Gorilla Republic: Mapacha: Mughamarat f'almaghrib: Part 8 

FEB 13, 2023

Ossi's Office

Ossi was an affable man, a consummate merchant, and a crafty socialite. A mammoth, he found it impossible, even against medical advice, that meals could be too rich for his health, so his two wives and occasional mistresses spoilt him with baked and fried delights a lot more than they did in the boudoir. He would have been a virtuoso in the sultanate of Mawlay Isma'il and would certainly have found a way to worm himself deep into the court. He had the aura and the very look with a thick moustache and appropriate desert tan to boot. Despite his slackness, he possessed the mettle to parade in an immaculate burnous on a white fiery barb with a raised Moukhala somewhere in the untamed Sahara. This was tokenized in a pompous portrait that was draped over his dark brown Fabricius and Kastholm lounge chair behind the elephantine charcoal Boomerang by Hedensted Møbelfabrik from where he directed his empire. Such details excited him.

The finery that was his office was impressive. What they had considered a mirror from the front was actually a two-way glass that gave Ossi a generous view of the occurrences in the shop, from the door, right up to the cases. The light grey rug in his office was much thicker than the one in the shop, though it bore the same design, which Mzee Tembo concluded had all been customised for him at great expense. The walls were decked with photos of Ossi and several individuals, clearly important people, and were there to impress the few that made it into the office. Ossi set himself on his comfortable lounge while he directed Mzee Tembo and Gwafa to sit on the less comfortable Gascoin chairs, a trick, no doubt, to restrain visitors from lengthy visits. On his behemoth desk, were assorted office desk knick-knacks, a telephone and a tiny Altoid Peppermint tin. Beneath the portrait that was behind him, was a partially concealed credenza that had gold trinkets on it that seemed significant to him. On the other side was a small porthole and across it a single multispeed Sanyo fan he used presumably to blast the heavy smoke of his cigarettes, though a slight haze of tobacco and coffee had undoubtedly infused itself into the heavy rug. So Mzee Tembo and Gwafa surmised that Ossi wanted to appear as a man of great means who did very little to hide it and thus had chosen to display his culture in the most regal manner.

His grubby digits trimmed with thick gold rings bedecked with fine sapphires and rubies twirled reflexively at the idea of business because, in his world, he always won. His aquiline nose proudly propped a pair of Rodenstock spectacles, similar to the ones he had seen Curd Jürgens wear. A Sobranie Black Russian quivered smokily on his lips and he routinely twiddled a fat index digit on the gold tip when he ashed it as if to draw attention to it. Despite his girth and the creases he despised, he held the looks that European or American women would have considered princely and exotic and mysterious. With a brood of six sons from his two wives, Kadour was his favourite from the younger and despite his near uncontrollable lust for food and cigarettes, he had somehow avoided a health scare in his early seventies. He always considered Moroccan tea his panacea.

Kadour quietly knocked on the door and entered with a small silver salver that had a silver pot and three clear glasses. He carefully served the tea and set it before them, before he mutedly slid out and shut the door behind him.

"Now my friends tell me, how long have you been in Rabat?"

"We only arrived last night."

"So quick to the business eh? Excellent. Lourenço said you were keen. How is he? It has been years since we last saw each other."

Mzee Tembo smiled. "He is doing well. Same business."

"Indeed. I must travel to Ilha de Florença one of these fine days, you know, to see it for myself. I only go as far as the Canaries, if I go that way."

It was true. To Ossi, the world beyond the Canaries was pretty much the dark continent, and this had no interest to him. As they sipped their tea, Ossi sprouted some inanities about Morocco and when he finished the glass, his gentle smile transformed into a fierce look.

"So, what can Ossi do for you?"

"Well, as Lourenço had mentioned, we have some rather delicate items that we wish to dispose of."

Ossi stared blankly at Mzee Tembo for a moment.

"This I understand. You have the items here in Rabat?"

"Yes. They are here."

