Jim?s escapades. Author: Jokkie Gauch?
Jim and the porcupine.
Jim helps the undertaker.
Jim catches a lion.
Jim goes hand gliding.
Jim goes dynamiting a leopard.
1. Jim and the porcupine.
In South Africa you can sometimes run into very extra ordinary characters. Sometimes people get nick-names that are the opposite of their build or character. Like a very big chap being called Tiny. In this particular case the chap?s name was Jim with the nick of truth, which meant you cannot believe him.
The story comes from the days when farm children went to school on horseback or using mules or donkeys. Jim used a stubborn white mule. If you don?t know it, a mule can be as stubborn as can be. The mule hated going to school as much as Jim did. On many an occasion Jim had the good luck of not finding the mule when he had to go to school. For that Jim was forever thankful to the mule. He and the mule had a very good relationship. But that was about to change.
It came about when he had to guard the corn field against some porcupine. Well a porcupine is something that you do not tangle with without gloves. They stay in barrows and only come out after dark to do damage in the corn field. They can take a row of corn and finish yards of it during a single night.
It was quite a complicated operation for Jim to keep the porcupine out of the corn field. He had to ride the mule and also operate a spotlight and shotgun at the same time. He did not have an extra hand for the rains, so he had to verbally give orders to the mule. You can imagine how dangerous this can be at high speed. He travels in between the rows, riding the mule bareback with the spotlight in one hand and the shotgun in the other hand. The double barrel shotgun was too heavy to handle with one hand, so he made it rest on the mules head, between the ears.
The mule was quite willing to take part in the operation because every time Jim shot a porcupine, the mule finished a few tasty corn cobs. The whole operation was done at high-speed. If they see a porcupine the mule made chase to get close to the porcupine so that Jim can get a good shot. The mule became so eager to eat corn that he once stopped immediately, in its tracks, just as Jim shot the porcupine. Jim came tumbling, head over heels over the mules head and landed with his bum right on the porcupine. I think that is the worst situation a man can find himself in, sitting on a porcupine.
When Jim got off the back of the porcupine he looked like a porcupine himself with all the needles sticking into his backside. Jim wanted to shoot the mule, but thought of the many times that the mule helped him to skip school. He gave the mule his last and final warning. Not that the mule understood what it was all about. He was consuming corn and did not know that Jim cannot ride him with all the needles sticking in his backside.
In terrible pain Jim walked home so that his mother could pull out the needles. The first thing he said when he entered the house was that he is finish with that mule. He is not going to shoot another porcupine with that mule. His relationship with the mule is past tense. His father tried to calm him down, promising that he is going to buy Jim a new balloon tyre bicycle to go to school with. That almost took the pain out of the porcupine needles. The only bad thing was that Jim knew with the bicycle his school skipping days are over.
It took some time before his back was well enough to be able to ride the bicycle. He practiced to ride it on only the back wheel, with his hands in his pockets. He did that to brag before the girls to show them how good he is. The bicycle had a spot light on the handles, operating from a dynamo on the back wheel. The faster you travel the brighter the beam became. This came to good use when he tackled the next porcupine hunt. To rest the shotgun at the right height he had to ride on only the back wheel, with the front wheel about two feet above ground.
One evening after dark he was again at high speed and on only the back wheel of his bicycle, chasseing a porcupine. In the flash of the spotlight he sow a black mamba right in front of him, hanging from a corn plant, looking Jim right into the eyes. Jim had to do quick thinking. The only thing he could do was to use the hand he had on the handles to grab the mamba around the neck before the mamba could bite him. But when Jim had the mamba safely around the neck, a terrible thing happened. Jim notice that the bicycles front wheel has fallen out of the fork. With no brakes on the back wheel, he found himself in a worst situation then the time he landed with his bum on a porcupine.
To travel at high speed on the back wheel, without brakes down a steep hill, with a barbwire fence in front of you, can be a big problem. But to be in that situation with a poisonous snake in one and a cocked shotgun in the other hand, make the situation impossible. Jim did the only thing possible. He jumped of the runaway bicycle and hit the ground running. With the snake and shot gun still secured in his hands.
