Jim Nesbitt - Phone Call From The Devil / Drop In The Bucket (Vinyl)
She had no interest in gold and jewels. She aimed the Beretta at his head. Van Rooyen slowly sat down. Cecile saw that he knew then that he was a fraction of a millimetre from death. He let the G3 drop to the floor and his hands reached reluctantly for the dials, again.
Probably, she thought, in horror, because van Rooyen slowly smiled a wolfish smile, his tongue appearing briefly. There was a thump on the fuselage; the Dakota rocked. Manuela ran down the aisle to the rear door and stepped onto the ladder. With relief, she saw that the truck had turned and was heading back. The Cessna was fifty metres away, moving fast towards them. A man where the door had been was leaning out with a rifle in one hand.
Next to her, something moved. She turned. Two metres away from her, Geoff hung in his harness. His fingers were on the release capewells, but the pistol loaned by Duvenage hampered him. For a long second, they looked at each other from sweating, desperate faces — there was no time for the memories.
He knew it was too late to bring the 9mm to bear, but even as he tried, her finger tightened on her trigger. The barrel that he was looking down twisted suddenly and the shot slammed against his helmet, whacking his head back against the aluminium.
Dazed, he saw her fall, her ankles through the ladder where McNeil had grabbed them. She kicked free and began to crawl after the weapon. The truck slewed as Piet yanked the wheel hard over, but it skidded and did not tip as he had desperately hoped.
The cab doors exploded open as Theunissen leaped out, firing. McNeil threw himself around the ladder just as Theunissen opened fire on him, the full metal jackets tearing through the pressed metal.
Something tugged at his hip. Muller opened up on the Cessna while Brand returned fire, half obscured by the tail wheel of the Dakota. Piet Visagie was sobbing, his eyes wild. He shot Muller in the back at point blank range. He staggered; a look of total disbelief on his craggy face. Cecile saw Rafe Schulman crouched in the cockpit, unarmed, muttering between clenched teeth, searching for a weapon. There was nothing. Her breath came in terrified whistling gasps as she strained against the cuffs.
She whimpered, then gave a little cry of agony as the steel bit deeper. A bulky figure appeared in the rear doorway.
McNeil wavered, desperate, uncertain. Van Rooyen snarled the command again. McNeil let the pistol drop. As it hit the floor, van Rooyen lifted the G3 and was firing as it swung into line and McNeil was starting to throw himself sideways. McNeil was thrown against the bulkhead and slid to the floor. Van Rooyen lay sprawled in the aisle, the rifle under him.
Then there was an audible click. Jim Nesbitt - Phone Call From The Devil / Drop In The Bucket (Vinyl) the body was limp, now, Rafe went on cursing, foully, insanely. Manuela reached her pistol as Geoff released his capewells and dropped to the ground, off balance. She screamed at him and aimed. Who would ever really know what the dying man thought as he lay there, the fire that had been his life spluttering to an intermittent spark.
Maybe, lying there, Theo wondered where he had gone wrong. It was too late, of course, Jim Nesbitt - Phone Call From The Devil / Drop In The Bucket (Vinyl) he, who had killed so many, was dying. Theo, who had lately betrayed those who trusted him, had in turn been betrayed.
Did he know that he had become a rabid dog? That it was just that Pieter had to put him down? It was too late to right his wrongs now, but it seemed that Theo decided to try…. Once or twice, while the others were resting in the shade at the side of the dry stream bed, Piet Visagie said later, Theo Theunissen had climbed to high ground to see if he could see the Zambezi, but all there was were never-ending leafless mopane trees. They had tried walking through it, but, although the mopane itself was open, every minute watercourse was lined with thickets of salvadora and sour plum, so, in the end, they stuck to the stream bed, ploughing through the loose sand and scrambling over the boulders.
They saw several zebra, sable, impala and warthog. Once, a magnificent nyala bull plunged out of the mopane and through the bed ahead of them.
He had taken station near the still-concussed Rafe Schulman who plodded along in the rear. But there was no water. Around every corner, they hoped to find a muddy puddle in the frequent depressions, but there was nothing.
The shadows grew longer until the sun was just above the trees, then Theo heard it. He hissed for the others to stop. They listened. There was a rhythmic thumping, and, very faintly, someone singing. Theo motioned them to wait, quietly, and that Pieter should go with him. With infinite caution, they walked down the bed. A black woman was kneeling on a flat rock with a tall wooden mortar between her knees. Her heavy breasts bounced on her belly with every strike of the pole that she used as a pestle.
