A Stranger’s Touch

A Stranger’s Touch

Sultry deep house pulses in the background. I step down into the hot water and look the stranger in the eye. Jets of bubbles cascade coyly around us, the only pretense to humility this scene requires.

“Hello.”

“Hi.” 

We’ve already said more than is necessary. I’m not here to chat. A last lingering gaze and I tilt my head back onto the edge of the rim, and close my eyes.

Breathe. 

The air jets buoy our bodies in a slow, rhythmic flow. The stranger uses this fluid motion to brush up against me…it’s a request. I answer by not pulling away. Our legs rest against each other, pushing, pulling as the ebb and flow of the bubbles mimic the unspoken carnal connection to follow. 

But this not some public animal rutting between two lust-hungry youths. The stranger is older than my forty-two years, with a devilishly light and gracefully slow touch.  

Hands trace my form. The stranger moves in time to the serene music, barely audible over the roiling jets of hot water.

Is it getting hotter in here?

Breathe. And sink down under the waves. A light touch bears down as the stranger’s nails dig in to carve a souvenir from my chest. 

“It’s too hot.” Ambiguous words refresh reality as the stranger rises up from the water and wraps up in a towel. 

A glance back, a beckoning to follow somewhere into the darkness and the sound of more strangers’ most urgent wiles…but my eyes close and I sink back into the boiling water.

I connect with water and all the games I play take place beneath the surface. If you want to play, that’s where I’ll be.

Our moment has passed; the connection made in a stranger’s touch is broken. 

Breathe.

I’m done.

© Dave Luis 2016. All Rights Reserved.

Disclaimer: the adult nature of posts like these respects and promotes a culture of consent and safe practices. Do not ask if these are fictional or real life encounters. What matters is the words about sense and the emotions they describe. If you are unable to read material like this without a knee-jerk reaction, please scroll on to another blog. These are not the posts you seek. 

And the beat goes on…

Johan ‘Junior’ Botha 1956.03.19 – 2016.07.24

My amazing, talented cousin! 

We were not ready to say goodbye. How could we be? A life as full as yours should never come to an end – a man so loved for the smiles he brought through the music he made should never have to be mourned. It just doesn’t seem fair.

Johan, we can never understand why you chose to leave us. The shockwave after your Facebook farewell post and the awful news that followed has touched innumerable lives. Proof, if it was ever needed, that you were so deeply loved. 

The ripples spread out and sting. Family. Friends. Fans. Your mom and dad; step parents. Sister. Your brother. Your beautiful daughter. Your soulmate, Laetitia. 

God! If only we knew your pain! If we knew beforehand, we would have stopped you. Could we? Would we have a right to? Could we understand and protect you? Could we help you find healing, and peace? We’ll drive ourselves to the edge of sanity trying desperately to answer these.

But perhaps we shouldn’t. Perhaps as we alternate between intense agony and numb despair, we should accept for ourselves that your soul has done what it set out to do in this lifetime, and it’s on its way home, to find its own peace and rest. 

You’ve gone home, Junior. And we have to find a way to let you. 

Though you’ve discarded this life, your touch cascades out through Candice’s eyes, and through your mom’s; it warms in our hearts as we think of you in happier times, and it roars out loudly through your music, drowning out our pain as we close our eyes and see you take up the sticks once more, test the cymbals and kick off in a raucous celebration of everything that you were: a man, and a musician, and a father, and a friend. A son. And a brother. A mentor. And our beautiful, creative, thoughtful, sensitive Junior Botha.

May your soul rest in eternal peace. 

For those of us left behind, we’ll hold the memory of you tightly in our hearts.

And the beat goes on…

© Dave Luis 2016. 

Day #1479

Day #1479

One thousand four hundred days ago, I scribbled on a red paper serviette and stuck it to my sister-in-law’s fridge and posed next to it for a photo.


Day 79 it said. 79 days without alcohol or narcotics. Drugs. The crutch I’d used for 18 years previously. 

79 days without a crutch. Back then I felt each passing day rolling off the calendar slowly. Sometimes painfully. Some days I could feel each hour dragging its slow, sober feet, minute after minute.

In those days it was very necessary to mark each day as a milestone. Now, four years later, I am resilient enough to count only the milestones of each year as it passes. 

But Lize-Marie kept that red paper serviette, and each time a milestone was reached where the number 79 could be added to or altered, we have had a family gathering to celebrate my clean time.

So day 79 became day 179. 

Day 179 became day 479.

Today that became day 1479.

1479 days without drugs or alcohol.

Lize-Marie, Jeff, Robyn and I met once more for love, dinner, laughter and to honour the clean time and the very special people who helped me get there.

This victory is not mine alone – it is ours. 

Thank you for the hand up – the trust and the belief that the addiction could be beaten. 

Every. Single. Day. 

See you on day 4479! 

© Dave Luis 2016. All Rights Reserved.

Four Years.

Today marks four years since I last touched drugs or alcohol.

I wish that I was writing a piece that celebrated my victory and affirmed that I had all the answers to beating addiction, but I am not.

Truth is, I wrote a piece 2 years ago today saying the battle was far from won, and today as I write nothing has changed.

In fact not only has nothing changed, nothing has changed since April 16, 2014. 

