He shrugged. If anybody had a reason to drink, well, Becca had it. That was some messed up family situation right there. Maybe his was more normal than he thought.

Becca put her can down and began tap the soles of her boots together. “I was their solution to their own screwed up lives. They used to be part of these real whacko bible thumpers. Nothing like where we go to church now. Crazy hard-core thing, maybe a cult, I don’t know. But religious, ya know?”

He didn’t, but he nodded anyway.

“So yeah, these weirdos, they told her they could fix her, she just needed to get married, have a baby, and all would sort itself out. Notice she stopped at one?”

He briefly closed his eyes as he recalled all the times when he was younger, begging his parents for a brother or a sister. His father always issued the same reply, “One is more than enough.” Not that his parents were gay, or anything. In fact, he strongly suspected that the reason they were here was because his father liked women too much. Not that anybody had actually said that to him.

Her boots gave a loud rap. “But nobody told me any of this until one day last year, when she was done trying with him. Sixteen years of lying to me. Sixteen years!”

Her voice seemed to reach out and shake the stars. There didn’t seem to be the right words for this. But he wanted her to know he cared. So he gently set a hand on her knee. She placed hers on top of his. Then they clicked their cans and drank more of that terrible cooldrink because it was something to do, something to taste.

They drank, and talked, and drank some more. All the while that crazy band was still playing, and getting worse the later it got. He felt relieved, like this whole pent-up time alone on this tree-encased island was over, and somehow this peachy-pink girl got it more than anybody else he knew.

He had to kiss her. Placing a hand on her cheek, stopping her mid-sentence, he gazed at her in the dim light. Her face felt hot. He wanted to so much but … the contrast. His dark hand on her peachy-now-red cheek was apparent even in the moonlit night and – was he pushing it here in ‘Nowhere America’? She may have joked about lynching but, hey, even in Cape Town he’d never kissed a white girl. He didn’t know why, but he was very aware that he hadn’t.

It doesn’t matter anymore … he thought.

But he couldn’t move.

Her hand came up to his and pressed it firmly against her smooth skin, then she darted right in, smooth and graceful as could be, hitting him full force on the mouth. No Cape Town girl had ever kissed him quite like that. Her tongue pushed against his mouth as he parted his lips. She tasted of that awful cooldrink and too-sweet bubble gum. Kind of like he always thought a white girl would taste, although he couldn’t say why. As those bra-free breasts of hers pressed up against his chest he seriously thought he was going to explode.

They kissed for five minutes or an hour. He couldn’t say. But eventually she pulled away and mentioned needing to check on her “pickup”. As they walked she took one of his hands in hers. Then she tripped, making him wonder if she was holding his hand strictly because she needed him to steady her feet. Then again, she had taken his hand before.

As Becca’s bakkie came into view, five people could be clearly seen dancing in the back. She didn’t seem bothered until they got closer and she spotted another guy taking a leak, spraying the back of the cab.

“Hey, you gonna wash my pickup for me?” she yelled, scooping up a dirt clod from the ground and nailing the guy with it. Malcolm’s cricket coach would have been impressed.

The hit startled the drunk idiot. The guy pitched forward off the bakkie and landed with a thud, his willie still hanging out of his jeans. Somebody flipped their headlights on. The band went silent. Everybody stared. Malcolm knew the guy was going to be hearing about this till the day he left town. That is, if the guy ever managed to escape this place.


Tell us: Are you enjoying the setting of this story in rural America? Do you think Malcolm is being unfair saying his parents adopted him only to show how ‘ethical’ they are?