Dark and Dangerous Romance: A Story

Posted on: October 17, 2009
1 comment so far

By Heidi Hirner


Many women have romantic tastes that prefer a nibble on the bad boy side — maybe a pinch of something darker, spiced with just a hint of danger!

This is a story to get those passions cooking and those appetites aroused – in a tasteful, family-friendly way, of course.

Served, as always, with a small amount of red herring and a delicious twist……

Dark & Dangerous Romance!


“It was Herman Charles Bosman who first noted the phenomenon,” she said as she paced in front of the whiteboards, her long black hair surging behind her in shadowy waves. She shimmered in white Indian cotton, a cool oasis in the hot lecture hall.

“There is something that happens when the writer reminds the reader that she is reading something. If the writer calls for attention from within the act itself, it jolts the reader into awareness, ups the level of consciousness. Now the reader is awake, aware, you have her attention. You can begin to tell the story.”

She’d tried to capture her hair away from her face with a band of striped East African linen, but it insisted on escape, restless, unmanageable.

“But what kind of story should you tell? There are so many kinds. Or are there? As Bosman points out, there really are only three kinds of story, told and retold, but – at essence – always the same three: the Ghost story, the Murder Story and the Love Story. They’re the classic stories, the only genres.”

He’d found out that her first name was Safreeka. It suited her – so exotic; so much more interesting than the tightly clenched “Miss Aveugle“ that the students – himself included – were supposed to call her. Not knowing what the S. stood for had tormented him for months. Sam? Siobhan? Sabrina had been close. Safreeka – a name unlike any other.

He hated literature, thought it a subject fit only for dribbling mumsy geeks, the type that came to varsity toting Tupperware lunchboxes and nippled bottles.

But from the moment that he saw her glide past, the gold threaded border of her long gypsy skirt glinting around exquisite ankles, feet so brown they matched her leather thong sandals, when he saw her then, he knew that he would have to take her literature class. Even the title of her module – “Practical Application of Semiotic theories of Genre” – was not enough to scare him off.

She placed an acetate sheet on the overhead projector. On the screen, a bold red heart appeared.

“The Love Story is a universal favourite, most often reproduced in the pages of women’s magazines. Idealized stories of the kinds of loves that are societally sanctioned; the kind of appropriate loves that inescapably result in a nuclear consumer unit; a reproductive unit that ensures the reproduction and survival of the society and its patterns of consumption.”

Inevitably, he pictured himself being encouraged to reproduce in such a way by Safreeka, obediently consuming what she presented for consumption, like a baby gobbling spoon-planes full of sticky apple sauce.

“According to Orwell, the particular function of such stories is to provide ‘pastoral’ advice on how life can and should be lived.”

He wondered what would happen if she dumbed it down a little; played it more to the lowest common denominator, made herself a bit more … well easy. He tried to imagine her dressed differently, showing a little more flesh.

“The Love Story is popular choice for both writer and reader. Both know what it is to fall in love, there is an immediate connection, a relationship based on common experience. And because we have all fallen in love, we can all put a little of ourselves into that Love Story. The best writing is always personal; true stories are the easiest to write and read.”

Those eyes. He wondered if anyone had ever gazed into them. She never raised them, always holding her head in the pose of a classical statue, eyes down-turned, unfathomable, forever hidden by dark glasses.

“I remember when I fell in love for the first time. I was your age, a student. We met at Oxford, his father was a cabinet minister in some far-off country, his mother was a singer – she was known as the “Little Bee-eater of Africa”. My amour had inherited that talent for entrancing with the voice, it’s what I fell in love with. It was baritone, rich and deep as though it resonated from a very deep source. I vibrated to that voice, like a skin to a drum. We were like Romeo and Juliet. We fell in love the moment we met, and after some time, of course the inevitable complications arose. His family. My family. His family wanted him to return home; my family didn’t approve although they never said why. We were forced apart, but we knew our love would endure, survive the separation and that we would meet again, when the stars aligned. The conclusion of our love story was the most compelling end that is possible in story-telling; the happy ending deferred, the chemistry unresolved, perhaps forever.”

The jealousy, which had burst in his solar plexus, now spread through his veins, priming his muscles, draining his face.

“Such an ending results in something that psychologists call a lack of closure, a feeling that something’s missing. A lack of closure or completeness haunts you, brings things back to mind – again and again. The case is not closed.”

She traded the claret heart for another piece of acetate: the poster for a movie called “Ravenous” appeared on her projection screen. It was clear from the dark green tones and the gothic script that the movie was a horror.

“The second kind of story that Bosman mentions is the Ghost Story. Nowadays they are somewhat different. Society has changed since Bosman’s time, its now more visceral, more complicated. The Ghost Story has evolved into the Horror, a genre that deals with an amorphous group of terrifying subjects, including Bosman’s other genre – the Murder Story.”

She was sitting on the desk now, leaning back on her arms, unconscious of the fact that her pose resembled the pose of the actor in the movie poster. He was also leaning back, staring into a pot suspended over a makeshift tripod, the fire casting an eerie green glow onto his ravenous face.

