An African sunset

An African sunset

Status: Finished

Genre: Action and Adventure

Details

Status: Finished

Genre: Action and Adventure

Summary

"An African Sunset" Reuven Shatz a young agronomist joins a small Israeli diplomatic delegation at the "Coast of Hope", a West African acquainted with the life that he himself leads there. As Shatz is supposed to replace Moshe Priel the instructor that is about to return back home as smoothly as possible, he is requested to work in correlation with Priel at the model farm near the town of Dialo; thus he spends the few days up to the Priels' departure at their cottage as their guest. During his stay with the Priels Shatz learns much about the rupture between his hosts and the rest of the delegation members; the strange way in which Priel is being exploited by Da-Silva the local of Portuguese descent, who is the local farm's manager; and of Hilla Priel obsessive fears of that powerful man. Shatz falls in love with Hilla, and conducts a strange and short love affair with her, which ends up to his bitter disappointment when the Priels fly back home. His evenings Shatz spends with Everon at the club, which is not far from Mouaka the capital; he is supposed to become Everon's bridge cards game partner, while he learns to his surprise that the club's bridge championship is Everon's highest aspiration. While he accompanies Everon to the club, he meets Janine, the young daughter of one of Everon's closest French associates. His flirt with Janine gets on Everon's nerves. Everon envies him terribly and makes up a scene during the ride back at 100 miles per hour, almost overturns the car and endangers their lives in a heated dispute. That dramatic scene brings Shatz's salvation in its wake. He frees himself completely from Everon's patronage and gets the support of the embassy members, but has to face the consequences - a hearing at the embassy, before the ambassador who tries to solve in vain the dispute between Shatz and Everon. On the verge of being sent back home Shatz tightens his relationships with the rest of embassy members, and with Janine and her father, against the ambassador's strict orders and manages to survive against all odds. 20 chapters, 171 pages, 101,106 words.

Summary

"An African Sunset"
Reuven Shatz a young agronomist joins a small Israeli diplomatic delegation at the "Coast of Hope", a West African
acquainted with the life that he himself leads there.
As Shatz is supposed to replace Moshe Priel the instructor that is about to return back home as smoothly as possible, he is requested to work in correlation with Priel at the model farm near the town of Dialo; thus he spends the few days up to the Priels' departure at their cottage as their guest. During his stay with the Priels Shatz learns much about the rupture between his hosts and the rest of the delegation members; the strange way in which Priel is being exploited by Da-Silva the local of Portuguese descent, who is the local farm's manager; and of Hilla Priel obsessive fears of that powerful man.
Shatz falls in love with Hilla, and conducts a strange and short love affair with her, which ends up to his bitter disappointment when the Priels fly back home.
His evenings Shatz spends with Everon at the club, which is not far from Mouaka the capital; he is supposed to become Everon's bridge cards game partner, while he learns to his surprise that the club's bridge championship is Everon's highest aspiration. While
he accompanies Everon to the club, he meets Janine, the young daughter of one of Everon's closest French associates. His flirt with Janine gets on Everon's nerves. Everon envies him terribly and makes up a scene during the ride back at 100 miles per hour, almost overturns the car and endangers their lives in a heated dispute. That dramatic scene brings Shatz's salvation in its wake. He frees himself completely from Everon's patronage and gets the support of the embassy members, but has to face the consequences - a hearing at the embassy, before the ambassador who tries to solve in vain the dispute between Shatz and Everon.
On the verge of being sent back home Shatz tightens his relationships with the rest of embassy members, and with Janine and her father, against the ambassador's strict orders and manages to survive against all odds.

20 chapters, 171 pages, 101,106 words.

