I’m still AB although I’m not sure of anything else. I’m trapped in a world where I’m known for my cover versions, not my cover drives. I just want to go back to my unassuming life as a cricket god. I don’t know how to get home.
Steve Hofmeyr is making me coffee while I slough off my dirt and shame in his Jacuzzi. He’s promised me both breakfast and some answers. I hope I have the stomach for them.
“Steve! Tell your groupies to get out of the bathroom!”
I turn the water jets to their maximum setting, trying to protect my questionable modesty. Three of the blondes loom from the edge of the Jacuzzi, their lips and heels and not-bikinis pink as piranhas.
The tallest blonde rolls her eyes, blue as contact lenses, at me. “Mr de Villiers, we are Mr Hofmeyr’s security detail. It is my job to see that you don’t pass out and drown in the Jacuzzi.” With a clack of her nails she shows me her collection of hot and cold towels, Vicks Vapo-Rub, and adrenaline injections.
“I am here to dress your wounds and administer a basic medical examination after your bath.” This comes from the slightly-less-tall blonde with nurse’s cap and a small name-tag (on the left side of her not-bikini) that says ‘Nursie’.
“I am here to take your breakfast order.” The third, taller-than-average blonde whips out a well-chewed pencil from behind her ear and taps on a tiny notebook. “Please note that Mr Hofmeyr’s kitchen is ovo-lacto-vegetarian and organic.”
I want to be irritated by how overbearingly considerate Steve is but the water jets are like the hands of a heavenly masseuse. “Give me all the eggs that you have, fried in whatever vegetarians use to fry things.”
After my very thorough inspection by Nursie (where I am weighed and found wanting) I am given clean clothes and my cellphone. Steve is changing the bed linen when I emerge from the bathroom. The rest of the trailer is spotless. He shooes me towards the chaise longue. A blonde in a chef’s uniform brings me my eggs and coffee.
“You’ve been in this trailer for a week now, AB. I’ve done my best to keep you fed and watered but you’ve been poisoning yourself. With alcohol. And late-night cricket footage. You’ve been a wreck. We had to put the hologram on instead of you this whole week.”
“Of you. Your hologram. With Brenda’s and Oscar’s. We had to spin a whole story about your tribute to them, and we were saving your hologram for the US leg of the tour. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is that you’re OK, or that we can find you the help you need.”
Steve takes a long, thoughtful sip of his coffee. “So, now that you’re sober, I’ll give you all the answers to your questions. Again. Just, please eat your eggs, drink your coffee, and don’t touch another bottle. Also, drink a lot of water.”
Steve has always been the big brother in the band, and ever since Brenda and Oscar were killed he’s gone to self-parodying extremes of over-protection and controlling behaviour. So I eat my eggs and drink my coffee
while my brain kicks me under the table and passes me a note which says ‘??!!!’ and my eyes grow ABNORMAL LOAD wide and Steve is quicker than me, pinning my arms to the chaise longue and speaking to me in a low, neutral tone.
It’s all there, in my head. Brenda and Oscar. South Africa versus East Africa in the quarter-finals. Kevin Bloody Pietersen. South Africa, East Africa, West Africa, North Africa and Arabia. The Protectorate of African Rhodesia.
Brenda and Oscar
TO BE CONTINUED