Previously the S. S. Twit sank and our heroine found herself swimming for land. Back in Chapter 14, we were introduced to big game hunter Johnny Eager and his sidekick. They were up to their necks in rhinoceros poop.
Johnny Eager, our big game hunter, dropped the branch. At the toes of his shiny black boots lay the rhinoceros. Two shots and the beast had gone down. Johnny looked over to the spot where the shots came from. Walking toward him in a pith helmet and a khaki outfit was a woman he was very familiar with.
It was Mata Hari. Behind her followed a man. The woman raised her rifle again. She aimed. She pulled the trigger twice. Johnny looked over and saw his sidekick fall to the ground. Johnny jumped up and ran over to his friend.
Karl was on the ground dying. He looked up at his friend with a plea in his bright blue eyes. Then he died.
Johnny turned and rushed the woman. “You bitch,” he yelled. As he came within a foot of her, a rifle butt smashed down onto the back of his head.
“I wouldn’t advise that,” a toothless Scumbag Higgins said. He was someone Johnny knew as a smuggler and a poacher and an all-around worthless hyena of a man. He would steal from his mother if there was a buck in it. You could look the word “scumbag” up in a dictionary and there would be a picture of Scumbag Higgins.
“Johnny, Johnny.” Mata Hari looked down at the big game hunter on the ground and smiled. Her accent had changed from the previous episode when she was introduced to the Lady P. P. as well as the Reader. She often changed her accent to fit the occasion, depending on who the listener was. It was German now. “Guess that’s why they call you the Eager Beaver, ja? I did not think I was going to need a bodyguard. I thought you loved me. Oh ja, that is right. You love this body, do you not?” She moved her hands up and down her body, her tailored khakis hugging her curves tightly, leaving nothing to the imagination. If there was one thing she always did, it was to show off her curves. It usually distracted men long enough for her to do her business which was always no-good.
“Bitch,” Johnny said, then sat up and rubbed the back of his head. His face was flushed with anger. He tried to stand but couldn’t quite pull himself up on his legs. His head hurt and so did his wrist.
“Sit there, buddy,” Scumbag said. “When the lady says you can get up, you can get up. You don’t try anything or you’ll get a mouthful of this.” He pointed his rifle butt at Johnny.
“Now, now, Scumbag,” she said. “Johnny is our friend. He is going to help us out, aren’t you, Johnny? I didn’t know that you could spell mein middle name.” Mata Hari had no friends, only associates. As soon as she got what she wanted out of Johnny Eager, she’d leave him to Scumbag. “Am I not right, Johnny, you can spell and you are my friend, ja?”
“Why did you do it?” Johnny sat on the jungle floor. “I knew you were a cold-hearted bitch. But I didn’t expect murder. Why did you murder Karl?”
Mata Hari squatted down and the cold steel of her eyes met Johnny’s eyes. “I had not met mein quota of men today. Your friend made my quota. Now let’s get down to business. You have my package?”
“You sure you want my package?” he said, looking straight into her eyes, then between his legs, then back into her eyes. “How do you know you can trust me?”
“Oh, I know I can trust you,” she said, drawing a knife from her belt. “I want my diamonds and you have them.”
“You aren’t afraid I will get the best of you?” Johnny glanced over at Scumbag Higgins.
Scumbag took out his hunting knife and began to free the horn from the rhino. He looked up at Johnny. “You think you can take me, Eager? Try it. Just try it.”
“How can you be such a slime?” Johnny said, then picked himself up off the jungle floor. “That rhino had more honor in him than you and all your friends. Friends who almost got us killed. Selling us those crappy weapons. They both misfired. I plan to carve the nose off the face of that friend of yours who sold me them weapons, que pas?”
“Right. First you’ve got to buy yourself some cojones.” Scumbag returned to his task.
Johnny managed to get to his feet. The red went to his face. The adrenalin shot through his body. Before Scumbag knew it, Johnny was on top of him. Eager grabbed Scumbag’s rifle and slammed the butt down into his adversary’s face once, twice, three times.
