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18


There was no life in Greenland for me anymore. Lately, I was not even able to make a single step outside the police stations without tons of Chinese swooping in on me, while swinging arms and legs in the air and wildly screaming! I was stupid enough to think I would be able to go back to my miserable hotel, but a whole bunch of them was already waiting for me there. Another bunch was patrolling around my former office and a third one—down before my apartment building. And they were not those clowns with the kitchen utensils! These were real thugs with real—probably positron—machineguns. Ever since the aliens been around, such “marvelous” toys had become extremely popular among the gangsters. Eventually, I got out of the trouble by just checking into another hotel but it was not the ultimate answer to my problems. Soon they were going to start recognizing me in every hotel in the city and they simply wouldn’t let me in!

I spent a relatively peaceful first night after the killings because I was tired and emotionally exhausted, and I slept until eleven a.m. On the morning, just as expected, Menelaus’ murder had already made a huge fuss in all the media. Every TV and website news channel had it as a headline, and the polemic about his wife and the potential heir to his business empire revived. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to read any of these stories because I had to watch that I wouldn’t become a headline myself! As soon as I got up, I hastily wrote my report, signed it up with the chip in my ID card, and mailed it to Dunkin. He called me soon after that and he entirely confirmed my assumptions about the massacre in DuPont’s house.

First, Menelaus and the gardener had been wiped out, then the Filipino and the bodyguard. DuPont was murdered with the wrench, the gardener’s head was smashed with the garden scissors, the girl was strangled—probably because it had to be done quietly—and lastly, the guard was shot on the stairs. Dunkin also told me that in the last year, Menelaus had sharply reduced the employees in his Greenland office and the staff caring for his house, including the security. There were rumors he had been experiencing financial troubles. The staff who remained in the house had been catered and on the day of the murders, a car of the catering firm had run into a black Corvic coming out of the mansion at one p.m. It backed up my story completely.

After we finished talking with Dunkin, I spent an extremely nervous afternoon and then a horrible second night in the hotel. I barely slept and as soon as the sun came up, I went out. At eleven a.m., I was at the court with my neck stiffened from all the turning around, expecting to see suspiciously yellow guys advancing to me. I did what I had to do in the court and it took fifteen minutes just as Dunkin had promised. He didn’t show up himself. I paid the fines, they restored my status in the system back to “clear”, and they kicked me out. When we went outside, I paid my lawyer and hopped into a cab to drive me to Menelaus’ house so I could collect my car. The police hadn’t touched it at all. While I was driving, I fidgeted like a meerkat at watch. I was uneasy up until I found myself back in my new hotel.

I stormed into my room with a bottle of whiskey, which I had bought from the nearby supermarket because I felt I wouldn’t calm down otherwise. I didn’t drink much, however—my lips barely touched the neck of the bottle and two minutes later, I was already going nuts again. I jumped to the window every time I heard tires screech down on the street or loud voices. I realized I was in a trap on the fourth floor and when the Chinese eventually came here—they had found my previous hotel so it was just a matter of time before they found this one too—I would have no chance of escape. After another horrible hour in my room, I simply couldn’t bear it anymore.

I quickly gathered all my stuff, which was just my jacket and my phone, and checked out. I desperately wanted to go see Jill but two things were stopping me from doing it. Firstly, I didn’t want to get her mixed up with the Chins, and secondly, Dunkin had said she didn’t want to see me and his words were still ringing in my head. She was totally right to reject me. I couldn’t even understand why she had paid for my release in the first place. I couldn’t understand why Dunkin was helping me either, even if he was doing it for Jill. When we talked on the telephone the previous day, he said he had never been my enemy. “But you are!” he quickly added then. The more I thought about it now, the better I was seeing his point!

When I got out to the front of the hotel, I walked to my car and stayed inside for a minute, feeling like a wild animal in a trap. Then I started the engine but I had absolutely no idea where to go. After an hour of aimless driving along the streets of Nuuk, I nervously realized that the only chance for me to survive was to scram. I had to leave Greenland, at least for a while, because I couldn’t hide in my car forever! After another hour of thinking, I took the decision of following the jerks that had set me up. The situation after the murders had sharply changed and my new “friends” had gone now. It was my only option too!

