Tag Archives: Matabeleland

Promise…

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I wonder what the Statute of Limitations is on a promise?

Lets hope its only a year, because a year ago, I made a promise not to split, on pain of death!

Almost exactly year ago, we were called to a mine to find water…they had an English consultant tell them that the water from the (tiny) existing dam would be adequate! The moment they commissioned the new plant, management realised this evaluation was not even close to accurate.

They wanted to be panicking but they couldn’t, because they had all their investors and future buyers visiting! The place was packed with them, the first day we arrived, so we sort of sneaked in, spoke to the manager and the major shareholder and went about our business.

The orebody was mined until the mid 70’s when it was bombed during the war. The buildings were later used by a safari operator who held the hunting concession for the National Parks land. They built a “lapa” or large oval thatched building, (pictured below) to entertain their clients and when the property reverted to the mine, the new management used it to eat, and hold meetings; entertain investors!

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With a kitchen at one end and a game viewing platform on the other, the lapa faces the setting sun, across the vlei. To one side is a sunken fire pit with seats built around it. The hunting season, here in Zimbabwe, spans the winter months, and its cold! Sitting under the wide African skies around a roaring fire, singing along to a guitar, is a favourite with hunters.

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Right next to the kitchen are two ablution units, only one of which has a lock. With a thin common wall, they are not sound-proofed, each unit consisting of a loo separated from the shower by a low wall, (which is stupid really, because the water bounces off the wall and wets the loo seat, the loo rolls, your clothes etc…)

It’s pretty rudimentary, the pipes exposed and a hole in the wall for the water to drain out off. BUT for us, it was luxury. Most places we go, there is absolutely NO water, and certainly not a shower!

When I was shown the shower (the men’s ablutions, near the camping area are rather open plan!) I made a mental note to check for snakes. The number of times I have seen snakes in showers with a drain like that! Slittering along the outside wall, snakes head for a ‘dark hole,’ conveniently located near the ground, only to find themselves trapped inside a slippery cubicle.

The water is heated with this:

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It’s called a “Donkey boiler,” in most parts of the world, but here in Zimbabwe, its called a “Rhodesian Boiler.” As you can see, its only a few metres tall, so the pressure isn’t enough for more than one person to shower at a time.

The day we arrived, the lapa was packed with people and it was pretty difficult to catch everyone’s name and occupation. I didn’t like to ask a question such as “Are you an investor in this mine?” only to have the reply, “No I’m a metallurgist…!”

But by the third day, most of the investors had left and the remainder were mostly checking on the plant, fixing glitches, or like us, catching up on things that should have been done long ago.

Coming in from the bush, dirty and sweaty, I went into the unit with the door-lock (I’d been told repeatedly by the camp manager that although these showers were not for general use, some people still went into them, too lazy to walk to the ablution block) and began showering.

When I heard someone go into the unit next to mine, I immediately rinsed off. I’ve been left too many times with soap suds all over me when someone turns on a second shower, reducing the flow to a dribble.

I dried off and about to get dressed, heard a distressed squeak from next door followed by a very quiet, wavering howl, “help…please no…” Followed by something else in a language I didn’t recognise.

The guy was clearly terrified, he wasn’t making up that noise, I knew.

Convinced that a snake had slithered through the drain, I wrapped the towel around my boobs and dashed off to the next door unit. I opened the door to find a man crouched on the partitioning wall, pale and shaking – pointing into the shower. I carefully peered around the edge of the half wall, (anticipating a poisonous jet from a spitting cobra) but…no snake. Nothing at all in the shower cubicle.

Something had turned this guy into a gibbering wreck, but I couldn’t see what.

“What is it?” I asked.

He didn’t reply, only pointed at the opposite wall.

I couldn’t see anything until a water droplet landed and a teenie tiny spider, smaller than a daddy long legs, dashed over to it, hoping it was prey.

“This?” I asked the guy. He nodded and shuddered. He pointed to several more I had not noticed, one of them on the loo side of the unit!

I picked the poor thing up (the spider, not the guy) and pushed it out through the drain hole. I chased the one on the loo side up the wall and out of the room. I handed the chap his towel and helped him off the wall.

