Rough Diamonds

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Chapter 18

Jako Retief

Jako and Mike walked along the dusty dirt road to the Forthwaite farm. It was very early morning in March and the stars were still lighting up the sky.

“Did you know about our uncle, Kobus Retief, who lives in Gaborone?” Jako said.

“Yes, Dad told me about him.” Mike responded.

“Dad said that we must all go visit him. He runs a garage. That’ll be a lekker (great) trip.”

Jako pointed out: “Look up there. It’s just dark enough: It’s the constellation of Orion. Can you see where the three stars line up to form a belt shape?”

“I can see it clearly.” Mike had developed a keen eye for nature, including star constellations.

He added: “And look across there, low in the sky, to the bottom and left of Orion. You can see Canis Major. It’s the dog shape that looks like the dog and the rabbit.”

Jako paused to take in the fading night sky. “I was reading about how the Mayans in South America used maggots in their therapy. And also the Aborigines from Aussie,” he added.

“What? Maggots?”

“Yes. They allowed them on to the sores and they gobbled up the dead skin and flesh... it sounds kak and yukky.”

“What do you think they feel like?”

Jako made a gesture like a person eating and enjoying it.

“I’d like to feel them,” Mike said.

“Yeeech! Jake retorted. “They say that one species of maggot can sense death and show up right before it even occurs. How is that?”

The boys walked until the Sun was peeping up on the horizon and breaking through the thick canopy of tall trees. It cast an angelic glow on their faces.

Mike said: “I’m looking forward to being at the dam.” The five dams fed one into the next, but they had not been to them before.

“Listen to the laughing doves.” They stopped to listen.

They were heading to one of the dams, which was on the Forthwaite’s farm. Luckily, they knew the farmer.

“Look there! It’s a rock pigeon. It’s bigger than most of the other pigeons we get around here and takes a higher flight path,” Jako said.

“We can shoot a lot of birds and ducks – yellow-billed duck, red-billed teal; South African shelduck; Cape shoveler; Cape teal; southern pochard and white-faced duck.” He ran through the list of birds like an expert.

“We may see some spur-winged geese and Egyptian geese around the dam. We must avoid shooting the helmeted guinea fowl. The season only opens 1 May,” Mike said.

He continued: “Spur-winged geese are taken from cover in the thickets of ponds and marshes. They are lured by decoys to fly along rivers and open grain and alfalfa fields. Our country has the largest example of this species on the planet. The gander weighs an average of just over six kilos.”

Jako felt the signs of a crap coming on. “Let’s go see the Forthwaites after we have done our shooting,” Jako said, gritting his teeth against the feeling in his nether regions.

“Uh-huh.” Jako saw that Mike was unhappy with that situation and he hesitated.

“Come on, Mike! I’m getting desperate here.”

They climbed through the barbed wire fence and Jack found a spot to relieve himself.

Approaching the dam, he squealed: “Yeehaw! It’s beautiful here!”

“There are lots of fowl and particularly ducks!” Mike enthused.

“Look at that one there. I’m going to take an easy shot at it,” said Jako.

“It’s too easy,” Mike exclaimed.

Farmer Mr Becker, whom they knew of, thanks to his fiery reputation, suddenly appeared. Unfortunately, he didn’t know them. He shouted over the dam: “Come here, you two boys!”

Jako and Mike looked up in surprise. Jako exclaimed: “Shit, we’ve got the wrong dam! I should have gone and told the Forthwaites that we were here and then gone to shoot.”

The two teenagers toyed with their options: To make a break for it, or to face the music. Jako looked at Mike, but saw that he was not going anywhere.

“Bugger it. Now we’re in big shit,” uttered Mike.

They walked up to the irate farmer. “Give me your guns. You’re not allowed to shoot here on my farm.”

“But, sir, we didn’t know this was your farm, I promise,” Jako explained.

“Hand them over, now!” He was getting irate, so the boys complied.

“What are your names?”

Jako waited a moment and, thinking better of it, gave his name. Mike, who looked about to speak, took the hint from Jako that he must cool it.

“And you?”

Mike gave his name.

“I’ll keep your rifles. Now, get the hell off my farm!”

Jako and Mike made their way to the fence and climbed through.

“After us going to the wrong dam, we shouldn’t go to the Forthwaites,” Jako thought aloud.

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