Public Key (xc)

We slept late, and woke in each other’s arms. We kissed, and again, and got moving.

There was a body on the ground outside, and blood everywhere. It was cold and we were so high that there were no flies, hardly any smell. We considered what to do with the body. The ground was too hard to dig a grave. Eventually we left it for the birds. I didn’t feel too bad about it.

We stayed away from it, from the whole area, anything that might have blood on it. We took turns standing watch while the other went to relieve themselves. Then Hannah went over to him, plastic bags around her sandaled feet and latex gloves on her hands. She searched him carefully, standing back and shielding her face to roll him over. She found his wallet, his identification, his car keys, and a pistol. He was from Zimbabwe, or that’s what his papers said. We kept five thousand rand and then tucked the

She then pulled out one of those white plastic thermometers and stuck it in his mouth. She waited a quarter of an hour before taking it out. She held it up to the sun and examined it, then tossed away.

She came away from him, not really watching her step. She stripped off the bags from her feet and the gloves from her hands and let them fall to the ground.

Negative, she said.

What?

He tested negative for HIV. He probably doesn’t have it. If he does he picked it up in the last month or two.

Thank God for that.

She shook her head. I’ll feel better when the window period ends.

I wasn’t listening. My brain did the hokey-pokey and turned itself about.

You gave me an HIV test, I said.

Yes.

A few days ago.

Yes.

So you knew-

-that I was going to sleep with you.

I stared at her for a while.

I’m cold, she said.

I shook my head, and went to.

I found my knife where I had flung it to the ground. I stared at it there for a very long time. At length I picked it up, stuck it repeatedly in the earth to clean it and then rubbed it with gauze soaked in rubbing alcohol. I had no choice but to keep it. I knew I might have need of it again.

Hannah took his pistol and flung it into the river. We put on the last of our clothing, struck camp, and started walking.

It had taken us four days to get there. It took us four days to return. We stayed high on the mountains. We slept by the edge of the river, far from anything and anyone. If not for the fact that we were hiking ten hours a day I doubt either of us would have slept. As it was we had no trouble, wrapped in each other’s arms.

It was a clear day when we came within sight of the A1. We got down on a high ridge and I used Hannah’s binoculars. It looked like there was a roadblock at the bridge just south of Sekong, the bridge I’d crossed so many times before. I passed them to Hannah, and she confirmed it. I was plotting a route for us when I heard the distant drone of a propeller. We decided to wait until dark before walking any further.

We climed down a rocky slope and sat at the face of a cliff, where a little creek ran down to a river far below. We hid in the shadow, drank cold stream water mixed with sugar and disinfectant. We sat next to each other. I put my arm around her. Not much longer and we were tearing other our clothes off and fighting over who got to be on top.

I let her win. Mostly.

Then we slept, and when we woke it was twilight. We used the last of our propane to make mountain tea, twenty-five immersions before the fire flickered and died. That gave us the energy for… well, when we were finished, it was halfway through the night.

We followed the farmland up and down the mountainside. We stumbled through crops in the darkness, using my hand-crank flashlight when absolutely necessary. We all but slid down a steep hill and ended up near the main road, just up from Ha Koataka. We crossed without a problem, then made our way over hill and down through canyons until we were back home.

We were filthy, tired, hungry, sore, sweaty, scared, and in love.

The night was quiet. The area was deserted. The camp looked empty. About as I expected, with the winter approaching.

We went to Oakley’s door, and I knocked my knock. He opened the door, took one look at us, and shook his head.

Well? he asked.

We’re in love, I said.

Yeah, I can fucking see that. What else?

Well, we killed a man.

 

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~ by davekov on 15 March 2011.

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