Wednesday, January 06, 2016

shell shock

This year didn't start with a bang... it was more like an extremely enthusiastic rendition of the most explosive parts of the 1812 Overture.

The enthusiasm began even before Christmas when, late one night as I was getting out of the shower, delinquent kids from the tatty flats behind us hurled a trajectile that exploded forcefully as it hit the bathroom window. My first thought was that it had been a gunshot but when I noticed that the glass was intact I realised exactly what had happened - especially when I recalled having heard sinister snickers and the sound of cowardly feet running off just before the deafening blast.

Now, I realise that it is futile to become angry in cases like these but I quickly dressed my half-dried self and stormed off outside to give the sissies a piece of my shell shocked mind, slamming the bathroom door with such force that the entire house shook. A few sleeping pigeons even dropped from their perches in the stink-wood tree behind the house and blindly fluttered off in a panic.

Of course the culprits had long gone and clearly weren't coming back. Dejectedly I accepted the calmative The One offered and had a cigarette with him, still shaking with rage and fright.

I took to showering in the late afternoon so the light in the bathroom window would not alert the crazed youngsters as to my whereabouts. I wish I could say that that was the last of it but sadly it was only the beginning.

During the days building up to Christmas the random pops, sizzles, volleys and whistles steadily increased, peaking on Christmas Eve. I have to wonder where this has its origins, because where I come from crackers are not associated with Christmas at all. Except those crêpe paper ones at Christmas lunch with a plastic hat and a silly toy.

At a time when others were observing peace on earth and good will toward men, my mind was focused on ways to violently maim and destroy anyone who dared light as much as a sparkler.

Thankfully, after the 25th there was a noticeable slump in the fiery activities around us. In retrospect I can only assume that everyone was saving their best and biggest bungers to usher in the New Year.

The 31st turned out to be an unexpectedly pleasant day. That is, until the sun went down.

Starting at 20:00 we became aware of a barely perceptible rumble all around us. Just like a volcano preparing to erupt it steadily gained impetus as the sand ran out for the last night of the year. My hopes for heavy showers evaporated and at exactly 00:00 the very earth seemed to rupture. We were having a smoke with the dogs outside when we were hit. Major fireworks boomed from every direction and sizzling pieces rained on us as we rushed the dogs inside. We turned up the volume on the radio and tried to comfort our quivering pets.

Around 2:00 the rumble subsided somewhat and we were able to wish one another a happy new year. Cautiously we crept outside to inspect the damage. A sulphurous haze pervaded the cool night air as a light drizzle finally found its way earthwards.

It was deadly quiet when we got up around 11:00 the next morning, a brand new year seductively stretching out before us. The solace was short-lived; as soon as the revelers thawed from their drunken stupor the crackers boomed on again, late into the night. It spilled over into the second day of the year, then into the third and fourth. Every time I imagined it was finally over, a random blast would shake our world anew.

The 5th day of the new year, which happened to be yesterday, was the first genuinely firecracker free day. I am extremely thankful that our lives can finally return to normal for the next 11 months and 20-or-so days.

At the end of this year I plan to be snugly ensconced in a spacious concrete bunker dug into the bowels of the earth, snoozing pets peacefully scattered about, ABBA singing Happy New Year in the background while I serenely sip my favourite tipple, The One I love gazing into my eyes to wish me a happy 2017.

Written by I
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