Karoo Dusk, by Johan Vlok Louw
Vlok Louw s novel is filled with youth cars and guns. Karoo Dusk is an uppercut to the chin its prose as evocative as the Karoo landscape of its setting.
We cross a small white-pillared bridge spanning a dry rivulet with poplars on its banks into town proper. My pa turns into a Caltex one stop. 'I'm going to ask for directions - you want something to eat?' 'Why don't you just phone the station?' I ask. He looks back at me, says, "Cause I'm not working yet, ne.' 'Oh.' 'Besides, wouldn't we need the keys?' 'Reckon.' 'I'll phone once I've had something to eat - what do you feel like?' 'So ja.' 'Ja?' 'I don't feel like anything.' 'So - you'll want something anyway, I think.' We get out and he walks over to the cafe-cum-restaurant they have in there. It's all very busy on the forecourt, cars being filled, families over there framed in windows. I don't like standing in line, so I'm happy to give it a miss. I wait at the car. Down the street are cafes and a butcher, curio shops and a tuisnywerheid. rooms painted in white on court green. Trees in round cement silos and old beggars stomach-pointing at passing cars, money-signing. spur, beares, other franchise logos. Banks. At least not a total backwater, I'm thinking. I-me-city boy stand in the sun. I span my arms above my head, stretch. Yawn. Down Main Road cars are slowing, snake-tailing. An eighteen-wheeler tall ahead is smoke-stacking and turbo-whooshing. From behind me a bright-yellow tour bus goes by. Sweet hot diesel stink. Two coloured boys in rags with a bucket come up to me. 'Car wash?' says one. 'Not likely,' I say. Jeez, they're only dirty, hey, snot-nosed too. 'Beste was, ne, Meneer,' says the other from deep inside his throat. Best car wash ever. 'Ne?' 'Quick quick.' 'Issie my karrie - shoo.' It's not my car. 'Geldjie?' 'I don't have change.' 'For bread?' 'Ek het nie fokken geld nie - fokkof nou voor die polisie kom.' 'The police, Meneer?' 'Ja - hy' I point to my pa. They watch him strut the forecourt in jeans and r-shirted boep, Styrofoam takeaways. (Skedaddle. Gone.) 'Car-wash kids?' 'Ja.' 'Gomkoppe.' 'Most likely'. We stand there eating cheeseburgers. Afterwards he lights a Camel, blows smoke. 'So ja,' he says, sighs. I fold my arms and lean against the bug-splattered, road-grimed Ford Ranger in which my ma's still asleep with her head propped up against a pillow. 'Ja ne.' Later we're waiting at a traffic light next to this hotel off left at a four-way stop. It's tomb-like quiet inside the Ford. Indicator tick-a-tacking. Then a Beares furniture store with big loudspeakers on the pavement goes boom-booming. Another garage to the right, Shell, two tour buses and a couple of minibus taxis. Hiluxes. e20s. The hotel has one of those long, pillared front stoeps running round it. I see wrougbt-iron tables and chairs. Some road-weary couples at the tables between potted plants. On the gabled roof leading to the first-storey landing, they have a big old sign up: the masonic. Below it: all of it taken care of. Opposite is an old double-storey block of flats with wide balconies and decorative trellis work. It even has a few spires up to the sky. There's a high-walled courtyard at the back with a leafy fig tree - gnawed branches visible above. And some coloured girl in too-tight-of-everything high-heeling. Click-clack, click-clack. Parading on the balcony. [...]
This is an excerpt from the novel: Karoo Dusk, by Johan Vlok Louw.
Title: Karoo Dusk
Author: Johan Vlok Louw
Publisher: Random House Struik
Cape Town, South Africa 2014
ISBN 9781415206805 / ISBN 978-1-41520-680-5
Softcover, 13 x 21 cm, 240 pages
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