I turn my stoned, half-closed eyes to my left and see, over on the wall by my kitchen area, a poster of Mira Asule in a string bikini. She’s a pornographic model whose pictures I’ve worshipped and enjoyed looking at online over the years.
Recently, I’ve tried to resist looking at such pictures and video, not so much out of a wish to strengthen myself morally as out of a wish to avoid getting yet another virus on my laptop. The last thing I am is a saint.
Since the Indian music has ended, I get up and put on some electronic dance music. I sit back down at my coffee table. I look down on it, with its lines of ketamine not yet snorted, my glass of bourbon, my ecstasy pills (including the half-pill I haven’t taken yet), and my marijuana. My ecstasy high is wearing off, so I swallow that other half-pill with a gulp of Jim Beam.
“The last thing I am is a saint,” I whisper.
A loud bomb blows up not so far away outside. I feel the room shake. The gunfire outside is louder, nearer. Thankfully, my ketamine high is still strong enough to give me that illusory feeling of protection, so I don’t need to take another snort just yet.
We’re all going to die in that war outside, anyway; I’d might as well die happy.
After all, I’m no saint.
I close my eyes and continue my reverie.
I’m inside that mansion, in a room where a party is going on. I’m with male friends, including my cousin David, and loud electronic music is playing. Half-naked strippers are dancing around us. David has one in front of him with only a red thong on, while the one in front of me–Mira Asule–is gloriously naked from head to toe and grinning at me as if hoping I’ll choose her to be my wife…instead of the woman my parents–the king and queen–want me to marry.
“Enjoy this while you can,” I hear the voice of my father say as if it were the voice of a god from up in the heavens. “For tomorrow, you will marry Jessie Dara, the pretty daughter of one of my business partners.”
Now the room of the mansion looks like one in an Oriental palace. Mira, instead of being naked, is in an Indian getup, with darker skin and a red dot on her forehead. She’s dancing to Indian, rather than electronic, music now.
I pick up some gold coins and jewels and toss them her way. Then I pick up a large goblet of wine and drink a big gulp from it.
I look back up at Mira and see her lovely, skinny nakedness again, as she originally was, with peach-white skin, wavy brown hair, and those hypnotic brown eyes of hers. She’s bent over, legs spread out wide and exposing all of her anatomical secrets to me; she’s grinning at me upside-down from between her legs. I take an indulgent look at all of her, then look down at my glass of Jim Beam and Coke, and the lines of ketamine.
The Indian music has switched back to electronic music, the Oriental palace is the mansion again, and instead of gold and jewels, I have plain old paper money. I pick up a few hundred dollar bills and give them to her.
“Thank you, Sid,” she says with a giggle when taking the money, and then she rubs her sugary breasts against my face. I look down at the table, and instead of seeing ketamine, I see lines of cocaine. I’m tempted to snort a line, but I resist.
I look up. Instead of seeing Mira’s pretty, smiling face, I see that of my bride, Jessie. We kiss, and I hear, instead of pounding electronic music (or Indian music, for that matter), the applause of wedding guests out in the grassy backyard of the mansion. I also hear Mendelssohn’s Wedding March: I’d rather hear the electronica again.
Among the guests I can see my father grinning from ear to ear; he’s obviously so glad he’s kept me from going outside our home and seeing the world, but I still have an itch to know how the less fortunate out there live. My stepmother, the queen, is standing beside my father, smirking at me with what looks as if she has suspicious thoughts in her head. Is she reinforcing his wish to keep me locked up in our prison of a palace?
Yes, instead of the mansion and its backyard of green grass, I see the inside of our regal palace again. The whole family is in our royal finery again, including Jessie, who is no longer wearing a modern bridal gown and veil–she’s in colourful, resplendent, luxurious clothing. She also has a baby in her arms–our son, Raoul.
“Are you ready to take on the crown, my son?” Father asks me. Instead of answering, I look out the window to my right and at the outer castle wall, wondering what is beyond it.
“Sid?” Jessie asks me.
“Sidney Arthur Gordimer!” my stepmother shouts at me. “Your father, the king, just asked you a question!”
“What?” I say, looking back at him.
“Answer him!” the queen shouts.
I open my eyes and see my humble living room again, with the drugs and my drink on the coffee table, the poster of Mira on the wall, and the electronic music pounding away on my CD player.
I’m no saint, I think. I’m no king, either.
I hear the bombs and gunfire outside.
“And I’m sure as shit no prince,” I say. “I’m a goner.”