Public Key (cii)

It was all part of the plan.

As I had walked off the edge of the world, Hannah had gone down to the A14 and stuck out her thumb She made it up to Maputsoe before moonrise and she crossed into South Africa without much trouble. Apparently they gave her a hard time about her medical kit. She talked about giving free drugs to people in the highlands. After that they treated her like Mother Teresa. This happened to her at every border-crossing. I don’t think she minded.

She’d taken a minibus to Winburg, in the Free State. There she’d bought a truck off a lot. It hadn’t cost her much. Apparently her credit card had a little weight to it. More than mine, at least. Which wasn’t saying very much.

She’d registered the vehicle nice and legal. She drove it north halfway to Pretoria before hanging a left and making a lazy circle around Lesotho. She’d checked for me at the crossroads we’d decided upon then gone to a hotel in Howick. If I hadn’t shown up the next night she would have taken a room in Umzimkulu or Harding or maybe even Underberg. Never two nights in the same place.

Were we being paranoid? Yes. Any other questions?

On the one hand, we were taking every precaution we could think of. On the other hand, we weren’t doing anything specialized, anything that required training or materials or preparation or really anything more than a debit card and a driver’s license. We couldn’t have gotten away even with this, not so much as a few months before. But the heat was down since then. The airplanes were grounded, the roadblocks were lifted, the Canadian press had for the most part moved on to other things.

That would be changing soon. But that part of the plan came later.

I was warm under the tarp. Compared to my trek, everything was warm. It wasn’t long before I felt the road under the tires move from dirt to pavement. I settled back as much as I could, and tried to enjoy being smuggled across a country.

Hannah drove for about three hours. I hugged my backpack and felt my shoulder grow steadily more bruised. I was worried that we’d be pulled over, that I’d be discovered, that I’d get made. I told myself not to worry. There was no reason to. Hannah was driving a pickup with SA tags, she was in the country legally, she was getting farther and farther from my Last Known Location, she was presumably driving within the speed limit and on the correct side of the road. What, were they going to stop every car in the country just because one criminal was on the loose? Maybe in Manhattan. Not in the backwoods of Indlovu. Not on your life.

She stopped once for gas. I heard the sounds of cars and trucks and gas-pumps and the radio. After four saw the shape of her hand press down on the tarp above me. I pushed mine up to meet hers. She held her hand to mine for just a moment. Withdrew it, and got us back underway.

She’d arranged for the house from the hotel phone. It had taken her all of an hour. She took out a year lease for the equivalent of five hundred dollars a month. She just had to stop at the agent’s office to pick up the keys and fork over first and last.

It was four hundred miles away from either of the rondavels I’d called home. It was hundreds of miles from any place I’d ever been. If they could trace me to Hannah they could find it. To which I said: good fucking luck.

The world, I was coming to realize, was growing smaller every day. But there were still plenty of places for a man to hide. Especially if he had someone to hide him. And a laptop. And a pair of headphones too.

There was a bag of wheat flour under the tarp with me. Hannah had decided to distribute her shopping so it wouldn’t look like she was buying for two. My girl was wonderful. The bag of flour had a leak. By the time we arrived I looked like the Ghost of Milliners Past. The truck stopped, Hannah pulled off the tarp, started giggling and didn’t stop for quite some time.

I hate everything, I said. Then tried to move my road-jostled bones, and only found more to hate.

I got up and looked around. It was midmorning, bluesky and a warm spring day. There was green grass under my feet and green trees to every side. The house was modest, as houses go, and as my homes went it was a palace. It had a red barn. It had a white garage. It was surrounded by trees on three sides and most of the forth, with a nice long driveway winding through the thicket. The woods behind were hilly and rocky and utterly uninhabited. It wasn’t much. It was in the middle of nowhere. It would do.

It has a shower? I asked.

And a bathtub, Hannah said.

Oh yeah, it would do.

It was nothing to a rondavel for anonymity and it was nothing to Mokhotlong for privacy. When my tapes hit the world, indicating I was still in Lesotho, the four hundred miles of distance between would be worth more than any stone walls or silent hills. At least, I really hoped so.

We parked the car in the garage and closed the door. We’d unload it later, under what cover darkness gave. I took a deep breath of fresh air and smiled at the sun. Once again I was going into a house that I wouldn’t be able to leave for a very long time.

The house had no electricity, no heat, no hot water, no furniture but a futon and a claw-footed bathtub.

What do you think of home? Hannah asked.

I took her hand, and lead her towards the bed.

She pulled me towards the shower. I shrugged, and followed.

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~ by davekov on 29 March 2011.

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