By ZJ Galos.
He wakes at the end of a tiresome night. Not enough sleep, he moans and gets up to seek relief in the adjoining bathroom. Physically he feels better, but his teeth ache, as if some fever had seeped into his lower gums and he is bound to become a victim of the dentist, yet again. But the dentist was the man in his dreams, he had visited just now. He must sleep still more, take an aspirin and soothe this neuralgic uproar that had lodged itself since a few days below and in between his teeth that felt being pulled, in a sensation of urging to bite upon them that lowered the tension. He was tense. Some sleep, some sleep! Relief, relief!
What a strange place now this has become! He used to drive to this underground parking for the last years and it was darn easy. Not any longer. The small blue car in front of him is stranded right in the centre, its lights blinking in an emergency mode. He drives around it carefully, as a black face in blue worker’s gear and crash helmet signals him a deviation. He has to reverse and then take the road to the left. The petite lady with the hollow cheeks and bony fingers, is still concerned to signal her distress to the banked-up cars behind her. Why did nobody bother to place a no-entry sign before the garage access road, he cannot understand. He must have missed that, but then all cars behind him have missed that too. He recalls the dark faces and relates it to Africa. But which city is this? He had opened the window on his side and the air was warm, but not moist. It can’t be the east coast then, not Durban, besides he would have recognized the city. He recalls the past drives there, uphill, passed the complex of Westgate’s imposing stretch of shopping malls and the colonnaded palm trees. He would see the new style architecture, sleek and shiny metallic, reminding him of boats and sails. He would drive downhill and then suddenly have a view of the Indian Ocean’s blue and endless stretch across, the city’s skyline at a distance to his right.
He drove around the streets and lost his way. He’ll rather park here, where he still noticed clean streets and enough parking spaces available. He could not see the parking sign for the deviation to lead him to the garage of the newly built centre. Now he remembered that he had an appointment to see the dentist, who had changed his address. He could not see any street names. He parked his car at the kerb and locked it by pressing the centre of the key. The key was not his usual key; the plastic tag attached to it was worn and illegible. He wanted to place the key into the second front pocket of his moon bag, as he always would do it, but he had none placed around his waist. He pocketed the key and walked across the newly-surfaced street, to enter a shop selling spices. The scent of sweet and peppery fragrances was pleasant. Like at the north coast, he said to himself aloud and the well-shaped woman with a face and skin that blended with the cocoa-colours smiled at him and wished him good morning. “Can I help you?”
“Yes, can you tell me where I am? I have lost my way.” She said something in a strange language, he could not understand at all. Finally he shook his head and lifted his shoulders in despair. He looked at her. She had long and sleek fingers with which she pointed at his heart, whereby falling into bouts of laughter.
She took him by his hand and pulled him through a curtain of coloured glass beads, struck by a powerful light, spreading dancing specks of changing patterns onto the opposite dark red painted wall.
When his eyes adjusted to the dim inner atmosphere of the first room, he could see a bevy of beautiful girls assembled in one room, attending with giggles to a game. Some were loosely dressed and bare foot, others naked to the waist, moving their nubile bodies back and forth.
“Where are we?” The woman at his side smiled. His first thought was: An oriental pleasure palace. The women with dusky eyes, who accompanied him to a room nearby, started to undress him. Then she prepared a bath and continued to soap and then to wash him. She dried him-off and brought a white cotton caftan with blue embroidery, she put on his naked body, and she had carefully cleaned and treated with a slight massage and cream. She giggled always when she saw his stirrings and his body reacting to her touches. At one stage he got aroused from her sensual massage. She made approving noises at him. He felt fine. Then he lay on a bed with immaculate light blue linen and erotic scenes embroidered on the cushions. It struck him as Indian motives from the Kamasutra, he had a liking for. She had put-on soft music and it reminded him of Chatur Lal, recognizing the sitar and the tablas. The sweet and spicy scent of incense lay heavily on him and he spun into a realm of dizziness in a world of sweet erotic pictures. He became aware of being stretched-out completely, elongated, with a desire to be touched.