Chapter1 (v.1) - An African sunset

Author Chapter Note

"An African Sunset" Reuven Shatz a young agronomist joins a small Israeli diplomatic delegation at the "Coast of Hope", a West African acquainted with the life that he himself leads there. As Shatz is supposed to replace Moshe Priel the instructor that is about to return back home as smoothly as possible, he is requested to work in correlation with Priel at the model farm near the town of Dialo; thus he spends the few days up to the Priels' departure at their cottage as their guest. During his stay with the Priels Shatz learns much about the rupture between his hosts and the rest of the delegation members; the strange way in which Priel is being exploited by Da-Silva the local of Portuguese descent, who is the local farm's manager; and of Hilla Priel obsessive fears of that powerful man. Shatz falls in love with Hilla, and conducts a strange and short love affair with her, which ends up to his bitter disappointment when the Priels fly back home. His evenings Shatz spends with Everon at the club, which is not far from Mouaka the capital; he is supposed to become Everon's bridge cards game partner, while he learns to his surprise that the club's bridge championship is Everon's highest aspiration. While he accompanies Everon to the club, he meets Janine, the young daughter of one of Everon's closest French associates. His flirt with Janine gets on Everon's nerves. Everon envies him terribly and makes up a scene during the ride back at 100 miles per hour, almost overturns the car and endangers their lives in a heated dispute. That dramatic scene brings Shatz's salvation in its wake. He frees himself completely from Everon's patronage and gets the support of the embassy members, but has to face the consequences - a hearing at the embassy, before the ambassador who tries to solve in vain the dispute between Shatz and Everon. On the verge of being sent back home Shatz tightens his relationships with the rest of embassy members, and with Janine and her father, against the ambassador's strict orders and manages to survive against all odds. 20 chapters, 171 pages, 101,106 words.

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: January 15, 2014

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Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: January 15, 2014

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AN AFRICAN SUNSET

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HAIM KADMAN

 

 

 

Copyrights © 2013 by Haim Kadman

 

 

All rights reserves without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise) without the prior written permission both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters and places, brands, media and incidents are either the product of the authore's imagination, or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with or sponsored by the trademark owners.

 

 

CHPTER ONE

 

At about twelve forty five, when the heat reached its highest peak, the DC9’s landing gear touched the runway, Mouaka's "international air-port" lone and narrow landing strip; the Capital of the Coast of Hope. One of those poverty struck West African countries, which gained their independence during the last decade.

Reouven Shatz released his safety belt with a sigh of relief, raised his handbag up to his lap, and was getting ready to leave the plane. He was yearning for it in fact.

The flight, which took off a morning earlier from Paris, turned into a disgusting nightmare! The plane was frightfully crowded, there were too many by-landings "en route" and the service as a direct outcome of these same reasons was simply horrible. In one of those short by-landings they were left in the plane, restricted to their seats, while the plane's engines were switched off. The growing heat and the high rate of humidity on top of it, which Shatz has encountered for the first time in his life, were almost intolerable – and soaked his cloths with his own perspiration.

Thus whenever he could escape the heat, on those short by-landings, in the shaded and air-conditioned transit halls; in those small air terminals on their way, he rushed out as fast as he could, to reach these cool havens.

The plane was heading slowly on the deserted and narrow lane towards the terminal in a roaring solitude, reaching it at last the plane stopped and its engines were shut off.

 A mixed group of colored and white passengers were standing along the aisle, ignoring the captain's order to keep on seating in their seats, blocking the only possible passage ready to get off with obvious impatience.

The two air-hostesses popped out of the pilot's cabin, pushing their way through the small waiting crowd to the plane's rear; smiling happily for their first time that day; ignoring the slight inconveniences they had to experience yet, while trying to reach the plane’s rear door. Shatz preferred to sit on, enjoying the air condition system, which kept operating – and kept watching the landscape outside with curiosity, through the plane’s small oval window.

On the broad cement square, facing the terminal, a shabby one-story building, the plane turned its nose and stopped still. The combination of a trap door with a joined staircase just under its tail, opened noisily up, in a series of sharp clicks and thuds and cable screeches. A few seconds passed and the first passengers that were getting off were thanking the airhostesses, happy smiles and lavish compliments were exchanged as they were leaving the plane.

Getting to his feet, Shatz picked up his handbag and caught up swiftly with the few passengers that were on their way out. He crossed the short distance to the door, and rushed out after them. With a muffled thank you and a farewell smile he left the two air-hostesses behind him. He descended the plane’s staircase, while passing an abrupt glance all over the broad square from side to the other.

A huge crowd has gathered there, between the plane and the terminal. Divided into small groups they stood facing the plane, their eyes fixed on the staircase; a colorful human mass murmuring, ejaculating excitedly – waving their arms, smiling, calling out, welcoming their beloved, their dear friends, as they just appeared at the plane's rear doorway.

Quite a sight, Shatz thought coming down the staircase slowly, scrutinizing the nearest faces with interest.

