A bright moon shines on a lonely train as it trudges across the semi-desert called the Karoo. It’s normally a cross-country chugger that takes all night to make its thousand mile trek from Johannesburg to Cape Town. Tonight what’s different is that most of the people on board are wearing uniforms, military uniforms. The few civilians will notice the mix of army, navy and air force uniforms, as well the difference in behaviour between conscripts and permanent force, between officers and the fodder.
I am amongst them in my air force blues, sitting in the crowded, bustling dining car. Opposite me are two army privates, conscripts like me, being sent to Cape Town. I make small talk with them over dinner in Afrikaans, my father’s language. They’re nervous about being stationed so far from home, so I try to calm their fears and regale them with sights to see and things to do in my home-town. They have far bigger things to be concerned about, but these farm boys are innocents.
It’s the middle of 1990 and the world is changing fast. The collapse of the Iron Curtain has caused ripples even down into this troubled toe of Africa. Us in uniform don’t know what to think or feel any more. The Communists have been freed and the man we were told to pretend we were shooting at in the firing range seems destined to be the next president. Everything we have been brought up to believe in and be prepared to die defending now seems questionable.
“Excuse me sir,” the rumpled conductor says in Afrikaans, appearing out of nowhere.
I’m eighteen years old; I’ve never been addressed as ‘sir’ before. It must be my uniform, he might be mistaking me for a policeman.
He beckons to me to follow him. Being a good little soldier I do so.
“You’ve left your sack in your compartment that has had a coloured man allocated to it,” he informs me.
This is still Apartheid-era South Africa; old attitudes and beliefs don’t die quickly. It’s only been six month since the unbannings and Mandela’s release. In that time public spaces and facilities have now been de-segregated. He might not have got the news.
“So?” I counter.
“Well, he might steal something. Are you carrying any weapons?” he asks.
“No, I’m not. I don’t see any problem though,” I reply.
“Okay, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. They’re all the same, you know,” he sniggers and strides off.
I rejoin my new friends and we finish our dinner. It turns out that they’re spending the night in the compartment next to mine. Returning to my compartment I see that my sack crammed with military clothing has acquired some company. Two brutish-looking army military policemen are sitting where I had been alone before dinner. They glare at me and one moves his hip to show that he’s armed. I don’t like the look of them; I sense trouble.
Sitting opposite them is a pretty trainee nurse, her sparkling white uniform immaculately ironed. Small, shiny badges adorn her black cardigan. She flashes me a pretty smile, her eyes almost as dark as her hair, her skin almost as white as her uniform.
One of the policemen starts speaking to her in Afrikaans, to which she replies. His friend stares me down, unmoving. He looks like he’s used his gun and liked it.
I’m not welcome here. They have stripes and are MPs, best to make myself scarce.
I quickly step into the cabin and grab my sack off the top of the luggage stowage area above the fold-out seat that becomes a bed. Without a word I retreat, hearing the young nurse giggle at an oafish joke.
Luckily the compartment next door just has the two skittish army guys in it, so I join them.
As the stars blink, at an unheard of stop a few more civilians join the train. A priest enters our cabin, makes himself comfortable and begins preaching to us. I don’t care for his occupational hazard, but smile when appropriate. It’s time to sleep to I make my excuses in their bastard tongue and fold out the seat that becomes my bunk bed.
One of the army guys sees his opportunity and feigns sleep while his friend engages the newcomer in a theological debate. Sleep can’t come quickly enough but already I’m dreading the morning because we might all go to breakfast together. He’s old enough to be our grandfather so we can’t be rude to him. It’s not how we were all brought up in this fascist, police state that we all serve, one way or another. If you’re not resisting it then you must be collaborating.
My thoughts are disturbed by a rythmic thudding against the partition wall. It’s coming from the cabin next door. It could be something being rattled by the gently rocking train, but it isn’t. I think one of the policemen has literally charmed the pants off the young nurse. Now he’s fucking her and taking his time about it.
