Chapter 6 (October 2000 – ROCKY ROAD)
Conrad Camphor was an attractive young man. His black hair slightly unruly, the muddy brown eyes with thick lashes slightly too intense and restless, all added to His charm. The charm he can switch on or off like a lightbulb. Underneath the eye-soothing exterior sat a seething, boiling temper that needed not a lot of encouragement to explode. He usually took it out on the nearest and that means, most often, the dearest. Quite a few exes can testify to that. While other girls looked on with drooling mouths and envy eyes (for why can’t it be them who dangled from that arm) the trophy-face of the moment were often hidden behind dark glasses and walked painfully upright with ginger ribs. Even back pain or black-n-blue finger marks bangled around the upper-arms. Even his family was very wary of Conrad’s temper. He turned violent more often than a chameleon changed colour.
Conrad Camphor was bad news in any language.
It was the weekend before Christmas December 2000.The mall was busy. If you were looking for that goodwill-feeling, that dashing through the snow fantasy, that festive frenzy and all that togetherness-shit, the mall was the wrong place to be. Mothers were pushing their loaded trolleys through a curtain of people - always going the opposite way. Puffed-up fathers’ with small offspring on the hip or/and one dangling from the hand, were looking all but festive and happy. Children were running wild, looking for, and jiving in front of the newest toy. Most of the time silly nonsense, thought up three months before Christmas by Variety-Shops, advertised to death on TV as the best thing since sliced bread, and sold by the millions before the next craze took off. However, this one is an absolute must have for every child. That same, “absolute must have marvel”(broken or in need of batteries only found in Alaska, or most likely never worked from the start) will be laying on the floor three days after Christmas and someone will threw into some cupboard the moment it’s been tripped over, where it will be forgotten. But that doesn’t matter at all. That dad is going to pay for it via his credit-card up to June of the next year. That doesn’t matter. We live in an instant world and what children want, children get – all in the spirit of goodwill and Christmas, of course.
Under an African heat of thirty degrees or more (for despite all the snow-bells, jingle-bells and winter-wonderland decorations, South-Africa is in December in the height of summer) a sweaty Father Christmas tried his best to keep a screaming toddler, scared to death by the “Ho-Ho-Ho-Halitosis-breathe”, from falling off his knee, whilst the moment is been captured for future references on camera.
To tell the truth, the mall was trying for even the best-natured souls, let alone a hot-head like Conrad Camphor. When they, at last, reached his white Citi-golf he was about boiling over. On the out, he’d already aimed his fist at his girlfriend of the moment. She couldn’t provide change for the parking and had to go back to find some at the first shop. On top of the fact that she’d spent his time, patience (which he never possessed in the first place) and money on shit for friends and family. Okay, it was her money, but so what! He told her only an hour! Its three hours later! He wanted to go home long ago. He needed a fist full of beer and Telly-soccer. Maybe even score some Meth from Boytjie and then prowled the streets with his gang-banger pals. That’s more his style. At least he could show people on his street and in his neighbourhood who’s the boss. He was sick of people bumping into him. Him – Conrad Camphor! He nearly popped out his blade a few times. As he put his foot down and reversed his white Golf out of the stupid parking, which was miles away from the fuckin’ shops anyway, he backed out in front of a few cars. They had leant on their brakes and horns. Some well-chosen words flew through the air and even a few birds were flicked, which all proofed to be adding fuel to his fire.
Jasmine sat as close as she was could to the passenger-door. As far away from Conrad as was possible in this small car. She knew his temper by now and was scared shitless. She was still recovering from some sore ribs and she just knew he was going to take it out on her sooner or later.
Some warned her about his bloody temper, and it meant “bloody” as in someone’s blood. Yet, she didn’t care at the time. She’d had to have him! Now she’s got him and she wished she hadn’t. She didn’t know what to do for she was forewarned about leaving him – it would be as close as one could came to signing your own death-warrant.
Conrad was in a foul mood and by now she’d learned to keep her trap shut as long as “Mr Hyde” was in charge. She wanted to break it up quite some time ago, but was too afraid for her life or that of her family. Why he insisted on coming along to the mall was a mystery. Although, he did hinted that she might be cheating on him.
Jasmine’s head jerked forwards and backwards as Conrad contemplated the traffic and she prayed silently that they would get home in one piece. He flatly ignored a four-way stop and sped away whilst the inner-city traffic-music blared at a crescendo behind and around them.
It just fed the inner beast.
A red traffic-light halted his mad run.
