Tale of 2012



Pennies from heaven                                                                    Christmas story 2012 



Around mid December there was a remarkable post in Motor Bike Forum Holland, MBF-H 

From an off-road bike, secured with a heavy chain to a fence of a church square, the seat had been destroyed with a knife. 

The stuffing was hanging out almost completely.

Resentment in every reply in the topic; who the hell would do such a thing...

Less than a week later, the same poster had posted a picture of the fence of the church square from which, attached with a heavy chain, a luggage rack of a motorbike was hanging. But no bike to be seen. 

The post said that the bike, a specially prepared off-road thumper, had been stolen. The thieves apparently unscrewed the luggage rack and just left it hanging, when they removed the bike.

It was the same bike of which the seat had been damaged some days before.

"Now wat deranged mind would do a thing like that. And why ?", topic starter, a mate of the bike owner, was wondering.

The bike had absolutely no market value. It only had a value for its owner Walter.

He adjusted the bike to his personal wishes and had just come back from a 6 months journey in Africa.

A mate of his had made the luggage rack especially for him.

Because Walter wanted a single-seat, his mate had made him a large, extra long rack.   

And now that was all that was left of the bike; the luggage rack..

In the forum everyone was asked to help look out for his unique, well identifiable bike.

A few days later again, Edward, our topic starter, posted a very worrying message; Walter himself had disappeared.

His girlfriend Julia, with whom he had made the journey in Africa, had reported him missing to the police when he did not come home one night.

He apparently followed up a tip that came through the forum, but all they were sure of was that he left on Julia's off-road.

Edward now asked everyone to look out for Walter himself, and his motorbike as well as Julia's motorbike.

Hers was the same brand and type as Walter's, only not prepared so extremely, and silver-grey instead of black.


Walter meanwhile lay, hands and feet tied with a rope, on a bed in a caravan, still wearing his biker gear.

The caravan stood in a farmer's barn of sorts. Although a small gas-heater was burning, it was anything but warm in there.

His bike lay in the barn, completely disassembled and cut into small pieces. The seat, totally shredded lay on a work bench.

Three men, South-Africans, were examining each piece meticulously.

They had taken Walter by surprise at a petrol station, dragged him into a large van and brought him to this place.

In the van his bike also stood, still completely intact at that time, apart from the shredded seat.

He had followed up a PM from a forum member who said that he saw a unique off-road being loaded into a large van in some parking lot in their village.

The van did not take off  though, they appeared to be waiting for something or someone still.

Walter immediately took Julia's bike and drove to the spot.

There he saw how a car arrived and a man got out and into the van, which took off  at once.

He pursued the van without thinking twice.

The journey seemed endless and he almost ran out of petrol when the men stopped at a petrol station.

They parked the van and disappeared around the corner of the station.

He was in doubt, should he fill up first, or call Julia to let her know where he was. He decided to call first.   

She did not answer, so het texted her: "Following thieves of my bike now, going east".

He was suddenly grabbed from behind and a hand was put over his mouth. His mobile was snatched from his hand.

Three men dragged him to the van and pushed him into the back, right beside his own motorbike.

Hands and feet were tied with pieces of rope, and they took off.

To his surprise they did not take Julia's bike.

If they wanted to steal this type of bike, than Julia's bike was a lot more attractive than his old customised pile of junk.

Hers looked a lot better and was younger and completely in its original state. 

After a while they arrived at a seemingly abandoned farm.

They untied his feet and 'supported' by the three he was taken to the caravan.

On the dirt road running by the farm he heard a heavy off-road pass by, but he was not able to attract the rider’s attention.

The heavy hum blew off in the distance...

In the caravan they tied his legs again and they checked the ropes around his wrists.

The men then took his bike from the van into the barn and started to disassemble it and cut it to pieces.

Walter was totally puzzled.

 

A fourth post from Edward reported the discovery of Julia's bike. It stood with an almost empty tank, but completely intact,

at the parking place of a petrol station in the east of the country, the keys still in it.

Nobody had seen what happened to the biker nor which way he went; the police had no further leads.

Everyone in that corner of the country was asked to keep a look out for Walter, his bike and anything that looked at all suspicious. The forum 'trembled' with resentment by now, and anger rose with every post and reply...

Walter meanwhile started to get a bit understanding of what was going on.

At first the men would just murmur a bit when he asked them, but they reassured him saying that it was not about him.

They would not take long, and he would be released unharmed.

Wat they were doing with his bike and why it had been shredded into a million pieces by now remained a mystery.

The men spoke 'Afrikaans', which originated from Dutch, so Walter could understand a bit what they said.       

From their conversation he got the impression that they were searching for something.

He finally made out that something has been hidden in his bike which he, without knowing, had smuggled to Holland.