And through all of this, I didn’t laugh once, I swear.

A little uncomfortable with discussing creepy crawlies and the dangers of snakes in showers, while dressed only in a towel, I scuttled next door intending to dress and make my way back to our tent.

When I opened the door, I found the guy standing outside, already fully dressed and looking more human! With his clothes on, I took a longer look at him. Mid forties I guessed, slim, wiry build, about six foot, dark hair just going grey; big nose.

“I’m terrified of spiders,” he said and I nodded. Duh!

“Actually all creepy crawlies. I can’t stand this place…” he shuddered. “It’s full of them, and then last night the lions…” Again I nodded. The lions had come right into the camp and spent most of the night roaring and growling right outside our tent. A man who was scared of a spider must have nearly died of fright at that sound!

“I thought it was a snake…” I began, but stopped before telling him I presumed it had slithered in through the drain hole. It was obvious that it hadn’t occurred to him that we get snakes too, as well as the creepy crawlies he abhorred.

He thanked me, over and over, begging me not to tell anyone, all the while speaking in a low voice as if he were scared someone would over-hear.

He had me crowded against the door and just when I thought I’d never get away, the camp manager interrupted us, concerned that my shower had been cut short!

“He is a foreigner,” he said, after he had shoo’d the guy away.

“He doesn’t know that two people can’t shower with this kind of boiler. And anyway, he is supposed to  be showering in the camp ablutions there,” he said, pointing to a newly built block, visible behind the tents.

“I don’t recognise his accent,” I said.

“Oh, he’s Israeli. A minerals buyer,” he added. “Ex special forces. Extra tough guy.”

“He is?”

“Yup, all sorts of martial arts belts; can kill you with his bare hands, type guy. He goes all over the world buying, diamonds, gold, platinum…anything. You gotta be tough and able to protect yourself, be in dangerous places,” he added authoritatively. “And the Israeli Army is no walk in the park!”

Once again, I swear, I didn’t laugh!

I took my supper to the sunken fire pit and was immediately followed by this Israeli guy. He sat right next to me staring soulfully at me while I ate.

I tried to make conversation; change the subject away from spiders and lions. When that didnt work, I tried to talk to someone else, but he butted in, glaring and I guess since he had a reputation for being a scary type, the other guy backed off leaving me with Mr. Special Forces Man again!

I tried to make him laugh, to no avail! I could not get him to believe that I wouldn’t tell everyone I’d found him cowering in the shower! I couldn’t get him to change the subject either, away from creepy crawlies, or his HE man image. He told me over and over that he had spent years in the army, had killed people, infiltrated the enemy…blah blah blah

Clearly his enemy didn’t know, that all they need do, is throw a handful of spiders at their attacker and he would end up a jelly!

Staring deep into my eyes, he made me solemnly promise never to say anything to anyone about his fear of spiders. He insisted it would forever tarnish his reputation and he would lose the edge he had as a buyer of precious commodities! I got the feeling, that if I did break my promise, I’d be tracked down and made to pay!

Eventually I gave up trying to talk sense into him and went to bed but for a whole year, this story has been burning a hole in my brain.

I’m sure by now, Mr Special Forces Tough Guy has forgotten about his trip to darkest Africa, to the mine full of creepy crawlies, snakes and lions and women who gently persuade spiders to vacate the shower.

Well here’s hoping…!

Last Post…

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Last Post…

Content warning: If you do not like cats, or if soppy stories give you shingles – avoid this one…

I sneak through the long grass, tummy to the ground moving slowly, slowly, just like a cat. In the very early morning while its still dark, small mice come out, a few insects hop about avoiding early birds and I stalk them. Practicing being a cat.
I’m startled by a noise, I jump, dash away, a squeal of brakes, a blinding light, a flash of pain. I roll over, run some more. I catch my breath near our gate. I’m a little disorientated. Is this our gate?
I have one thought in my mind: I need to get home. I need to get to mum. And not my cat mum, mind you…no, she died at the end of my first life.
Only one of my eyes had opened when a snake slithered into our little cozy nest. A Mozambican Spitting Cobra mum has since told many people. Mrs Raven, my cat mum stood her ground to protect us and the cobra spat, a long spray of burny poison. I happened to be behind Mrs Raven and I was obviously blinking because I didn’t get any on me. My two brothers didn’t fare as well, I’m afraid. The snake struck at Mrs Raven although she puffed herself up and tried to look twice her size.
The end of my second life was when my mum arrived. I know I have laughed at the silly things she says, but now, catching my breath in the flowerbed outside the gate, I long for that “Oh man…look at this poor little thing…”

