Saturday, December 27, 2008

Old beginning

Here's an old beginning to my book which I've discarded. I've used the scenario in a later chapter as a flashback.

Prologue

Hunched over his wooden cane, a prune-faced old man ambled up to the open spot at my counter. “So you’re going to be a banker,” he said.
It was my first week on the job, and his words felt like some invisible force slamming into me. “Err…” I swallowed, hard, and reached to loosen my tie. “I uh… I suppose so.”
With his head barely above the counter, the old man gave me an indifferent look, as though I was now a useful cog in society. He handed me his bankbook and I tapped numbers into the computer. Memories flooded back of the African travel life I’d recently left behind.
#
On my first visit to Africa, at twenty-three years of age, I was collected from Cape Town airport by family friends.
“Africa is dangerous,” they told me. “Perhaps you should just stay in Cape Town and keep in touch with us.”
A week later, I said my polite goodbyes, slung my heavy backpack on, and went out with the spirit and enthusiasm of a first-time traveller. I bussed up the coast, and later around the country. I climbed mountains, rode horses, and bunji jumped. I fished and surfed and kayaked. I joined tour groups and stuck my camera out of high truck windows trying to photograph Africa’s wildlife.
Three months of backpacking and group adventure was enough, and I moved from backpacker to intrepid traveller. A pair of Afrikaans-speaking brothers sold me a bright-yellow beach buggy, which I drove north into Zimbabwe and Zambia. There, I was greeted by smiling and waving Africans. The buggy needed constant repairs and I often camped in the wilderness tinkering at it with my toolkit.
#
The old man cleared his throat to grab my attention. His hand shook as he placed his cheque on the counter. “Being a banker is a respectable position in society,” he said.
Yeah respectable, I thought. But a respectable bank is no place for a dream-filled rogue.

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