Chapter 35 Edens Outlook
I was uneasy.
What if the Latin pair had not boarded their charter aircraft?
What if they had decided, after all, to head back to the Lodge and pick up Precious.
Admittedly the chances of them doing so were slim. They surely had realized that their intentions had been discovered, even though the case against them was circumstantial. They could claim they had invited Precious to travel with them, and she had accepted. On the surface that could hardly warrant a charge of kidnapping.
In fact the ‘rescue abduction’ which Moses and I had performed would probably be frowned upon more intensely in a court of law than the actions of the thugs.
In the eyes of the law, the only transgression so far would be there opening fire on us. I surmised that it was this which would make it unlikely for them to return in the near future. Foreigners possessing and firing unlicensed weapons was not something that the authorities would be so happy about. And the staff at Hippo Lodge would bare witness. However the narco networks had the money to bribe their way a long way up the chain. They also had the credibility of making those who took the bribes stand by them. So who knew how far a complaint would travel.
Nevertheless, approaching our Kafue River Lodge, as I sat in the prow of the boat, I turned around and indicated to Moses to head up the channel on the far obscured side of the island in front of the Lodge. I felt it best that Precious and I should stay out of sight until we were sure it was safe. We would do so at Alan’s hunting camp.
I detected the disappointment in Moses’ eyes, as I said that we would spend the day there. This was followed by a wide smile that spread back on his face like the ripples in a pool, when I tossed in a clarification. As soon as he had dropped precious and I off, he should return to our lodge to check out the lay of the land. He should see if Mustafa gave any sign of knowing what had transpired. Given who they were, the gangsters probably did have sat phones. But I doubt it Mustafa did.
“If you think it is safe, you can come and pick us up after dark.” He was going to be close to Narina all day after all.
Seeing his blissful expression of happiness, I almost told him he resembled a dog wagging its tail before getting a treat.
But instead I said. “I’m not sure how implicated Mustafa is in the plan with Precious, but if he is there is no reason for him to know that it has been thwarted, or where she is.”
I figured that if the Russians were still at Alan’s camp, since they didn’t know who Precious was, even if they knew the plan, they would not get rattled by her presence, and start something stupid.
As Moses coaxed the boat into the little cove with its concrete jetty, once again the young man who had helped dock the boat on our previous visit was already there to greet us. In the stillness of the morning air, he had heard the sound of our engine coming up river.
“Mabuka Mwane.” I greeted him, and then thanked him for holding the rope as precious and I exited the boat. “Twa Santa”.
Are the bwana’s here? “
“Yes.” He replied.
“And the Russian bwanas? Are they also here?”
With that I gave a wave to Moses and called out, “The keys to my truck are on the table in my tent. Remember to pick us up after dark, if everything is okay. If not come back here and pick me up as soon as possible.”
Watching the boat ease back out into the current, I heard a voice call out, “Good morning,! It is a pleasant surprise to see you here.”
Alan was walking across the lawn towards us. As usual barefoot.
“What brings you here?” was his cheerful question.
“Good Morning,” I replied, “I have quite a story for you.”
Alan again listened transfixed as I related the events. This time I was telling them to Roger, who had been out at the far end of their territory all day repairing a river crossing that had been washed away in the last thunderstorm.
“A real pair of ‘Crocodile Dundee’s’ you two are. “Alan commented, “I wish Pablo was alive and I could tease him about how slack he was letting his men get.”
The subdued Russell of the water over the rocks of the rapid below us, blended with the whisper of the wind moving through the leaves of the trees above as we sat on the river-side deck.
“I was surprised at how suddenly, our pair of Russian duzees had said they were done with the business here and were heading off.”
Roger spoke with his back to us as he turned to pick up a plate of biscuits from the small table, and offered them to Precious .
We had been idling away our time all day. And now as the evening approached, I let Alan know not to make any meal, because Moses should be coming along to pick us up soon enough.
I regretted my decision when we had to wait for an hour after dark for the headlights of my vehicle to cut their way through the Bush towards where we were.
I should’ve known that romance would get in the way. When Moses arrived I saw that he was accompanied by Narina.
