“Ag, Vetfaan, living alone isn’t such a bad thing. Look at me: I’ve been alone ever since I’ve moved here, and I’m still okay, see?” Sersant Dreyer puts a comforting arm around Vetfaan’s shoulders – a rare display of sympathy from the otherwise stern-faced policeman. “Here, let me buy you a drink.”
“It’s not the loneliness, man, it’s the loss. We had such a good time on the farm, and now that little space in my head is empty. It was only for a few days, I know, but it meant so much. For the first time in my life I felt fulfilled and happy. Complete, you understand? Now there’s…nothing.”
“That’s the way it goes, my friend. Nothing lasts forever.” Dreyer stares out of the window at the dust on the road to Grootdrink. “The lorry’s on its way. With the long weekend ahead, I was just getting worried about Boggel’s beer supplies but I can relax now.
“Yeah, maybe if I get drunk enough, it’ll help. Lots of beer, bottles full of Cactus…bring it on, man! It’s been years since we had a proper old-fashioned booze-up. Geez, Dreyer, you’re a genius!”
“Now, now, Vetfaan. Getting drunk doesn’t solve anything. You must face your emotions, man. Get it off your chest. Speak your mind.”Gertruida has read lots of books on counselling and is acknowledged as the local expert on loss. When one of Shirley-the-Basset’s puppies went missing, she had a highly successful session in Boggel’s Place (she called it Mass-Basset-Therapy). Afterwards they all said it was natural for puppies to get lost, one should expect that. Then Boggel heard the whimpering behind one of the beer crates, where the little tyke was exploring his new world. Gertruida’s therapy-group went into a downward spiral because they realised they didn’t search well enough, making them a bunch of failures. Again, Gertruida worked her magic. This time her success was even more obvious: her patients all tried to hide puppies where the others won’t find them.
“Gertruida, it’s all okay to get us to feeling better about the puppies. That’s small fry. This thing is a bit more complicated. And remember: I’m a grown man. We don’t talk about these things. Cowboys don’t cry.”
“No man. When I found out my bottle was empty – just the other night – I cried a little.” Dreyer smiles triumphantly. “I thought it was justified. And you know what? I felt great afterwards…but maybe it’s because I remembered where I stashed my emergency supply.”
“Look, I know what you guys are trying to do. I really appreciate it, I do. But all the talking in the world isn’t going to bring Fanny back. It’s over. That’s the only way to think about it, and I have to get myself into such a state that I can wrap my head around it. Boggel! Bring me another, will you?”
“I have just the song for you, Vetfaan. Let’s listen….”
Of course it doesn’t help.
But then, the Cactus doesn’t last the weekend, either…
And fortunately, the puppies didn’t get lost again.