By Frederick Philander
Captain Danger emerges from the wooden office, fixing his belt, smiling.
“Good morning, comrade Camp commander,” he politely greets.
His colleague, higher in rank, responds in a short tempered manner.
“And what is so bloody good about it, hey?” the Camp commander asks.
With a puzzled expression on his face, Captain Danger observes with a touch of concern.
“Wow.’ You sound angry this morning, sir.’
“Who wouldn’t be? I just heard from a guard that two prisoners have escaped and a rape took place right here in my camp while I was away on official business,” the camp commander fumes.
“Well, I…,” the Captain tries to interject.
“Don’t you dare interrupt me. You were supposed to be in charge, while I was away. Where the hell have you been while all this took place; gambling or drunk?” the superior demands to know.
“Steady now.’ I don’t think it is the right time or place to talk about that now,” he replies, changing into a more official tone. “I was formally informed by the Secretary-General that the Supreme Commander of the Movement is to pay us a visit today.’ I must say, the SG sounded quite upset.”
“Yes, they normally are upset and sensitive about the slightest thing and finding fault with whatever we do here in the bush. I’m telling you, those bastards sleep cosy at night next to their fat-ass wives and special call girls in the capital,” the Camp commander explodes again.
“Please, lower your voice, sir. The troops might hear you.”
“Who the hell cares? It is the truth. They daily attend fancy diplomatic parties and God-knows-what-else gatherings in fancy places. I, fool that I am, have to be happy and content with a village whore here in the forest,” the Camp commander complains.
“I think it would be wise if you go and take a short nap, like I did. I have everything under control here in the camp,” the Captain suggests.
In a dejected an emotional tone of voice.
“What have I got to show after all these years of loyal and dedicated service to the Movement? Nothing, but a damn bush-jail and a bunch of no-good fighters, demoted to guards. I have a good mind and leave the Movement for good,” he exclaims.
“Many of us share your feelings, comrade. But to quit now would mean capitulation and we wouldn’t like that, would we?” he tries to flush his superior out.
“Maybe not,” the man replies uncertainly.
“Camp commander, think about it this way; we have helped to make the Movement what it is today at great personal risks and danger.’ Why should we give up now?” the Captain tries to console the commander.
“I think you have a point. Too much is still at stake for all of us.’ Maybe, just maybe a ministerial post in the new government awaits me. One never can tell,” he replies optimistically.
“I want nothing else but to be Head of the Army,” the Captain makes clear his aspirations.
“That is if you haven’t killed yourself drinking by that time.”
The Captain dreamily states.
“Oh what a day that would be, but let me stop daydreaming,” the Captain brings his own to a close.
“Yes, let us first see this war through to its logical conclusion – the ultimate liberation of our country and our people,” the camp commander wisely intimates.
“Comrade, you could not have said a better thing to inspire me like so often in the past.”
“I am glad. Now let us get back to work.’ Did you send out a search party after the escaped prisoners, Captain?”
“The very moment I heard what had happened, sir. My men are right now in hot pursuit of the scoundrels,” the junior man says.
“Good.’ And at what time can we expect the Supreme Commander to arrive?”
“For security reasons the Secretary-General did not say, only any time today, was the message,” the Captain replies.
“In that case we better start preparing for his arrival. You know what he is like. I also don’t want to be caught with my pants down. Go on, sound the alarm for the morning parade,” the camp commander orders.
The Captain produces a whistle.
“Right away, sir.”
The commander playfully throws away the pantyhose from his belt at the Captain, who smells at it.
“I am going to clean myself from the filth of that village whore,” the commander says referring to female garment and walking away to the office.
With some fine perfume smells up his nostrils, Danger blows the whistle with a smile.
“On parade,” Danger shouts his orders.
Running from all directions the guards instantly assemble in the village quad.
“Attention,” the captain with the camp commander executing an impromptu inspection after which he addresses the men.
“I take it you have all been informed about the pending visit of the Supreme Commander of the Movement?”
The men reply in unison.
“Yes, sir, Camp commander.”