An old man was waiting in his old, but immaculate BMW, for the light to turn green. Maybe he wasn’t looking at the light. Maybe he just didn’t moved as quickly as Conrad wanted him too. Whatever the case may be, it was enough to blow the volcano’s top. He raced past the old man, pulled up next to him, ignoring oncoming traffic, ordering Jasmine to open her window and then spat at the old man. His window was closed. The old man’s surprised face and surprised eyes watched as the spit slowly gravitated down his window. Then his stunned eyes settled on Conrad’s angry, sweaty face.
Jasmine was frozen in her seat. She didn’t even try to wipe the spittle off her face that was meant for the ole man but landed on her.
The old man was also frozen for a moment. Then he tried to get away. His car stalled. He got it going again and tried to make a get-away.
Conrad was in his element. Scaring people was his kind of fun when his fury was at full height.
He raced past the BMW. He swerved to the left and rammed the side of the BMW, leaving the old man no choice but to climb the curb. As the car balanced halfway on the road and halfway on the sidewalk, Camphor pulled a baseball bat from the back seat, walked over to the baffled old man’s car and smashed the windscreen with the first blow. The second smashed the old man’s head like a coconut. He calmly got back into the white Golf, threw the bat on the backseat and sped off amidst stunned, shocked road-users and on-lookers.
The old man died instantaneously.
A woman, who had to swerve violently to avoid a head-on collision with the ill-tempered Camphor, watched in horror as the blatant murder took place across from her. Julia Rampele kept as calm as possible. With a trembling hand she wrote down the number plate and called the police. The audacity of the cold-blooded road-rage murder was astonishing! Nearly ten people witnessed it close-up.
Four hours later Conrad Camphor was arrested in a bar close to his home. He didn’t even remove the baseball bat from his car. Some of the old man’s brains were still glistening on the murder weapon.
Mrs Rampele and ten other motorists turned state-witnesses alongside a scared Jasmine. Conrad Camphor was found guilty and sentenced to fifteen years.
He was paroled after five.
While in jail Jasmine got threats through the grapevine that Conrad was to visit her first, and foremost, once set free. Although there were ten other witnesses, he focussed his anger on her and was hell bend to vent his low-esteem on someone. She was first in line. He blamed her for his “situation” – as he called it. Jasmine left her parents’ house and went as far away from Pretoria as she could.
Two weeks before Conrad Camphor’s release Jasmine Bruines was found in a field somewhere in the Grabouw district. Her throat cut with a wire. Conrad, of course, had an air-tight alibi. He was still in jail. No evidence was ever found, no arrests were made. Conrad Camphor was free to terrorise all and everyone again. As he’s personality proved, Camphor wasn’t the modest type. Boasting to all and everyone how far his “arm” can reach, and those who try to mess with him should think twice. It was evident to all that he had a definite hand in Jasmine sudden demise. Camphor and his gang became the devils of their neighbourhood again, as they’d done before.
Everyone was scared shitless.
On a cold Saturday in May 2007 Conrad Camphor celebrated his twenty fourth birthday in a spirited way. Camphor and his thugs drove down to the “Blue Horizon”. Not the most fashionable night club in town, in fact, it was down-right nasty, but the girls were easy and the booze tasted the same - or had the same effect – and was cheap. They were, to put it mildly, rowdy! Spitting on the floor, grabbing the waitresses tits, swearing the devil out of hell - to name but a few.
The fights were sure to follow!
Hell, boys will be boys, and, they were after all “MEN” in their own eyes.
Then she walked into the joint, as the singer in “Big Spender” put it so brilliantly. She had skin like caramel. Long, reddish dark hair swayed with each of those tantalising hip-thrusts on those six-inch high heels and a sweet smile curled her lips. An angel entered hell.
A vision in red.
It was as if time froze for a few seconds. Eyes were glued to the beautiful woman and none deviated from her for that one moment in time. Women forgot to chew their gum, look at their nails, scanned their phones or threw back their hair flirtingly. Men stopped drinking, swearing and grabbing.
All attention was on the woman in red.
For a minute or so, life proceeded like a silent, black-and-white film, in slow-motion, before the buzz started up again.
‘What the fuck is she doing in this dump?’ Reginald belted, ‘it’s like a wet dream coming true!’
They all laughed disgustingly and more disgusting remarks flew around - all more profound and cussed than the last; all loud and audible for the audience and the angel in red.
Conrad put a hand through his curly hair, and, ala Elvis put the collar of his faded blue velveteen jacket up. ‘I know exactly what she’s looking for boys,’ he thrust his pelvis to and fro a few times, made accompanied grunting noises, ’I’ve got just the right package to deliver to her! If she can handle it!’
His pals laughed and shouted obscenities about his manhood and fuckin’ abilities as he swaggered towards the bar with a smooth smile.
He was charming.
She was immediately taken.
