The Colonial boy

The Colonial Boy - Rhodesia






    The soldier crouched by the door of the Chopper, swinging the m.g. in an arc over the thick thorn-scrub below.  The other three men in his stick were tensed to jump.

    His adrenalin was pumping. Too many contacts. Too much fighting.  Too much.   He was exhausted yet felt on a high.  Nothing was real, but this.  The call.

    The pilot shouted “ Five minutes to contact”.  He stared out at the Bush.  His Bush.  The Bush he knew so well from boyhood.  But now so unfriendly.  Shite !  Anywhere there could be a machine gun pointed right at him.  Fuck.  Concentrate!

    He caught himself.  His thoughts had drifted.  He had heard snippets of conversation.

    “Go for it !” said Gideon.

    “I do love you”, said Sue.

    Sudden memories wandered in and out of his consciousness;

   The way, back home, the hot humid muggy heat could be wiped aside by a sudden thunder-storm, the air suddenly wiped clean, fresh and sweet, the smell of damp grass……………… the feel of home, the memories flickering in and out of his mind like still pictures………… 

    The chopper swooped.  The carpet of green became full of foci. Individual trees.  Individual snares, individual killers.  He stared intently, looking for sign.  A clearing loomed up.  The chopper hovered. 

    His Mother asking his Father to say Grace before family meals in the old farmhouse out in the Bush.

    The old mock-prayer,  begging yet fatalistic at the same time, of Royal Naval sailors awaiting an enemy ship’s broadside;
“ Lord, for what we are about to receive, make us truly Thankful……….”
  “Go, Go, GO !”


Chapter One.  The Boy.


The Boy sprawled over his bed.  It was awfully hot. The tented folds of the mosquito netting sagged down towards him.  Through his bedroom window, half-obscured by the frangipani leaves, he could see the full moon blotting out the stars.  Sleep was not on tonight.  Anyway, it was The Holidays.  No need to do anything in particular first thing.  Father would not be back for days yet.  Mother only expected to see the Boy at brekker.  No need to worry.  No need to conjure up those images that helped sleep.

         “Jude”, he whispered.

Judy pricked up her ears, wagged her tail.  She slept on the end of his bed, in her own little nest of rumpled sheet. The Boy’s  half-hearted attempts to sleep had told her that soon they would be going out prowling the night together. He reached down his hand and she silently licked it with a softly rasping tongue. 

          “Yebo”, he softly said. She silently jumped down and went over to the water bowl in her corner of the room for a drink.  Slithering out of bed , slipping his worn leather veldtskoene onto his feet, and pulling on an old pair of khaki shorts took only a moment. Of course his old clasp-knife was always there, long and thin, worn by sharpening and use, looped on rope around his waist and tied like a gunfighter’s pistol