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K Sello Duiker
an advertising copywriter living in Johannesburg, was born in 1974. He grew up in Soweto and East London, and studied at Rhodes University, where he started a poetry society with a few friends. After graduating with majors in Journalism and Art History, he studied copywriting in Cape Town. His first novel, Thirteen Cents, was awarded the 2001 Commonwealth Writer’s Prize for Best First Book, Africa Region. A second novel, The Quiet Violence of Dreams, was published by Kwela Books in 2001. Sello says that his mother, an insatiable reader, inspired his decision to become a writer.
  K Sello Duiker

When You Least Expect It

K Sello Duiker

“Truth,” I answered.

It was an unusually hot and moist Summer night. We were sitting around a table in a small two bedroom flat that I shared with Themba in Yeoville. A crate of kamikaze Black Labels was near us. The girls were looking tipsy and were giggling. They were from Cape Town and we’d met them at the swimming pool that afternoon. I was feeling drunk myself but desperately tried to act sober. Cleared-headed as a pilot Themba watched us, half smirking at the rate at which we were getting drunk while he wasn’t. We were topless except for the girls who still wore their bras. I noticed that Lerato kept eyeing me.

“So have you ever been arrested for anything,” Lorain asked with a piercing look.

I felt momentarily sober. The others must have seen the expression on my face so I decided to tell them the truth.

“Twice,” I said.

Themba looked at me as though to say: be careful where you’re treading. You don’t want to fuck up a potential lay. But I was drunk and I knew that if I tried to lie it would be unconvincing. Besides, I was a little weary of Lorian who’d told me earlier that she was a third year Psyche student. There was something about the way she looked at me that made me fee a little paranoid as though she were scrutinising everything I said and forming rash opinions about me.

“For ganja.”

“You naughty boy,” Lorain teased me, “And did you go to court?”

“No. Charges were eventually dropped. Don’t ask why, long story.”

“And the second time?” Lerato asked , pouting a little.

“One question at a time guys,” Themba rescued me.

“It’s my turn,” Lerato said, confidently taking the bottle and spinning it.

The spinning motion made me a little dizzy to watch so I focused on Lerato’s breasts. The bottle stopped and pointed to Lorain.

“Truth or dare?” Lerato began.

“Truth,” she said triumphantly.

“Have you ever had an STD?”

“No,” she disappointed us.

I excused myself quickly and went to the bathroom. The lino was dirty from the previous night’s drinking session and the bath still had Themba’s wet washing from this morning. It gave off a dank fetid smell like a high school locker room. After taking a leak I washed my hands in a grimy sink and looked at myself in the mirror. I looked pissed, a wreck. There was no way that Lerato was going to sleep with me. I closed the door and forced my fingers down my throat, my head half-way in the toilet bowl. A nauseating brown stream quickly poured out. I wrenched my stomach till I was sure that I would walk out feeling more sober. I cleaned the mess, flushed and rinsed my mouth at the sink.

“You fine. We were beginning to worry,” Lerato said when I returned.

“Weak bladder,” I improvised.

“As long as that’s the only weakness in that department,” Lorain said.

I smiled nervously, performance anxiety looming at the back of my mind. Lerato put on some lip-balm with her small finger, her eyes fixed on the others. I suspected that she knew that I was staring at her. She looked ravishing — I suppose as ravishing as given the effects of four quarts of kamikazes.

“So who’s next,,” Lorain said eagerly. I could see why Themba had his eye on her. She was the feisty type who probably liked to initiate sex. Themba liked his women upfront and a little coquettish. I took the bottle and spun it. It pointed to Themba.

“Dare,” he said nonchalantly.

I remembered what he had said. Don’t frighten them away with silly dares. Remember we want them to stay the night over. And don’t ask me to kiss Lorain.

“Tell us what you sound like when you come,” I said without thinking. Perhaps I wanted to rattle Themba a little. He was looking far too sober and in control.

“What?” he said with disbelief, grinding his jaw with irritation. If the girls weren’t there, he would have sworn me. You’re fucking up my strategy, he seemed to say with his eyes. Wait till their drunk.

“So?” Lorain egged him on.

“Fuck it. I’d rather drink,” he chickened out and poured himself a glass that he had to down.

As the evening grew deeper we began opting for more truths than dares, confessing intimate things about ourselves like whether we had ever had a threesome or when we had had our first sexual experience. The girls eventually got drunk. But it was Lorain who made the first move. She leaned over and kissed Themba. After that it didn’t take long for us to couple in separate bedrooms.

In the morning I woke up with a hangover that felt like my brain was hemorrhaging. Lerato was not beside me. I stumbled out of bed, curious about where she was. My eyes were sore with fatigue as I walked into the sunny lounge. Themba was sitting on a chair, his head in his hands.

“Don’t worry you’re not the only one,” I consoled him,” Have you seen Lerato?”

I sat next to him.

“Have I seen Lerato?” he said sarcastically.

I was searching for the tv remote control when he asked me what I was looking for.

“Where’s the tv?” I suddenly realised its absence.

He didn’t say anything.

“And the video?” I said getting up, “ Or my cellphone. And the ...”

“Don’t ask about the cds,” he added.

“Not the cds too.”

“At least they left the stove,” he said, his eyes quietly angry.

We had one kamikaze left to kill and enough shame and embarrassment to keep us celibate for the rest of the Summer.


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