantra of the Dispossession era was
to be nasty to the dispossessed
eventually everyone became nasty
to everyone. It was easier that way
to remember to be bad
to “dissies’. My folks found themselves in
a blocked drain and were soon…within a few
short
years
without many of their few
friends, some old friends: having like us
come inadvertently from the ‘motherland’.

Most left at the first sight of the coming storm, and
being “our” network,
it shredded and left us [my parents] somewhat stranded…not terminally stranded, well not then, but
yes, eventually, terminally stranded.

So the fifties came and went and
the sixties compressed
us to bursting point
and we lived in our leafy suburbs that
were designated to be solely
Koloniste
territory and we were forbidden on pain of terrible retribution to ever go to a place where the “sataans” dwelt…a place with a name that no one spoke of. It was simply, “There”.

We sailed through childhood steering
with greater certainty. I gradually
discovered that no matter how painful, the pre-emptive
strike option, ultimately used by Uncle Dubya Bush in Iraq, was
the only rational response to bullies. Take
your moment
when it suits you. For bullies
were abounding and encouraged. And
after an event called
Sharpeville things became pretty
brutal for a time, and it
became sensible to carry a stick
when cycling
to beat back marauding informal enforcers.

Later,
on the night of the elegant,
but unattended, final
school farewell
dance
we listened rather to the news of Kennedy’s assassination on
the short-wave radio
in the Nash 600 bought eighth hand and only running cos the old-man knew how to build motors
and torture young sons to be his “spanner boys”.
He chose not to hire from the local mine compound; where
the men were grudgingly
allowed to
work in private gardens
on their Sunday’s-off, from work in the mines.

We had heard of Kennedy.
The year before he had done something against the Komuniste,
whom we understood to be the agents of evil,
and the “sataans”.
And when Bay of Pigs and the Cuban missile
crisis happened,
followed by our trial examinations, we had all been
so freaked out, because we had been told
by the voices on all the waves
that the world was about to end, and not really
grasping the big picture, understood that the little
picture
meant, fuck the exams and get
drunk and, hopefully, maybe, desperately, we could get laid…Hhhah.

Kennedy had been cool and gave us
glimpses of what was coming. The world shed
its skin then
and began bursting from the chains of former consciousness. The world stirred
and the bullet took its own
patterns of unintended consequences…perhaps. We produced
the worst set of final results in the history of the school
to that time and people bewailed the declining standards of youth
and an evil maths instructor
beat me regularly with a stick and predicted inevitable failure…Violence and failure were our lessons in Trigonometry
and the rest and so by the end there was barely a flicker in me
of what my parents had come to escape. Barely a
spark undimmed by the
savage nature of the place.

But those other places; “there”
where the Dissies lived were also bursting
and the streets were patrolled by hard
faced upwardly
mobile despots
presiding over autarchies
with short whips called sjamboks
and guns and an attitude that permitted the assault
and beating of a citizen without compunction; or redress
for a ‘dissy’, or someone designated a ‘dissie-lover’!… A mark
of shame spoken about in either hushed and muted voices or with
violent
denunciation.

And if perchance a ‘decent’ Koloniste man
should have need to carry a Dissy
female in a vehicle alone
then it behove him to put her on the back
seat and have an innocent third party like a Koloniste
child travel with them, lest he be apprehended for licentious behaviour and be ruined.

For through all this the hormones
flowed, finally affecting me
in line with
all the other guys who discovered
‘stoneys’ somewhere in the ninth
grade, after which the
urge to penetrate warm folds of flesh; to feel
the thrust of orgasmic glory…prevailed over sensitivity.

By then we too believed,
almost,
that those Dissies were ‘Sataans’, when
we thought about “them” at all, for “they” were largely unseen
and seldom reported on, other than in the statements of sombre ruling cadre Koloniste.
And of course in the
weekly news reports
when a dissy committed murder. “They” became the bogeypersons of our waking nightmares, when we ever had them.