"This is good. Do you perhaps have any samples with you?"

"Yes," he replied, as he pulled out a small clear plastic bag with three stones in them.

The genial smile returned, and he nearly drooled at the sight of the merchandise. His allure for diamonds was, at this point a fetish. He turned the chair round and selected his most ostentatious loupe from his collection stored inside the credenza as well as a small pair of tweezers and a black-velvet-lined tray. Mzee Tembo passed the diamonds to Ossi who poured them onto the tray before he carefully inspected them, one by one, slowly, and with great patience. Mzee Tembo and Gwafa watched him, as they drank their tea.

"My friends, where did you get these stones? They are exquisite."

"From our travels."

Ossi understood, but had to ask, "How hot are they?"

"Nobody is looking for them if that is what you are asking."

"OK. This is good. How many units can you supply?"

"We might have about six hundred pieces of variating carats."

Ossi's audible gasp knocked his loupe from his orbit onto the tray.

"Those are too many. Six hundred. You will ruin the market here. You need to send them to Europe. Here, the market is small."

Suddenly, his face went blank as the powerful analytical mechanism that was his brain computed the various aspects of the diamonds. His thick fingers reached for the Altoids and pulled one out, and discreetly dropped it onto his tongue.

"What is your price?"

"Two thousand dollars per carat."

His face contorted, and he coughed slightly and nearly choked on his Altoid.

"This my friend, it's too much. That is the retail price. Nobody will buy at this price."

Mzee Tembo was well aware but had to play for a far better deal, and he had to start somewhere.

"OK. I tell you what. Ossi is an honest man. If you give me fifty stones, I will buy them at one thousand five hundred in cash."

"Eighteen hundred."



They both stood up and shook hands, and this denoted their honour status to their commitment to the deal.

Sobranie Black Russian Cigarettes

Ossi sat down and took out a flat black pack of his royal black cigarettes, slowly rubbed the gold filter as if lost in thought then offered them one each. They both turned him down. Gwafa wanted one, but, had to respect Mzee Tembo. He was curious about the cigarettes and made a mental note to look for them to see if they were worth their reputation. Meanwhile, Ossi realised that Gwafa had barely uttered a word, and concluded that Mzee Tembo was his superior.

"Tembo, your friend here, he is very quiet?"

Gwafa smiled. "No, just letting you two talk."

Behind them, a telephone rang and Kadour answered it and spoke in a muted voice.

"So, Tembo, when do you want to make the trade? I will need a day or so to organise the money, you know, and then we can meet and do the deal."

"As soon as you are ready," Mzee Tembo replied.

"Tomorrow afternoon?"

"That's fine. Do we come here?"

"But of course. This sort of deal for me is done in my place of business, which is here."

"Now, I have another question, and I hope you don't get offended," Mzee Tembo said.

"Please ask. Anything Ossi can do for you, he will."

"Do you know where else we can sell our wares?"

Like an illusionist, Ossi produced a silver lighter, struck it, lit the cigarette and concealed it in one smooth move, a trick he hoped would impress them.

"There are friends, I could ask around. Are you able to travel in Morocco, or is it just here in Rabat?"

"We have means, so, there is no limit to where we can go."

"My friend, this is a difficult question to ask me. The only people I know with that amount of ability to take that much are smugglers and I cannot trust them. I know a few, but this risk, it's very high. I will ask around. By tomorrow, I will know and don't worry, it will all be hush-hush."

His genial smile returned as his index finger crossed his lips. Kadour was still on the phone as Ossi put the diamonds back in the plastic bag and gave them to Mzee Tembo. Gwafa seemed less interested in the conversation in the office and was more interested in Kadour. He could barely hear him, but he understood the language. Flemish. For some weird reason, it struck Gwafa as odd. Flemish in Morocco was not common.

"We have to take a chance. Sitting on them is not very useful for us."

"I see. Well, this is what we shall do my friends. Go get yourselves organised and then call me tomorrow just before three in the afternoon to confirm this meeting. Hopefully, by then, I shall have some information from you. OK?"

