Another Guptastic escape
THE FIFTH COLUMN
My placard had the letters F-B-I written small in the bottom-right corner so as to not arouse suspicion. The agents sniffed me out instantly — true bloodhounds on the hunt for the Guptas — and we walked through OR Tambo International Airport at a brisk pace.
“Super,” the agent to my left perked up as we approached the shops. “I see the CIA is already here.”
“No sir,” I corrected him in an official manner. “That’s the CNA. Do you need a pen?”
“No thanks, champ, I’m full up,” he said lifting a ballpoint pen from his breast pocket in one smooth motion.
We got into an unmarked Uber that I asked, at extra charge, to wait idling at the stop-and-drop to create at least some suspense and, hopefully, the illusion of urgency on our part to get rid of the Guptas.
The agents got in the back and fell for my trick, immediately asking about the case. I would have replied instantly were it not for a reference to fauna made by the junior agent apparently ignorant of the times.
“Ah, the hawks,” I said after a while. “Yes, no, we won’t be needing the hawks or scorpions or any other animal for this one. In fact — and you didn’t hear this from me — not even the president is in on it.”
The agents looked spooked, a momentary state I took to indicate that what they’d just heard was unheard of and smelled, eerily, of treason.
“Don’t worry, gents. That’s how we get things done around here.”
A professional sort of silence fell over the car until, heading along the highway straight towards Saxonwold, I couldn’t hold it any longer and spoke up. “So, do you guys know Mulder and Scully?” I asked turning in my seat like a dumb kid.
The agents looked at each other and looked at me. “Wasn’t there a Mulder in your ’95 Bok team?” the senior agent asked, deflecting my question with poise and finesse.
“Japie?” I asked, surprised by his knowledge of the local game.
“Yes, Djapie,” he said, turning to his junior in a mentorlike fashion.
“The Guptas,” the younger agent started out, pronouncing the U as A, as is the custom in his homeland.
“The Gooptas,” I corrected him in the vernacular.
“Okay, the Gooptas. What do you have on them?”
The question struck me as peculiar coming from a man dressed in the jacket of an organisation that had everything on everyone.
“Don’t you read the papers, man?” I screamed. “They’re guilty as sin. Leaked emails, big mansions, high walls. It’s all there!”
“We can’t indict someone for high walls,” the senior agent said, a little less enthused than when Japie Mulder came up. “What else do you have?
My mind sifted for about a millisecond and stalled, signaling the end of the sting and the start of another Guptastic escape
The agents — by now boiling in the relentless Highveld sun — took off their waterproof jackets and stared out the windows as we took the first exit left.