Posts by Bwana Kifaru

1st time novelist. From Dallas Texas. Bwana Kifaru is swahili for Mr. Rhino. He is the lead character. Story is based on a true close encounter of a rhino kind.

Den Of Death

I look at Noah. “Ok, shell in chamber.” He nods and smoothly works the bolt-action with his right hand. I hear Jacob and Benjamin do the same. Myles and I usually keep our rifles loaded and ready, but with safety on.
Around here, a rifle not loaded isn’t of much use. Leading off in single file, It’s my turn to work my shell into the chamber. I motion to the others to move out. Noah falls in behind me with Helena close on his heels. The others all follow their leader. The ground, still being a little damp, makes for quiet walking. Almost too quiet. After about 25 yards, I bring Noah up next to me. He is a good shot, and I want to keep he and Helena in my sights, especially Helena.

We only had 2 minor incidents on the way to the “Den”. One of the male reporters tripped over a fallen acacia limb, embarrassing, but no injury. The second, and my favorite, Helena squealed when we scared up a small group of warthogs. To my delight, she almost jumped into my arms. A definite high point to my day. Of course, more frowns from Noah.

Unlike the other day, there is no breeze at all in this back area of the meadow. The air is still and heavy. As we approach the “Den”, I notice a sour, rotting, and decaying stench that I hadn’t noticed on our first encounter. Add to that foulness the horrible musty odor of lots of real cat urine, plus sun-baked feces, and I tell you, it is sickening. This time of day, we are finding that the lions death liar is bathed in sunlight not shadowy darkness. Everything is much more visible, and even I am taken back by the horrific carnage. We stand for a few silent moments, weighed down by the stagnant heavy reeking stink, the resounding buzzing of flies, and the massive quantity of horrendous death. Helena starts to cry and turns away. One of the male reporters gags and throws-up. That action causes a quick chain reaction. The female journalist standing next to him also loses it. I hand her a handkerchief from my back pocket. To break the silence, I am the first to speak, “Well, it is obvious that we all grasp how hideous and gruesome this place is.

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Simba !! Simba !!

Turning to look back at the lioness, I am suddenly aware that the wind has picked up and the stars are no longer visible. There is a lightning flash to our north.
“Storm come, Bwana. Smell like big rain. It come quick.”
“Oh man, Jacob! This area will be one big mess in a hurry.”
“Guess, I’d better sit tight for awhile. Don’t think I better head back carrying that beast in the back of my truck – could get stuck, could get lost. I’ll wait it out. Might blow over, ya’ know.”
“Good idea, Mate. Chuck spun out earlier in a muddy spot. Had to pull him out with my winch. If it starts raining, could become impassable – even dangerous.”
“Well, I vote we let this man-eater get wet and the rest of us go inside and I’ll cook up some grub. We’ve got quite a story to tell you about today. If you stay until morning, you won’t believe the discovery we’ll show you. You drove right passed it after the last waterhole. Tell ya’ all about it inside.” turning to walk toward the motor home. “Care for a little Jack Daniel, or a shot of scotch?”
“Thought you’d never ask. Lead on gents. By the way Chuck, nice base camp. You boys sure are roughing it!”
“Yep, with no clients on this trip, we’re just kicking back and enjoying some vacation time.”
“Of course, with a few man-eaters thrown-in, Mate!”
“Well, every vacation has its bad points, Myles.”
“Yes, and we captured one of those bad points today. We’ve got a story for you Jacob.”
“Can’t wait to hear it. Myles, couldn’t help but notice that your Land Cruiser seems to have some new damage. Is that part of the story?”
“Oh yeah, and I’d better try to cover-up my broken window just in case…”

We are startled by a brilliant flash of lightning. A rumble of thunder rolls around us, as the wind begins to whip and swirl through the trees. Big cold raindrops, begin to fall. The lioness lets out another deafening roar, as the sprinkle instantly turns to a downpour. A clap of thunder booms from almost overhead. We turn to run for the camper. The light on the pole above us explodes from a lightning strike, momentarily blinding us and showering us with bits of glass and splintered wood. Now no light, total darkness. Makali trips and falls over someone. Another clap of thunder, followed by an instant flash of light. Jacob grabs Makali with one hand and carries him toward the motor home. Marble size hail stones are pelting us and sound like rocks slamming the camper. All but one of us reach the motor home.
From five yards away, Benga screams, “SIMBA! SIMBA!”

“Step into my office..”

As I turn toward the cage, the one-eyed lioness lets out its best death roar and lunges at us, slamming against the bars and tumbles backward. One of the female journalist screams and trips as she jumps away in reaction. Finding some humor at the sight, I see Noah give a little smile at Jacob. Noah turns his smile toward me,

“Charles, I know Benjamin gave you some of my hopes and plans for this trip. Can you and I have a quick chat so I can discuss some details and you can tell me what your action plan might be?”

