The Black Notebook
A long time later, a red glow came up into the dark in front of us, and the landscape fell away from it, silent, grey, exquisite. The hotel, unfamiliar from this height, appeared half a mile away, and not where we expected it. It was all dark, not a light anywhere. And now we could see that the rock we sat on was at the mouth of a small cave, and the flat rock wall at its back was covered with Bushman paintings. They were fresh and glowing even in this faint light, but badly chipped. All this part of the country was covered with these paintings, but most were ruined because white oafs threw stones at them, not knowing their value. Paul looked at the little coloured figures of men and animals, all cracked and scarred, and said: ‘A fitting commentary to it all, dear Anna, though I’d be hard put to it to find the right words to explain why, in my present state.’ He kissed me, for the last time, and we slowly climbed down through the tangles of sodden grass and leaves. My crêpe dress had shrunk in the wet and was above my knees, and this made us laugh, because I could only take tiny steps in it. We walked very slowly along a track to the hotel, and then up to the bedroom block, and there on the verandah sat Mrs Lattimore, crying. The door into the bedroom behind her was half-open, and Mr Lattimore sat on the floor by the door. He was still drunk, and he was saying in a methodical, careful, drunken voice: ‘You whore. You ugly whore. You barren bitch.’ This had happened before, obviously. She lifted her ruin of a face to us, pulling at her lovely red hair with both hands, the tears dropping off her chin. Her dog crouched beside her, whining softly, its head in her lap, and the red feathery tail swept apologetically back and forth across the floor. Mr Lattimore took no notice of us at all. His red ugly eyes were fixed on his wife: ‘You lazy barren whore. You street girl. You dirty bitch.’
Paul left me, and I went into the bedroom. It was dark and stuffy.
Willi said: ‘Where have you been?’
I said: ‘You know where.’
I went over to him, and he gripped my wrist and brought me down beside him. I remember lying there and hating him and wondering why the only time I could remember him making love to me with any conviction was when he knew I had just made love to someone else.
That incident finished Willi and me. We never forgave each other for it. We never mentioned it again, but it was always there. And so a ‘sexless’ relationship was ended finally, by sex.