Then, there were so many things to think about…rock n
roll had been banned on the radio
except for some token half-
hour
given to the nation once a week
for Johnny Walker’s hit
parade,
and we gangling know-it-alls were tuned to LM
radio and the sounds of Eddie Cochran and the Rolling Stones; not to mention ‘Ruby’.

The explosion of the sixties was right
on us when
we went off and had our heads shaved to become acolytes
of the noble Reich: learning to shoot “sataans”
and going awol to Durban beach
for a month and losing four days pay for
days in detention
barracks and being beaten
and beaten again…Head shaved, again
How dare you dis the people who dis the dissies. It was beat
thump
thrash. Beat,
thump,
thrash.
Beat,
thump,
thrash
these were the
measures
on the path of childhood from the beat, thump, thrash
of infancy to the beat,
thump, thrash of a wild November night
in ’66,
when the truth was all revealed
and nothing could ever be again as it had been.

That Friday night started
at the Drive-in
movie house,
which was rarely visited anymore for purposes
of watching movies, visited instead
with accomplices
encountered on the afternoon
umbilical train rides home from the city where I passed
the day. In our time of real innocence
we eat popcorn on the back seat, watched the miracle of movies between mom n pop’s heads,
fighting for the best place
nearest the sound machine propped onto the windowsill,
then…
Now the sound box played
to dis-interested attention and the propriety pretence of being there for a movie, but alternately occupied, with vodka and willing young lusts.

Later when the movie ended
and our excuses for impropriety had fled
and the necking hour outside in the drive
way was ended, then
I returned home in sublime ecstasy.
Lost in the lust
for newly discovered flesh and feeling the effects of some vodka I carefully parked the second hand Morris
I had bought, flushed with my pay, saved in the bank like a good little boy, accumulated while disserving the
country for compulsory prison
service, abused by a half blind
corporal, reading the weather
forecasts. Being thrifty with money brought
wheels and willing partners, thereafter there’s none anymore and thriftiness gets you nowhere.

Our house was on a road
that overlooked a vlei,
or wetland, if you prefer. Running through it
was a concreted gully that carried what was originally a stream, for a few million years,
before the mines came
and turned it into a cyanide sluiceway.

On either side of it was parkland, extended
wetland really,
originally all scheduled for parkland
development by the old elites
and then rapidly invaded by those new
elites who wanted to swamp the place with voters. The parkland was cut at right angles to our boundary road by a footpath, which in turn was lit by streetlamps every thirty metres or so.

The full moon
that had
earlier been hidden behind the storm clouds,
to give our booze coated kisses convenient darkness, had now
burst through the moving cumulo nimbus
and sparkled
with the lamplight
on a hundred scattered puddles.

It was not widely thought
then that the full moon would bring a werewolf.
It was however widely believed that the full moon brought
prowlers of a different nature…
Werewolves were not real. “Sataans” were. Even as we
were being desperately advised
that they weren’t…Our world was obsessed to the point of prurience
with the sleeping habits of ‘sataans’.

By then we had lost our own Kennedy alter
ego, Verwoerdt, the bad man who had straddled
our emerging consciousness and died, stabbed
to death
by an unsung, yet unacknowledged, hero, unmourned by all
save his acolytes.

Unlike today
when all our homes are walled and locked, secured
by bolts and violent dogs
and we are all free,
then there were no such simplicities. Then
the chains were on the perimeters and within lay our
bubble of illusion.
A simple gate to define a boundary, and a gap in the driveway
next to the hedge
where my Morris would park in the open: freezing in the
winter from the passing vlei
and rained on through summer,
with a storm a day just
before dusk: a routine rhythm for a routine life…Go to
work on a train.
Score someone on a train. Go to the drive-in and explore all their parts. Go home sleep
go to work on a train….

Sleepyhead time to wake up….

And now we live in the echo of those days.