“Yes good idea. I’ll let the boys take over the press conference. If it’s ok with you, I’d like Benjamin to be part of our pow-wow. Why don’t we step into my ‘office’?” motioning to the damaged camper.

I tell Myles and Jacob to continue with the war stories and that Noah and I will be in the camper. I ask Benjamin to go grab his map and to join us.

As we turn and start toward the motor home, Noah stops and stares in awe at the severe damage. Standing outside the camper, it takes me about 45 seconds to give him the down and dirty details beginning with the lightening storm and ending with the lions attack. He is mesmerized at the sight of the charred acacia tree that is laying atop the crushed roof, but totally speechless while viewing the crushed side where the big male repeatedly slammed himself trying to get to us. I tell him that he hasn’t seen anything yet, as we step inside.

 

Noah is here ..

The roar of the helicopter grows louder and closer. My guess is that the pilot is following the ranch road that is marked on the map, the same map that Benjamin brought with him and used to find this location. Approaching from the northwest it clears the tree line to our left and makes a wide, and very loud circle around our campsite area. The pilot is getting a close look for obstructions and checking the wind direction. There is not much wind this morning, no dangerous crosswinds. He makes another half circle and begins to settle into a good landing spot. As I would expect, Noah is traveling in style, using a helicopter that is much larger and judging by the twin engine design, much faster then he needs. It is also not a surprise that it is the same government green as Benjamin’s game warden truck. Each side has a section toward the tail that is painted in brown and green camouflage. I’m not real sure why the camouflage is necessary. With its thunderous engines, this flying machine isn’t going to sneak up on anyone or anything. The words, “Kenya Government, Minister of Wildlife”, and the flag of Kenya is painted on each side passenger door. This puppy is almost twice the size of the hospital chopper that visited this same site yesterday, and blowing at least twice as much grass and dirt at us. Loud, large, and showy, kind of like Noah. There are three rows of windows. It must hold 10 – 12 passengers. Hopefully, not that many are joining our parade. As it begins to touchdown, I see what looks like three photographers eagerly snapping photos of the devastated camper from the passenger windows. I think I spot Noah looking out from the first passenger portal. This deafening approach and touch down has really aggravated our two lady captives. They are pissed off and letting our visitors hear it.

 

Den Of Death

In our examination, we find twelve skulls, which is four more kills than we know about. There are many arm and leg bones. One arm, with the left hand still attached, has a wedding ring on the 4th finger. Helena really has trouble handling this find. To make it worse, I remove the ring and put it in my pocket. My bet is that it belongs to the American husband killed in Masai Mara. There are five intact rib cages. We find three men’s caps and two women’s scarves. The whole search can certainly be classified as gruesome, but in the far back right corner of the liar Noah spots a green clothing fragment. It is part of Dr. Opopo’s shirt and his name tag was still attached. Benjamin stops and points. In addition to the expected lion tracks, he identifies some Hyena and leopard pug marks.

As we finish the sweep of the Den, Noah announces that he wants to send a team of forensic specialists to the Den to conduct a thorough collection and analysis of the remains. “My hope is that some of the remains can be specifically identified. There is just too much here. This is overwhelming and way too important. Sorry, but we need professional help.”

Benjamin takes a few more photos, then we gather the three journalists and begin our somber hike back to the vehicles. With very few words spoken, we load up and head to Lolgorien.

Surrounded (trapped in camper)

