But like experienced travellers he was as pleased to be home as I was to see him. This called for lunch at Rico's place and a dip in the pool.
Even Dad was tempted to jump in and fool around...
|I am the fat white guy in the middle clutching an apparently healthy Alex |
who is giving us all the thumb's up
And the nieces misbehaved with my camera as usual.
|Next time they take photographs of themselves like this I shall just have to spank their bottoms|
The next day Dr. Abel, Marcia's uncle, and Gina, his wife came for lunch. Alex attacked his food, jumped off his chair and went back to playing. No-one paid any attention until Marcia, like all mothers who realise their baby has dropped off the radar suddenly said, 'Where's Alex?'. We all called out. We all looked around. We found him lying in a pile of vomit inside one of the tents. He was burning with fever, not really with it at all and was struggling to breathe. His lips were blue and he was twitching. I hoiked him over my shoulder, gave him a couple of good pats on the back and then placed my mouth over his and sucked all the shit out of his throat and into mine. He coughed and vomited again. Dr Abel took over. 'He has to go to hospital, now!' he declared. The nearest hospital is seventy kilometres distant.
Dr Abel's car is one half of a pair of roller skates. It is tiny. Dr Abel's wife is a very big, very friendly girl who would gladly have stayed behind to allow father and mother to travel with their son but she is also a trained nurse. Clearly Dr Abel and his wife were going in the car with little Alex. That left just space enough for a child prone on the back seat and one other. You try separating a mother and child under such circumstances. The last glimpse I had of my son as they sped off was Marcia cradling him in the recovery position while Gina leant over the front seat tending to him. I quickly threw on a shirt, dug out my wallet containing my driving licence, tore the drawers of my desk apart to retrieve my passport, locked the shop and leapt for my truck.
That same morning I had lent my truck to Rico so that his lads could go to town and collect a few tonnes of cement building blocks. The needle on the guage as it coughed into life registered empty. I drove the four kilometres to the petrol station, dived out and told them to fill the tank. 'I am sorry, Sr, Tomas', said the attendant, 'but we have no diesel.'
'C'mon guys', I begged, 'You know me, there's always a little bit that you can squeeze out, I just need five litres to get to Camiro!' Camiro is about thirty clicks away and I could fill up there. He proved they had nothing but air in the tanks by switching everything on and letting me try all the pumps. Nothing. It is unusual for a petrol pump attendant to allow a member of public to have such free rein but he knew me and could sense that I was prepared to commit murder for a few litres of urgently needed motion lotion. I doubted that I had enough fuel to get back home. I rang Nice Paul. 'I'll drain diesel from our generator,' he said, 'I'll be there as fast as I can'.
He arrived in a V8 Landcruiser. 'Leave the truck and get in,' he said, 'I'll drive you'. Nice Paul splits his time between Rico's place and the Flamingo Lodge which is on the Angolan coast close to the Namibian border. Every time he gets back here, he pulls into our place knocking road dust off himself with his hat and Alex shouts out to him, 'Paul! You are back!'. I could see Nice Paul was upset. He likes Alex and Alex likes him.
Just then Marcia phoned. They were in the Endiama Clinic in Talatona and Alex was OK. He was on oxygen and Dr. Abel was tending to him personally. No, there was no need for Paul and I to dash to the city, Alex was stable.
At seven this morning, Nice Paul came over. I had just made a pot of tea. 'You heard from Marcia yet?' he asked me.
'I don't want to ring in case I wake her, she can't have had much sleep. She'll ring when she's ready'. I replied.
'I never slept a wink', he said, pouring all my tea into the cup of mine he had just commandeered. 'I went to bed at ten and by midnight I was awake again.' I sloped off and put the kettle on again.
I had not slept at all. Marcia had rung me twice. Once at midnight to say that Alex had asked for food and eaten a bowl of soup and then, a few hours later, to say he was off the oxygen and sleeping quietly so she was going to try and get her head down for a bit. By that stage, staring blankly at the TV I had decided that Richard Hammond was an oily little shit I would have loved to abuse had we been at school together.
'Fuck it, I am going to ring Marcia, I'm dying a thousand deaths here' I said.
'He's fine,' Marcia assured me, 'We'll be on our way home shortly'.
'What was wrong?' I asked her. Naturally I wanted to know what could cause a kid to go from leaping off his father's shoulders in a swimming pool to comatose in a matter of hours.
'They think he was bitten by a spider'
|This thing is six inches across and very common. |
It is sitting on a twelve inch thick Eucalyptus post supporting the new house.
I am now doing my very best to make it an endangered species.
Still, he is back home, thankfully very alive and really happy. 'I was sick Daddy', he informed me with no little pride. Then he showed me the present a concerned Aunt had bought him. It was a Spiderman case full of spidery goodies.
|Little shit, he scared the life out of us|
|Crackling good fun. |
Go on Son, get yer own back.
Alex is modelling the latest in fishermen's canvas trousers,
a market bought T-shirt and a weapon of mass revenge.
The tent behind him is where I sleep when I piss Marcia off.