Just how Enoch relates to his Biblical namesake shall only later be revealed. For now the reader must be content with both farce and the fact that Enoch believes to have spied his neighbour spying on him. There also arises the question of sex.
The Monday morning that followed, Enoch, as he testified in the court, was satisfied. He had watched Bain on the Sunday evening and had, he thought, confirmed that the certain movements of Bain’s left hand suggested that his neighbour must be painting from real life. ‘He seemed,’ Enoch stated in his testimony, ‘to be taking, uhm, like … what you call those things?’ He was holding up his bulbous hand and squinting into the distance. ‘You know, what you macall it. That thing that artists do with their hands, you know?’
‘I take it you mean he was getting the perspective right?’ Advocate Hollow asked quizzically looking over the rims of his glasses.
‘Ja, that’s it! Perspectives. Ja, he also, like, kept on talking to himself. You know? That night I thought he might have somebody in there with him, like a what you call them? Ag, I used to know these words. Y’know a person to paint.’
‘Or they could have been standing. But, ja no, like a person might have been there in the house with him.’ He paused for a second, and then, suddenly looking at me, he shouted. ‘I even saw you there! It might have even been you!’ he said pointing at me with his huge index finger, while at the same time slapping his other hand down on the stand with such force that several members of the gallery woke up in confusion. Some even raised themselves up from their benches on which they had been sleeping to see if it was once again a breakdown of the ventilation machine. But on seeing Enoch still on the stand they slumped back down again.
It took some time to clear this matter up. But the claim that I was in the house with Bain that night was finally struck from the record when Enoch admitted that he had seen no one in the house, other than the engineer. With this, however, the point was raised again by Adv. Hollow that, considering my friendship with the engineer, it would be proper for me to recuse myself from the case.
This (again) I dismissed, stating that, considering the size of Albertsburg, it would be impossible not to have at least some kind of personal relationship with any accused in my court. During this discussion, I was pleased to note that the citizens, as well as the policemen, had resumed their afternoon naps. Some lay across the benches, others, took to the floor, using their bags and umbrellas as bolsters. Such was the bodily disarray of these scenes during the afternoons of the trial, that my court could, I often thought, be mistaken for the aftermath of a massacre.
The only man who was upright was De Lambert, the journalist, who sat with his tablet, punching at his keys, capturing what could well have gone completely unnoticed. Jean too was present. But I noticed even her head was lolling back in the heat of the day. I could only confirm that she was partially conscious by the fact that her hand occasionally raised itself to swat away a fly.
With the activities of his next-door neighbour seemingly clarified, Enoch had woken with a sense that the man living over the road, considering he was a figurative and not an abstract artist, did not pose a threat to the community. With this matter cleared up in his mind he stepped out onto his farm as the sun reflected off the mountains of the Twelve Apostles that receded beyond the engineer’s house. The smell of wet earth and the sound of newly woken ostriches fluttering and stretching out their limbs were the only immediate sensations he took notice of.
He spent much of that morning herding his birds to the north of the farm by raising a broomstick above his head and chasing them like a sheep dog. Having finally penned them in a kraal on the slopes of Towerkop he then proceeded to make sure that the fences near to the gravel road, that separated his property from the engineer’s, were in good repair.
It was then that a flash of light caught his eye. He had thought nothing of this to begin with, supposing that it must simply be the sun reflecting momentarily off a piece of broken glass lying in the veld. But on straightening out his back he noticed that this flashing was coming from a second chimney protruding out of the house next door’s roof. This was something he had never noticed before. But it was only when another flash of light caught his eye, that he bothered to inspect the roof. ‘No,’ he said to himself, ‘no, that house has not grown a second chimney. That is a man sitting on top of the roof, like a bird. Like a bird? With set of binoculars?’
