Hamilton Gode

by Luca

Chapter 2

When Zachary was in Paris he spent his time sightseeing and studying, in equal measure. Life at the Foyer Des Jeunes Travailleurs was a bizarre mix of sleeping, eating, and parties. At those parties he often found himself alone in the crowd. Not because he didn't speak the language, more a chosen isolation.

This was the 17th arrondissement dominated by the Sacr é -C œ ur. The domed white cathedral sat astride a hill crowded at its feet by hoards of tourists. The place was dedicated to the gods of Mars and Mercury by the Druids who built a temple long before Christianity. That was somehow appropriate. Mercury foreshadowed the trickery with which Zachary was about to be embroiled and Mars was of course the God of war!

The only person he knew at the foyer other than Michel Lafarge was Fabien. Odd as you will probably find this, they met in the showers. Fabien Abaou was a fabulous mix of French and Ivorian. His mother was French, his father from the Ivory Coast. Before coming to France he lived with his family in Abidjan. Fabien worked on a construction site and sent half of his earnings back home to his parents.

The showers in the foyer were communal and Zachary found himself in the shower next to Fabien. He had arrived after Zachary and he was only aware of his presence when a hand touched his back. He jumped involuntarily at the contact. Lowered his head from looking up into the shower jets and wiped the soapy water from his eyes. As he turned to look, he was face to face with a sinuous young man with a delicious smooth coffee coloured skin, glistening with droplets of water. A smile revealed pure white teeth. Zachary had been caught off guard and stared back like a scared puppy.

"Can I use your shampoo?" Fabien asked, his voice seductive.

"Sure," Zachary replied, picking up the shampoo bottle and trying to keep his voice sounding normal.

As Fabien took the bottle his hand gently brushed across Zachary's creating a building excitement which forced him to quickly turn away and finish showering. Turning off the shower, Zachary picked up his towel, slipped on the flip flops, making his escape before anything embarrassing happened.

Until he met Fabien there was only Michel with whom he had any kind of relationship. Despite Michel's efforts to introduce him to other people, Zachary remained stubbornly alone. He didn't know why Michel bothered, except perhaps he thought he was attracted to him. Much as Zachary liked Michel, there was no reciprocal feelings on his part, except friendship.

He asked Michel about Fabien, in a roundabout way, because Zachary didn't want Michel to know he might like Fabien and risk losing his friendship. At that point in time Zachary was lost and struggling to break his self-imposed isolation.

"Do you know the guy in the room next to mine?" he asked Michel. They were having a coffee in the local bar. This was a couple of days after the encounter in the showers..

"Fabien Abaou?"



"Michel, you obviously do know him. I'm curious."

Michel gave him a questioning look. "Curious? What about?"

"Well I've seen him in his room with a guy and they weren't exactly quiet," he lied.

"Yeah, well... Fabien, so I've heard, doesn't mind screwing around occasionally. I don't think he's gay though. But if you fancy him."

"No way," Zachary lied again.

Michel was certainly no source of information about Fabien, so he let it drop. But he saw Fabien and hung out with him a few times after that, although nothing ever happened between them.

Violetta Cantagalli walked into the hotel foyer like a model sashaying along the cat walk. Her tight dress curved around her body restricting her stride but emphasizing her svelte figure. She wore a wide brimmed hat and was smoking a cheroot, held in a long thin cigarette holder. The black and gold stem matched her shiny, elegant stilettos. This was a dangerous woman, Hamilton had warned them.

Sweeping in behind her was a smart suited burly body guard, followed by the bell boy pushing a trolley piled high with luggage.

"Miss Cantagalli," the young man at the reception greeted her ingratiatingly, "such a pleasure..."

She cut him dead with the wave of a hand. "Where do I find Hamilton Gode? Tell him I'm here."

"Yes signorina," he bowed his head slightly and turned to address the concierge. "Show Miss Cantagalli to her suite." He picked up the telephone. "I will inform Mr Gode you have arrived."

"Don't bother," she said impatiently. "I will be in the terrace bar." She turned and marched away towards the elevator, followed by the burly suited body guard.

The hotel in Nice had a roof terrace looking out over the Promenade des Anglais and the Mediterranean beyond.

Zachary gave Lowerstoff a quick glance and they moved together to follow her. He knew that Hamilton would be waiting there. He had told them that was where she would go and he liked to always have the upper hand.

Violetta Cantagalli was the only daughter of the rich industrialist Giovani Cantagalli. It was in his research facility outside Pisa that the first quantum research experiment took place. That was before the scientific governing committee had drawn a line under any future development and closed the place down. That had changed nothing, other than making today's work a clandestine operation.

The building and hotel decor perfectly matched Hamilton Gode and his femme fatale . They sat opposite each other at one of the low tables. Zachary observed them from the far side by the elevators. Lowestoff had moved to a corner which was hidden from plain sight. He was opening the case Hamilton had given him.

"You came," Hamilton gave her a thin smile. "I didn't doubt you would."

"Your invitation," she paused and tipped the ash from her cheroot into the cut glass ashtray , "was... interessante ." She slipped into speaking Italian.

"You know that none of this is real," he told her.

She sat back, batting her eyelids and smiling. "Your games are very amusing Hamilton, but you do not control this scenario."

