There's a party on Kyprios' boat this evening. Yeah, I'm invited... but I don't go. Paul says he'll stand in for me, just like the guy who said he was Andy Warhol, did the lecture circuit for him.
The amputee who sold me the hash pesters me every time I go near the Zoco. Wants me to buy some marjuam, which is Kief rolled into a stick with figs and honey or who-knows-what. Hash candy. Supposed to trip you out like peyote, put you in touch with the gods.
Tonight he threatens me with a razor when I tell him no thanks. One of those ugly blades barbers still use around here. Let's call this little prick Kief, although he's probably Mummar or Ahmet. He thinks he's attached to me, like a blood tick on a nice horse. So he's been following me every chance he gets... in the Medina, everywhere. Just comes out of a whore house or a cafe like he's been cloned and disseminated throughout Obo, is everywhere... tugging at my sleeve, hissing, waving his evil wares in my face.
The razor business is ugly. I'm minding my own business in the Damascus, sitting at a table trying to write a few lines for this song I got going in my head. Just slides in like a snake, sets the candy on the table. It's wrapped in unbleached paper like a reject Cubana cigar. Hisses, grunts, unwraps it with a flourish... nudges me, rolls his one good thumb and finger together. Money, white dog. It is your good fortune that Allah makes me do business with you.
Get up, walk out into the Zoco but Kief chases after me, hissing and waving his ugly razor. This gets the attention of the Fez hats sitting on the patio and the people passing by. Do I drop kick the little sonofabitch or run for it? He's gone absolutely loco, like he's about to avenge an ancient grievance to his family or an insult to his mosque. But no way am I gonna let him blackmail me into some foreign aid.
Ah, the stinking alleys of misfortune!
He slices at my arm couple times as I try to walk on. Next thing I know Bolero shows up, grabs him by the scruff, shakes him out of my orbit. Oh, Kief is a different man now -- there's real fear in those gleaming brown eyes. Pockets his blade, slinks away... away, away back into the Old Testament and the lost cities of the desert.
It's unwise to walk alone in Obo, says Bolero.
He has that West African English that you hear in Nigeria. Hate to admit it, but I'm kinda jumpy... so I accept his offer of a ride. For some reason he whips his jeep down to the harbour. Guess he assumes I'm on my way to the party. He is.
Let's talk business, says Bolero.
You want some crystal meth?
Bunch of security with assault rifles loitering around. Don't know if it's a private squad for Kyprios or Bolero. Party is rockin' on the big clipper. Recognize many of the film crew, some of them clearly pissed. See Naomi's face at a porthole... turns, looks my way... like an ancient line drawing on a rock, mysterious and troubling.
El Obo al-sur. I'm outta here.
13. razzia »»