A trio, a woman and two men were standing nearby, watching the descending passengers with eager expectant eyes. Having spotted Shatz almost at once, they stared at him as if they were expecting him to react instantly, and give them some sign. He didn't have the slightest doubt, who they were expecting.

The one in their midst, was wearing a familiar light uniform. Ignoring the tumultuous crowd, the hugs and kisses, the quick prattle in French all around, Shatz left the staircase and with a confidant smile went straight towards them.

 'Shalom!' He greeted them in Hebrew getting closer to them, glad to note their passive expressionless features turning into a warm welcoming smile.

As it usually happens on such circumstances, when citizens of the same country though complete strangers meet one another abroad for the very first time, the personal barriers collapse rather quick.

'Everon, Avraham Everon', said the one in their midst; the one who was wearing the uniform with the dark tiny metal fig leaf upon each shoulder – a major's rank. He was a bit shorter than Shatz, of an average height, thin but well built – and did not look bad at all for his age, some forty years more or less. While shaking hands with Shatz, he introduced his companions:

'These are Moshe Priel and his pretty treasure of a wife, Hilla.  You must have had a pleasant flight I suppose?' Went on Everon while Shatz was shaking hands with the Priels’, and admiring Hilla's charms, muttering: 'Reouven, glad to meet you' when his small reception party, broke out in a sudden fit of laughter sweeping him along as well.

'Oh yes, it was quite an experience!' Shatz admitted laughing still, remembering the flight's hardships. '...And the tricks they have to use, to serve the passengers their meals right over their heads. God, it was a real nightmare, how crowded we were! That plane had originally two seats on each side of the aisle, that's what I believe – an additional seat must have been added, to each row on the left hand side!' Thus in a torrent of words, before anyone could interrupt him, Shatz released his obstructed frustration and excitement; caused by the long trip and that happy end at its end.

'Well, it’s a pretty busy line and the extent of their activities is tremendous.' Everon said, summing the matter up' 'all right! What’s your luggage like? How many suitcases have you brought with you?'

'Just one', Shatz answered surprised.

'Can it be easily identified; how does it look?'

'Why sure! It’s a brown leather case, and there is of course an identifying card with my name attached to its handle, just as it should be.' Shatz assured him.

'Moshe, take that matter into your hands, and don't you waste any time on it!' Everon turned briskly to Priel, without any preliminaries. 'Your sweet wife and I will do our best, to ease Reouven out of the rest of the bureaucracy procedures.'

The tall and heavy Priel, turned round without any comment, and was on his way to perform his task; and vanished behind the scattered groups, who lingered on next to the plane. Some of the small groups around them were already on their way to the terminal.

'Shall we?' Asked them Everon in what was in fact was a brisk impatient order, and the three of them made their way, towards the terminal's wide entrance.

The warm and friendly atmosphere seemed to have evaporated miraculously in the day's heat.

It must be the heat and that terrible humidity, which causes such sharp changes in human behavior... Shatz thought as he walked between the two who made his welcome party.

'What's new back home?' Hilla Priel asked him with an eager smile on her pretty face.

'Cut it off!’ Everon scolded her rudely, right away before Shatz could answer. 'You'll hear enough tonight, and in the coming days – let get that business done with, come on! We have to book him in his hotel yet, and he is allowed some rest after all, he must have had enough for one day. So don't you bother us now with futile gossip.'

The shabby old building, a relic in fact of the old colonial days that served nowadays as the country’s sole terminal, was no doubt some kind of a warehouse at the beginning of the century. Some traces of color still adhered to its walls. It had a rather tall ceiling, way up above one's head and an unfinished wall of bare bricks divided the small passengers’ hall from the rest of its offices. But as it must have been abandoned in mid-work, that’s how it looked like – for it did not reach the high ceiling as it was supposed to.

The loud hissing noises so typical to wireless sets and the loud parley, between the terminal and the plane outside, filled the small and crowded hall – assaulting Shatz's ears, deafening him almost, as he was crossing the threshold in Everon's wake.

The continuous uproar combined of human humdrum and mechanical noises made Shatz grimace. Beads of sweat appeared on his forehead and upper lip. He was tired already, and wished it were all over and done with. With his free hand he loosened his tie a bit, and wiped his brow, then turned to look at Hilla's pretty face, which was so close to his own.

