Thilo

by Andrew Foote

Chapter 3

Everything settled back into a routine of normal school life. My friend and inquisitor, James, had been as good as his word, and with no further communication from Mr Roker, I concentrated on my studies.

News concerning Thilo seemed positive. The septicaemia was under control and his leg was healing which had me wondering why it was taking so long before I could visit him. But then, week two, I received another email.

'Dear Stephen.

My apologies for not writing sooner, but whilst Thilo's recovery was progressing to his doctors satisfaction, it took longer than they had anticipated to figure out why the blood poisoning issue was taking so much time in resolving itself.

Since regaining consciousness, he was able to explain how it was that he came by his injuries, and with that information, blood samples were sent to the Department of Tropical Medicine at Newcastle University for analysis, and what they found meant that the medical staff at Carlisle could attack the problem directly rather than generally.

It pleases me to inform you that he's now well on the mend. He is able to walk unaided, and just as soon as he's clear of septicaemia, he'll be discharged into the care of the school.

If you are still prepared to help, then there's no reason why you shouldn't visit him, and while we're on the subject of visits, your Head Teacher had talked about providing you with a rail pass.

Under different circumstances I would be in full agreement, but winter is fast approaching, and not that I'm familiar with Cumbria, I'm told that the weather can be very unkind, trains get cancelled or delayed, and so rather than the possibility of disrupting your education, my corporation will supply a suitable vehicle and driver which will be at your disposal in order to facilitate your visits.

One further matter?

Once you are ready to make that first visit, phone me on the number shown below.

I will ensure that your driver is with you on time, and also, he will have in his possession, a charge card made out in your name. You are to use it to cover any out of pocket expenses, and when you purchase whatever Thilo requires. Don't bother keeping receipts, they're unnecessary.

Be good to my nephew. He deserves some happiness.

As always, my grateful thanks to you.

Hans-Peter.

Well, well! Nice to hear something encouraging for once.

I went to find Mr Amos, but he was supervising some of the new intake in the art of drama, so next to Mr King's office where I met with success.


"Yes. I've had confirmation in much the same way.

When do you propose making a visit?"

"I'm only having to cover my three 'A' level subjects, and those I do during the mornings. I could go any afternoon, the bonus being, if we get along and he wants me to stay that bit later, I wouldn't have to insist on leaving because of classes."

"Agreed.

When do you want to make that call?"

"Just as soon as you sanction my absence Sir. I want to get on with this as soon as possible."

"Today is Monday, so what if we say Wednesday afternoon following lunch? We have no idea how far your driver will have to travel to reach us, so maybe make that call now and from my office rather than you bearing the expense. Also, I would like to speak with Mr Roker, so we can kill two birds with one stone.

Do you have his number to hand?"


"Mr Roker? This is Stephen Broadhurst."

"Hello Stephen. Thank you for being fast off the blocks."

"No problem. I think it right to get on with things, and just to make you aware, I'm calling from Mr King's office, he's with me and we have it on conference as he wishes to talk with you later."

"Fine. Wait so I can get my security chief in here and then I'll do the same this end."

I covered the mouthpiece, then looked at Mr King.

"Security?

Why?"

Mr King just shrugged his shoulders.

"No idea Stephen. No idea."

Just at that moment, the phoneline clicked back on.

"Can you hear me okay?"

"Crystal clear Mr Roker."

"Okay good.

When do you propose travelling to Carlisle?"

"This coming Wednesday afternoon, - leave here around two o'clock if that suits you?"

"No issues. It'll be so.

Okay. Your vehicle will be a specially modified Rangerover. It's white in colour and carries the licence plate VK 66 ANP.

Your driver is my top security guy in the UK and goes by the name of Moses Kabundai. He's a very good man otherwise I would send him.

Questions Stephen?"

"Is Thilo expecting me?"

"He's been made aware of you. Let us just leave it at that."

"Okay, but I think Mr King needs to talk to you, so if you'll give me a moment, I'll get out of the way."

"I would much prefer it if you stayed. After all, if your meeting with my nephew bares fruit, you will know more about him, his life and his situation than Mr King will ever know.

Now, perhaps I should have said before, but my gut reaction was to allow you to make your own judgements. With hindsight, that was stupid of me as you come from very different backgrounds, albeit very similar in many respects.

When you meet, for all the world he will appear like any other fourteen-year-old kid, but inside of him, he's a man, a man shaped by the life he understood. Then you have to remember what he witnessed. My Gott, I swear that if he could get his hands on an AK47 and an air ticket to Namibia, he'd go after those bastards single handed.

Make no mistake Stephen. You are able to pick all manner of weaponry off the floor in our continent, handguns, assault rifles, RPG's, you name it, they're there for the taking. Right now, he's so very angry that it wouldn't come as any big surprise if he was scheming his way home, so it's down to you to make him see sense and leave it up to us to seek retribution."

"What are the chances of success?"

"Good…… unless they've disappeared over the border to the DRC, in which case none of my men would follow them, and I can't say I'd blame them."

"DRC?"

"The Democratic Republic of Congo. Perhaps the most dangerous country in Africa. Hutu versus Tutsi, dozens of armed militia groups fighting each other, corrupt administrations, government backed forces that make no attempt to maintain order and a population too frightened to seize the initiative."

"Is Thilo in any personal danger in England?"

"Impossible to say, although my belief is that he's as safe there as anywhere.

At first, it was assumed it was only a raid gone horribly wrong, a skirmish fuelled by cheap alcohol and cocaine on the promise of great rewards. But then you have to question why they didn't bugger off when they were met by stiff opposition?

Was there another motive, a bigger prize, were they sent to find something specific and did they find it? We don't have the answers, but they butchered over seventy people, and with finding only two whites out of the three on the estate? If that prize was big enough, and their leaders had the money and intelligence to back them up? Might it be that they would pursue the missing white face?

One other thing I wasn't going to tell you. The village Thilo escaped to? It was also raided.

The raiders were there trying to get information, and when no one spoke up, they gang-raped the youngest girls, - some of which were only seven. The boys were strung up by their ankles and their throats cut, right in front of their parents. Still no one spoke, so what might we learn from that?"

"Either they had nothing to tell, or the prize was of greater importance?"

"More important? To be forced to watch your children being raped and slaughtered? I think it safe to say that these raids were co-ordinated, planned and executed because someone, somewhere had caught on to information concerning something so massive that it defies logic.

I have been pulling my hair out trying to remember anything my brother might've said, but nothing I come up with makes sense. He was a very rich man Stephen, but that alone wouldn't justify what occurred, so for now, we keep our wits about us, keep a close eye on Thilo and ensure his safety.

Now Mr King. You have some questions for me?"

"I have.

I understand that once Thilo is fit enough, you will be expecting us to take him back into our care. That's fine, but with that comes the thorny problem of what we say to the rest of the school.

In retrospect, perhaps matters could have been dealt with differently, because now rumours about what occurred are rife throughout the school. We have to come up with a plausible story, something simple and believable otherwise the rumours and speculation won't go away.

One other thing? We can't be expected to ringfence the top floor of the building where Thilo and Stephen have their rooms and not have Thilo fully participate in school life, he'd go stir-crazy!

The school is an austere place, deliberately engineered to give our students a taste of an environment that will knock some rough edges into their thinking rather than letting them take for granted the privileges of their background, but also allowing for a first-class education.

For the school to be seen as allowing special dispensation for one while the rest are put through their paces in unthinkable, so how we go about that, especially in light of the circumstances might be difficult.

What are your thoughts?"

"Your school was carefully selected for that very reason. Thilo has never been wrapped in cotton wool. He's tough, he might not look it, in fact I'd venture to say that he looks almost delicate, but be under no illusions, his upbringing in Namibia taught him self-reliance and self-discipline.

In answer to your very pertinent question?

I expect him to fully participate in every aspect of school life. No holds barred, no special treatment, but all the time having the teaching staff aware of the trauma he's suffered.

What and how much information you tell the rest of your students is entirely up to you, but might I suggest you say nothing except that you have a student there whose home is in Africa. He fell ill and had to be airlifted to hospital as a precaution as he might have been suffering from some tropical disease.

All assuming he and Stephen hit it off, then perhaps say that he has a friend, mentor and confidant in Stephen, and due to recent events, Thilo is not to be quizzed regarding his circumstances and leave it at that.

Once Thilo has settled, it might be he feels strong enough mentally to share some information, but that has to be his choice."

"Agreed. I think that's wise."

"Stephen? I will be telling Thilo that you'll be visiting him on Wednesday and I'll let you know of his reaction.

He already knows that it was you who alerted Mr Amos and he was suitably appreciative so I'm not expecting him to be antagonistic towards you, but you must tell me if there are any problems so I can address them.

One thing I will not allow, is for him to wallow in self-pity, and if it takes a kick up the arse to sort him out, then, believe me, that's what he'll get.

Happy enough?"

"All understood. That sounds fine."

"Headmaster?"

"Very satisfactory Mr Roker."


A ten-mile cross-country run is not something most kids look forward to, but truthfully, it was nice to be away from the confines of school, take in the views and clear my head of recent events.

To their credit, none of the boys I was running with tried to get me to open up to them except for one comment from Mark Pritchard, another close buddy of mine who asked if I was okay.

My reply was only that yes, never better and that the school would be made aware of what happened that night, although I didn't know when that might happen.

A hot shower followed by supper in the refectory saw me back in my room rather than the common room and suffering yet another chess-annihilation.

I opened up my emails.

Another one from Mr Roker.

'Stephen. Good to talk with you earlier.

I've spoken to Thilo and he's genuinely looking forward to your visit, but he did ask a favour from you.

Could you find his tablet and bring it with you, and also could you lay your hands on some boiled sweets, fruit flavour if possible, but just remind him to clean his teeth thoroughly after he's scoffed them!

That was meant by way of a joke by the way.

That's all for now, but please tell me how things went.

Hans.'


Moses Kabundai was a rather large black guy. I put him at around six foot five inches tall and weighing in at about two hundred and fifty pounds.

I liked him. He was easy conversation and obviously very intelligent, but what I found somewhat unsettling was the bulge to his chest under the left shoulder, something his immaculately tailored suit made no attempt to hide.

I decided to tackle this head on.

"So, what's with the firearm?"

"Ho-ho! You noticed that then? I's a Gloch G17."

"Really? We have one at school, or rather the Army Cadet Shooting School do. I almost got to fire it but bottled out!

How come you're allowed to carry it? Hand guns are illegal in the UK?"

"My boss. Mr Roker has friends in high places, and given the circumstances, special dispensation has been granted. God forbid I ever have to use it, but if I do, every round has to be accounted for."

"Do you know Thilo?"

"I used to work for his father, so yes, I know him well."

"How's he shaping up? I'm rather nervous about meeting him!"

"I think the phrase is, As well as can be expected given the circumstances. Don't be nervous. He's looking forward to it, but he's going to be surprised. He thought he'd be seeing some kid in school uniform."

"Ah well, I begged the question about what I should wear. My Housemaster thought it might be a good idea to be…… how did he put it?...... Casual-smart. Difficult when I'm normally in uniform, or when we're on free-time, dressed like a dosser!"

"Ha! How well do I know all about that!

My work days are long, like twelve or fourteen hours, but off duty I hang out in loafers and sweatpants and drink beer!

"Long hours those."

"I'm not stretched. We don't mine as such here in the UK, it's more like quarrying, but it still has a value. Most is exported around the world. Cumbria is rich in the stuff they dig out of the ground but security doesn't need to be excessive.

Anyway, if you're interested, I'm sure Mr Roker would be happy to fill you in when he visits."

"He's visiting?"

"Damn right he is!

Look, let's find a diner and I'll try to explain things."


Signs indicating a café away from the main road saw us inside and ordering some food.

"You do pick your restaurants Stephen?"

"Hey! Nothing wrong with transport caffs? If truck drivers eat here, then it's good enough for me! Good honest fodder is what's required, not some swanky overpriced joint!"

"Settle down! Just kidding you. I eat here regularly man!"

We were approached by a tired-looking waitress.

"Hi Moses. Good to see you again, and you've brought company with you too!"

"Good to be here Sarah.

Yeah, I've branched out and gone into the White Slave trade. I need to feed my latest acquisition or he'll fetch next to nothing at market!"

I lost it!

I doubled up laughing!

Yep! I liked Moses!"

We talked.

We talked about Africa, Thilo's past and his childhood, his prospects then finally, Moses dropped the bomb.

"What he was looking at was inheriting his father's estate together with his investments. Everyone assumed this was many years into the future as his father was relatively young with no underlying health problems. Things could be managed, and Thilo brought up to speed with the running of the business once he'd finished with formal education, but situations change, and now Mr Roker is faced with a dilemma.

What I'm about to tell you has to kept between the three of us, Mr Roker, myself and you.

Everything you've been told up until now is the truth. What occurred in Namibia occurred, and so far, we've managed to keep it out of the media. Mr Roker is who he told you he is, his business empire is as he told you; everything is factual, except for one small detail.

I'm not his UK head of security, I'm head of his intelligence setup and his personal aid.

Now for the difficult bit.

I need you to be 100% honest, even though I'm about to embarrass the hell out of you.

Agreed?"

"I can't think of anything that might cause me any embarrassment, but one thing you might not know about me is, I find lies unforgivable.

Fire away."

"You're gay aren't you."

"Not embarrassing.

Yes I am.

I've never made a secret out of it. I like who I am, but…… I've blown it, haven't I."

"Unfortunate turn of phrase, but no, you haven't. We needed to know, needed to be absolutely sure that you're an honest guy, and why did we need to know?

Thilo is gay as well."


Well, there's a turn-up, but why tell me about Thilo?

Did they expect me to…… AGH!!

As for me, I told Moses everything. Girls were nice company, I felt a connection to them. Boys too, but wading my way through puberty, I found myself looking, not at porn, but at my friends. They were attractive, and in a shared dormitory and under the covers once I was sure the others were asleep, I'd rub one out whilst thinking about communal showers.

Hey! I'm human?

Just after my thirteenth Birthday, I came out at school. No hateful comments, just a few amusing jokes like James swapping my King on the chess board for a Queen, but after just a matter of a couple of days, everything settled down, nothing had changed and none of my friends abandoned me.

I was dreading telling my parents, but it had to happen, and on the day I broke the news? Stunned silence about sums it up.

Mum came around first, followed close on her heels by my Dad who thanked me for showing so much courage.

After that, no mention has been made of my sexuality barring one when we had a couple of cows that were about to throw.

"I'll see to this old girl, you do the other.

'You can still manage that I assume?'"

Bastard!

Oh yes. I did say as much which collected me a punch on the arm and a grin!

Can't help but love my Dad for that!

Talk about this story on our forum
Authors deserve your feedback. It's the only payment they get. If you go to the top of the page you will find the author's name. Click that and you can email the author easily. Please take a few moments, if you liked the story, to say so.

[For those who use webmail, or whose regular email client opens when they want to use webmail instead: Please right click the author's name. A menu will open in which you can copy the email address to paste into your webmail system (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc). Each browser is subtly different, each Webmail system is different, or we'd give fuller instructions here. We trust you to know how to use your own system. If the email address pastes with %40 in the middle, replace that with an @ sign.]