Public Key (xLii)

I couldn’t help but review the events of the last few days. The best I could do was force myself to go through things slowly and calmly. And carefully, so I wouldn’t have to do it again.

Where to begin?

I was on the grid in Tana, withdrawing money. That was most certainly my starting gun.

That was, what, twentyfour days ago? Twentyfive? Dear God, it had been almost a month. A month of my life. And still I was free.

In all that time I hadn’t once used a credit card, hadn’t once given my name, hadn’t used a phone, hadn’t gone online. Except for giving my passport to the border guards. But I’d worry that in due course.

I was off the grid from Tana to Toliara. Of that I was pretty well convinced. Anyone trying to track down my cab driver, a self-employed Malagasy with a car from the 70s, I wished them the best of luck.

In Toliara I’d left a small footprint. I’d been there less than a day. I hadn’t gone out much and I’d only gone out at night. Maybe the bellhop could make me as the guy with the guitpiece. Then he could try explaining why I wasn’t entered in his register.

Two rickshaw-pullers could identify me as a guy with the guitar. If they remembered. If they cared. If anyone thought to ask them, in Toliara, which I doubted they would.

A few people in the bar could probably put two and two together to get me. But how many of them were still there, were ever in one place for two days straight? The bartender could name the ship I’d gone to. But that would betray a deal that he had brokered. He’d be throwing his own fat right into the fire.

The guys aboard ship could make me without too much trouble. The captain, the mate, they certainly could. But the captain and the mate were responsible for bringing me on board. They had much to lose by admitting to my smuggling. Any of the crew would end up screwing their captain if they talked. I didn’t think them likely to do that.

Besides, we’d gotten along well. I’d cleaned their toilets. I’d bet on a busted flush. Of course they’d sell me out. I wouldn’t ask them otherwise. But I felt they’d at least hold out for a good price.

It was quite possible, I thought, that a reward would be posted for information regarding my whereabouts. Or information leading to my capture, or something like that. Of all the people I’d named so far, would any of them have any way of finding out about such an offer? Perhaps – but not easily.

I’d been in South Africa around two days. I’d been looked at by a police cruiser but they hadn’t but glanced at me. I’d been in a minibus in which I’d stood out, then another in which I hadn’t. Nothing for those two days had involved buying a ticket or giving so much as a name.

Minibuses took me from Richard’s Bay all the way to Underberg. From there I’d hitched two cars to the border. I’d been passed by a few more cars, but who remembers a guy by the side of the road? Hopefully nobody. One could hope.

There was the guy in the pickup. If he talked he could put me within an inference of Lesotho. Then there were the two Germans. I’d sure done well enough by them, but what does that mean in the face of murder? If they talked, they could put me within ten miles of my current location. In retrospect I was glad they hadn’t dropped me any closer.

That was all – at least, all I’d noticed. So where did that leave me?

Optimistically, the authorities-that-be thought I was still in Tana City. Failing that they thought I was still in Madagascar. Failing that, that I was still aboard ship. Failing that, still in South Africa. Failing that, in Maseru. Failing that, they had a lot of Lesotho countryside to cover.

Pessimistically, the Aussie who ran this little establishment had already made me, and called the federales.

Who was I kidding? Optimistically I wouldn’t get caught any minute. Pessimistically I better make sure I had my toothbrush handy at all times. Everything else was just guesswork. And I was not qualified to guess in these matters.

I had vowed that I would continue my internet exile for at least a few days after arriving at my new home. I had made it almost twenty minutes. I pulled on my cleanest clothing, ran my hand through my hair, and went off to find out what I could of the world.



~ by davekov on 19 February 2011.

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