The Curse of the Ripe Tomato
57 pages

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57 pages

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A hilarious send-up of Enid Blyton adventure stories. It mocks fundamentalism, racism, and pseudo-intellectuality. The novel asks, in the most unlikely manner, for reconciliation among the blighted peoples of Zimbabwe.



Publié par
Date de parution 29 décembre 2001
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9780797493742
Langue English

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0350€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.


The Curse of the Ripe Tomato

John Eppel

ISBN 978-0-7974-9374-2
Cover Artwork: Sindiso Nyoni
The characters in this novel are fictitious. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
Copyright John Eppel, 2001
First published in 2001 by amaBooks P.O. Box AC1066, Ascot, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe email: amabooksbyo
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher.
Author s Acknowledgements
I thank my friends and colleagues : Maureen van der Horn, Jane Morris, Brian Jones and Hamandawana Zhou for helping me make this publication possible. I thank Professor Anthony Chennels for editing the manuscript and Kenyon Stirling for his legal advice.
Chapter One . We Meet an Old Friend
Chapter Two . A Curious Thing
Chapter Three . Duiker has an Idea
Chapter Four . An Unexpected Guest
Chapter Five . Chappy is Very Angry
Chapter Six . Honey is Rather Difficult
Chapter Seven . A Spot of Trouble
Chapter Eight . In the Middle of the Night
Chapter Nine . Things Begin to Happen
Chapter Ten . Things Go on Happening
Chapter Eleven . Getting Ready for Camping Out
Chapter Twelve . What s the Best Thing to Do?
Chapter Thirteen . On the Road Again
Chapter Fourteen . Quite a Lot Happens
Chapter Fifteen . Things Go on Happening
Chapter Sixteen . The Adventure Boils Up
Chapter Seventeen . Queer Happenings
Chapter Eighteen . Well Done, Aunty Frances!
Chapter Nineteen . Things Come Right at Last
Chapter One
We Meet an Old Friend
Duiker Berry had come to the dregs of his drink; he filtered the last of the juice through clenched teeth. Some of the dill seeds slipped through the gap between his incisors. He bit into one and the flavour it released produced an unaccountable wave of nostalgia.
He looked sadly at the empty tin of Carmel dill gherkins, the last of the dozen he had brought with him from Zimbabwe, via South Africa. Now he would have to make do with a local product. Duiker had turned to gherkin brine after renouncing the demon drink - in his case, Castle lager - for religious reasons. Like so many of his compatriots who felt they had lost their reason for being when Rhodesia became Zimbabwe, Duiker had knelt, for solace, at the sweetly tapered espadrilles - no socks, mind you - of a most godly young man called Brother Moral MacBraggert, founder of the Blood of Jesus Temple, and known as far afield as Chirundu, Triangle, and Umdidi for the power of healing in his right foot.
Duiker always felt slightly guilty after downing a tin of brine in one sitting. He preferred it chilled but there was no refrigerator in the Security Guard s room. There was a stove, however - what the English called a cooker - where the day-time guard fried his kippers, the stink of which permeated the entire room. The central heating was uncomfortably warm, and Duiker could not work out how to adjust it to a healthier temperature. It was a passage-like room, so narrow that if Duiker stretched his legs as far as they could go - he gave his company-issue boots a brief appraisal - he could make contact with the opposite wall. It was deep, though, deep enough to accommodate the very long, black, vinyl-covered settee upon which he now sat. Next to the stove was a stainless steel sink with, above it, a little gas-heated geyser, which provided sufficient hot water for Mr Major, the day-time guard, to rinse his tea cup, his utensils, and his frying pan. Next to the sink was a small wooden table which supported an electric kettle and a telephone. It was Duiker s duty to phone head office every hour, on the hour, and make a brief report. In this way the bastards ensured that he didn t fall asleep on the job. With his first pay packet Duiker had cunningly bought a cheap alarm clock. This helped him to get in a number of fifty-five minute snoozes on any given night.
The walls were done in an off-pink gloss which reminded Duiker of a plastic doll he had once bought at the Bulawayo Auction Centre because it, in turn, with its swaths of blonde hair, reminded him of a girl he had once loved to distraction, a cousin of his called Rosie. These walls were grimy with the dust of a great city, and slippery with the condensation of whatever it was of Mr Major s kippers that trended upwards. At the end of the room, sagging like a prolapsed uterus, was a round, baggy curtained window; it looked onto a tarred street, deserted at night, beyond which spread the viscera of semi-industrial London.
Duiker s factory, which reconditioned the engines of Italian cars, was located in Alperton, a good seven miles from his bed-sit in Earls Court. He clocked in at 7p.m. and clocked out at 7a.m. He always expected to meet Mr Major either coming in or going out, but he never did. One of the few things Duiker did know about Mr Major was that he applied some kind of powder - probably for athlete s jock - to his nether regions. The evidence was there every evening, on the seat of their shared WC: a little drift of white where, presumably, Mr Major s balls would have nestled. There was a go-between, a Greek Cypriot called Mr Charalambides who had seven languages at his fingertips, and who greeted Duiker every evening and every morning in all seven. Mr Charalambides would give Duiker snippets of news about Mr Major and, no doubt, he gave Mr Major snippets of news about the polite man from Africa who wore a strange garment on his days off called a safari-suit and which quickly earned him the nick-name, Hotpants.
Duiker sighed, not unhappily - now that he and Nothando had made their decision - and got up to throw his gherkin tin into the rubbish bucket which was situated under the sink. There the reek of kippers was at its most intense. Time to do a token patrol of the factory. It had taken him a few weeks to get accustomed to being completely alone for hours in this vast building with all its silent machinery. He had been afraid, more of ghosts than flesh and blood intruders. Irrational for one who did not believe in ghosts, unless you re talking about the miracle of Christ appearing to his disciples, after the crucifixion. Or Duiker s old friend, Doc Chinaman. But that was when he had been a child; and now he must put away childish things.
His eyes tried to avoid, as he walked, torch in hand, the many pin-ups of nude women plastered by the workers all over the factory walls. But he wasn t very successful. There was one in particular, in the locker room, which compelled him to inspect that area of the factory far more thoroughly than anywhere else. In this pin-up, the girl is bending over, arching her bushy tail at the eye of the beholder. She is naked except for a pair of black high-heeled shoes and a matching pair of open-meshed stockings. Her extended arms are pushing down on her knees, she is slightly pigeon- toed, and her pretty face is turned to the eye of that same beholder who, when he isn t Duiker Gilbert Grace Berry, is someone called Jimmy Naidoo, for, pencilled near the girl s open mouth are the words: I want you, Jimmy Naidoo.
Duiker poked his torch into a few nooks and crannies on the factory floor, made a quick inspection of the reception room, barely glanced at the manage

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