'Is this the usual welcome one gets here?' He asked her trying to cheer her up, and get over his growing excitement – being so close to this pretty young woman. But she shrugged her shoulders indifferently, and sulked on beside him; but right then with a nod of her head, moving it twice upward, and in a certain direction – she turned his attention to Everon. The latter was leaning against the passports’ counter, next to a local clerk. As soon as he caught his eye he summoned Shatz, waving his arm back and forth.

'Excusez, excusez moi,' Shatz muttered in hesitant French, which was acquired in a short two months course, taken on the verge of departure; as he was pushing his way through the thronging groups of oncoming passengers, and their relatives and friends that crowded now the small passengers’ hall.

'Come on, hurry up,' Everon called in Hebrew. 'He wants to see your face.'

Accompanied by their relatives, friends and acquaintances, those who were about to leave and those who just arrived along with Shatz; were queuing in just the same queue, before the same check-in/check-out counter – waiting patiently for their turn. Most of them were busy talking with one another, or simply preferred out of experience, to ignore unpleasant harmless incidents, such as the one Everon was conducting right now.  Some though were annoyed, and a few others watched the scene with obvious dislike.

Everon in what seemed a rather good mood was jesting with the local clerk in eloquent French, mixed with bits of the local jargon, which Shatz couldn't understand. About half a dozen policemen leaned lazily on the wall, behind the counter – joined with the clerk and Everon in a hearty laughter.

The work was not hindered or slowed down in that certain case, Shatz's passport was stamped without delay and was handed back to him; with a brave handshake and warm greetings thanks to Everon of course, and having done with it they were ready to move on.

'That's the gate through which honest and just men pass.' Everon exclaimed jesting still, pointing to Shatz the rear door, with a sardonic smile and turning his head back, he made a hasty sign to Hilla, urging her to join them.

The lone policeman that was stationed at the rear door was smiling as they approached him, but stiffened to attention and saluted Everon obediently smiling still, while Everon was leading them out. While passing the saluting policeman, Everon with a faint and haughty smile, threw him a short 'C'a va?' And that was it; they were on the other side of that miserable building.

On a stretch of cracked asphalt long and narrow, some twenty feet wide; which was fenced on its exterior and was in fact the terminal's exit, they stopped and waited. A few cars were parked on the opposite side, next to the tall fence. There under the scorching sunrays, they stood the three of them all alone.

'Well, where is your husband now?' Everon turned to Hilla with an emphasized note of reproach, which could leave one with the impression that delays and some other mishaps were Priel's specialties.

'He won't be long, surely,' she answered him dryly with a marked indifference.

She bleeds still and hasn't forgiven him. Shatz thought gloomily. He has hardly met them, except their names he does not know the tiniest detail about them, yet their feuds have already been spread before him.

Wiping his forehead with his soaked handkerchief, Shatz turned around and saw Priel's figure emerging out of the rear door.

'There he is!' He called out relieved, as if he has taken some heavy burden off his back.

With a few quick strides of his long legs, Priel hastened to join them.

'I was sure I'll catch up with you at the hall, you did it quite fast.' He added catching up his short breath, smiling apologetically at Everon.

'Where's the suitcase?' Everon asked watching his inferior's empty hands.

 'I've put it in my car's boot.’

'Well then,' Everon summed the matter up briskly. 'Move it to mine and let's get out of here.' Without waiting for Priel's answer, he crossed the stretch of asphalt heading to the parked cars, on the opposite side of the small parking lot.

Getting near a brand new one, he pulled his keys out of his pants pocket and circled the car, checking it from every possible angle. Having opened the front doors he turned back and looked at Shatz with a long inquiring look, a look that had a pretty clear message in it.

While Shatz and the Priels were still on their way, Shatz toward Everon's car and the Priels to their own; Everon has already opened up his car's boot, and leaving it wide open, managed to reach his own front seat before Shatz did.

The heat in the parked car was almost intolerable, and made Shatz regret he entered it. Although he sat on beside Everon in silence, he was waiting impatiently for the coming change, any change… A quick and drastic one.

They had to wait until Moshe Priel, who was trudging heavily along with Shatz’s suitcase, would put it at last in Everon’s car. He could hear him load it and then the thud, as he shut the boot's lid; two more seconds passed rather slowly, and there was Priel's tall bent frame, at Everon's window.

'Okay,' he informed a job done to Everon, and turned to Shatz over Everon's head. 'We'll see you than tonight, at the embassy.'

