Title: Kindred Passage
Author: Gregory Gourlay
Email: (Does not want it public)
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 1
Buy at: Rogue Phoenix Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble
In the 1960s while visiting central Africa, Ken Mallory uncovers intriguing information surrounding his great-grandfather, Lucas Lindsay, who fought in the Barotseland Civil War of a century earlier. Delving deeper into the puzzle, Ken begins to identify with Lucas, setting to rest agonizing problems from his recent past. Through the eyes of these two young men, different generations of the same family, Kindred Passage views the native wars of the 1860s, along with Africa's post-colonial era. Although living one hundred years apart, the similar dilemmas the Zambezi River country and its people impose on both men underscore the basically changeless nature of Africa.
The kudu cow had just started down the slope when a vehicle hurtled out of the heat haze from around a bend. She leapt back up the slope in two great bounds. On top, she settled into a hard run for the cover of the scrub.
The Land Rover swerved, then slid off the road, heading for a clump of mopani trees. Ken Mallory strained against the wheel, fighting the heavy sand. Dropping into four-wheel-drive, he churned back onto the road and stopped.
The antelope had been beautiful. Mallory relaxed his sturdy shoulders against the seat and fixed his blue-grey eyes on the spot where the creature had vanished. Lindsay would have really enjoyed seeing that, he thought, and his mouth tightened. Then, with a little shake of his head, he reached for the map on the seat beside him.
"Good," he muttered, checking the odometer against the map. He'd reach town in a few hours.
~ * ~
A sun-bronzed white man with heavy, sloping shoulders turned off the sandy road and headed up the path to the native village in a powerful, lunging stride. Just inside the village, he ducked his head under the lower branch of a flat-topped acacia tree to stand there in its shade.
"Fuckin' heat," he grunted, pushing his hat back and using a thick finger to wipe sweat from his face.
A full-bodied, young native woman appeared inside the doorway of a hut. The man caught the movement and, in one quick step, placed the tree’s trunk between them.
Stepping further away from the door, the girl undressed. Pulling her long, flowered dress over her head, she used it to wipe perspiration from her body.
The man stared, his eyes pursuing her as she dipped water from a pot and dribbled it in little splashes over her body head and back and arms. Five minutes passed, and still he remained motionless behind the tree.
He didn't notice the stoop-shouldered, old woman until she was almost abreast of him.
She was more startled than he. Visits to the village by Europeans, whites, were extremely rare. One hand darted to her mouth in surprise; the other flew upwards to steady the pot she balanced on her head.
"What in hell are you starin' at?" he growled. "Voetsak—screw off!"
She edged past the tree with a nervous giggle, clapping her hands politely, empty breast pouches slapping against her thin body.
A wind sprang up, swirling in circles and gusting, hot and dry off the plain. Thatch rattled on the roofs; the old woman and houses vanished as dust rushed through the village.
The man mouthed a silent curse at the invading clouds of dirt and lowered his big head against the wind. Then, as suddenly as it began, the wind died, seemingly killed by the heat.
A film of dust settled slowly to the ground.
Lighting a cigarette, he stared after the old woman, focusing on the spot where she'd disappeared around the side of a hut. He drew on his cigarette, thinking. Apart from the old woman and the naked girl, there was no movement of any kind. The village dozed in the afternoon heat.
A gentle humming began in his head.
The naked girl arranged some cooking utensils on the dirt floor in front of her, then stopped again to pour water on herself. As it ran down the crease separating her buttocks, she twisted her body deliciously.
The man's tongue crept between his lips and licked the corners of his mouth. He took another quick look around, then threw his cigarette away.
The humming was louder now, insistent. He couldn't ignore it any longer.
He was in the hut and behind the girl before she was aware of him. When she spun around, he calmly removed the belt from his trousers. Instinctively, her hand darted between her thighs. He smiled at this and toyed with the belt, listening to the hum.
Seconds later, the belt began to sing through the air.
~ * ~
Ken Mallory leaned over the steering wheel to squint through the dirty windshield. Figures danced in the heat haze up ahead, near a village.
A group of natives attacked a white man, a huge, blond fellow well over Mallory's middle height, who fought a running battle toward the road. He appeared remarkably unruffled, however, facing the enraged villagers with a strange, calm smile on his face, almost as though he enjoyed himself.
Impulsively, Mallory leaned on his horn. "C'mon," he shouted, "run for it."