Excerpt of A Dark Redemption by Stav Sherez
(Page 3 of 6)
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Ben and David exchanged a glance that reflected years of
growing up together, sharing hidden jokes, conspiring against
parents and agreed, but Ben kept the guide book safely in his
bag just in case.
They backtracked and took the highway north, watching the
land change. The fields and crops and empty plains gave way to
more rugged terrain; mountains loomed out of the sky and disappeared;
the road deteriorated until it was only a narrow lane.
The heat became worse, not just sun striking the roof of the car,
but a deeper denser heat, a humidity they'd never experienced
before, a rottenness in the air that crept into your bones and
brain, making your eyes water and the breath die in your throat.
Sweet potato and maize fields stretched out either side of
them, dry and willowy in the early-evening heat haze. Termite
mounds stood ten feet tall, skyscrapers among the cornstalks
and grasses, like totem poles from another race, the tenements
of a forgotten people.
The town of Masindi appeared out of nowhere. One minute
they were driving the dirt road, yellow fields bordering them on
both sides, and the next they were on a dusty corrugated street
with white single-storey buildings, women carrying baskets on
their heads, kids and more kids, the whole African movie-trailer
cliché right before their eyes.
They stopped for beer and food at a tiny stall still bearing
the name of the Asian proprietor who'd established it before
being expelled by Idi Amin in '30. The old man, the new owner,
served themwarmNiles, the slogan 'The true reward of progress'
making David chuckle as he swigged the sweet beer.
They watched cars go by leaving trails of dust in the air. Faroff
volcanoes shimmered on the horizon like things unsubstantial
and contingent. Children came and held their palms out,
smiled, laughed and danced on the spot as Ben handed them
They sat in the rear of the cafe washing the dust and heat
from their bodies, glad for the stillness after eight hours of bad
road. Murchison wasn't far, another few hours' drive north;
they'd stay in Masindi for the night, it was decided, and head
'I still can't believe it.' David was sitting under a palm tree,
peeling the label off a bottle of Nile. 'Being here, I mean.'
'Remember how much we talked about it?' Ben leant forward,
spilling ash over the table. It had been their only topic
of discussion these last few months, cramming for exams, finishing
their dissertations, the horizon of the holiday the one
bright thing to look forward to, the question of where to go
burning in their minds.
David finished off his beer. 'The three of us here, together.'
He paused so they could all savour this. A shadow briefly
crossed his face. He stared at the thin tapering road. 'Who
knows where we'll be this time next year.'
'I think Jack's got a pretty good idea,' Ben smiled, his teeth
shining white in the sun.
Jack looked off into the distance, the volcanoes smoky and
out of focus like cheap back-projections in a pre-war movie. 'I
wish I did,' he replied, thinking back to the day, three weeks
ago, when he'd broken the news. At first, he'd wanted to keep it
secret, alternately proud and a little ashamed of his good luck,
the way you always are with close friends. But they'd got drunk
one evening, another in a long line of housemates' birthday
parties, and he told them about the deal: three albums, a decent
amount of money, a cool London-based record label.
'I wish it felt real. I wish it felt like something I could celebrate,
but I keep thinking I'll come back and find a letter apologising
for the mistake they've made.' Jack focused on the table,
the empty green bottles like soldiers standing silent sentry.
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.