He thought of calling out to the man on the roof. But then it struck him, there was something strange about this scene. Although not blessed with the best eyesight, Enoch claims to have kept note, furtively, of the bird-like figure on the roof while he hammered down the last loose fencing stake. All the while he wiped his forehead in the manner of someone who would soon need a drink. ‘I was not tired or thirsty you understand. I just wanted whoever it was on the roof to think that I was,’ he said.
Enoch had of course been in the army and was, at the very least, aware of certain bush craft. When he finally moved towards the house he hoped that the man’s gaze would be tracking his movements and that he would fail to take in that a jug of water with lemon and cucumber was sitting outside on his stoep. Of course Enoch knew that if this man had been in the army too he would be tracking both subject as well as the subject’s immediate environment. But Enoch told himself he would have to gamble on this. He gave the jug a nervous glance as he got to the stoep but continued directly into the cool interior of the old Victorian farmhouse. Its Oregon pine floor shook as, once inside the door, he bounded towards the cupboard which housed his binoculars and rifle. He swung the door open, banging it against the wall, and, grabbing the eyeglasses, he took the hunting rifle and flung it onto an armchair near the window.
Then he got on the floor and leopard crawled his way to the couch. Climbing onto it he pulled one of the cushions over his head for cover and slipped the end of one of the eyepieces of the binoculars over the parapet. Placing his right eye to it, he took his preliminary reconnaissance of the roof across the road. But there was nothing there – save two chimneys protruding like a set of rabbit’s ears from opposite sides, their duck-shaped metal cowls swinging listlessly in the breeze.
With this he withdrew his eye and then lay back on the couch, returning, every few minutes, to scanning the roof. But the subject had abandoned his position. Determined to discover just where this person may have relocated to, Enoch then crawled on his stomach to the dining room and, slipping under the curtain, he propped his chin on the windowsill. From there he had, through the trunks of the blue gum trees that lined the road, a full view of the subject’s house and garden and could see that Bain had moved from the roof to the kitchen. However, at this distance he couldn’t ascertain just what he was up to. At one point he seemed to be sharpening a knife, at another he appeared to be stabbing at something that lay on the table.
Enoch surveyed the land in front of him and realised that he could pretend to fix the fence at his gate. This was the most forward position to which he could advance without eliciting suspicion. From there he would have a clear visual command of the east flank of the engineer’s house: his kitchen, study, bathroom and the eastern pitch of the roof. With this he returned to the cupboard and retrieved his grandmother’s opera glasses. These he slipped into the side pocket of his cargo shorts and made his way out to the fence nearest to the gate. Of course, he did not forget to exit the house with a large glass of Schweppes water – in which, according to Bain, was a heavy-handed pouring of witblitz and tonic.
Enoch walked out from his stoep, trying, as best he could, to keep his eyes off his neighbour’s house. After getting to the gate he began to shake the fencing. There was absolutely nothing wrong with it. But he dropped down to his knees and took out a set of pliers he had with him and begun untwist and the retwist the bottom cross wire. All the while he had his other hand on the opera glasses. These he now began to pull slowly from his pocket.
‘Do you need any help?’ A voice suddenly broke out right next to him. Enoch tumbled backwards, dropping the pliers and then, while attempting to regain his balance, he flung the opera glasses into the air. Finally, in the last act of trying to steady himself, before he crashed to the ground, he knocked the glass he had placed on the ground onto the leather hiking boot of the man standing over him. In a state of complete funk, with the dust from his fall swirling about him and obscuring his vision, he grappled in vain for anything, a stone, a stick, a fist full of sand, anything that could be used as a defensive weapon.
‘Oh my living God!’ he screamed. ‘Don’t do it! Please! My family were never part of any political movement. I have always been good to my workers – in fact, I have none, they all left after the wage dispute. There is no need to torture me. I have only a few possessions. You can bloody have the lot.’
The man standing above him remained silent for a few moments. Allowing Enoch time to recover his wits.
