hand reach for the shotgun he kept clamped on the inside door panel. Bernard’s hand remained on the shotgun, as if ready to pull it free, until the animal turned its attention back to the other hyenas who were trying to steal the meat from his mouth. “Yeah, that one, he’s a hungry one,” Kikanae said. “Do you know how Maasai rid themselves of hyenas?” Bernard asked the group. “They shoot one with a barbedtipped arrow, not to kill but to lame, lame enough to make it bleed and take off running and yelping, with enough blood trailing behind for his pals to get a whiff. What happens next is comical. A frenzied chase follows, his blood-thirsty pals eager to sink their teeth into what now, for them, is only a wounded piece of meat… an easy kill. “Once I shot an antelope and a pack of hyenas came out of the bush for it. Even though I stood there with a rifle on them, they were determined to take it from me. They were not afraid, even after I fired a warning shot. And it’s not as if these animals don’t know what a rifle can do. They do know. Trust me, they do.” “What did you do?” asked the English woman. Bernard paused. He looked over at Kikanae. There was a moment of silence. “I let them keep the antelope,” he said, letting out a chuckle. He returned his attention to the feeding hyenas. “They did not kill this animal,” he said, referring to the butchered gazelle carcass. “I am sure of it.
They stole it from a lion.”
They all remained in the Land Cruiser, witnessing the way of Africa. After ten more minutes, there was little left of the gazelle, and little left to see. Nature’s work had been complete. What was left for the buzzards was merely a bloodstain on the African earth. The Land Cruiser started up, moved forward, and wound its way down the dirt road, which was not much more than a faint pair of tire tracks. There was silence in the vehicle. The thoroughness of the hyenas had taken the conversation out of Nick, and the young blonde, and the English couple in the back. After fifteen more minutes, the Land Cruiser came to a place where the savannah was indented by a small gorge. The vehicle went into low gear and negotiated it way down to the bottom. There was a dry creek bed at the bottom, filled with rocks and surrounded by flat-topped acacia trees. Kikanae braked at the crossing and the vehicle rolled slowly over large boulders before lulling its way back up the opposite rim. Ahead now was the last of the acacia trees, beyond which was open range, and just as the Land Cruiser was about to push out onto it, there was movement ahead, there on the road. Three men suddenly appeared from behind the trees and stood in the middle of the road, blocking the path of the Land Cruiser. They all held rifles in their hands and pointed
them directly at Kikanae. “Nje! Nje!,” the large one shouted. “Get out!” He was a stout, dark Kikuyu, who stood a step in front of and in between the other two. Kikanae promptly placed the vehicle in park, turned off the ignition, and held his hands high where they could see them. Bernard did the same, cautiously, showing his white palms through the windshield. “Be calm,” Bernard said to the group in the back, whispering to them. “Be patient.” Bernard and Kikanae opened their doors and slowly stepped out, keeping their hands high. However, they did so in a way that left their bodies shielded by the opened doors. “Sawa! Starehe!” Bernard said to the large one. “Stay calm.” The large one said something in Swahili, and then he motioned to the passengers, waving his hand as if he wanted them to exit the vehicle. “Leave them,” Bernard said in Swahili. “They are tourists. They have no weapons. They carry only cameras.” The large one shouted again in Swahili, motioning with the barrel of his rifle for the them to get out. “We can supply you with whatever you wish,” Bernard said calmly. “We have money, and ammunition, and food, and supplies. The tourists, they’re our responsibility. They need to stay in the vehicle…” From behind the seat, Nick watched. He watched as Bernard continued to speak; he watched as Bernard’s hand reached for the shotgun on the door panel; he watched as Bernard slowly pulled it from the bracket and looked over at Kikanae, and as his finger found the trigger. In a flash Bernard’s shotgun was at the top of the door. In the same instant Kikanae’s, rifle came up too. The bright steel of the gun barrels flashed in the sunlight. Then the shotgun sounded first. Bam! And in rapid succession both rifles spoke; Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! So sudden was it that Nick and the others did not fully comprehend what had just happened. When they finally raised their heads and looked through the windshield they saw the three men lying on the road. Bernard and Kikanae were approaching them with their guns still extended. “Stay in the jeep!” Bernard shouted back without turning his head. Bernard knelt down beside the large Kikuyu and rummaged through his pockets, taking some papers which he tucked into his waist belt, and he found some trinkets which he examined and discarded on the roadside. Kikanae did the same with the others. Then they dragged the bodies to the side of the road and piled them on top of one another. Their weapons were gathered up and deposited in the back of the Land Cruiser. When Bernard and Kikanae Summer 2014 Volume 2, Issue 2
A compilation of the Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review, Volumes 1 and 2 (2013-2014)