The dusky-eyed woman from the shop, who tended before to his cleanliness, massaged his head and neck, while another younger woman attended to his feet. He relaxed, with all thoughts of his whereabouts fallen by now to the wayside, swept away more and more by the sensual stroking of their fine and slender fingers. The younger woman’s fine blue-green dress slipping off at her left side, exposing her beautiful areola and her small but firm nipple, he desired to kiss. He began feeling high, walking on air, amongst the lushness of a paradisiacal garden, in tropical warmth that denuded the shrubs and trees of their leaves and strange erotic symbols grew on them everywhere. A beautiful girl beckoned him to bath with her in the iridescent turquoise waters of a fountain. She jumped on him several times, but she failed. Her top was perfect and Venus-like; her lower part below her navel was the body of a fish. Then a strange thing happened, after she poured him a drink from the top spray of the fountain. He grew immediately a fish body to match hers. She kissed him with a fire and then she initiated their fish-like copulations. Humans and fish with human emotions in kisses and slippery feelings as fish in contrast.
He gasped, the women had taken turns to devour him and he was burning in a fire that spread along his abdomen to his chest and his neck and his face and it caused him short breathing. He woke. They were both naked at his side, smiling at him, teasing him, giggling and kissing him. He felt pampered, warm and refreshed. He got-up, had a look at them before he intended to leave. Then on the spur of an erotic spark, he decided to go back to bed. He was on fire and he wanted to take the young and lithe lass. This game went on and on. He had lost all sense with time. In the morning as he woke to some noise, they were gone. His clothes hung neatly on a hanger, cleaned and his soft top felt washed and his shoes had a shine. He dressed.
His cell phone rang. “We have a meeting at ten. Are you all right Joe?” It was Gord!
“Thanks god you are calling me,” he retorted in a hose voice. “Yes, yes,” he stammered, “tell me
Gord, could you fetch me, I had a bad night.”
“Ok, sure,” Gord said, “at your house?”
“No, no,” he replied, “I am not at home.”
“Oh, you loafer you!” Gord pushed out his usual raucous laugh.
“Wait!” He shouted, opening the door and walking out his room, looking for someone. Nobody was around. There at the end of the room with the glass-pearl curtain a charwoman was busy. She could not talk. The environment had changed. The walls were all white; he was irritated by now again. “Gord? This is a strange place; I have to call you back soon, OK?”
“Are you all right?” Gord sounded concerned.
“Yes, yes, I just had some amnesia; have to search for the address…” He ended the talk and headed for the entrance door.
The shop was there, spices and all. He could smell the scent before he entered through the curtain with the glass pearls. A wiry brown man in khaki clothes tended to a set of books. He looked up. “Can I help you?” He was relieved; at least he could now communicate and find all answers to his many questions.
“You will find this strange, but where are we?” He looked at the man with sharp and intelligent eyes. “We are in Vib’s Spice Emporium. I am Raj, her brother.”
“Pleased to meet you, I am Joe. What city are we in?”
“This is the city of the stars, Little Delhi, you could say. A stone throw away from the City of the Sun and Moon.”
“Aha,” Joe said, “the casino and gaming empire?”
“Well yes, all the people from the continent come here on a special deal to play. Yesterday was their night and we had an Indian-theme-party. Did you enjoy it?”
“Yes,” Joe said. He noticed the photograph of a young woman with soulful eyes, prepared for marriage, with all the henna-painted beautifications. “My daughter,” Raj said.
“She is pretty,” Joe replied, taking the photograph from the table.
“Yes,” Raj said and sounded sad. “She is no longer with us. She passed away last month. The pain of her loss is still with me.”
“I am sorry,” Joe said, “my condolences. I thought to recognize her from last night’s party.”
“No, no,” he said quietly “that was her sister Alta.” Joe kept silent. It was the girl he had desired and went back to bed for all night. She was wonderful, with bursts of passion as far as he was able to remember.
“Raj, do you mind giving me her mobile phone number?”
“Sure,” Raj busied himself to get a piece of paper. He scribbled her number onto the shops stationery, as he mumbled it aloud.
“God morning Joey,” a radiant, dark-haired woman with a deep olive complexion entered the shop. “How are you love?” She cooed and as she was close enough, she hugged him, kissing his cheeks. “You look good. Have you been well looked after?”
“I am well, and…you have met my brother, all’s well now.” She was overflowing with a motherly kindness. “Sit here, I will fix you coffee, you look like you need some.” He sat down in the adjoining room at her desk that seemed to be her office. He recognized the armchair. Then slowly all came to place within tumbling thoughts. With all these events cascading in his mind like turmoil, he had found his Indian lady friend, an impossibility, yet it was reality. She came back, smiling and with a scent of sweet lemons airing her luxuriant appearance. “But Vib, I…this is…” She came closer.