Twinks
It had been nearly a week since the snake incident, I couldn’t swallow, I was only dimly aware of my surroundings when mum picked me up. I stank of the fish people had tried to feed me and my head plopped over her hand. She didn’t mess about with unpacking the car, or making coffee (which I later discovered is a prerequisite to our continued existence!) She took a dropper and plopped one exquisite drop of milk into my mouth. I can’t describe the feeling – it was oh…liqueur chocolate over coffee, or a quadruple malt whiskey to the drying out soak, or…perhaps water to a man in the desert.
Anyway, I revived pretty quickly and began to hear some of the “Frankie-isms” I so often laughed at in the future.
“Oh man…” said Frankie. “You pong…” and “Yisslike, this little guy is lucky to be alive…”
Although a cat tongue is nothing like a toothbrush, I got “washed” as often as mum thought I needed it, she taught me to lap by stuffing my nose into the milk bowl. She also taught me other more embarrassing things in the sand box.
And then…she crushed up a cat nibble…called WHISKERS – and to coin mum’s phrase “Oh Man…” Cat heaven. It was the beginning of my addiction. It was the ‘gateway.’ I HAD to have Whiskers and I had to have only the variety that comes in the blue bag. I remember once, not long ago, none of the shops in Bulawayo stocked it – I nearly went out of my tiny mind.
Mum called me Twinkle-toes because of my cute white feet and she had many endearing versions…Tweeknee, Twinks or Twee. Some times Eee. Or Eee-ow even Eee-knee. I’ll leave working them out to you…

Twinks
And everywhere that Frankie went, I was sure to go…the first time I went in the car, I thought life number nine had arrived prematurely. Although I was held in the cupped hands of Frank, it didn’t help. I felt quite queezie.
Like all humans, I developed a fascination with water. And it’s everywhere…we humans drink it…

Twinks

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we bath in it, we watch our fish swim slowly round and round the pond in it and we umm deposit in it and here is the end of life number three…
I jumped onto the loo seat to see if I too could use this instead of the smelly sand, slipped on the smooth plastic and plop…

 

Now…
All mum’s have an instinctive knowledge of where their babies are, and mine was no different. Thud thud thud, she runs into the bathroom…
“Oh man..Twee…you narhna. Come on here, silly billy. Whatshathinkyadoing, man?” On and on she soothed while rubbing me in a towel. She laughed at how much like a drowned rat I looked and then blew a hair dryer at me.
She went off and bought cat-litter crystals. “Now these have deodorant, Eee-ow,” she said. So you won’t mind “going” in them OK? And she was right…but that didn’t stop my fascination with water. I too wanted to bath and I hated the way she wouldn’t let me shower, and I hate her loud laugh when I shake my head from the spots landing on me when she opens the shower door…
I need to give you a little background here – we live in two places. In Bulawayo in a house in Suburbs and although I often go with mum places, I knew how to get back to this house, cos here I have roamed since I could jump out of the bed room window.

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The other place is a house far, far away over a very bumpy road. In order not to repeat the incident with the snake, I remained inside Frankie’s bedroom. I have no need to be anywhere else – I have food, company, water, bed…loo…

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although when mum is about with her camera, I have been known to venture out…

