Short Stories – The Begining of the Mexican Horse Thief’s Adventure.


Bilbo Baggins said something along the lines of: ‘One ought to be very careful when one steps out of one’s door, as one never knows where one may end up.’

I stepped out of the proverbial door with the intention of getting horribly drunk at the local pub, which was conveniently within walking distance. I was doing just this when someone I’d had a nodding acquaintance with ten years back in the army walked into the pub. We were both not working: me by choice because I had just sold my house and inherited a nice sum of money, Trevor because he couldn’t find work at that time. Anyway, Trevor had heard that, somewhere in Pretoria, a company was looking for men with operational experience to train troops in some African country, and they were paying very well – in Dollars! He had a contact name: Sergeant Pelsur, a company name: Executive Something, and a telephone number he was too bloody scared to act on. Well, I’m not known to be a man who sits on his hands, so after a good few drinks, off we went to my girlfriend’s house to make the call. All went well and an appointment was set up for the following day. This, by the way, was Monday. I gave Trevor some money for petrol and booze and we both tried to find our old army records. My girlfriend Charmaine came home and I told her the news. She took it quite well but her 17-year-old daughter, Samantha, was none too happy.

The next morning, after my customary breakfast of a six-pack and a few shots of vodka, Trevor, Charmaine and I set off to find “The House”. There, in a normal street, in an ordinary suburb we found it. The only indication something was not kosher was huge satellite dishes in the back yard (this was back in the days before DSTV). We went in, met the sergeant, got the pay structure and signed a minimum one-year contract. The contract was to train troops in a foreign country, with money paid into a bank account of our choice anywhere in the world, in Dollars. Full medical, transport to- and from the foreign country, as well as food and drink, would be provided. All clothing and equipment was to be issued on site and in the beginning we would have to live in tents.

Talking to Charmaine and my close buddy Mike that night I told them I believed the training thing was bullshit. For the amount of money we’d been offered, we were off to fight. I didn’t care. We’d been told to bring a pair of shorts and some sandals, and that everything else would be provided. We were to be at Lanseria airport at 3 am that Wednesday.

Now we just had to wait, so we went drinking again, hitting Froggo’s for an afternoon session. When I got home in the afternoon, Samantha was crying and saying how I was sure to be killed, how every man in her life left her: her father, her boyfriends. I should mention now that my life was getting complicated at this stage. Samantha had got into the habit of climbing into bed with me every morning after her mother had left for work, just in panties and a T-shirt! I had to go – anywhere! So far nothing too serious had happened, but it was coming. I went.

Charmaine took us to the airport; that early in the morning, Lanseria is dead quiet. We looked around and saw a couple of other chaps standing around looking confused. You can’t really waltz up to someone and ask, ‘Where is the flight for the “gonnabe” mercenaries,’ can you? Besides, although we had a good idea that it was to Angola, we weren’t suppose to know where we where going anyway. We all stood around until some reasonably well-dressed guy came and asked us what we were looking for. We met the pilots from Capricorn Systems, a civilian courier service that flew us in and out. We handed in our passports and Trevor and I made acquaintance with our first real live Selous Scout, Bruce. He was in his late forties or early fifties and rather outspoken. We eventually climbed aboard a Kingair, along with a bull terrier, which let off the most terrible farts for the next six hours. Apparently he belonged to RMS Reima at the training camp called Longa. I slept on and off, and by the time we landed didn’t know if I wanted more desperately to piss or smoke. Did both simultaneously.

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