“…take this!” She cut his stammering off and handed him a pill. He took the pill and she disappeared again, reappearing with a cup of coffee. He put his nose to it. “Cinnamon, mh, excellent, you remembered Vib, how I like my coffee. Hm?” He sipped it from the porcelain cup, as it had cooled down sufficiently for him to drink. He knew this cup; it was dark-blue, decorated with a scene from Classical mythology. He felt better. “I wanted to tell you about…” He took another sip of coffee.
“How is life Joey? Tell me how you came here to meet me.”
“Well…” He cannot seem to get a chain of thought yet into sequence. “I want to talk to you alone Vib.” His eyes fixed hers with urgency.
“Let’s go then,” she takes his empty cup, “I’ll be back in a minute.” She has some words with Raj and they exchange some business matters, while he waits for her, behind a shelf, studying her figure, holding a small packet of Oregano in his hand, feeling the substance of his favourite spice between his fingers. He thinks of Cynthia, the woman that came like a spook into his life. She had many names related to Artemis and she had taken on many shapes of women since. The face of Alta appeared in front of him as Vib came to take him to a place to talk nearby in confidentiality. He said good-bye to Raj and they exited the shop, stepped into the narrow road outside that turned in a bend to the left.
Vib took his hand and she hurried to a small tavern at the end of the street that opened to a small square. Idira, it said in curved letters, painted by an artist, showing a sleek jug from which water was running. “This is a place I know,” Vib spoke elated and with excitement. She took a place in the corner of the tavern, divided from the main room with some plants.
“Vib, I am confused,” he started immediately. Vib ordered a jug of wine and some antipasti. He poured forth his story. This time she let him speak without interrupting him. “Now then,” he concluded, “I am lost, cast-out, thrown into a cold night and to the wolves.”
“No,” she said, “you were thrown to warmth and into a paradisiacal place last night, finding pleasure. You were thrown to the threshold of my soul. I love to have you.”
“You say that beautifully Vib, lyrical like a poet. What was his name?”
“Zelan,” she said.
“I was thinking of the Indian poet Rabin…”
“…oh you mean Rabinhadrath Tagore.”
“Yes,” he said “that’s the one.” They exchanged some common interests that had brought them together in the past. She recalled the time when they had met on the Internet and became friends. He let her talk now and she poured her emotions onto him like the icon on the tavern did show the overflow of water, life, he thought.
Vib glowed, her olive skin almost a shade lighter, translucent and velvet to his touch. She took his right hand and placed it upon her generous bosom. “Do I love you? I am glad you came.” He felt well in the secure folds of this earth-mother with a golden heart that did show on her face now. Her skin turning a velvety-cinnamon and as she turned, he touched her long braided hair and let it slide through the slightly closed palm of his hand. It caused a warm sensation in him, starting in his loins as he ended at her lower back, surprising him.
“I love your hair Vib and cannot get enough of it, stroking it, while I gaze into the mystic ebony of your eyes.” She kissed him with small kisses to his lips. Her lips felt full and sweet, the taste of cinnamon lingered on his tongue tip.
He looked deeper into her eyes that glowed and set his libido alight. “Let’s go,” she said “and rest, after that we tend to all your matters.” As she rose, bending forward. He could see into the soft folds of her cleavage and he stirred, feeling dryness in his mouth. As he licked his lips reaching for a sip of water, she smiled her mysterious smile. In her eyes reflections of lush green and dark coloured amber of bodies falling in succession. He thought of her in the nude, stretched-out on a light blue and green linen covered bed. “What are you thinking Joey?” She took his hand and exited with him, her favourite tavern through the back door, then up a flight of steps, across an open passage and finally a steep ascending stair. She went ahead, while he climbed behind her, edging closer to watch her thighs moving as she had lifted the hem of her dress. He could see that she had no panties on as he reached for her thighs, touching them gently. She gave off a slight shriek.
On top of the stairs she paused, out of breath. “Joey?” He came close to her and their breathing close, he pressed himself onto her, kissing, clasping and seeking to stoke this fire, she had set alight in the tavern with her eyes and spices, followed with all touches and kisses. Now he craved for her body, luxuriant and powerful, a mountain of desires, he wanted to climb.
She opened the door and he had his fingers opening the buttons of her dress at her back, sliding her soft dress from her left shoulder and then her right. She stood mesmerized as he clasped her huge breasts from behind at first, then turning her around he kissed her deep and fell over her, sinking to his knees. He tasted spices everywhere. He got intoxicated on her velvet skin and all her folds as they moved towards her wide bed. She fell upon it and stretched out wide as his welcome weight pounded on her.
