Gertruida’s Journey (# 9)

landyShare a problem, talk about it…and be amazed at the difference it makes to actually hear you put words to the cause of anxiety. The old axiom that a problem shared is a problem halved, is so true. Ever since Gertruida had the courage to tell the patrons in Boggel’s Place about her past, the burden of her secret simply vanished. To think she carried that load for so long – and for what? There’s no shame in believing in a just cause, is there? The way her friends reacted, contributed in no small way to the feeling of relief she now experiences.

“Boggel,” she says as she sits down at the bar, “you must keep this laptop in a safe place. This little computer holds the files that all this mess is about. Keeping it in my house isn’t clever – it’s the first place somebody might want to look for it. And yes, I’ll have a Greenie, thank you.”

“I heard you say something about Paul going to help the other chaps?”

“That’s what he said, but he left with his binoculars…I’m not sure why.”

“Well, they should all be back here soon…except for Vetfaan, of course. He knows there are two vehicles on their way.” When Gertruida doesn’t understand, Boggel explains about the phone call he had. “This makes it a bit more complicated, but it might just be a huge bonus. If Vetfaan gets his timing right, we can expect quite a show.”

“I just hope this is over soon, Boggel. We used to have such a quiet life – I miss it. Why must life be so complicated?”

“You know how it is. The most dangerous thing in the whole wide world, is a comfort zone. Sometimes Life has to shake us up a little to make us cherish our dreams again.” Boggel pauses while he polishes a glass, deep in thought. “People stop dreaming; did you know that, Gertruida? That’s what a comfort zone is all about. Take away stress and worry, and we simply sink away into a comfortable cushion of complacency. That’s when dreams die.”

“Oh my!” Mevrou waltzes in, carrying a tray of scones. “Aren’t you the philosopher today, Boggel?” She pats him on the cheek, like one would a student who mastered a skill – like spelling acanaceous correctly, and knowing what it means. “Still, we’re stuck with a prickly problem, and that always makes me hungry…”

She’s interrupted by the returning men, who gather around the tray with pleading eyes. 

“There’s enough for everybody,” Mevrou beams, “but first tell me you managed everything?”

“Ja, we did.” Kleinpiet helps himself to a scone. “It’s up to Vetfaan now.”

“But where’s Paul?” There’s no mistaking the worried note in Gertruida’s voice.

“”He’s on his way to Bokkop. He wants to check out the action…”

***

Nothing upsets The Boss more than being a passenger in a vehicle driven by an overconfident driver. Abel Kotze, the man responsible for getting the Afrikaner Freedom Front up and going, drives like a man possessed, despite the bad condition of the road. The Landrover slews and skids through the loose sand – and yet Kotze is grinning like a schoolboy on a new date. 

“You should slow down,” The Boss snarls, “these roads are treacherous.”

“Ag, come on, Boss. This is fun! And anyway, the sooner we get there, the sooner we can wrap this whole thing up. There’s a lot of work to be done on the farm. We’re getting new recruits every day, and their training takes time.”

“You just concentrate on your driving, Kotze. You never know what these roads are like around the next bend.”

Suddenly, Kotze brakes hard, curses, and brings the vehicle to a sliding stop. 

detour“Oh, this is all we need!” He points at the sign. “Now we have to take a detour. Damn!”

“Wait, there’s a man over there. Call him and ask what this is all about.”

Vetfaan ambles over to the Land Rover, chewing thoughtfully on a stalk of grass. 

“Morning, gentlemen?”

When they ask, he explains. “There’s a bridge a mile ahead. You know? One of those bridges the government got one of their BEE companies to build. Well, it’s six months now, and the thing collapsed. Just like that.” He snaps his fingers. “Where are you chaps heading to?”

“Is this the only road to Rolbos?” Kotze is impatient – this is so uncalled for!

“Yes, the only road. The bridge collapsed yesterday night and we haven’t yet managed to scrape a path through the bush there to get around it. Now the only option is to take this track” He points at the faint two-track path leading off to the left. “After about ten kilometres, you’ll find the road splitting. Go right there – if you take the left fork, you’ll end up in the desert. You’ll notice a hill towards your right-hand side, That’s Bokkop. Well, just stick to the track, and you’ll end up in Rolbos.”

Kotze grunts his thanks and charges off into the veld. Vetfaan smiles happily as he watches the Land Rover disappear in a cloud of dust. Then, hurrying as fast as he can, he takes the sign and jogs the half-a-kilometre to where another track joins the road – this time from the right.

***

“Why is the road closed?” The Boss has to climb out of the Hummer to talk to the dozing man  under the tree. This is so typical of these farmers! Sitting around all day, doing nothing…

Vetfaan lifts the brim of his hat, seems surprised to have company, and tells the grey-haired man the sad tale of modern-day construction in South Africa. 

“You see this track? To get to town you must just stick to it. It curves around to slowly to your left, and you’ll see a hill on that side. Anyway, eventually you’ll get to Rolbos. Good luck!”

***

Paul watches the two vehicles from the top of Bokkop. Two trails of dust on the old roads no longer in frequent use. Vetfaan explained the situation quite clearly.

In the time when the quarry next to Bokkop was the source of Sillimanite, various paths and tracks criss-crossed the veld. Over the years, most of these were reclaimed by Mother Nature, but the circular route around Rolbos is still drivable. Along this almost-forgotten road, several of the miners had small-holdings, where they kept livestock to supply the needs of the community. These days it serves as a route for hunters: it’s far enough from town and the open veld allows for easy game spotting. Occasionally, when the townsfolk run low on biltong, this circular road offers an easy access to the infrequent herds of Springbuck  on their endless search for new grass.

The driver of the Land Rover is in a great hurry. Paul can see how the vehicle bounces along at speed; while the Hummer crawls along at a snail’s pace, obviously driven by a much more cautious driver. He’s watched as the vehicles seemed to be on divergent routes, but now they are slowly approaching each other.

Paul polishes the lenses of the binoculars and settles down on a rock. This could be very interesting…

***

The Boss clings to his seat as Kotze barrels though the veld, cursing under his breath. Sure, the man may know what he’s doing; but at this speed, the slightest miscalculation can be fatal.

They bounce around a curve in the road, throwing up sand and rocks as the wheels tear into the rutted track. Then, just as the vehicle settles in the path again, they see a Hummer crawling towards them. The Hummer stops, but Kotze has to fight the steering and brakes to get control over his careening vehicle. When at last the wheels stop turning, they are barely ten yards from the Hummer.

A huge black man gets out of the Hummer and saunters over to the Landy.

Leaning casually against the door with his one hand, he smiles at the occupants.

“And you are the man they call The Boss, I presume?” His tone is gentle, but his other hand is on the butt of the revolver in his pocket.

6 thoughts on “Gertruida’s Journey (# 9)

  1. cvheerden

    Well done! I was worried how you’d get out of this one! Sharp, let the big fish fight it out amongst themselves. This is so much fun. I think the boss lives here in my town actually. Seems there are a lot of people with skeletons in their closets, still.

    Reply

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