“Show us what you’ve got”: An extract from The Seeing Place

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That woman’s face was incredibly familiar … And she was beginning to address him. It was her. No doubt about it. Andile froze.

Damn, she’s lovely. She was wearing a kind of skin-coloured chiffon number that made her look almost naked.

What the hell is she doing here? Was she Gordon Tshabalala’s buddy? Or, heaven forbid, his sister or his wife?

“Yes,” he stuttered, hearing her say his name.

“My name is Thuli Poni.” She cleared her throat. OK, it looked like she was going to pretend they’d never met. “I am the producer and casting director here.”

First his heart leapt into his mouth and then it ricocheted down to his feet, with an almighty clang.

“How do you do?” he said politely, thanking God and his theatrical training that he could play nonchalant.

“Perhaps we could have a brief word before you begin. You are aware that these are the auditions for The Lions at Night?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“And you are auditioning for the role of David Ranaka, the Reverend?”

“Correct.” He marvelled that his voice was holding up so well.

“Then why, may I ask, are you dressed so stylishly? The character is a rascal and a jailbird.”

“Doesn’t mean he can’t be a snappy dresser.”

“Explain.”

“Well, I don’t have a penny to my name and I managed to source this suit, so.”

“Don’t get sassy, wena.” It was Gordon, tapping a pen on the desk. Andile ignored the comment.

“Why are you dressed like that, Andile?” Gloria asked, rescuing him. “This is not The Matrix.”

“Ranaka has resources. He’s no fool. He’s an inveterate ladies’ man, so he’s likely to have a few tricks up his sleeve. And some stylish outfits.”

Thuli seemed to shift uneasily in her chair. Or perhaps, he thought, admiring her shapely leg slung over the seat in front of her, she was getting turned on. “Carry on,” was all she said.

“This is how he works it. It’s his suit for special occasions, for getting a girl, like this is mine for getting parts.”

Gordon snorted. Andile went on, “In the first scene, the one I’ll be reading from, we see him in full strutting mode. That’s why it’s such a shock to his wife later. She has no idea about this side of him. That he’s the lion at night. That’s the deception. All these years, she’s been loving him, thinking he’s the quiet one, meantime he’s more like the Long Street Festival.”

It was a foolish thing to do, alluding to their earlier meeting under these circumstances, but he couldn’t help himself. Besides, he was getting heartily sick of the attitude coming from the director’s table. What did they think this was, So You Think You Can Dance, wena?

“Go ahead,” Thuli said in a voice like ice. “Show us what you’ve got.”

****.5 stars on Amazon

Ankara Press 2016

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