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It was in town I met with life number five… or was it six?. I was walking along the top of the neighbors wall, and NO I was NOT teasing the dog…how was I to know that some clot had put a drum near the roof. How could I know the dog was a staffie cross baboon? Suddenly I was met with huge snapping white teeth drawn back in a most unattractive manner. Nothing like Nandi and her cute pink tongue and “lickie lickie” as mum says…I knew standing my ground and puffing myself up was not going to work, just as it didn’t work for Mrs Raven. I was forced to jump down an ignominious eight feet leaving the slavering beast, both paws over the wall for Nandi to reprimand. I heard her tell him that he had better watch his step, that his territory didn’t even end on the wall, only half the wall, that if he even thought of jumping down she would make mince meat of him. She went on, worse than Frankie, telling him off. Of course Nandi is old and her teeth only half size (I should know) and he is a very young staffie cross. But he hesitated long enough for me to jump into the bedroom window, find Frank’s head and knead… guaranteed to force him out of bed and give me some Whiskers…

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You know there is nothing better than the life of a human…I have a wonderful bed…so comfy and I’m not often disturbed, and if I am…I can give a hint, just as easily as the next guy…

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Like any modern human, I blog. It began with a simple post by another cat living in the UK. “Silly balinkie…” likes to live in a car park – when Frankie read that one out to me, I laughed. Why did he live in a carpark – its cold and wet. (I’m afraid, I can’t read yet…Ive tried, and I’m sure many of you have seen some of my typing efforts: *+-6///fhfj…) so Frankie writes my posts. And I’m quite famous.

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The end of my next life was boring and although pretty frightening involved the car and me sleeping on the wheel. I’d have been dead meat if it weren’t for Frankie and her incessant talking…she turned on the car, put it into gear, rolled ever so slightly, realised she had forgotten something, jacked up the handbrake…it gave me enough time to “bullet” off that wheel and to the safety of “Burronks” or this guy…who insists I’m a cat even when faced with overwhelming evidence to the contrary…He loves me, cleans my coat and is always going on and on about how I must not go out of the yard…

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Another time, in the car, I went to Frankie’s feet for the cold rush of the air-conditioner down there, and she put her foot on the clutch!!!! It’s attached to a long bar, kinda like a French Guillotine…Eeeuw, I only just got my head out from under that thing in time…
This narrative would not be complete if I didn’t describe, or at least post some pics of another milestone. I got “fixed” at the SPCA and it was terrifying, from start to finish. The smells and the indignity of being locked in a cage are indescribable, but as I wrote on my blog…”It had to be done..” I have no wish to ruin my wonderful figure, pictured below…

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It is our gate. I creep in, slink to the woodpile I use for day time suntanning, curl up trying to ignore the pain. I wait for that “Twee. Where are you Eee… Come on Knee knee”
I can’t move. I put my head down again. I’ll try to move “just now.”
Noises. The world is waking up…mum. Her hand stroking me, picking me up.
“Oh Twee. What is this?” She touches the wound on my side.
“She is not purring, Frank,” says mum. “I’m not happy about this. This is a funny wound on her side…I’m taking her to the vet…”

The car…those horrible antiseptic smells I remember, but mum is here…she is talking to the vet..he tells her he will have a look, that he has it all under control. She faffs about the cage, explains that I don’t like it in the cage with the smells of hospital all around, and dogs barking. He shoo’s her out, slips the needle in….ah, relief…this is better than Whiskers.

The world goes all soft and wavy around the edges…I floated away, far away to cloud number nine…

Frankie – there are a stack of happy animals here with your surname you know – I reconnected with Tara, (who until last week lived on the farm.) Also a horrid, pretentious cat called Scar and a beautiful grey horse. But they all need to get in line, cos I’m still tops…

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I’m glad mum has moved on…

The new dog is Rufus…

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And the kittens are Rianna and Pink…

And mum – tell the world I can no longer be found here…I am at double u double u double u dot gone-to-cat-heaven dot com

 

Please have a look at Frankie’s books. I sat right near her most of the time when she wrote Silk Threads and it’s good…

Click here, to download the Amazon version of Silk Threads

Click here to download A Pale

A Pale

Please post comments on the books here on her blog, or at Amazon.

You can email her at:

forfrankiekay@gmail.com

She gets such a kick out of fan mail you have no idea so please don’t hesitate to contact her.