“We thought you never make it today,” Gord greeted him, fetching him from the ‘Tavern of Heavenly Delights’, where he had phoned him from. The young girl selling roses in her adjoining shop spoke enough English and she helped him, trying to establish for him all identifications necessary for his orientation and existence, he still was doubtful about. Place, city, street, country, she repeated as she wrote all down on the sheet of paper, she normally used to wrap roses into. He asked her for two dozen of roses, she would select for him to be delivered to the spice shop: Vib’s Spice Emporium. Yes, she said, she knew it, as it was not far from here: The adjoining square with the fountain.
He could not recall the fountain, but was relieved she knew the shop. Gord phoned him on the landline. He was careful in telling him about his bad accident. It was first nothing visible on him that indicated serious injuries, except for the cuts and bruises taken immediately care off. The lady doctor on duty gave him an injection to counter the effects of shock. After the necessary tests she found that he could leave, but not drive a car yet, but he had to take care. She asked him to return in a few days for all the results. He felt fine. He even hired a car the insurance company paid for. Then as he got lost eventually, he had a lapse of memory.
“Your car was towed to the panel beaters, your usual workshop had agreed to. It is bad, but not a write off, lots of damage to the body. I tell you later details, for now I am glad you are well,” Gord concluded his talk, “I am on my way to fetch you.”
“Ok,” he said, “I am glad you are coming Gord.” Slowly the missing mosaics to the picture started to fill the gaps and complete the map in his mind: The crashing of the Four by four into him, his reflexes taking over at an instant, rolling, tumbling, he could avoid the frontal disastrous hit. His waking from an alp, voices of men lifting him, the siren of an ambulance and his feeling of nausea. The siren of advancing police. Then the screeching of the mobile bed to the emergency unit at the hospital. He recalls the close blue eyes of the lady doctor examining him. Then slowly he came to himself and he wanted to go. The lady doctor was young, an intern, just finished her medical school. She took it seriously pedantically, to the book and she told him. He relaxed, she was sweet and professional, he did not intend to disrupt her routine she was trained-in. She was serious, but smiled as she found that he could leave. He could not recall any close relative besides his spouse; he would not want to worry, but his friend Gord. That is fine, the doc told him, and you are indeed considerate. He bought a health bar and coffee at the canteen and brought it for the lady doc, who had a long shift today. She thanked him. He took her hand and it felt slightly cool with the long fingers in his palm, a healer’s fingers. She smiled at him, lithe, elfin-like, and delicate but toughened-up, an Angel-Amazon, he told her. Now she laughed. He liked to be back to take her out on her free day. He jotted down her cell phone number. “Rather leave a message,” she said, you know how busy we get here.
The compact Citroen was delivered to him. He could see the driver arriving through the windows of the canteen, where he had waited. He could drive it well, and as it had also a disk to be used with the navigational system. He was keen to try that out. He recalled that he supposed to meet Gord in two days for another project they usually were called upon together. This time it was a rather extensive refurbishment of the Entertainment Centre of The City of Stars. That’s when he got lost and nobody knew where he was. He did not turn-up at the hotel Gord’s secretary had booked.
Gord turned-up in his sleek silver arrow, as he recalled to have driven the compact modern black Citroen from the hospital to here. “There is Gord,” he said to the lass tending to the roses.
“Hello Joe,” Gord was flashing his teeth as he greeted him and then saw the pretty girl with the roses. “I’ve ordered some,” he said to him, “for a woman I met, who I know from the poet’s club.”
“I order some too,” Gord said and he chose a dozen for delivery to the Stars Hotel. He paid and they left. “Young Joe, how is it?”
“There he said, stop.” It was his black Citroen.
“Leave it here,” Gord said, “we’ll come back again.” He noted the number plate down: GHX 121 GP. Indeed he was not far from his home, about a 3 hour drive with easy sped. “Don’t worry,” Gord said, “we’ll fix you up.” After some turns and bends he drove the final straight road that he flew along its path like an arrow flaming in the sun aiming at the heart of the entertainment Eldorado in the Africa of the South. The low voltage stars had descended above the entrance and Gord rode-up Milky Way. In the centre of the huge knoll that extended like a giant knot was Andromeda, the galaxy with her billion stars, a magnificent dome of plasma and light that changed the light images on its translucent skin in a program that changed itself. Light plays reflecting the play of pleasure with super imposed projections of art and photographs that melted into an aesthetical overkill.
