Joe stirred first, and opened his eyes. He glanced at his Brietling. Four o clock.
His gaze then spent the next thirty seconds on two snakes exhibiting courtship behaviour at the base of the large neem tree some metres away. He was interested and caught up at the flicker of tails, the stringy intimacy and the intertwining and rolling from side to side, and, everything being so novel to him, even despite the situation he found himself, he told himself he must observe the way the one which looked very male, glided round and round before probing with the forked tongue at what was an enlarging hole under the base of his mate’s tail. He met the sight first direct from sleep, so he couldn’t imagine how it started. But it ended too suddenly, as if both of them decided to deliberately deny some invisible spectator the high point of the action. Both copperheads rattled fast and furiously deep into the mangrove, and were gone in a jiffy. It was only then that Joe became aware of a weight on his chest, accentuated by his slow up-and-down heave.
If only they were somewhere safer……
He tapped her, gently.
The next five minutes saw them on their way, retracing their steps back the way they had come. Refreshed and energized, Tanya became more livid, chattering heatedly about anything that came to mind, not even remembering their plight. Her hands were round Joe’s waist, on his shoulders, linked to his, interlocked in his arms bride style, seeming like she couldn’t have enough of his company, as they followed any lead of way that presented itself. Joe soaked up the moment, thoughts switching between enjoying her banters and questions, and picking at his brain for the shortest and most effective way of making their ambience a little more comfortable and civilized.
A quarter of an hour later, hands clasped over each other’s shoulders, and faces close enough together, Joe and Tanya made movement a delight to watch, only moving feet but locked stationary in soul and spirit, in one world. Where ever a shrub presented an obstruction, they simply changed course, never ever regarding neither the approaching dusk nor the strange and dangerous environment they found themselves. Even the fact that with every step they took forward brought them deeper and deeper into the land of the unknown was no deter, for they were bent on having both of themselves to themselves, as if tomorrow was too far for consideration. What they nibbled at each other remained mysterious, but the smiles and giggles which followed every ten seconds of close face contact gave away the truth. Even the slithery movement which made itself manifest around Tanya’s foot only became noticeable when she finally collapsed on the ground and was sliding deep into the bush at average speed.
They had walked into a calculated trap. A little piece of thin but strong rope had wound itself round her foot and the minute she stepped on it, she was hooked and pulled from deep in the bush.
‘What is happening? Honey!’
‘Help me ! Joe!’
Joe had furiously trailed her five metres or six into the dense overgrowth, and was surprised the movement abruptly stopped. He set quickly about untying the thin metal rope, and gasping with pity at the red lining it had created on her lower leg. The connection to her leg, he found, was too long to begin to trace, and he concentrated on freeing his wife, though he was obviously shaken and afraid, as danger breathed heavily around them. After getting a certified reassurance she was fit to continue, they set to go.
‘I wouldn’t go anywhere, if I were you’, a voice said from nowhere.
Joe turned to face four menacing muzzles and mean faces. The eyes of the public relations officer were cold, collected and reserved. Cocky and eagle. He knew it was all over, and nothing short of a miracle would save him today. Why did he even plan this getaway with his wife? He looked deep into his wife’s eyes. This was just the third month of their marriage. Was this how it would end? He thought about the feeble resistance he had offered to his wife’s suggestion that they had some peace and quiet away from the hustle and hassle of Ojake, just for the weekend. And then the reason they had taken all the risk, killed four of their men in a most savage manner. Through the receding rays of the sun he could tell three eyes already on the generous bosoms of his wife, and his adrenalin shot up some notches. But the little metal hole not too far from his face made sure he did not do anything rash, at least for the moment. He quickly raised arms in surrender, and knelt down. His wife followed suit.
The PRO came forward, set his gun down, and hung it over his shoulder. Joe closed his eyes.
A cracking laugh came through. This time, it was from what looked like an I-Pod. He knew the voice, but wondered where he had heard it. Then it clicked in his head. The video clipping where he was driving that yellow Ferrari and rapping in that harmless, but confident and kiddy voice. Fifty cent.
‘Come through the hood, I keep hearing niggas saying………..’
‘I am supposed to die tonight!’ four of them chorused in unison, savouring the message and its relevance to the situation on ground.
‘Niggas them be talking with the heat and them be talking with them like the shit okay….’
‘Somebody is gonna die tonight!’ it was bassy and collective this time, and they inched closer around them.
The lead vocalist took over, and flawlessly lip-synced the artist till he got to the part which said, ‘Life is but a dream you know, row, row your boat, your blood forms a stream, and after you get hit,’’ and Joe received a generous slash on the back with a bayonet. His white tee shirt turned an obvious colour immediately, and his wife’s scream accompanied the small stream of blood that followed.
Fifty nodded a bobbed and jagged head, and a cloth materialized immediately. His deputy made to tourniquet it. Joe saw his chance.