You are very high up

You are high up, very high up, a cool bright void stretching misty views in all directions, vague shapes in far distances shifting slowly in and out of sight like seen from the belly of a cloud. A humid and feeble wind blows through the rusty ironworks enclosing the twisting walkway, like an elongated cage open in two directions, finely wrought ornamental details in certain places, sturdy simple industrial steel in others, many different layers of pastel paint flaking in the moist air, the rust wet beneath your fingers, an eternity of a distance seen bellow the gridwork underneath your feet, you are very, very high up. Frogs, large snails, kittens, birds and other small animals perch in the corners - if there are any - huddled up next to posts and more denser areas of ornamental iron, hiding from the wind, their skin, fur or slime all in mother-of-pearl, all the same shimmering non-colour - all shades in one but at the same time none, reflecting weak and invisible rainbows. Small black eyes follow you, quick breathing sending tiny bodies vibrating, not necessarily out of fear - just a mode of awareness very different from yours, every step you take trembles the walkway lightly and they huddle closer to each other, you walk carefully to not disturb them more than necessary, keeping your own breath slow, tasting the wet air.

One of the men in balaclavas is handed a note by the cashier. It said: “you have beautiful eyes.”

Her eyes tenderly meet his. He looks back down to the note for some time, then scans back to her face. She beams shyly and pinkly.

You arrive at a spiral staircase, also this one in partly wrought and partly industrial iron, same flaking paint layers retelling uninteresting stories of previous stylistic preferences, its steps disappearing in the distance both above you, and below you. On the railing at the entrance to the staircase sits a large python, wrangled through the iron bars, its scales like pearls, shifting white rose and sky-blue in an instant, big deep-blue eyes observing you with calm, free of judgement. As you start down the staircase the large snake opens its mouth, revealing no teeth and a thin pink tongue, and says something in a soothing foreign language, you start to ask questions but its attention is already directed elsewhere, out in the distance. A couple of mother-of-pearl crows lands next to it, looking at you, then turning and speaking the same foreign language to the python, a single beam of sun breaks through the fogs to turn their feathers shimmering in colours much too many and much to complex for the human eye to perceive in full. You love them.


I was. As I saw other beings flowing through their world-medium of Given, not by choice, but with them as the final pivotal moment of the specific set of consequences that made them. Beings as an intensity of a specific set of eventualities, an ecosystem epitomised into its purest essence. Horses, or crows, kings of the strange landscape over which they reign. Landscapes which I have no access to, trapped in a body full of horrible breakable bones, full of shit, but worst of all! - Full of thoughts, full of ideas and open doors to other paintings of other worlds, of other vague sunsets, of other pale bleak clouds that line a feeble horizon that just entered into sight behind the haze. Or was it another structure?

I continue down the staircase.

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From the solid black darkness.
“Who’s there?” *afraid
“Yes, me!”
“Who are you?”
“Who I am?”
Coughing lightly.
“Basements. Have you thought about how they all look the same in South African suburbs.”
“I guess. How do you mean?”
“Well, I lived in one, this one actually, for almost twenty years. And before I moved here I’ve seen many more.”
“You live in basements?”
“Thats one way of putting it.”
“What would the other be?”
“I take care of your dirty secrets”
“My dirty secrets?!?”
“Don’t be afraid. I will now slowly walk out of the darkness towards you. Hands on my head. Lets share a cigar and Ill give you a thorough explanation.”


Five minutes later we sat together on the porch to my house. The guy was thin and completely pale. Before us on the table stood two glasses of lemonade. He took a sip and turned to me:

“Do you by any chance have a pair of sunglasses?” , he said.
“Oh, yes, I can get you a…:”
“I spend most of my time in complete darkness, my eyes are only adjusting slowly.”
“Of course”
I stood up and walked in and got a pair of black Raybans from the drawer below the mirror in the hallway. When I came out again he was quickly to put them on.

“South Africa. How I love this country”, he said gazing out over the lawn, continuing over the fields and up towards the horizon.