So, what is very valuable, originally from South-Africa, and small enough to hide in a motorbike ? Indeed, diamonds !

Now when he and Julia stayed in Bloemfontein for a few days, they had their bikes serviced, and some small things fixed, by a local motorbike dealer. They left their bikes for a few days, while they made some small trips in the area on an old Transalp they borrowed from the dealer. The mechanic/owner, a guy called Georgie, was a cool dude.

He had serviced both machines thoroughly, and replaced a few dodgy spokes in Walters wheel.

He further welded a small tear in his luggage rack - Walter had not even noticed - which he, on top of that, had reinforced by adding two connections of extra sturdy tubes.

Julia's front wheel bearing was replaced, and all that at a more than fair price.

Walter now suspected that Georgie hid diamonds in the bike during services.

They had even exchanged addresses and now it was clear to Walter how they knew where to find his bike.

Later, he understood from the conversation of the South Africans, that in the seat of his bike a raw diamond of nearly 400 carat must have been hidden.

And he now also remembered that during his stay in South Africa in 2008, a raw diamond had been found in the Lent Seng Diamond Mine in Lesotho on 22nd of September. It was a whopper of 478 carat, and according to experts of "purest white".

At the time the official news in newspapers and on television only reported the find of this giant.

But he also kind of 'sensed' that there was a 'whisper in the street' that a second stone, a bit smaller in size, was found, but it seemed to have disappeared without a trace. 

Of this assumed second stone however, there was no mention in the news; officially there was no second stone.

Walter speculated that this "little brother' of the Lent Seng diamond had been smuggled to Holland in his bike, and is now probably on its way to Amsterdam or Antwerp, the two leading diamond  industries of the low countries.

The gang clearly had already found that diamond, hence the shredded seat on the workbench.

So why his bike  had been stolen and cut to pieces was still a mystery, but it became clear a little later.

He perked up his ears when 'Georgie' the name of the mechanic, came up.

The men discussed how he cheated someone called 'Auntie'. He apparently stole quite a lot of cut diamonds from Auntie and hid them in Walter's bike with destination Holland. They discussed the value of the set, and with the change rate of the Rand still in his head, Walter estimated it at about 30- to 35,000 Euros.

You had better not fool around with Auntie though, given the fact that Georgie did not survive the interrogation of Auntie's associates. But he apparently kept his mouth shut.

In spite of everything, Walter was sorry to find out that Georgie was dead. He was a nice fellow anyhow.

He told them that he was planning to see Walter and Julia in Holland at the beginning of the new year, though one could now  wonder for what purpose...

With the off-road in a thousand pieces scattered around them, the men were wondering where the hell Georgie could have hidden the stones. They could not imagine that he had hidden them in the engine... but they started to dismantle it anyway.

They discussed the possibility that Georgie may not have been able to tell Auntie's men where they were hidden because he may never have stolen them. They were getting very anxious, anticipating that Auntie would not at all be amused if they did

not find the stones, and would possibly not believe them.   

The possibility of Auntie sending her 'nephews' after them worried them a lot.

They continued the search meticulously.


Dirk came home after a bike ride on the dirt roads in the area. He did not have to go far to enjoy a bit off-roading on his motorbike, a big twin.

"Hey dad", he said, "Has the lady next door come back to the farm ? I saw people walking in her yard.

Yesterday too, by the way. I saw a biker who probably had a nasty crash.

He was supported by 3 men who more or less carried him inside the barn".

"Oh, that will be her nephew with some mates "'  his dad answered, "They do come over to play on their off-road bikes more often. Keeping an eye on the place for her as well, since she has been away.

I think that Mrs. van Veen still lives with her sister in town. She was quite upset after her divorce from that South African farmer. Good thing he went back to where he came from, I found him a peculiar fellow, so good riddens".

End of story. Dirk took off his biker gear, put on his coverall and went to work on the farm.     

In the evening he was browsing a bit in the MBF-H. 

He only looked in the forum a few times a week, he did not much care for computers.

He read Edward's topic and shook his head over the weird theft and the subsequent disappearance of this Walter.

"Quite a bizarre case", he thought "and the trail seems to lead this way...".

He suddenly jumped up, as if stung by a bee. His chair tumbled backwards and he excitedly hit with his hand on the table.

"Supported ?, No way !" he exclaimed, "Taken away... The biker was taken away. Against his will. That was this Wally or whatsisname from the forum".

"What the hell is wrong with you ?", his dad asked shocked " You fool, you nearly gave me a heart attack".   

Dirk explained what was going on in the forum and said, "The biker I saw at the neighbour's was not being supported because he fell, he is kept prisoner in Mrs. van Veen's farmhouse. I'll send a message to that Edward of the forum".

