The JRB presents new fiction by Richard de Nooy.
Five Parables About My Personality
I steer my school bus into a hilltop village.
The children are tired and restless.
We’re looking for a youth hostel.
The streets become narrower and narrower.
My frustration grows, but I keep driving until we get stuck.
I can go neither forward nor back. The kids cheer.
I open the front door of the bus and step into the home of an elderly man.
He points at the children and asks me something.
I don’t understand his question and walk on through the dark house.
There’s a balcony on the far side of the kitchen.
Outside the sun is shining and it stinks of rotten fruit.
The balcony juts off a steep cliff.
Far below I see the lower part of the village.
There’s a garden directly below the balcony, with a crystal-blue, postage-stamp pool.
If I aim carefully, I can land in the deep end.
‘Don’t think,’ I think to myself.
Then I climb onto the parapet and dive.
My father shows me his peach gun.
‘The peach goes in here,’ he explains.
‘Seriously?’ I ask mockingly.
‘Then you pull here.’
The peach is launched with a dull plop.
It explodes on the windscreen of a passing car.
The driver strides towards us, shaking his fist.
‘And now?’ I ask my father.
‘Sell him peaches,’ he calls over his shoulder.
I’m practicing karate moves in a showroom.
This is a bad idea, because it may attract the wrong kind of people.
And of course it does. Two lads walk in with a girlfriend.
I used to play football with them.
The smaller of the two starts dissing my ex.
He claims her house is too small and that her father-in-law has moved in.
Though not particularly nasty, his remarks ignite a blind rage.
I grab him by his arm and smash his face through a plasterboard wall.
Only then do I see that I’ve grabbed his girlfriend.
I want to apologise, but the other lad has climbed onto a partition.
I pull his leg and he falls, landing on his back and head, unconscious.
A man walks in, jabbering that he saw the whole thing.
‘What will your name be?’ he asks in admiration.
I don’t understand what he means.
‘What’s your superhero name?’
‘Do I need one?’
‘Yes, then people will know who you are.’
‘But I want to keep writing under my own name,’ I insist.
I run into my ex-mother-in-law.
She’s standing at the corner bakery, bemoaning the fact that it has closed.
The interior has been stripped, but she keeps knocking and calling.
She’s making a scene, so I take her by the arm and lead her off.
‘Where are we going?’ she asks.
‘I’m not sure,’ I reply. ‘But we have a serious problem.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘I don’t know where you live.’
‘Why not?’ she asks.
‘You died six months ago.’
There’s a pigeon in the house.
‘Disgusting,’ says my beloved.
We search in circles in the living room and dark hallway.
The floor is littered with droppings and feathers.
‘How is it getting around?’ I wonder. ‘I can’t hear it.’
‘I can. And I want it out!’
I switch on the hallway light and check under the coats.
When I turn around, I see myself in the mirror.
I am the pigeon.
‘Here it is!’ my beloved shouts.
‘It’s me!’ I coo, but she’s already coming at me with the broom.
I flutter through the kitchen to the balcony.
She launches me with one graceful swipe.
- Richard de Nooy grew up in Johannesburg, but has lived in Amsterdam for the past thirty-five years. He has published four novels and many short stories in Dutch and English. De Nooy has spent the past five years working on a book about his mother’s wartime experiences as a nurse at a psychiatric institution in the Netherlands, to be released in Dutch in 2021. He is a lot less serious on Twitter and Facebook.