Fanny’s Surprise (# 39)

The human curse of emotion has been – and will always be – the reason why people aspire to unknown heights…and plunge to the ultimate depths of failure and destruction.

Take  the condition we call love, for instance. Despite the fact that we have books dating back 2500 years, we still have to find a scribe that can give a comprehensive definition of the word. How many songs, how many poems have been written in futile attempts to describe it? Since time immemorial, this feeling has been at the core of all relationships; yet we still fumble about  when asked to explain what, exactly, it is.

Mostly couples settle into that fuzzy, warm and comfortable space created by Love; mesmerised with the mutual infatuation and fascination of discovering the resonance they find in each other. Falling in love is an apt term: once friendship progresses beyond a jovial togetherness, the plunge into the unknown may be a sudden and often unexpected event. And then, once recognised and declared, it changes everything, just like Andrew Lloyd Webber said it would. This change; this magnificent rearranging of thoughts, interests and commitments; is responsible for the difficulty of defining what Love is all about.

By nature, people are selfish. We look after ourselves first. We care more about our own, individual survival than about the fate of somebody dying of hunger in Ethiopia (or wherever). We’ve become a blunted and unfeeling species because we just don’t have the time to consider the plight of others.  We don’t go there, because we might end up caring – and why should we do that?

But then love happens. The great fortress of self-interest crumbles as this ‘feeling’ takes over. Be it a pet, a child, a significant other – it doesn’t matter – the spark of love ignites the fire that has one purpose: to provide warmth and safety for somebody or something else. And then, for the lucky few and the privileged minority, the potential exists to tumble over the cliff to discover this eternal enigma we call genuine, eternal and effortless Love.

Sadly, like all human emotions, it can become corrupted. It is entirely possible that the allure of love sometimes turns out to be an illusion. The desire to love and be loved can be so overwhelming that it forces a person to want to create the feeling. Some will even believe the illusion.

That’s why the woman we know as Cruella is standing next to the wrecked plane, staring with so much hatred at Kallie Franz. Initially, a long time ago, he believed her when she said she was in love with him. He was, she has to admit, quite a catch: rich, successful, and quite handsome in a rugged way. When they met, her life was a mess. Having just been dumped by a previous lover who could not stand her temper and her demands any longer, Kallie represented a perfect solution. Oh, and she was so crafty in her seduction!

As long as love has been around, men (and yes, women too – but men especially) tend to be extremely naïve when  somebody else leans over to whisper sweet nothings in an ear. Given the head on the shoulder, the shuddering sigh and the soft body seeking the warmth of an embrace – well, lets just accept that the male brain takes that as a genuine declaration of love.

Kallie did, and it nearly ruined his life. When he found out it was all fake with lots of smoke and a few mirrors thrown in for good measure, he tried to extricate himself. It wasn’t so easy. Cruella had used her guile to make him putty in her hands and thus made sure he signed enough documents to make her comfortably rich in the event of divorce. She had always known she would not spend a lifetime with him – she had greater dreams and needed the capital to fund her fantasies.

Now, with Graham it is different. Although he earns a decent living as the supervisor of the maintenance workshop at Cape Town International Airport, there is no way he can support her in the leisurely and luxurious fashion she’d like to live. Graham isn’t somebody who asks questions. He does what she tells him to, just the way she likes her men. And Graham provided the key to her freedom and her future.

Oh, as soon as this is over, she’ll simply drop him, of course. Like all men in her life, she’ll use him and discard the empty shell once she’s finished. Then, with the means to do so, she’ll go out in the world to hunt bigger fish.

At least, that was the plan.

Only, it didn’t work out that way, did it?. Kallie should have been dead. The plane should have been wrecked, leaving no or inconclusive evidence. And now…now she’s standing here with the hated Kallie a few paces away, shocked by her sudden appearance. Well, if her plan failed and her dreams doomed to fail, she’ll make sure he has no future as well. No! She has spent too much time and energy of this project to accept it failed so miserably. After Graham had explained how he sabotaged the plane, he said no pilot would be able to get back on the ground in one piece. Impossible...that’s the word he used.