These sounds of lust unleashed is torture for me. I haven’t had sex since the beginning of the year. It was a farewell shag with my girlfriend. Little did I suspect that six weeks later she’d break up with me. To cool our collective ardour the military had been adulterating our food with what is known as ‘blue stone’. It’s an additive that suppresses a man’s sex drive. I think it’s starting to wear off because I’m now sporting a perfect erection.
The sounds of sex coming from next door are bringing back fond memories of teenage passion on sunny afternoons when we should have been studying for our final high school exams. I can still remember her perfume as well as the jarring smell of her pussy juices.
A stifled grunt signals the inevitable outcome has been achieved. The door in the adjoining cabin slides, muffled words are exchanged. Good, I can go to sleep now. The priest and his audience didn’t even notice.
“No, not you too,” I hear the nurse say in a pleading tone.
Her knee starts banging against the partition well. Wow, the second copper must have climbed on top of her.
“No, no, no, no…” she murmurs wistfully as the knee makes contact, harder and faster.
“Ugh, ugh, ugh,” is all I hear her say now. The other guy doesn’t make a sound.
If she puts up more protest then I’ll have to go to her rescue. She doesn’t.
I look around our dimly lit compartment. The priest is still at it, the guy below me seems asleep. I’m the only person who knows what’s going on next door.
After a couple of minutes this all becomes to much for sex-starved me. I’m so turned on, I have to go relieve myself.
Stepping out into the corridor I’m shocked to see one of the policemen standing by the other cabin’s door, talking to another soldier. They can’t help but look at me. They smile slyly.
I brush past them and go to the toilet at the end of the carriage. It takes mere seconds for me to jerk off. The thought of soggy seconds is revolting but my overhearing proceedings is the turn-on. I’ve never heard or seen people behaving sexually in public. This is Calvinist, repressed South Africa after all. Pornography has been banned for decades.
As I approach the cabins I see the second policeman exit and the third soldier enter that cabin. The copper is same aggressive one from earlier; he sneers at me.
I’m shocked again to see that a fourth soldier is standing in the corridor talking to the first copper. He’s got his hands in his pockets and he’s fidgeting. Jeez, is he waiting his turn?
It’s after midnight,I have nowhere else to go but to return to my bunk bed.
I listen as the third soldier fucks the young nurse. He knee must be numb. She doesn’t make a sound but he does as he pumps his cum into her.
Seconds later, without a word, he stumbles out. The door slides again and I hear a new voice say something to her. It must be the fourth guy I saw earlier. Is going to fuck her too?
Oh yes, he is.
She makes no objection to this next stranger.
Is he enjoying this?
And they just kept on coming.
By my count at least eight guys used the nurse that night. There might have been a ninth.
I saw her the next morning in the dining car. She was talking amiably to another nurse. At lunchtime the train halted at a siding next to a moonscape. A solitary pickup van had a weathered man under a wide-rimmed hat waiting beside it. His jet-black hair hinted at who he was expecting.
The nurse clambered down the stairs of our carriage, her black cape matching her hair and small suitcase. She traipsed over to the man, threw her arms around his neck and gave him a big kiss on a cheek.
As I leaned out the window I looked to the right along the length of the train. A dozen guys were hanging out of windows, waving to her, whistling and making caustic comments.
A jolt signified our departure as the van kicked up parched earth.
I had to lie there and listen to all this. She put up no resistance at all. Only her plaintive, meek protest at the second guy using her could count as reluctance. Other than that she just lay there and let them do what they wanted.
Did any of them fuck her in the arse? I don’t think so. In this society at the time anal sex was considered totally abhorrent. AIDS was still an uncertain thing.
Despite this, finding a condom in South Africa back then was a mission and very expensive. It was a deliberate government policy to make them so scarce as to be almost illegal or mythical. Population numbers had to be grown so as to deal with domestic and foreign menaces.
So, every single guy who fucked her didn’t use a condom.