‘I’m very sorry, I thought you heard me coming. I have not come for your possessions, at least not for now,’ Bain chuckled and, having retrieved the beautifully inlayed opera glasses for Enoch, he now was standing above him holding out his hand.
Enoch had by this time recovered from his shock but he was still lying on the ground. Slightly begrudgingly he looked up and took the hand that was extended to him.
‘I was just coming over to say that I am going for a walk and that if the police come looking for me, if you wouldn’t mind telling them that I was here but that I have gone out.’
Enoch, still confused and a little bit irritated, was not listening to the man, instead he was slapping the sand out from his clothes. And then once he was satisfied that he had got most of it out of his shorts and shirt he turned to the engineer. ‘Why do the police want you? I will tell no lies to the police. If they want to arrest you that is between them and you. I am not here to what-you-ma-call-it for you. You know like as an ali-thingy-ma-gig.’
‘Ja, that’s it. If the police want you, they must have good reasons. I will not stand in their way.’
‘No, I don’t think the police want me for any criminal reason. Or at least I hope not. They are simply coming to check up on the fact that I am living out here. I informed them last week of my presence in the district and they said they would be sending somebody out to verify some of the facts that I have given them. I have been waiting for them for some time now, but it would be just my luck that the minute I leave, they will arrive.’
‘Do you often wait for the police while watching me from your roof?’
‘Excuse me? My roof? I…’
‘Very well, I will tell the police that you are staying by this place but that is it, hey.’
‘I believe that’s all that is required. Thank you very much. I really appreciate it.’
Enoch nodded, shook the man’s hand that was extended towards him and then watched the lanky figure of the engineer, in his long dark waterproof poncho, broad brimmed veld hat and a tall wooden walking stick, disappear down the road towards the old deserted mining hostels to the south east of the dorp.
The police did not arrive while Bain was away. Instead they came while Enoch was sitting in darkness on his stoep that evening. His binoculars were resting down the side of his seat. A pre-prepared jug of brandy and coke sat on the table next to him. He had seen the police bakkie’s blue light reflecting in the tops of the fever trees as it ascended the hill towards his farm. Then came the noise of the engine, straining its way up towards his house. Then the light of the headlamps came into view, bouncing up and down along the trunks of the trees until the vehicle swung into his neighbour’s driveway, its back wheels skidding sideways, ploughing dust and gravel into the air.
But after skidding to a halt just meters from the house across the road, it sat for a while, its engine turned off, the blue light still flashing on its roof. Initially the two policemen remained in the vehicle. The silhouettes of their heads were made visible by the spotlight they triggered in the driveway. Enoch could see one of the policemen was smoking while the other sat impassively. Then a light came on in the kitchen and he saw the engineer looking out of the window and beckoning to the police to come in.
When they got out Enoch was surprised to see that it was Captain Mandel who had come himself, bringing with him the young konstabel. Their movement again triggered the motion sensor of the spotlight and they shielded their eyes against its bright beam. Blinded temporarily, they stopped. And it was only when the engineer’s looming silhouette appeared at the kitchen door that they began to move towards his tall dark figure.
Enoch took a sip of his drink and slumped down in his chair propping his elbows on the arm rests in order to steady the binoculars at his eyes. As far as he could make out, the police and the engineer sat talking for some time at the kitchen table. A coffee pot was steaming on the stove and a plate of what looked like koeksisters were taken from the fridge and were placed on the table. Papers were then produced either by the police or the engineer, Enoch could not tell, for the table itself was obscured by the level of the windowsill. Then both the police and the engineer began writing things down and both seemed to be checking just what the other had been doing. After this the engineer got up and went into his study. The light went on and Enoch leapt from his seat and slunk towards his gate in order to get a better view of what Bain might be doing. When he trained his binoculars on the study’s window he found Bain searching through his papers.