They chatted easily and very cosily. At the right moment Camphor leaned in and revealed with a whisper and tongue-lick in her ear that it was his birthday. She smiled brightly and insisted on buying him a drink. As the barman placed her white wine and his whisky before them, she leaned in, her lips touched his ear provocatively as she whispered, ‘Maybe the two of us can go somewhere less noisy after we finished our drinks,’ she glanced at his friends who were still shouting profanities at them. They didn’t seem to tire of it.
‘I mean, just the two of us.’ She licked with her tongue over her lips and parted them slightly.
God, this was his lucky night. She was gorgeous! He gulped down the drink and wished she would do the same. She ordered him another whisky as she sipped her white wine slowly and teasingly. Her eyes and mouth and tongue flirting with him all the while.
She wanted him!
And, God, he wanted her!
As she put the empty glass down her fingers darted over his shirt and her hand flirted on his leg. She licked her lips again and he nearly burst out of his trousers.
‘Ready, BIG boy?’ she whispered coquettishly as her hand caressed him.
‘Ready and waiting and wanting.’ He said with a hoarse voice.
At first he thought it was his imagination or the lust, but his tongue felt a little thick in his mouth. Maybe he was a tad drunk, after all, he did had a few before she came in. He heard the slurred words coming from his mouth, but she didn’t notice. Must be the anticipation about what was to follow. He wiped the drool from his mouth. He got off the bar-stool and nearly stumbled. The barstool was oddly higher than he remembered and he grasped at the filthy copper bar-railing not to fall down.
‘Whoops.’ She smiled and put her arms around his waist to keep him upright. ‘Not quite yet, sweetheart.’ She whispered.
Conrad suddenly felt dizzy. God, he hoped he could keep it up. This girl was a dream. He knew he had a few to many, but he always could hold his booze, couldn’t he? He looked up. The lights were melting together just to split apart again.
‘Let me help you.’ Her voice was coming spook-like and slow to his ears, and even slower to his brain. ‘You need some fresh air.’
He felt her body against him as she strengthened her arm round his waist and he held on tight. In the distant he heard ’whooping’ sounds coming from his pals. He tried smiling suavely at them, but it was more like a foolish grin. He waved at them with a hand that felt oddly like a barbell. He tried to wink, but both eyes closed at the same time and he gave that up.
Outside the girl walked off with him hanging on for dear life. He pointed stupidly at his car standing on the pavement – for Conrad Camphor does not look for parking like a loser. She ignored him and kept on walking, pulling and dragging him all the way. In a darkened spot a black SUV pulled up next to them. Two pairs of hands settled him in the front seat.
Two pairs of hands, Camphor thought before the light switched off.
‘He’s all yours.’ The woman in red said as she took off the high heels, replacing them with sneakers and pulled the wig from her head. She shoved it into a large raffia-bag and covered herself with a long black coat retrieved from the backseat, then walked off.
Her work was done.
‘For you, Jasmine.’ She whispered as she walked to the station. Conrad Camphor ended her sister’s life, now she’s returning the favour.
When Conrad Camphor came to, he was lying in the dirt at the side of a road. He felt queasy, and his mouth was as dry as the dirt he was lying on.
‘Conrad,’ a gloved hand pulled his head up by his hair, ‘can you hear me?’
He nodded slowly, afraid that his head may fall off, or explode, one or the other. It wasn’t the voice of the angel in red. This face was a little blurry, but it didn’t look like the angel’s face either.
‘Where am I?’ He asked just before nausea bubbled up in his throat and a projectile of vomit sloshed all over his shirt. Someone was pulling him by the Elvis collar into the middle of the road as he heaved another projectile.
‘As you decent into hell,’ the voice grovelled, ‘remember Jan Bresler and Jasmine Bruines.’
‘Wha…?’ another flood of nausea put a stop to his question.
Even though he was still in a slightly comatose-state he started to panic. Jan Bresler? Jasmine? Of course he remembered them, but what the hell was going on?
‘Bro, do you like ice-cream?’ the voice gravelled again like a ghost in his brain, ‘”Rocky-Road” I would say is your flavour.’
Just the word ice-cream made his stomach wrench another yellow splat onto the tar.
He tried to look at the voice, ‘What the hell… ice-cream…’ The baseball blow landed just between his shoulders and rendered him nearly unconscious for the second time.
‘Not ice-cream, ass-hole, “I SCREAM”!’ hollowed the voice into his brain, ‘That was for Jan Bresler and this for Jasmine Bruines.’
The voice drifted away.
Conrad was unable to move.
The next – and last – thing that went through Conrad’s misty brain, the last thing his dull retinas and throbbing head could formulate was the white light. Far too late he realised it was two head-lights growing bigger and bigger and brighter and brighter.
He managed a chilling scream before he was mangled to death by a lorry.
Conrad Camphor would never ever take his temper out on anyone, ever again.