Some picnic part II finds Janet and Santie organising a beach party for the firm.
‘Janet, could you come for a short stroll? There is something I would like to discuss with you.’
Janet looked up in surprise at her boss. He was holding out a cup of steaming coffee to her. It was the first time she had seen Mr Jansen casually dressed and in a more relaxed mood, and naturally she jumped up, ‘Of course, Mr Jansen.’
Santie watched them walking off into the darkness, uneasy, but with no grounds for saying anything. I wonder what he wants to discuss?
They walked in a southerly direction towards a rocky outcrop jutting out into the sea, dimly seen in the light of the majestic Milky Way, eventually coming to a large tidal pool. Janet kicked off her flimsy sandals, carrying them, walking carefully not to trip over the trailing edges of her sari. They chatted informally about the dinner and the acrobats, though nothing was said about the vulgar joke. Janet commented on the beautiful night sky whilst Mr Jansen said nothing about the purpose of the walk. A gentle, warm onshore breeze kept the mosquitoes at bay.
A Family Affair is a trilogy of women in love; and intrigue. Just how do they fool Mr Nice Guy into fathering four children, all unbeknownst to him?
‘Shall we take a dip?’ asked Mr Jansen. ‘Please call me Jan, by the way.’
Janet looked hesitantly at the water. ‘No, I don’t think I will, thanks. I don’t have a costume anyway.’
‘Well, let’s sit here on the beach.’ He made a place for her next to him on the sand. They watched the waves, and could hear the crabs scurrying about in the dark. A ship, far out, slid south in the direction of the Cape of Storms.
‘Janet, I want you to know that the directors really appreciate the work you have done in the three years since joining the firm. We are considering offering you a more permanent position, once your articles are over.’
Janet heaved a sigh of relief. She was beginning to get a little anxious about the stroll in the dark. ‘Why, thank you, Mr Jansen, those are kind words. What about Santie? She has worked just as hard. In fact, she is a lot smarter than me.’
‘Well, we have recognized the work she has done too, but you have special qualities and there probably won’t be room for both of you. We must consider some black articled-clerks now. It really depends on how much you want to stay.’
‘Oh, I would love to stay on, Mr Jansen, but well, to be quite honest, Santie and I have become such good friends. Can I have some time to think about it?’
‘Please call me Jan, Janet. Jan and Janet, sounds good doesn’t it? I would also like to note that I have seen the way that you look at me periodically, and I have enjoyed your attention. I wonder if perhaps we could get to know each a little better. Could I take you out to dinner and a movie perhaps?’ He reached out and took her hand in the dark, in a firm grip. Not too tight, but from which she later realized there was no escaping. At the office he left a trail of expensive deodorant and Old Spice aftershave, but on the beach she was unexpectedly aware of a deep man-smell that she found repugnant.
Janet was shocked. ‘What do you mean, the way I have looked at you? I haven’t done anything untoward or said anything, have I?’
‘No, of course not, my dear, but I have noticed the way you keep glancing at me, and I want you to know that I have been flattered. Of course, I hope I can fulfil those dreams you have.’
‘Mr Jansen, I’m sorry, but you seem to be under some misapprehension,’ Janet said, standing up, but Jansen held tightly onto her hand.
‘Now, just be sensible, my dear. I wasn’t suggesting anything untoward. Come and sit down again.’ He gave a hard tug on her arm and Janet fell to the sand next to him.
‘Let go, Mr Jansen, you’re hurting me. Please let go.’ Janet began to struggle but the older man was far too strong for her.
‘I’m only doing for you what you have been asking all these months, Janet. I’ve really have appreciated the way you look at me. Shall we enjoy a quiet finale to a wonderful evening?’ He reached out quickly and pulled her over onto the sand, leaning over her and giving her a hard, demanding kiss. His other arm secured both Janet’s arms above her head where she had little strength.
‘Please Mr Jansen,’ begged Janet, ‘please let me go. I haven’t been making any suggestive looks. Let’s just go back to the party.’
‘All in good time, Janet, all in good time.’ With both her arms now secured by his strong right arm and his weight holding her down, his left hand began searching for her breasts between the folds of her sari, shredding the buttons of her blouse.
Janet struggled for all her worth, but she was no match for the big man. ‘No! You are not to do this to me, Mr Jensen.’ When it became obvious that he had no intention of acquiescing, Janet began to plead desperately, ‘Please, Mr Jansen. Help, help!’ she screamed as loudly as she could, but there were only the crabs to witness her deflowering.
It was all over in less than five minutes from beginning to end. He released her arms and stood, pulling up his trousers. ‘Was that nice, my dear? Did you have a good time? Perhaps we can meet again in a more congenial place for dinner later this week?’
‘You raped me, Mr Jansen, you raped me, you bastard,’ Janet cried out, shivering with shame and fear, pulling her sari tightly around her.
‘Of course not, my dear, I only gave you what you’ve been wanting all these months. I could see it in your every smile, every look you gave me. That’s two consenting adults, not rape.’
‘You raped me!’ With tears streaming down her face, Janet pulled up her pants, now soiled with semen and blood, her first penetrative sexual experience. Blindly, she ran off into the dark, sobbing. It was all so quick. Far too quick.
Within ten minutes she was back at the beach party, the pools of light in the dark marking out where they were all still sitting. She slowed to a walk, panting, until she got to Santie’s group. ‘Home,’ she gasped, ‘let’s go home. Now!’
Santie sprang to her feet. ‘What happened, why are you crying?’‘Nothing happened, let’s just go home.’ She tugged at Santie’s arm, sobbing, her head on her friend’s shoulder.
