It’s five hours since the incident and Michael still can’t hear from his left ear.
Michael, Peter and I were walking back to the hotel after an early dinner at one of the few restaurants still open. It was light out. We turned down a small road and spotted a lone mercenary. He was teetering, clearly drunk.
We backtracked to head in a different direction. Too late. “Hey!!”
I whispered, “Keep moving”. We marched on hoping he’d just let us go. Then we heard, POP POP POP! He was shooting. We froze and heard his heavy footsteps running towards us.
He practically fell against me as he reached us. He reeked of alcohol and pressed his hand to my shoulder steadying himself.
“Who are you?” he demanded. He was an Afrikaner. Unshaven, dishevelled and looking for a fight. I explained we were reporters heading back to our hotel. He was staring at Michael who was trying to avoid eye contact. Then without warning, he raised his pistol to Michael and fired!
Michael screamed, we all jumped in shock. He’d fired at point-blank range aiming just a foot off of Michael’s head. I started shouting, “Stop, stop, stop!”
I reached into my pocket and grabbed every American dollar I had, possibly over $700. I pleaded that he take it for all the trouble. The drunken man stared at the cash I’d stuffed in his hand trying to process his sudden windfall.
I took that opportunity to lead a screaming Michael away. When I looked back at the merc, he was still staring at the cash, weaving in the middle of the road. Once out of sight, we found a small café to regroup. Michael wasn’t hit, but he was clearly shaken from the whole experience. He thought his ear had been blown off.
And now here we are five hours later in the relative safety of our hotel. And still Michael can’t hear properly. I only hope it’s not permanent.
That was a very close call. You can only tempt fate so long. It’s time for us to leave.