‘I’ve got a cabin on the game reserve – you can borrow it if you like.’
That’s Suzy speaking. She’s in Swaziland with the US Peace Corps and has the most amazing hair – long, naturally blonde, it falls nearly to her bottom, even when it’s plaited. Wow.
Her cabin’s on a reserve in the Heavenly Valley, not far – excited squeal – from the archaeologists’ Centre. A hop, skip and jump from weekending Tex. OK, so the ‘jump’ is over a very large fence – but he’s young, he’s fit.
I nearly bite Suzy’s hand off.
So I leave my natty blue caravan – and its sadly-lacking lock. Nice people give me a lift with odds and ends to eat and drink, plus paper and pens (I’m writing a piece for the Swazi Observer).
But as the day tails away I begin to worry. This place is a game reserve. I have no car. It’s a pretty fair walk to the gate. From the windows I spy not only the beautiful shards of the mountains fading to grey in the twilight, but also the warthogs.
Now, you’ve probably not read the Thorn Birds (the TV series was big that year) but in said book a wild boar gores a chap to death. Suddenly those warthogs cease to be cute trotting piggies with tusks, they’re prison guards.
As evening falls I’m happier, settling into my newfound independence – and the cabin. Everything’s in miniature, including a neat verandah framed by a full length sliding window (that locks).
It’s dark by the time a torch-bearing Tex comes bounding down the hill and leaps the fence – well, climbs it. He can’t stay, he says. I wonder… Did he get one of those airmail letters today, the ones from ‘Miss A Jones’? I squash the thought like a nasty fly.
Tex brings an unwelcome message. Tagalong man plans to pop by later – after dinner – to ‘discuss things’. Great.
We drink a glass of wine but all too soon it’s time for Tex and his torch to leave. I mope around, feed myself a small can of beans and wait.
I fall asleep, waiting.
I wake to the sound of knocking and drag my reluctant body over to the door. I’m about to open it when some wonderful instinct stops me. I realise he hasn’t said anything.
‘Tagalong, is that you?’
Footsteps. I hear footsteps.
I switch off the light and race into the sitting room – I know I left the window ajar. I shove it to with a crash and pray I haven’t broken it. Frantic now I struggle to find the lock but luck is with me and I shoot it home. I shrink into the corner and pray.
I can’t spend all night standing here. Still terrified I make my way to the kitchen. I root out the Valium (stolen from my mum – she won’t miss them), pour a glass of wine and swallow a little yellow pill.
I sit on the edge of the bed, kitchen knife in hand, listening with all my might. Eventually I stretch out, praying it won’t be my last act on this earth.
I wake up next morning. The mountains, still shard like, have a wreath of mist around them. But it’s not for me. Dull, but true.
Sorry for the anticlimax – but I hope you’re glad I’m still alive and unmolested.
Next time: I decide to cook my way to a man’s heart but still have no car so …