Silk Threads is available on Smashwords…if you are into BDSM and more explicit scenes, please download a copy of Silk Threads  here:

Silk Threads

And a copy of Jack and Jill here

Jack and Jill a short story

Please leave a comment on Smashwords

Pick on someone your own size…

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The soil is a grey colour in Kezi, bleached hard by the hot sun. Occasional clumps of grass push up between large grains of sand. Small holes litter an open patch. Animal ambushes.
A Matabele ant, traveling fast through the bush as if on a trajectory, marches along. Matabele ants are huge. They have hard shiny skins, and giant pincers at the front. They are a glossy black. They sting, but only if you annoy them, or stand on them. At some times of the year, they group together and march along in black rivers, thousands of them. Through the bush, over roads. If a car drives over them, they let off a distinctive smell, which unless it has been experienced cannot be described. They sometimes let off that smell even when they are marching through the bush, undisturbed.
At other times of the year, they are solitary, as today. Picking its way along, it climbs over the occasional clump of grass, or heads for the few open patches in between, never deviating from its predetermined route.
A spider, alerted by minuscule vibrations on the surface of the soil rushes out of a little hole in the middle of the open patch. It dashes over to the ant, appears to hug the shiny back end. Falls off. Retreats. The spider’s tiny front pincers cannot penetrate the shiny armour and the ant continues without even a hitch in its step. Not with the smallest deviation of its course does it indicate it has noticed anything at all, untoward.
Utterly outclassed, the spider retires to its hole, to await something more in its league. Something softer, its poison shafts can impale.

Spider

 

 

~oo~00~oo~

Please have a look at my books…

 

Click here, to download A Silken Thread

A Silken Thread

Click here to download A Pale

A Pale

Please post comments on the books here on my blog, or at Amazon.

You can email me at:

forfrankiekay@gmail.com

I love fan mail and discussing my books via email, so please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Silk Threads is available on Smashwords…if you are into BDSM and more explicit scenes, please download a copy of Silk Threads  here:

Silk Threads

And a copy of Jack and Jill here

Jack and Jill a short story

Please leave a comment on Smashwords

 

off a ranch in Matabeleland…

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They took the boy off the farm, from under the endless African skies and sent him to Europe, to fight for the land his father had left, more than twenty years before. They swapped the dry dusty vastness for the trenches, the mud, stench. Bombs and gas. The boy watched in horror as friends were blown to smithereens, or died screaming, hopelessly pushing entrails into the tattered skin that in the morning had been a young man’s muscular stomach. Read the rest of this entry

Charity…

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Charity…

This, ladies and gents, is a story of human kindness, of romance and tragedy. It’s a story of love in a fictional place somewhere in post independent Zimbabwe. Let’s say it all happened in a village called Providence…a little place, fifty or so kilometers from Bulawayo. Read the rest of this entry

Leopards…

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RABSON Dube worked at the wildlife orphanage. He fed the animals, cleaned the cages and helped out around the place. A simple soul, he liked his job. He drank too much, but he swore this helped with his migraines.

Tall, with rounded, barrel chest and powerful arms, the task of carrying meat to the lions and bags of food to the elephant were easy for him. The smell of rotting meat and dung from the animal cages permeated his being, but Rabson didn’t appear to notice.

At night, in a dark alley, this spectre would be scary. His appearance was alarming, mostly on account of his bright red eyes. Inside, Rabson was a gentle soul with cataracts. Son of a scout and brought up on a private game ranch, he was good with animals, understood them, liked to talk to them. In his workman clothes, old overalls, usually open to the waist at the front, and a cheap pair of plastic gumboots he blended into the background, invisible to most visitors to the orphanage. Read the rest of this entry

Best keep it short…

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Chipangali, founded by Viv Wilson is a wildlife orphanage, just outside Bulawayo. I first saw Mr Wilson on TV when I was about seven or eight. I can remember sitting, open-mouthed watching him picking up snakes, explaining all about them in his squeaky voice.

“Well, Ken,” he would say while holding the slithering serpent in his bare hands, showing its amazing fangs.  “A bite from the Gaboon Viper…”

Until then, what I knew about snakes, was that they bite. All of them. All of them were poisonous and all should die. Immediately. Accompanied by a lot of yelling and screaming “Tshiya! Tshiya!” The lifeless body and squashed head should not be touched. It should be held with a foshola or stick on its way to the fire, cos it could still poison you. Read the rest of this entry