That’s why she rushed over here to the crash site – to see for herself. And now, here they all are next to and almost intact but very well crashed aeroplane. The sight of them all – with Kallie the focus of her fury – had much the same effect in her mind as the flight had on the unfortunate Doc.

“I’ll kill you,” she hisses one more time as she lifts the gun.

Cactus Jack is well-known for it’s kick. Take too much and you’ll know about it tomorrow. A few sips may be innocent enough, but a bottle full is more than most people can tolerate. Boggel knows this. He’s been around long enough…

That’s why, when the bottle hits Cruella on the side of her head, she has no idea what happened. Boggel’s well-aimed throw takes her down like a sack of corn. One moment snarling and ranting, the next she’s out cold, a puppet without strings to hold her up.

For another second the group stands paralysed. The sudden appearance of Cruella – especially after the drama of the flight and the landing – cast an eerie spell on everybody. Gertruida will later call it ‘collective overload’. And everybody stood there, gaping, as Cruella threatened to kill the man she nearly conned out of millions.


Except Boggel, that is. He used to be a rather accurate bowler for the cricket team in the orphanage. It turns out he hasn’t lost the touch…


Tonight, in Boggel’s Place, the atmosphere is a bit subdued. Oh, they are all overjoyed that the day worked out so well, and everyone complimented the pilot and Vetfaan and Boggel.

But they know how Gertruida feels. Doc has been flown to Cape Town for psychiatric treatment. Gertruida herself said the prognosis is uncertain: there’s no telling what permanent damage had been done to that once-brilliant brain.

Out on the Veranda, Vetfaan and Fanny share a Coke.

“I hope the twins are okay, Fanie. They will be, won’t they?’

The big man wraps an arm around her shoulders.

“We’ve been through so much, Fanny. The time with !Ka and !Tung; the Valley of the Buried Wagon; the Hartfords, MIss Kenton and Mister Stevens. We’ve had adventure after adventure and I’ve even been to Japan. Now this aeroplane crashes near our little town.” He pauses to hug her closer. “I think we’ve had enough surprises for a while. No, Fanny, your twins – our twins – are going to be just fine, thank you. Whatever the future holds, we’ll be okay. You know why?” He waits for her to look up and ask. “Because this foolish thing we have. It’s not a feeling – it’s a condition. And no matter what Life throws at us, as long as we look after this condition, we’ll be okay. The condition, dear wife, is called love.”

And Fanny, happy tears in her eyes, nods.

This man’s love is such a surprise…and then again in reality, no surprise at all.

And so we come to the end of Fanny’s Surprise. Who knows what the future holds for Rolbos? With a lot of luck, they’ll have a few ‘normal’ days for a change…

7 thoughts on “Fanny’s Surprise (# 39)

  1. Natasha

    Oh wow Amos. What a poignant end to a fabulous story!!!
    Thank you for sharing so many of life’s truths with us.
    I enjoyed every “installment”.

    However, I don’t believe Rolbos can do “normal” for very long 😉

  2. thehappyhugger

    The end of Fanny’s surprise…I feel sad, the way one feels sad when you read the last page of a book you thoroughly enjoyed, but I’ve been reading Rolbos for so long, years in fact, that I know that whatever you write about the Rolbossers next is going to be just as wonderful…thank you.

    1. Amos van der Merwe Post author

      Thank you so much, Huggs…let’s see what Boggel thinks of next? He’s go such a knowing smile today…I’m sure there’s something lurking in the background…

  3. Rita van der Linde

    Dankie vir Fanny en die wonderlike einde aan haar storie. Ek is seker jy bepaln alweer
    iets vir Gertruida? Dankie ook vir Dean Martin. Toe ons eindelik ‘n “Radiogram” kon bekostig was daar die heugelike dag net geld vir twee langspeel plate, een was In a Monastery Garden, en die ander ‘n Dean Martin ene. O ja terloops my geliefde het oor die Liefde gese, as hoe hy voel Liefde is, dan glo hy daarin. Slim man ne hehe.

  4. tiny lessons blog

    A wonderful end to a very enjoyable story! Besides pure enjoyment, I earned a lot too, like the many uses of Cactus Jack. And the true nature of love, finally. Will need to hang around to see what pops up next 🙂


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