the stone (part two)
By Baker Street
He traveled west through the desert towards Steinkopf. The road stretched out in a straight and seemingly endless black line in front of him. Its point vanished over the distant horizon. Around him the desert lay bare and barren, dotted with rocks and desert bush.
The sun shone down fiercely from above, as the little pale blue bakkie traveled on the tar road through the desert. He had a few fishing rods strapped to the canopy, and was geared to go fishing and camping. This was his cover for the diamond smuggling excursion. He was just a man going on holiday to the west coast of Namibia, for a little fishing.
The diamond was in its pouch, stashed behind the ashtray, where there was a small hollow ideal for this purpose. It was unlikely that anyone would find it there, even if they were looking. Still, his nervous were frayed. He fought hard to keep his paranoia under control.
Before he had hid the diamond, he had taken it out and inspected it. It was truly beautiful. Even though it was still uncut, its center shone with a brilliant pinkish blue light, if you held it up to the sun. His hands had trembled when he handled it. It was beautiful beyond compare. It was undoubtedly worth a fortune, and the temptation was great within him to steal away with it and disappear. Who knows, it could be worth several million rand.
He wrestled with the temptation, and all the while the fear of being caught with it, was on the back of his mind. Eventually his common sense had gotten the better of him, and he decided to go through with the original plan. He did not want the likes of Hopkins and his associates after him.
Now he was traveling through the desert towards the border. He would have to act calm, and not suspicious, once he got there. He turned north at Steinkopf, and proceeded on the N7 highway. The highway cut a broad tarred road through the desert. He drove northwards towards the border post at Vioolsdrif.
He strained to remain calm as he traveled ever northwards.
He arrived at the border post and parked his car behind the short line of motorcars. Then he went inside the border control office, and had his passport stamped. He returned to the car, and as he approached the boom, a customs officer did a cursory inspection of his car.
When the official was satisfied he was waved on and drove through the border post. He sweated, and was very nervous and suspicious, as he drove through the boom on the opposite side. Here he was quickly waved on, and the ordeal of passing through the border post was through. He was in Namibia, and had passed through seemingly undetected. The diamond was still safely hidden in its pouch behind the ashtray. He felt it with his hand just to make sure. Yes, it was there, and everything was going according to plan.
He drove northwards on the B1 highway in Namibia, passing through all the little towns as he went. The desert was beautiful and barren. Endless sand dunes stretched out alongside the road. The country was vast and beautiful. The sands spread out endlessly on all sides. The heat in the car was overwhelming and he stopped frequently to rest, stretch his legs, and to eat and drink a bit. After he had had a bite to eat and something to drink, he would light a cigarette and look out over the awesome desert landscape.
Then he returned to the bakkie, and continued driving northwest again. It took him two days drive from the border post to Walvisbay, and he arrived on Saturday the 13th of May. He went to a caravan park and hitched his small dome tent. Then he relaxed around his camping place and waited for Monday to arrive.
At night the stars were strewn out brilliantly across the sky, as he sat around his campfire. After he had had supper, he drank a few beers as he sat beside the burning logs. Then he retired to his sleeping bag in the tent for a good night's sleep. As he snuggled up in the sleeping bag, he could feel the stone in the pouch press against his chest.
Soon, 'la senorita' would be his no more. He finally fell asleep and slumbered restlessly through the night.
James met Jonathan Forbes in the lobby of the hotel where he was staying, at twelve o' clock on Monday. James sat and waited in the lobby until the man approached him. The man was in his early thirties with short black hair and dark eyes. He was the handsome business type.
"Hello, are you James, Forbes said as he approached him.
"Yes, you must be Jonathan Forbes, said James, and the two men shook hands.
"Yes, pleased to meet you, said Forbes, "Lets go up to my room and discuss business, shall we?
James followed him to the elevator, and once they were inside Forbes asked him, "How was your trip?
"Fine. A bit dusty. And yours? asked James.
"Fine. Fine, said Forbes, and the two men fell silent as the lift went up to the fourth floor.
Once inside the hotel room, Forbes asked him, "Well, have you got it?
"Yes, he replied and produced the pouch, which he duly handed over to Forbes.
Forbes took the magnificent jewel from its pouch, and inspected it with a small jewelers lens. He whistled softly and with appreciation. James could see that the man was an expert. Even now with the final exchange, James was as nervous as ever.
He hoped he could trust Hopkins to pay him, because now the stone was out of his hands. The men concluded their transaction and shook hands. James left the hotel, and drove down to the caravan park with his little blue pick-up. He was going to enjoy a few days fishing while he was here. After all, he still had cover to keep up.
He fished all along the coast for a few days, and caught a few nice ones. He just caught enough fish for his supper, as he could take nothing back. He fished during the day, and camped under the stars at night.
