APR 11, 2023
"The money or your life," came the Arabic twang masked in a thick lispy voice.
"What money?" Mzee Tembo asked defiantly.
The face crept closer and revealed itself.
The one that held Gwafa up also crept forward.
"You guys did a deal with that devilish Fadoul guy. Where is the money?"
Diae hovered carelessly with registered panic. There really was not much thought to their plan. Simply point a gun and rob them.
"Over here, old man."
He hustled Mzee Tembo next to Gwafa, then stared at them confused before he broke out into a diatribe.
"You foreigners think you can do business here and not pay taxes? Hand it over!"
He hesitated for a moment, unsure if he had heard a rustle behind him.
"Hey, where is that shooter chiene1 of yours?"
From the back, the cold wind flashed his nape. He assumed it was an insect, then felt the cold circle of the Model 49 cradle his neck. Uncertain, he attempted to turn but they heard her cock it. The grind of the tinny cold metal confirmed the threat.
"Right here. What did you call me?" Banou stated coldly.
He froze. Kadour froze then turned and pointed the gun at her.
"You put it down."
Behind him, in a cautious stalk, a grey shadowy figure leapt into the air. He heard the sound of the shoes as they crunched the gravel, turned and saw two steely eyes lunge at him, with a devious cold smile to boot. Before he could raise the revolver, a sharp punch cracked his jaw, and dislocated it. Reactively, he squeezed the trigger and fired one round into the ground, as he fell and solidly hit his face.
Gwafa grabbed the gun from his hand and stood back. Diae panicked and dropped his gun. Banou still held him up. Blood poured out of Kadour as Mapacha kicked him in the guts, flipped him and pistol-whipped him twice, and this rendered his face unrecognisable.
Diae turned and faced Banou, who held the revolver in her right hand and the valise in the left. The single bulb in the distance illuminated her and all he could make out was her silhouette, her afro, the gun and the valise. His face withered with fear. Banou realised it was his face she had seen at the airport, not an illusion.
"Don't wet yourself just yet. Wait until he gets to service you," he sneered at him.
Mapacha stood in front of Diae.
"It was you I saw this morning on the road," he snarled. "I remembered now. Was it you who set Kobus onto us?"
Diae's face screamed in panic.
"It was Kadour's idea. I just gave the signal when we left after the deal. He knew Kobus from a conference in Europe, and he had heard about the robbery. Kobus promised him a cut, and he made a deal with me. I swear I did not know they were going to shoot you."
"Well, they did. Now, you must pay the price."
Diae's soul abdicated and the fear of God brimmed over as he recalled how viciously Kobus and the Ivorians had been thrashed and now the barely alive Kadour.
"I swear on my mother. . ." was the last thing he said, as Mapacha rammed his forehead violently into his nose.
Diae shrieked as he tumbled onto Mzee Tembo who grabbed him by the shoulders and threw him back to Mapacha, who had slipped the knuckles onto his fingers and swang the heavy brass fist across his jaw, and he sprayed blood. He prostrated and tried to rise, but Mapacha's heavy foot swung into his face and flipped him over. He gurgled and spattered blood. Mapacha put the knuckles back into his pocket, pulled out his revolver and slapped him across the face and this knocked him out.
They were so engrossed with the beatdown that they failed to register Fadoul's hasty sprint with his long languid limbs across the lot. Gwafa saw the glint of metal in his left hand and whipped out his automatic as did Mzee Tembo.
"Hey, what is going on here? I thought you left already?"
He saw the two bloody piles of flesh that barely breathed strewn on the ground.
"This is a setup eh?"
"Calm down and put the gun down, this has nothing to do with you!" Gwafa ordered him.
Banou tried to maintain her composure and hoped that this was not about to become another shootout. Fadoul switched his Colt M1191 from his south to his dominant.
"Never!" he rebelled.
Mapacha appeared from the shadows and his maniacal face frightened him.
"Hey, who is this guy? I thought it was just the three of you," Fadoul said.
Then he eyed the two bodies again.
"Who are these guys you just killed?"
Mzee Tembo raised his revolver and pointed it at Fadoul, tired of all this.
"Brother, four against one, and there is someone on the way to the hospital. Lower your gun."
Suddenly, it occurred to Fadoul that he was outnumbered and outgunned.
"What is the meaning of this?" he asked arrogantly.
"You, Kadour and Diae just tried to rob us."
Shock and surprise intermixed and washed over Fadoul's face.
"Kadour? Diae? Are they the two guys you just killed on my lot? I'm an honest businessman. I don't know them."
Diae moaned and coughed. Fadoul lowered his gun, walked over and stared at the two mangled faces, then turned to Mzee Tembo.
"I don't know who these swine are, but you need to get them and yourselves out of here. Now!" he screamed.
He stalked off with his automatic still in his hand and an angry mutter on his lips.
"Banou! Car! You too Mapacha! Gwafa let's get these guys into the spare wheel's office."
They stuffed the two bloody messes into the back, closed it, picked up their guns and jumped in. The Citroën blasted to life, and Gwafa expertly wheeled it out of the lot, onto the road and squeezed every ounce of the 109 horses and they fled from the cinema.
"Merde!2 Where do we take them?" Gwafa asked as he desperately peered into the darkness.
"Just drive," Mzee Tembo said.
It took great effort for Gwafa to stop the frantic race and it became less of a pursuit and more of a fast drive, down the vacated streets, past their hotel aimlessly across Casablanca all the way to the beach. When they got to Tahiti, and the buildings thinned out, the wide expanse of the beach suddenly appeared.
"Stop here," Mapacha told Gwafa. "This will do."
He stopped at a desolate spot, switched off the lights, but let the engine idle.
"Banou, stay inside."
She wasn't about to step out anywhere except at the hotel. Her hands clutched the valise tightly, as the adrenaline finally wore down. Gwafa and Mzee Tembo dragged Kadour's lifeless body out of the boot and took him down to the beach. Mzee Tembo checked his pulse, and it was faint.
"He will be fine."
They went back up and hauled out Diae who was barely conscious and took him down and laid him next to Kadour.
"Connards!3" Gwafa shouted and spat at them.
"How French," Mzee Tembo remarked to an irritated Gwafa.
Mapacha came down the beach and held out the revolvers. Mzee Tembo and Gwafa unloaded them, flung the cartridges into the ocean, wiped them down and placed them in Diae and Kadour's pockets. The police would have a field day with these two when they were found.
They all run back to the car. Mzee Tembo jumped upfront as Gwafa slid in. Mapacha slammed the boot shut, jumped next to Banou and shouted, "Go!"
Gwafa spun the car round and gunned it away from the beach. The car weaved its way back to the hotel entered and parked. It was almost 1 AM and the hotel staff had dwindled to the night receptionist and a porter. Banou and Gwafa went up to her room to lock up the valise as Mzee Tembo and Mapacha entered the restaurant. The skeleton staff declared that they could rouse up a simple meal in twenty minutes. Mzee Tembo placed the order, and they sat down. Banou and Gwafa returned, sat and they finally caught their breath.
"Damn. These diamonds are making people crazy," Banou said quietly.
Gwafa suddenly burst out in laughter, followed by Mzee Tembo, then Banou. Mapacha cracked a smile.
The waiter served them chips and sausages, with a side of salad and juice. It was a well-received meal. After the late supper, they sat down to drink coffee.
"Morocco is crazy I tell you," Mzee Tembo remarked. "Right! Now, everyone goes in and packs and we stay ready. Gwafa, what time does the car rental company open?"
"8 AM boss."
"So, in the morning around 6 AM, we will wake up and go to clean the car out. Then we check out just before 8 AM, no breakfast, nothing like that. We then return the car, get a taxi and head to the airport. And then it's goodbye Morocco. Clear?"
It was a nursery chorus.
Half an hour later, they were all asleep in bed.