What really startled me is that I didn’t hear them coming. And neither did the dog. Before I knew it, I had a Kalashnikov muzzle on my temple. I felt it, hard, before I heard. It was Bulgarian, I guess, but I knew what it meant: “Don’t move!” So I sat still.
It was a nice evening in the Balkans. Cold war wasn’t far but there was spring in the air. I was sitting in a city park and, until then, I was pretty happy with myself in Sofia.
That one night, I was with Tall Christophe. Tall Christophe was just as tall as Michael Jordan only he was white. Tall Christophe was a former French pro basketball player and was now working for some news organization covering the NBA. While Jordan was playing and winning titles, Tall Christophe had to come a lot in Chicago.
I am French also but, if I was living in Chicago, I was working construction and trying to pay the rent. I was then – thanks to a Callahan dick! – living in a small first floor apartment on 17th place, sorry part of town coined in between Mexican Pilsen and the Interstate.
The taxi driver didn’t give me a chance to say anything. “La Zona rosa?” he asked. I saw all the Christian stuff on his dashboard so I said “sure, why not.” I had arrived in Mexico City earlier during the day, checked in a cheap hotel in some far periphery. In the evening, I was thinking about eating somewhere since, being in Mexico City, I might as well. So some Indian girl at the office called for a cab. And that’s how it went.
“Bonjour,” I said and I knew the cab driver would have a story to tell his wife next morning. He seemed to like that I was French although I spoke no Spanish. He kept saying: “Zona Rosa, good, good,” each time winking at me in his rear-view mirror.
“It’s cold,” said Sarah.
“Yeah, that’s how it is in the desert,” said Claire.
They were at a crossroad, in Peru, in the middle of the Altiplano desert, in the middle of the night. And it was freezing cold.
Anyway, one day, I talked to Jimmy about the Denis incident. I said: “Damn, Jimmy, for Christ’s sake, I know I’m a French idiot and I know I’m in Mississippi, and I know of ‘nigger’ here and ‘nigger’ there, but what the fuck gives with you and young Denis?”
Jimmy thought about it for a long time. “You’re looking for more work and more money, right?” Jimmy only asked me.
Well, that was the case so I said “Yes.”