/ 22 November 2019

You gotta be the morning aftertaste

Living on the edge: Graeme Feltham’s posthumously published novel
Living on the edge: Graeme Feltham’s posthumously published novel



Fig claws through the cobwebs of some or other muckmare, the details of which he thankfully cannot remember.

He takes the mirror off the bedstand and snorts the line of coke he prepared before falling asleep like a log.

On the spot he’s awake on the double-bed sponge mattress with a crate on either side, the Hitachi L 17 on the one crate, a few books on the other (no library here, commensurate with his avowed unbelief in property), two other crates that double as chairs scattered on the floor and against the one wall his clothes are folded in wooden tomato boxes.

And that’s it.

That’s all there is in his bedroom.

Fig looks around and sees it is good.

And what’s more, his headache is already tapering off.

Coke does that, admittedly along with other things not as good-feel.

Robin Williams didn’t say “Coke is God’s way of telling you you’ve got too much money” as a joke. Cocaine prolly was impacting on his bank balance.

The vagaries of wealth distribution aside, what does that mean for Fig?

Means he’s broke-ass most of the time.

So it’s a good thing he’s not a propertarian.

A good thing he’s not into things.

Still, cultivating feeling good has been known to lead to expensive tastes, and in his case it has.

As with every other weekday morning he pushes into a pair of Levi’s after sniffing the crotch area to check if there’re any skid marks, seeing he doesn’t wear underpants.

Then he shrugs into his boots, his Caterpillars, after which he pulls a black Mr Price T-shirt over his head and onto his torso. And that’s his uniform.

He occasionally complements this strict uniform with one of two jackets — a blue Armani or brown one. Today he slips into the blue one and then swaggers to the bathroom.

Checks in the mirror. Something that looks like Noli illegitimi carborundum is written on the mirror in Sensodyne toothpaste. Can’t remember doing that.

Remembers his Latin lecturer told him it means, “Don’t let the bastards get you down.”

The world really does consist of codes and people profiling the Other that means each other continuously.

Then he takes a swig from the Listerine mouthwash with promises on the label that it will rid your mouth of every oral germ Big Pharma has thus far identified and let loose on a buying populace.

A kinda vicariously kif thrill because Fig stopped brushing his teeth at age 16 after reading that the CIA was experimenting with fluoride because it induced obedience. Anyways, that scared young Fig off the stuff until recently when a bemused dentist told him there was no fluoride in Sensodyne.

The irony that he imbibes drugs on a regular basis that chew up his teeth is not lost on him.

Can’t win them all, just splashes his face with cold water, his no 1 shaven head requiring no hairdoing.

Stay neat on top. That way you can pretend corporatophilia tops your list when called for.

With that done, he’s back in his room in St Michael’s Court in Isipingo Road in artsy Yeoville and whistling “The times they are a-changing”, making a last line of cola for the road before finding his car keys in the last place that he looks as must and can only happen.

Sam-Sam is snoring so loud that the sound from his room is reverbing through the flat.

And with that, keys in hand, Fig sets off to occupy the role of a copywriter-slash-conceptualiser at an ad agency called Launch Factory.

This is an edited extract of With the Safety Off by Graeme Feltham (Dye Hard Press). The novel was published posthumously with the help of Graeme’s son, Luke Feltham