Story postcard – Katania is not happy (2)

Rudd’s answer triggers a surge of movement. Cups are returned to the table, and hats and cameras checked. He notices a tall man, make his way against the flow towards him. He has a bird book in a clear plastic folder around his neck, and a large, khaki floppy hat on his head. He holds out his hand.

“Hi, I’m Steve. Jen’s uncle. Over from New Zealand. A Bulawayo boy, way back.”

“Hi. Good to meet you.”

“Just a quick question before we go. On the way up here I saw something about the weather in the local paper … Manica Post is it? About a cyclone? Just wondered if you’d heard anything?”

“Ja, I read that,” says Rudd, relieved he’d seen it. “Don’t think it’s much to worry about. That kind of thing never reaches us here for some reason. Anyway, looks great right now.”

“Ja, looks great, but I’ve met a few cyclones back home. Things can change fast, and that report …”

Rudd cuts in. “Ja. For sure. We’ll keep an eye on it, and let you know.”

“That’s good. As long as you’re aware. I can’t get much Wi-Fi around here, so I’m feeling a bit cut off.”

“Apologies for that. None of us can. Best place is from the guard post back up the hill.”

“Okay, that’s what someone else said, thanks. I’ll try to get up there when we get back. Let’s hope you’re right about this weather front.”

Steve raises a hand to the brim of his floppy hat, and strides off to join the others making their way down to the meeting point on the golf course.

Rudd watches them gather below, then, as they disappear into the trees, he sets off towards the office. He feels anxious now, his morning routine blown sideways by the cyclone. It crouches in his mind and on his pulse like a beating drum, quiet most of the time, then suddenly louder, threatening, and all he can do is wait to see whether or not it will pounce.

He is halfway back to his office when he meets Katania outside reception. Crisp in linen white, she blocks his route.

“Rudd, there you are! I’ve been looking for you everywhere. That waiter said you might be out here.”

“Good morning Katania. What can I do for you?” Rudd says, regretting his decision not to shave.

 “My brother’s just texted. He can’t get here.”

 “Oh. I thought all the guests had arrived …”

“No! No!”

The stress in Katania’s voice alarms Rudd. His mind races, trying to put a name to the brother, but he can’t find one.

“Is he on the room list?”

“Of course he’s not,” she snaps. “He wasn’t going to use a room. He likes to camp. Don’t you see? This is such a mess. It’s a disaster.”


“Why? He’s taking the service. He’s the celebrant … or he’s supposed to be. Surely they told you?”

Suddenly Rudd remembers his conversation with the best man, Tim.

“Ahh. Yes. That’s who he is. Tim mentioned a Mick Lang. Coming up from Beira. He’s your brother?”

Katania nods.

Copyright Georgie Knaggs & The Phraser 2023

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