Rough Diamonds

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Chapter 20

Mike Retief

“Ssshh!” said Mike with a hint of a smile in his voice. It was mid-morning and he and Jako were shooting pigeons in the sprawling blue gum forest at the back of the guest house. Fleck wagged his tail in excitement and anticipation.

Jako smiled. “I see some there,” he whispered, careful not to disturb the pigeons. Mike watched as he lined up the shot, took aim and pulled the trigger.

It was a clean shot and the pigeon plummeted to the ground. All of the other birds were startled by the sudden noise. Jako struggled through the forest, inhibited by the thick foliage, and eventually gave up.

“Fleck, fetch!”

The dog had no trouble seeking and retrieving the fallen bird.

“My turn,” Mike said in a low voice and prepared his shot. However, he only winged a bird and it fell to the ground, struggling. “Shit! What an awful shot.”

He sent Fleck to get it. Gripping it firmly between his thumb and forefinger, he flicked it and the pigeon’s head parted from its body. He was left with the head in his hand. Mike bent down and picked the body up. Fleck picked up the smell of the blood and lapped it up.

The boys shot 12 pigeons in all before making their way back to the guest house.

“Mrs Reed!” Jako shouted. “Could we ask Sam to cook these birds?”

Mrs Reed appeared. “How are my boys?” In unison, they replied in the affirmative.

“Sure, I’ll go and ask him.”

Mike watched as she made her way to the kitchen, followed by Jako.

“Sawubona,” greeted Sam. “Kunjani?, how are you?”

“Lekker, we’re fine,” Mike answered.

“Look what we’ve got,” Mike declared, showing him the clutch of pigeons.

“Would you like me to cook them for you?” Sam asked.

“Yes, please,” answered Jako. “And keep one for yourself.”

A couple of hours later, they sat down with Mrs Reed to enjoy the pigeons; full of the flavour of the forest and the surroundings in which they had lived.

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