To be on solid ground did not help a lot. The snake in his hand was still a thing that made him very nervous. He tried to take aim with the shotgun but his arm was too short to extend the snake further than the barrel of the gun. He thought of throwing the snake up into the air and shoots the snake before it hit the ground. Jim knew it was not a very good idea. It was too dark and if he misses the snake he will not be able to outrun the snake. A black mamba is the only snake in Africa that will chase a human bean and most of the time will overtake you. Jim decided to through the snake and the shotgun at the same time in one direction and run as fast as he can in the other direction, hopping the cocked shotgun do not fire in his direction where it hit the ground. It was exactly what he did. The shotgun did fired where it hit the ground but at that stage Jim was already a hundred yards away and still making up speed.
When he got home he tells his father about his tangle with a mamba and the problems with the bicycle and how nearly he got killed by the flying shotgun. He is only going to look at the area where the accident happened the next morning. He had enough of snakes, bicycles and shotguns for one day.
The next morning he approached the area very cautiously, expecting that the mamba can be lying and wait for him. He did not see the mamba but the back wheel of the bicycle was still turning slowly with the dynamo giving only a very faint light.
2. Jim helps the undertaker.
In the old days when you still had the small communities holding their annual fair and dance in the farmer?s hall. Many a funny story happened.
It was on one of these occasions that a wrestler from Germany came to the town. He was the main attraction on that day. Challenging every one to try him in the ring. There were not a shortage of applicants but the German was too good for them all. It was quite late during the day that one of the opponents kicks the German on the throat forcing his air pipe half close. He found it hard to breath and could not speak so he went to the local hotel for a doctor to have a look at him.
Late that night when the dance was nearly over and only the hard drinkers was still in the hall. Somebody arrived who was looking for the undertaker. The undertaker was in a bad state of over consumption of alcohol but he never let a chance go by if he can box a corps. He always said that people are so eager to get into a coffin, they will die for it. They said there was a corps in the hotel and they want him out to give the room to some other people, who are waiting.
The undertaker got him some two other drunkards to help him with the promise of some moonshine after the job has been done. He needed another hand. So he asked Jim. Who was not eager to go with them. The thought of a fresh corps in candle light did not go down well with him. It took some convincing to get him to give his consent.
When they got to the undertaker?s pickup truck they saw he already had a coffin on the back. Jim asked him if he always have a coffin with him where ever he goes. He said that you never know where you can pick up luck on your way. He will not be happy if he has the chance to box a corps and don?t have a coffin with him.
Jim sat on the back of the truck. The undertaker drove in such a manner that Jim thought that they are not going to make it to the hotel. It felt to him as if the undertaker wants to make them clients with the way in which he drove the truck all over the road.
Arriving at the hotel the undertaker and his crew had the wrong room number. Instead of the room with the corps they went to the room in which the German wrestler was sleeping. The old kerosene lamp that they were using was not much better than a candle. The German was laying on his stomach whit his legs pulled up and his arms stretched out above his head. The undertaker had one look at him and said that he has passed away in a bad position. They will have to break him to get him into the coffin.
The two drunkards had to take the two legs and Jim and the undertaker took the two arms to pull them down to his body. When Jim got hold of his arms it felt as if the chap was not very well passed away. Jim could feel some back pull. The two drunkards were laying in the one corner of the room to where the corps has kicked them. The undertaker was also straggling with the corpses arm to hold it down.
Jim asked the undertaker if corpses always struggle in this way and make such ugly noises if they are died. The undertaker said that only if they were killed by poison. It seems to him this one had a double dose of arsenic to kick in such a way. The stuttering noise was because of the wind building up in its stomach. The two drunkards were back at his feet. They are not going to miss a dose of moonshine because of a poisoned corps who does not want to be boxed. As the corps was lying on its stomach he turned his head to look trough the corner of its eyes to Jim. Jim did not like it to have a corps looking at him. He tried to close the corpse?s eyes with his fingers but the corps tried to bite him. He though the corps does not die like an animal. A human has a spirit and it must be the spirit that does not want to give over. That is why it wants to bite him.
The two drunkards were most of the time lying in the corner where the corps sent them with a good kick. Jim asked the undertaker if they can?t leave the corps to finish his kicking till morning before they put him in the coffin. The undertaker said no it will be worst if he becomes cold and they will have to break his bones to get him strait. The undertaker said this one is not going to get away. He boxes them if the doctor says they are died then they are died and he coffins them. He said only if they don?t pay for the funeral he digs them up and throw them naked body back into the grave.