I am confined to a wheelchair because I am so overweight and unfit that a small accident that would have been a minor inconvenience in a healthier, stronger person, has rendered me useless and unable to do anything. 

Yes, I may never touch drugs again (that battle has been won) but my focus on self-care and planning for the future is as undeveloped and for the most part absent as it was at the height of my addiction.

There is no point writing a searing and inspirational post of how I beat drugs, when there is so much I am not getting right. There is nothing to be gained from opening up in a vulnerable piece about how I need help. No value in a life listicle, defining achievements and work yet to be done.

In short, these words are meaningless without action to change my situation. 

So yes, today I celebrate four years of drug-free living, and I acknowledge that milestone, and the hard work it took to achieve. I acknowledge the love and support of everyone who helped me to get to this point. I respect the wishes of those who had to walk away. 

I have so much still left to do. 

Happy birthday, me! 

© Dave Luis 2016. All Rights Reserved. 

In the stillness of the early morning…

In the stillness of the early morning…

5:15am. My incessant insomnia is fueled by fear and the unknown journey of recovery on my leg.

I am scared because my leg feels fine – I have sensation, there is no numbness, it’s just a bit stiff – yet when I am upright, transitioning from bed to wheelchair, I gingerly test my weight on my damaged leg, and it collapses. There is no way it can support me. There is zero strength and zero muscle control (no contraction or flexing) in my thigh. It feels lame. Have I – for the third time in my life – paralysed a limb?

A broken arm and a crushed nerve put me in recovery for more than a year twice before. 

Is this what we’re looking at, now?

These thoughts weigh down on me and keep me from even poor sleep.

.

.

…and then a light pressure at my feet distracts me.

My sister’s cat has jumped on the bed.

She curls up between my feet and gently rests her head on my injured leg. The deep thrum of her purr grows louder until it is all I can hear.

It is as if Cassie is saying “Be still. Don’t let the fear become your reality. You are safe. You are loved. Rest now.”

Look, she’s probably not saying any of that, and is only minutes away from standing on my face and demanding to be fed (I applaud this refreshingly direct approach to asking for food) but in this quiet moment, this cat is my comfort. 

© Dave Luis 2016. All Rights Reserved. 

Scurrilous Customs

Scurrilous Customs

I am less than fit. I am also less than slim and sleek, and checking in at the airport means there is a serious amount of walking to be done. With baggage.

Add to that my dislike (read: fear) of official people in uniforms, and you’ll picture just how sweaty and fidgety I am. 

Nervous. Sweaty. Unable to make eye contact because fear of Passport Control Woman who does not crack a smile. 

I survive the customary gauntlet and move through to the boarding gates. 

I am sopping wet. Rivulets of perspiration blind me as I go in search of a gift shop to buy some handkerchiefs. But what is this fresh hell…? NO handkerchiefs to be bought anywhere! 

Obviously handkerchiefs are an unfashionable relic of an oppressive patriarchy and no premium purveyor of tax-free goods would be caught dead selling them. 

But I need something…anything! So I opt for a scented towel and make my way to the waiting area…

…where it turns out the scented towel comes with bath salts:

  
Really? Seriously?! A packet of white crystals??? You have got to be joking! 

Now I am desperately trying not to look like a sweaty, nervous drug smuggling reprobate! 

Cue more sweating. MUCH more sweating. And nervous glances. Who saw me? Did anyone see me? Where are the cameras? Am I being watched, marked, fed into Interpol’s system of scurrilous cons?! 

I calmly (well I think it’s calmly, at least on the outside) stand up and walk slowly over to a bin, and turf the non-contraband-that-looks-like-contraband. Shit. I left my hand luggage unattended. 

Great.

Cue more sweating. 

“Please do NOT blow up my Mac!” I silently plead as I try NOT to sprint back to my seat.

I sit. I breathe deeply. At least I have this stupid towel to deal with the sweat, and failing that, to bury my face in shame as the narcs drag me off to an ignominious fate. 

People travel for fun, apparently.

© Dave Luis 2016. All Rights Reserved. 

Rush. 

Rush. 

Finally spent, I lean back onto my pillow, sweat drenching the crisp white linen. My chest heaves. My pulse thrums loudly in my ear as endorphins flood my brain with welcome euphoria. 

I close my eyes and allow a soft gurgle to escape my smiling lips. I laugh. I laugh again, louder now. 

Fuck. Damn, it’s hot. The fan turns its impotent head towards me and mocks me by blowing more hot air at my sweaty, half naked self. Hot. 

Deep breaths get deeper, slower. My pulse eases off its manic urgency. 

Breathe in. Out… And in… … …and out. 

The thing that gets me, that really irks me about all this rushing feel-good euphoria is that this divine high I feel, supine on wet sheets, is not from a handful of pills or a lungful of crystal meth. Nope. 

It doesn’t take that much to wreck me these days. Not at age 42. 

No, what took me out was a handful of household chemicals. Detergents. And a mop and cloth. A simple morning’s household cleaning. Stacked the dishes, ready to wash, and cleaned the bathroom. 

And that’s me, done. Finished. Sweating like an inappropriate metaphor and rushing like a nineties raver – thanks to the physical exertion, not from breathing in ShowerShine, mind! 

Domestic godding is not for sissies. 

Done! 

© Dave Luis 2016. All Rights Reserved. 

Image by Christopher Campbell at unsplash