Story postcard – sifting through the shadows (3)

Rudd speaks cautiously, aware of the tension in Jacobus, his arms still rigid against the wall, his head dropped between his shoulders. “The vehicles closest to the gomo didn’t stand a chance. Some of those rocks are huge. I’m not sure where you parked your truck.”

“It was there. That side. Up against the fence.” Jacobus drops the words like stones to the floor. “My truck! Jeessus man!”

Rudd takes half a step towards him and then stops, as Jacobus pushes himself upright.

“I never saw your truck for sure,” Rudd says.

Jacobus turns to face him. “Maybe it won’t be mine. But that truck. You’ve no idea. I need it for everything,” he says, his voice low and bitter.

 “Sorry, sorry,” says Tonderai.  

Jacobus sucks in a deep breath and lets it out slowly. “Agh … it’s only a truck man. Hey Tonderai? It’s only a truck.”

“Yes, but …”

“A truck,” Jacobus repeats, his voice flat. He sits down heavily, shoulders slumped. “You know how long it took us to get that through customs? How many bribes we had to pay? I don’t even want to think about it.”

“I love your truck, Jacobus,” Marybelle calls. “I’ll say a prayer for it.”

“Ha! Go for it Marybelle. I need it for everything, hey. All our vegetable deliveries. No truck, no business. Only vehicle we’ve got man.”

“May still be okay,” Rudd says, as he goes back to his spot on the bench.

“I’m not so sure, Rudd,” Tim calls. “When I went outside, all I saw up that end of the fence were buried vehicles. Some of them may be okay, if we can clear them. Just have to wait until the rain stops.”

“Ja. Let’s hope it’s not as bad as it looks. I reckon the kopje slipped because of all the clearing they’ve been doing round there for planting, and firewood.”

“Like building in a bloody swamp,” says Jacobus, as the rain begins another assault on the roof. “And I don’t just mean this storm. We’re so used to taking risks, hey Rudd? Jen said she’d heard something about a cyclone, and I told her she’d gone mad. And now look. I’ve spent so long scratching the lion’s balls with a short stick. Now …”

But Jacobus never finishes. Rain slams down and cuts him off. It pounds over them, the downpour so heavy that it seems to hammer up from the floor itself. For long minutes it drowns the space to talk, then at last it patters away.

Father Norman is the first to shout into the quiet. “Any sign of the mission truck, Rudd?”

“Not that I saw. Tim?”

 “The only vehicle I saw for sure was Fred’s, and that won’t be going anywhere any time soon.”

“Maybe I can fix it,” says Bernard.

Fred’s hand shakes up into the torchlight, lifting his creaking voice with it.

“Bernard will fix it. He’ll get us going.”

“Huh!” Bernard dips his head towards his friend. “Maybe you are right, old man. Maybe you are right.”

 “Of course he is,” Marybelle calls brightly. “Just got to keep our hopes up.”

“That’s all we live off,” says Jacobus.

Copyright Georgie Knaggs & The Phraser 2023

Space for comments

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.