The young women staggered off into the darkness, leaving the others wondering. When they were out of earshot, Santie stopped and demanded: ‘What did he do to you? What happened?’
‘The bastard raped me. He raped me, Santie. The bastard, the bastard.’ There were more sobs and some hysteria.
Santie stopped. ‘He raped you? No! The bastard raped you?’ There was a moment’s silence. ‘I’m going back. I’ll kill the bastard, I’ll kill him,’ said Santie darkly.
But Janet just tugged on her arm. ‘Please, Santie, just take me home. I want to wash him out of me, I feel so soiled and dirty. Please Santie, just take me back to the hotel,’ she repeated.
Santie looked at her friend and stopped her fierce tugging. She slipped her arms around her, giving her a tight squeeze, and supported her towards the car park, helping Janet into the passenger seat. They drove off towards Durban. She was familiar enough with the hired car, and gunned it on the deserted road. Reaching for her cell phone Santie called the emergency number: ‘This is an emergency. Please get the district surgeon immediately to the Durban Central charge office.’
‘No, Santie, please, not the police. Just take me back to the hotel. Please Santie, I don’t want any fuss. I just want a shower. I want to get clean. The bastard, the bastard,’ she kept whimpering. Santie reached out for a moment, caressing her friend’s shoulder. She would fix that bastard Jansen good and proper. She had come up against his sort before.
‘No Janet, we’re going to take him to court in full view of the whole of Johannesburg, so he never does that to anyone again. How could he?’ She too began to weep quietly for her friend, having more than an inkling of the defiled sense that must be pervading Janet, the uncleanness, the need to wash, and wash, and wash.
‘It’s going to take more than water to make you feel clean and wash away this stain, Janet. It’s going to take justice,’ she said grimly.
Fortunately the district surgeon was already at the charge office, having been called in for several other rapes. It had taken some persuading but Janet eventually agreed at her friend’s insistence. In fact, Santie would not take no for an answer. She was going to fix that bastard good and proper. This time the pain would be a lot more painful than a mere kick in the balls, because the pain would go on and on, and on. It would never stop, she decided. Not that the pain of being a eunuch would have stopped, she thought with a grin in the dark, wondering what Gerhard was doing tonight. She hadn’t seen him again since the night he tried to rape her.
The doctor very quickly and efficiently examined Janet, took some photographs of the bruises that were already welling at her wrists, and a vaginal sample. They carefully went over her body together. There was none of Jansen’s skin under her nails, but they did find two greying hairs, which were carefully collected.
‘The man who did this is a very powerful person, Doctor. Powerful enough to have people of influence on the inside. Please can we divide this evidence into two parts, one of which I will keep. I am an attorney, and if you will just tell me how to store it carefully, then I will look after one of the samples.’
The doctor looked at her for a moment, shaking her head initially, but then the woman in her said: ‘Yes alright, you must keep it in the freezer. It must never thaw obviously.’ This was her third rape case of the evening. She carefully labelled the samples and then gave them a prescription. ‘It is vital that you go and get this medication right now, and take it immediately. It is a prescription for anti-retroviral medicine. I’m sorry my girl, but you just can’t be too careful. Influential or not, he might well be HIV positive, particularly if he does this sort of thing often.’ She gently cleaned Janet as carefully as she could and gave her further instructions about washing and douching at home.
‘Now go and lay a charge,’ she said. ‘It’s important that every case of rape is reported and a charge sheet opened. It’s the only way that rapists can be stopped.’
Santie had started collecting their bits and pieces when Janet dropped the bombshell: ‘I’m sorry but I don’t want to make a case of this. I just want to forget about it as quickly as possible. Put it behind me.’
The other two women immediately started urging her to do what had to be done. ‘You have no idea how haunting an experience this could become for you, Janet. Take my advice. Lay a charge, see justice done, and then you will find that you can manage the inner pain, and finally maybe even permanently put this behind you.
‘I’ve been invaded,’ said Janet, unashamedly recalcitrant. ‘Now you want me to go to a public court and reopen the wound again day after day! The bastard will hire the best lawyers, and they will grill me on every single detail. Everybody heard me say on the beach that nothing happened. He will come and grin at me and rape me again and again. Figuratively speaking, I mean. I’m sorry but I just want to close this door and get on with my life.’
It was a long speech and it had both the other two women ready with their buts. ‘Janet, I understand how you feel. Rape is a terrible violation of a woman’s privacy and dignity, but this man must be stopped,’ said the doctor.
‘Doctor, you have obviously never been raped. I’m sorry but right now I want to go home. Now!’ She stood up and walked out of the examination room.
Santie thanked the doctor for her quiet professionalism and left, after collecting the samples. They fetched the medication on the way home, neither of them saying a word. Santie was angry with Janet, and Janet was …well, just miserable, confused and desperately wanting a shower to wash away the memory of what would probably be the most life-changing day of her life. Nothing would be the same again, that much she instinctively knew.
Baby eggplant is something of an acquired taste; it's worth acquiring. They have profound cholesterol lowering properties. Along with oats, chickpeas, apples and fatty fish we should be eating eggplant regularly.
Bernard Preston is a semi-retired chiropractor, self-confessed health nut and greenie. It's his desire to sit under the trees he once planted at eighty and enjoy watching the grandchildren grow up.
Meantime it's full speed ahead planting a green garden and managing he solar farm on his roof. Today more PV panels go up. Yesterday it was building a chicken tractor.
Book I: The Bostonians