Black Horse had very lucrative contracts with several diamond mining interests in Angola for transport and local security. It was a competitive business. Connections seemed to win the day when it came to awarding contracts.
The man responsible for recommending security companies, performing due diligence, and negotiating contract details was Paul Doumer, a fat prick of a Belgian who had no limit to his corruptions.
For years, he had taken huge bribes from Black Horse Group in order to set up the security contracts for the diamond industry. He then recommended that the contracts be given to Kraznaya Zsvesdaya and with the stroke of a pen, a multi-million dollar double cross had stripped Black Horse of the business.
It was my job to put that right with a ballistic intervention. I was being paid to shoot the bastard.
At the airport, I booked an internal flight and phoned an old friend, Andre Watson. Andre was a Black Horse Alumni. After the Legion, he and I had worked together training some people how to shoot pirates off of a cargo ship. He cashed in after a year of that and returned to his huge farm in the Northern Cape region. There, he grew his wine grapes, raised his cattle, and fathered his children.
We landed at a dusty airstrip outside Port Nolloth on the North Cape coast. When the door of the twin prop commuter opened, I grabbed my bag and stepped out into the dusty afternoon heat.
I walked across the tarmac, towards a car park beside the small building serving as a terminal.
“Hoe gann dit, Andre?”
He stepped out of his Land Cruiser and grabbed my hand with one of his bear claws. I laughed to myself when I saw the suspension lift up as he got out of his Land Cruiser. He always reminded me of a clown getting out of one of those tiny cars you see in the circus.
“Jefferson, you skinny little prick, you’re wasting away. Don’t you know any women who can cook? I barely recognized you as you walked across the tarmac! I’ve phoned Anna and she’s starting up the brai to see if we can save your life.”
I smiled and shook my head. For Andy, anything less than his 6’6” and 23 stone, looked small, including me at three inches shorter and six stone lighter.
He looked fat and happy and his smile was full on. He introduced me again to Pieter, his oldest son who, at seventeen, was a time lapse picture of him as a young man. Pieter, at 6’3” looked me level in the eye as we shook hands. They both had the look of men who worked outdoors.
We got in, Andy driving and Pieter in the back. Pieter handed me and his father each a can of beer. I was pretty sure Andy had it for breakfast. We drove into the car park of a local sports ground and Pieter got out and lifted a large sports bag out of the back.
“It was nice to see you again Mr Jefferson, I hope to see you again soon, sir. Dad, I’m staying over at Inga’s tonight. Mum knows. I’ll be back tomorrow afternoon after rugby,” he said.
Andy nodded to him and watched him enter the club house, then he put the vehicle in gear and we bumped back out onto the road. We headed away from town, and buildings became more and more spaced out.
“He seems a good lad, Andy. Another year and he’ll be as big as you.”
“Yes, I’m proud of him. He’s a decent rugby player, and the Provincial side is looking at him.”
We were quiet for a while and I took in the countryside. The tarmac road gave way to an oiled hard packed road. We slowed accordingly and now raised a dust plume behind us.
Andre looked over at me as we drove and said; “I am sorry for your loss, Jeff. Tina was a lovely woman. And little Jonathan, such a tragedy. We didn’t hear of it until after the funeral.”
“Thanks, Andy. I got the card you and Anna sent. It was kind of you. Just one of those things. Almost three years ago, now.”
“How long do you have?” Andy shouted as we bounced along.
“Three day’s prep here, and then final go code from a spotter anytime after that. When I am clear, you will get the call from Geneva confirming the the bank deposit details we spoke of. How is Anna these days?” I said.
“She’s as beautiful as ever but lost too much weight after the baby. She’s glad you have finally found time to go hunting with me, and she is looking forward to seeing you again. If you stay more than three weeks, she says she will have you married off and as happy as me.”
I couldn’t contain my laugh. He spent the next forty minutes telling me how great this part of the world was and what an idiot I was for not buying a ranch here and living out my days in God’s own kraal. We pulled into the private road to his house, and Anna was on the front porch waiting for us.
She had a baby in her arms and daughters on either side of her. Luckily for them, they had taken their mother’s looks. I stepped out of the Land Cruiser and walked slowly up to her.
“Jefferson, you look positively Biafran. Give me a kiss before you blow away in the wind. You weigh, what, ninety kilos now?”
I laughed, rubbed my stomach and said, “I’m a frail hundred and five kilos, but I know that will go up here.”
Her voice was like a favourite song not heard in a few years. She kissed me on the cheek, and rubbed her thumb over the scar on my left cheek. She smelled of soap and wood smoke and she looked great.
She introduced me to Alice and Nellie again, teenagers now. I wasn’t sure they remembered me. The baby in her arms was Jost who looked like his father even at a year old.
Dinner was brai and beer. This close to the coast, prawns were also there in absurd size and quantity. The conversation was just as large. Later, Anna caught me watching the December summer sunset and expressed her condolences. I patted her hand and nodded.
“You should find someone...or let someone find you. A man should have a wife and you have been too long alone now,” she said.
I grinned at her and said, “I haven’t exactly been alone these years, Anna.”
She bumped my hip with her hip, gave me a kind but withering look, and handed me another beer.
That night, I slept better than I had in two years. Dreamless, deep blue sleep. I woke up early but everyone was already up.
“Six Thirty?” Andre boomed, “You on bloody holiday or a hunting trip?”
He smiled at me.
We headed out after breakfast.
The range work went well. I would be using an oldie but a goodie. Andre had found a mint condition Steyr model 69, 308 caliber. He had fitted out a 6x18 Redfield scope with a bullet drop compensator and an internal range finder. Andy had outdone himself. A ten year old kid could make the shot with this rig.
I checked it out and whistled softly as I test the trigger pulls. Both the first trigger and the set trigger were stiff with no play so I wouldn’t have to rework them.
“Nice weapon, Andy. You always did know your trade.”
“What are your work ups? Estimated range? Elevations and wind? Let’s get to work,” he said.
When it came to weapons, Andre was all business.
We went through my probable set ups for the Luanda shoot. Everything. I shot fifty rounds or more from every variable in the scenario.
I was ready.