Thirteen Years: Rekindling Friendships

AIDS was… an illness in stages, a very long flight of steps that led assuredly to death, but whose every step represented a unique apprenticeship. It was a disease that gave death time to live and its victims time to die, time to discover time, and in the end to discover life.

~ Hervé Guibert

Rekindling Friendships

Continued from… From Amsterdam to Cape Town

“Isaac,” Annie said, “it’s your call. Jacques and I are here to visit you and we want you to be the one who set the pace for the time we are here. Do you want to join Jeanne for the trip?”

“I think it will be fun. But will you drive, Jeanne? I won’t be able to drive all the way to Hermanus.”

“Yes, I’ll drive, Isaac. That’s fine,” Jeanne agreed.

With that settled, the four of them got up to leave the restaurant. Since Annie didn’t know whether they would be in this shopping center again for the week they were in Cape Town, she wanted to walk around before leaving. Jeanne joined them. Annie went to the banking part of the shopping center, where she found an agency where she could exchange Dutch guilders for South African Rands. She made sure she exchanged enough money and also that she hid the money deep in her bag. She clutched her bag even tighter to her body than she had before.

By the time some shops closed their doors, the four of them decided it was time to go home. They walked outside to the parking lot, where they kissed Jeanne goodbye. Her car was in another parking lot on the other side of the shopping center. After a drive of about forty kilometers, Annie and Jacques got out of Isaac’s car in front of his home.

Isaac was tired.

He had done more on one day than he nowadays did in one week.

Still, he felt alive. The gift of their visit was more than Isaac could have wished for.

When they walked into the hallway, Isaac grabbed the smaller of the two bags of his guests and walked upstairs.

“Jacques, if you bring the other bag, I can show you where the two of you will sleep,” Isaac said.

Jacques complied and followed Isaac upstairs. Annie trailed after the men.

“You can sleep here,” Isaac said as he opened a door and walked into a large bedroom. To the right of the door was a double bed. On the other side of the bed was a sliding door with access to a balcony, with a locked security gate on the inside of the glass door. The sliding door was slightly ajar and Annie realized it must be for the cats. Against the opposite wall, next to a door that led to a bathroom, was a dressing table of dark wood, the same color as the wooden frame of the bed.

In the meantime, Isaac had put the bag next to the dressing table and opened the door next to the dressing table.

“This is the bathroom. There’s a shower in here. If you want to take a bath, you can use the other bathroom. I’ll show you where it is. There’s a toilet in here too. I will get you some clean towels,” Isaac enthusiastically said.

“Isaac, is this your room?” Annie wanted to know.

“Yes, but…”

“No but, my friend. We will not sleep in your bed. You need your rest and you should not change your ways only because we are here. We will sleep in…”

“Annie, don’t. I want you to sleep in my bed. This is my chance to do something back for you after you have been so wonderful to me,” Isaac said, holding his hand up to stop Annie from talking again.

“You don’t have to do anything back for us, my friend,” Annie said.

“I want to. Please, I want you to sleep in this room. I will sleep in the guest room,” Isaac almost pleaded.

Realizing he was going to keep to his resolve, Annie decided not to go against his wishes.

“Okay then, we will sleep here. But Isaac, you must promise me the moment you feel you rather want to sleep in your own bed, tell me.”

“Oh Annie, stop! I want you to sleep here and that’s it!”

Isaac disappeared before either Annie or Jacques could say anything more.

Annie put the bigger of their bags in the middle of the floor and opened it. Taking out the top layer of clothes, she uncovered the presents they had brought for Isaac, Kathy, and Jeanne. She put aside those of the two women. With an armful of presents, they went downstairs, where Isaac was sitting on the couch.

“Oh no, you didn’t,” he said when he saw what Annie had in her arms.

“Yes, we did!” Annie laughed. “I told you we brought you your package.”

“You shouldn’t have. You spoil me too much,” Isaac complained.

“And we are enjoying it!” Annie laughed again.

They sat with Isaac while he unpacked his presents. He was especially happy with the new slippers they had brought him. After unpacking everything, Isaac made all of them a cup of coffee and then he disappeared upstairs. Annie and Jacques stayed downstairs and watched some television. They were tired from their trip. Isaac came back downstairs about half an hour later.

“I suppose we have to eat. I’m not much of a cook, so I suggest we go out for dinner, if that’s okay with you?”

“Of course it’s okay,” Jacques said.

“Shall we go to the Spur again?” Isaac suggested, and the other two agreed.

“Let me just get my bag,” Annie said, and she ran up the stairs. When she entered the bedroom where they were going to sleep that night, she immediately saw why Isaac had been upstairs for that long. Their bed was newly made, and it was clear Isaac had taken some of his stuff out of the room. Annie decided not to say anything about it, since she didn’t want to make Isaac feel uncomfortable.

At the Spur that evening, each of them had a special burger with fries. Annie was in the seventh heaven to sit in her favorite restaurant again. She raised an eyebrow when Isaac ordered a hamburger too, but he assured her it would be okay.

By the time they were done, Annie asked for the check. She didn’t want Isaac to pay for their dinner. When she saw the amount on the cash register, she asked the woman if it was calculated correctly. It earned her an irritated look and the assurance that the amount was correct, so Annie just paid her, and then walked outside with the two men.

“Incredible! I have never paid that little for a dinner for three!” she said with a grin.

Back at Isaac’s house, all of them went to bed immediately. Isaac was tired because he had done just too much on one day and the travelers were tired because of their long trip.

They were all tired, but content.

To be continued… From Muizenberg To Sea Point

Note: This series is a rework of a self-published book (2009), rewritten for this blog, and in loving memory of a dear friend who suffered from and passed because of AIDS. Keep in mind this story happens in the late eighties and throughout the nineties. Names of characters have been changed to protect their privacy.

© Rebel’s Notes
Image from Pixabay

2 thoughts on “Thirteen Years: Rekindling Friendships

  1. I’ve missed Annie, Isaac and Jaques, and will return to where I left off. But it’s lovely to see Isaac in such good spirits when he was so very unwell on my last reading N x

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