'Sure, no doubt,' Everon retorted, starting the car and engaging its reverse gear; he drove it out backwards and eased it around, right away, to the middle of the stretch leaving Priel well behind them. Moving on slowly at first, Everon raised his right hand and waved it in a kind of a farewell gesture to the Priels without looking back.

With mixed feelings Shatz turned his head back, to take his leave of the Priels. He did not like Everon's rude behavior, but was glad to be on the move at last; the Priels were too far off already, and could not hear him, nor see any of his well-intended gestures.

'Congratulations, you've joined the club.' Everon declared sarcastically, pushing his leg down on the accelerator a bit harder; holding the steering wheel with his right hand, his left elbow leaning on his open window's sill. He was driving the car on that narrow and neglected asphalt strip, at about ninety kilometers per hour already, but the rate of their speed was growing up steadily.

'So, what's left for us to do is to settle you temporarily in our hotel.’ He muttered, as if he was speaking to himself. 'It isn't ranked as a five star hotel, and I don't intend to keep back that piece of information from you.' He went on glancing at Shatz. 'I don't know yet of course, what are your own expectations on such issues, and what you're accustomed to. Anyhow, you'll have to stay there until the Priels, whom you replace would leave, and would evacuate their lodgings for your sake.'

'Is it the only hotel in town?' Shatz asked him surprised.

'Sorry to admit, yes, it’s the only one but it is quiet tolerable abode although it’s miserable exterior; it has a good restaurant though, a fact which might console you a bit.'

Shatz wasn't what one would have called an experienced gourmet, and did not aspire to be one did not comment. 

'You're, how should I put it into words properly, an agronomist, am I right?  I mean in both ways, in using the right term and in assuming that you are such a person?' 

'That’s right, that’s what I am.' Shatz answered him briskly.

'That's a real positive change. That's some good news indeed!' Everon remarked, with satisfaction. 'Priel isn't a bad fellow, but out of view of professional aspects, he is a bit superficial I would say. Taking into account this certain point of view, I believe I did a very good bargain.'

As the nature of the relationship that existed between Everon and Priel was not known to him at all, Shatz did not rush into hasty conclusions. Turning his face toward Everon, he exchanged a smile of mutual understanding with him. Priel was on his way home in any case; while he on the other hand, had to build up and maintain a good relationship with Everon, who was after all the head of the delegation.

His outbursts of bad temper and impatience are the outcome of the heat, combined with the high rate of humidity. On top of it all, he had to wait for quite a while for my arrival... Shatz thought. Every garment that covered his skin was soaked with his own perspiration, but it seems as if he got used to it already, while he turned with much curiosity to watch the landscape out of the car's window.

Right in front of them, against the horizon, beneath the low hanging clouds, Mouaka floated up before their eyes, through the car’s windshield. A light and wide strip speckled with dark bluish-gray spots of vegetation and empty spaces between the many groups of buildings that were growing bigger and bigger as they were approaching the Coast of Hope capital. The huts and shacks that were an integral part of that city were scattered all over the plain before them.

The spots, lines and specks of just a few seconds ago were becoming clearer and bigger. They were moving fast in a strange solitude, on the narrow asphalt road that crossed that vast plain.

Some twenty minutes earlier, the Priels were lagging somewhat behind them – right now, they vanished and were completely out of sight... Their rate of speed was growing up constantly; Shatz could feel it very clearly.  Sneaking a look at the speedometer he missed a heartbeat, in alarm – one hundred and forty...!

'That's nothing for that car.' Everon demonstrated his skills as a potential race driver, with a cold-blooded nonchalance mixed with pride. He was expecting that chance to come, for quite a while.

'There's Mouaka in front of us.' He went on monotonously.  'Just a bit bigger than an average village, in this country,’ he added, expressing unconsciously his deep contempt, and the boredom the sight of that town caused him.

'Do you see that building on top of that lone green hill? That's the hotel.'

Shatz was too tired and a bit shocked yet, to offer any opinion or any comment on any matter.

Within two minutes drive, they have reached the outskirts of the town and a lone crossroads right after it, which led to the hotel through a double curve serpentine, mounting slightly upwards.

The hotel was a big three story structure, with a tiled roof that made it look old and out of place, is spite of its impressive structure. It was encircled and partly hidden by a huge tropical garden, and a tall wall that surrounded its premises.

