24 August 2009

The tall man doesn't really like being here. He's afraid he might get unwanted attention, especially because for some peculiar reason it seems like he's the tallest person in the room, and he scans around a bit but no police in sight.
Ilias, you're so foolish, he thought, very foolish to be in a bus station and armed even if it was just a knife, foolish to try and make a case to Hasan that there was money where there was not even a shred of proof. But he was going to be boss someday and the short fat fuck whom he was trying to impress carried a pistol, an antique prize from the North African front, a shiny Luger. It was time to be more brave if he ever planned to become anything.
Sam feels refreshed, though he's already seen one bus and it doesn't look very air conditioned so he's wondering just how long this ride is going to be. Jake will enjoy it, though, he was always a bit crazy about history.
Though he wonders why Jake, who seemed so enthusiastic about the trip, is now seeming really edgy, scanning the crowd. And then Jake smiles and says hello to of all things a man that looks like a policeman, and he's thinking, oh shit, I hope it's not a real cop.
The man looks more like a tour operator than a real cop at least, and unlike most cops he's dealt with, seems friendly, giving Jake a pat on the head and a smile. Jake whispers something to the man and he frowns at first, then looks concerned. And now they're both scanning the crowd and Sam sees something out of place, everyone else is going about their business with little concern or attention to those around them except this one man who is unusually tall who is staring right at him. So fixed is his attention on Sam that he's not even paying attention to Jake, nor the man he's talking to in the uniform that identifies him as Brigade Touristique, the man who is now looking very concerned and whispering into a radio and there's movement at the fringes of Sam's vision. The tall man looks over and seems concerned because a short fat man a dozen meters away is being accosted by the regular police, practically swallowing up his little presence in their blue uniforms. Tall man's got a worried look on his face and quickly averts his eyes from Sam, attempting to turn and walk away but he's got his own man in blue to deal with and Sam's like wtf is Jake doing and who are these men and why the fuck can't him and Jake just have a couple of normal days?
The tall man is trying to act nonchalant, gesturing a lot, and the officer with Jake whispers something, putting himself between Jake and the man, and fuck now there's starting to be police everywhere. Jake is backing away, slowly, though neither of the two strange men are paying any attention to them now.
'What the hell is going on?' asks Sam, sweating now out of fear cos they didn't exactly sign a guest register when they entered the country. And the little matter of dead bodies.
There's a pop like a firecracker and suddenly people are screaming and another and Jake grabs Sam's arm and hisses, 'Change of plans, go, go, go!'
Another pop and they just barely make it out of the station before a wall of blue closes in behind him and the last thing Sam glimpses is tall man whipping a big knife at the guy Jake was talking to, and there's blood in the air, everyone's running and screaming and fuck they keep getting people hurt or killed everywhere they go.
Jake pulls him into an alley and bends over, throwing up, and he's crying.
'What the fuck just happened?'
'You didn't see them? The two men staring at us and gesturing?'
And, no, Sam didn't, but he's not surprised after yesterday his guard was well down, Jake never fully lets his down.
'The cop said the tall one is a suspect in tourist abductions.'
And Sam feels like throwing up himself but Jake's pulling his arm along and he's getting this awful sense that someone is following them but he's scared to see who. He doesn't know where they're going at all just blindly running, back into the shitty areas where they started, and he wonders what next and they're in the really bad part where they concealed the boat, getting strange looks from people wondering what two tourists are thinking, being in this area. His heart's about to burst from his chest cos he's sure now he hears footsteps behind them. A man sitting at a cafe drinking mint tea looks up from his newspaper and there's a split second of recognition and fuck Sam knows this man and this is all about to get really bad, Jakes uncovering the boat so he jumps to help him when there's a voice right behind them.
'Going somewhere, boys?' says a thickly accented voice which sends chills down his spine. 'I believe you've caused some trouble for my...associates. It's a matter we must to discuss.'
And Jake turns slowly, Sam doesn't want to but does, there's a man who looks homeless and here he remembers the man also, remembers thinking it was strange that this man would be ignored outside the bus station when he needed help, even remembers dropping a few Euros into his cup.
Instinctively he puts himself between Jake and the man, who's reaching into his filthy shirt and the sun is catching something metallic and glinty and oh fuck this is about to get real bad cos the only weapon between Sam and Jake is the boat knife buried at the bottom of the backpack, he remembers the master stroke of hiding it under really smelly clothes in case they got searched.
The man takes a step forward.
'Thank you for the euros, son,' he says. 'But I am quite well off, so if you need them, well, let me know. I'm sure you have someone missing you back home, where might you be from, Gibraltar? No, the accents aren't quite right. You can't be all the way from Britain?'
And Sam flinches involuntarily and the man laughs.
'Now, that is a currency I love dealing with. So much better than Euros.'
He steps forward again and Sam steps back which sends Jake into the boat with a grunt.
'Lots of ropes to undo here before you can go for your afternoon sail, aren't there?'
He has a knife out now and it's a long blade.
'Do you need help with those?' asks the man. 'A boat like this, well, she's a beautiful boat. Probably fetch a handsome reward as well.'
The blade waves, catching the sun in a blinding flash. One more step forward towards them. Sam has nowhere to go.
Suddenly the man stops and it sounds like a burp and a giant glob of red pops out of his mouth with a strange gurgle. He drops his knife and sways a bit before a black hand grabs his shoulder and yanks him back. Another gurgle and now blood is pouring from his mouth. The hand pushes him aside, right into the water with a dead splash and now Sam is looking at the man from the cafe, the man from the alley that they 'helped' the other night, a blade in his hand covered in red.
The man wipes the blade off and puts it away and Sam's knees are about to give out. But the man bows.
'I owe you boys an apology, but now we are even, no debts between us?'
'Huh?' says Sam.
'You didn't count my payment. It was short by quite a bit. I suggest you leave Morocco, and quickly. This man will be missed by some people, people who like new business opportunities.'
He gives a slight nod to Sam and Sam does the same and now Jake is pulling him into the boat and undoing ropes and shoving off like a boy possessed. Sam plops onto the deck and finally it all comes up, he's puking over the side and can barely sit up right except to look behind them, watch the corpse disappear from view, the city, all of it, and now he's crying and Jake's fumbling around below deck, sounds like he's trying to burrow a hole into the boat and there's a whirring sound with a clank and a shadow casts over him.
He looks up and there's the Union Flag flapping over them and fuck he's never felt so relieved to see it, no more of this shit, these shit places where there's nothing but death hovering overhead.
'It's only a few kilometers, okay, we have to do this, okay,' pants Jake and Sam knows he means Gibraltar, maybe dangerous to them but just maybe they will live through that kind of danger.
'Here,' says Jake and he's stuffing Sam's UK passport into his hand. 'When the boats come, no sudden moves. We were abducted in France by Jeremi and another man, and we never saw Morocco, never, okay?'
'How do we explain this?' says Sam, 'How?'
'There dozens of deserted islands in the Mediterranean. They slept, we escaped, simple is good, right, keep it simple, okay?'
'If there's so many deserted islands...' starts Sam, but he knows the answer. Everywhere they land is trouble.
'If anyone can help us now, you know as well as I it's Sydney, you know this, right?'
And Sam just nods and sure enough here come the gunships, huge cannons pointed straight at them and Jake stands up, arms out, and he does the same and wonders wtf is going to happen next.

No comments:

Post a Comment