I sat down.

“Sure it is beautiful, but now Id like to know…”
“About me. Yes. Of course. Sorry. You must wonder who I am”
“Yes, actually I do.”
“Well, I wont tell you everything. That is of course impossible. Too many secrets, too many dirty lies and tricks up my sleeves. But I can tell you this: I have been in your sad, dark basement way too long in order not wanting to enjoy a moment of silence, taking in the events for a minute or so.”

Despite he had basically just told me to shut up, his facial expression showed no sign of being upset. I decided to let him be. We both sat quiet for a few minutes.

“My name is Ralph. Ralph Rudolph.” he suddenly broke the silence.

“Ralph Rudolph is my name.” he repeated.

“Ralph. Ralph Rudolph. That is who I am.”

“I understand. Your name is Ralph Rudolph.”, I said.


As soon as I heard his murky voice pronounce the syllables of that name unprecedented in the history of this world, it all made sense to me. The twisting bars of steel surrounding the veranda, stretching up into the sky, was watching us for this moment of clarity. I wanted to look him in the eyes, but the sun was hitting the mirror surface of his glasses and all I could see was my own gaze, desperately grasping for contact. I had been looking for so long, I had been looking for so long for this, for this very second in time and this very encounter for so long. Sitting there, with the lemonade singing in the wind, it felt ridiculous. Ralph threw a glance over the brim of the glasses in an understanding way that no one really does anymore and said to me:

“This is where it all begins”


Lately, my t-shirts have become too small. They end just above my waist line, leaving me looking like a background dancer to a 90s girl band. I’m sure it’s my brothers fault. He did something to the washing machine. He thought it was running cold. Now it shrinks my t-shirts. So I now have this ridiculous habit up stretching the front of my shirts when I’m nervous, tugging on them to cover my waistline, just for them to snap back up to my belly.

I was waiting for Ralph, stupidly tugging at my t-shirt. It was dusk, I was hungry, I was just across the street from what looked like a really shitty falafel shop.


When he arrived in the bar I stood up to hug him. We sat one in front of the other at the white round table. Resembling to a plastic flower to adapt easier to the winds of December on a cemetery in the suburbs of Isfahan, the legs of the table, white and plastic as well, went in a sudden movement to the left and an ashtray fell straight from our table in rue Ramadourou. The sound of its adaptation to the floor paved by old white pavement lasted enough to make everyone in the bar become frigid and silence entered their mouths. Coffee, clouds and inconsiderably tanned small hands. Goddamn, when did he start smelling like senility?

It felt it could have went on for days, until next February maybe; finesse permitting it could have disappeared from memories, from time, there on that small piece of concrete, terrifying in its irrelevance for any part of this country having on its borders only zebras.

We were still smoking and Ralph was starting to exhale equably.


“I didn’t know you smoked”
“I wasn’t sure that I did, but I seem to be doing it now. Have you always-”
“No, I’ve not always been under you staircase. That makes me sound quite childish, doesn’t it, something to be afraid of”.
He liked the comparison, his top lip curled for a fraction of a second. I saw it. I don’t want to look at him anymore. How long have I been here? I don’t like this bar and I’m fucking cold.
“Let’s take a walk, there’s no-one here now. I don’t want to inhale that loneliness from your air.”
He picks up the ashtray and throws it to the ground with unnecessary flourish, we turn and start walking as the glass marbles huddle and whisper to one another.

I think of dad back home he’s probably sitting out on his porch
pit-stained shirt open across his chest
his bare feet stuffed into leather spilling boots
frayed laces trying to block out the radio from next door they always play so loud
and dad will have run out of bricks to throw at their fence
he never wants to get up to collect the ones he’s already thrown
I would stack them into neat piles by his chair
every week
just within reach of his good throwing arm
beers he always drank with his left hand it was weaker he was weaker then I haven’t stacked the bricks.

“Well you said this is where it begins and that’s fucking lie.”


Yes. This is what happened. It really did.