The day was May 28, 1998 - a day Radouan would never forget. On the plane back to Marrakech he had tried to work on the crossword puzzle in the morning edition of Le Monde. Crosswords usually calmed him down, and cleared his brain - so overloaded he could often feel the pressure inside his skull of voices speaking to him in five different languages. Foreign Women! Ah..! Really he should have nothing more to do with them, never would he understand them, never had – not even Toni.  Suddenly he remembered he hadn’t called her since he’d left Marrakech. Stupido! How could he have…?

Folding his newspaper, he signed and looked out the window at the clouds over Spain.  Really, he had to stop procrastinating and tell his mother to set the date for the L’adoul.  Only this girl Hafida would ever really understand him and treat him with the esteem an Arab man expects. How fine it would be to be back in Marrakech, he thought and smiled inwardly - his ‘home – town’, as Nick used to say. The Atlas Bar and Coffee where he sat most mornings exchanging gossip and information... The Big Square Jemaa el Fna; the Cafe France at sunset... Le Cafe des Reves Brises on Avenue Mohammed V... the closeness of people sheltered within the old city walls... even the old French section of Gueliz was still tranquil.

          The plane landed.  Hopefully no one who knew Toni would see him for now he had many things to do if he was going to marry Hafida.  First he must go straight to his father’s house and give his mother some money to organize the wedding party. She would be pleased.  Maybe it should be in R'hamna at the house of his grandmother.  After that he would walk over and see Nick and make arrangements with Prospero for reconstructing the Douirya attached to the riad, which he and Hafida would occupy after their marriage. Then he would drive out to Minna’s Ksar and find the orphan Mokhtar who would tell him what had been happening out there. And after that he would show up at Toni’s... Inch Allah!


          At passport control, however, the fellow in the booth kept him waiting and Radouan was about to signal a friend of his, the Chief Customs Inspector, when he suddenly realized two men in sports jackets and dark pants were standing on either side of him. Police, he thought instantly, their manner all too familiar; Plainclothes Police at that, so it had to be something serious!    

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©Elwyn Chamberlain 2006