Authors: Casey Christie
Finally Night responded to her.
“I tried calling his cellphone. It was off. Anyway what do you expect? He is Zulu and won’t talk about how he feels. He will do what he needs to do and the next time I see him he will act as though nothing has happened. Except for the bloodlust – I am sure he will let that show. Poor Satan, I actually feel sorry for him.” He smiled weakly.
Sergeant Night grabbed their bags and loaded them into the Lumina SS, walked back to the front door where Lisa was standing.
“Yip, just going to put the alarm on.”
“Is everything locked up girl, all the windows and doors?”
“Yes babe, I just double checked.”
Lisa activated the ADT Armed Response alarm and locked the front doors.
They walked to the car when Lisa suddenly turned to Mike.
“Aren’t you forgetting something?” She gestured to Wamba who was sitting in front of the gate with sad looking eyes, ears pinned behind his huge head.
“How could I. The bloody horse is blocking the gate.”
With that Night grinned broadly and produced a thick silver leash from his back pocket.
The four year old behemoth leapt to his feet with the energy and enthusiasm of a 12-week-old puppy, his oversized tongue flopped out of his mouth and his ears bounced in the air as he raced towards the rear car door.
“You thought I forgot about you didn’t you my silly boy, ha-ha. I have been watching him for the last 15 minutes, waiting for any sign of the leash or any indication he was coming with us.”
“You are so mean Mike, he has been sitting there staring at you all this time.”
“Yeah but look how happy the little fellow is now.”
“That’s a good point actually Lis, why don’t you get as excited when I take you out of the house?!”
Lisa punched him on the arm and hurt her hand.
Mike laughed as Wamba jumped in the back seat and made himself comfortable. Then Lisa got in the car and Mike stood outside while the gates opened. Firearm ready. The gates unlocked and it was all clear, Mike got in. He was careful to make sure the entrance closed fully behind them before pulling away.
Sergeant Night had been looking forward to the drive to the General’s chalet on the river that he had offered to them for the weekend, in the small and vibrant town of Parys, almost as much as he was looking forward to the fly fishing and braaing, more commonly known in Europe and the United States as Barbecuing, under the African sun.
First, though, he would have to make his way through the busy Johannesburg side streets and feeder roads and then onto the N1 highway where he could start to stretch his Lumina’s legs.
Once satisfactorily out of Johannesburg and on the three lane freeway Michael Night put his foot down and increased their speed to 160 kilometres per hour. He held that speed for a few minutes then slowly increased to 180 kilometres per hour. He looked across at Lisa to see if she had noticed. She was sitting with her feet resting on the cubby hole in front of her, listening to some Afrikaans pop music, which Night couldn’t stand, on her MP3 player, nodding along with the music. Michael smiled while turning up the car audio system which was playing Armin van Bureen’s “A State of Trance”. He was careful not to turn it up too much so that he could still hear the beautiful purr of the Lumina’s 6 Litre V8 engine, now passing the 200 kilometres per hour mark.
Night now gently steered the SS into the middle lane and looked around to confirm he was now the only vehicle on the empty highway and prepared to take his girl to her electronically limited top speed of 238km/h.
210km/h, 220km/h … Night was in bliss. Feeling the power of the V8 beneath him, listening to her suck in the crisp Highveld air and purr like an untamed beast. He looked in his rear view mirror and noticed that even Wamba lying across the two back seats seemed to be enjoying the speed. Ah, beautiful, he thought.
Lisa had snapped out of her boeremusiek induced trance. She took the earphones off and stared irritated at Night who pretended he didn’t hear her.
“MICHAEL, what are you doing?”
“What do you mean what am I doing, baby?”
“You must be going 160 kilometres at least. Please slow down.”
Night had learned a while ago to obscure the speedometer from Lisa’s view by placing his wallet in front of the instrument display.
“I am not going 160 babes, I promise.”
“Well you are going too fast, please slow down.”
“Babes does it even feel like we are going fast, I mean this car is built for speed, admit it. If we were in your car I would understand but..”
“But nothing Mike, please slow down, you of all people being a cop and seeing what you see should know better… “ Lisa let out a small gasp.
