I knew I was dying, so I set out on one last journey, one last round around the wide wild world before hanging my boots and growing some wings.
Across the room in the glass table lay the keys to my old Land Rover Defender TD4. I called it The Black rhino.
I could never get my head around what drove me to baptise my rover such a name, but trust me it suited him! He was a tough cold hard black bitch!
Me and this bad boy had had our fair share of moments, we had cruised Valleys and mountains, villages and cities. He tagged along in all my dates, he was by my side when I passed by the watering hole to take one for the road, he had my back when I had a little too much to drink and often got my ass whooped. Black rhino was with me when I did It for the first time, I did It inside the black rhino, on his passenger seat. He was my wing rover and my best friend. May the gods be kind to him!
Stepping out on the porch, I saw my strapping rover mighty as ever, with his left wheels on the sidewalk and the right ones on the road so that he was slightly leaning on one side, indomitable and all powerful, ready to roar and boss the streets.
Feeling hypnotized I threw myself on the driver’s seat, buckled up and brought rhino to life. I let him explode and rumble with roars for a while before releasing his wheels to roll. The smell of the burnt gas and steam as they escaped through the exhaust always gratified me, and almost turned me on. Soon we were jaunting down the road to the gas station where I would let him drink to his fill.
Armed with a full tank, an air-tucked spare wheel atop the bonnet and with Hank Snows’ “Last Ride” blasting from the radio, we set out for our sail to wherever the road would lead us. I had no map, I wasn’t going to let a little piece of paper boss me around on this one. Today it was me, my land rover and the moment!
As we excursed up and down the hills and meanders I recalled our first ride. It was on this same road, I was 17 and had just inherited the coolest machine in the world from my grandfather.
Seated on the passenger seat was my dad, at the back my younger brother and his pet dog. Black rhino wore white paint then, was a little lighter and when on top speed hissed like a snake. We had traveled upcountry to bury grandpa.
My new Rover was impressive I’ll tell you that, while other vehicles struggled through the ditches and steep ups and downs, black rhino had a walk in the park.
Gods he was strong then!
I came back to the present as I disengaged gear four to allow my rover make a turn, following a route I had never used before.
I turned the volume up, just in time to catch John Mellen Camp’s “The end of The world”
“Why does the sun go on shining,
Why does the sea rush to shore,
Don’t they know it’s the end of the world!” 🎶
I sang along.
This Only took me back to the days preceding this one, weeks earlier or months even. I was wild, I drunk whatever boozed me up, smoked whatever stoned me, ate whatever filled me and danced to whatever hit my soul.
I was a free bird, I perched whatever tree that was strong enough to hold. A free bird with metallic wings!
My rover and I were making our usual rounds on a Friday evening when I spotted her for the first time. Beautiful, well proportioned….name them! She was the kind that even the charmless, not-much-to-look-at me couldn’t resist.
I threw my first weak shot and let the rover play it’s magic. She was an easy run this one, anyone falling for my lines was!
A few awkward nice to meet you tete-a-tetes later, we headed to a club where my new date and I had the party of our lives and later on the night of our lives.
The next day I called her, and the following and the next after that.
We’d meet up, have rounds, get bombed, dance our asses off and then hump each other like it was the end of the world! I was on a roll people.
One day she didn’t pick up my call! Neither did she show up at the joint. The next she failed to show up and went totally mia. Yes she had disappeared on me but I didn’t care, we had had our moment, it was time to move on.
Besides, I was beginning to get bored anyway, I didn’t care for her, I didn’t miss her! To hell with her.
Weeks later they began showing.
I developed lesions on my groin, a thing I didn’t notice until they were wide enough to ooze blood. Vesicles grew on my manhood and burning sores on my upper thighs I could barely walk.
Small pimples and blisters on my lips followed, growing and crusting over, eventually scabbing like small cuts that joined and formed bigger gashes eating up my beard.
Constant headaches, unending fevers and diarrhea only signalled the end for me. For days I never left the house, I grew weak from vomiting a combination of whatever I’d eat with blood, I grew thinner and thinner through the days.
As life bypassed me and my skin wore out I decided to take this last voyage; I was certain death was coming for me, but it had to follow me to the unknown, I promised myself.
It had to catch up with me, miles away from home, far away from where news of my demise couldn’t reach anyone I knew. I resolved to run!
I was still engulfed in this thoughts when my teary eyes caught a glimpse of the speedometer. The needle was drumming hard at 180. I had sank my foot on the accelerator so deep the rhino was barely touching the ground.
I held firm onto the wheel like Captain Edward on the sinking Titanic;
“Why do birds Go on singing,
Why do the stars glow above,
Don’t they know it’s the end of the world!”🎶
John on the radio went on to sing.
My eyes flooded with tears, salty tears that broke their banks and came falling, washing down my cheeks, settling on my blister infested lips and causing unbearable itchiness.
Stepping on the clutch I engaged five and let my rover fly, up a hill.
A top, the road betrayed us. As the rover and I drove straight ahead, our path took a sudden turn to the left. I didn’t see it coming! Literally.
We flew past in the open air, flying for the last time, as John went on to conclude;
“Why does my heart go on beating,
Why do these eyes of mine cry,
Don’t they know it’s the end of the world?” 🎶
I closed my eyes and held my breath, I could feel my blood freeze in my veins as we turned in the air.
Black rhino and I let go! He touched the ground as a surge of fire flew up from the bow towards me.
Black rhino and I let go! We joined the great divide together, as we had lived.
© Dennis K Bundi