The meeting went ahead, the presentation he had to talk to was all taped and with a slide-show of latest computerized quality that was impressive. Even Gord was taken in by Joe’s professional aptitude and his fusion of artistic and technical proposals. There were two major variations that had to be voted on, and as Gord explained with the projections related to time and type of construction and the costs. Then after a break for a light lunch the decision had to be announced. They had won the contract ahead of another competitor was the good news, but the cherry on the top meant that the Client panel went for the top notch refurbishment and the most expensive. Gord was ecstatic. He invited the Client body for a Roman party; he intended to give at the signing of the contract. Then he urged Joe to accompany him to the Roman style Caracalla Hotel, where he had reserved rooms and the luxury of a Roman bath ritual for them. The rooms were magnificent with mosaics of great beauty. It reminded Joe of Pompeii, the walls decorated with similar frescoes in fine muted colouring.
Gord had reserved him the Ovid-suite. He loved to know him in midst the erotic scenery he knew he appreciated. Joe smiled; it was a poet’s dream, his heaven on earth.
He fetched Gord from his suite, he wished to see. Well, well, he was impressed. It was divided into two sections, as his was. The entrance and lounge decorated with wall paintings featuring Caesar and Augustus and their times. His luxurious bedroom with a gilded bed was showing scenes from the Decameron. I say this is truly magnificent Gord.
“Let’s go and get pampered,” Gord said and showed his white strong teeth, laughing a jackal kind of laugh, Joe had only heard once before, whenever he was highly excited. “The two sisters are waiting for us.”
“A bacchanal?” Joe wanted to know, but Gord just laughed.
There it was a Roman Bath, with all the trimmings and the two sisters waiting in their pleated sheer dresses that showed the rest of their bodies to admire, their right breast free and the nipple painted, their bodies shaved and scented. They took care of them, pampering massages, bathing; shaving off their pubic hair and this particular act aroused both of them. Then the massaging of their bodies and the aroma therapeutic treatment. “We live like the Romans lived,” Gord was pleased as punch. He sipped some cocktail, sitting-up enjoying his foot massage. Joe was lying on his belly, asking his pretty hydro therapist if she would be spending some more time at his back.
“I enjoy the art of her hands so much, I feel already in heaven,” he said to Gord.
“This is only the beginning,” Gord laughed his raucous laugh, while Joe sounded like a tomcat being stroked. This was a different type of rejuvenation to the one that saved his life the other night. He stopped comparing it, as the brunette beauty masseuse did well, but he had not established any feelings of love with her. “A ‘pomp’ is a ‘pomp’, Gord said in his uncouth way of expressing a sexual act. For Joe it was more. His heart had to be touched; otherwise it was nothing to him. He could never climax otherwise, but he said nothing to Gord, who meant well. He felt though his strength recovering. Bathed, shaved, oiled and massaged they lied down in their short Roman togas, to be served a scrumptious meal, with the sisters tending to them, teasing them, the drinking loosening the senses and heightening the desires. The second part of an extensive bacchanal had begun, animating and the music adding to the lapping of the mood, setting the course for an orgy, he saw depicted in Gord’s bedroom, where they would eventually retire to celebrate a foursome.
He slept that night waking with nightmares, listening to the voice of Vib. He switched on his cell phone light to avoid waking his brunette companion, who had worked hard to satisfy all his needs. He pulled back the linen cover, admired her beautiful back and got out of bed, putting the covers on her lower half of her body. He left the suite and took a cab. He ventured from the Roman Quarters and asked the driver to take him to ‘The Tavern of Iridia’ in the Indian City, which was known to him and he drove fast at night with hardly any traffic. He saw the city’s lights and the cupola above The Indian City’s shopping mall, close to the City of Stars. There were different people in the tavern this time, a different set-up. We change settings and menu every week, the manager explained to him, handing his card, almost apologetically to his enquiries. Oh he said, ‘The House of Paradise?’ It’s this way, he pointed to the door, and you cannot miss it. The scent of spices, especially cinnamon was too overpowering to his sense of smell. He entered the passage and he came to Vib’s Shop. He found a great number of Philippines there, cute, petite and friendly. “The Thai-theme?” The young girl attending to him checked on a book with program content. “It is on next month,” she said. “Come-in and try us, you will be not disappointed. We also have a special…”
“Another time,” he said, “I was looking for a friend.”
“What is her name?”
