After Life, is a fictional 'punk' novel set in Cape Town and tells the story of a young nihilistic man in search of meaning.
He is a clever and ambitionless outsider living on the edge of society, mixing with shady characters in the local underworld and living it up in general with his fatalistic and hedonistic approach to existence.
Eventually his financial circumstances forces him to get involved with these criminal minded individuals and this involvement propels him onto a journey filled with misadventures, romantic relationships and encounters with his past.
He also falls on love with a girl and this relationship challenges his general attitude towards life and the universe. He is caught up in this strange form of tragic, romantic dualism with the polar opposites of love and the hedonistic pursuit of meaninglessness and self-destructive acts.
The novel builds up to a final desperate series of events that becomes the catalyst for dramatic turning point in his life
After Life has a uniquely African bias intertwined with a general suburban feel and also provides original insights on the class and cultural differences in a culturally diverse South Africa.
Now I’m picturing myself driving down a windy back road with a few cold beers on the passenger seat, puffing on a spliff and listening to some good old-school roots reggae. I feel better and start to walk slightly faster. Down in Albert Road I turn left. I have a suspicion I’m the only white guy for miles. Tall, muscular African men hang out on corners in small groups discussing things I don’t want to know about; so it’s the same all over the world then. I found the same thing in certain suburbs of Paris, London and New York. So we are not that different down here after all. Africa is still dark and shady but it’s not in Africa anymore; it’s on dirty street corners in poor suburbs where the night draws people like insects to dim light bulbs in crestfallen avenues and dead-end streets. There is one such group just ahead of me. I can feel my heart rate accelerating as the fear of the dark clouds my mind. It happens even though my logic tells me it’s all bullshit, its al my perception of the untruth; a perception that was formed by narrow-minded Calvinist cunts in a small town in the Karoo. Feed them with fear while they’re young and impressionable because it makes them easier to control and bend into shape, all in the name of Jesus and the almighty dollar. Cunts!
I pass close-by the group and nothing happens. Their conversation keeps pouring on to the sidewalk and flows out of the sound barrier like I didn’t exist. Relief overwhelms me like a narcotic. It motivates me to relax. A bit further on there is sign that reads “Rainbow Tavern”. I count my last few coins and decide I can go there for a top-up. The Rainbow Tavern is noisy and busy and very unlike a rainbow, I am the only white man present and I find the lack of colour slightly intimidating, but I can’t turn around now, it will make me look like a victim; like a little white bunny to be chased and pounced on, maybe assfucked and torn apart by crazy niggers high on crack cocaine and cheap booze.
There goes my imagination again and I have to remind myself: "This is NOT an American movie you idiot." I walk up to the bar counter in a tense state. Nobody looks at me. I wonder what would happen in the reverse situation, in a racist Free State town full of white farmers where one black guy steps in for a drink. It makes me think of the title of another, real American movie: "There Will Be Blood."
“One Black Label please.”
The choice seems appropriate. The bartender is a fat woman in her wasted forties, tight-lipped and ugly; mute as a horse with no face and wrecked like a railroad disaster. She slams the beer down and waits for my reaction. No words are uttered from the smelly cavity in her face and I’m left to guess the price. Obviously everybody here knows the score already except the retarded white tit who just walked in. I decide it’s no time to look weak and slam down the coins with equal force, hoping that it’s enough. She takes it without counting and turns around, waggling her fat arse all the way to the ancient cash register. I’m glad to notice that the beer is a quart, small details like this really has a way of making me extremely happy.
Suddenly I’m completely relaxed and glad to be exactly where I am. I simply don’t care anymore; it’s all just a game anyway. I mean white people were responsible for two world wars and the atom bomb which killed many millions of people. Hey man, if you want to play the prejudice game I’m the meanest motherfucker in the whole goddamned place for miles. Rational thinking is a truly menacing thought process. It rates right up there with religion, total nuclear meltdown and plunging comets as far as threats to humanity are concerned. Pure intellectual and theoretical thinking is a dangerous impostor pretending to benefit the human condition. If thinking is not balanced out with the heart you are bound to end up broken and confused. The state the world is in with our current obsession with western science and the politics of numbers and wealth can attest to this. If survival of the fittest is the only motto that counts, we will surely all perish together. Isn't that just pure genius? Maybe the universe is an intelligent being after all. (I'm starting to suspect that it is).
