by Andrew Foote

Chapter 14

The remainder of that term went smoothly. No one had bothered us and we were unaware of any threats, so when the time came to go back to Malvern, and with Moses out of the country, Dad had booked us numbered seats in First Class right up behind the engine and facing towards the rear of the train in case we had problems.

None came, and boarding our connection to Malvern Link, we breathed a sigh of relief.

We were met at the station by Dad. No Rolls Royce today, just his two-year-old and rather beaten up Landrover for transport.

"Nice to have you back, - you included Thilo.

Reasonable journey?"

"Yes, it was pretty good. At least the Quiet Coach was quiet!"

"That helps!

Over supper I'll tell you about our plans for the summer, so if you want to invite any friend's whist we're away, then go ahead.

Oh yes, and I heard about your antics in Scotland! Nice work from what I understand."

"We learned a lot, let's just say.

How did you hear about it?"

"We had visitors from a certain army outfit based just outside Hereford. They told us; showed us the video footage as well. Impressive stuff!"

"They visited just to show you that?"

"No, they also Droned the entire farm, walked the fields so they knew the layout in case of problems. There's a number to call if we feel under threat, but more about that once you boys have settled in, but please, no going out any distance until we've had the opportunity for a chat. Nothing too heavy, more like a change of arrangements."

Tea and cake in the kitchen was the plan, but Helen had substituted cake for homemade Cranberry and white chocolate cookies. My initial reaction was disappointment, but that was very quickly replaced by the overwhelming need to pig-out on these biscuits. Delicious doesn't come halfway close. I lost Thilo in his feeding frenzy, - he even asked Helen if she would elope with him! But once again we were cautioned about being too greedy before supper and banished from the kitchen.

We went to our rooms and changed in to something casual before heading outside, but we were waylaid by my Father as he exited the mud room.

"Rather than spoiling supper, let's have that chat now." And leading us through to his study, sat us down.

"A few things have changed recently. Since that visit from the army, a small but inconspicuous building has been erected next to the tractor shed. In that building, we have in residence three soldiers, all of whom are armed, but more importantly, they're monitoring our land boundaries to alert us to unwanted visitors.

When you go out around the farm, you can use only the one vehicle, and that's the John Deere.

Reason? It's been fitted with a GPS tracker, and if you run into trouble, they'll come running on the press of a button."

"But Dad? I hate that fucking tractor! Not only is it like driving around in something akin to your average size house, it's scares me!"

"Then you'd better overcome that fear. It's big, I agree, but it's also very fast at a top whack of thirty-five miles an hour. It'll walk over a parked car, and given it's build quality, nothing much short of an RPG could damage it.

Next, we should talk about how we plan the next eight weeks.

Do you intend to go back to Africa during the holiday Thilo?"

"I have to Charlie. There are things like probate and estate matters that I have to sort out.

I want Stephen to come with me if you've no objections?"

"I've no objections, and I do understand your need to return, but the question is when?"

"Sooner rather than later, then get back here and relax."

"How long might you need?"

"Ten, maybe fourteen days?"

"Then might I suggest you make the necessary arrangements? Once you're back here, we'll fly to Italy and leave you in peace so you can enjoy the summer and if you want some of your friends to visit, you can make your invitations."

"There's only one problem, and that's travel arrangements. I can book and pay for our flight tickets, but we're armed. We can hardly get to Heathrow and wander casually through baggage control and security without setting every alarm in Christendom off?"

"True. Perhaps you leave that to me to sort out."

Whatever my Father did to expedite things certainly worked, because two days later we had a visit from a Suit, or better put, a youngish guy from MI6.

He would be travelling with us and would shepherd us past the normal security procedures and onto the aircraft, a scheduled British Airways flight to Nairobi where we would connect with an Air-Namibia flight to Windhoek.

Both Mum and Dad were rather emotional the morning we left for the airport.

"Just take it steady. I don't want to be travelling to Africa for the purpose of identifying your remains."

We arrived at Heathrow's terminal four where we were lead through the main concourse and into an office. Our bags were searched and weapons inspected before being ushered through to a private waiting area.

Our Suit ran us through the procedure.

"As soon as the aircraft is free of cleaning staff and all the baggage loaded, we will board first. You paid top dollar for First Class accommodation, so our seats are right at the front and cordoned off from the other passengers.

We will have our own stewardess who has full security clearance, and as with most continental flights, especially those whose destination is a country that has a history of terrorism, there will be Air Sheriffs on board. Not that we're expecting trouble, but in the unlikely event something does happen, do not under any circumstances draw your guns. If you go waving them about and a shot pierces the fuselage, the sudden loss of cabin pressure would cause chaos and confusion, and depending on the altitude, it might even rupture the body of the aircraft and it could crash.

Just let the Air Sheriffs handle things as they've received extensive training in counter-terrorism."

"We understand.

What happens about disembarking at Nairobi and their security people?"

"All taken care of. We will be the last off the plane where we'll be taken to an area normally reserved for travelling diplomats and visiting heads of state.

The flight to Windhoek isn't a scheduled public flight, it's more like a mail run with us the only passengers, except there's no mail.

Don't get too comfortable with the luxuries of BA First Class. The Windhoek flight is a cargo plane."

Both flights were without incident, although the Windhoek connection was uncomfortable and noisy.

The crew on that flight were really nice guys.

The pilot was an Australian by the name of Gary. Originally from Melbourne, he had subsequently met, fell in love with and married a Namibian girl when she was a University student studying in Australia. Once she graduated, they moved to Africa, raised three children never to return to Oz.

"Nothing worth going back there for. My folks used to visit us, then moved to England to be with my sister, so I go there to see them.

Namibia is a wonderful country with wonderful people, and as it's governed fairly, it's a fine example of how all African nations should be."

Our co-pilot was a native Namibian.

"I was sent to the UK for pilot training by our Air Force. I was taught to fly combat jets before coming home. My service life flying fast aircraft came to an end as I was considered too long in the tooth, so I took to flying transport planes instead.

Gary and I share a passion for game fishing, so when we first flew together, we sort of bonded.

Funny how a mutual interest can lead to friendships, but now, Gary is my sons Godfather, and his wife Marie is Godmother to my daughter."

We touched down at Windhoek International Airport; a somewhat grandiose name for an airstrip less than the size of Staverton in Gloucestershire, but everything went smoothly. Our bags were given a thorough inspection and our weapons checked before my passport was stamped giving me a lifetime entry visa to Namibia.

We were met by a car from the British Embassy that whisked us to a downtown hotel where the driver waited while we checked in before sitting us down in an anti-room.

"Tonight, might I suggest you get some rest after your flights? Tomorrow you'll be met by a Namibian government car that can take you to the appointments you organised Mr Roker.

I assume your phones are Smart phones and have international roaming?"

We nodded in the affirmative.

"Then here's a number I want you to program into your phones as a speed dial option. This will activate an app that will allow us to follow your co-ordinates, so if you call that number, we'll come running."

After they left, we found our room and unpacked our flight bags before changing into something more suited to the humidity. Then, having eaten on the plane, we went out to find a coffee shop and a chance to stretch our legs.

"What's the plan of action for tomorrow?"

"Solicitors. Most of the day will be taken up by first sorting out probate, then reorganising my late parents company and the way I want to see it run. I'm also going to have to write a will which is where you come into the picture."

"Sorry, but I don't follow."

"Under Namibian law, if I die without a will, my estate automatically goes to my next of kin, ergo my uncle, and that's not going to happen. I would like it if it went to someone who might use it for the greater good, and much as I love Uncle Hans, he'd probably just pocket the lot.

The bottom line Stephen? I want you to be the named beneficiary of my estate."

"I couldn't accept it!"

"Look. I've no plans on dying, so why not just call it my peace of mind. But in the event that something does happen to me, someone has to take on the responsibility of running things, and as you've shown me so much love and kindness these last seven months, and as I also love you desperately, just do this for me please?"

"You really love me?"

"Of course I do! I'm not in the habit of leaping into bed with anyone with a dick between his legs? I've found a kindred spirit in you. We laugh together, cry together, we share the same interests, the same goals. This has nothing whatsoever to do with money? Since day one we've been a partnership, and a partnership that works, and always will."

"In that case, answer me a question.

Once you're of an age, would you marry me Thilo?"

"Willingly, and without reservation."

"Then I'll accept that responsibility if you'll accept my proposal of marriage."

"A double acceptance! Let's go back to the hotel, find the bar and toast our engagement!"

Sunday, and with all the church bells battling for supremacy seemed an odd day to me meeting with solicitors, but as Thilo reminded me, they were being paid a fortune in retainer fees to be there when needed.

Business went smoothly enough; even I understood most of the details, but then, after probate documentation had been signed and duly witnessed, came the handover of power, and it was here that Thilo showed his true colours."

"So, my understanding is that following the death of my parents, I'm automatically the head of Roker-Namibia?"

"Yes. That's spelt out very clearly in your late parent's will, however, your uncle has suggested that you should think about a partial merger with Roker Mining SA until you're old enough to conduct the business on your own."

I could see that Thilo was seething with anger, but he remained calm on the surface. His approach was measured and controlled.

"My uncle has been in contact with you regarding private family business matters over which he has no influence?"

"Well…… yes, he has."

"Then I hope that you told him to fuck-off and mind his own business!"

"He's a very influential man. I had to listen to what he had to say."

"Yes, he is, but I'm telling you right now. There will be no mergers, no partial mergers, no mergers of any kind, and as my uncle has my email and phone number, but never saw fit to discuss this with me? You take calls from him in the future, and I move my account elsewhere. Is that understood?"

"I believe he was only trying to be helpful."

"Is that right? He doesn't have the common courtesy to talk this over with me, he has a conversation with my solicitors who also don't think to inform me that such an approach had been made, and you think he's only trying to help?

I think this calls into question your judgement!

When did this conversation take place?"

"I don't recall."

"So, you didn't think it necessary to make a note of it?"

"An administration error. I seem to remember that it took place a few weeks ago."

"Plenty of time for you to discuss it with me then. Only you didn't.

No doubt another administration error I assume?"

The solicitor was starting to look very uncomfortable.

Thilo had him on the rack. Neatly pushed into a corner with no obvious escape plan.

"He…… his only concern was that your estate totals in excess of one point two billion dollars US, and managing such a fortune would be difficult for you on your own, especially given your age."

"As of now, I am not on my own. You will see to it that Stephen here, is now Deputy CEO of Roker-Namibia with immediate effect. You will have all the necessary documentation prepared for signature by lunchtime today. Failure to do this will mean I move all my assets to Europe, and I don't think I have to remind you what impact that would have."

"Mr Broadhurst isn't a Namibian national. I'm not sure it's possible to register him as your deputy."

"I'm not a Namibian national. I don't even hold dual nationality, but you managed it for me?

No more bullshit!

Whilst we're on the subject of paperwork, you will draw up my will. This is very straight forward and should read that in the event of my death, or if I'm unable to manage my own affairs for whatever reason, the sole beneficiary of my estate is one Viscount Stephen Leon Broadhurst."

"Very well, it will be so. But I caution you. Your uncle isn't going to like it."

"The only possible way he could find out is if you go opening you mouth, and you know what the consequences of that will be. Screw this up, and you're toast my friend!"

We walked from the building and into the bright Namibian sunshine. I looked at Thilo, but couldn't make up my mind if he was angry or upset.

"If ever I needed a drink, it's right now!

My God, what an asshole talking to my uncle behind my back!"

"The drinks are on me. Let's go and find a nice quiet bar so you can calm down."

"That sounds like a plan. I know a decent place not far from here. At least the next meeting will be with a friendly face rather than some weasel who's trying to rip me off."

"The bank?"

"Yes. The Vice President was one of my Dad's most trusted friends, but he's not going to like what I have to say unless I can convince him otherwise."

"Which is?"

"Save it for the bar and a stiff whiskey. It's simple but controversial."

We took a table right at the back and sat with our drinks until Thilo relaxed enough to explain his next move without all the time threatening to slowly and very painfully kill every solicitor on the planet.

"Okay. As I said, the Vice President of the bank had the complete trust of my Father. Yes, he knew that at the first hint of underhand dealing would see all our assets moved somewhere else, but it wasn't that threat that kept things clean, he's a banker with old school principals. He's a native Namibian which meant he didn't get much of an education, but his personality shone through and he managed to convince the bank into giving him a job as a junior clerk. He worked his way up the promotion ladder, to cashier, to Chief Cashier to branch manager to Senior Manager and onwards to Vice President. One shewed cookie, but ultimately trustworthy."

"Just the sort of bloke you need when handling a pissing fortune!"

"Exactly. But here's my master plan.

Until that meeting with the solicitors, I was undecided about what I was going to do. I wanted you to deputise for me, and also that you were named in my will as sole beneficiary of my estate in the event that something happened to me. That was always my intention, not a spur of the moment thing. Whether or not to spread those assets around was my problem, but that arsewipe solicitor made up my mind for me.

What I need to do is make absolutely sure that Roker-Namibia is locked down tight as a drum with only you and I in a position to influence how it's run. Then, depending on the state of the farm, I intend to leave sufficient funds to keep it ticking over, either that or sell it, or perhaps just divide it up and give the land away to those families who worked for us, but we can make a much better judgement about that once we've been there."

" We can make that judgement?"

"Sure. Once that paperwork arsewipe is drawing up has been scrutinised by the bank and given the all clear, we sign on the dotted line, have it notarised making us equal partners, so then we, together call the shots."

"Do you trust me that much?"

Yes. If it all goes horribly wrong, you take the blame, whereas if we make a killing, I get all the accolades. Simple!"

"Heads you win, tails I lose!"

"Yep. Plausible deniability for me, a scapegoat you!"

"Fine. Just so long as I know!

You've talked about the possibilities regarding the farm, but what about the other assets?"

"Ahh. This is where it gets interesting.

I couldn't make up my mind, but after this morning's meeting, I've decided that once we're back in the UK, we look at the practicalities of registering a business, maybe call it Roker-Broadhurst Limited or something, then approach the banks with a view to transferring all remaining assets to England."

"Your friendly banker won't go a bundle on that idea."

"I have a sweetener. He's getting close to retirement, and as we'll need a bloody good accountant, we offer him a job. His son works in England and his daughter married a Frenchman and lives in Toulouse so persuading him to up sticks shouldn't pose a problem.

First things first. We've yet to collect the paperwork."

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