The following afternoon at the appointed hour, Toni met Larbi and was conducted to the room at the end of the hall where Radouan was brought in looking pale but fit.  In English, which Larbi did not understand, they discussed the latest price for the move to the Psychiatric Facility and Radouan forbade her to give anything more than the hundred twenty thousand dirhams originally agreed upon. He could easily survive for two or three more weeks, but cautioned that she should let M. Larbi think they might pay more, yet not commit herself.

          ‘And what if they start to “question you”?’ Toni asked. ‘This is the room they do that sort of thing in I suppose...’

          ‘As long as they think we may pay more they won’t... my case is too well known now... they will not want to bring me to court lookin’ like  they have...’

          ‘But darling, there are ways of torturing people that don’t show... really, this money means nothing to me, or to you. Considering the fortune waiting for you, we must be prepared to spend generously.’

           Radouan shook his head: ‘you don’t understand these people; jus' trust me, please.  One other thing... I want you to invite Madame Saadi and her Fassi boy friend over for lunch, she’s your Notaire after all and I’m sure she will be happy to show him off.  Talk with them and try to draw them out... you’re very good at that.  Maybe they’ll slip up and tell you something important.  Maybe you can get a feeling about whether this guy could really be Minna’s son... Now go...  I miss you too much and would like to stay talking to you forever but this meeting is too expensive! Remember I love you and be GOOD!’

          Fifteen minutes had passed.  On the way back to his office Toni palmed Larbi fifteen thousand dirhams.

         ‘This is getting expensive for you,’ he said, his hand lightly grazing her thigh as they exchanged the wad of bank notes. ‘Better you accept my last offer and have him moved, then you can see him any time for free... maybe you don't know it but Radouan has many enemies in Marrakech, especially among the police. They are really wanting to question him but it is me who is holding them back.’

          She felt like kicking him in the shins with her Manolo Blahnik pumps. ‘I explained everything to him,’ she replied, ‘He says the price is so high he must have time to think about it. Perhaps in a few days we’ll be able to make a deal, I hope so. In three days I’ll go see him again.’

          Back at her apartment, chain smoking out on the terrace, Larbi’s insinuation that torturing Radouan was just one more chip in his little game left her terrified.  Shouldn’t she just pay the bloody money and have him moved?  

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©Elwyn Chamberlain 2006