THE voice that connected
him to what he had done faded, but before he lost it he heard the news.
The music stopped with pips like those that used to interrupt programmes
during the war. The announcer's voice sounded controlled, but David was
sure it was frightened too. Boom. His was no distant act of sabotage.
They knew that his act meant real danger to them. The voice, hiding its
fright, said, 'The area around the station has been cordoned off' Ha!
They were taking notice now. Police and ambulances were being rushed in.
joy made his hands tremble. He gripped the steering wheel more firmly.
Nothing was known about the cause of the explosion. Ha, Ha! he shouted
to the voice. The police suspected a bomb. I did it. I did it. The city
was trickling away behind him. The voice gave way to crackle and static.
He switched it off At last. He had done it. It had been done. Boom. At
last the dam of tyranny and pent up rage had been blasted. Water would
flow over all the land. When he had phoned The Star, he had said, 'This
is the beginning.' Now they would all wait for more acts of terror. They
would not sleep their fat and insolent sleep. They would know that the
misery they poured every day on the suffering and the poor was about to
be poured on them. They were being brought to justice. And he was the
one who had done it.
The sunny road sped
under him. He started to sing a passage from the Messiah. 'Thou
shalt break them. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron.' Crash,
the cymbals met. Boom. He heard this joyful act. Boom. 'Thou shalt
dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel. In pieces. In pieces.'
The deep male voice would sing that promise of justice. Joan would
be sitting there in the orchestra, ready to bring her cello to voice
too, to sing the praise of justice. 'In pieces. In pieces.' He had
no truck with Joan's God who never got round to doing the job, all
promises. He, David, had started it. Boom. He had made the bomb
and planted it. Now it had burst, and now the seed was scattered,
flashed in terror over the whole land.
Cumulus clouds were
gathering over the green fields of mealies, building high baroque structures
in the blue sky. They matched the grandeur he felt. Their majesty calmed
He would reach the
border by evening. He would meet Philip. He hadn't told Philip. There
had been no time for discussion. But Philip would see it had been right.
Once they had François and Trevor anyhow, it was right. There was
no more time for patience.
The villages he passed
through looked peaceful, as though the news hadn't touched them yet. It
would. A slow dust stirred the stoep of the Grand Hotel, the reflection
of his car in the window of a cafe where there might be a customer drinking
a cup of coffee at this hour, or blasting a pinball machine. Everything
looked as though nothing had happened. But it had. He had started the
He passed a single
African walking it seemed from nowhere to nowhere. The man wore his shoes
dangling at his shoulders, the laces tied around his neck. He wanted to
stop and confide in him. For your sake ... So that it would not in future
be only whites who could own and ride cars. So that there would be some
other lot for them than this barefoot trudging in the heat, the emptiness,
breathing in the dust of the white man's car that swept past him. Curbing
the pity and joy that welled in him, he drove without stopping. He must
get to the Basutoland border by night.
It would probably
take some time to arrange the security measures and the manhunt they would
set up after him. If he could make it to the border in good time there
would be no problem. He would go to the house where Philip would be waiting
for him. Once out of South Africa it would be possible to get to England.
The clouds had piled
up, and the south he was driving to looked dark. It would rain before
he reached the border.
Fiction Society Choice, October 1979.
Harvester Press, Sussex, England, 1979.
Second edition, 1995.
"Rose Moss communicates
...the feelings of everyone who has ever stood, helpless and enraged,
in a situation where injustices were being done..."
Hilarly, Bailey, NEW FICTION SOCIETY
THE GLASGOW HERALD
achievement...giving words to action,making it enter living history, which
Peter Nazareth, WORLD LITERATURE TODAY
into the heart and head of a man tortured by... privileges."
29 November, 1979