“Alta,” he said and showed her the photograph of a beautiful dusky girl in a tight red dress.
“I cannot say that I have seen her,” she said and his heart sank, “but I will ask, wait here.” She took the photograph and disappeared through the doorway with the pearl curtain that made clinking noises as she had gone through. He sat down on the silver-legged couch and observed the colourful lampoons that hung from the ceiling, some of their red colour matching the velvet cover of the couch. The spices and scents were re-arranged and in a different set of shelves along the front walls closer to the entrance to the shop from the street. She came back.
“I have spoken to the girls, who knew her. They have prepared a small meal and wish to share with you. The eldest can tell you the story.” He followed her into the darkened room, decorated with rice-paper and themes from the far eastern countries. As soon as he was comfortable the sisters of pleasure appeared. “Don’t get up,” she said, holding him by his hand. She was strong in spite of her delicate hand and long fingers. The light changed seamlessly in hues of blue now. It changed seamlessly into shades of purple and of dark lacquer-red.
She left and returned with a bottle of rice wine. They toasted. She translated the elder’s talk to him. The rice wine burned down his gullet first, and then the fire spread like a warm touch from his tummy into all directions. She started translating: I have to tell you a sad story. Yes, we know Vib. She was running this shop. The day her son married a beautiful young Indian woman and the celebrations were continuing into the early hours of the morning. In the morning we were alarmed that she disappeared. The note left behind told us that Ata was kidnapped by a gang of youth, who demanded a high ransom for her. The newly wed husband promised to pay, but could not raise all the cash they wanted. Mother Vib sold her shop and her son’s sister sold her favours to selected customers, who were wealthy. Last month the final payment was needed to have the entire ransom together. However she fell in love with the man with the pony tail, she called him, but as she was too ashamed to ask for a bigger payment, she wanted to talk to him in the morning, but he had left already. Now she is desperate, knowing that he would help her, but cannot find him. It dawned on Joe that it was him she meant to find. Then he recalled that he had her cell number. “Can I see a photograph of Ata?” The girl next to him disappeared again and he took a sip of the raki. Then another, and he did not notice that he had drunk almost the whole bottle. Careful a voice told him, you are still on medication. He had emptied the half-bottle by the time she came back.
“This is Ata,” she said, “and next to her Alta in the red dress.”
“That’s her,” he replied. “Do you know her?”
“Yes, I am the man she is looking for.”
“What is your name,” he paused.
“Roi,” she said, but people pronounce it as Roy. Now he remembered with Roy next to him. He held her, embraced her.
“Ok,” he cleared his throat, “how much does it all come to?”
“Ten thousand,” she said, “Dollars!”
“All right I pay it all now and more if needed. Will she live? Is she still alive? What do we know?”
“That is later, I will let Vib know.”
“Wait he said, you must give me details of the place she is held. We must know that, on condition that she is alive and shown to us, when we deliver the ransom.”
“I will have to go there alone; it’s too dangerous for you.” Joe stirred.
“Well, yes, perhaps. It is her life on the line.”
“You are brave!” She kissed him.
“No, I am not brave. I owe her a debt.”
“You love her,” she snapped back.
“Perhaps I do, but now is no time for philosophy, but to save her. I phone my friend Gord to help.” Joe took his cell phone from his pocket.
“I will phone Vib, let her relax for now, as help will be on the way.”
“Thanks Roy,” he said as Gord came online. He told him and he would help with the cash and the logistics to be close and try to catch the gang, without taking too great risks to endanger the life of Alta, he surmised. He would be ready by late morning, he promised, pity about the interrupted weekend but this was an emergency.
“I’ll pay for the next one Gord,” he said, listening to Gord’s roaring laugh.
“Bring me some more wine Roy, please.”
“No,” she replies, “first you ought to be relaxed.” She takes him to the change room and she takes his clothes off, complimenting him on his physique, makes him feel well. Then she asks him to lie on the massage table, face down first, teasing him a bit. Then the steam room and he has to speed-up his metabolism to get rid of all built-up poison in his body, open the pores on his reddened skin and clean out, as she said. In 25 minutes she signals him through the glass door to get a cold shower now. He feels like hit by a jolt and then she gets him back on the towel-covered massage table to attend to him in a sensual way. He only feels another height and this time short and burning, his heart beating like a drum. Then as all subsides around him, he is asleep fast. When he wakes-up again, his clothes are aired and cleaned, hung next to his bed. The room’s wall colours have changed, the new day letting in soft clear rays through the shutters. He showers and dresses, Roy greets him, kissing his cheeks, taking him to breakfast. She is dressed in black leather gear. “I’ll come with you,” she says business-like. “It is all arranged.”
