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  • We are burning down the dirt road. Friday afternoon and still in school uniform. I’m on a 70cc Honda monkeybike. Andrew is eating my dust on the crudely painted red 50cc. That’s how it works. The guest gets the slower bike. We are a long way from the allowed perimeter my parents have set us. But hey – we’re on a mission. A few weeks prior some regular visitor to the game reserve found a shark’s tooth, the sharp tip peering out from the soft sand. Not just any shark’s tooth mind. A prehistoric specimen blackened with time and in mint condition. It’s a thing of preserved beauty. He shows it off and then goes and gets it made into a necklace. Now I want one. Hence the out of bounds reconnoitre. We are heading to the quarry. Shark tooth shopping.

    With time on my hands I decide to play a trick on Andrew. I take a detour onto the deserted, makeshift football field and stage an accident. I cover myself in dirt, drag the bike like it’s shot out from my legs and wait. Andrew comes zooming around the bend. A bona fide city boy with the country wind in his hair. He slows down, can’t see me on the horizon. He looks around and spots me lying in the field. I wave from my supine position. Oscar time. Why do I do this? I wonder while I wait for my friend to come to the rescue. We’re on motorbikes cruising on dirt roads on a game reserve, the world our grit-ridden oyster – there is no need for more drama. Is there? Too late. Andrew parks his bike and comes rushing over to me. I channel old Westerns and mutter like a dying cowboy, ‘Hey man, I...I...I hit a sheep. Came out of nowhere.’

    A perplexed Andrew looks around the vast, barren expanse for the offending ungulate. Damn. I think. I’m missing a crucial prop.

    ‘Help me up.’ I whisper. I limp to my bike and pick it up.
    ‘Are you okay?’ Andrew asks, still looking around for that lost sheep.
    ‘I’ll make it.’ I say. ‘The sheep just bolted after I hit it.’ I explain. ‘It’s probably dying somewhere out there.’ I announce, looking into the distance like a kindergarten Clint Eastwood.

    Back on the bikes, we head to the quarry and start looking for shark teeth. After about 20 minutes our 11-year old minds are bored. Shitless. All the pebbles and stones on the ground morph into shark tooth shapes. A mirage of fossils. We call it a day when I hold up a pointed fist-sized rock and shout, ‘This looks like a shark’s tooth.’ No Indiana Jones, it’s not, it’s a rock.

    My little counterfeit accident with the ghost sheep has leaked all the petrol from my bike. Under duress Andrew heads back to HQ for fuel. It seems like days until I see his rescue bike approaching, rendered a crimson blur in the shimmering heat.

    ‘I think I saw the sheep you hit.’ Andrew says, handing me the fuel.
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