As they were approaching its open gate, its name: "L'Etoile de Mouaka", inscribed on the arch above it became suddenly visible.

Exchanging a look with Shatz while crossing the hotel's gate, Everon curled his tight lips in a smile of contempt.

'Well that's the whole lot.' He muttered curtly hardly audible, as he parked the car along the broad staircase, leading to the hotel's wide entrance. They got instantly off both of them and while Everon summoned the first available "garcon" who peeped out through the open entrance's door at them. Shatz took off his jacket and moved to and fro, to stretch his weary limbs.

They ascended the stairs side by side, while hopping right behind them with Shatz's suitcase, the "garcon" came along; an old porter who must have been well over sixty, and was carrying himself and his load up the stairs with ease. Shatz on the other hand had some breathing difficulties at the staircase's top.

'Do wait for us at the reception please.'  Thus in his polished French, Everon sent the "garcon" off, to complete his errand.

'Just have a look at that swimming pool, will you?' He turned to Shatz at the hotel's entrance, and putting a hand on Shatz's shoulder, he turned him round to face it.  'That's the town's main attraction, and there is a good deal of activity in it and around it – particularly at night-time. So, who knows, you might miss the place later on, after moving to the Priels’ cozy residence.' He remarked with a slight giggle. 'Okay let's get inside.'  He added pushing Shatz slightly, through the hotel's open door into the small lobby, towards the reception counter.

'You haven't got any local money yet, have you?' He asked, while Shatz was filling in his details, in the hotel's guest-book. 'Take some of these meanwhile.' He extended his hand with a palm full of West African one hundred franc coins. 'One of these will suffice for a tip; give him one of these after he'll show you to your room. Listen!' He added right away. 'Take your time, there's no need to hurry, but come down before two o’clock otherwise we’ll miss lunch.' 

'I need a shower badly, but I'll right down.' Shatz said ready to follow the old "garcon" to his room.

I’ll be waiting for you at the bar. I'm going to have a few words with someone down there, someone who always has some good news for me.'

Wearing a summer shirt and a pair of pants made of some light garment, refreshed after a quick shower Shatz descended to the hotel's lobby. The hotel air-condition system worked without a hitch, there was a fair view of its garden and its blue swimming-pool, through his window; his room was comfortable, there was a bath plus hot water and a telephone with a live line – he did check it. He could not complain could he? Nor could he think of any future troubles, which he might encounter or any hardships of any sort, in the coming fortnight he was going to spend there.

The lobby was deserted, a sole receptionist sat bored between the reception counter and the mail boxes; the keys of the vacant rooms hanging above his head.  Half way between the reception and the hotel's restaurant, from the bar's direction Shatz heard Everon’s loud and rolling laughter.

'Well, he's getting along quite fast!' Everon remarked in French to the colored barman, laughing still, as he noticed Shatz's lean figure on the bar's threshold. Putting his empty glass on the counter, he crushed his cigarette butt in the ashtray and blew out a cloud of smoke.

'Here is our new man the agronomist, Messier Shatz.'  He introduced Shatz to the colored barman, who in return exposed two rows of white even teeth; next came a series of short exchanges of polite greetings. Shatz managed to find the right words more or less, and right after it a toast for Shatz's success was offered by the barman, with Everon's encouragement. Shatz who did not feel like drinking, and was not used to booze in general had to empty one more goblet, an aperitif that Everon had chosen for him.

'Alors, till next time,' Everon smiled effusively to the barman, pushing Shatz slightly towards the door.

'Your French needs some good deal of improvement!' He told Shatz leading in haste the way to the hotel's dining room. 'That's the common problem of most the delegation's members. You didn't speak French before, did you?'

'No I didn't, I've taken a short course just before leaving.'

'That's exactly what I've thought, but you'll have enough chances to practice the language, long before you'll start working.  I'll see to it myself, for that's your main tool after all.'

A lone guest who wasn't as late as they were, who was still there sitting over his coffee raised his face above the paper that he was reading. As soon as he saw them, he averted his eyes back to his paper.

Everon led the way to one of the few tables that were still laid for lunch, at the far end of the dining room. He stopped near the closest chair, waiting for an old waiter who rushed towards them to come and pull the chair out for him. He glanced at Shatz while settling Everon in his chair, but Shatz was already seated quite relieved; the old waiter hurried away, and came back in a short while carrying the menus.

