Can this day get any worse?
Excerpt from Stop the world, I need to pee!
“Phone for you, Fenella!” shouted Stepdad. As usual, he was sitting in his office with mounds of paperwork, working out lists of jobs for everybody.
Fenella took the phone from her Stepdad, “Hello Miss Fisher,” said a musical lilting voice, “Sorry to bother you, but I got your number from your principal in Umtata.” Fenella’s heartbeat quickened as she thought something had happened to Luke. Maybe they found his books and arrested him. Where would that leave her?
“I’ve just got a job as the music teacher in Butterworth, and was told you might be able to give me a lift there from Cape Town,” the voice continued. “When will you be leaving to go back to Umtata?”
Drat, thought Fenella. She’d already promised to take a boot-load of frozen chicken from her Stepdad’s factory, back to some other teacher friend’s of hers in Umtata. She was getting them at a discount and was going to sell them to her friends at the wholesale price. They thought they were getting it cheaper, which they were, but Fenella was getting it even cheaper still. One of the advantages of growing up with a chartered accountant-cum-businessman. You learnt different ways of making money. Taking this music teacher woman back to Butterworth, meant travelling a different route to her normal one. Shit, why me, wondered Fenella.
“Hello, hello, are you there?” asked the voice, starting to sound a little frantic.
“Yes, sorry, I’m here, I was just thinking,” said Fenella twirling her hair.
“I can pay you,” said the music teacher.
Now this sounded much better, thought Fenella, who was known to be quite mercenary at times. “Sure, no problem. I leave at 8am on this Thursday. Can you come to the farm? My address is…”
The car was packed like a can of sardines. Ten boxes of frozen chickens packed with bags of ice, which hopefully would stay frozen during the twelve hour trip, Fenella and Kirsty’s bag and the large trunk that the music teacher had brought. Thank God my Dad bought me a station wagon when I got the job in Umtata. Fenella had also agreed to give the Kindergarten teacher a lift back to Umtata, but luckily she only had a small backpack which she could put between her feet in the front. Fenella was relieved that she was driving, as she had the most leg-room of all.
The music teacher with the melodious voice turned out to be a frumpy old fifty-something year old spinster who was leaving home for the first time. Her flowered frock, she said was made by her mother, and her little pack of sandwiches, also made by her mother, indicated to Fenella that something was not quite right with the woman. After half an hour, Fenella turned up the music on the car stereo system. There was only so much, “Mummy says,” that both Fenella and the Kindergarten teacher could stand hearing. Butterworth was even more a one-horse town than Umtata. Fenella wondered how on earth the music teacher was going to cope living and teaching there. It sure sounded like, stopping short of wiping her arse, Mummy did everything else for her. While Fenella had endless patience for people with special needs, she had no patience for needy, clingy, whingey people like the music teacher with the floral frock.
Fenella had studied the map before embarking on the trip. However, her nerves were so on edge with the non-stop complaining from the woman in the back, that eight hours into the trip, she realized that she’d either missed a turn or taken a wrong turn. “Shit, we’re going the long way!” Fenella said in frustration.
“Mummy said it’s not good to use those bad words and swear like that,” came the music teacher’s voice from the back. Fenella narrowed her eyes and glared at the music teacher’s reflection in her rearview mirror. Sometimes the money you get paid to do something is not worth the hassle.
Fenella was driving up the steep mountain pass just outside of Fort Beaufort, approaching the bend, when a sedan car came careening around the bend on her side of the road. Fenella hit the brakes, causing several boxes of not-so-frozen chickens to slip forward and knock the music teacher on the back of the head, dislodging the bun in her grey-streaked auburn hair. The tilt of the boxes ensured that the chicken blood from the slowly defrosting chickens, poured onto the neck and floral frock of the irritating music teacher. Although Fenella had virtually brought her car to a halt, there was no way to avoid the oncoming car, short of flying off the edge of the cliff into the valley below.
“Bastard’s going to hit, hold tight!” Fenella shouted as she managed to swerve away to avoid a head-on collision. Unfortunately, the sedan managed to bounce off the rear panel on the driver’s side of the station wagon. Looking in her rearview mirror, Fenella wasn’t sure if the screaming from the basket-case in the back, was because of the impact or the chicken blood dripping on her neck.
“I’m bleeding to death! I’m bleeding to death!” screamed the woman, sounding like she was a diva in an Italian Opera.
“God give me strength,” said Fenella as she climbed out to see how much damage there was to her car and to hear what the maniac driver had to say about the accident.
Two four wheel drive vehicles travelling behind Fenella had pulled off the road, and their drivers were getting out of their vehicles.
The maniac driver opened his car door and checked to see that he only had the bare minimum of damage, waved his fist at Fenella shouting, “Bloody woman drivers!” Then he hopped into his car and drove off, leaving Fenella stranded. It was obvious that she wasn’t going anywhere for a while, as the rear panel had crumpled and covered the rear tyre, preventing it from turning.
“Shit! Shit! Shit!” cursed Fenella as she viewed the damage, more concerned about the chickens completely defrosting, than the blithering idiot music teacher sharing the back seat with Kirsty, who was calmly eating a packet of chips.
“Ah, those guys in the four-wheel-drives will be able to fix this,” said the Kindergarten teacher, who was being quite positive about the whole debacle.
