“The devil is in the details, ” Vetfaan says as he looks at those legs.
“I always judge a woman by the skin of her knees.” Servaas doesn’t want to look, but he can’t help himself. “A real lady has smooth knees, without callouses and wrinkles. This woman must have been to a finishing school.”
Kleinpiet glances around to make sure Precilla isn’t near – he doesn’t want to upset her. “And those thighs are so smooth! Just look at them! You can see she must have used one of those new-fangled razors with more than one blade. A new one, at that.”
The three men let out a collective sigh of undiluted male appreciation as they stare at the label of Jan Omdop’s newest product. He usually collects the substandard peaches from the farmers on the Orange River at the end of the season, cuts them up, and then proceeds with the slow process to produce his own unique brand of peach brandy. Omdop Special is a much sought after brand in the clandestine world of illicit liquor in the Northern Cape; and you’ll find a bottle hidden away somewhere in most homesteads. Although it is rumoured to cause temporary blindness, it has been used with great success to cure month-end-blues, a variety of headaches, two cases of infertility, one case of measles and Jan himself says his broken arm recovered overnight due to the miracle of his brew.
Over the years, Jan’s reputation as a brandy maker grew in direct proportion to the amount of unclad flesh on his notorious labels. It started off with a picture of his long-suffering wife, posing with a spade held high. Jan tells the story that his wife threatened to destroy his distillery and that he had to make her understand he appreciated her more than the brandy. A potent drink needed a potent label, he said.
When she finally left him, Jan started cutting photos from magazines to paste onto his bottles. That caused some to think his Bikini Brandy was better than the Jeans version, although – like Jack Daniel’s old Number 7 –it was a simple matter of labelling a thing right to develop a niche market. Nowadays he has a special photo taken; so that a specific year will be a Blonde Brandy, or Brunette Mampoer, or Redhead Fury. It is his way of ensuring his stock gets sold at the fastest possible rate – clearing his little warehouse and making sure there’s nothing left when the police do their obligatory annual raid on his farm.
This year, the cloth-to-flesh ratio is at an all-time low. The girl is dressed in a micro-mini and what seems to be a wet T-shirt. The large straw hat is angled so that only the cascade of curls is visible at the back of her neck – while the front of her face is almost completely obscured. A very pert little nose peeks from below the brim of the hat, as does the glossy-red lipstick.
“She can’t be local.” Vetfaan believes he can recognise any face in the district. “Must be a model or something. But to pose like that…”
“It’s a way to get the guys to drink more,” Boggel says. “You can imagine any face behind that hat. And, after two or three glasses, most men start thinking about the loves they lost in the past. That makes them thirsty, see. So Jan puts a sexy, faceless babe on the label – and men drink to show how sorry they are to have let the big one slip through their fingers. With this year’s batch I’ve seen it happen a number of times. After glass number five, the men sit and stare at the label with tears in their eyes. It’ll make Jan happy to know this girl makes the men so sad. It’s a sure sign of a good year…”
“But she’s so beautiful…” Vetfaan runs a finger over the smooth contours of her neck. “Imagine…”
“Yes.” Servaas finds it difficult to talk. His lower lip starts trembling while his cheeks feel numb. “It’s not wrong to admire beauty. Siena used to…” He decides not to trust his vocal ability much further and sips his drink.
“So sexy,” Vetfaan slurs. “I’d do anything…”
The manager of Pep Stores in Upington looks up in surprise when Jan Omdop makes the offer.
“You want to buy her? Geez, I don’t know, man. Hiring her out this year was a risk already – if my head office found out, they’d have a million questions. So we compromise: I’ll dress her and you’ll photograph her. After hours, with no-one around. All above board. Come Monday morning and nobody’s the wiser. But if I sell her to you, I’d have a lot to explain. Nope. No can do. Sorry.”
“But promise me then: I want to use her again next year. Please man. Her picture was such a hit this year…”
After another dose of brandy, the manager agrees on condition he gets two bottles of the next batch.
“But you photograph her in the back room, like this year, understand? And I’ll supervise every step. If that mannequin gets damaged you’ll have to pay for a replacement. And I’ll have you know – these dolls aren’t cheap.”
“She’s quite something…” Jan has a faraway look in his eyes.
“She’s an it,” the irate manager snubs. “A manequin for the window. A sexless doll.”
“Have another,” Jan smiles as he offers the bottle, “you’ll see what I mean…”