“Frequently, society represses the horrific; people literally do not want to talk about the things that scare them, the realities that they feel they cannot control. Such subjects are frequently hushed, gate-kept right out of consciousness, to spiral in silence. The horrific is Taboo. We don’t talk about … well, you know what we don’t talk about.”

Her face was shiny, sodden.

He knew she made her own moisturizer. He’d seen it on her bedside table, a thick, yellowy substance, fatty and spooned into an old jar. He’d found a basket under her vanity. It held leaky bottles of various oils, their sodden labels peeling back, their scent the same as the cream. He opened some, recognizing their smells from the drifts he had savoured as he followed her through the crowded corridors, unnoticed by her as she tapped her way with the white cane.

“But writers find ways of talking about things, especially Taboo things. The Horror Genre is the richest in codes. You’ll remember that codes disguise meaning; a layperson assumes that Stephen King’s “Cell” is just popular paperback trash; only the initiated understand that his zombies are a metaphor for groupthink.”

“And the frustrating thing about horror is that it is so memorable. Did you know that advertisers often photo-shop tiny, disturbing elements into advertising images because it ensures that adverts are memorable, unconsciously haunting.”

“The media also uses the fact that horror stories are unforgettable, saleable. Can anyone offer a recent example of a media horror story? Something that affected you?”

A girl in hemp cardigan jumped at the chance.

“I’ve got one. It was about a pig-farm in Zimbabwe. When the owners were forced off the land, the pigs were left to fend for themselves, the war veterans couldn’t cope with actually running the farm. So they abandoned the farm after they’d broken the equipment. Unfortunately, if pigs are left to fend for themselves, to starve, they start eating one another. The neighbors said the sounds were horrific.”

He had also discovered that Safreeka was kosher in her eating habits. She rigorously avoided pig meat, especially imported pig meat. He wasn’t sure if it was a religious thing or just a personal quirk.

A boy wearing a T-shirt with an Africa outline immediately challenged the hemp-cardigan girl.

“Oh please man, that’s half-truth. The newspapers never tell you the full story, the positive news. That particular pig farm was eventually restored to a fully functioning farm by a young Zimbabwean, who turned it into the most productive meat farm in the country, in Southern Africa actually. But you don’t read that sort of story in the newspapers because it just doesn’t fit in with existing stereotypes about Africa.”

“Right,” said Safreeka. “Well, we’re coming to the end of our hour. Any questions?”

“M’am!!!” A skinny girl had lifted her arm high, waving her finger frantically, “M’am!!”

“Yes,” Safreeka nodded in the direction of the frantic “M’ams”.

“M’am, what happened to your boyfriend? Did you ever see him again? Did you?”

The class laughed.

“So you need closure?” smiled Safreeka. “No loose ends. Closure is a strong psychological urge, it puts you at ease, puts things safely into storage, out of your conscious mind. Alright, I’ll provide you with closure.”

It was when she smiled that she was truly beautiful. It was a lop-sided smile, a smile of innocence and experience.

“You’ll be happy to know that I did see him again. Many years later, quite recently in fact. He phoned me out of the blue, asked me if I wanted to use my journalism skills to help him. His father – you’ll remember that his father was a cabinet minister – was inviting journalists to visit his country – to improve perceptions, international relations, trade and tourism. He was facilitating the visits. The sound of his voice was the clincher. It could still vibrate through my body like skin to drum. Even after so many years.”
She stood up, took up her white cane again so that she could resume pacing in front of the whiteboards.

“He took me to visit a pig farm that he owned. His father had given him the farm as a birthday present. The previous owners had abandoned the farm in the most irresponsible manner, leaving the pigs to starve, the labourers to fend for themselves. There were hardly any pigs left when he took the farm over. But he’d rescued it, turned it into a thriving business, eventually producing so much meat that they were able to begin exporting pork to the surrounding countries.”

Her white cane tap-tapped on the vitreous floor of the lecture hall.

“He showed me round the farm. It was a peaceful place. Hardly any sound. No oinking. That’s what I remember thinking. Strange that a pig farm should be so devoid of oinks. Just the occasional far-off high-pitched squeal that was possibly the sound of a pig being slaughtered.”

“We had dinner in the evening. He was very proud to offer me a pork dinner. I was too embarrassed to tell him I don’t eat pork, didn’t want to inconvenience him. Ever since the movie “Babe” I can’t bring myself to eat pig meat.”

“As the meat cooked, he told me about the stars at night, what they look like.”

“When he served it, the meat was delicious. And to be honest, I was completely relieved. Because it wasn’t pork. Oh, it had a similar taste to pork, but it was much, much sweeter. I suppose that a normal person wouldn’t have noticed the difference, but because I’m blind I can tell what is pork and what is not pork. I’ve never tasted meat that sweet. In fact, I’ve never tasted meat like that at all.”

She smiled again, in the direction of the skinny girl.

“So you see, the story had a happy ending. I didn’t break any rules about not eating pig meat, and we still had a lovely dinner.”

“Ahhh, that’s a lovely story, m’am,” said the skinny girl. “Really romantic.” !–more–>


One Response to “Dark and Dangerous Romance: A Story”

  1. George Says:

    Good story again Heidi
    keep them coming

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