The lightning has knocked out our electricity, there is no light. Myles uses his flashlight and finds the switch to turn on the interior lights. We have light. Using battery power we probably have 3 – 4 hours before it is dead. To switch to generator power, I’d have to go outside and remove it from the storage hatch and fire it up. Not a very safe idea right now. Jacob helps Benga to a seat at the dining table. He is shivering and visibly shaken-up. The sound of hail hammering the camper is deafening.
“Watch your head, Jacob. This thing only has a 6 1/2 foot ceiling. It is too small for five people.”
“Well, thank goodness we could get inside as quickly as we did. Crowded or not, it’s all we have to protect us,” Jacob answers. He starts helping Benga.
In a whisper, “Awabariki, Makali (bless you). Shukrani, (thank you) Bwana Kifaru.”
I reach out and touch his hand, “Wewe ni kuwakaribisha rafiki yangu (you are welcome, my friend).”
Makali simply lays his hand on Bengas’ face and smiles into his eyes.
“Hold still, Benga. I’m afraid this is going to hurt.” Jacob, wrapping his hand in a towel, pulls the glass from his shoulder. It is deeper than it first appeared and is bleeding badly.
“Chuck, where is your first aid kit?”
“In my black duffel bag in the front seat. I’ll get it.” I glance out the side window and don’t see the simba. I hand the bag to Jacob.
“Miles, put pressure on this while I get some bandages ready.”
Jacob rips open a package of gauze and finds the surgical tape. A mighty thunder blast rattles the camper. The cabinet over the refrigerator opens from the shaking and a cup shatters on the floor. We all jump from the noise.
“Sorry, I need to tear your shirt.”
“Ok, Bwana. Asante.”
“You’re welcome. Looks like the bleeding is stopping. Let me clean it first with this antiseptic. You may need some stitches, it’s pretty deep. Benga, I’m making a large gauze patch – now taping it down. Here, use this towel to clean your face. There ya’ go. Good job being prepared Chuck.”
“We always carry a first aid kit. It’s come in handy more than once.”
The continuous illuminating by lightning strikes is like constant flashbulbs going off all around us. This 25′ Iveco Discoverer 4 camper is only 7 ft wide and has windows on all four sides. The windows are 5 feet off the ground. The largest is a double window over the table and chairs where Jacob is tending to Benga. It is facing the wind and is taking some direct hits from the hail stones that are now noticeably larger. The light flashes are almost blinding and the power of the wind is rocking the camper.
“Watch out for the big window, it may explode! Myles and Makali, pick a smaller window and look for the killers.”
“I’ve got this back window, Makali.”
“Me take this one.”
“I’ll take the front windshield,” as I slide into the passenger seat in the cab.
The lightning flashes have slowed to one about every 6 seconds. The rain continues to fall in sheets. Between the flashes, I see nothing from my vantage point but the flooding ground in front of the camper.

“Bwana, big male simba near cage! Cage have much water around, but she simba ok. Now he gone Bwana.”
“Miles, watch for that big male. Do you see “one-eyed” female?”
“No, Chuck. I’ve got nothing.”
“There he is! He’s coming around camper toward you, Miles!”
“Ok. I’m watching. Nothing yet!”
“Bwana, one eye simba! There is one eye simba! She run toward you, Bwana Miles.”
“Yeah, see ’em both. They both just ran by my back window.”
“Got them up here! Now they’re heading back toward you Miles. What are they doing?”
Makali stands and steps away from his side window vantage point. He looks directly at me. (This is only the second time that I have witnessed fear in his eyes.) In a soft but firm voice, “Bwana, simba are circling us. They surround us, Bwana.”
Benga jumps to his feet and yells, “They attack us, Bwana! They prepare attack, Bwana.”
“Oh my God, Chuck. They are searching for a way to get to us!”
“Jacob, my friend, did you bring a weapon?”
“It’s in my truck. I’m sorry!”
“Here, Mate. Take my .375. I’ve got my 12 gauge. If anything happens, it will be at close range.”
“Thanks, Myles,” taking the rifle and facing the other side window.
“Good idea for all of us to lock and load! Benjamin, do you have your rifle?”
“Yes Charles, right here – and it’s loaded.”
“Tranquilizer gun?”
“It’s leaning against the wall, right here.”
“Loaded?”
“Yes, Charles.”
“Benga – do you feel well enough to hold your rifle?”
“Yes, Bwana K. Me stay near this window.”
“Everyone, we are in tight quarters. Stay alert and watch all sides. Point those guns always toward the windows – away from each other,” screaming to be heard over the sound of the hail hammering the camper.

Turning to return to my post at the front window, there is another booming thunder clap, and the camper seems to almost elevate from a powerful wind gust. There is a deafening explosion from near overhead. I am knocked off my feet and thrown against the wall close to the driver compartment. Benga falls out of his seat and yells in pain. I see Jacob slam into the refrigerator. His impact shakes open the cabinet and a whole stack of plates hit the floor. The interior lights flash off momentarily, then back on. The explosion is followed by a blinding flash of light. The air is filled with sparks and flying debris. Through the front window, I see a large acacia tree engulfed in flames and falling toward the camper.

“Watch out!” is all I have time to scream.

