In Marrakech two days had passed before word came through that Nicholas K. Brady III would be released. By then claustrophobia, induced by close confinement, had weakened his fragile hold on reality and he was incoherent.
Wondering as ever whether he was really getting through to him, and trying to sound optimistic, Radouan had given him a pep talk. Told him Toni had volunteered to take care of him and have him stay at her place until things settled down and he was able to be out and about again. Meanwhile, as soon as he had proper papers, and felt better Radouan had suggested he should hire a crew and resume his project of repairing Prospero’s riad and the Douirya house.
‘Soon I will marry Hafida,’ Radouan said brightly, ‘really you will like her, I know... not beautiful but her face is sensitive... like the face of Umm Kalthoum before she became famous... You will live with us out at Minna’s Ksar, Dar Chems; believe me its big enough for all of us. Toni will be in her own place just down the road. But we must fix up the riad to stay in when we are in town.’
Nick had gazed at him solemnly for some time and then whispered with a hoarse voice: ‘who's crazy, you or me?'
Late that afternoon a guard had come and taken Nick away. Houcein and Omar had been released earlier and now Radouan found himself alone - with forty guys he’d never seen before, a new experience for him as friends and relatives had always surrounded him. Retiring into a corner he tried to sleep but his mind was restless and kept going over the events of the past few weeks trying to make some sense of them. As he had always avoided thinking too deeply about himself or analyzing his behavior, it was a painful experience.
After all, everything a person needed to know for living this life was supposed to be found in the Qur’an and the Hadith. You hadn't to look inside yourself to find the truth; in fact it might be a sin - or would it? He had read Laccan, Freud, Roland Barthes, Derrida, Foucault and others but thought they missed the point because he’d seen too many hysterical people healed by Marabouts - adepts who knew how to exorcise bad djinns. Sometimes there were bad djinns and sometimes there were lucky ones. Once he met an Egyptian who lost all his money and became crazy; began speaking in the Persian tongue, a language he did not know. Finally his family called a Marabout who understood Persian, listened to the voice coming out of the man’s throat and told him the djinn was trying to help him and he must learn Persian and follow what the djinn was saying. This they did and soon became very rich.
Radouan believed in djinns, not the unconscious, the subconscious, the id, the libido, the ego or the super ego. Life was more blurred than that, more complicated but also very simple. Maybe it was true as Nick and others had said that he, himself, was harboring a djinn. Maybe even two or three of them were there lurking inside his body challenging and provoking him, bursting out violently and getting him into trouble. Since that last scene with Delphine in Paris, he had started thinking of these things more openly.
Several days passed and he was beginning to lose track of time when, one day, they called him to the Court of Appeals before the Public Prosecutor, and a Judge and told him the evidence against him was so strong he would not be released. The Public Prosecutor told the court the Baroness’ trusted servant A’hmed had sworn he had seen Radouan leaving the house at dawn and just after that the lifeless body of the Baroness had been discovered by the server Zouheir who had sworn he had served supper to the Baroness and Radouan at eleven o'clock, not eight or nine as Radouan claimed, and that no one at the gate had seen Radouan leave before the first light of day. The Prosecutor went on about Radouan’s fingerprints being all over the place. And as for his wife’s testimony that he had returned to her flat around eleven thirty that night, this could not be corroborated, for neither the guardian nor the concierge of the apartment building could remember him arriving back that evening. It would have been an easy matter, the Prosecutor claimed, for Radouan to have driven straight to the airport and caught the first flight to Paris. In fact, it was probably part of his plan. After all, his car had been found at the airport parking lot a few days later.
Prospero had not been informed of the hearings until the last moment, and had no time to prepare a rebuttal. His arguments were weak. Yes, the server Zouheir could have served supper to Radouan and the Baroness, but the hour was definitely eight thirty or nine, not eleven. And why should the Prosecutor or the court believe a servant’s testimony over Radouan’s when every one knew servants could be paid off to say anything. Moreover, Radouan had always driven his car to the airport and left it there when he was traveling out of Marrakech.
The attitude of the men from the Public Prosecutor’s Office was arrogant and threatening. Had he not been married to Toni, Prospero was certain they would have soon resorted to “questioning” Radouan until he signed some fake confession - when they started to pull out your toe nails you would sign anything. Even so, there was no guarantee they would not do it. But where were the witnesses who could refute A’hmed’s testimony?
Finally the Cadi spoke: ‘Since the defense cannot at this time, furnish evidence contrary to that given by the servant A’hmed, and the server Zouheir, this case is to be continued for three more weeks pending further investigation.’ Meanwhile, Radouan would remain in Boulmaraz.
©Elwyn Chamberlain 2006