Excerpt of Thirteen Hours by Deon Meyer
(Page 2 of 3)
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Griessel lifted the toilet lid angrily, aimed and peed.
Suddenly she was on the tar of Signal Hill Road and spotted
the woman and dog a hundred metres to the left. Her mouth
shaped a cry, two words, but her voice was lost in the rasping of
She ran towards the woman and her dog. It was big, a Ridgeback.
The woman looked about sixty, white, with a large pink sun hat, a
walking stick and a small bag on her back.
The dog was unsettled now. Maybe it smelled her fear, sensed
the panic inside her. Her soles slapped on the tar as she slowed.
She stopped three metres from them.
Help me, said the girl. Her accent was strong.
Whats wrong? There was concern in the womans eyes. She
stepped back. The dog growled and strained on the lead, to get
closer to the girl.
Theyre going to kill me.
The woman looked around in fear. But theres nobody.
The girl looked over her shoulder. Theyre coming.
Then she took the measure of the woman and dog and knew
they wouldnt make any difference. Not here on the open slope
of the mountain. Not against them. She would put them all in
Call the police. Please. Just call the police, she said and ran
again, slowly at first, her body reluctant. The dog lunged forward
and barked once. The woman pulled back on the lead.
Please, she said and jogged, feet dragging, down the tar road
towards Table Mountain. Just call the police.
She looked back once, about seventy paces on. The woman was
still standing there bewildered, frozen to the spot.
Benny Griessel flushed the toilet and wondered why he hadnt
seen last night coming. He hadnt gone looking for it, it had just
happened. Jissis, he shouldnt feel so guilty, he was only human
But he was married.
If you could call it a marriage. Separate beds, separate tables
and separate homes. Damn it all, Anna couldnt have everything.
She couldnt throw him out of his own house and expect him to
support two households, expect him to be sober for six fucking
months, and celibate on top of that.
At least he was sober. One hundred and fifty-six days now.
More than five months of struggling against the bottle, day after
day, hour after hour, till now.
God, Anna must never hear about last night. Not now. Less
than a month before his term of exile was served, the punishment
for his drinking. If Anna found out, he was fucked, all the struggle
and suffering for nothing.
He sighed and stood in front of the mirrored cabinet to brush
his teeth. Had a good look at himself. Greying at the temples,
wrinkles at the corner of his eyes, the Slavic features. He had never
been much of an oil painting.
He opened the cabinet and took out toothbrush and toothpaste.
Whatever had she seen in him, that Bella? There had been a moment
last night when he wondered if she was sleeping with him because she
felt sorry for him, but he had been too aroused, too bloody grateful for her soft voice and big breasts and her mouth, jissis, that mouth, he had a thing about mouths, thats where the trouble had started. No. It had begun with Lize Beekman, but like Anna would believe that?
Benny Griessel brushed his teeth hurriedly and urgently. Then
he jumped under the shower and opened the taps on full, so he
could wash all the accusing scents from his body.
It wasnt a bergie. Griessels heart skipped a beat as he climbed
over the spiked railings of the church wall and saw the girl lying
there. The running shoes, khaki shorts, orange camisole and the
shape of her arms and legs told him she was young. She reminded
him of his daughter.
Excerpted from Thirteen Hours
by Deon Meyer. Copyright © 2010 by Deon Meyer.
Excerpted by permission of Atlantic Monthly Press. All rights
reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted
without permission in writing from the publisher.