“Section 22” – a short story by Nick Mulgrew

Nick Mulgrew

Subtropical sounds nice, but it actually just means that it’s hot, and that when it isn’t hot, it rains.

Over the years he’s slid a fair bit down the hierarchy of needs. Technically he could rent through Social Housing, but he has enough coming in to get someplace on his own sweat. Not in Ifafa Beach or Hibberdene, no — more like Clansthal, a roomshare in Port Shepstone. The distance doesn’t matter — the road is his job. For now a house is an overexpenditure of effort. Maybe one day.

He’s used to it, this. His parents used to take him camping. Life is one long camping trip. It’s more convenient to live in the bakkie. He’s not a tall man anyway. He’s lined the fibreglass canopy with insulation, hooked up some curtains and a second battery. It’ll chow his alternator — but what else are things for other than to be used?

To be more specific, he empties bins. The classified in the Mercury said it was a plus if you came with your own car — you could cover a greater stretch. The municipality was trying to cut costs. He does the job of four people for the salary of just one …

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Continue reading: “Section 22”

The story was runner-up in the Desperate Literature Prize for Short Fiction in 2021. There is still time to enter this year’s prize: