Words & Images Peter Middleton
A murderous hail of AK-47 bullets shreds the air as we ease away from yet another roadblock. Then the shooting stops. Mandi lay crushed onto the floor; me draped above her. The Landy has rolled into a dip on the roadside and stalled, with the cooling exhaust ticking the hour-long seconds.
I realised I was holding my breath but eventually managed a dry croak: “You OK, love?”
“Yeah think so. You?”
“Yup, no additional holes or anything.”
“Shit! What happened?” We were whispering for some reason.
“I watched him aim the AK, then he let fly. He must be bloody nuts. Just keep your head down, I am going to check the side mirrors and see where he is. No point in trying to run from this.”
Mandi ventured: “Maybe he was just warning us.”
My fear was that he was coming to finish us off.
But Rambo was in the road, appearing as stunned as we were. A quick check; there was no smell of petrol, no holes, no windows shot through either. How did he miss us from there?
I pushed myself back into the driver’s seat: “Hold on, stay down.”
“What are we going to do?”
“We can’t stay here and wait for gangs of armed kids who will have heard the shots; it’ll be a lynch mob. I reckon we go back, negotiate. What do you think?”
So I punched the starter and slowly reversed, stopping behind his official rock. I gave Mandi a reassuring pat on the hand and dropped out to face him.
He slowly lifted the AK but it was obvious that he was drained of his drug/alcohol-stoked frustration. I stayed silent, a few feet away. His eyes would not meet mine until my anger and fear broke.
“What the eff are you doing, you effin idiot?” I stepped up to him, still yelling, and pushed down the hot barrel of the AK. With that out of my system and taking a very deep breath, I told him that we were going now. He nodded slowly.
“Sure? Not going to bloody shoot at us again?”
“No, you must go.”
In ten minutes of shaky silence we both visualised the possibilities as the adrenaline drained, so we stopped the Landy in thick bush, gave it a once over and admitted that we were actually
disappointed that there was not even a nice 7.62mm hole for ‘show and tell’. I poured us each a double scotch.
“Fancy another shot?” Then we laughed, no idea why.
We found the Athena Hotel in Kampala that has facilities for overlanders. It rained heavily as we swished into a back yard surrounded by high walls. A few tents mushroomed from the mud, and a wet, smelly goat welcomed us. It looks like a refugee camp.