When he called, Dunkin said he had found Bobby Bjornson registered for a flight to Pago Pago the evening before that—right after she had made her phone call of betrayal to me. The town was the capital of the former American Samoa on the island of Tutuila—now part of the South Pacific Confederation. It was also the town of her previous job. The most curious thing, however, was that two other small islands were located very close to the place she had flied to—the islands of Ofu and Olosega. The coincidence was more than enough to convince me to take my decision. Dunkin also said he hadn’t found any trace of Marty or Sharon but it didn’t surprised me. Sharon was surely using a false identity otherwise, she wouldn’t have allowed her boyfriend to kill people in motels where she had checked in. And besides, I was almost sure where I could find them—they both had started for the SPC too!

A half an hour later, full of hope, I stopped my car at a post office to mail some cash to Jill for my release, and I added a note: “I never thought I was special, baby. You’ve always been to me, though. I’m so sorry!” Then I drove straight to Anuk Airport as quickly as possible because I wanted to take off before I changed my mind. It was surely a stupid decision and Dunkin was going to be mad at me for this, but I hoped he would understand eventually. It was a matter of life and death and in my empty list of options, I didn’t see anything else I could do—stupid or not. “After all, technically, I’m not escaping,” I tried to convince myself. “I’m just going to be temporarily unavailable here!”

With such highly “positive” thinking in my mind, I soon pulled up at the curb near the parking lot of the airport. I had to leave my devoted Beijing outside of it, simply because I had no idea how long I would be away—it might be a week, it might be a year! Then I remembered about my fish—Lilly and I suddenly felt terrible. The poor creature was going to starve to death in my kitchen. Unfortunately, I could do nothing about it—I doubted the Chinese would be kind enough to feed her while I was away, and I couldn’t even help her if I stayed in Greenland. I just couldn’t go back at my place any time soon! After a minute, still being a little sad, I stepped out of the car and headed for the airport building.

When I went inside, I immediately felt the change. I felt relieved as if I had shaken off all my problems in an instant. I hurried for the ticket office and when I looked at the huge screen on one of the walls, I hiccupped with surprise because a flight to Pago Pago was scheduled there in just an hour and thirty-five minutes. There simply couldn’t be a better omen that my decision was right! Hardly believing my luck, I feverishly bought the last ticket for that flight, which was actually another good omen, and then I ran to the departure terminal.

The time, which I spent afterwards, was not so pleasant, however. I was out of reach for the Chinese now but not for the police. I didn’t know how deeply the airport and police systems were interconnected and I was expecting that some cop would come and ask me where I thought I was going. Fortunately, an hour passed without any unpleasant surprises and I got on board at last. Thirty minutes later, we took off and I finally blew off steam. Since there was noting I could do but wait, I spent most of the time reading news websites. I hoped I would find something more about Menelaus’ murder but so far there were only speculations in the press. I learned nothing. I did learn about the latest stage of the crisis in Britain though. Lately, Britain had been going through rough times because of the globalization and the flood of people on the island, but the situation now was spiraling almost out of control.

It turned out, the President—Ramesh Ranganathan had unexpectedly dissolved the government of the Prime Minister—Salman Rouhani in a desperate attempt to save the nation. The former intended to put Britain up for an auction as soon as possible—maybe in three days! At first, I thought there was an error in the text; I thought that such a things was simply not possible. There was no error, however! The idea was that every Brit should become a shareholder in this joint venture and receive regular dividends after the sale. Many people in the country actually believed it would work—the President being in the lead. Naturally, the main opponent was the Prime Minister but he was already kicked out of office as it seemed. In fact, no one really knew what it would happen. The plan was so unorthodox and so hasty that it verged nearly on gambling but obviously, the list of options for Britain was totally empty now. It was time for urgent and desperate measures!

I played with my cellphone a little while longer, and seventy-two minutes later, after exhausting my battery and connecting the device to the wireless charging station, we landed at the airport of Pago Pago at last. It had been a long flight through the upper layers of the stratosphere and I felt tired. While waiting for the airplane to maneuver, I wondered why they were not making faster machines these days and they still tortured people like this—after all, the aliens were here now and everything was possible! When we stopped moving, I stuck my nose to the window, curious to see what heaven looked like. To my disappointment though, what I saw was rather far from exotic. There were just a few fairly old machines outside, a lot of concrete, and a miserable airport building further in the distance. It seemed somehow rickety as if it wouldn’t survive the next hurricane that hit that place. On top of that, very soon I realized the real waiting was yet to come. Checking into heaven wasn’t going to be quick at all!

First, we had to hang inside for a half an hour before they even let us disembark. I didn’t know what the crew was doing but time obviously didn’t mean shit on this latitude and people here were lazy as hell. Eventually, four airhostesses started opening the airplane door but I had the feeling they were trying to solve the Rosetta stone mystery instead! All the while, instruction sheets were flying around and there was a whole lot of yelling. At some point, they did the task and a towable stairway connected to our plane; but then the smelly bus, in which we were supposed to travel, broke down and the engine wouldn’t want to start. In the end, we had to walk all the way to the arrival terminal, where half a kilometer-long line of people was imperceptibly advancing at three millimeters per hour. During the painful processing of the queue, numerous scandals took place regarding suspicious objects in the passenger’s luggage, expired ID chips and cards, lost children and pets, or many, many other things. I thought we would never go through this. On top of it, there was even a terrorist attempt! Fortunately, it turned out to be a false one. It was just the Imam of Kabuja coming on a vacation with his eight sons, and the personnel of the airport had been too suspicious about it.

Another half an hour later, which seemed to me an eternity, my turn to pass through the scanners, came at last. I stepped in impatiently; then I stepped out; then the customs officer looked at me, bored as hell, and asked me what the purpose of my trip was; then I said “business”; then he glanced at my ID card and ran it through another scanner; then he gave it back to me and waved a hand, meaning to scram…and…I scrammed. It was as easy as that! I quickly crossed the arrivals hall and the final stage of my checking-in to heaven ended. I was out on the parking lot on the other side of the building and free to go.

I looked around, pretty confused, because I still couldn’t believe it was over, but when my senses adapted to the new situation, I started to realize I had come to a place, which was far from heaven. It rather seemed to be hell in the middle of the hottest summer! The temperature was probably forty billion degrees Celsius and the shock I experienced was immense. Everything on the parking lot was ready to melt down!

I hastily took my jacket off to avoid collapsing and looked about for a trashcan. There was simply no point in keeping it here because I doubted the climate would change during my stay. Moreover, I had left everything back in Greenland to the Chinese and I hadn’t had the chance to take any clothes with me so I had to go shopping anyway. I kept looking around but I didn’t see any trashcans in the area. There were just vehicles on the parking lot and a lonely bum in ragged clothes who was idling by the parking meter. Eventually, I considered it a good idea to give the jacket to him. “Bums hate cold.” I thought. “They tend to dress excessively even in the heat!”

I cautiously went closer to the guy, and since I didn’t know if he knew any English words, I solemnly put my right hand to my heart and held my left hand with the clothing out to him.

“A gift!” I said earnestly. “It’s for you. I don’t want it!”

The man turned his head to me, highly suspicious. In this stupid pose, I rather looked like an Indian chief who was saluting the first pilgrims in America than a poor men’s patron. After his first reaction of mistrust, however, the aborigine suddenly shone brighter than the sun in the sky and he quickly grabbed my jacket to examine its quality. “Well, obviously, the culture of gifts is universally accepted and honored worldwide!” I thought.

Soon the man finished his checks, and apparently satisfied by the result, he meaningfully stepped toward me, which I took with mixed feelings. Firstly, I didn’t want to touch him because the level of his personal hygiene was very doubtful and disturbing, and secondly, I had no idea how they expressed their gratitude hereabouts. He may easily want to embrace me or even kiss me on the mouth!

“I give sure recipe for mona,” he quietly said in broken English instead. “You rich no time! Only one million kudos! Cheap as hell!”

He started nodding his head vigorously and he looked furtively around. He was obviously worried about his secret recipe for whatever the word “mona” stood for.

“No, no! I have plenty of mona, you know!” I was very quick to assure him. I just didn’t want to stay under the fierce sun for too long and I already had an urgent need to kiss an air-conditioner. Besides, his smell was really awful!

“Very cheap!” the bum insisted again. “And gift too!”

He suddenly started thrusting my own jacket back toward me but without giving it completely away. He was making weird faces and clearly, he wanted to trade my gift to him and his stupid recipe for mona in return for one million kudos. I didn’t even know how much one million kudos was, let alone that I had none!

“No, no, keep it,” I said impatiently and retreated. “And I don’t want your mona! I’m not interested!”

“Recipe make good mona! Not broken!” the bum kept repeating his offer, while shortening the distance between us. He suddenly opened his coat to show me some drawings in his inner pockets. The smell coming from him became devastating.

“Okay, man, I’m just the king of mona, you know!” I withdrew further. “I have enough of it to feed all the people on the island if I wanted!”