Of course they are wrong, dead wrong. (The scientists and moral preachers.) It is a mystical state that should be revered and cherished, just like it has been cherished in many ancient cultures for thousands of years before the industrial revolution turned unrestricted thought into an unprofitable sin. Many other things were also classified as big no-no’s because they do not support the type of conformity that keeps the cog of the Big Machine rolling, and so western society has become emotionally oppressed and much less psychologically free as well as much less tolerant in a split second within the frame of our full, evolutionary spectrum. This disaster continues and the fallout in the shape of mass clinical depression with vulgar consumerism as the only possible ‘cure’, the only official prescription in how to fill the hole. (You will never be good, pretty or powerful enough.) All this is sucking the living soul from our planet. In business and science pure rational thought has become the god and feeling the enemy, yet no matter how mathematical and scientifically you approach a song, it’s the ones that were written on a scrap piece of paper and conceived without any cumbersome technical mind machinery that still hit the hardest. It’s always been like this, because primarily humans are a strange mix of chemicals, flickering electrical pathways, emotions and the unknowable breath of life. Take one element away, or overemphasize one over the other and the whole will be diminished. It’s a fine balance, and I fear our equilibrium is unnaturally screwed up in this stage of the human progression.
I wake up with a raging thirst and an enormous piss. I look at the naked bodies around me and decided to get my priorities straight like a reasonable and responsible adult. I wake the blond from her slumber with a few gentle strokes on her thigh. I get on top of her and she opens her legs without hesitation. I spent quite a bit of time there, turning her around at some point and taking her from behind, and then back again into missionary with a pillow underneath her tight ass while gripping her long hair at the back of her sweet head tightly for the final dominating sprint to the finish line. “Take that you lustful, gyrating and twat squirming bitch!” (She is loving my mock abuse.)
It takes a long time to cum when you are dehydrated. My dick is on fire and she is almost unconscious with pleasure, panting and purring like a cat in a fish factory. Afterwards my left calve cramps into a tight little ball. The pain is excruciating. She massages it back to health. I get up, take a piss and drink a litre of water. Suddenly panic strikes. Where did I park the van with the cargo? If I remember correctly I came here (where ever this is), with them.
I don’t even remember if I locked the van before getting out. This could be a disaster. My paranoid mind immediately start to assume the worst. This is a hangover from Calvinist guilt, of course. I had such a great time last night that the Devil will surely revenge it this morning. Sweet Jesus is about to press the red button that says, 'Nuke Badass', and the Devil is about to be released from his golden cage.
The blonde asks me if I want muesli and yoghurt, but I never think about healthy breakfasts and especially not at a time like this. I can’t find anything. I run naked up and down the flat searching for pieces of clothing, my wallet and my cell phone. There is a knock at the door. It opens and one of the boyfriends dressed in a rugby jersey catches me in midflight with my dick hanging out. He is quite burly and has a shocked expression on his face. This is not the most brilliant start to a day.
I greet him as nonchalantly as possible: “Howdy doody da, bra! Beautiful day, isn’t it, old chap?” after which I continue my frantic search, slightly perturbed by the situation and sincerely hoping that this will not lead to any more violence. I simply don’t have time for this shit right now. Eventually I get my things (and myself) more or less together and I make my way to the front door. I don’t like long goodbyes (I think I might have mentioned this before) so I slip past a melodramatic kitchen scene as quietly as possible (girl crying, insecure jock-dick shouting etc.)
I close the door softly behind me and walk down a corridor and the two flights of stairs at the bottom of which I find myself in a courtyard with a security gate. I’m locked in. This worries me. I hear a door open. It’s the girl’s flat door on the second floor. The jock-dick-boy is shouting hysterically at his cell phone and pointing angrily at me from time to time. I assume he is talking to some friends with knuckledusters and tire irons. I wave at him in a friendly gesture and try to whistle, but my throat has suddenly gone dry as a desert cave covered in bat shit.
