Rough Diamonds

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Chapter 43

Jack Retief

Jack saw her for the first time at a store outside Gaborone. She was wearing an outfit that fitted in with the rugged bush: A pair of faded khakis, equally faded socks, faded ankle-length boots, and a faded hat to keep the harmful Sun out of her eyes.

He plucked up the courage to approach her.

“I’m Jack,” he said waveringly, but softly, so that he had to repeat it louder.,

“I’m Jack,” he said and offered her his hand.

She was taken by surprise, but remained confident. “How may I help you?”

“I saw you and I’d like to meet you.”

She offered her hand, “I’m Liz, short for Elizabeth.” She seemed stiff.

An awkward silence followed. Jack filled it as best as he could. “What do you do?”

“I’m single and I run a game ranch near here. What do you do?”

Jack didn’t know how to answer. “I do a few jobs here and there.”

“What jobs?” Liz asked.

“I’ve got work at the Shell Garage down on Nelson Mandela Drive with my uncle, fixing cars, trucks.”

“I’ll see you around.”

Jack asked: “Tell me, where do you work?”

Liz hesitated. He saw that she was softening to his bravery. “I come to Gaborone every Thursday morning. You can find me at this store.”

Jack had found a modest place to stay when he moved out of his uncle’s place. He was excited about meeting this young lady.

He couldn’t wait until the following Thursday.

Kobus had run the garage from the time it opened. He had grown from running a little garage business at his home to the point where he needed premises because his business had grown so busy. He had applied for a franchise for the Shell Garage because he knew the guy who managed the tender viewing process.

Jack got the job because he had offered to work for Kobus in exchange for his accommodation and some pula, the local currency.

He had told his uncle that he was going to fetch some parts for a Volkswagen and that he would then have a cold drink at the trading store, where he had met Liz.

He waited and waited at the store for as long as he dared. There was no sign of Liz, so he gave up and returned to the garage.

The next Thursday, he had better luck.

Now we’re talking, Jack thought. He saw her enter the trading store and followed her.

“Hi, Liz.”

Liz turned when she heard his voice. “Hello, Jack. How are you?”

He noticed a softening in her voice. “I’m fine. And you?”

They were getting on better than the first time they’d met, and they made small talk.

“I would like to take you for a cold drink or something?” Jack asked.

Liz readily said: “Yes, that would be lover-ly.” She said the word “lover-ly” with an Aussie accent which Jack found quite disarming.

Things just got better as time passed. Elizabeth Connery and Jack Retief were married a year later, and Kobus and Magda attended the ceremony. Jack felt his loss of the entire Retief family on such occasions in particular.

Liz gave birth to a daughter a year after they were married.

“We must choose a name for our daughter,” Jack said at her bedside after the birth.

“You choose. I’ll decide whether it’s suitable,” Liz suggested with a laugh.

“You now know about my past. I think we should use the name of Kate-Emily.” Jack repeated: “Kate-Emily.”

“That’s a lover-ly name.” There was that Aussie twang that Jack found so endearing.

He looked at his daughter cuddled in his wife’s arms, and said: “We name you Kate-Emily Retief.”

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