“Sssshhh! You can’t talk about it yet.” Servaas’s urgent whisper and disapproving scowl tells it all.
“Oh, come on! You know the secret is safe with us. At least we can have a Cactus or two to celebrate? It’s been a long time in coming.”
“You know, Gertruida, sometimes I wonder if you know anything. He specifically said the project is only beginning now – and it may only be finished by the middle of next year. So it’s far too early to start counting chickens.”
Like the rest, Vetfaan is extremely excited as well. “It’ll be great to do the jump from the screen to paper. It’ll make me feel more alive, I can tell you. If it takes a bit of time, it’s okay – I can wait.”
“I’m not sure whether I like the idea. Once your name gets published, people start taking notice of you.” Oudoom shifts uncomfortably. “In several stories it is mentioned that I take the occasional…er…tot in Boggel’s Place. The synod will frown on that.”
“You think you’re the only dominee is South Africa that sneaks in a few when the congregation isn’t looking?” Fanny walks over to hug the old clergyman. “Maybe the book will make your colleagues loosen up a bit – they’ll see it’s okay to act normal for a change.”
Servaas straightens his black suit before getting up to leave. “You guys can joke all you like – and maybe that’s all you are good for. This is serious stuff, man. A lot of work goes into a project like this – and he won’t rest until it’s perfect. So, talking about it at this time is far too early. If I were you, I wouldn’t breathe a word until the presses start rolling.”
Boggel gets on his crate to serve a round on the house. He’s been in an orphanage, in love, in an accident, in trouble, and inebriated…but he’s never been in a book. “Oh, come on, Servaas! Sit down! You know we won’t say a word until the book is finished. This is Rolbos, remember? We plan things to perfection and then we leave nothing to chance. Can you recall one single incident when we were surprised by events? No man – the secret is safe. Nothing can go wrong now.”
Vrede does his doggy-turn before settling on Boggel’s cushion below the counter. He doesn’t care about secrets or the uncertainty humans display when they plan the future. He’s going to be famous, and that’s all that counts. How many retired police dogs can say (bark) that? His tail thump-thumps on the wooden floor as he hears old Servaas sitting down again.
“Well, I only hope he’ll portray me as I am: a happy, sober, intelligent, amicable widower, living alone in a small town in his own house with a spare room. Who knows…”
“You’re the catch of the century, Servaas. We’ll have a stream of ladies queueing up to meet you.”
When Servaas manages to angle the corners of his lips slightly upwards, Precilla leans over to plant a kiss on the old man’s cheek. “I’m convinced he’ll write nice things about you, Servaas. Absolutely sure.”
Servaas’s mood may have stayed a while if Kleinpiet didn’t collapse in helpless laughter at that point. A sexy widow? For Servaas? In Rolbos…? No, not even the best author in the world can stretch the reader’s imagination that far…