'That's what I call a first class restaurant, which respects its clientele. Just take a look at these menus.' He did not expect Shatz to answer him of course, and they were both deeply absorbed already in the long list of dishes, which the hotel’s restaurant had to offer. The old waiter, his dark face in deep contrast to his all white uniform, stood quietly there unnoticed, waiting patiently for their orders.

'Well, what's on your mind?' Everon asked without raising his eyes from the menu, which was clutched firmly in his hands.

'You'll order, I haven't the slightest idea what's written in that menu. It’s Chinese as far as I'm concerned. 'Shatz retorted with a fair amount of frustration.

'Do you like sea food?'

'If it isn't sea weed,' Shatz ventured expressing his disappointment.

'Well, that's what I'd call a remarkable recovery.' Everon muttered in Hebrew, and turning to the old waiter, he ordered in detail their meal.

'Pass my compliments to the chef, mon vieux!’ He added in a rather loud voice after him, as the old waiter was on his way to the kitchen.

Folding his paper the lone guest rose to his feet, pulled his chair back, brutally, with much anger and noise; demonstrating his disgust, which was in fact nothing but sheer envy, then he grimaced hideously and left.

'Don't pay any attention to him and the likes of him, there are plenty of such types over here. Feel yourself at home that’s my first rule in such encounters.' Everon calmed Shatz down. 'There isn't a single joint in this town where I’m not a welcome guest, at any hour, day or night.’

'I'm quite sure you're.' Shatz answered him. He wasn't too impressed though, with Everon's little vehement speech, but just like Everon, he did not like the Frenchman's exaggerated reaction. What has Everon done after all?

'How did you manage to get away, without changing your surname into a Hebrew one?' Everon asked him in wonder. The little unpleasant incident was well forgotten, and anyhow nothing could spoil his good spirits or his appetite when he was having his favorite dishes, and the wine cart was "en route" to their table...

'It was simply a matter of time, I mean there wasn't any time left for such trivial details. I was offered that job two months ago, and accepted it right away.'

'I see,’ Everon was smiled, raising his face to the ceiling to mark with emphasize, his amazement. The wine cart was waiting at his side, with the wine steward to serve them.

'Well and how are you my dear friend?' Everon turned to him rather cordially, and devoted himself straight away, to the sacred ceremony of choosing, viewing, sniffing and tasting the wine, an impressive show of expertise. Having poured the chosen wine and having praised Everon's taste repeatedly, the wine steward retired and left them in peace, leaving their chosen bottle open on the table and the wine cart beside it.

'Don't think I'm spending my time and money in such joints, day in day out. 'He turned his attention back to Shatz. 'I'm too busy to indulge in such luxury. There's the delegation I'm responsible for, the embassy, and some other various jobs to deal with from time to time.  But although the importance of our job here and the rest of it, the real interest of anyone who serves here is to save a fair sum of money; a sum of money that would enable one to start his life anew when he returns back home.'

A second cart was on its way to their table, with the same old waiter behind it, soon it reached them and in a matter of seconds, the old waiter laid their ordered dishes with admirable efficiency.

'Well, it's high time... Good appetite.' Everon muttered in haste, putting an end to his monologue and attacked his plate with zest; he would wipe his lips meticulously, before drinking his wine time and again, in a strict order that turned it into a personal ritual.

'That's the house specialty!' He announced proudly with the arrival of the main course. 'The shell opens up very easily, after it's been boiled without the slightest effort I'd say.’ He explained to Shatz, who was watching the fully armed lobsters with awe.

'Just put the knife's blade in the fissure between the shell's two parts. Then with just a light turn of your wrist it opens up, ' He explained to Shatz with much patience, and twisting his wrist lightly before Shatz's eyes he turned theory into practice, and he separated the lobster's meat from its shell, then cut it into little morsels.

'Now I ought to quote those rather popular TV gourmet programs back home, and their eloquent descriptions.' He smiled mischievously, winking at Shatz.

'You add a speck of mayonnaise, ' and he did so, covering the bit of lobster meat on his fork with it; and taking a long breath of air with widening nostrils he stuffed his mouth with the loaded fork, munching it with signed lips and shut eyes.

'Splendidly done.' he muttered, opening his eyes, as if he was awakening from a dream.

 


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