All this talk of crime is making me jumpy. Very jumpy.
On Saturday night Brenda and I were sitting in front of the television finishing what in her mind passes for supper, when the dogs started barking wildly and ran from the room.
She instructed me to investigate, knowing full well that once I have descended into my comfy chair, it is only offers of sex and beer that stand a remote chance of getting me to move.
The dogs were making a terrible racket so I turned up the volume on the TV. Some kind of gun battle was raging and the noise inside the house was almost unbearable.
All of a sardine, Brenda jumped up as if she had been bitten on the bum. She grabbed her knife and fork off the table and went into a defensive crouch. Here we go again, I thought, steeling myself for another post-prandial skirmish.
But she wasn’t looking at me. She was staring, eyes wide with fear, in the direction of the kitchen where the dogs were growling and backing into the lounge.
I wasn’t overly concerned, because animals can see dead people and they can’t always handle it. Then Brenda screamed, “Who’s there?” I almost jumped out of my skin.
It was like having a hysterical John Edwards in the house.
In one fluid movement I was out of my chair and sidling towards the kitchen in a crab-like fashion. Brenda was behind me, heavily armed with cutlery.
“What are you going to do?” I whispered. “Eat them?”
She shoved me and I stumbled into the kitchen ready to give the intruders a damn good talking to about the sheer bloody rudeness of breaking and entering at a time when civilised white folk were sitting down to their dinner.
But nobody was there. Just Boris the cat, staring at the dead people who had caused all the fuss in the first place. I was so relieved that I exhaled loudly from every orifice in my body.
The dogs walked in and looked at me as if I should feed them instead of kick them to death for causing such mayhem.
I got down on my hands and knees and explained to the dumb brutes that unless they got their act together, they would come back as township dogs in their next life. Pedigree counts for nothing if you can’t tell the difference between a spook and a yellow-eyed varmint wearing a balaclava.
Once she had got her voice back, Brenda insisted we devise an action plan to be implemented in the event of a security breach. I said with talk like that she should get a job at the Pentagon. She said I should get a job, period.
“Let’s not get distracted,” I said. “The first thing we need is a drink.” Brenda has no sense of occasion and insisted that we first devise an emergency exit strategy.
“Listen to me,” I said, firmly. “We are not Americans and this is not Iraq. First we drink, then we think. Look at George Bush. He stopped drinking and now he can’t think.”
In the end we compromised by wandering around the house, vodka in hand. It’s a big place. Three storeys with swimming pool and sweeping sea views. I only rented it because if nobody had to live in these mansions the working class would have nothing to aspire to, and I couldn’t live with the knowledge that my selfish actions were helping to perpetuate the cycle of poverty.
Even though our landlord is an international arms dealer who lives in a fortified schloss on the Rhine, I knew he would never allow us to electrify the burglar bars, plant land-mines in his garden and dig a moat around the property. Especially not now that he has given us until the end of the month to vacate the premises.
Soon after we moved in six months ago, I hacksawed one of the bars off the security gate so the dogs could get out at night and defecate in the neighbour’s garden instead of in my bedroom.
When the National Party was in power, housebreakers were skinny little runts with not much meat on their haunches. Back then they could easily have slipped through the gate, but now they are corpulent from gorging on the spoils of freedom and would almost certainly get stuck.
We live in that part of Camps Bay known as Klein Deutschland, an area one might expect would attract a better class of criminal. Sadly, this is not the case.
The house across the road was recently burgled by two men who tried to steal the owner’s Mercedes GL 450, but they had to abandon it because they had no idea how to start the thing. Just imagine. Robbers who can’t drive an SUV. This country really is going to the dogs.
Brenda said that since we couldn’t make the house varmint-proof, we needed to agree on what we were going to do when they slithered in with weapons in their hands and evil in their hearts.
“Show me your moves,” she said. I drained my glass, raised one eyebrow and said, “Hey, sugar lips. How you doing?”
She gave me the lazy eye and said that line might work on a bottie bandit, but not on a genuine badass bandit.
I walked to the edge of the balcony and checked out the distance to the neighbour’s roof. I reckoned I could make it. Hell, with a drug-crazed, knife-wielding madman on my heels, I could make it to the top of Table Mountain.
“And what about me?” asked Brenda. That’s one of the problems with heterosexual marriage. As the man, you are expected to protect your wife from danger.
But what if flight comes so much more naturally than fight? What if my body decides to run away of its own volition? Is my mind strong enough to overrule my legs?
I hope not.