Excerpt of A Dark Redemption by Stav Sherez
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Back Then . . .
They came more often now, the headaches. Raging storms
within his skull, crippling pain, flashes of light. There was
nothing to do but shut his eyes and lie back, let the pain and
visions take over.
Memories and flashbacks trailed the headaches. Jack would
close his eyes and see blue sky, green jungle, red road. He would
try to watch the trees outside his window divesting themselves
of leaves, the slow spinning fall of September, but instead he
saw the leaves of the jungle, leaves so big you could sit inside
them and be wholly encased, leaves which vibrated and
twitched and reacted to your presence as if sentient beings.
They'd arrived in the middle of a heat wave. David buckled
as he exited the plane, feet planted on the stairway, the sun
leaching all colour and breath from his face. He stood there and
took in the burned yellow country in front of him then turned
back into the plane as if the pilot had made a mistake but Jack
was right there, taking his arm, leading him back out into the
light, whispering in his ear We're here.
They deplaned onto the gleaming cracked tarmac, the customs
hall five hundred feet away, shimmering like a mirage in
the heat. The other passengers rushed past them, pushing, elbows
out, as if there were a prize for the first to get to the hall.
They walked as slowly as they could, savouring the air, the
unfamiliar sky those first moments when you land in a new
country and feel a sudden quickening, a snapcharge rattling
through your bones.
Their friends were in India, Peru, Vietnam. They were sitting
on beaches, cocktails in hand, watching the surf break
against the sand, waiting for the night, the drugs, the screaming
music and torrential sex.
'Everybody goes there,' Jack had protested after David suggested
a trip down the Ganges. 'We'll be on a boat in the
middle of nowhere and we'll bump into everyone we know.'
It had been the afternoon of their graduation. They still
wore the robes and mortars, still wore the smiles they'd flashed
for the cameras, degrees in hand, or parents held close, each trying
to outgrin the other. Now the parents were gone, the degrees
stuffed into a desk somewhere, the beer and cigarettes
'Jack's right,' Ben replied, sipping a pint, his fingers playing
with an unlit cigarette. Unlike Jack and David, Ben had worn a
proper suit underneath the gown and now seemed out of place
and out of age in this noisy student pub. 'We might as well stay
here as go to India.'
'Just because everyone goes there doesn't mean it's a bad
idea.'David slumped back into the booth, his hair draped like a
shawl around his shoulders, the button-down shirt and drainpipe
jeans a strange contrast with those long black locks.
'Doesn't mean it's a good one either,' Ben replied as he
spread out a map of the world in front of them.
Jack moved the glasses away so they could have more room.
'Uganda.' He pointed to a bright orange square halfway up the
map. 'Cheap, safe, guaranteed sun, and no chance of bumping
into anyone we know.'
They stared at it as if ensnared, the mass of multicoloured
land that delineated the African continent, the regimented
lines of borders, the names of countries they hadn't even known
existed until they saw them printed on the map.
That was all the decision there was to it. David, as usual,
acquiesced. That they would be together was more important
than where they went. They all knew this would be the last
time. Summer was approaching fast and then would come autumn
and jobs and careers and the beginning of something, the
end of something else.
They went through customs without a hitch. They caught a
cab and threaded through sunburned fields, the driver speaking
English so fast and fractured he sounded like a man drowning.
They nodded their heads, mustered an appropriate yeah every
now and then, but their faces were turned away, staring
through the grimy windows, watching the plains of East Africa
roll by, a landscape of tall grasses and spindly trees, skeletal
cattle and dark beckoning mountains punctuating the distant
Excerpted from A Dark Redemption
by Stav Sherez. Copyright © 2013 by Stav Sherez.
Excerpted by permission of Europa Editions. All rights
reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted
without permission in writing from the publisher.