39 Edens Outloo
Looking back downriver watching the wake of the boat spread out behind us like the parting of a zipper, I couldn’t suppress a slight anxiety.
It may not yet be over.
Was Mustafa in on the plot to kidnap the woman?
If so would there be trouble when the two girls showed up at the Lodge.
At a minimum if he was involved, with his extensive network of contacts, , he might try to orchestrate some intervention at the
Park HQ, or maybe with the police.
Also, if the two thugs were part of one of the big drug cartels, they too would have contacts.
I was unsure of how long they would be held before they bribed or threatened their way out of trouble, and potentially came back to haunt us.
Admittedly the chances of their doing so were slim. They surely had realized that their intentions were known.
However, they could correctly claim they had invited the women to travel with them, and they had accepted. On the surface it 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. Their forcing the woman onto the vehicle for the ride to the aircraft might be explained away to a police official with old fashioned ideas as no more than a small domestic spat. In the eyes of the law, the main transgression so far would be there opening fire on us. They could counter by saying they were firing warning shots to prevent the theft of the backpacks.
Thus approaching our lodge, as I sat in the prow of the boat, I 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 the women should stay out of sight until we were sure it was safe. We would head up to Alan’s hunting camp.
Moses’ couldn’t hide his glumness when I told him the plan. However it didn’t last long., it was pushed aside by a wide smile spreading across his face like the ripples on a pool, as I tossed in a clarification. He should leave us there, then return to our lodge to check out the lay of the land,. he should try to find out if Mustafa had any hint of knowing what had transpired.
If they were still at Alan’s camp it was unlikely that the Russians knew the woman, or what the thugs plans with them were.
I was willing to take a chance.
It would be best to keep things seperate and simpel for now.
As Moses coaxed the boat into the little cove with its concrete jetty, a different young dock hand was there to greet us. In the morning stillness he had been alerted by the sound of our engine coming up river.
“Mabuka Mwane.” I greeted him as we 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. Pick us up after dark if everything is okay. If not come back as soon as possible. We will figure out what to do.”
Watching him point the boat back downriver, I couldn’t help thinking of a dog wagging its tail in anticipation of a treat. He would be close to Narina all day.
As the boat disappeared 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, barefoot as usual.
“What brings you here?” was his cheerful question.
“Good Morning,” I replied, “I have quite a story for you.”
Alan listened transfixed as I related the eventsa second time 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 the rustle of the water in the rapids over shadowed the whisper of the wind stroking the trees.
“I was surprised at how suddenly, our pair of duzees had said they were done here and were heading off.”
Roger picked up a plate of biscuits offering them to us.
After relating the events and finishing a biscuit I stood and stretched. I was suddenly exhausted.
I asked if I could rest in a chalet. “I have been awake all nigh, and could do with some sleept.” I added. “Maybe it would be good if the ladies could use one as well. It is best they keep out of sight until we know it is completelyy safe.”
With that Alan showed us the way to some much needed slumber.
Later, resurfacing as the sun set, I regretted declining Alan’s offer for us all to join him for an early dinner, thinking that Moses would be along at any moment. Instead It was well after daark before the headlights of my vehicle cut their way through the Bush. I should’ve known that romance would trump my priorities. Narina sat up front next to him.
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 Melody and precious, so that they could ‘better enjoy’ the stars, while Moses and I talked ‘man’s business’.
When Moses handed me the keys I motioned to him to continue the driving.
“Naarina says that it was pivotal that you offered to take Lauren to the city tomorrow. Things were getting ugly. It seemed that Mustafa suspected something was fishy with the gangsters offer to takePrecious , but it was just that , a suspicion ”
“What are you going to do in Mumbwa?” he continued.
“I want to report what I know to the police.” I waited for his response..
There was none, so I went on. “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. “I have a friend who is from my tribe. He is now high in the police in Lusaka. I could speak to him.”
I agreed. “That may be a good way to speed things up. The quicker we get these guys feeling that they are being investigated 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.” 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,, “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 connect him to what we tell them. I don’t believe that he was behind the evil being planned. But I want to give him a chance it he is.”
I shrugged and reluctantly said “Okay.”
We were half way to our campsite when he reached across and touched my arm. “Tomorrow morning early, I would like to borrow the vehicle again?”
The dim backlighting from the swaying probe of the headlights along the sandy tracks wasn’t enough to see his expression. However I could detect the intensity of his voice.
“Narina and I watch the Sunset from Eden’s Outlook on our way here.,” he said.
Of course he had, I thought.
“I would like to see the sunrise with her up there..”
I didn’t hesitate “Sure. Why don’t you drop me off at our campsite, and then take the girls back to the lodge.”
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. But what an unlikely pair. Why not give their love the chances mine never received when it was needed.
Be kind, I said to myself, let him howl at the moon. Tomorrow she will be gone . Who knew for how long.