“Good. As you all know the Supreme Commander’s visit is a great honour to all of us.’ I expect him to make some important announcements. As you all know this is a model jail that has on numerous occasions won the military service’s yearly trophy, which should be a feather in the cap of us all.’
Therefore I expect that we all project and maintain a positive image, especially now.’ Have I made myself clear?”
“Yes, sir, comrade Camp commander.”
“For this day certain internal measures will become operative. For starters, the whole camp-jail will be cleaned like never before. Secondly, all camp-leave is suspended until further notice. We will proceed as normal as possible without the slightest indication to the prisoners. Everyone is to perform his duty to the best of his ability. I must also warn you; this visit will have a definite bearing on the future of us all here as well as in our new democratic Motherland.’ I depend on your co-operation in this regard,” the Camp Commander expresses his hopes.
“Good,” he ends his order and drags Captain Danger to one side. “Any news on the escaped prisoners, Captain?”
“Yes, I just received radio confirmation from Military Intelligence that the escapees have been recaptured some kilometres from here, sir,” the Captain informs his superior.
“Good work, Captain. You are after all a fine soldier.”
“Thank you, sir. The captives will be brought here shortly.”
“I will personally see to it that you and your men are highly commended for bravery to the Military High Command.’ Your heroic actions will be mentioned in a book the Movement intends publishing on the brave deeds of our comrades,” the camp commander says with a hopeful smile in the eye.
“I feel proud to be honoured in this way, sir.”
“You may now proceed to give the men their orders. I will be at the radio to await further information on the arrival of the Supreme Commander. That is all,” the commander says, saluting and moving off to the office.
“At ease.’ Alright, men.’ You have heard the Camp commander. Not a single word or indication to any of the prisoners about the Supreme Commander’s visit. Leaking such information will be treated as high treason. Is that clear?” he emphasises.
“Yes, sir Captain.”
“Now for your daily duties,” he continues identifying and pinpointing individuals for specific tasks. “You, soldier; will supervise the prison grave-digging operations…”
A guard steps forward.
“Make sure you reserve a grave. I will need it for those two escapees.”
“Yes, sir,” the guard replies and steps back in line.
To the next guard.
“You will take a gang of prisoners to the new jail construction. The bloody dungeons have become too overcrowded. Besides, we are also expecting a delegation from the Red Cross, I was confidentially told. So, see that work on the place proceeds smoothly.”
The next guard.
“You will be in charge of wood logging.”
“We might be in need of some wood for a bush-braai should the Supreme Commander decide to stay on a bit longer…,” he says ordering the next guard. “You, sanitary services.”
“Double-check that all shit smells are removed from the pits.’ The Supreme Commander is not used to taking an open-air shit in the bush, like us.”
“We only have one toilet roll left, sir. The rest have been stolen,” the guard informs his superior.
“By Jove.’ Are they now stealing shit paper, too?”
“Yes, sir. They will even steal the nothing if there is nothing, sir.”
“God protect us from such things in our new democratic Motherland, theft and crime,” the Captain prophetically exclaims, ordering another guard. “You will be in charge of kitchen duty.”
“Make sure you do not serve mealies or porridge today. This is a special day for all of us.”
“We still have some Chinese rice and fresh water river fish left,” the guard officially informs the Captain.
“Good. Just make sure the fish is still edible,” the concerned Captain says, addressing another guard. “And you will be in charge of the pigsty.”
The guard replies, stepping forward.
“Yes, sir, but…
The Captain turns away and talks to the others.
“Are there any questions?”
“Yes, I have a question, sir,” the same guard persists in trying to draw the Captain’s attention to indicate his displeasure y putting up his hand.
“Speak your mind and make it snappy.’ What is your problem?” the Captain inquires.
“Why is it always me who has to take care of the pig, sir?”
Momentarily caught off-balance.
“It is quite simple. Because you eat and drink like a bloody pig.’ Most of the provisions in this camp normally end up in your stomach, glutton,” the Captain scolds the guard to subdued laughter by the others. “What are you all laughing about?” the Captain spits fire to the men abruptly stopping. “Now, no more bullshitting.’ Open the holes and get the prisoners out,” he orders the men jumping into action.
To be continued next week.