When the full moon is up and
the storm has gone and the heat of November has been
cooled by moist
sombre air the sounds carry further than is usual. I had
just finished chaining the steering wheel to the clutch
pedal, standing, in the absolute silence
of the moonlit moment, with
the key in the lock
when I heard the distinctive clunk of a firearm being cocked.

I’dbeenthere,fired a fewthousandroundsknewthesound.
My hair stood
on the back of my neck; bristled through
the vodka.
A sharp command rang
through the night.

“Halt “Dissie” followed
by a string of foul oaths
relating to the unseen Dissie
in the dark: and then the sound of running.

The air always settles after a storm and the sound
waves flatten out and sharp noises and voices travel for miles
then,
kilometres now,
along beaded atmospheric droplet cadences of water.

So as to where the sound came from I couldn’t tell. We lived in the wetland
valley and it was questionable
whether the house should ever have been built there; like the
school for mini Maboere built on the opposite
side of the park, built where a crafty sum of
money had caused a line to move on a map
somewhere, disrupting the soundflow in the ancient vlei.

Then I knew where it was.

Still barely conscious of my current surroundings, still locked
in thoughts of pleasant dalliance, lifted
by liquor and the afterglow of lust,
I was fumbling in the moonlight for the cold metal keyhole when a figure burst across the courtyard gate.

The gate was a normal height, about head
high to the average male adult of the day
with none of the razor wire adornments that festoon gates today…so it was a clean hurdle of the kind that would score gold medals in another setting.

The figure had cleared the gate,
landed
and hurtled past me in the driveway,
while I was still relating to the truth of some intrusion….
And what should I have done then? Should I have stuck my leg out backwards….
tripping him up as he flew past…
Better for him I had…but would it have been better for me?

The driveway gates were still
wide open
and the dark figure of the running Dissie
streaked
for
the
gap,
head down and moving faster than I ever could.

Then, as he reached the road a second
figure came across
the courtyard gate,
fifteen metres behind. My first thought…was it his accomplice?

No. He worked alone it seemed, or perhaps he went
the wrong way.
The second figure was the taller,
bulkier,
uniformed
figure
of
authority.

The man’s cap flew off as he grounded, and landing, he
gave a strangely characteristic twist of his
body as he by- passed me, still half
crouched in the driveway. Step, Step
He’d done it before,
many times before, I knew, through our respective
childhoods when we former Koloniste elites fought out
our ancient antagonism for the newly empowered
albeit longer established Koloniste on the hallowed battleturf called rugby.

My heart lurched in the streetlight at the
recollection
of those ritual slaughter sessions
where we fifteen kids would take on their always bigger and
bearded
eighteen men,
in unequal contest, dominated by maximum
punishment inflicted on the ‘enemy’; and generally
we gave as good as we got.

Before I could fully
grasp the strangeness of a schoolboy
now a big bulky policeman;
his partner came over the gate, slower and with less
agility and plenty of oaths. He never sidestepped, but cursed
and knocked me aside and I crunched down on the
driveway.

My heart lurched about.
I heard again the caning sounds of ritual beatings from the owners
of those voices that swore the oaths
that drew me towards the gate. I should have ignored it all and gone to bed to dream of sweet Angelica.

Like a well-trained boy I picked up the fallen cap, rolled it over
where regulation required that a
proud
owner
should hide his name:
Korn?: with the hard plosive K the hard rolling R and the sound attributed to a horse; going to ground with the ball, for his
inevitable touch down.

Yo Aah Korn?, Yay Korn?: and he condescending of we “souties”
as ‘they’, the mini Maboere,
would call us.

I found I had followed them to the pavement’s edge, watched
them chase their quarry
past the swings
in the small children’s playground
across the street: an abstraction in the park
where once Lorraine from down the street had leapt from a swing, hooked her dress which remained behind and revealed
pink knickers and sweet little bumps and ran home mortified
and never came to play again.

They were running towards the light at the edge of the footbridge that crossed the slow moving cyanide oozings.