“You …,” Johnny said. “Damn you, you.” He raised the rifle once more. Click. Feeling cold steel against his head, he stopped and turned. Mata Hari had aimed her rifle at the back of his head.
“I do not shoot you, Johnny,” Mata Hari said. “But I think you had better stop.”
Johnny dropped the rifle, turned back to Scumbag Higgins. The scumbag, Scumbag, was dead.
“He’s dead,” Johnny said. “And I don’t think even the hyenas will want to use him for a meal.” He suddenly realized how dark it was getting. The jungle was coming alive with the night. “We’ve got to get back to camp. That’s where the diamonds are. You can have your damned diamonds, then you can leave me in peace.”
“Such a waste, Johnny,” Mata Hari said and pointed at Scumbag Higgins. “We could have used him. You know how I hate waste.” She came from a long line of people who did not waste anything. Even suicide. Her father, General Hari Kari kept committing suicide but it didn’t take because suicide was such a waste.
“If you hated waste, why did you waste my friend?” Johnny stood up. He went over and threw Karl’s body across his back. “Let’s go.”
“He was a threat,” Mata Hari said as she followed Johnny Eager, big game hunter, back to his camp. “You did not know he was a spy, ja?”
“Who was he spying for?” he said, listening to the jungle sounds growing louder around him. He was relieved when he saw his camp’s fire through the bush ahead.
“I am not sure but he was spying. Stop.”
Johnny stopped in his tracks. “What?”
She pushed the barrel of her rifle into his back. “Before we get to camp, I warn you not to try anything. I will find the diamonds with or without you.”
“The sooner I am rid of you the better. You get the diamonds and get out of here and leave me to my hunting. Ja?” He pushed through the bushes.
Several native carriers were eating around a fire.
Johnny Eager walked into the camp and dropped his friend’s body onto the ground. “It’s just us weenies, fellows,”
“Well, if it ain’t Johnny Eager,” a familiar voice came from the edge of the camp.
“I should have known that where she is you wouldn’t be far behind, Kruger.”
The native headman started to move toward his weapon. Kapitain Kroger Kruger pulled out his pistol, a krugerand, and pumped four gold bullets into the headman. The native fell.
“Enough,” Johnny said.
Mati Hari walked over and put her arms around her comrade. She kissed him hard on the lips as Kruger watched the Eager Beaver.
“Darling, what took you so long?” she said.
“I had some business to take care of.” Kruger said.
“Now, Johnny,” she said, “you give me my package. We will give you your payment, then we are gone. In the morning.”
“Good riddance,” Johnny said. He walked over to his tent and went inside, picked out a map from his personal papers and went back outside.
“Here.” He handed the map to Mata Hari.
“What is this?” Kruger asked.
“Johnny, Johnny,” she said. “Where is our diamonds?”
“It’s a map to your diamonds,” Johnny said, the light glancing off his face. “You didn’t think I was going to leave those diamonds lying around for anybody to pick up, do you?”
Kruger’s half lit face looked at Mata Hari’s shadow. “It makes sense to me. Let’s get some sleep and we’ll dig them up the first of morning. We’re taking your tent for tonight, Eager. And don’t try anything. I am a light sleeper, ja.”
Just to make sure that nothing happened, Kruger tied Johnny and the carriers together. He tied them with knots that had knots and more knots. When he was sure they were secure, he joined Mata Hari for some r and r in the tent.
Early the next morning. the native carriers buried Karl and the headman into two deep holes that they had dug during the night. Johnny said a few words over each of the bodies and the carriers filled in the dirt. Then the three set out for the diamonds. Johnny leading, then Mata Hari with Kruger. The native bearers in the rear carried everybody’s stuff and grumbled about the black man’s burden.
Next Week: England learns about the sinking of the S S Twit and the loss of Lady P P.