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Hi, I’m Chris McCourt and I’m reading from my novel “The Cleansing of Mahommed” which is being published by Harper Collins in April 2012.
Mahommed was warming to Puritol. What it lacked in fragrance it compensated for in superior latherability. In this he judged it on a par with Cuticura, perhaps even nudging it out of its present top position. He would perform a proper test later; determine the absolute merits of each.
But for now he gave himself to the bubbles; his hair, his face, his whole body encased in the silken protection of the weightless white foam. He floated with the bubbles, drifting ever closer to the promised godliness, knowing he could never quite touch it, but…
The soap slipped from his hands, splashing into the basin. He wiped his eyes before opening them, and fished it out. He looked at it balefully, seeing it for what it was. It had no power; it was only soap. It could not give him work; could not return Abdullah’s regard, could not make Alice see inside him. It could make him clean; that was all, and
who now would ever know or care?
He was startled by a rap at the door. He wasn’t expecting anyone. It was probably a mistake, although
at this time of day it was likely to be a sober, rather than a drunken one. He grabbed his towel and tied it around his waist.
He opened the door a few cautious inches before opening it fully to admit Mr Kadran.
“There’s a young woman to see you. A Miss Alice Mercer.”
Mahommed suppressed a wave of panic.
“To see me?”
“Please tell her I am not here.”
“I’ve already told her you are.”
“But it is not possible.”
“The same thought crossed my mind when she asked for you.”
He looked at Mahommed, clearly unimpressed. “Perhaps a little attention to your grooming?” he suggested, before briskly heading off down the corridor, letting Mahommed know he was a busy man.
After a few frozen seconds, Mahommed shut the door. What was she doing here, what could she possibly want? He thought about barricading himself in and refusing to come out ever again, but the rational part of his brain told him this was not a viable option.
There was nothing else for it.
He would go down and get it over with, whatever ‘it’ was. He whipped the towel off and, working quickly, began wiping the bubbles off the rest of his body.”
ABOUT CHRIS McCOURT:
Chris has been a TV drama scriptwriter for many years working on series as diverse as ‘McLeod’s Daughters’ to ‘G.P.’. She is at present a scriptwriter on ‘Packed to the Rafters’ as well as being one of the writers developing a new mystery drama for the ABC.
“I first went to Varuna on a retreat Fellowship in 2008 and then again in 2009 as one of the winners of a Varuna Award. Without these I doubt whether ‘The Cleansing of Mahommed’ would ever have been written, let alone published.” Chris McCourt
The Cleansing of Mahommed, Harper Collins, 2012
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