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Age of Iron
by J.M. Coetzee
Vercueil Timeline and Summary
Vercueil starts camping out by Mrs. Curren's house. Mrs. Curren invites him in and offers him work. When Mrs. Curren has an attack of pain, he helps her into the house. Vercueil cuts the grass for Mrs. Curren but gives up on that task pretty quickly. Mrs. Curren shows Vercueil pictures of her family. She asks him to post her letters to her daughter on her behalf. He asks if someone else can do it, but then accepts. Vercueil plays with Florence's daughters. Vercueil asks Bheki's friend for some water. Bheki's friend flips out and pours out Vercueil's bottle of brandy. Bheki's friend starts beating up Vercueil. Vercueil goes off somewhere to sulk. We don't see him for a while. Vercueil comes back with some woman. They are both either drunk or drugged out of their minds and go to sleep in the living room. Vercueil goes to the hospital with Florence, Bheki, and Mrs. Curren to find Bheki's friend. He tells Mrs. Curren that she should inform her daughter about her condition. Vercueil goes with Mrs. Curren to visit Bheki's friend. Vercueil and Mrs. Curren watch TV together. He tells her that he used to work at sea. When Mrs. Curren gets back from Gugulethu, she finds Vercueil asleep on the toilet. Some comic relief, perhaps? Vercueil and Mrs. Curren go for a ride. The next day, they go out again. Vercueil asks Mrs. Curren if today is the day she intends to kill herself. Vercueil hands Mrs. Curren some matches. He also suggests that she think about driving off a cliff. Vercueil buys Mrs. Curren some booze. She gets upset with him when he tries to get her drunk. He saunters off, and, as usual, we don't see him again for a while. Vercueil returns. He finds Mrs. Curren under the bridge. He picks her up and starts to carry her home. She doesn't want to go back there. Vercueil takes Mrs. Curren to a wooded area and they sleep on a piece of cardboard. Mrs. Curren tells him everything that happened to her. They go home. Vercueil brings the TV into Mrs. Curren's bedroom. She flips out at him when he starts doing a groovy little dance to the national anthem. He tells her that everything will be over soon. Mrs. Curren asks Vercueil why he chose her. Vercueil offers to help Mrs. Curren die. He puts his hands around her throat, but she's not into it. Mrs. Curren asks Vercueil if she can sleep with his dog for warmth. She says he can sleep there, too. Vercueil tells a little more of his back-story. Mrs. Curren asks Vercueil if he wants to go to the U.S. Vercueil gets into bed with Mrs. Curren and holds her in a cold embrace.