At this stage they had the corps partly into the coffin. Two of them were on the cover while Jim and the undertaker tried to get his arms and legs in to the coffin. The undertaker was hitting him on the knuckles to get him to pull his hands into the coffin. As they have one side of the cover in place the undertaker hits the nails in.
When they had the lit well secured with enough nails they carried the coffin down the passage and down the stairs. It is not necessary to say that the part of going down the stairs did not go that well. The coffin went somersaulting down the stairs. If the corps was not died before then he surely was by this time.
When they past the reception area one of the maids came along and told them they had the wrong man in the coffin. It was the injured German wrestler they have in the coffin not the death man.
They had to carry the coffin up the stairs again. It did not go much better than the time that they went down. If you think they had troubles to get him into the coffin, it was a sample if compared to the letting him out. The coffining was OK if compared to the somersault down the stairs. That German wanted to kill them. Luckily they could convince him that he was lucky that they did not bury him. Jim told him if this undertaker boxes you, you go to the grave. There is no get away.
3. Jim catches a lion.
Jim?s first encounter with a lion was when he asked his father-in-law to be, for the hand of his wife to be, beautiful Anna. The uncle was a game farmer and used some traps and so to catch all kinds of wild animals. When he asked Jim if he can catch lions, Jim completely misunderstood him. Jim thought he mend, catching them by hand. Jim answered him that he can, because Jim thought that no lion is going to stop him from marrying Anna. The uncle told him that he must catch a lion the next day to show him, before he can have the hand of Anna.
That night Jim did not sleep. He thought the whole night of how he is going to approach the lion. The next morning early he took a piece of sausage to barbeque and took off into the open grassland of the African bush veldt. He thought of staying in the open veldt where he can be sure that he will not find a lion and if he finds a lion and the lion spots him he will be far off so that he can have a running chance.
It was round about noon when Jim decided to stop and barbeque a piece of the sausage. He had the sausage over the fire on a wooden fork, which he had in his hand. The sausage was about cooked when the lion roared just behind him. Jim got a fright that nearly startled him dry. He got such a fright that he threw the fork and sausage up into the air so that a piece of the sausage fell into Jim?s shirt collar behind his neck. The sausage fell down right through his shirt and pans, burning him as it went down his back and legs. He thought it burned so bad he must have dirt his pans of the fright he got.
He looked the lion square into the eyes. His eyes went dry. His mouth went dry. He got thirsty. He thought of people and places that he has never heard of or even seen before. The lion roared at Jim and Jim roared back. He knew that he must not let the lion know that he is afraid of him. Jim knew that he will have to have a good start if he wants to out run the lion.
Jim blinked his eyes and the lion also blinked his eyes. It was in that split second that Jim caught the lion off-guard that he took off at full speed. Running so fast, his feet nearly did not touch the ground. He knew that if his feet touch the ground, he was beginning to lose speed. Jim runs in a foot part. A rabbit got in the foot part just in front of Jim. He bends down at full speed, caught the rabbit and putts it outside the foot part. Saying that the rabbit must give a man a chance to run, who wants to run.
Jim saw that the lion was going to overtake him if he doesn?t do something drastically. There was a small tree. About three feet high in the vicinity of the footpath. Jim jumped for the tree. He climbed high into the three feet high tree. The lion thought if he does not jump high Jim is going to clime right out of the tree. The lion over jumped and went right over Jim and the tree. He turned around and came for his final charge but he over charge and again went right over Jim and the tree. The lion went on running over the small hill. Jim nearly had height-fright of climbing into the small tree.
Jim knew that he must make sure where the lion was before he does anything. He leopard-crawl on his stomach, making himself as low as a snake trail. He crawls to the top of the small hill. Looking over the ridge he saw the lion not far-off, busy practising short jumps.
Unlucky for Jim the lion saw him. Jim had a fifty yards start on the lion but he knew he had to find a big tree. Now that the lion knows how to do short jumps, he cannot go for that small tree. As Jim was running at full speed, he heard a hard explosion under his one foot. It nearly caused him to run into a speed wobble but he succeeded to get himself under control. He always had a spare set of tacky for emergency occasions when he had to do a tacky change but under these circumstances he had to run with a flat tacky on one foot.
Jim saw a lonely tree a quarter of a mile away. He ran for the tree with the lion in close pursuit. The tree had a bare stem, with the first branch growing out at a height of about twenty feet. Jim knew he had to catch that branch if he wants to survive this ordeal. He jumped but missed the branch. But luckily he caught the branch on his way down.
Jim?s luck did not held for long because the branch broke and he fell down. He knew he was as good as dead. He closed his eyes so that he cannot see how the lion pulls him to pieces. He hoped the process of dying will be quick. But as he landed he fell the world was turning. He thought that he was in heaven on a soft bed, going around, with soft hair between his legs. He opened his one eye to have a peep look of how it looks in heaven. But he saw he was not in heaven, he was in hell, right on the lions back. Riding the lion bareback he locked his legs under the lion?s stomach he got hold of the lion?s two ears. The lion tried to turn his head to bite Jim. But Jim steered him with his head facing forward. Jim knew he had the lion in a spot that he did not want to be.
The lion ran in the direction of the homestead. Jim steered the lion at full-speed all around the farmhouse. The uncle nearly winding up his neck as he looked through a window as Jim speed on the lion?s back all around the house.
As they went around the house the lion run himself against a post planted upright. Centre between the eyes did he run into the post. Jim got of the dying lion and told the lion that his going to ride them all to death if they don?t stay out of his way.
The uncle came running from the house, praising Jim about the way he can handle a lion. He asked Jim why he smelled so bad. Jim told him that his family smelled that way when they catch lions.
4. Jim goes hand gliding
If ever there is a thing that all people would like to do, it is to be able to fly. I don?t mean to fly with an aeroplane, I mean without an engine.
It was also Jim?s desire to travel high up between the clouds. When he saw the first gliders and how they were pulled to get airborne. He had himself thinking of building some wings and uses something to pull him to get airborne. He thought of a kite. He has made some kites successfully in the past. Why can?t he make a big one and have Jonas pull him with the motorbike. Jonas is Jim?s right hand, a Zulu boy. If ever Jim wants to try something dangerous, Jonas is the man to assist him.
Jim had a piece of canvas and some bamboo poles. He will first build a diamond shape kite with the longer end to the front, with a tale. Jim was proud of how the craft developed. Everything went as the design in his mind vision it to be. He even painted the kite to look like a big eagle. Jonas helped but he did not tell Jonas of all the stages of the operation. Especially not of the part were Jonas has to pull this oversize kite with the motorbike. Jonas was not very good at riding the bike. He was more use to ride the old mule. Jim designed the kite to have enough lift to carry him well up into the air. The kite was about eight by four yards.
Everything was well planned and prepared for the big day. Jim waited for a day with a strong wind. The kite was quite heavy for Jim to carry and the motorbike was only a fifty cc model. They will need a strong wind to get the craft with Jim airborne.
When the day came with the wind strong enough they lined the kite and the motorbike up to face the wind and a long enough runway to get enough speed for takeoff. They planned the first part of the runway to be in the old field and then if necessary they can take the road to town for more distance.
Jonas was not very pleased with the part of the plan where he has to pull the contraption with the motorbike. The whole thing looked to him like a disaster that is looking for a place to happen. Jim had a hard time convincing Jonas that he will be safe. It is Jim himself that is really doing the very dangerous part of the operation. It is he that will be high up into the clouds without a steering and without a reel plan of how to land the thing on the touchdown. He convinced Jonas that he only has to let go of the rope, which is tied to the back carrier of the motorbike, when Jim was well into the air. There will be no danger on his part if he just sticks to the plan of action.
Jonas was on the motorbike and Jim very well tide to the kite, in a hanging position with his two hands holding the kite up, on the one cross member. With the motorbike in gear and the rope tight, Jim did the countdown like for a spaceshutle. On the word: go Jonas took off with the motorbike. Jim ran as fast as he can. As the kite lifts Jim of the ground, it also lifts the motorbike?s back wheel up, which bring the operation to a standstill.
After a few try shots with the motorbike Jim and Jonas got into a serious discussion of what the next plan of operation must be. Jonas surges that they take the old mule to do the job. He will feel much safer on the mule then on the motorbike. At first Jim thought that the mule was to slow and he was also stubborn. He had his doubts if that will work.