"This is fine. No problem."

It was apparent that Mzee Tembo and Ossi had struck a friendly note, maybe motivated by their age, but by the end of the session, they found themselves in the middle of hearty laughter. Finally, the chairs did their trick and became uncomfortable to sit on, and they rose to leave.

"Here, take my card. Call me on this number, and I will be ready for you."

Ossi led them out of the office, and an uneasy Kadour was still on the phone. He fought to end the call. Ossi watched him nonplussed, as he tried to understand the reason for the long call.

"'Kan je ietsje trager spreken? Kobus? Ja. k verstoaje! Joat. Saluu!"1

Ossi marvelled at Kadour. "This my son went to university in Europe and came back speaking two new languages. Very useful in this business."

Kadour feigned his embarrassment with a smile as he watched them leave the shop.

They entered the Simca, and Mzee Tembo plotted a route back to the hotel. It meandered for a reason. Gwafa looked at it and then followed the instructions Mzee Tembo read out to him. Every minute or so, he glanced at the rearview mirror and checked to see if they had a tail. The illogical route led them through the narrow streets of Salé then doubled back twice, as he drove erratically. He overtook cars and then stopped to let them pass again. They unexpectedly turned off into minor streets and then they headed back down the main road. This would certainly flush out anyone that would try and follow them, but as they charged across the bridge, it felt good to know that they were alone.


Banou and Mapacha in the hotel room

Banou and Mapacha were in her room with the diplomatic bag open between them. She found herself weary of the diamonds. For a girl who had spent the last couple of years in search of the finer things in life, this was a surprise. Morocco beckoned to her, and she wished she could spend even an hour being normal. Mapacha had dumped the bag out and removed the four guns, with four boxes of ammunition, as well as the diamonds.

"These things, the guns, the diamonds, I'm so tired of seeing them. I wish life could be more normal."

Mapacha flashed her a momentary smile of approval, not at what she had said, but by what she had achieved. The transition from being an angry borderline alcoholic lady of the night to being an angry sober partner in a gang was a step in the right direction. Sort of.

"Don't scorn them. Times might get tough again. Be happy that we have this now, and we have places to go."

"True Mapacha. I agree. By the way, how is Abril?"

That compartment he had drowned with the heaviest anchor he could muster to the most obscure part of his mind was dragged right up again. It threw him off. His personal life was generally off-limits. He had no idea if Banou was making small talk as a friend or if she wanted to press him for a reaction as she did Mzee Tembo. Also, he had no actual answer, so he resorted to the first that came to the forefront.

"Fine. Can we get along with this?"

Banou watched him feign his irritation. Inwardly, she smiled. She recognised his conflict. His relaxed face contorted in discomfort. Where was the tray? Right there on the desk. She picked up the jug and two glasses, set them on the desk and handed it over to Mapacha. He carefully poured out the diamonds that shimmered as they tumbled onto the tray.

"Count them."

"Why do I do all the counting?" Banou protested.

"Would you rather work on the guns?"

No, she wouldn't. He picked his 649, disassembled it, oiled it, then polished it, and then moved on to the next one and repeated the task over and over again, till he was done. Then he checked that they were usable, loaded them and put them back into the diplomatic bag. Banou childishly dragged the diamonds noisily across the tray with her finger as she counted them.

"Six hundred and eight."

Mapacha, done with the guns, sat next to her, took the plastic bags, from the diplomatic bag and slowly, they started to pack them. An hour later, they had sixty-one bags.

"Well, that is that then. What next?"

He was unsure. They certainly could not leave the hotel and go for a walk as the others might return with the deal ready to go so they sat down and waited for the others to return. Mapacha, tormented by Banou's question appeared tortured on the small chair while she, unbothered perused her magazines, Gitane on lip. 


1. Can You Speak Slowly? Kobus? I understand. Yes. Bye


Part 9