There is a violent crash and a sound similar to a bomb detonating over our heads. The flaming tree slams into the roof of the camper throwing us all to the floor. The three ceiling lights in the front and mid section of camper flash and short-out. A giant limb extending from the tree trunk like a sword, stabs through the ceiling as if it were made of paper, barely missing Benga, breaking the table in half, and planting its jagged point 6 inches into the floor. The large limb must be a foot around and is blocking a clear path to the door. The ceiling has been ripped open and the large acacia limb, still smoldering, is steaming and filling the camper with musty smelling smoke. Rain water is pouring in. The gash is about five feet long and at least a foot wide. I jump to my feet. There are two small lights still providing a small amount of light in the back window area. Remarkably, no one seems to be hurt. Benjamin is standing and helping Makali to his feet. There are several other gashes in the ceiling from the impact, and large amounts of rain are beginning to flow into the camper from these holes. The roof has been crushed down about a foot from the trees’ weight, and the floor is covered with pieces of shattered branches, wet leaves, and chips of still sizzling tree bark. The continuous flood of rain instantly extinguished the flame engulfed tree. I take a step forward and offer my hand to help Myles stand. Before I can reach him, there is a violent collision against the right side of the camper near the door. Myles jumps to his feet and moves toward the side window. “I can’t see! I can’t see! Throw me that flashlight..” – another booming impact to the side of the camper.
“Chuck, Chuck, it’s the big male! He’s trying to get in!” he yells.
“Myles, make sure that door is secure! Jacob, you ok?” I asked.
“Yeah. One of those limbs gave my arm a pretty good cut, but we’re ok.”
“Where’s the female, Myles?” Benjamin screams, pointing his flashlight out the side window.
“Don’t see it – here comes the male again. Oh shit – he just spotted me! Oh my God! Oh my God! Look out!”

Help Benga

With all the insanity that has occurred in the last 25 minutes, none of us has noticed that the rain has stopped and now a full moon illuminates the entire camp. From my vantage point, standing in the open side door, I can clearly see our fallen and unconscious adversary only yards away from our RV. I step out of the camper and into at least an inch of standing rain water. Benjamin is next. Then Jacob. I reach up and help Makali as he steps down the ladder into a bloody puddle next to the giant fallen simba. He moves next to Jacob and we all look up at Myles. (lion roar..)

“I’ll help Benga get to the door. You Mates help him out of here.”

“You got it,” Benjamin answers. “Gently.”

Myles turns and walks back to Benga. “Kuweka mikono yako karibu na shingo yangu. (put your hands around my neck). Mimi nimepata wewe. (I’ve got you).”

With a grimace and a soft moan Benga reaches up and folds his hands around Myles’ neck. Being extremely careful with his injured leg, Myles lifts him carefully and carries him “craddle-style” to the door, being extra cautious around the uninvited intrusive acacia limb. As he approaches the door, Makali makes a move to reach up for his friend. I gently hold him back. Placing my hand on his shoulder,

“I’ve got him, Amigo. You sit this one out.” I take two steps up the camper steps and take Benga in my arms. “Benga, you are going to be alright. I’ve got you.” Benjamin helps me carry him to Myles’ Land Cruiser. Makali is supporting Bengas’ leg as we carefully walk in the golden-yellow moonlight.

“Benjamin, let’s put him in the back area of the Cruiser until we make a bed for him in the back seat. He has to be able to extend and elevate his leg. It’s going to be a long and uncomfortable ride to town. I’ll go grab some blankets and pillows. You can help by supporting his head and helping him keep his leg still, I’ll be right back.” I squeeze Bengas’ right hand. “Stay brave, soldier.” Benga squeezes my hand in return and smiles up at me.

“I’ve got him Charles,” Benjamin replies.

“Me stay, Bwana”, Makali adds.

“Yes, thought you would.”

Turning to walk back to the camper, I become aware of our now visible surroundings. In the welcomed bright moonlight  I can see the exploded and charred light pole, the devastation to the camper from the fallen acacia tree, and the damage to the door and side from the maddened male lion. I turn and look back at Benjamin.

“Oh man! Benjamin, have you ever seen anything like this?”

“No, Charles. In the daylight I’ll take some photos. No one will ever believe this.” (lioness roar)

To my left, I see that Myles and Jacob have sloshed their way over to the one-eyed female and are admiring the 2nd darted trophy.

“Chuck, ok if we drag Ms. Pop-eye over to the cage?” Jacob yells.

“Yeah, just a second. I’ll be right there. I can help.”

As I walk toward the camper, I make a quick detour and walk over to check on our caged captive. As I approach, the rain-soaked lioness crouches, growls, and leaps at me slamming into the side of the cage. She rebounds off the cage and splashes muddy water toward me as she falls backwards. I step back. The lioness stands and doesn’t retreat. I take a step closer. In a low voice, “Well, it’s almost over, Missy. Oh and, by the way, your boyfriend didn’t make it!” As I turn to walk back toward the camper, the lioness rumbles a low refrain. I’m pretty sure I just got cussed-out by a homicidal, mud caked carnivore. I mumble back, “Yeah, well up yours too!”