NOLEEN

a writing by Conrad Kruger van den Bergh

Noleen decided in her mother’s womb that she was not going to play by the rules set down by the rest of humanity. Her mother told me that when the midwife gave Noleen a slap on her bum to get her to breath, she started swinging her arms around, looking like she wanted to slap the woman in the face. Even when she was lying down in the incubator, she looked like she wanted to get out of there. And that’s how she came into this world. Born wild.

By the time Noleen was five, the headmistress at the crèche called her mother to inform her, that sadly they were no longer able to provide Noleen with pre-primary education. That was because she was downright destructive and plain and simply frightening.

The final straw came when she stormed into a Wendy house on the playground, with one of those plastic toy spades, swinging it around like a machine gun. Kicking over kids plastic tables and chairs; making four-year old girls line up against a wall, threatening them with a mass mock execution.

By her eighth birthday Noleen was an experienced shoplifter and by the time she was eleven, experienced in pick pocketing purses and wallets in shopping malls and along the sidewalks. She was arrested a few times and for this and spent time in and out of juvenile detention.

In there she was hostile to everyone. Couldn't fit into any of the development and educational programs. Then she beat up a fellow youth offender. Then she attacked one of the guardians. And so it carried on, year after year.

When she reached her teens and fearing she might end up swinging from the gallows outside the city gates, the Law sent her to a nunnery. She ended up in a local convent where they tried in vain to get some sort of religion into her brain.

With the fear of hell and internal damnation drilled into her skull, there was the far off chance that she might turn into a lady. But she left that place after four years with a tattoo on her left breast and throwing the middle finger to the nunnery and all.

The sad part of it all was that Noleen had decent parents. Her father had a solid job at a tire manufacturing company. He planned to stay there all his life and he built up a decent retirement package. Her mother was mostly a housewife, but did some voluntary work down at the local main library. All in all, a decent couple who did not deserve all the troubles that came their way.

When Noleen reached her twentieth birthday, she was hanging around with a no-good going around with the name “Two-finger-Georgie”. Nobody really knew how he got that name because he had all ten fingers, but everybody suspected it had something to do with the fact that he was a down right murdering criminal. The lowest kind of criminal one could find.

Never in his life did he attempt an honest day’s work. He was living of the pain, suffering and loss of others. For that, I despised him with a passion. If I could have had my way, I would have made sure they locked him up so deep and long, that he would never have been able to see the slightest ray of daylight. Ever.

I walked down to a store one day, about six months ago and I saw her cradling his arm with a huge grin on her face.

“How’s things Noleen?” I asked her. I hated to see her hang around Two-finger-Georgie. Despite her oily black curls sticking into her neck, and her call-girl blood red lipstick, she had a pretty face. The kind of face you’d expect your own daughter to have. And she had an athletic body too. You could see that quite clearly through the tight denims and white T-shirt she was wearing.

Georgie on the other hand, looked like the genetic cesspit of all the useless chromosomal waste ejected from the primordial life soup five billions years ago. His black hair caked in strings of rusted telephone cables and his clothes smelled like diesel and dust.

“Hay-ya dude! You’re still alive man!” Noleen joked back at me.

“Yeah! …and how’re you Georgie?” I asked him, looking at him square in the eye. He didn’t look back. Just kept glancing at things on the other side of my shoulder.

“…like I’m you know…” I didn’t know what he meant, but I responded with a “Yeah, …I know,” just to keep him a safe distance from me.

“Well OK, you guys take care, ...I’ll see you all around…” I waved them goodbye with a flick of my finger and they didn’t even bother to smile back.

There was a time down in the city centre when not a weekend went by without some story about Noleen and Georgie doing the rounds. Then they threw a brick at a shop owner and ran off with a packet of smokes. Then they bashed in some poor bums head and stole his booze. Then the cops were out looking for them as important persons in an investigation. Then there was a window smashed; then it was this, then that and then the other thing.

Then, one good day, Georgie was just gone.

Noleen was walking the streets, up and down; asking around and looking for him everywhere. Even the cops were out searching for him at one stage. But no Georgie.

He was never found. There was an unofficial, far off, rumour, maybe-the-truth kind of story doing the rounds, that Georgie got himself tortured and then murdered, after a bad drug deal with some guys from a Vietnamese gang. But up to this day, his fate and whereabouts remains a mystery.

This left Noleen all alone and she had to fend for herself more than ever before. Becoming more desperate by the day; doing more crazy stuff as the weeks went by.

So, this morning, I switched on the radio to listen to the local news. Heard that there was an early morning hostage situation at a corner shop. A general dealership. A single female perpetrator, about twenty four years old, with black hair, dressed in dirty denims and a white T-shirt, holed herself up behind the sales counter, with a knife at the cashiers throat, who eventually after an hour of negotiations, got herself shot before the sun rose. They didn't mention any names, but I just knew; “…Noleen…”

Conrad Kruger van den Bergh (Copyright, 2019)
(For Mara)

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