She sang to the beat Jim Nesbitt - Phone Call From The Devil / Drop In The Bucket (Vinyl) it as she ground the millet in the mortar. At the foot of the rock was a pool of muddy water from which a well worn path led up into the mopane to a pair of huts on the ridge.
She seemed to sense them, then, and arose, beginning a keening wail of fright. The mortar rolled down the rock, spilling the millet until it came to rest in the mud. She bounded around the pool and up the path. Theunissen caught up to her just as she reached the huts. Two little children appeared, wide-eyed in terror, and an old woman whose naked dugs hung like barbers strops to below her navel.
The younger woman flung herself to the ground and made no attempt to rise until Theo motioned her to do so with his rifle. The huts were old and sagging, mopane poles and grass, but the inhabitants had planted a good patch of millet and cassava to one side.
A pair of curs began to yap, but they kept well out of the way. An impala skin lay drying on the roof of one of the huts. Between the buildings, a fire smouldered under a three-legged pot. Strips of meat, probably from the impala, were hanging in a grewia shrub nearby. Flies covered the strips until it seemed they had a life of their own.
Where is your man? There was obviously a man around, the dead impala testified to that. The woman gabbled, but Piet caught the word Bandar. That was a store that Nourse had mentioned, according to Sanderson.
Theo said he was worried about these isolated huts. Out here, there was no control by the Portuguese, so it stood to reason that the occupants were in contact with Frelimo.
In the Congo, he said, he had shot women and even children that were in a position to endanger him or his men. In this case, however, Frelimo knew they were in the area, so nothing would be gained and the bodies would tell the same story as easily as the tongues of these women. Piet agreed with relief. Call the others. There was nobody else there. They all had their fill of the brown water. Muller armed himself with an axe that he found there.
He indicated that the children must stay behind, to which the old woman protested shrilly. They were a two-year old boy and a four-year old girl. Theunissen prodded her sharply in the belly with his rifle barrel. Visagie looked away after a short, defiant glare. Sanderson seemed to be quite content to leave these decisions with Theunissen and even take orders. He brought up in the rear as they filed across the ravine, led by the two Sena women.
The crying of the two children that were left barred up in the hut did not seem to bother him, but he was obviously more worried about the gathering gloom of the coming night.
Theo had the two women gagged and roped together and gave their control to Muller so that he, himself, was free to move as he saw fit. After an hour, they approached more huts which they skirted with caution. Once they heard voices. After another stumbling two hours, they approached several more huts in a cluster. Dogs smelt them and started a cacophony of howls, snarls and yaps. They were on the bank of the mighty Zambezi. Beyond the huts, they could make out the square bulk of the trading store, from which a glimmer of light from a paraffin lamp came from a window.
They could hear a gramophone scratchily thumping out an African pop tune. As they approached, they could see figures dancing on the veranda to the beat. Several people sat on the wide steps; there was the glint of bottles. Someone shouted; the dancing stopped, those sitting came to their feet. But, so far, they detected no threatening moves. The younger woman gabbled a reply and the atmosphere became electric.
As they approached, they could see that the doors were wide open and faces were peering back at them from within. The party moved in, nerves drum tight and their guts in knots. A murmur arose around them from the villagers, menacing, now. Here and there was a demanding shout. The Petromax pressure lamp on the counter threw long grotesque shadows on the grimy walls and the sparsely stocked shelves.
Shadows of dried fish, bunches of scarves, bicycle wheels and dresses hanging from the ceiling danced as they brushed against them. In one corner were two ancient treadle sewing machines, next to stacked sacks of maize meal. Three men slid off the counter where they had been sitting, drinking beer. Several beer bottles littered the counter.
Behind it, a young Indian licked his lips and tried to smile. Theo guessed what he said. Do you speak English, French? They did so quickly when he waved the R3 at them. Very old, very old, but going! There was a shutter over it, but it was broken at the bottom and they could see faces peering in at them. Sanderson, get those women untied, then push them into the corner with that guard bloke. We may need some hostages.
Schulman and Visagie, get us all some food and civvies from the shelves, khakis will do fine. Open that drawer! Under it was a drawer that served as a till. Who does? The lad reluctantly fished out a bunch of keys. It is Senhor Hassim from Mutarara, he owns. He must pay Frelimo for not burn down shop, for not to putting bomba on road.
