From the soon to be released comic fantasy novel, The Pourne Identity.
Sammy Ubuntu sat at a table on the pavement outside of the café munching a croissant and drinking coffee.
The Grand Prix was four days away and race goers had rented every available square foot of accommodation.
He was staying in a tiny room on the ground floor of a pensionne.
If he had owned a dead cat, it would have to have been tailless. Even then, he doubted he would have been able to swing it in the confines of the room.
He did not like to dwell on how much the weeks rental had cost him. Besides, he reasoned, you only live once. Then again, perhaps he could live twice, as James Bond once had. Especially with what was in the small canister he had hidden inside his titanium prosthetic leg.
Europe was a lot more cosmopolitan these days. A mere twenty years ago he would have received more than a few questioning glances from the crowds that passed by. He laughed to himself.
In truth, he did not give a shit. Money was what made the world go round. Even the French, with their cultural thumbs stuck so far up their backsides they appeared to be constantly in a state of constipation took his. For Sammy, it was the most pleasant of ironies that most of the current French national soccer squad was of African descent and a black player like Thierry Henry, a national hero.
The Senegalese national team was also black. But that was to be expected. They were African. However, as French was their mother tongue, the current joke was they were the French ‘B’ side.
Yet Sammy still believed many of the French were racist. Oh, not overtly. Of course not.
Sammy, however, spoke no more than half a dozen words of French. Those working in the café did and seemed to resent the fact that a funny looking black man with a limp had dared to sit at one of their tables and actually order something.
The average meal cost about as much as the waiting staff earned in a normal week. But this was Grand Prix week in Monaco, and nothing was normal.
He raised his cup to no one in particular and drawled in his Afro-American accent, ‘Salut and Fuck’em.’ It was not clear what he was referring too.
Having one black patron at the café was unusual. Several of the waiting staff considered two to be an invasion. Well four, actually, if you counted the two suited and sunglass wearing individuals standing behind the newcomers table.
Sammy noticed the arrival with mild interest at first. He did not want to attract any more attention to himself than was necessary. The last thing he needed was for another black man to ask to join him at his table and start calling him ‘brother, or some such.
He peered around his paper at the newcomer. There was something vaguely familiar about him, but he could not quite place the face. The man paid him no attention, but the other two, the ones standing, cast wary eyes in his direction and looked ready to tear him to pieces if commanded to do so.
He looked at the bill for his meagre meal. In New York, he could have bought shares in a Starbucks for what he had just paid for one coffee and a curved pastry.
He turned slightly to his right and looked out at the harbour at all the multi million dollars worth of yachts moored at the hundreds of berths.
He briefly contemplated how the snotty waiting staff would regard him if they thought he had walked off one of those boats.
He shrugged. Boats were not his thing. He preferred cars. Fast ones.
He turned at the sound of the voice, jolted out of his reverie. He banged his leg on the wrought iron table. It made a dull clang.
The other black man stood on the opposite side of his table. The gun dogs were behind him.
‘My apologies. I did not mean to startle you.’
Sammy smiled wanly.
‘It is not often one sees a fellow African in Monaco. Certainly not one as dark as we two, not so?’
He was right, of course. The term ’Black,’ which white people refer to all sub Saharan Africans is false, as they are brown, not black. However, there are a few African countries where skin colour is closer to black than brown. Niberia being one such country.
The man had his hand resting on the back of the chair.
‘May I?’ he asked as he dragged the seat away from the table.
Sammy nodded. What could he do? The fellow was going to sit anyway.
The gun dogs with sunglasses remained standing, taking up their former position behind the man.
The newcomer extended a perfectly manicured hand across the table.
‘My name in Godafti,’ he said smiling, revealing pearl white teeth.
Sammy almost had a heart attack on the spot. As it was, he choked on his coffee causing several of the waiting staff to rush to his table to find out what was the cause of the sudden coughing fit.
One of the gun dogs came around to Sammy’s side of the table and began thumping him on the back. The waiting staff backed away; this was an African thing, they reasoned.
After a few moments, Sammy recovered enough to raise his arm to prevent the gun dog from knocking his lungs out through the front of his chest.
‘Bring water,’ Godafti ordered.
A waiter quickly obliged. Placing a glass of Perrier in Sammy’s hand.
Within five minutes, the fuss had died down and the café patrons went back to talking about the upcoming grand prix.
Sammy introduced himself to Godafti and they began a conversation that lasted nearly two hours. Godafti ordered lunch and a quiet word with the maitre d’ ensured they were shown to a private table inside.
‘Merci,’ said Godafti tipping the man heavily.
He then turned to Sammy and swore richly in his native tongue about the French.
Sammy smiled. Perhaps he would not have gone so far regarding what they did to their mothers.
The sun was beginning to set before they had finished their meal, which included cognac.
Godafti then suggested that they retire to his yacht. Sammy protested mildly, but the former Colonel was insistent. He always was, Sammy remembered.
Sammy shrugged, accepted graciously, and they left. The gun dogs stayed close at heel.
Initially, Sammy did not intend to reveal what he carried in his titanium leg. However, after he had told the man how the Americans had dispensed with his services after twenty years, just because of his religion, he became angry. Godafti echoed his sentiments and told Sammy how the International Community was now backing Major Gumbabe and his fledgling regime. He also told Sammy that the International Community had banned the sale of what they called ‘blood diamonds’. His second major source of income had almost dried up and renewed fighting was costing him millions of dollars. Dollars he did not have. He had a plan to take full control of all the oil platforms but that was a drastic, last ditch effort at leverage if he found he could not fund his war by any other means.
That would be tantamount to terrorism as the oilrigs and the companies that owned them were civilian. Supposedly.
It was then that Sammy revealed he might have the means to apply leverage. And it would not involve oil or diamonds.
He insisted the two of them retire to the privacy of Godafti’s cabin.
Godafti smiled and agreed. He wondered what all the cloak and dagger theatricals might be about, but he played along.
Sammy insisted Godafti lock the door.
Godafti chuckled, shrugged his shoulders at Sammy’s very serious expression and obliged.
Sammy rolled up his trouser leg and from within a small compartment he pulled out the small metal canister.
After Godafti had seen what was on the microfilm he smiled, and sobered up very quickly.
‘Do you realise what this is worth, my friend?’
‘I had not really considered,’ Sammy replied. He was now quite drunk. ‘I had hoped to receive, maybe a million dollars, but I could always negotiate a lesser sum. I am not a greedy man. I just want some justice and something for my old age. A million should see me out the rest of my life in reasonable comfort.’
Godafti laughed. He laughed so much that tears rolled down his fat cheeks.
‘A million! This little roll of film is probably worth hundreds of millions. More. My dear Sammy Ubuntu, the information contained on this microfilm has the potential to topple the wealthiest, most arrogant country in the world. ‘
‘It does?’ said Sammy in awe.
‘Oh yes. It does indeed. Now tell me. Does anyone else know about this film?’
The Pourne Identity. Douglas Pearce© 2012.