The most basic instinct is to let envelopes marinate on my desktop for a couple of days, one, as a quixotic way of punishing those I do not yet consider sufficiently digital and two, the actual reason, because I can be fairly certain that the fucker is going to be a bill and though I do feel the compulsion of a regular bill-payer, it is depressing to watch something really small become even smaller.
This envelope was a different beast though, yellow and of a certain heft. My name was on it in squiggly hand-writing, a longhand I would call the «inflight-entertainment-cables-are-on-fire-adios-muchachos»-font. I used my library card for an envelope cutter.
The letter was written in black ink on A4 in the same total-engine-failure-over-the-Atlantic-font as the address. It instructed me to come to the Favela Chic Restaurant across town, at once, make sure that no one was following me and that, upon arriving at the final destination, ask for room 511 and announce myself as Mr. Mondada. I laughed at that last one, then laughed some more at the last instruction. That the letter was either to be burnt or eaten.
I opted for the former, picked up my running shoes, scooted to my room to throw on my UCT sweater, hastily searched for my wallet then the black, nylon proto-bomber jacket, wrote a note for my girlfriend and after some consideration picked up my digital Olympus recorder. Just in case the man was going to say something interesting. The whole scheme was laughable but so laughable that it eerily made sense especially in my puree of a mind, which has come custom-fitted with unfounded worries and fears. Plus also, I preferred this wild goose chase to the prospect of having to brain myself on a further, futile article on the future of ferrous slag or the human race.
I took the bus to that inanely named bar. Just as I was walking in, beginning to feel the Whiskey in my legs, a guy in a dark grey trainer stepped towards me from just inside the door, grabbed me by the arm and dragged me through the not even remotely like a Favela or Chic looking bar to the back exit. Then he instructed me to «Hop on and hold tight». Thrust a huge black helmet into my chest and got on the poisonously neon-cerulean Kawasaki. I don’t know jack about cars or bikes but the thing looked serious, exactly like those two-wheeled bullets I’ve seen on TV on Sundays.
I hesitated for a moment but that moment made haste when I heard a quarrel, agitated shouting then super-loud firecrackers from the front of that goddamn Favela Chic. It took me about another half a blink to plug on the helmet, jump on the back seat and bear-hug the rider from behind.
I cannot give an estimation of how long was the time interval that followed or what exactly happened. The reason is simple: down to the last molecule, I got doused in panic. One could have heard the teeth of my atoms chatter. The fear was the absolute certainty of death by speed, yet the certainty was deferred by a micro-second because I was not dead just yet. The interval between death and the certainty of death – absolute existential horror. Fittingly, this inner uproar was accompanied by the jet-engine racket of the Kawasaki intent on tearing the world to pieces through noise alone. To add to the total discombobulation of everything there were roller-coaster g-forces of our ride leaning down into curves and doing hair pin turns that subjectively felt like fighter-jet about-faces. Finally when in the midst of horror I decided, against the crashing insanity, that I should look death in the face what I got to see when I opened my eyes was a thick, blurred, green baseline and above that vaguely rectangular swatches of brown, yellow and red flitting by at the speed of disaster.
Apart from the fear, the feeling was closest to being really sick: one would prefer not to be in one’s body a single moment. But the only place one can actually flee to, is some deep, hot, scary internal place of nightmares where one does not want to be either. That place we were racing through was my childhood neighborhood. I wanted to cry but instead shut my eyes again. After an indeterminate time of terror, we finally began slowing down.