There was no room in the cab for four of us. My annoyance at their lateness showed, and as usual because a woman has more perception than a man, Narina insisted that she ride in the bed at the back of the truck, where she was joined by precious, so that they could ‘better enjoy’ the stars, while we men ‘talked’ in the cab.
When Moses made to hand me the keys I motioned for him to keep driving.
We were half way to our campsite when he suddenly reached across and placed his hand on my arm. “Tomorrow morning early, can I borrow the vehicle again?”
I looked at him. Even in the dimness of the light from the headlights being reflected back from the bush vegetation, I saw the brightness of his eyes.
“Narina and I went up Eden’s Outlook on our way here. We watched the sunset together,” Moses said.
Of course he had, I thought to myself.
“I would like to show her the sunrise from there as well.”
“Sure!” I answered without hesitation. There was something especially intense about the way he asked.
“Why don’t you drop me off first at our campsite, and then take the girls back to the lodge.” I said.
I might as well let him howl at the moon as much as he could. She would be gone tomorrow.
It was late, almost midnight when the headlights of my vehicle illuminated the tracks of the road from the lodge.
I was still sitting with my sandal clad feet pointed towards the fire, half mesmerized by the sporadic flicker of its low flames.
Moses was heading back from the lodge.
“How was your evening?” I asked.
“Gidi you are right. There is no place like Eden’s Outlook to show anyone the beauty of this part of the world.”
I could see the reflection of our fire in his eyes, and how his face was effused with an exultant expression of happiness. It augmented the intensity of the warmth in his voice.
It was something that I hadn’t seen for decades. I became aware of the pang of envy I felt. My emotional capacity had long ago been encumbered with so much clogging baggage to ever again be caught up in such a whirlwind..
Well! I thought, it goes to show that falling in love didn’t only happen to teenagers. But what an unlikely pair.
It was as well I had not expressed my suspicions about his blood relationship to Narina, to have spoiled this expression of joy. . Maybe I was a coward for doing so. But what the hell. She would be leaving the next day. I would have time to see what developed between them. I would have time to build the courage to tell.
“Naarina says that it was pivotal that you offered to take Lauren to the city tomorrow. Apparently things were getting really ugly.” Moses pulled his chair closer to the fire.
“What are you going to do in Mumbwa?” he asked.
“I want to report what I know to the police.” I was silent for a moment. “The fact is that all of the evidence of real serious criminal activity and intention is circumstantial, based on the words of an old nganga, as well as snippets that you overheard. So there’s not very much more we can do about it. All we can do is look after our own people, and wait and see if the police take things seriously enough to investigate.”
Moses nodded his head in agreement. “I have a friend who is from my Lozi tribe, and who I knew as a boy, who is now one of the top police officers in Lusaka. If you would like I could speak to him.”
I thought about his offer for a moment before answering. “That may be a good way to speed things up. The quicker we get these guys realizing that they are being watched the better it will be for us. I don’t want to give them lag time to respond against us while the police are deciding what to do. We should make a report in Mumbwa, so the police there don’t feel that we are going over their heads, but then also have an unofficial meeting with your friend where you can convince him how serious things could get.”
“In that case I will also need to come in to the city with you tomorrow.” Moses stated.
“Fine!” I retorted, “It may be a bit of the squash in the cab with three of us in the front seat, but so what.”
I continued. “Lauren will be pleased, she gets a lift all the way to Lusaka after all.”
“But Gidi.” Moses hesitated before continuing, “there’s one thing I would like to ask from you. “Please let me tell about what was going on here to my friend in Lusaka first, then you can tell the police in Mumbwa.”
I could feel my eyes narrowing. “Why do you want me to do that?”
Moses shrugged his shoulders, “tomorrow morning I will tell Narina what we know. That will give her time to speak to her father.”
“Why do you want to do that?” I asked.
“Gidi, you said yourself that the evidence is indirect. That way it will give Mustafa time to get away back to Tanzania if he thinks the police will act on what we say.
After all Mustafa is Narina’s father, and I don’t believe that he was behind the real evil being planned.”
I shrugged my shoulders. Reluctantly I said “Okay.”
(8th edit – 03/18/2021)