She had noticed the Garmin GPS on the window and had seen the speed reading exposing their true current speed to Lisa, it was 234km/h.
“Please slow down Mike you are scaring me.”
Immediately Night took his foot off of the accelerator and began to reduce speed. It was too late though, behind them they heard the noise, Whoop Whoop, the sound of a Police vehicle pulling them over.
“See, now you are in big trouble Michael Night.”
Night smiled and said “Maybe, maybe not. Those are real cops pulling us over so I wouldn’t bet on it.”
“What is that supposed to mean?”
Night didn’t answer and proceeded to slow down and pull the vehicle to the side of the highway and into the emergency lane. It was a South African Police Force Highway Patrol vehicle that was pulling them over.
Night watched the officers operate and was impressed by their movements.
The Highway Patrol Officers both swiftly got out of their vehicle, the crew remaining at the car outside and behind his passenger door with his assault rifle at the low ready. The Highway Patrol driver approached Night’s driver side while instructing all occupants to remain seated and to not make any sudden movements. His 9MM was out and resting across his chest in an angled downward ready position. The Officer always stayed in Night’s blind spot and moved slowly and with the confidence of a highly polished police operator.
“I told you Michael Night, now you are going to have to pay a huge fine or even worse go to jail, they do that now you know!” Lisa said in a hurried whisper.
Night, smiling, laughed to himself.
“What’s so funny my man?” said Sergeant Dlamini who was now standing outside Night’s driver’s window which was fully open.
Night looked at the patrol officer quickly sizing him up. He was wiry and fit about 1.75 metres tall and weighed approximately 70kgs. Night noticed an old bullet wound on the Sergeant’s pistol arm. His uniform was a faded blue and his bullet proof vest was well worn. He was an experienced officer.
“Just something my girlfriend said, sorry my brother it was nothing rude and certainly nothing about you.”
“Do you know how fast you were going?”
“Well it depends, what did you clock me at?”
Sergeant Dlamini recognised Sergeant Night’s familiarity, a cop sixth sense started to kick in. He noticed Night’s firearm tucked between his legs on the seat.
“You know I could arrest you for driving that fast. For reckless and negligent driving under the Road Traffic Act.”
Sergeant Night didn’t say anything.
“Do you have a licence for that weapon between your legs?”
“Which one?” joked Night.
Highway Patrolman Sergeant Dlamini was not impressed.
Night realised this and quickly answered.
“Yes I do officer, let me get it for you. It’s just in my wallet. Is it OK if I reach for it and show you?”
Sergeant Night reached in front of him and took his wallet from the instrument panel and opened it up. On one side of the card display was his firearms licence and on the other his South African Police Force Appointment Certificate. He handed it to Sergeant Dlamini who examined the weapons permit for some time and then handed it back to Night.
“You’re a cop. Why didn’t you say so my brother?” said a now smiling Sergeant Dlamini, holstering his weapon. He continued: “This is a beautiful car hey, wow, it’s nice and fast hey? We were hoping you were going to run so we could have chased you down.”
Sergeant Dlamini looked back at his partner and said in Zulu: “It’s fine, he’s one of us.”
His partner relaxed, got back into the Highway Patrol vehicle and made a private phone call.
Night glanced up at the Sergeant: “Chase me down, hey? Except, my brother, you wouldn’t have stood a chance. What are you guys in, the 2.2litre Opel Astra? It’s nice, we had one for a while at my station but it gets unstable and tops out at around 210km/h.”
“Ya but our one is special hey, we have had it chipped and enhanced by the guys at the State garage. Do you want to have a look?”
“Maybe next time my brother, I am looking forward to getting a Braai on and opening a couple of beers at the river.”
“Ah ok, you’re fishing for the weekend at the river hey. You must go near to the sluice gates, I always catch the biggest Yellow Fish there.”
“Only problem is he never catches anything, anywhere” joked Lisa.
Sergeant Dlamini laughed and then saw Wamba sitting on the back seat.
“Fuck me man, what the hell is that thing in the back seat, it looks like a bloody…”
“Lion… it’s a Boerboel, you‘re saying you only saw him now Sarge?”