Jim made the pulling rope shorter then what he had it for the motorbike. He did that because he wanted to give the mule a chase from behind if the mule did not want to give a good fast pull. Jonas rode the mule bareback but he had the harness on the mule to be able to tie the kite?s rope onto.
The mule, otherwise, quite dosing, seemed to be nervous about this unknown thing that they are tying onto him. If Jim thought that the mule will need some encouragement to get to speed, he made a very big mistake. If ever you have seen a dog running with a tin tied to its tail, you can imagine how this operation took off. As soon as the rope pulled tight the mule had one look back. When the mule saw that the big eagle was coming for him, he took off at full speed. The faster the mule ran, the faster the eagle came for him and that accelerated him even more.
Jim did not have a long takeoff run. It was only a very few steps before he was airborne. He had no control over the operation. The mule was in full command. He was pilot and navigator, all in one. The more that they shouted to try to stop the mule the faster it ran. Jonas had his hands full to stay on the mule. The rope?s knot was so tight that he could not get it lose. When they got to the end of the field, the mule took the rode to town. When he turned into the main road the mule had sense enough to keep to the right side of the road, for other vehicles to be able to pass on the other side.
With the hard surface of the main road under his feet the mule took off for his final run to escape from this big bird that is chasing them. The mule did not worry about Jim that was already in the bird?s clause, as long as he can get away.
The extra speed created an extra problem. The mule became airborne himself. As soon as he could not feel the ground under his feet the mule that ordinarily don?t make a noise started to sound like something between a donkey and a horse. At a height well clear of the danger of oncoming traffic and higher than the tree tops, they shouted for help. Not trying to stop the mule any more. They knew it can only be a metrical if they survive this operation.
The kite took them in the direction of a homestead. Jim and Jonas shouted for help as they saw the farmer and his wife on the veranda of their house. The farmer had his shotgun ready on the porch, for the occasion if he sees an eagle going for his chickens. This size eagle he has never seen before. After the first two shots of the double barrel shotgun Jonas decided that to jump was a better option than to be shot at. He tried his luck, going for a haystack passing right under them. He did not exactly hit the haystack with the fall but the hay did help to break his speed on the next touchdown.
The farmer?s wife asked him if he think he has hit the eagle. He said he does not know but the eagle let go of the boy. He said he is going to reload with buckshot rather than birdshot, which is too small. Luckily for Jim the farmer was a good shot and aimed for the kite rather than his pray. Jim saw the buckshot reaping through the canvas. With the big hole in the canvas the craft seem to be losing height. But as soon as the mule hit the ground it seems as if the speed was again increasing. The mule still had a lot of stamina to out run the contraption.
It was on the next touchdown that Jim got himself out of the straps, tying him to the kite. The farmer was still pumping lead in Jim?s direction. Jim herd the bullets as they past him and then again when he past the bullets. Hitting the ground at the speed of lightning, Jim had to put on breaks not to overrun the mule. The mule just kept on running but Jim got himself to a standstill speed within a hundred yards. Jim started back in the direction of the farmhouse meeting the farmer and Jonas halfway. Jonas was swearing at Jim as soon as they were in hearing distance. Complaining about the dangerous position Jim got them into. Jim asked him if he did not like it to fly. Jonas said he liked flying but not on a flying mule.
Jim goes dynamiting a leopard.
It was a day of important things to happen in the life of Jim. For a long period of time has he planned on this very dangerous venture. To get a leopard out of its hiding place in a cave on the mountain is not for the faint hearted. He had some dynamite, which he got from a friend who works at a mine. He thought of many ways he could make use of the dynamite, but to get the leopard out of the cave was the best use for the dangerous stuff.
Jim had a dog that he taught to swim into the lake, to take his fishing line to the best spot in the water. He tied the line in such a way onto the dog that the line pulls loos from the dog when he gives it a hard pull.
His plan involves that the dog will take the dynamite into the cave with a rope tying the stuff to the dog?s body. He first did some trial runs in the open to coordinate the length of the rope to the length of the fuse.
