Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Chapter 19: Alina Arrives

Swimming gave me time to do some of my best thinking. I used the opportunity this morning to go over how I felt about what had happened during the night. I was really surprised by just how awkward making love to Daise had been, and how it had confirmed for me what I had guessed the day before; that she was a virgin. I realised that I hadn’t really believed her when she told me I had guessed correctly about that. She deserved an apology from me, and I resolved to do that as soon as I finished my swim.

Once I had reached my limit, I climbed out the pool and towel-dried myself. Daise stood and did the same when she saw me getting out and we walked back into the house. Once we were dressed again, we met on the veranda for breakfast.

Nqobile had made us fried eggs, bacon, tomato, and lots of toast. We didn’t share more than a few words during breakfast.

“Daise,” I started, once I had finished eating, “I just wanted to apologise to you about last night.”

“Oh no, there is no need for you to apologise. I am the one who should apologise; I wanted to make it good for you.”

“No, that’s not what I meant. I wanted to say that I was sorry that I said you should have told me that you were a virgin. You did, yesterday at the pool. I am afraid I either didn’t remember, or I didn’t really believe you.”

“That’s Ok. You were still very gentle with me. I appreciate that.”

“Ok. Please clear you head of the idea that you have any reason to apologise. We can work at this and make it better as we get to know each other.”

Daise was obviously embarrassed to talk about it, so I let it lie there.

“Almost time for us to go,” I told her as I checked my watch. “Is there anything you need?”

“I just need to make a trip to the bathroom then I’ll be ready.”

“Ok. I’ll meet you at the car in ten minutes then?”


We both went upstairs. I cleaned my teeth and returned downstairs within five minutes. Cpl Maseka climbed into the back of the Land Rover together with his two guards and we were forced to wait for no more than three or four minutes before Daise joined us and we could leave.

The trip to the car rental agency took us twenty minutes through the early morning traffic. Sgt Major Dhlamini called me on my cell while I was driving to tell me that he had arranged for the various people to be picked up and was also en route.

I pulled into the rental agency grounds and found a parking spot, then walked over to the office to sort out the rental agreements. When I walked out of the office, the Sgt Major was waiting for me and I threw him the keys to the over-watch car without saying a word. Cpl Maseka got the second set of keys and I kept the third. The Sgt Major gestured to Daise and she joined him in his car. I waited to see that everyone was set, and then we set off in a convoy of three white Opel Corsas; chosen to be as nondescript as possible.


We arrived at the airport half an hour before Alina’s plane was scheduled to land, and Cpl Maseka dropped off one of his guys to wait for her. He parked his car in the “Drop and Go” area, climbed out, and opened the boot to give him the excuse he needed to stay there without the airport security types moving him on.

I drove right through and parked at the petrol station to wait, while the Sgt Major drove onto the third floor of the parking garage and climbed out so that he could watch the entrance to the Domestic Arrivals hall.

I was in contact with Cpl Maseka and Sgt Major Dhlamini via a set of cheap, short-range walkie-talkie radio sets I had bought. Cpl Maseka had instructions to report in as soon as his man emerged with Alina, so I settled in to wait for her to arrive.

I was surprised when fifteen minutes later I got a call from the Sgt Major.

“Nine, this is Niner-Fox. Message. Over,” he called me.

“Nine, Go.” I answered him.

“Niner-Fox, Hens in the Hen-House. Over.”

“Nine, Wait one mike.”

I thought for a second. If he was reporting possible hostiles, then our security precautions were not in vain after all. I wondered how he had identified them positively. ‘Hens’ was our code for people that were definitely hostile. ‘Chicks’ would have meant that they were only possibly hostile.

“Niner-Fox, this is Nine. Say again, ‘Hens’? Over.”

“Niner-Fox. That’s a positive, over.”

“Nine, Ok stand by and continue over-watch. Break. Niner-One did you copy over?”

“Niner-One, positive. Copied your last. Over.”

“All Nine stations, continue as planned, Acknowledge. Over.”

“Niner-One, Positive.”

“Niner-Fox, Positive.”

“Nine out.”

‘Ok. Just have to stick to the plan,’ I thought to myself. Fortunately, we had planned with the assumption that we would have hostiles, so the confirmation just ratcheted up the tension a notch or two, it didn’t change anything. I settled in to waiting again.

The next report I got took about twenty minutes. It was from Cpl Maseka.

“Nine, Niner-One. Message over.”

“Nine, Send Over.”

“Niner-One. Pickup now over.”

“Nine. Acknowledged. Standing by.”

“Niner-One Out.”

I started the car and left it idling so that we could get moving quickly. I climbed out and stood next to it while I waited. It took Cpl Maseka about four minutes before he pulled into the petrol station, and stopped next to me. It had felt like it was taking him forever, but I realised I was running on adrenalin. All my senses were on high alert. Cpl Maseka stopped his car and opened the passenger door.

“Hi Alina, I’m Rupert. Please hurry, I need you to get into my car right now.”

“Hello. What’s the rush?”

I paused to look down at Alina. Even in the midst of my urgency, I decided it was worth the time to admire a seriously sexy woman. She was a complete contrast to Daise with a very curvy body, large breasts, long hair and a perfectly made-up face, albeit a little heavy on the makeup. She was wearing blue-jean shorts, and they were very short, and high-heeled sandals, so her long tanned legs were very much in evidence when she swung them out of the car.

“Sorry to rush you Alina, but we think there are some guys following you and we need to lose them. Just climb into my car please and we’ll get out of here. I’ll explain on the way.”

Alina stood up and walked around the front of my car to climb into the passenger seat. Cpl Maseka had already transferred her small bag into the book of my car and drove off as soon as I slammed the passenger door closed. I jumped into the driver’s seat of my car and called the Sgt Major.

“Niner-Fox, Nine. Message, Over.”

“Niner-Fox, Go.”

“Nine, Package safe. Your status, over?”

“Niner-Fox. ‘Hens’ are in pursuit. Four followed the package out and joined a fifth in a blue Toyota Mini-bus. Approaching swap point.”

“Nine. I see you. I will follow you. Got photos?”

“Niner-Fox. Trying now. Out.”

I waited until the Sgt Major had passed us, and then pulled out behind him. We were soon on the N2 Freeway heading north, back towards Durban. I could see Daise in the Sgt Major’s car with the digital camera. She was tasked with getting as many photos of the men as possible and now just needed to get one of the back of the car so that we had a number plate to work with.

With things running as planned, I looked sideways at Alina, and noticed that her fists were clenched tightly with tension.

“Sorry to drop you right into it like this, Alina. We decided to take some precautions to ensure that we could protect you when you arrived. Are you OK?”

Alina turned to look at me. I was taken aback by the expression on her face. She had a look in her eyes that reminded me of an animal that I had seen caught in a snare during a patrol we had been doing in the Kruger Park near Messina. It was a look of aggression that was pasted on top of fear.

“What the fuck are you doing? Are you kidnapping me?”

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