“No… that’s a load of old donkey droppings!” Geel Gert exclaimed, “Where in the world did you hear such a pile of tripe?” His high-pitched voice was by now so strained that it almost crackled. He stared at his companion in utter disbelief.
“Ag man… I was in the Red Lion in Upington when I heard the story. They thought I’d passed out on the ‘wit-blitz’ they were sharing round.”
At that point Zach had to strain his ears even more… if he dared move closer they may suspect they were being overhear… snooped on. That could be dangerous. The men obviously chose the library because they were looking for a quiet, cool place where they could discuss their plans. They’d strolled into the library a few minutes earlier, looking this way and that. Up and down the rows of bookshelves… scouting out the place. They found the partially secluded seating area at the rear of the room.
Something they didn’t notice was one of the floor to ceiling shelves being slightly askew. They also didn’t realise that behind those racks was a small office, used by the staff for their admin work. Also unbeknownst to them behind the façade of books was the presence of a youngster. This was Zach’s haven… his vanishing hole when the town bullies were after him. There sat Zach, minding his business… not intentionally eavesdropping.
“OK,” said Geel, “tell me again.” He waited a few seconds before again urging, “Come on Willie… you can’t want me to believe a story like that. Diamonds enough to buy half the Transvaal? Never!” Again his voice was reaching crackling levels.
“Shoo man,” gasped Willem, “You’re making more noise than a herd of charging buffalo’s… you’ll soon have the whole town investigating what the commotion is. Can’t you see the signs all over the place…” he paused and pointed around, “sorry man, I forgot you can’t read. OK… it says we must shut-up, so… shut-up!” By now Willem’s tone was a bit of a snarl. He was the brain, Geel needed to be reminded of the fact.
“Those lot in the Red Lion were saying there are more diamonds at the bottom of the falls than De Beers have in their vaults.” Willem paused for the significance of the statement to sink in… again. “The little beauties have been washed down the river for all time… only to be trapped at the bottom of the falls…”
“Ag no man… what’s that going to do for two blokes like us?” Geel’s question seemed a very valid one… how in fact, would they benefit with this information?
“Easy… one of the fellows in the Red Lion gave me an idea.” Willem paused, again, to ensure the dim-witted Geel kept up with him. “He was drinking his ‘wit-blitz’ and orange juice through a straw… said it had more kick that way.”
“So? What’s that got to do with diamonds?” His tone inched upward again.
“Simple stupid… we get a big vacuum cleaner and suck the diamonds out of the hole… that’s what we do!” Willem concluded triumphantly.
“No boet, now I know you’re touched… all that ‘wit-blitz’ and sun has got to you.” He sighed, even his slow brain told him this was a bit too good to be true. “Where will you even get a vacuum cleaner to work in the water? All the one’s I’ve ever seen can hardly pick up a paperclip off the floor… now you want me to believe you want us to suck diamonds out of the holes at the bottom of the Augrabies…” his voice trailed off in utter disbelief.
“Listen to me… in the dry season there is almost no water in the holes,” another pause, “when I was in the army we had big pumps… like vacuums, to pump water out of the drains and out of the river… you know, they can work.”
“Ah no man… “ Geel was tiring of this tale, “you can’t be serious man…” He wanted to get out of the library, he was getting more and more thirsty by the minute. All this thinking was drying out his brain, so he did the best he could… under the circumstances.
“Have you not heard of the rain god of the locals, they say she protects the diamonds… “ this was deep thinking for Geel but he had to put a stop to Willem’s mad plan.
“What? Now you’re talking piles of bull…” it was Willem’s turn to gasp in exasperation, “big humps of elephant bull!”
Zach remembers the conversation going this way and that. The two men soon declared they’d give it one go… in the dry season… under cover of dark. They’d sneak into the park with one of the fancy pumps on the back of Willem’s pick-up. They’d get away before dawn… rich men, they’ll be.
Zach also recalled a 5 line snippet almost lost on page 7 of the weekly Upington Independent some months later… apparently, the mangled remains of two men were found about five miles below the falls… after a very rare, totally unseasonal flash flood passed through the area. The piece further stated that the last time this strange phenomenon seemed to have occurred was about the time of the First World War, when a group of renegade soldiers attempted to remove diamonds from the pools below the falls…
Geel Gert. Geel = yellow… skin colour or a reference to cowardice?