The scumbag gazed at me, truly shocked. His jaw dropped slightly open and his face distorted as if he had tasted poison. I quickly realized I might have gone a little bit too far with my presumption that “mona” was tasty. It was obviously not some kind of food but something else!

“You crazy man!” the bum threateningly pointed a finger at me.

“Yeah, yeah, I’m crazy! I just got out of the loony bin!” I promptly grasped the opportunity and shook my head weirdly a couple of times to confirm my doubtful mental health. The gesture didn’t scare my new “friend” however. He took another step forward, and I took another step back in an attempt to get away from his stink. We repeated this twice more and who knows where this “dancing” would have gone, if something unexpected hadn’t happened in that moment. A very loud explosion thundered in the air above our heads, startling me.

I jumped up terrified. The thought that the Imam of Kabuja and his army of sons had turned out to be terrorists after all swiftly flashed across my mind. It was not them though. When, a second later, I turned my head and looked about in alarm, I saw a dense cloud of smoke rising up near the airport fence. There was an improvised slum right beyond it and one of the “houses” was burning.

Curiously enough, the scumbag didn’t pay the slightest attention to the explosion. He didn’t even turn around to see what was going on. Instead, he started aggressively advertising his mona thing again. At first, I thought he was a callous bastard that didn’t give shit about other people’s lives but when I looked around, I just had to presume they were all callous bastards here on this island. No one really cared about the burning house!

I hurriedly turned around and tried to leave the airport as soon as possible because I didn’t want to get into trouble on my first day on Tutuila. Maybe the police were going to come by soon and block the area. Unfortunately, the bum didn’t have any intention of giving up and he started dragging after me, while going on with his nagging. He insisted that I should buy his recipe for mona so loudly that eventually, I had to stop and turn to him angrily.

“Look, buddy!” I roared truly mad this time. “I don’t care about your fucking mona, understand? If you don’t scram right away, I’ll kick your stinky ass and I’ll take that jacket back! Do you get it?”

The threat had an immediate effect. The idiot got my point right away and he promptly retreated, while tightly holding my jacket under his armpit. When he had drawn back at a safe distance, he opened his mouth and babbled something in his fucking language, which was probably swearing but I didn’t care. I just wanted him to get off me so I made a few gestures with my hands to expel him as if he was some very annoying bug. The scumbag walked away, visibly offended. I sighed with relief and sharply turned around but it was only to stop again right the next second. A shining red Ferrari Convertible rushed by me with a hideous tire screech and almost blew me away. It nearly ran over my toes!

I jumped back, startled, and cried. Two incredibly hot chicks with sunglasses were in the car—a brunet and a blonde—but they didn’t pay the slightest bit of attention to me. The blonde was driving and the car had passed so close that the scent of exotic perfumes hit me right in the face. It was something like the smell of vanilla, or raspberry, or orchid but I wasn’t quite sure—it happened too quickly.

I followed the women with craving eyes until they drove away and I completely forgot that I had to be mad with them. It was unbelievable—not just one but two hot chicks in a red Ferrari and they were alone! Suddenly, I was sorry that they hadn’t hit me and spread my body parts across the parking lot because in this case, they would’ve stopped to carry my remains to the hospital and I’d have had the chance to know them. Not that it mattered actually—they were well above my class—but anyway, I dreamed about it a little.

After the car zipped out on the street and turned behind the next corner, I looked around without any idea where to go. Since I didn’t know the town, I decided to follow the path of the Ferrari and look for a peaceful place with a nice lobby bar and good whiskey. It was almost six in the afternoon and I was on a foreign island where people didn’t pay much attention to explosions, so it wouldn’t have been a good move to spend my first night here hitting bars and pubs, I guessed!

Incidentally, the chicks had led me pretty well, as it turned out. Right after I had started along the intersection where they had vanished, I came across a small colonial style hotel with little yellow balconies and four palm trees in front of it. It looked neat. It was maybe too close to the airport and therefore too noisy, but on the other hand, it was close enough to the airport and therefore easy for me to leave quickly if I needed. Based on my experience so far, the second thing was quite likely to happen at some point so I had to consider it. Since I was too tired already, I shrugged and went inside to check on the whiskey in the lobby bar. I thought that if it was good, then it was my hotel!


©2016 S.T. Fargo
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED!
(www.stfargo.com)

Eurasian Gambit—Chapter 18 | a science-fiction crime novel by S.T. Fargo

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