Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Chapter 17: Pickup Plan

I walked back into the house to find Sgt Major Dhlamini sitting on my favourite brown leather couch, drinking a mug of what I was sure was ultra-sweet tea, and chatting to Nqobile.

"Sawubona Sgt Major, what's going on." I greeted him while accepting my own mug of tea from Nqobile.

"Well, I'm not doing anything. Were you?" he answered me with his patented 'innocent' look...

"You bastard. I'll get you for that."

He laughed. "I just wanted to tell you that we are all set. Cpl Maseka and his team will man the tree-house and patrol the grounds. We also have a few soldiers in a mini-bus just down the road. No-one will question them; they look just like a broken-down taxi."

"Ok. Sounds good." I was checking my cell-phone while I listened to him and saw that there was an SMS from Alina. "Alina says that she has boarded the plane and will be here on schedule. I have some ideas about how to handle that."

"All right. You're still convinced that they're going to try to follow her from the airport?"

"Yes. From all I hear about this crowd, they are territorial and very possessive. They don't like to let anyone to get away from them once they have their hooks in them. I think I might have gotten away with just Daise, but not with Alina as well."

"Why are you doing this Major? You haven't even met the woman."

"Because I can. I have heard so many stories about women being trafficked and abused and it has always got me going. When I heard the story of what they have done to her, I couldn't help myself. This is not a story in the paper, this is someone that I can actually help."

"I think you have just gone too long without a deployment to somewhere they are shooting at you," he said with a smile. "You just want the excitement."

"You know me too well old friend. That is definitely part of it."

"I guess the other part is that beautiful young woman out there in the pool then?"

"Yes. I am starting to fall badly for her."

"I can tell. I was watching you on the range today. At the Spring Ball I thought she was just a date, but that had all changed today. You were beaming at her like you had created her out of clay or something."

"I wasn't that bad."

"Well ... that's your story, and you stick with it."

"Hmmph. Ok. We'll see. Should we start the braai?"

"About time, I'm hungry. I've got your spit-braai out of the garage and the guys will get that going as well. Seeing as they will be awake in shifts, they can tend to that. I told them to baste once an hour, and make sure the motor is running to keep it turning. Should be ready by tomorrow night."

"Excellent. Alina should be here by then so we can treat it as a 'Welcome to South Africa' meal for her."

"What cars do you want to use for the pickup at the airport?"

"I want to get Daise a car, so I figured we can go and arrange that first, then we can get some rental cars for the pickup and make the switch to the new car."

"I don't think that's a good idea. I wouldn't like to see them getting any idea of any cars you have. Make them work for the information. I would rather just use rental cars."

"Ok. That makes sense. I'll climb onto their website now and book some cars. Three you think?" I walked to my computer and started accessing the rental car site as we spoke.

"Yes, that should do it. Let's go over the plan again just to be sure."

"Ok. One guy in the arrivals hall with a board with her name on. He meets her and takes her outside. One guy driving the first car, picks her up, drives to the petrol-station just outside the airport. Leave the first car there and transfer to the second car, with the third tailing it to give over-watch security. Have I missed anything?"

"No. That sounds about right. Then we drop the cars off at the rental agency in Pinetown?"

"Yes. That's where we'll leave our cars. We'll get there and transfer to our cars and leave the rental cars at the agency."

"You'll take the Land Rover as usual."

"Yes, I just had a thought. I'll take the route through Giba Gorge, There is no way anyone will be able to follow unless they have a 4x4. We should be able to lose them before then, but if there is anyone following, Giba Gorge will make sure."

"Ok. Sounds good. I'll be in the chase car so I can keep my eye out. You going to be in the second car?"

"I reckon that's the best place. I think Alina is going to need some reassurance by that stage."

"I'd say. What about Daise? What are you going to do with her?"

"I want to involve her in this. I think she deserves to be involved. I was thinking that she could go with you."

"Should be safe enough. Ok."

"Rupert," Nqobile interrupted, "the salads are done. Are you going to braai yourself?"

"Sure. I'll get the meat, you grab the salads," I told Sgt Major Dhlamini, as I grabbed the meat from the kitchen counter and walked outside to the pool area.

"Hey Daise, we are going to start the braai now. Why don't you get changed before it gets too cool; then you can join us?" I called out.

"Ok," Daise replied, pulling herself out of the pool, "I've had about enough for now anyway."

I walked over to the Lapa with Sgt Major Dhlamini following me. I had everything set up to be able to braai there any time the fancy struck me and I had a wood fire going within a few minutes. I had just got that done when Nqobile came out and handed me a T-shirt and a tracksuit.

"You need to get changed Boss," she told me.

"Thanks you old mother hen," I teased her. "I don't know who's really the boss here," I said to Sgt Major Dhlamini with a smile. Nqobile just smiled knowingly and retreated into the house.

By the time Daise came out to join us, the wood had burned down to coals and I had the grid on and was just placing the meat.

No comments: