Here is a short bedtime story to fill a small gap in publications.
Readers are welcome, and encouraged, to leave comment/s on this blog.
Around mid-morning in September 2015 I went out to Perth Street, Bryanston on my Kawasaki KLR 650 to collect some bacon and eggs from a wholesaler I know. The usual procedure is to ride up to the address, do a “U” turn so that I am facing the right way when loaded up, and ready to truck out. Then before shutting down the KLR to hoot and rev a bit to alert Sandy that I am at his gate. This I did before dismounting, and un-strapping my cardboard egg box from the back of the bike, leaving the two elastic straps, and single tie-down hanging down each side of the rear wheel. By this time Sandy is usually at his gate, and allowing me to come in. After about another 100 seconds I decided to press Sandy’s visitors button, and at the same time noticing two youngish and smallish black guys sauntering towards me from behind the direction the bike is now facing, looking harmless enough at 50 metres – still no sign of Sandy. Maybe he is on the phone, or in the shower. I decided to kill the waiting time checking the bike, kicking the tyres and looking at oil level.
I had just stood up alongside of the bike when I was aware of the two previously mentioned guys standing very close to me. I turned to my left (towards the rear of the bike), and was very surprised to find one of them jabbing at me with what I remember to be a R.100, 00 (read cheap) hunting / fishing knife, and shouting “Cell phone”. I managed to duck / back-away from the first couple of jabs, and decided to throw a right cross at his nose (thinking if I connected properly it would at least blur his vision). The top of his head was level with my chin. I do not have much of a right fist, but missed the nose anyway, and impacted fairly well on the left jaw instead. This of course did practically nothing except to cause him to back off slightly. At this point I began to wonder what his pal was doing behind my back. I was to find out very soon. My frontal attacker executed one more knife jab, and then proceeded to back of completely. I remember thinking – he can not be that afraid of my right cross, and then the epiphany struck – The guy behind me must have also been knife armed, and had managed to slice the strap of my shoulder bag, and the two of them were sprinting along the street in the direction the bike was facing. In hind sight, I can kick myself for my own bewilderment. One, I felt something on the inside of my right elbow, and there was a bit of blood coming through my light weight jacket, two the octopus straps and tie-down were hanging close to my back wheel, and three, those guys were getting away as fast as their little legs could carry them (semi amusing actually), but they had my bag.
Time for an instant high level decision. OK, I am not seriously wounded (knife prick inside right elbow), and fuck the hanging straps – if they got entangled in the wheel they will probably break, and not the wheel. Helmet can stay where it is. Pretty easy decision in fact. I got on, fired up and gave chase, my quarry were just nearing the “T” junction 80 to 100 meters away, they could turn left or right, I must not miss that. It struck me that in situations similar to this there is very often an accomplice in the vicinity waiting to help out – a quick look around revealed no such accomplice.
Before I got to the “T” junction, the perfect plan came firmly to mind – I have to say here that the perfect plan was based on an ancient similar experience, and i cannot claim instant high level original thought under pressure – I was going to ride flat-out into the back of one of them, the one with the bag, or the other one, but the bag carrier would be first choice if an option presented itself. There is also the possibility they would put the bag down (based on other ancient experience) before it got to collision point.
At the “T” junction I was forced to slow down, as vision both left and right is slightly blind for oncoming traffic. I am riding on the tar, and my quarry are running on the foot path. They would have a good laugh if I got splattered by a car / truck. This slow down allowed my targets to get to a sliding steel gate to the river reserve about 60 to 70 meters downhill to the left, and slide it closed again before I got to it. They were moving like startled rabbits now. As it turned out the sliding gate was not quite closed and I could just get my front wheel in the gap, and managed, by aggressive use of the handlebars to open it enough to wriggle the KLR through. Now the chase was on, and the Kawasaki snuffed the chase with delight – or so I thought. The river bank was soft grass, so the resulting collision – crash I envisaged was less of a worry to me.
My quarry had about a 60 meter lead on me, and they would reach the safety of the bushy, muddy, river bed, and the culvert under the concrete freeway in about 150 meters. The bag carrier was lagging a little behind his pal – perfect, he was as good as dead, or paralyzed. This was very exciting, I could feel the adrenalin, and the plan was going to work. At this point I noticed a very wet, muddy and still grassy section (someone’s pool outlet I guessed), and the Kawasaki started to buck, and I tapped off on the throttle a bit (It would be another good laugh for my quarry if I crashed in the mud), but the Kawasaki straightened up. I wondered for a moment as I passed the back of Sandy’s house on my left, if he could hear me, and wonder Whiskey Tango Foxtrot I was doing in the river reserve. If the Kawasaki was not at full revs, I am sure I would have been able to hear my own heart thumping – it was very exciting – like hunting, and other circumstances, when you know you are going to kill someone / something.
But the wet patch, the Kawasaki’s behaviour, and my slight tap-off was going to change the game in my quarry’s favour. I was less than 10 meters from the bag carrier when they both changed direction slightly and headed more directly to the river bank. At the edge they both, one after the other disappeared over the bank – must have been quite a drop – at least enough for me to have second thoughts. I veered left and skidded to a disappointed halt. When I looked up I saw them staggering along the river bed, well out of breath, but still in possession of my bag. I watched them walk to the big culvert under the freeway. Damn, I hate to lose like this. But lose I did.
Well, I tied up my dangling straps, and rode back to Perth Street to collect my bacon and eggs, and try to cheer myself up. When I arrived Sandy was at the gate with a big smile of welcome (that is our Sandy). When I dismounted, I could see that Sandy was puzzled by my helmet on the ground near his house. I asked Sandy “Did you see what just happened to me”? “Er, no what”? I told him. He had not even heard me tearing along the river bed, but instead started to blame himself for not being there when I had first arrived, probably less than 10 minutes earlier. I don’t think he properly explained why he did not meet me the first time. Anyway I loaded up my bacon and eggs, and decided to go home via the downstream part of the river as closely as possible to see what I could see by way of a clue to get my bag back. There were no clues in the offering, but a few ideas for an armed return trip came to mind.
Time to think now – what has been lost?? Bank card, Cell phone (a switched off Cat, which I did not like much), copy of drivers / riders licence, old ID book, but I still have a couple of these. I still have a Sonim phone with all my numbers in it – so not much. So I went to the bank (no attempt to use the card had been made), and then to Vodacom (no attempt to use the phone either). Wait a minute, where are my house and safe keys?? I did not know for sure, so I had better buy a new front gate lock and keys. I have a spare safe key locked in my other safe, but that is not the same as not knowing where the other one may be. Changing the lock on a walk in safe is no small thing. Damn! Anyway I changed the front security gate lock then and there, and would deal with the safe lock tomorrow. Henrietta discovered another small stab wound in my back, and treated it accordingly.
Next day around mid morning two important things happened: One, I found my keys in the pocket of the pants I had on yesterday – where I would expect to find them, if I looked, and two, I received information via a telephone call pertaining to where my stolen shoulder bag might be retrieved. The informant claimed to be a Roads Department type roadside cleaner, or something like that, but gave me the impression he was being deliberately vague, and poorly spoken (as some types do) to discourage me from questioning him too closely. He claimed to have my bag and I.D. in his possession, and if I were to meet him on the concrete freeway, above the previously mentioned culvert, he would hand it over to me. Too good to be true – certainly. I visualized myself pulling up on the edge of the freeway in broad daylight, having a gun in my face, and being yanked off my bike, and relieved of everything I had, or alternatively getting into a serious gunfight in full view of all freeway users. Well maybe worth the risk. I, and a few friends, have often practiced this kind of thing fairly extensively.
So I decide to take the chance, get mounted-up, gunned-up, and off I go. But on the way I am running over in my mind how this is likely to go, and come up with a better plan. I phoned the informer back again (with my sim swapped Sonim), and tell him I will give him R.20, 00 if he brings the bag to the Kia Motors end of the bridge at Strydom Park, citing the difficulty of “U” turns on the freeway. To my surprise he agrees immediately. I told him I would be on a motorcycle, but he seemed to already expect this, as if he had my description. I asked if he would be coming alone – yes sir, I will be alone.
Well, sooner than I expected, I saw a lone road cleaner (complete with tongs and spike) and what appeared to be my shoulder bag approaching my position. He went out of his way to be transparent in his actions, and I went out of my way to be on full alert. He stopped 3 meters away and opened my bag in a non-threatening way. I could see my stuff all in a shambles inside.
This was good enough for me. I indicated he put the bag down, and put out both hands together to receive the R.20, 00. I actually gave him 2 x R.20, 00. As it turned out, I got everything back except the Cat phone, which I did not like very much anyway. We exchanged pleasantries, and were mutually, and happily on our way. I guess he was slightly happier than me at that point in time.
—— RIDE HARD, SHOOT STRAIGHT, AND SPEAK THE TRUTH. ——