Adrenaline is pumping. I still have some benefit from the chemical lag and I will probably need it this morning. I hear something about, “…5 minutes… okay…”, and my heart starts pumping away, my hands start sweating and my dulled brain starts computing ways of survival at super high speed. My only hope is that a resident will come along with a magic key and let me out of this hazardous cage. I wait a fuck long minute before I start pressing tiny silver buttons. Finally a voice crackles through: “Hallo… hallo…”
I do my best not to sound desperate and say a silly thing like: “Hi, can you open the gate please? Like in quick! I’m about to be moerd by a bunch of ugly jocks in undersized rugby pants that define their nutsacks like the weapons of mass cultural annihilation that it is.”
Instead in my most polite voice to date I utter: “Hi, can you let me out please?”
“Wat? Wie’s die?”
I glance up and see the dick is attached to his cell phone again, gesticulating excitedly and pointing at his watch. Suddenly he waves at someone on the other side of the fence and I wonder if I will get through this day without shitting in my pants.
After we calmed down sufficiently, we meekly drive at a snail's pace to the co-op, severely humbled by our narrow escape. Inside we find an old man with a sour face and a shirt speckled with oil stains. His hands are rough and large en he eyes us suspiciously, probably wondering if he should go for the shotgun under the counter top. I'm just hoping he has not heard or read anything about Bonnie and Clyde. I ask him about the Van Tonders and the farm Avondsrust. He keeps quiet for a few seconds while he's joyless paranoia digest this information, trying to make sense why this cum smelling, takhaar city slicker with the wild eyes and the blonde bimbo by his side want to know about these decent Christians.
"Who are you people?" He asks with a morbidly thick Afrikaner slur, as if he's been having a stroke in slow motion for the past fifty years. Without much hesitation my brain goes into story mode (this is a regular and often uncontrollable occurrence.)
Then again, who are these 'normal' people? Do they really exist, or is it just a sham? I suspect it's the latter, that the concept is just a form of propaganda powered by mainstream economics. Just another dogma to terrorize people with so they will stay well within the order that is so carefully maintained. The illusion of the perfectly functional family has been held up by mainstream media and state religions probably since the first elitist political wankers imagined themselves special and aloof enough to take control and make decisions on behalf of the general population, once again for the so called ‘greater good’. What utter manipulative, condescending bullshit. How many people gained unimaginable power and wealth through this farce of a special ruling class?
And so it still goes on today, and then I’m not even speaking of all the families that go through the agony of feeling the shame and guilt originating from the illusion that their families are not up to scratch, that they are not performing to the standard that is propagated on the media where these token families are put forward with perfect smiles under perfect lighting. (Remember the Waltons? There are many other examples). Meanwhile in reality they are just as dysfunctional and fuct-up as anybody else. And then the acting and secrets begin, the misplaced ‘loyalty ‘to save face and keep up a false, happy successful profile within society. And so it all becomes a grand farce, an act which reverberates through the whole social fabric where everybody is left wearing a mask while interacting with other hollow people with their fake personalities put on like armour to protect their humane vulnerability, the very essence of our collective being.
It has become a great sin to be a human. To possess the idiosyncrasies and fragile imperfections, the whole range of emotions instead of only superficial happiness that makes us who we really are. All the little things of beauty that defines the fragile grace and vulnerability of an imperfect humanity are stripped away and hidden.
How are we supposed to care for each other in a state like this? How are we supposed to understand that we are all vulnerable living things on a finite piece of rock traveling through a vast universe and that we need to take care of each other and our vessel, this amazing planet; when we are constantly set up against each other through mechanisms of control and manipulation? Yes folks, it’s all show business (no business like show business!) Life is but a stage.
After the third day I suddenly realize how bad I smell, and this is the moment I've been hoping for. The sour smell of old sweat and my stale body is a sign that my mind has rebooted itself. I'm switched on again, I have become aware of my condition. I take my surroundings in and recognize the empty bottles of whiskey, the half smoked joints and the many vessels partly filled with spit, vomit and sour wine.
Was it all worth it? Oh what a useless question! That's not what it's about at all. Good times, bad times; it's all the same old thing. There is only one time and that is the now time. Things happen. Choices are made. They have consequences. You deal with it.