Please, you not taking money from Hassim, he killing me! Theo allowed himself a grim smile. How far to Mutarara? There was less than a thousand Escudos there.
The lad misunderstood and said he would be coming next week with a big lorry to replenish supplies and take the money. Theo repeated, annoyed, and the frightened man admitted that Hassim had not been there for over a month. He flinched, as if he expected the next question. He was not wrong.
Theunissen backhanded him hard, so that he bounced back against his shelves and his lip burst against his teeth. He fell over some cartons on the floor and sat on them. He began to sob. The others in the room watched in silence, some, like Visagie and the hostages, in sympathy; Sanderson with indifference, and Rafe was unaware of the incident at all — he was fast asleep with his face buried in a khaki shirt on the counter.
It consisted of a short, dim, passage with a doorway on either side, one without Jim Nesbitt - Phone Call From The Devil / Drop In The Bucket (Vinyl) door. In the passage stood three two-hundred litre drums and a stack of full grain bags. In the room with no door, lit by a candle, was a table with a primus stove, a bucket of filthy water, some unwashed dishes and a toothbrush on it.
On a shelf were more candles, some spanners, pots, a sable antelope horn and some magazines from India. In one corner, amidst crates of empty beer bottles and a few full ones, stood an ancient paraffin refrigerator with the door open.
Muller, almost guiltily, handed them each an open 2M and pulled out another one for himself, trying to look as if he had not already thrown one down his throat. The Indian ducked under his elbow, knocked the R3 aside and leaped for the opposite door. He was through it and had slammed it shut before Theo, cursing, regained his balance and swung his weapon around. The two shots through the door were deafening in the confined space.
So, it really was loaded, thought Pieter, but not pursuing the possible significance before Theunissen kicked the door open and leaped inside.
The scream started to bubble blood and changed to a gurgle as bloody froth ran down his chin. Piet, shocked and sickened at the ruthlessness of the man, did as he was told like a robot. He found the money in a box under the plank bed along with a box of shotgun cartridges. He brought it all to the front before Theunissen had a chance to return.
Rafe was awake again, opening tins of food. Theo gave Sanderson the twelve-gauge and Muller took the old Mauser; which left only Rafe and Piet unarmed. When Muller came back with more beer for everyone, he contemptuously reported that the Indian was dead. The exhaustion that they had felt had dropped away with the first bottle of beer.
They ate and drank, feeling new strength seeping back. All was quiet, outside; the gathering had melted away with the first shots. Even the dogs had ceased their yapping. The hostages huddled in their corner, staring wide eyed at their captors. Visagie dropped three cans of bully-beef at their feet. Theo shrugged and Muller bit back his scornful comment. The biggest trousers there were still too small, so he and Muller, who had the same problem, kept their uniform trousers on.
With the killing of the Indian, Piet was an accessory to murder, now, and he tried not to think of that fact. What happened to the rest of us? Dan and Geoff? How did we get here? All I want to do is get back down south. What about you? Sanderson, Muller, watch those black bastards.
When I say the word, you chuck the supplies in and get yourselves aboard. They found the Landrover parked behind the store. After a careful check that there was nobody about, they went out to it. It was an ancient short-wheelbase without a roof. Piet found the tank. It had lost its filler cap and a rag had been stuffed into the pipe. He emptied the jerry cans into it; about thirty litres, he reckoned.
There was a good moon and no need for a torch. Nothing moved that they could see. They were right on the bank of the river and just below them was a fuel-drum and mopane- pole jetty with several dugout canoes tied to it. The water was a sheet of silver in the moonlight. Far off, a jackal howled, answered by another close by. A few seconds later Theo heard the starter turn, feebly, once. Pieter swore. The battery was flat. Theo told him that there should be a crank, somewhere; probably behind the seats.
He found it and went around to the front of the vehicle while Theo got behind the wheel. He gave it half choke and waited impatiently for Visagie to find the starting dog and engage the crank. He put his weight to the handle; the engine started with a roar. Clutching the handle, he jumped in and Theo took the little vehicle around the store, while the village dogs started to howl again.
While Jim never got the national television exposure that raised Samples to star status, he did do much better on the record charts. His Jim Nesbitt - Phone Call From The Devil / Drop In The Bucket (Vinyl) appearance in front of a national audience came in the spring of with Please Mr. Kennedy, which reached the Top Enterprises J.
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