Then one of them shot the Dissie. My guess
was Korn? shot him cos there was only one shot
and it was taken on the run and the perfect execution of the ball and the posts was Korn?’s trademark
in those bi-annual blood-baiting contests
between antagonists that we’d played between 5th grade and 12th.

The running stopped.
I could see a shape lying in the moonlight; a blob of
shadow spotlit in the circle of light
at the mouth
of the bridge.

“Get my cap”
the order,
like “get the ball!” was barked
in the “Taal”
at a subordinate,
although they both seemed to be equals: Konstables. But
Korne was like that.
Since 5th grade he was the boss,
playing barefoot on a burned crisped pitch that tore our lesser well-shod feet
tender feet…”You vil remove your boots to play here”
said their referees, “it is the only fair thing to do”
and left him champion of the entire field and we all let him be.

I met the partner at the edge of the playground
By the swings,
and silently handed him Korn?’s cap.
He scrutinised me,
a familiar
hard,
intense, mad dog stare:
bush fever glittering in the eyeballs. The excitement of the hunt
completed they now had to check out the witnesses and take their statements.

They never took mine.

There were others who arrived and from whom they noted down and elicited words of praise
for a job well done.
They were neighbours who came out to check
what the shooting was about, and soon saw the figures
by the footbridge in the lamp lit moonlight
and within a minute or two it seemed the street was there approving the deed.

And I saw the figure move.

They had stripped him
when they reached him. Down with his
trousers and shirt over his head. Incongruously
somehow he was wearing a brightly coloured swimming
costume in place of the more common cotton underpants fashionable
amongst the rest of us, and I thought, how odd,
for no dissie was permitted to enter
a swimming pool, and I
wondered how he had been able
to buy one.

There was a small hole
oozing blood
alongside his spine where the kidneys
should be
and he had landed face down in a small muddy
streak of slimy water
where the ancient clay met newly minted cyanide;
and he lifted his head to breath.

“He should be dead.” Spoke a vengeful
voice from the growing crowd in the darkness beyond the lamplight. “Make him dead” growled another
indignant
guttural
voice
in the dark. This prompted a chorus of approval
from the rest accompanied with foul oaths regarding the once again ‘proven’ satanic ancestry of the ‘fucken dissies’:
death it was asserted would be welcomed by the Dissie.

And Korn? struck a pose. Like
an old time hunter
with his daily slaughter, he
placed his foot on the back of the
wounded man’s head and firmly pushed it
down
into
the
mud
for a time, while he took out his notebook
and called for witnesses
to certify that
what they had seen was the truth, the whole
truth
and nothing
but the truth, and god [whatever that was] help those who said otherwise.

If any found the scene distasteful they said
nothing, and most, it seemed,
murmured approval. The dissie was getting his deserts. How dare
he be out here in
town in the middle of the night…The nine
o clock curfew had sounded!
Everyone could hear it!
Curfew meant that a dissie on the streets could be shot on sight and it was okay.

And I couldn’t look at them. I stared
in turmoil
at that boot, in contact with that woolly head; watched the smearing
lurch of bubbles,
the spasm. Could this be right? Was this allowed? Should I not speak out!
And would I be beaten again and again if I did.
And then,
too late…the silence of stillness when he drowned.

I told myself he was going to die
anyway…
that was a killing shot,
they said,
and there were no hospitals then
that could deal with that…certainly no hospitals for a dissie. I heard them
say that, as if in a dream.
But i knew
it was wrong and i did nothing
and what did that make me, when they came
later
to tell me to keep my mouth shut
or the same
would happen to me…They came for me because
they knew what they had done… was wrong.
And in so knowing
revealed their own slithering humanity
beneath their carefully airbrushed
cloak of evil… but I kept silent and lost mine…They said that I must keep my trap shut, that he died resisting arrest.
But they lied, for we all knew.
It was murder.

.NiK[04]