SAFARI TO BARBADOS

a poem by Conrad Kruger van den Bergh, South Africa - poetry writer, author, poet

During the 1980’s
when he was in his twenties
he was a porn star
a well-known porn star
a handsome porn star
a porn start that made a small fortune
up in California, in the United States of America
but a few nervous breakdowns later
numerous stints in rehab somewhere in Mexico
followed by a year-long drug-induced burnout
and a stabbing incident by a female porn star which got swindled and underpaid
which cost him a black mailing story which ate up half the cash he ever saved up
and the pressure of it all which made his belly swell up
he returned to South Africa in the early 1990’s
more or less broke

he used what meagre cash he had left
and opened a small liquor store two blocks up the street
and that’s how I got to know him
as his store was open until late
and I always needed a late night bottle of London’s Dry Gin
but a few armed robberies later
the last one which got him pistol whipped over the back of his skull
he became a sixty year old edgy, anxious
over-weight despondent prophet of doom

I’ve noticed lately he is talking a lot about his younger days
as if he never made peace with the fact that he is getting older
and I’m sitting here on his dirty sofa
in his small and dark apartment
in Havelock Street
listening to his moans and groans
wondering if he ever made a porno on this dirty sofa
not really wanting to drink from the glass in which he poured me a whisky
watching his fat body flopped in the chair
on the other side of the small coffee table

it’s freezing outside
but he’s dressed in blue boxer shorts
and a T-shirt that lost its colours a long time ago
he looks at me; “You got to help me out here bro!” he says in his chainsaw voice
I look square back at him and find his eyes hidden somewhere above his fat pink cheeks
“There’s no way I’m selling your porno movies at my show,” I say
“But you sell CD’s there all the time!”
“Yes I do,” I say again, “that’s how I make a living sometimes, but they’re my songs, …and sometimes I do other songwriters a favour and sell their songs too.”
he stares at me; “So?”
“So what?”
“So slip a few of my movies in there. Come on bro!”
“No. It ain’t gonna happen.”
“Why not?”
“What do you mean why not? I got some real decent and fancy people coming down from all over the place to see these shows, and one or two reporters too. And now days I don’t do them that much anymore. Just a lunch hour show here and there when the moon gets all blue. And all those people pay a lot for a ticket and a cup of coffee, and the last thing they want to see are some ancient porno movies stuck there in between my CD’s.”
“They ain’t ancient porno's!”
“Dude, …you made them in the nineteen eighties. They need to be archived somewhere as vintage porn.”
“They will sell!” he hollers back and reaches towards a small narrow shelf behind his head
yanks out a flat and black CD case
tosses it towards me
it flops on my lap
“That’s an award winning movie right there!” he hollers again and points his finger to my face
I lift the CD case closer to my eyes and read the blurry yellow words printed all over the cover
all printed amateurishly with quivering smudges at their edges
and slapped all over a photo of him and some woman
fornicating in the background:
‘Safari to Barbados; starring Dick Tarzan and Dild Diablo’
“I made three hundred copies of that CD right there and their all ready to go!” he hollers again
I look at him and then at the CD cover again
“You’re Dick Tarzan?” I ask him
“Right.”
“That’s a stupid name.”
“What do you mean it’s a stupid name? I’m from Africa. Why back then everybody in America expected everybody working from Africa to put ‘Tarzan’ somewhere in their name, …they were all thinking we were all running around in a jungle somewhere!”
he had a point….
“And who’s Dild Diablo?” I ask again
“She was an American lady, from California, …a major star back then.”
“And what about the safari to Barbados?” I ask
“What about it?”
“Dude, there ain’t no safaris in Barbados.”
“How the hell do you know? Have you ever been to Barbados?”
“As a matter of fact I have, twice, and I know for a fact they ain’t got no safari’s up there”
“Who the hell cares! It’s porn! You can have a safari in the North Pole and it will work out fine!”
…another good point
“OK? So what’s the plot?”
“What plot?” He looks at me with a puzzled look on his face
“The movie plot. The story line. What’s it all about?”
then his puzzled look turns to a blank expression
he doesn’t say a word
then a few seconds later he starts speaking in a low voice
“I don’t know… It’s just about a couple that goes on safari to Barbados and fire up their love life.”
“That’s it…?”
“What do you means that’s it! It’s a major adult movie with some serious acting and wide screen shots of a fake Barbados! It will sell! It’s a great movie! You’ll sell all of them in a single go!”
he didn’t need the cash
that I know
his liquor store is doing fine
something else was going on here
this whole thing was all about him getting old
his trying to act out his younger days again
wanting everybody to see him as Dick Tarzan again
the handsome guy who could fill the screen with erotic dreams
he’s trying to reignite a long lost dead flame
I feel sorry for the guy
“I’m not going to do it dude.” I say again; “There’s no way I’m selling porn at any one of my shows.”
and at this point I get tired of it all
time for me to go
done with him and his getting old problems
I got too many of the same to deal with of my own
I stand up and put the glass of whisky down on the small coffee table
sad that I couldn’t drink it
but thankful the glass never touched my lips
he remains flopped in his chair
staring at some unknown spot somewhere in air
I look back at him again; “Dude, let it go… I’ll see you around.”
but he doesn’t say a word
I start buttoning up my coat
put my hat on
and turn to the door
ready for the cold wind
howling
outside…

Conrad Kruger van den Bergh (Copyright, 2018)

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