As soon as the two Customs officials leave, I hurry out the door myself, taking the fire escape, a rusting spiral of steel that creaks and moans with each step. Through a dark passage overcrowded with discarded bicycles, I come out on to the main street. With a quick glance left and right, I step out onto the street and make my way towards a 7-11 a few blocks away where I call Azami from a public phone.
When she answers, I apologize for having lost my temper earlier and ask her to meet me at a caféhalf a block away from my apartment.
Hanging up the phone, I then take a roundabout route to get to the café, which I am relieved to discover is empty except for two young women having coffee and cake.
I take a seat in the back that is partially hidden behind a pillar but from which I can see the entrance. After a few minutes, a waitress comes to my table to take my order: a shot of Zacapa and a beer chaser. It is only five in the afternoon, but I need to calm my nerves and go over the things I need my girlfriend to do.
After all I’ve put the poor girl through, I wonder if she’ll be up for it.
About half an hour later, Azami arrives. She lays into me as soon as she sits down, “What the hell’s going on?”
“Um . . . You remember that package Naila was sending me?”
“Well, apparently, her medicine was it.”
“Addo . . .?”
“Adderall. She was taking it for her attention deficit disorder. It’s a kind of ampheta . . .”
“Why did you . . .?”
“Hold on, Azami! Ididn’t know she was sending me a package until she e-mailed me. Even then, I didn’t know what was in it . . .”
“But you said . . .”
“Never mind what I said. The fact of the matter is I didn’t ask her to send anythingto me.”
“Oh, Rémy, I just knew something like this would eventually happen.”
“Look, we can have that conversation later,” I say, taking my girlfriend’s hands. “Right now, I need you to do something for me.”
She recoils, yanking her hands away from mine. “W-w-what?”
“I need you to contact dé Dale.”
The two of them would never be confused for kindred spirits.
“One, I need to know the extent of the investigation. And, two, if the shoe were on the other foot—and it was dé Dale, rather than me, who was being investigated—I would want to know. He needs to be very careful. Just do this one favor for me, and then you can do whatever you like. Okay?”
I wouldn’t blame Azami if she were to tell me “Sayōnara”, but she gives a slow, hesitant nod. I know what she must be thinking, though: Rémy’s chickens have come home to roost.
“Call dé Dale from a public phone. You have his number, right?”
She nods again.
“And it’s probably not a good idea to go directly to his place. The cops might be keeping their eyes on him.” I look around the café. A couple in their early thirties, who came in after Azami, is studying the menu. “They could still be watching me right now. If possible, try to meet dé Dale at, say, a café in his neighborhood. Café Tecois just around the corner from his place. It should still be open. Tell him what I’ve told you. Tell him, that I’m going in for questioning on Sunday. I have no idea what the police know or how long they’ve been watching me. Ask him if he’s noticed anything odd going on around him. Got that? And, again, tell him he’s got to be careful. He’ll understand. Okay?”
Azami exhales through her nose and nods a third time. What little color there was in her face is now gone. Standing up and straightening her dress, she leaves without another word.
After finishing my beer, I pay the bill and head back home for the final lesson of the day.
The first posting/chapter in this series can be found here.
Rokuban: Too Close to the Sun and other works are available in e-book form and paperback at Amazon.
All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.