“No,” he replies, “I’ll go alone.”
“Well, only I know the way,” she says with a smirk on the edges of her lips. “You have the cash to worry about.”
“It arrived this morning by courier from Gord. All right, he is now calm, when?”
“We have to leave in twenty minutes, I drive.”
“Ok.” He tucks into his oats and fruits she had arranged for them. He looks into her eyes and he feels her warmth of friendship and her love, now held back. Having finished, he gets-up. “By the way,” he draws her close, hugging her, “thank you my friend and lover for yesterday. You are magnificent with your fingers and lips.” Roy smiles her mysterious smile. “You taste nice, no wonder Alta loves you.”
“Thank you, I am blessed with lovers and friends,” he muses, speaking softly to her. She turns, opens business-like the door and steps through with her face now pale and serious. He follows gazing at her cat-like walk. She is sensual like all the girls here, but yet, she has her own characteristic way of walking. She has her tight leather gear on and looks an attractive Amazon worrier, her short top covered with a leather jacket sat on her hip pants. He could not entirely recollect his image of her other than slim and lithe, an aesthetical delight of a perfectly toned body. Everything was slim about her, save for her full lips. He wondered if she had them treated to appear her most prominent feature that drew an immediate response to be kissed by them.
She drove well, perhaps too fast, impatient to reach the point of handover ahead of time.
“You have to put on the navigation system Roy,” he said, as she was unsure about an unknown fork in the road. It worked wonders. He looked at her destination she thus had to give away. “I am not supposed to do this,” she moaned, as she typed in the name, “but I trust you Joe,” she said and he nodded his head: City of the Sun and Moon outbuildings. “Impossible!” he thought. But as Roy had not mentioned anything, he pretended not to have seen their destination and the coordinates. He thought of having to transfer this information to Gord, if his standby supposed to be of any help. Roy was driving-up to the hill with the entrance gate to the city’s walls that were gigantic as Babylon’s. At the gate she had to accompany the guard to sign-in at the office. Joe used her absence to send to Gord an SMS-message with the coordinates of the meeting place and the name; he saw on the screen of the navigation screen, he was familiar with. He warned Gord to stay back at a safe distance.
Roy appeared just at the time, he pocketed his cell phone. “All in order,” she said, “it is a new shift and they had to check.” She parked her Merc in a specific area in close proximity with the general staff quarters. There was still a walk further on by foot. Joe hoped that Gord would have information through some sensor he imagined he had added to the suitcase, he did not know about. He could not remember having read anything about it in his notes to him. They walked to the back of the staff quarters and through a small back gate that was unmanned into the semi-desert that stretched out between the city and the hills beyond. He was glad he had put on his suede ankle boots and his jeans. Roy must be hot in her leather outfit. At a distance he could see the agreed place, a few huts that served as an oasis for the hunters and the animals that were fed here by the game wardens, outside the hunting season, Roy explained to him.
“Stop now Joe,” she said, extending her left hand, touching him. “We have to wait until we get permission to pass this thorn tree.”
“I see a torchlight,” he said.
“That’s the signal, lets access slowly now.” She had taken her jacket off, as obviously previously agreed that all was on schedule. Joe clutches his briefcase that has a secret lock fitted, he activates it to Gord’s description. It sets off a honing device and will deactivate the money inside when the bag is opened, once he had to let go of it. He wonders what else Gord has devised, he did not tell him. He must not think about all the money inside. He hopes it is over fast, or they will be all dead. In Africa this is a dangerous game, there is not much value on a person’s life. He is adamant to request Ata first, he tells Roy. Ata appears, as soon as they reach the low fence to the Kraal. Roy has to stay behind while he has to place the suitcase into the centre of the round area in front of the rondavel in the axis of their access.
He approaches with the same speed as Ata is moving slowly towards him. He places the suitcase into the centre of the Kraal and only let go of the secret lock as Ata is next to him. That is the signal, as he pulls Alta to the ground in a sudden stumble. “Down Alta, down!” He whispers. The first shot rings out. The perplexed youth with the baklava who came behind Alta, reaches for the suitcase and runs away with it and the others, some pursue him, more shots are fired, and he falls. He had seen Roy duck to the ground, holding her arm. The fighting is short and fierce at the back of the rondavels. Dirt, dust and pieces of wood flying about into the hot air in a cloud as if an army had attacked. Then there is stillness and suddenly familiar voices. “Joe, Joe?”
