TUPOLEV TANGO UNIFORM DOWN
The wooden structure he called base was an isolated hillside retreat blending inconspicuously into the surrounding underbrush. It was the only structure on a ten-hectare piece of un-cleared land just a few kilometers from the Northern boundary of the Kruger National Park. Situated as it was, it provided a panoramic view over the shimmering lake and the weathered hills in the distance.
- Bart de Wet had discovered the place while hiking eighteen months previously. It had been abandoned and in a state of ruin, but he’d recognized its potential almost without conscious thought. His quest for solitude and his love of the wild had motivated him to seek out the owner, hopeful that the land was for sale. – Luck had been on his side.
- Inquiries through the national land and deeds office had revealed that the property belonged to the insolvent estate of a failed entrepreneur whose assets were under curatorship. He had traced the executors and made them a preposterously low cash offer, expecting to be disregarded or at best, encouraged to be considerably more persuasive if he was serious about the purchase. To his amazement, his bid had been accepted without hesitation.
- Restoring the hovel had taken a little over six months and Bart had done the work himself. He’d bought an F100 four-wheel drive pickup truck like the ones he drove during the border war in the Caprivi and brought in all the materials and appliances on the back of it. A gantry rigged up with a long steel beam, supported a sliding block and tackle to lift and position heavy objects. Once properly equipped, he had set about the mission of remodeling his acquisition with the commitment of a fanatic.
- Now, having accomplished what he had pictured in his imagination the first time he’d seen the rundown ruin, he wallowed in self-satisfaction over what had been achieved.
- The cabin was divided into two adjacent rooms. On one side was a sizeable open quarter Bart used as a living and dining area, with a compact kitchenette tucked away at the back. On the other, through an open archway, was his sleeping quarters with a rustic en-suite bathroom attached. Clear Perspex skylights in the roof, on either side of the pitch, bathed the interior with a refreshing ambiance of natural light, while expansive plate-glass windows facing the lake provided a panoramic view, adding enchantment to tranquility.
- Out front, a spacious deck, bordered by a balustrade of gum poles, was where he spent much of his leisure time. A diesel compressor generated electricity and water was pumped from the lake to a five thousand liter tank perched atop a scaffold framework alongside the dwelling.
- The manual labor together with his daily exercise routine had kept Bart’s physique hard and well defined, and he was tanned bronze from continuous exposure to the harsh African sun. He had neither shaved nor cut his hair in the months he’d been absorbed by his task, so his beard was thick and shaggy, with his sun-bleached hair hanging on his shoulders like a lion’s mane.
- It had been over a year since Bart’s return to South Africa, and not a day had gone by when he had not thought of the breathtaking beauty, Salome, the woman he’d loved and been married to for only five turbulent months. The image of her, lying, there with her petticoat obscenely hiked up and revealing her shapely leg and meticulously painted toenails spread eagle on their bed with half her head missing and her brains spattered across the bedroom walls of their Salisbury apartment haunted and tormented him unremittingly. It didn’t help that the instrument of her self destruction had been his military issue 9millimeter 15 shot Beretta, which should never have been where she had found it.
- For the most part, it was the cruel shame of that event that had given him cause to pursue the existence of solitude. But there were other issues.
- Eight years earlier, he had been made the fall guy in the elaborate military assassination, perpetrated by high-ranking officials of South-African Military intelligence, which he was secretively employed by. Discovering the extent to which a process he himself had uncovered and reported on, had been conveniently and fully warped to implicate him directly while he had no way of knowing about it, was a latent revelation that had astounded and angered him.
- Bart’s return to South Africa had been under conditions of war weariness coupled with emotional trauma and a drinking problem. He had survived on a diet of guilt and booze and had been in no condition to deal with the fallout from what had been disclosed to him by loyal allies in the Selous Scouts, who were privy to the original assassination plan.
- The day after he had learned of the pending military prosecution, he had locked up his plush apartment in the leafy northern suburbs of Johannesburg and left town. Equipping himself with his survival bag, containing the bare minimum of supplies and useful paraphernalia, he had taken the road north and driven into isolation in the unspoiled environment of the Northern Transvaal bushveld. Apart from the two weeks, it had taken him to track down the property owner and to secure the services of an attorney to handle the transfer, he had not been back to the apartment. They will pay! Every man jack of them will crap blood!
- 838 WORDS