He simply gritted his teeth and endured the pain.
December 29, 2013
A VG Serial: Dark Continent Continental
As they looked up, Angus and Skeeter saw a circle of vultures starting to hover high above the carcass of the lioness. Nigel started a small fire under a nearby tree a little farther to the north. Buziba returned to Nigel’s side carrying burnable sticks he had been gathering. When the fire was going good, Nigel reached into his shoulder bag and withdrew a cheap tennis shoe. He tossed it onto the fire. It wasn’t long before a black plume of smoke rose up from the flames.
Before Buziba could gather more sticks, a row of erratically driven tractors came into their view. The closer they got, the more whimsical their paint jobs became. One was camo, one was cobalt blue, one was a combination of left over-paint jobs, splotchy, and one was bright orange with white symbols painted on it.
“I can’t tell you how badly I feel about your plane, Nigel,” Angus said.
“It’s okay, mate. I would have been flying somewhere, and the way it happened, we were pretty lucky. It was going to happen. I think it might have been an oil leak. It didn’t show up on the oil gage, but I saw some evidence out there.”
“Do you think your engines are all right?”
“Yeah, I do. I don’t think any damage was done to them.”
“Thanks to both of you for the names and numbers of these individuals. It will save us a lot of time and nail-biting. Buziba, thank you!”
Buziba answered, “Uh huh! Uh huh! Thank you! Alright!”
* * *
Angus and Skeeter had over one hundred and fifty miles, two hundred and thirty kilometers, to cover to get from the airstrip at Meru to Garissa. They were doing it in a forty-year-old International with Habibu at the wheel and Tacuma in the passenger’s seat. The two cattle farmers wanted to go to Garissa anyway, for some special equipment. They were glad to take Angus and Skeeter with them for the price of the gasoline. The International? They had borrowed that for a couple of days a common practice in a land where resources are scarce. They were not exactly fluent in English. Buziba had explained to them exactly what to do. As a back-up, Angus had Nigel’s cell phone number. If they needed a translator, Nigel could put Buziba on. They loaded up. There wasn’t much, thanks to the fact that Angus and Skeeter were traveling light, and headed for the nearest gas station. Angus paid for a fill up, they nodded and then they drove on.
Habibu and Tacuma were very quiet and did not talk much. Occasionally they conversed between themselves in an unknown language. Habibu did not drive at breakneck speed. It would have been impossible, anyway. The sides of the roads were lightly-peppered with oxcarts, crates on goats, small herds of goats and their herders and mothers walking with baskets on their heads, children in tow. The road itself was crude and filled with deep pot holes.
Angus’ shoulders were searing. “We really need to get a bottle of peroxide and take care of those gashes, Angus,” Skeeter advised. “No telling what kind of germs were in the animal’s claws.”
“I suppose I could get cat-scratch fever,” Angus snorted.
Skeeter had doctored his wounds immediately after the attack with what she had in her first aid kit. She made a special point to clean them vigorously, despite the wincing and protests from Angus. She then put a thick coat of triple antibiotic on them. “You really need to see a doctor, you know.”
“Not going to a doctor in Africa, if I can help it.”
“I don’t blame you. If you think you are getting a temperature, let me know. Are you taking aspirin?”
“Yeah. I brought a pretty big supply of those, so that is one good thing, anyway.”
Tacuma turned in his seat and attempted some English. “You kill simba?”
Angus pointed to Skeeter. “She did!”
Tacuma went silent while his eyes enlarged. Finally he said. “Simba kill calves. Thank you, uh, la-dee!”
Tacuma and Habibu conversed to themselves for a short time. Angus and Skeeter could not understand one word, but they did hear the word “simba” being used frequently.
As they bumped along in the International with no air conditioning, windows all down, wide open, dust and powdered manure blew all about them. Despite his pain, Angus was able to nod off a few times. They were almost halfway there.
Chapters of Dark Continental by Sara Marie Hogg will be published on Saturday and Sunday.