Just what these papers were, Enoch could not tell. And, for the first time, he crept beyond the boundary of his fence. Advancing, with the binoculars fixed to his eyes, he saw Bain finally pulling out a large sheet of paper from his desk, which rolled itself up the minute he had pulled it loose. Then Bain went back to the kitchen with this large scroll. It took some time for Enoch to admit to the court that he had by then breached the boundaries of the engineer’s property. However, after Adv Hollow assured him that, as a state witness, he would not be charged with trespassing, Enoch became bolder in his admissions as to his exact movements.
Enoch then confirmed that he had taken up a position behind the police bakkie. From there he could see that the scroll had been placed on the kitchen table. A pewter ashtray and some mugs were placed on it to hold down the four corners of what looked, to Enoch, like a plan of some kind. The three men stood for some time poring over this, pointing at it and gesticulating with their arms and motioning to the east, down towards the city, as well as towards the south east, towards the pass and the ruin of the mine at the foot of St. Thomas.
After this discussion ended the rolled paper remained on the table but Mandel had by then taken to leaning with his back against the kitchen sink, drinking a mug of coffee and eating a koeksister. Enoch’s eyes had badly wanted to see just what the engineer and the police had been looking at. With this he stretched his neck out from the side of the bakkie and in so doing set off the motion sensor of the spotlight. Mandel turned suddenly and Enoch took off down the driveway running for his life. His heart rate surged and his thinking was in a state of pure instinct as he pitched himself into a set of thorn bushes at the end of Bain’s property. He felt nothing of the thorns and from underneath the bushes he rolled across the road, his arms tucked to his chest until his body fell into the storm water ditch that ran down the front of his farm.
There he lay, terrified, pushing himself into the sodden ground, hoping that it would swallow him up. He could hear that the police and Bain had exited the kitchen and were searching the front of Bain’s property. ‘God se aarde,’ he could hear Mandel shouting, as he once again blinded himself by triggering the spotlight. And when Enoch finally had the courage to peek above the parapet of his trench he discovered Mandel and the konstabel, stage lit in the driveway, staggering around like blind men, their service revolvers pointing in all directions. Enoch quickly slunk back down when he realised that Bain was in fact standing, with what looked like a hunting rifle, just meters away, inspecting the thorn bushes that he had dived into moments before.
He was so close in fact that he could hear Bain sniffing like a dog and muttering to himself: ‘That bloody drunkard from next door. All I can fucking smell is that drink he dropped on my foot.’
‘It could have been an ostrich or a wild boar on the loose,’ Bain called out to the police. Enoch held his breath and he could hear Bain’s boots moving around on the gravel of the road above him. ‘It was certainly a sizeable brute, whatever it was. And if the two of you hadn’t have run around the spot like drunken orangutans we might have been able to make out some tracks.’
The three of them stood outside the house for some time after that but Enoch was too frightened to raise his head again and could only hear the muffled tones of a conversation. Then, finally, he heard the kitchen door closing as Bain and the police retired to the house. After about half an hour Mandel and the konstabel got into the bakkie and sped off back to Albertsburg, their blue light flashing all the way. Meanwhile Enoch lay in the trench not daring to move until Bain had gone to bed. In fact he may very well have spent the whole night there.
In the trial, of course, the testimonies surrounding the incident of Mandel’s visit to the engineer’s house were contradictory. Mandel claimed that it was a meeting set up with the engineer to discuss the repairing of the pass. Of course, one must admit that this did seem to fit at least with some of Enoch’s testimony. However, when Bain finally took the stand, he declared in a progressively derisive and hostile manner that the police had come simply to confirm his residency status. The conversation, he claimed, had then turned to hiking in the area and he had gone to fetch a map from his study. When asked why the paper would have rolled up like an architect’s drawing, Bain snapped: ‘It didn’t, it was folded! And I thought I was meant to be an engineer not an architect.’ He also denied having searched for the animal that had triggered the spotlight. He claimed that it must have been Mandel rather than himself that Enoch had seen inspecting the bush with the rifle.