Evelyn at Filling a Hole has a challenge called The Buddha Rocks Project.
The rules are basic. 7 days of posts inspired by 7 pictures taken by Eric who also has a blog over here Bubba’s Place.
Today’s post includes colloquialisms in Afrikaans from South Africa/Namibia. Click on the blue words to link to their meanings.
This is day 2.
The Ghosts of Industry
The heat radiating from the asphalt was enough to sear.
Herbert dragged on his cigarette, squinted eyes tearing slightly from the smoke-burn rushing down his parched throat. Nicotine coursed his blood to the point it made him nauseas, but he wouldn’t quit the cigarette until the cherry was into the filter.
“This is fucking bullshit,” he said to Pieter, his South African handler. “We’ve been waiting around for three hours in this stupid place and the sun’s the only thing that’s moved.”
Pieter was a boulder of a man. An ex-cop under the old apartheid regime, his shadow alone must have filled his adversaries’ veins with dread. His once blond hair had turned to ash and had grown out to shoulder length, while his fierce blue eyes had frozen over. It was those eyes that now scoured the abandoned industrial complex whose gates the two men sat outside.
“Ja, boet. TIA. You know what is TIA?” Pieter’s pronunciation was thickly smeared in Afrikaans.
“No,” Herbert said, disinterested.
“This Is Africa. Hahahaha,” the big man slapped Herbert on the back.
“What the fuck is that supposed to mean?” Herbert started.
“Shhhh,” Pieter put a sausage shaped finger to his sausage sized lips. “Can you hear that?”
Herbert slanted his eyes and cocked his ears. “No,” he said, wiping perspiration from his forehead.
“Shhhh. Shhhhh. Listen very, very carefully,” Pieter leant in on him.
Both men petrified.
“I can’t hear…”
Pieter smashed Herbert’s mouth so hard with his giant fist, that Herbert was unconscious before the back of his head hit the asphalt.
“Fokken doos,” Pieter cussed. “None of you ever hear your destiny approach, hey. The whole lot of you think you’re above consequences.”
He lumbered over to where Herbert lay and, satisfied the he was not going anywhere in a hurry, pulled a cell phone from a pocket with which to make a call.
“Ja. Ja. You can come collect him. Ja, he’s here,” Pieter said.
He hung up the phone and walked to his car, a matte-olive pickup truck with tarpaulin stretched over the back. When he reached the vehicle, he untied the tarpaulin and peeled it back. Underneath, was a duffel bag. In the bag, was a bottle of brandy.
Pieter cracked the bottle open then took a long drink from it. When he lowered the bottle he gazed at the windowless factory complex in the distance, its pipes, vents and chimneys breaking the blockish design of the now anonymous building he had been so familiar with as a young man. He and his boss, Wouter Basson had visited it frequently when it was still known as RRL during the years they still ruled the country.
The Americans ran it now. At first, that had pissed Pieter off. But Wouter had told him to chill out and take the cash. There were no sides in the greater war, he had said. Wouter was right. And the money was good.
Then there was poor Herbert here, a brilliant scientist, but a bit on the rogue side, which is why the anonymous factory had been so appealing. The Americans had picked up where Wouter left off. They had inherited a bona fide treasure chest of research into chemical and biological weapons development, genetic engineering, assassination techniques and warfare programs of governments around the world. Herbert excelled in the uncontrolled environment. He was considered a bit of a star amongst his peers.
Until the anthrax scares of 2001. He was freaked out that America had been targeted. He was even more freaked out that his own people knew about it and put the rap on some innocent guy named Bruce Ivins. It took more than a year, but eventually Herbert ran. He disappeared off the radar. The Americans were concerned. They made calls all around the world. One of those calls was to Pieter.
A jeep was closing the distance from the factory. Pieter was not in the mood for conversation, so slugged more brandy, then hopped into his pickup and drove off.