39 Edens Outloo
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 to search for 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 correctly 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. The staff at Hippo Lodge would bear 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 lodge, as I sat in the prow of the boat, I turned around and indicated to Moses to take the channel on the far obscured side of the island, away from the lodge, and continue on upstream. It was best that Precious should stay out of sight until we were sure it was safe. We would head up to Alan’s hunting camp.
I detected the disappointment in Moses’ eyes, which did not last long. It was pushed away by a wide smile spreading across his face like the ripples on a pool, when I tossed in a clarification. He should leave both Precious and myself there. After which he should return to our lodge to check out the lay of the land. He should check if Mustafa gave any sign of knowing what had transpired.
“I’m not sure how implicated Mustafa is in the Precious plan,” I said. “If he indicates that he knows it was thwarted, it would be best for him not to know where Precious is, at least not until it is clear that the thugs won’t return.”
If they were there I doubted that the Russians would know who Precious was. But I could deal with that later. I wanted to keep things simpel for now.
“If it is safe, pick us up after dark.”
He would be close to Narina all day after all.
Seeing his blissful happiness, I couldn’t help thinking of a dog wagging its tail before getting a treat.
As Moses coaxed the boat into the little cove with its concrete jetty, the young dock hand was there to greet us. In the morning stillness he had heard the sound of our engine coming up river.
“Mabuka Mwane.” I greeted him as Precious and I clambered out.
Are the bwana’s here? “
“Yes.” He replied.
“And the Russian bwanas?”
“No, they left two days ago.”
One less thing to worry about I thought to myself as 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 as soon as possible. We will figure out what to do.”
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 once more to Roger, who had been out repairing a washed away stream crossing.
“A real pair of ‘Crocodile Dundee’s’ you two are. “Alan commented, “I wish Pablo was alive. I could tease him about how slack he was letting his men get.”
Sitting on the river-side deck we listened to the subdued Russell of the water through the rapids blending with the whisper of the wind leaning through the trees.
“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 picked up a plate of biscuits and offered them to us.
I asked if we could use one of the chalet to rest in. “I have been awake all nigh, and could do with some sleept.” I said..
“Maybe it would be good if Precious could use one as well. It is probably best that she keep out of sight until we know it is
Thus it was that Precious and I idyled away our time until the evening.
I decline Alan’s offer for us to join him for an early dinner. “Moses should be coming along to pick us up about now.”
I regretted my decision when we had to wait another two hours. It was dark before the headlights of my vehicle cut their way through the Bush. I should’ve known that romance would get in the way.
When Moses arrived I saw 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 reached across and placed his hand on my arm. “Tomorrow morning early, can I borrow the vehicle again?”
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 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 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 the vehicle illuminated the tracks of the road from the lodge.
I was sitting with my sandal clad feet pointed towards the fire, half mesmerized by the sporadic flicker of its low flames.
Moses was returning from his evening of courting.
“How was it?” 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.”
The fire was reflected in his eyes. His face was effused with exultant happiness, which augmented the warmth in his voice.
I felt a pang of envy. Could I ever again off load enough emotional baggage, or irrigate the withered skepticism of my heart to ever fall in love in such a giddy way again? It was grounds for hope. Obviously Falling in love didn’t only happen to teenagers. But what an unlikely pair.
I was glad I hadn’t yet expressed my suspicions to him. His joy was heartening. Maybe I was a coward for saying nothing. But what the hell. She would be leaving tomorrow. For how long? I didn’t know. 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. There’s not much more we can do about it. We should look after our own people, 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. We grew up together.
He is now high in the police heirarchy in Lusaka. I could speak to him.”
I thought about his offer for a moment. “That may be a good way to speed things up. The quicker we get these guys feeling that they are being watched the better. I don’t want to give them lag time to respond while the police are deciding what to do. We should make a report in Mumbwa, so the authorities 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 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.”
“Lauren will be pleased, she gets a lift all the way to Lusaka.”
“But Gidi.” Moses hesitated before continuing, “There’s one more favor I would like to ask. 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 narrowed my eyes. “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.”
“What for?” I asked.
“Gidi, you said yourself that the evidence is indirect. That way it will give Mustafa time to skip to Tanzania if he thinks the police will act on what we say. I don’t believe that he was behind the evil being planned.”
I shrugged. Reluctantly I said “Okay.”