…continuing my first draft

Fletch had woken in a sweat, laying there in the heat of the morning, naked, cotton bed sheet cast aside. Unstable, was his first throught, a man can become real unstable working long days in the bush and longer nights when you have these dreams, women come to your bed, Michelle Pheiffer and Sharon Stone and the faceless ones too, with stocking thighs and you make love to Michelle and Sharon and the faceless ones. Sometimes the dreams are very good and sometimes the dreams are spoiled because you wake before you’ve gone inside, and then she never comes back that night, and in the morning you wake and you think I must get out of the bush, I must get a job in the city. What kind of life is this, I’m not a full man like this. And you think of all the exotic things and places you must visit, Hong Kong, Paris, New York, crawling with beautiful women. And then you think of actually leaving, leaving behind the only work you know.

Boonsri left the bed, clinging to her a thin blue robe, and joined Gabriel. “My heart is glad to see you, Gabriel,” she said, after a night of sweating, passionate lovemaking.

The big sod put his hands to her face, “You’re a stubborn one for being such a tiny thing, but this is not a safe place for you.”

Boonsri didn’t respond, just grabbed around his waist tightly, resting her cheek on his chest. Gabriel bowed his head, tenderly kissing her shiny hair. He felt that he loved her, secretly meeting, then hiding her, on her back, a smashing girl, and he thought she belonged with him, not working behind a bar in a white, once wealthy club, serving once wealthy men and women, banded together in their superior European style, waiting to get their land back.

He knew all too well what the ruthless gangs were capable of if they found out he was seeing a young Thai woman, half his age. She’d certainly be in danger, held hostage, perhaps even killed as a lesson to him. Why not? It had been done many times in the past, ranching families chased from their lands, white women and children held hostage, killed and mutilated, and fed to alligators.

When Gabriel left the apartment, Boonsri was hidden under a blanket and put into the jeep for the twenty-minute drive to the club. Once through the gates of the grounds, Boonsri was released from her cover. Ten minutes later she joined the team of blacks in the kitchen preparing breakfast for members, before tennis.

Gabriel entered the bar. Kelly, a fiery Irishman was drinking coffee. He came to South Africa to breed white rhino the same way he bred cattle back in County Derry. It was he who hired Fletch Christiansen and invited him to Zimbabwe to help reduce the poaching activity.

“Good morning, Chief. Can I pour you some coffee?”

“Sure, Cabhan.”

The two men were friends, but had several conflicting ideas about conservation, and protecting the more endangered species. Kelly had lost sixty adult rhino, mutilated and killed. It had become a giant pain in the arse for Gabriel, as head of the police department. Kelly had been instrumental in the getting the Zimbabwean courts to issue permits that allowed the shooting of poachers caught in the act. Gabriel was heavily against land owners handing out ‘kill poacher permits’ to mercenaries who had no background in conservation, only that of killing people. In the last year, even with this protection, poaching was again on the rise.

“Your man killed two poachers this week, Cabhan,” Gabriel said, taking the coffee handed to him.

“Legally, Gabriel. Legally killed them. Caught them in the act,” Cabhan said. “Those men killed were hired by the Chinese. Many more by South Korea, India, and Malaysia. You’ve not been able to protect us, Gabriel, with all your resources.”

There was a truth to his point.

Fletch, with a semi-hard penis, the result of thinking about beautiful women, entered the cubicle shower in his apartment, hoping for cool water. It was a hopeless idea. The water was tepid, unrefreshing, and smelled bad. He pulled on a pair of shorts, a t-shirt, picked up his camera and headed to the club for breakfast. He was carrying a Glock .35 in his belt. Already the humidity was drenching.

“Sweet Jesus,” he mumbled, “look at this fucking place, why would anyone come to Bulawayo?” It was 9:00 A.M. Sunday morning as he passed Bulawayo’s cemetery, several coffins, seemingly discarded on the surface, probably dug up by the sand poachers because the poverty is desperate, and young African men dig up graves to extract the pit sand and gravel, selling it to anyone building a home in Pumula, the poorest of the suburbs. Fletch mumbled angily to himself: ‘Of course they are going to mutilate and kill rhinos.’

The ugly truth was, a single horn can be worth $50,000 on the world market, more valuable than gold or diamonds. And for that reason, poachers risked being shot dead.

Rebecca Du Franche knew she was making a mistake, returning to Zimbabwe. She was making a mistake because she was returning to see Cabhan Kelly, the man she had married and who had exploded her life before she left him, and he came to South Africa. He was not good for her. She was not good for him. He was not good for her because for seven years she was afraid of him. Now she had found him.

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I was born in London, adopted, lived my youth on an island off the coast of Scotland. Now living between Colorado, Missouri, California. I write to be loved

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