After Edward had posted that he might know the presumed location where Walter was kept prisoner, more and more replies and reactions came in from forum-mates who wanted to jump into action immediately.

But he was not allowed to share the info of where he thought the place might be.

After Edward had informed the police, they instructed him not to give away the location and they forbade him to take action, with or without some mates, himself.   

It was possible, very likely even, that they were dealing with a criminal gang that might well be armed. 

As it was Christmas eve, the police needed a bit time to round up a 'detention unit' so: 

"For heaven's sake Edward," chief inspector De Wilde said, "just stay away and let us do the job.

Before they start to suspect something and react in heaven knows what way. We'll keep you informed".

And so, later that night CI de Wilde issued the message; Walter has been liberated, a police physician notified that all was well with him. He was being questioned now, and would be taken home afterwards. 

Edward posted the result in the forum.

 

Just after 1 AM Walter came home and after a short account to Julia and a large whisky, he went to bed.

He dreamed of bike trips and diamonds and South-Africa and... What the hell... a Christmas angel?

He saw a vague figure floating high up in the air. A foggy, misty, kind of transparent shape with wings on its back.

Like you sometimes see in children's story books.

The angel came nearer and it's face became clearer and clearer.

But... that is... that is... "Georgie ?", Walter whispered surprised.

That was unmistakable the face of that cheerful mechanic from Bloemfontein.

The face grinned, looked Walter straight in the eyes and said with a crazy 'hollow' voice: "They are mine, oh yes, they are mine. I paid for them. With my life. And that's why they are mine ! But they won't find them, oh no !" 

He laughed exuberantly: "Har har har... " I didn't tell them nothing. Nothing, you hear ?

But they are no good to me over here... Means nothing over here. 

And so I want you to have them. You and your great girlfriend. You can have them... take them !

But don't let them have them, because they are your's... your's ! Har har har... I never told them nothing...".

Then Georgie the Christmas angel rose back up in the air. Became more and more faint...

From very high up he shouted to Walter: "You remember I fixed your luggage rack...

Welded the rack... extra support tubes on the rack.... the rack... Merry christmasssssss".

And he was gone.


Walter woke up with a jolt, sitting upright in bed and whispered: "Georgie".

It woke up Julia too,  "who is Georgie",  she asked.

"Hey, you 're not having naughty dreams of this Georgina character from TV, are you ?", she added teasingly.

She switched on the light and startled when she saw his paper white face. "Jeezzz, have you seen a ghost or so, love ?".

"Yes... no... 'course not. Or.. ahm... maybe", he replied confused.

He then asked: "Say, you haven't thrown away the luggage rack of my bike, have you ?" 

"Thrown away? Stuff from you ? No way ! You almost were hysterical when I put aside some rusty old nail".

"That was not a nail, that was a lock pin of a...".

"Yeah, yeah", she interrupted him, "but wat's been going on, did you have a nightmare or so?"

"I saw Georgie, you know that mechanic from Bloemfontein. He passed away apparently, but he told me that something might be hidden in my luggage rack. Well, not in so many words, but he hinted in that direction".

"Uhuh..."Julia said, "I get it.

So he is dead now, but he came back to deliver a message to you about your luggage rack... Yeah, totally logical".

"No, really, he came as a Christmas angel" Walter argued, "And he said that we could have them.

Must get up, must get to the barn and grind the luggage rack open. Bet you it will be inside...".

"Hey, you lunatic, it is Christmas, remember. And it's the middle of the night now, and you are waffling about a rack and the ghost of Georgie. Look, I know that you have been through a lot these days, but please, do try to get some sleep.

You'll feel a whole lot better in the morning, I promise.

The rack is going nowhere, and if you 're still sure there's stuff inside, then tomorrow...".

 

After Walter had grinded the rack to pieces, there was a handful of little shiny "stones" in the old plastic butter container on the workbench. Julia picked one up from the floor and said: "Keep them ?  You cannot be serious.

Of course we cannot keep them, we should report this".

"Oh no !", Walter said with determination, "it is ours. Georgie wanted us to have it.

And he was the rightful owner because he paid for them. Dearly. With his life !

Besides I want compensation for my bike. And eh... didn't you want a new kitchen ?". 

They looked at each other and both burst out laughing. Grasping for air she said: "such a bunch of amateurs.

Traveling the whole world over, doing whatever they can to get hold of the bike, and they leave the 'loot' hanging on some fence of a church square". 

She looked serious for a while, thinking. Then she smiled. "You know, you are right. It just had to be.

This belongs to us, Christmas present from good old Georgie.

What's the English expression again for something you receive unexpectedly. Something you never counted on ?

Ah yes, I remember...: 'Pennies from heaven'.

 

The End