“Well I had to keep my eye on you, you look bloody dangerous man, something about you. And now I know why. Your name is Michael Night, right, Sergeant Michael Night?”
“Yeah man, that’s my name.”
“I think I have heard of you. You work out of Norwood right with that giant they call Zulu and your third crew is like some ex Russian Special Forces guy right?
“Ah that’s cool man, very cool. Look after yourself my brother and slow down around here there are lots of Metro boys patrolling this area and even worse the traffic guys. The Metro boys might, well you know, understand now that they are working with us but those bloody fat ticket giving Traffic Cops will lock you up. It happened to one of my crew last week. They have those special courts on the side of the road now with magistrates for quick processing.”
“Thanks my brother, I’ll drive slowly now and take in the scenery out here, I just wanted to clean the system and open her up a little. Be safe my brother and well done, you guys operated nicely when you pulled me. It was impressive to watch.”
Highway Patrol Officer Sergeant Dlamini grinned broadly and walked back to his car while glancing back at Wamba in the back seat.
Before Night pulled off he could hear Sergeant Dlamini say to his partner: “They had a bloody giant dog in the back, it was massive – I thought it was a …” Sergeant Night couldn’t hear the rest of Dlamini’s words but knew what he said.
“Is that why you laughed Mike, because you knew he wouldn’t give you a ticket?”
“Part of it. I also like being pulled over by the men I shed my blood with, watching them work, having a chat.”
“So then why didn’t you just tell him from the start that you were a cop?”
“Because that would have just pissed him off and guaranteed me a ticket or jail.”
“What, when he saw you were a cop he changed immediately!”
“Yes, Lis, but that was after a process. After I respected him and did as I was instructed. And I never ever declared myself a policeman. He found that out himself by doing his job. Understand?”
“No I don’t, it would have been much easier if you had said ‘Hello my brother, I am a brother cop, here is my badge showing that I am a fully-fledged brother’.
“Are you making fun of me Miss van der Westhuizen?”
“I am making fun of all of you guys, you’re all the same. I hear it at radio Control. You guys all call each other brother, brother this and brother that. I thought you guys were supposed to be big macho cops but you’re so soppy with each other.”
“That’s because it is a brotherhood, the SAPF.” he said while looking over at Lisa. “Anyway, like I have said a thousand times you wouldn’t understand. No civvies will ever understand.”
Lisa looked at him now, poking out her tongue.
“Well it’s still illegal. He should have given you a ticket and taught you a lesson. If we were in England or America they would have arrested you or given you a fat fine! Just because you guys are cops doesn’t mean you are above the law you know.”
“Yeah well we are in Africa Lisa, not England or America. And yes you are right. Intellectually it would have been better for him to have given me a ticket or arrested me. In a perfect world that is what would have happened. And that happens in places like England because they live in a more perfect world than we do. In terms of citizens obeying the law that is. Their economy, their standard of living and education are far superior to here. So the laws that the police officers in those first world countries must enforce are becoming more and more exhaustive. When the problems become smaller the cops will have to become stricter in order to justify their existence.”
“So I am right then.”
“Yes, you may be right but This Is Africa Lis, T.I.A., and in Africa the Law often has little bearing on the lives of Africa’s inhabitants. It’s part of the reason why I still live here. We are still largely free here on the so called dark continent.”
Sergeant Night drank in the cool air coming in from his open window and relished the beautiful surroundings. While cresting a hill and looking out of the vehicle’s window shield he could see a great stretch of African highway snaking out in front of him for many kilometres into the distance. On either side of the road he saw the scenery of the Highveld in a 360 degree panorama with full dams dotting the landscape and green grass broken up by the African Acacia bushes and the iconic African Baobab trees on the horizon.
For a moment Night was happy. Content. He always felt incredibly contented when he had Lisa and Wamba with him in his vehicle on a journey somewhere and often secretly wished that the journey would never end.
Then he thought of the death of Henry and remembered the sight of his mutilated corpse hanging in the bank’s safe. And thought of all the good friends and colleagues he had lost in South Africa’s war on crime.