“Yes he says, yes! Here.” It’s Gord. He charges ahead with his white teeth glistening in the sun, he smiles like a successful warlord holding a shotgun.
“All ok?” Joe gets up and helps Alta, whose body he had covered up with his.
“Are you all right Alta love?” She circles his waist and she is in shock, not wanting to let go.
“Who was that face? An Indian man?” Joe asks Gord.
“The man with the khaki outfit? Someone shouted his name.” Gord continues, “Ray or something like that.”
“Ray? Sounds like Raj.”
“Do you know him?” Gord’s curious.
“I saw his face with one corner of my eye, as he charged after the youth with the baklava with the money bag. He shot him.”
“Yes I see, now he is a killer too.” Gord is curious about his concern, still with a half smirk on his face. “Indeed!” Joe says, indeed! But now all this makes sense, it is a long story. Where is he?”
“Is he the man behind the kidnapping?”
“My uncle?” says Alta, shaking. “I never saw him.”
“No,” Joe says, “he came to cash the booty.”
“He has touched me a few times, but I could not see his face,” Alta gasps. “I hate him!”
“Ok, Ok, relax now Alta. We will get him.”
“Don’t worry,” Gord smiles again, showing his white teeth. “I have him well covered. He will lead us to his secret hiding place with all the cash. By the time he sees the suitcase empty and the few hundred dollars destroyed, we will have him. His dark helpers are dead, except for one, we will question him now. I have called John, a friend from a detective bureau, who officially investigates the case. We assist him. Gord introduces John, who takes all the contact numbers.
“Where is Roy?” Joe suddenly misses her.
“She is alright,” Gord says. “She has been shot at, but fortunately only a flesh wound, she was lucky. My helper took her to the hospital. Back to the Roman Village then,” Gord says.
“I’ll drive her car,” Joe tells Gord, who has to finish some talk with John and when will join them. “Are you all right Alta? Yes, she says and while they settle into the car, she leans on him, kissing him and cuddling-up to him. He drives carefully to the Village. “Take this.” He hands her a pill that the doc had given him after his accident. She swallows it and Joe hands her his water flask. By the time he arrives at the village, she has dozed off. She stirs, as he helps her from the car.
“I wash-up first then we lie a bit.” He prepares her a bath and then helps her undressing. Alta is still shaking at times, as in a fever, and he can see the red marks of the ties on ankles and wrists that are now swollen. He helps her into the bath and she wishes him to bath her. He undresses and steps into the water, and it is his care that she needs to recover quickly.
“Let’s for now talk about us,” she utters, as she lies back and he holds her. Her head above the water, she loves to float outstretched. He massages her ankles and wrists. They emerge from the bath and he dries her, wrapping her into a huge towel, using another to dry her. They sit on the bed and he holds her in his arms. She wishes to kiss him and slides over him and his arousal.
They wake-up in the middle of the night, as Alta had a night mare. He settles her. Then as she falls asleep again, he switches his light off. In the morning she wakes him, having again straddled him, she is alive. How can he refuse her on grounds of tiredness? He is delighted with her and they make love. Alta is suddenly back into her state as he knew her. The medication he gave her helped her like magic. She’ll go to an examination later. For now all she wants is his love.
He wakes. It is winter. He is in Africa, his home by choice. There is stillness. Not one soul. All is well it seems, no more night mares, no night sweat. His phone rings. It is Alta. “I will be free this weekend, will you come?”
“Yes,” he says, “I’ll fetch you Friday late afternoon. How is Vib?”
“She is fine. She has bought the shop back and I help her.”
“Raj? Well, he has left the country. Gord let him go, as soon as he had found all the money. He earned a bonus. He only asked for his expenses though.”
“Ok, do not worry too much, I get even with him. Thank you Joe.” She takes me into her arms as soon as I enter Vib’s Spice Emporium. The sweetness from her body washes over me. “You know it’s Vib?”
“It’s Vib he loved more than anybody else.”
“Yes, he used her when she was small.”
“In a way yes. Coerced her into satisfying him. He was expelled from his family that had hurt him deeply, and Vib took him into her shop. He was good to us always, but he had a dark side inside him that pricked him like a thorn, finally overpowering him. Now I go back to Vib and her spice shop, but for lovers – I will only take you. She kissed him again.