Spotty, the dog, was something between a fox-terrier and a street accident. He did not like the smell of the dynamite tied to his body and even liked it less when Jim put a burning fuse on to the stuff. Jim controlled the whole operation to a fine art. The dog goes the distance of the rope that Jim measures of, like in the old days they measured linen in the shops.
His wife did not like the idea of mixing dynamite with grisly meat. Although Jim would rather fight a leopard than to tangle with his wife, he convinced her that it will be a very well planed operation and that she can stand at a safe distance when he put his plan to practice.
As I said at the beginning, the big day has arrived. All the preparations and trials were practiced and fine tuned. Even the dog seamed convinced that the operation will be a success. Although he did not like the thunder of the exploding dynamite, he was safely back, with Jim, every time the stuff exploded.
Anna, Jim?s wife, took a stand some fifty paces from the cave, having a good view of the whole spectacle. With her one foot in the direction of safety, down the mountain, she awaited things to happen.
Jim had his rifle put to one side, in reach if the Leopard comes out of the cave. He carefully tied the dynamite to the dog and with a few words of comfort he sends the dog into the cave. He first measured the rope equal to ten paces. Pulled the rope to free the dog of the dynamite and called the dog back to him. The dynamite exploded in the cave with an enormous bang. Jim stood ready with the rifle, but nothing happens.
Jim is now doubling the length of the rope to twenty paces. The dog was nerves, with the smell of leopard and exploding dynamite in the aria he did not feel safe. With the length of the fuse doubled to compensate for the extra length of the rope. Jim sends the dog in for the second time.
What Jim did not calculated, was that the leopard might decide to come out before he got the dynamite loos of the dog. So, when the dog came out of the cave with the dynamite still tied to its body and the leopard close behind him. Jim knew he had problems. The biggest problem was the dog with the dynamite with a very short fuse, trying to get as close to Jim as he could. The leopard was also coming straight for Jim and the dog.
By this time Anna took off like an arrow. Straight down the mountain with her barrel like body, with her feet only touching ground every five paces. Jim wend the same direction, with the dog close behind him and the leopard in hot pursued.
It was when the leopard took his final jump to tackle both Jim and the dog at the same time that he made his big mistake. He stepped on the rope which pulled the dynamite loose from the dog. It was exactly at the time when the leopard was right above the dynamite, when the dynamite exploded. This convinced the leopard to turn around before he touches the ground again, for safety reasoned.
Anna had speed, like an overdrive. With her barrel like body, she was like a big bolder tumbling down the mountain. Jim was not far behind. His feet only touched the ground when he was losing speed. Spotty was the last to get to the bottom of the mountain. He was howling and with his tail between his legs he had enough of dynamite for a long time to come.
When Jim and Anna came to a stop at the foot of the mountain, seeking to find some breath, Anna started to tell Jim that it was the last time he used dynamite. He has to trough it down the long-drop toilet, where it will be safe and out of rich. Well, she did not know Jim. He was totally out of breath. So she also told him that it was the end of his smoking habit. He must stop right at this moment. Well, Jim promised that he will stop but did not completely agree with the decision. He thought more of a longer period of time to make the change over. At this period of time he knew he could not argue with Anna, even at the best of times it was not a good idea to tangle with his wife.
Well, Jim did as his wife ordered him. He throws the dynamite down the long-drop. The stop smoking was not so easy. He made a habit of going to the long-drop to get a good smoke that can last him for a few hours. It was also the first and last thing he did during every day. It was not long before Anna noticed his very regular visits to the long-drop. His excuse was that his stomach was giving him problems. For that Anna had good medicine. Caster-oil was the best thing to clean his stomach. Jim did not like the taste of the staff but it gave him the chance to regularly visit the toilet and have a good smoke.
Jim uses a pipe to smoke and sometimes used more matches than tobacco to keep it burning. Most of the times that he went to the long-drop he only went to get a good smoke. Throwing matches, which were still burning, down the pit. Not thinking of the dynamite that was waiting for a spark to set them off. It was on one of these occasions, sitting in the toilet, that he was thinking of places where haven?t been and of people that he have never met, that the match fell on the wrong or the right place.
When dynamite explode. You first feel the vibration and then you hear the sound. Well, when he felt the vibration, he thought it was the caster-oil, which was starting to work but when he felt the blow, he knew it was something stronger at work. Luckily the long-drop did not have a strong roof, which helped Jim