As Francesco was still feeling shaky, Radouan and Delphine took the car and set out for the Dades Gorge, to the east through the Valley of a Thousand Kasbahs, along the river Draa. Many of the Kasbahs were in ruins and they fantasized about how they would buy one and restore it with the money from Delphine’s first picture. By afternoon they were having tea at the entrance to the spectacular Gorge and that evening stayed in Roses a funny looking 1960’s hotel which crowned a rocky hill above a small town, but was comfortable enough and had magnificent views.

          After watching the sun set from one of the terraces, Radouan announced he had some calls to make; that Delphine should have a bath and he would arrange for some woman to come and give her a massage.

          ‘Why can’t you make your calls here with your portable?’ Delphine asked slyly.

          ‘Because my phone card is used up and I need a few drinks before I can talk,’ Radouan replied.  I have to think about our deal with Francesco... I need advice, need to speak to Jim and some other people too; have your bath and I’ll be back soon, we’ll have supper in bed and watch football.’

          Down in the hotel bar Radouan fortified him self with a few whiskies and called Lord Jim, who had already left for Paris. What to do?  He tried Jim’s international cell phone number but there was no reply.  He wanted some guidelines about negotiating with Francesco, about contracts and the film industry of which he knew next to nothing - If not Jim, then who?

          Of course, there was Toni who knew everyone.  Suddenly he remembered he hadn’t spoken to her since their fight the night before Aid Kabir. She was going to be really angry but there was no other way. Dialing her number he got her answering machine, but when he started to leave a message she picked up.  ‘Screenin’ your calls eh...’ Radouan chuckled, ‘Why are you screenin’ your calls?’

          ‘Because of you. You’re driving me crazy,’ Toni said icily. ‘ Five nights ago, or was it six, you left here saying you’d wake me up at nine thirty in the morning now... DAYS later...’

          ‘Aid Kabir, ‘bibti … too many things to do... sheep killin’, sheep eatin’... my family... the usual.’

          ‘I hate this wretched feast... how I hate it.  But you... you certainly could have called me from wherever you were... Where are you now?’

          ‘In a small town east of Ouarzazate scoutin’ locations and doing’ this deal; part of the business I was tellin’ you about.  I told you I would probably have to come down here.’

          ‘You didn’t tell me anything of the sort.  You’re just saying that because you know how I forget things. You think you can make up anything you want, but you definitely...’ she was at a loss for words, ‘you have no idea how many things I have on my mind... and you did NOT tell me anything about going to Ouarzazate!’

          Radouan was amused. He’d forgotten how much he enjoyed playing these games with her, how he’d always been touched by her vagueness; so opposite to the irritating certitude of most women. ‘You’re just makin’ that up, zweenti, that I didn’t tell you - you don't really remember it at all.  What have you been doin’ that you have forgotten all about me? You’ve been shaggin’ that young architect? I’m sure he mus' be cute or you wouldn’t have hired him.’

          ‘Of course he's cute, very cute but far too young for me...’

           Radouan laughed, ‘No one is ever too young, my darlin’.  If it’s not him it must be Lahcen.  Believe me, if I ever find out you’ve been together... Why didn’t you call me?’

          ‘Why should I!’

          ‘You have my number.  If you missed me so much…’

           Toni sighed, ‘Darling, really... the truth is, I simply do not think it’s terribly smart for a woman my age to be tracking down her young lover.... What have I been doing?  Smoking one cigarette after another, worrying about you night and day... worrying and wanting... which I loathe... smoking too much.  It’s entirely your fault!  Your nervousness rubs off on me. Finally I went to the hamam at the Tichka and steamed out all the nicotine, but I couldn’t steam you out, so now I’ve started up again.’


          ‘I know, my darling, that is what I am trying to do,’ she whispered breathlessly, ‘but it is very hard without you here to remind me. When will you be back?’

          ‘I need your help...’

          ‘I knew it.  You’re in trouble; I knew it the moment I heard your voice... I’ve been feeling it... Are you in trouble?’

          ‘Me in trouble?  I’m never in trouble...’

          ‘Humph, since when? Are you drunk?’

          ‘Listen to me, jus' the opposite but I need your advice... right now, this evening if possible... I want to speak with an Avocat who specializes in film contracts.  Do you know anyone who will speak with me without wanting money up front?  I have a meeting tomorrow at four in the afternoon.  I have to sound intelligent.’

          ‘How large is this deal?’

          ‘Kabir, very large.  One of the biggest directors on the planet.’


          ‘Francesco Monte, you know him?’

          ‘Francesco?’ Toni laughed her heavy metal laugh ‘Of course I know him, known him for years but how do you know him?  Is he with you?  You never fail to surprise me.’

          ‘I hope so, habibti... I hope so.’

          ‘I know an agent in London...’

          ‘No agents, please ... I am the agent...’

          ‘Well, in that case, let me think. Ah... there’s my old friend Marty Segal in New York.  He lives in New York because he hates California, but his office is out there in Hollywood... he’s what’s called a film industry attorney I do believe... the tops.’

          ‘It’s still early out there.’

          ‘Yes.  Let me try and find him.  I’ll get right back to you.’

              Radouan clicked off and ordered another drink. The night was warm, too warm for that time of year in the Souss where the night wind should have been blowing cool from the Sahara.  In a banquette in a dark corner of the nearly empty bar, he noticed two girls gazing at him. When Moroccan women looked at him that way he wanted to satisfy them immediately. A year ago he would have taken them somewhere, anywhere, and had them both, but now?  Suddenly, he realized they didn’t seem that important to him. Had Delphine disabled him? A terrifying thought, but one soon dispelled by a stirring in his loin as he studied their pouting mouths and imagined the parting lips of their tinas inside those tight pants they were wearing. Yes, it was Delphine who had cast a spell on him.  To be always thinking of her even now, even though she was too thin and her zouk was not as zween as those two right there in front of him, what else could it mean?  He was about to go over and introduce himself when his phone beeped.  He continued staring at them as he spoke:


         ‘Martin Segal here,’ a voice answered, ‘what can I do for you?’

Previous    Cover    Contents    Book 1     Book 2    Book 3    Book 4     Next


©Elwyn Chamberlain 2006


©Elwyn Chamberlain 2006