Location: Cape Town
I was short on Rand at this point and it was passed banking hours, so the text Molly had sent to me earlier that evening that I would have to meet our drug dealer for a pick up sent me into a bit of a tail spin. Luckily Alex was kind enough to buy my USD from me and run me to the ATM in order to make a withdrawal. Then kinder still in the Merc roadster we mobbed into town in style where he dropped me right where I needed to be, near the old tattoo shop haunt Aces N Spades bar for Manuela’s exhibition and DJ gig.
I arrived fashionably late, just in time to have the joint not be crowded and enjoy a couple Gin and Tonics at happy hour prices. I had 3600 Rand on me, almost all of which was hopefully headed for drugs. Double fisting cocktails I made my way to find Manuela, whom I kissed a hello and was immediately turned over to her daughter, who from last time round had a special relationship with me. I tattooed some bassist from a famous band after Nelson Mandela died and got her back stage to meet everyone and ever since she and I kind of had this special connection. In the 3 short years since I had seen her she had grown into a young woman, who was studying hard at school and playing gigs as a solo act singing and playing guitar at the tender age of probably 15? I got the text to go and meet Molly’s dealer almost immediately after I sat down with Manuela’s daughter, and since I was foolishly wearing a short sleeved button up made the excuse that I would return after a hunt for a jumper, leaving my cocktail on the table.
I went to a bar about ten minutes walk down Long Street weaving in and out of the First Thursday crowds all dispersed throughout the area. At the bar, I smoked and waited, then took a quarter of the ecstasy pill Annie and I had bought the night before to make sure it was real and wouldn’t kill anyone. According to the Internet this particular pill was double the dose that most brands of would contain. I met the dealer, who was on time, something I appreciate about the drug dealers in South Africa, first they deliver and second they’re not usually late. He was a confident and well spoken black man who was a gentleman, he introduced me to his pharmacist, who had come immediately from work with a box of 100 tramadol that I bought for R650, the possibilities of having a pharmacist on call boggled my mind, i would be in so much trouble, then he invited me to join him for a line of coke in the bathroom. I then bought the three of us cocktails and opened the conversation for cocaine with the gentleman dealer. I bought 2000 rand worth, nearly an 8 ball from what I could gather, it was clean cocaine and I was pleased as I tested it and the tramadol in the bathroom. I then bounced back towards Aces and arrogantly, pockets full of fucking drugs stopped at the police public safety booth to ask if they knew of any stores still open where I could purchase a jacket or jumper. When they said no, I just walked a little faster to get back to my cocktails.
When I arrived back to the bar, I found Manuela’s daughter, along with her dad Alan, whom I also adored and was greeted with a big hug, hello old friend and a bit of a catch up. I was handed a G&T from Tyler from Sins of Style from behind and the night upped itself from mellow and home by midnight to fuck this might get rowdy. Tyler was such a rock star that when he asked if I was cold, which was painfully obvious he offered me the most wicked patterned vintage jacket to wear which warmed my bones. I handed him 20 tramadol for his kindness. From behind I was tapped on the shoulder, it was Brad from Zim, I introduced him to Tyler and we all talked shop for a while and the drinks kept coming. The quote of the night was from Tyler: “when you have kids Ed, you become like a proper mammal, like raaaaar!!! I’ll kill you if you fuck with my kids, it makes you work a lot harder.” His delivery was so good it actually made me consider if it was worth it to have children to be a better tattooer and become a “mammal.”
I got a text from Rico, he would not be showing, but by that time I was already on my way, so I said no worries and re-invited him to come round on Saturday night for rocket ship day. Brad, Tyler and I sat at the reserved table while Manuela spun rock n roll and her South African Gang Tattoo exhibition was happening all around us while the bar slowly went to overflow status. I found myself a little drunk more than once and sobered up in the bathroom with some cocaine. The night got later, I got drunker and I was cuddled up to my tattoo mom at the Dj booth while she played songs on her headphones for me rather than let me listen to the music for the punters. I met quite a few fancy people that night, one Mr. Banks, a fashionable and radical young entrepreneur who bought me more cocktails.
I should have known better, just being around tattoo mom. Manuela and I had so many nights out where one drink turned into a 3 am circus, I should have known it was going to go a bit sideways. The cocaine, tramadol, molly and cocktails had me bouncing off the walls and when Manuela was too drunk to DJ she sat next to me while I stood there like a wild man singing into my fist to Def Leppard and George Throughgood, bouncing around watching her laugh at me. We were both completely sideways hammered and exchanged vows of forever friendship and love and how much we had fucking missed each other since last I was in Africa.
It warmed my heart. At that point Brad had already said his goodbyes and shared a warm hug and disappeared back to his family with my apologies for not having spent more time with him and his family, I returned Tyler’s fashionable jacket and then Manuela and I Ubered home, being that we lived in the same direction. Just like the old days, minus Manuela driving completely one eyed and us risking our lives and laughing about it rocking the fuck out to QOTSA or whatever. On the way I learned that her best friend and the magnificent counter girl Natalie from my last visit hadn’t spoken in a couple of years, to which I replied draw something for her right now and we will fix it, so there in our Uber, she drew a little heart and dagger in my notebook and promised to deliver it. The following day I sent a picture of it to Natalie, informed her of my dates in London and she responded that it made her burst into tears. I guess Edmond was doing something right, doing his best to right something I thought wrong. Manuela and I said our sad goodbyes and hoped to restart the madness a year from then, when I was hoping my travels would return me to the Mother City and the great continent of Africa.
I was home by 2 and by 530 the Gin had turned to pure sugar and I was unable to sleep so I woke and busted out my run and yoga and defeated my hangover with ease. Well, the 5 tramadol I took following along with my tea probably had something to do with it. I spent the day with Annette running errands, I bought a couple things, exchanged a hundred US for Rand and hoped it would get me through to the airport. We hunted for little tins that I could distribute drugs in for the coming party the next day. I text Molly a couple times, sweet texts now, few and far between but each more lovely than the last. Annette treated me to a wonderful sushi lunch for our last Edmond and Auntie outing and headed home, where I found that I would be tattooing the over hand sized torch on Kelli-Ann and her boyfriend for free. I wasn’t exactly excited to do two tattoos, but thought what the hell, get them done and get it all fucking packed. Her boyfriend went first, he was colored (a non-offensive word in South Africa meaning mixed race) so I did his in black and gray, then killed it on Kelli-Ann with a bold lined, nicely blended bright colored torch that had them both jumping off the walls with excitement. I made a deal with Kelli-Ann that she would have to make an effort to take it easier on her family in payment for the tattoo. And towards the end, she talked her mom in to matching heart outline tattoos on their wrists that almost made me teary since the two hadn’t got along in the least since I had left the last time 3 long years ago. The night ended with me writing, smoking my second pack of cigarettes for the day and the whole family eating KFC for dinner, something I normally would never do, but it was like a bit of a going away thing for me and my last night with my brilliant South African family had ended.I made my way to my room and started to split up the chemicals in even portions into the magical little tins before finally calling it a night and getting some rest, the next 96 hours were going to be brutal. Thank fuck for tramadol, lets hope I don’t go through withdrawals again once in the icy north, making it doubly cold.