He stayed for a week, fishing up and down the coast. It was wonderful to be out by the sea, fishing on the rocks, while the waves broke along the shoreline. The air was crisp and clear out in the desert, and the sea wind was refreshing on his body and face. He fished and relaxed, and in the evenings he would return to his campsite by the caravan park. He had a nice vacation, and when his time was up, he prepared to return to Port Nolloth.
He packed his bakkie, and strapped the fishing rods to the canopy. Then he started the long drive back through the desert towards South Africa.
Papenfus and JC were still hard at work on the case back at the police station in Port Nolloth. They kept a constant surveillance on mister Hopkins, but these days he hardly went out anymore. He stayed at home virtually the whole time.
Nonetheless, they kept him under surveillance. He could not make a move or they were aware of it. They even had his telephone tapped. They were onto his every move. They picked up the call from Windhoek that said, "The senorita has arrived. That was all. After that there were no more suspicious telephone calls.
Papenfus did a check, and found that James had recently entered Namibia through the Viooldrif border post. That was when he put two and two together. James had been the courier after all, and the stones had long since left the republic. By now they were safely on their way to Europe by boat or airplane. Damn, this time they had given him the slip, and had gotten away.
But there would be a next time. He would keep his surveillance on Hopkins. He knew there would be a next time, and then he would catch that old fox. Patience was the name of the game; all he had to do was sit and wait.
James drove back through the desert, the way that he came. He drove south through the mighty Namib Desert for two days, until he reached the border post again. This time he was completely relaxed, and passed through without a hitch.
He drove south along the highway, and turned west again towards Port Nolloth. The desert bushes that dotted the landscape, welcomed him home. Soon he drove into the driveway of his little house in Port Nolloth.
He contacted Freddy down at the local pub, to find out about the arrangements for his payment. Freddy said there would be a delay of a few days, as the old man was constantly being watched by the police. James fretted and worried for a few days about whether he was going to get paid or not. Perhaps he should have run off with the stone after all, he thought on a few occasions.
Eventually Freddy did come back to him with news from the old man. It was instructions for a meeting on the customary slip of paper. They were to meet tomorrow at twelve, at the place that they had first met; down in the parking lot of the beach.
James was very pleased at the news, finally he would get his money, and all his effort would have been worth it. It would be a load off of his shoulders, he smiled happily to himself.
He was in the parking lot at twelve the next day, and he did not have to wait long for the old man to pull in next to him in his white Mercedes.
"Hello James, said Hopkins as he climbed out of the car.
"Hello mister Hopkins, said James as they shook hands.
"We can't talk long, we're being watched by the police, said Hopkins as he handed him a thick envelope, "Here's your pay, and thank you for job well done. Perhaps we can help one another out again one day.
"Yes, thank you, said James as he took the money.
Then the two men shook hands once more, and mister Hopkins departed. James stood in the parking lot a while longer, savoring the pleasure of his earnings. Then he climbed in his old blue bakkie and drove off towards his home.
All the while the two men were being watched by Papenfus and JC. The policemen saw the old man pay James, but was powerless to do anything about it. They had no hard evidence. The stones were gone and the only thing to do was to keep on the case, for the next consignment.
They ruefully watched James drive out of the parking lot in his old bakkie. They would have to keep a closer eye on him next time. He was now definitely a suspected runner for the old man. Next time they would catch them both.
Back home, James relaxed again on his porch, as the sun set in brilliance over the dark blue ocean. He drank a beer as he sat and watched the sun go down. He was pleased, everything had worked out well.
He had enough money to survive a while longer, and that was all he really needed for now. He wondered if he would ever do it again. He was unsure. The money was good, but the risk was high. He would worry about that if he was need of money again, not now. Now he would savor the moment, and enjoy his success. And his money. He smiled to himself, and sat back in his chair as he relaxed a bit more.
He wondered if the cops were ever really on to him, and smiled wryly to himself, he was sure that they were. He would have to keep the money in a safe place, and not bank it. He sat back and relaxed. He was glad that it was all over. At the end of the month he would be able to pay the water and lights, and to buy food for the following month. Things had worked out well.
He sat and watched the last rays of the sun shimmering over the ocean, and then darkness fell. He went to his bedroom to watch the evening news on the television.
The desert lay peaceful and serene under the hot yellow sun. The waves broke gently on the shore alongside it. The sand stirred in the wind. White clouds were scattered across the clear blue sky.
In the desert plains the shrubs, bushes and coarse grass grew wild. The landscape was barren and strewn with rocks. It was a hot, dry place. The sun scorched the parched earth, and turned the soil to dust and sand. The wind that blew over the plains was warm and dry. There were few clouds in the sky, and there was no prospect of rain soon.
The little coastal village lay serenely between the desert and the sea. The sea blew in a cool and milding wind to the shore. The village lay amongst the splendor and beauty of nature, and all was at peace, as the waves washed unto the shore.