“Hi there lady,” said the four-wheel-drive guys, “We saw the whole thing, it wasn’t your fault. We’ll go down to the police station to fill in witness reports.”
“We’re policemen, but off-duty,” said the blonde one with a tattoo on his left forearm.
“But don’t worry, I took the prick’s number plate, so we can track him,” said the tall one wearing a rugby jersey.
“Sorry, I can’t follow you to the police station. My car’s not going anywhere,” Fenella pointed to the wheel covered by the crumpled rear panel.
“No worries, Lady,” said the rugby jersey helpfully, “We can fix that so you can get home, but you’ll have to get that properly repaired sometime. “Hey, Danie! Bring us a crowbar!”
The delay at the police station had caused more chickens to start defrosting and drip blood. The music teacher had decided that only God could help her to arrive at her destination, not Fenella or her Mummy, and was rocking back and forth praying loudly. The Kindergarten teacher turned up the music to the full, to block out the prayers from the back. Kirsty blissfully went to sleep. For the umpteenth time, Fenella wondered how the hell she always ended up in these strange situations.
In Butterworth, Fenella happily removed the hysterical music teacher’s blood-splattered carpet-covered trunk, and cheerily waved her goodbye and wished her luck for the future. As the music teacher was no longer able to speak coherently, Fenella and the Kindergarten teacher had no idea what she’d said in reply. After dropping the Kindergarten teacher off at her house in Umtata, Fenella realised that she hadn’t had a pee for about ten hours. “Stop the world, I need to pee,” she said to Kirsty who’d just woken up in the back. However, when she pulled into the drive of her block of flats, she noticed that someone had broken the lock off her garage door, and parked their car inside her garage. “What on earth?” wondered Fenella.
Just when the day couldn’t get any worse, Fenella discovered that her maid had gone out and locked up the flat. Needing to pee really badly, so badly that she could hardly walk, Fenella decided to break into her flat. And of course, she had to quickly re-freeze the defrosted chickens, otherwise her friend wouldn’t buy them and she’d lose money instead of making money.
“How to go about breaking and entering?” Fenella wondered out loud. She spotted an open small fanlight window at the top of the large kitchen windows. “Now, if I can stand on the wall, hold onto the TV aerial pole, I can step across over nothingness and a sheer drop, onto the window ledge. Hmmm…the trick is going to be letting go of the pole to hold onto the window frame.” The step across onto the window ledge proved to be far harder than Fenella had anticipated. She hadn’t taken into account that she would have to do the splits, and with an urgent requirement to pee, it was a near impossible task. However, Fenella was fuelled by the adrenaline of trying to keep her bladder under control, and somehow managed to get her leg across onto the ledge. Even though she wasn’t a Catholic, Fenella said six Hail Marys for good luck as she let go of the aerial pole to grab the window frame while being suspended in the air with one foot on the wall and the other on the window ledge. “Now,” said Fenella breathing heavily from the effort, “all I have to do is slip my hand through the fanlight, open the big window and climb in.” With her acrobatic act accomplished, Fenella dashed to the toilet to pee, and only then, unlocked the back door and brought Kirsty and the unfrozen chickens up from the car.
When Fenella had recovered from her harrowing day, she inspected her garage to try and get an idea of who had broken in. With alarm, she discovered that whoever had broken in and parked their car there, had also opened and gone through all Luke’s boxes of banned literature.
“Hey Fenella,” Riaan de Wet said, standing in the entrance to her garage. “Didn’t think you were coming back today; we expected you over the weekend.”
“Do you know anything about this car parked in my garage?” asked Fenella, noting the rising blush creeping up Riaan’s neck.
“Ah, ja, it’s my friends. They’re visiting and we didn’t think you’d mind if we used your garage.”
Fenella could feel anger rise through her body, and she stood up stiffly and asked, “Didn’t you realise my garage was locked?”
“Oh ja, but we can replace the lock,” said Riaan sheepishly, looking at the broken lock lying on the ground near his foot.
“And who’s been opening these boxes and poking around in them?” Fenella was on a roll, enjoying the cocky Riaan’s discomfort.
“Ah, that would be Tinus. Um, I’m not sure what he was looking for. Tinus was the other Standard 5 teacher at the school, rumoured to be working for the South African secret police. Charming that he was the one rifling through her boxes, thought Fenella, determined to make Luke move them to another place of safety, and to get rid of creepy Riaan standing in front of her.
“Next time, please ask my permission before using and damaging my property,” said Fenella kicking the broken lock out of the way as she headed off to Luke’s ground floor flat, to see if he was back. “And move that bloody car out of my garage.”
Luke was back and sitting in his lounge drinking a beer and listening to Dire Straits on his stereo, one of the few items Attila had let him keep.
“Hey Luke, I’m back and you have to move those boxes of books, pronto.” Fenella cut right to the chase. She’d had a bad day and wasn’t interested in exchanging pleasantries.
“Well, hello to you too,” said Luke standing up to give Fenella a kiss. “I’ll move the boxes, and I have some news. Felicity is moving back with the kids next weekend. We’re going to try again, but don’t worry, we can still see each other.”
Fenella couldn’t help it. She felt her eyes well up with tears. Could the day, or for that matter, her life, get any worse?