Late the following afternoon Francesco had recovered sufficiently to speak with Radouan about what had happened the afternoon before and described his feelings in excruciating detail - which Radouan found embarrassing. ‘You’ve been thinkin’ about this too much,' he frowned.’    

          ‘I guess I had it coming,’ Francesco replied.

          ‘You came a lot... like to fill up a coffee cup.’

          ‘I’m not talking about that, stupid!  I’m saying I don't blame you.’

          ‘Don’t blame me for what?’ Radouan’s eyebrows knitted in surprise. ‘It was an ordinary fuck... what do you think?  Maybe for you it was something special... for me it was jus' WORK!’

          ‘You were very harsh; it was like revenge... like retribution.’

          ‘No no.  You’ve seen me with many women. It was no different than that. But a zouk is not a tina.’

          Francesco shrugged his shoulders: ‘In any case I want you to know, although you almost killed me, still I think your girl iss fantastic and I want to go ahead with the test... tomorrow morning early. Will you see she’s ready by seven?  The early morning light here is exceptional and it will be cool. No special dress... sports clothes, whatever.  Maybe you should wear a jacket and an open shirt.’




           The following morning Radouan and Delphine met Francesco and after a quick breakfast they drove out to a ruined Kasbah where they found a make up team, lighting crew, and cameramen waiting.       

          Francesco explained what was going to happen: ‘Delphine iss going to walk down that dusty path towards the gate of the Kasbah where Radouan will be standing... just standing casually leaning against a wall smoking a cigarette watching her approach. As she walks in through the gate, she glances at him… not once, but twice.  A few moments later he stomps out his cigarette and follows her.  Delphine knows you’re following her and becomes frightened, looks back over her shoulder nervously then tries to lose you, because she knows what you want, or maybe she doesn’t know... maybe iss a mystery... maybe you want to make love to her... maybe you’re a rapist or some undercover agent.  We don't know and neither does she - very simple. Delphine becomes hysterical, tries to run, to hide... Radouan stalks her like a cat.  You just play this little game and don't worry about us.  The cameras will be following you, and there are cameras positioned in certain places too... you just concentrate on this game of pursuit and evasion.’

          So clever was Delphine at evading Radouan, it took him almost twenty minutes to find her. And when they finally met coming around a corner, Radouan grabbed her angrily, shook her and they embraced.

          Immediately afterwards they watched the video footage, which confirmed that Delphine was indeed very special, in fact, she was spectacular - unfortunately Radouan had gained weight and photographed on the heavy side; a Moroccan Heathcliff.

           ‘If you could lose ten kilos and stop being so self-conscious, you could be a big star too,’ Francesco laughed.

          The next day as they examined the film rushes he was increasingly enthusiastic. ‘Amazing, Juss look at this... from any angle she’s great, you can’t take a bad picture of her. Remarkable!  I’ve tried things here that would make most women look terrible but not her.’ He smiled at Delphine and bowed, ‘My dear, you are in a class by yourself.  Sometimes you are very funny... look here... without even knowing it.  This is because...’

          He turned slowly to Radouan. ‘You’d better be careful of her, she’s very smart, even when she seems not to be… and this crazy duel with the cameras, she enjoys it... which is why she’s so good.’  He took Delphine’s hands. ‘I will create the ultimate Romantic Comedy for you, my dear, which no one will be able to imitate... a totally new oeuvre. Audiences, they will leave the theater bent over from laughing, and once we make them laugh we can make them cry, and when they cry they will fall madly in love with you.’ He paused. ‘Then, of course, there’s the sexual level.  No one expects someone who is naturally funny to be so arousing but you are... a rare combination.  Radouan, bambino mio, you have very good taste, the sixth sense...’

          ‘I have experience...’ Radouan replied gravely.

          ‘Ah yes, of course,’ Francesco rolled his eyes, ‘with women indeed you have. And to think there she was in Marrakech and I might never have met her… but for you, Radouan habibi, she would have slipped through my hands... my life... And when those pages in Vogue appear... When do they appear?’

          ‘Next month,’ Delphine said evenly.

          ‘So...’ Francesco eyed her cautiously, ‘will you do a film with me?  Do we have a deal?’

          ‘I’d be honored.’

           Suddenly, Radouan was serious: ‘A deal, yes, but first you have to put her under contract ... we have to talk about money.’

         ‘Of course, of course we will,’ Francesco declared expansively... makayn mouchkil, no problem.’

          Radouan stared at him menacingly. ‘No makayn mouchkil...we have to come to an understanding about money before we leave this place... a written agreement...’

          ‘Written in blood, I suppose!’ Francesco smirked.

           Radouan laughed. ‘Yes, of course, in BLOOD - maybe sperm.’

          ‘Why can’t we go to Paris together and do it there... my attorneys will work things out.’

          ‘No no, habibi Francesco!  It will be done here. Tha's the very first condition.  We will come to an agreement here... a written agreement.  Then our Avocats can work out the details but the MONEY MUST CHANGE HANDS HERE!  Safi?

          ‘Safi, Safi, Safi...’ Francesco crooned impatiently, ‘Okay, Okay! When?  This Ouarzazate, I detest it... I want to get out of here!’

          ‘Tomorrow at four?’ Radouan replied, ‘That gives us time to think. Tomorrow afternoon we’ll get drunk and make a deal.’

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©Elwyn Chamberlain 2006