An Excerpt from Chapter Two
Esmond Myhill was one of Andy’s ‘bought’ men. I didn’t know this at the time. He was a large man, around six foot four, I’d have to say 250 pounds and looked like something out of an old black and white horror movie. He had short cropped hair on a square head that almost seemed glued to his shoulders by a wide fleshy lump of a neck. He was always dressed well and tonight would probably not be an exception, he always wore a tie. When I first met him at Sinesonics, he was trying to be pleasant and not showing his underlying agenda, or his true nature. From what I’d seen so far, he handled Andy’s offshore and European finances, but he didn’t have an accountant’s hands. There was something ‘off’ about him, something not quite ‘right’.
I was invited out to Esmond’s house in the ‘almost’ country at the edge of the western suburbs of Johannesburg very recently after I started with Sinesonics. I imagine he was in a way, Andy’s dousing rod in a banker’s suit. He separated the human pepper from the fly shit by filling in employees on ‘life in the fast lane’ working for the military. ‘It’s not just a job! It’s an adventure!’, as the line goes, right? The ones who balked excessively at the reality behind the company I can only presume ended up in the ‘G’ File.
Esmond gave me the directions and after work, in the dusk of the evening, I started making my way to his home on the west side of Joburg just north of Soweto. That night it grew dark quickly, probably because of the rain and apparently a local damn had burst which put water, more than ankle-deep, on most of the roads in his area. It wasn’t pretty and was probably an omen of things to come.
I eventually managed to make it out to his home and Esmond greeted me at the door along with his wife. A rather plain European looking woman of about 40. Esmond had all of the Witbank 92AD, base schematics for me to check over. Why these were at his house rather than the office, I’ll never quite understand.
After we finished going over the plans, we had a couple of drinks while Esmond explained some of the business to me, generally, the less ‘sticky’ bits and how I was going to be the ‘point man’ in our joint military ventures. I thought this a little odd, but there were things I didn’t know just yet, subconsciously, I probably didn’t want to know. We finished up after a couple of hours and I went to leave as it was getting late.
The rain was harder and felt like little solid pellets in the wind that was whipping around the trees, the roads looked even messier than when I had gotten there earlier. Now there were small branches and refuse traveling along with the current on the streets. But I’d be ok getting back I told him, after he offered to have me stay the night and wait out the storm and flood. I couldn’t leave Ericka at home this early on I explained.
I got in my car and left.
The simple act of leaving to make my way home changed my view on many levels. On my way out, I somehow managed to get turned around. My eyes aren’t great in the dark after so much damage caused by Uveitis. I ended up traveling a dark road, that I though was going east. It was actually going south. But there were lights ahead so I thought, ahhh, civilization, not a problem.
They were black against the dark tapestry of the night. I couldn’t see them well in the dim street lights. My headlights however, provided a slightly better view. There had to be a hundred of them, standing out there in the rain, chanting. In the middle of the group was a man, with a tire around his neck and it looked like his hands tied behind his back. From the distance I was sitting, it looked like he had been beaten, broken. He looked tired and I could only see one eye open, the other may have been swelled shut.
Sort of in front of him and a little to the tire wearing man’s left, was another man with a can, like one of those Heinz Ketchup refill cans they use in restaurants. Can man turned and looked in the direction of my car I imagine because of the increased lighting. He grinned, it was an evil looking thing. Then they all looked, it almost seemed choreographed, but they didn’t stop whatever it was they were doing or chanting. No one scattered in my headlights, they just carried on, turning their attention back to tire man. They didn’t miss a beat.
The man with the can, poured something into the tire and then yelled at the man wearing the tire. Can man put his head down for a second, just a second, and then he pulled a little box from his pants, opened it, pulled out a match, lit it and threw it into the tire. People backed away from tire man.
A hot red plume followed by a flaming donut burst up then forward and consumed my vision.
I put the car in reverse while the tire man began screaming. The man with tire was being necklaced. Some sick fuck in the ANC had conjured up this grotesque method of execution. You know, Nelson Mandella’s bunch, the ANC and the Bantu. It wouldn’t have surprised me in the least if it was Mandella’s wife, Winnie, that designed and instigated this form of murder.
I didn’t even realize it was a necklacing until the ‘man-with-can’, lit up ‘man-with-tire’ like some grotesque human shaped black candle. It was obscene.
The screaming got louder and the chanting got quieter or maybe the screaming just got a lot louder, I don’t know for sure. I got busy trying to get the fuck out of there before they turned their group consciousness on me and charged the car. They were only, maybe, a hundred feet away when I stopped, in the first place. I was expecting a Molotov Cocktail or some apply named non-bar related incendiary to be thrown at my vehicle, but they didn’t pitch one. They were engrossed in some form of sick retaliation, soaking up the agony of the now burning man.
I watched the thing that was a man, still screaming but less, drop to his knees while his face was literally melting. Trying to gasp for air and only getting tendrils of flame into his lungs. His flesh was boiling off the muscle and huge blisters were appearing and then breaking. His short hair was long gone and had vaporized in the first second or two along with his eyebrows and eyelashes. They were murdering him or extracting justice they thought, for some crime of which I was certainly, totally unaware. I was just an observer and I really didn’t want be in that position. Believe me, this was the last thing I needed to see on my way home.
The screaming waned and suddenly stopped. ‘Man-with-tire’ fell forward onto his face, the burning ‘necklace’ emptied, much of its liquid contents and the spreading gasoline made a larger pond of fire. The ‘can-man’ kicked the body to the centre of the blaze. Then they looked towards my car once more but didn’t move. Maybe it was a silent warning ‘You didn’t see this, you weren’t here, or you could be next.’
I backed the car around in the middle of the road in a three-point turn and drove away slowly, but just in case, faster than they could run. Apparently, now I was moving north. I watched for followers in the dimming light of the poor man’s execution in my rear view mirror. Thinking, ‘I never want to see anything like that again.’ It was horrific.
I eventually made it out of Soweto, putting some distance between me and ‘them’. I pulled over to the side of the road at a crossroads and took out my map, checking it, I found the route out and back to the city. I made it to the N1, went south to the N13 and went home to the east side of Joburg. I felt sick the whole way back thinking about the tire man and the way he died, but I didn’t hurl. I wondered what had he had done to deserve that kind of horrible death?
There is a difference between justice and vengeful glee, but then again, mankind is the most sadistic, murderous animal on the planet.
When I got back to my house in Dinwiddie, I pretended like everything was normal even if I was a little shaky. I blamed it on a near miss on the highway that never happened. There was no fucking way I could ever tell Ericka about this event. It would have scared her to death and she would have been screaming to get out of South Africa. Right then, not tomorrow or the next day!
I didn’t sleep that night. Every time I closed my eyes, in my mind I saw ‘tire man’s’ one eye glaring but looking weary and ‘can-man’s’ evil little grin, his teeth showing. I had to keep getting up, looking outside at how peaceful it was here and how a few miles west, it was a bloody nightmare. Standing there in my pants, not wearing a shirt, but wearing my shoulder holster with my loaded gun of course, I wondered if it would get better or worse. I hoped better, I was still an unwavering optimist...