The captain's captive (2/4)

By Drum Digital
03 November 2015

The Rosettenville kid was in deep trouble...

CARELESS feet trampled my braai grid aside. The precious wors I had been tending fell in the fire. Before I could dig it out, I was stricken by the same fear as the herd. There were now other shouts, louder and harsher, and bright beams of light poking though the darkness. The cops!

I joined the stragglers. The heaving bodies ahead of me followed their leader up an alley. Behind us, the shouts and the probing lights grew stronger. Just as I was getting up to speed I saw Joseph again, this time bounding through the ragged ranks of his followers, coming back towards me. He went flying past me and great confusion reigned in his wake.

I stopped. Now there were torches ahead of us and their beams swept the alley like searchlights. With hunters ahead and hunters behind, what else could a logical man do but bolt to the side? Unlike the rest of the herd, I knew exactly where to go.

I ran along the lane beside the newly-built madrassa on Verona and found the manhole that I had come across while nosing around in that area. Someone had very obligingly removed the large metal cover so that I could clamber down some rungs built into the wall. The round concrete shell was large enough for a man to stand at the bottom.

I crouched to feel in the dim light for the large storm water drain that ran away horizontally. I knew where it led. Not more than 30 metres under the road, it popped out on the other side of Verona on a hillside that dropped steeply down to a stream. That was my route to safety.

But a logical man does not rush into anything. I was still checking for snakes and crocodiles in the drainpipe when the heavy-footed thumping of the hunters sounded above and the glow of their lights filled the manhole. My head and shoulders went into

the pipe.

Let me tell you, trying to swim with your elbows stuck to your sides and scuffing your knees while kicking yourself along with your toes, is no fun. Thirty metres may not sound much, but how often did I strain my eyes to see the pale patch of the pipe’s opening? It was just like the moon on the horizon.

I never seemed to get any closer to it. After an eternity, I grabbed the rim of the pipe with trembling hands – just as other hands reached down for me! Hands that grabbed me by the scruff of my neck and yanked me out of the pipe. A strong torch shone in my face and a voice was yelling for me to kneel with hands on head.

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