Spent the day playing piano again. Sometimes I imagine galloping on a horse must feel like racing through a piece, fingers flying, heart racing, jumping up and down for joy. Laughing when I tripped all over myself. Delirium. The day sped by. The more energy I used, the more I generated. Just didn’t get tired.
Late afternoon I had to stop to go and get food from the shop. I went via the beach, as usual, walking on air. That beach is amazing, its topography changes wildly from week to week. The world looked new. I wanted for nothing. Happy as a pig in shit, I. Charming expression, that.
I bought my food and headed back home along the beach, which was more deserted by then. I passed two children, a boy and a girl, round about 12 years old, playing in the sand, with nobody looking after them. Something made me stop and ask if their parents were around. The boy said his mother was down the beach – she’d gone for a run, leaving them there. Oh.
I walked on a bit, then decided to wait until their mother returned. It was a very strong feeling in me. Had to do it. Got angry at the mother – who the heck would leave their two children alone on a South African beach? While I was waiting, I saw a man walking towards the children. Something about him gave me the creeps. I moved closer to the kids. The man passed.
The mother finally returned. I asked her if I could speak to her – I thought maybe she wasn’t from here, and didn’t know that children go missing all the time. I also wanted to tell her about the man, to warn her. She was furious with me and spat at me rudely, told me to mind my own business.
I moved on, angry myself that she hadn’t cared that she’d left her children unattended to, vulnerable.
After a while she came running by with her children. Well, she was jogging and they were trying to keep up with her. They eventually gave up and lagged behind. She didn’t look back once.
Up ahead I saw the creepy man sitting on the beach. I felt uneasy again, but he seemed to be in his own world, and I walked on past. By this time the woman had turned and was walking towards me, children in tow. I suddenly felt somebody try to grab my bag off my left shoulder. I whipped round, and it was the creepy man. I yelled at him “fuck you, NOOOOO!” and without thinking hurled the shopping bags at him. He let go and ran away.
I was shaken. The woman was a few meters away from me, running again, towards me, and in the same direction as the man was running. I wasn’t sure if she’d seen the incident, and I wanted to warn her. She refused to slow down and just ran past me.
I walked home thinking of the irony: she’d gone off jogging down the beach and left her children. I’d stopped to make sure they were okay and stayed till she came back, then the man I’d protected her kids from attacked me – and she didn’t stop to ask me if I was okay. You know what? Fuck her. I’m glad he attacked me and not the kids. I was able to protect myself.
I walked home feeling shaky, but glad I hadn’t collapsed or fainted or given the bastard my bag. Then a man came towards me and told me people were looking for me at the beach – somebody had caught the creepy man, and they wanted me to identify him! My landlady drove me down to the police station, and I filled out a report. Quite a few people were there, the anger levels were high. I suddenly worried that the man would be beaten up at the station, which I didn’t want at all. I felt some sense of empathy for him. Until I had to identify him, through one-way glass. It was scary seeing him. I’m lucky he didn’t pull a knife on me. He was a vicious -looking thug.
Guess who was the witness? The mother. She’d seen the man mugging me and she ran right past me, didn’t even stop to ask if I was okay. Didn’t put that part in her police report though. In fact she played the role of hero. I was so pissed off with her that she wasn’t sick to her stomach at the thought that she’d left her children vulnerable to very real danger, and that she’d run past me when she’d seen me being attacked. And now she was garnering the kudos?
Well, it was horrible being mugged, it was a shock to my system. But he didn’t hurt me, didn’t get to steal anything from me, and he’s in jail now. The community and the police acted very swiftly, it left me feeling protected. In the end, everybody was protected. The children’s mother wasn’t there to protect them but I somehow was, and I in turn was protected by my own capacity to think on my feet and by the fact that my attacker didn’t pull a weapon. And then the police caught him – with the mother’s help! and that of a bunch of other people.
The only person who got hurt was the criminal. You live by the sword, you die by the sword.
I’m going to bed now. Tomorrow I’m playing the piano again, and writing my script. Life in a small South African town.