Mark Schwartz and his longtime fishing buddy (and fellow disabled angler) Duggie Wessels took on the might of the Lakenvlei farm gate security system. Hilarity ensued.

 

Monday – I call Duggie.

“Dude we need to get to Lakies.”

He agrees. A call to Cape Piscatorial Society seals the deal. On Friday we are off to Lakies to fly fish. In the meantime we make plans. Boats and a crash pad sorted with Albie in Ceres. I am set to pick up Duggie on Friday after work.

I’m so excited I cannot wait. I tie flies till my fingers hurt and my wife begins to think I’m watching porn in the garage. “Yep,” I respond, “Fly porn baby, fly porn.” With a shake of the head and a roll of the eyes she heads back inside, leaving me to keep strapping wooly buggers.

Friday rolls up and my bags are packed and ready to go. A kiss and a hug from the wife and I’m off, wheelchair on the passenger seat until I get to Duggie. On the way there I’m thinking this is going to be interesting – two wheelchairs plus fishing gear. We will have to pack clever to make this work.

Once Duggie and the gear are loaded, I look back and survey our work. My chair is just a fast gun sling away on the back seat in case I need to make a quick exit. Duggie, however, is screwed because his chair is stuck under all the gear in the back of the Toyota Fortuner.

We get to Albie’s place in Ceres late that night where there’s a cracking fire and cold beers waiting. What a dude!  Albie knows how to make you feel at home. The  fireside conversation immediately leads to fly fishing, and ends with our plans for the next big trip to the Orange River.

Saturday morning. The alarm screeches and the realisation sets in that Lakies is waiting for us. Fumbling around in the dark getting dressed while rolling around on the floor like a lizard, I sit up to wake Duggie and immediately start cracking up.

With a sleep apnea mask on his face and his stompies sticking straight up in the air he looks like Darth Vader’s break-dancing midget twin. He rambles off something about air deprivation while sleeping, but has no explanation for the erect stompies*. Yes, stompies not stompie singular. You see Duggie has no legs. That’s why he boasts that he is the only man that can say his stompie is longer than his legs.

We get coffee on the go and sort out the packing. It’s the same drill, but this time the boats are loaded and a lonely wheelchair is sticking out from under them.

After a short drive around a misty mountain, we get to the gravel farm road turnoff to Lakies. The car is filled with excited banter.

“Here we go boet, this is going to be epic. I cannot wait to see that first glimpse of the dam as you pop over the rise, just that little corner at first and then it opens up and you already get that feeling that today is the day.”

“Oh shit, the gate. We forgot about the gate. Fuck it we will deal with that when we get there.”

We get there, the Fortuner screeching to a halt in front of the gate.

“Ok Duggie, where is that key?”

Key found, I activate plan A:

  1. Drop the backrest of the driver’s car seat
  2. Grab the wheelchair frame and pull it over.
  3. Grab the wheels. Click. On they go.

“This is easy bro! No hassles.”

  1. Jump out, get in the chair and open the gate.

Trying to achieve step 4 from under the headlights illuminating the gate in the early morning darkness, I realise we have a problem. I shout, “Duggie, there is no lock on this gate! How do we open it with a key if there is no lock on the damn gate?”

From the depth of the car – like a real backseat driver – the reply comes, “It’s not on the gate, it’s in the box you idiot, (cue Cremora advert flash back)!”

‘What box?’ I’m thinking as I open the box next to the gate and find inside it a remote which, as predicted, opens the gate… you plank.

Hooo, okay that makes sense. No problem. Box open, remote located and, what do you know, the gate opens. More instructions come from the backseat driver still in the car to stick the buzzer back and to lock the box.

Cool, plan B went well enough.

Now to activate plan A in reverse. At the car, I jump out of the chair, grab the wheels, grab the chair, stick the frame on the back seat, resume the position and drive.

“No, no, nooooo, the gate is closing!”

Second try under time trial conditions this time and still no luck.

Out comes Mr. Stuyvesant and Mr. Camel.

“Time to hatch a new plan here Duggie.”

Through a cloud of smoke we believe we have the solution.

“Duggie, you jump into my chair, open the box, open the gate and I will drive though and wait on the other side. You then stick the buzzer back in the box and come around the small open pedestrian section next to the gate. Got it?”

“Got it.”

 

For the rest of Mark and Duggie’s story, check out issue 19 below.