"Control no, but I can influence reality."

She laughed, throwing back her head. "You think so?"

Lowerstoff had launched the drone from his hiding place. Zachary watched as it buzzed up into the sky, gyrators whirring frantically. It tilted and shot forward over the terrace. The burly body guard must have heard it. He had his gun unholstered, taking aim. There was a rat-a-tat-tat from the automatic pistol which shot bullets across the terrace, over their heads, but the drone was a very difficult target to hit.

Hamilton leapt to his feet. Lowerstoff closed the case and was moving towards the elevators. Zachary had his eyes fixed on the drone. It dived towards the table where Violetta was sitting frozen staring at the sky.

Lowerstoff and Hamilton arrived at the elevators together. Hamilton shoved him inside. Zachary pushed his hand off the button. The body guard had swung around and it seemed he may have hit the drone. There was an explosion. The bright flash vanished as the elevator doors closed.

"That'll teach the bitch!" Hamilton declared triumphantly, but Zachary thought perhaps he was being a little premature in celebrating.

With a jolt they arrived and the doors opened. The 1930s Cadillac was parked in the basement garage. All three raced towards it. As they crossed the dimly lit underground parking the fire alarms blared out.

The car shot up the ramp and came out into the sunshine and heat. Hamilton turned right and they were racing along the sea front.

"I do love these little games," he smiled to himself.

Zachary and Lowerstoff watched him briefly before turning their attention to the fire engines racing towards them on the opposite side of the street.

"Why did you want her dead?" Lowerstoff asked.

"I doubt she was killed. Scared a little."

"But the explosion?" Lowerstoff was puzzled now.

"Smoke and mirrors, smoke and mirrors," Hamitlon repeated.

It was then Zachary realised it was all an illusion.

"She used to be a model, you know." Hamilton spoke into the rearview mirror.

He nodded. "Really!" Zachary feigned interest. If she was a he it might have had some pull. As it was, he felt trapped in a scenario not of his making and somehow compelled to see it through to the end. Why?

"Why?" Lowerstoff blurted out like he was repeating Zachary's silent question.

"I said, it's amusing," Hamilton turned the massive car left towards the airport.

It took thirteen minutes, a very quick getaway. They pulled up outside the departures entrance. Hamilton leaned forward to open the glove box. He turned around in his seat.

"There you go. Passports and tickets." He handed them over. "Your stuff's in the trunk."

Lowerstoff gave Zachary a puzzled look before clambering out. Zachary joined him pulling out the rucksacks from the rear of the car. He slammed the door shut and came around to the driver's window. Hamilton wound down the glass.

"You've got fifteen minutes. Don't miss your flight."

He put the car in gear and roared away. Zachary watched a hand waving from the open window. Lowerstoff was looking at the tickets.

"Tangiers! We're going to Morocco."

"Here's looking at you kid!" Zachary laughed.

"Idiot! That's Cassablanca. A different town."

A different town maybe, he mused, but all the same a spy story and a romance.

"What the hell are we doing?" he asked, but before Lowerstoff could reply the stewardess appeared in her smart blue uniform and heavy make-up, hair tied in a tight bun.

"Would you like a drink gentlemen?" She bent down towards them.

"Please," Lowerstoff replied.

She looked intently at him. The smile didn't leave her face. "And what can I serve you, sir?"

That threw Lowerstoff for a second. "Can you give me a French 75?"

The stewardess didn't bat an eyelid. "And you, sir?" She turned to Zachary.

"A whisky coke, please. Thank you."

She left and walked towards the front of the plane disappearing through the blue curtain.

"What is a French 75?" Zachary demanded.

"It's what the girl orders in Rick's bar. You started with the movie lines!"

"You're stuck in the wrong movie though," Zachary smirked.

"The best movie of all time," Lowerstoff protested and he had to agree with him.

The stewardess reappeared. She handed Zachary his drink first, on a small tray with a little white porcelain dish filled with nuts. Then she leaned across to Lowerstoff. He had taken the window seat.

"A French 75," she announced. That same smile fixed to her face."

When she had left, Zachary had to ask again: "So what the fuck is a French 75?"

"I told you. It's in the film. Here wanna sip?" Lowerstoff proffered his glass.

"Champagne... and gin?" he said, after sniffing and tasting it.

"Hey, what a nose. Discerning taste buds."

"You're crazy, Low."

Zachary occupied himself with sipping his own drink and juggling the ice cubes. Sitting back, relaxing into the comfortable seat. Lowerstoff gazed out the little window at the clouds.

"Ain't life grand," he remarked, as much to himself as to Zachary sitting there beside him.

Asilah 1975

On the roof of that little hotel there was a welcome breeze. It drifted in from the sea, across the alleys and tightly packed houses of the kasbah. From somewhere not far away the melodic wailing of the call to prayer drifted over the rooftops. The sun had dipped below the horizon, but the air was hot. Sleeping would be difficult. He was not used to the climate.

"We should take a walk," Lowerstoff said, leaning on the rounded edge of the wall, looking down at the street below.

The place was buzzing with activity. It seemed to have woken up as the sun went down. Yet Zachary had the feeling people moved around all day long, except for the hottest time of the day when they probably lazed in the shade.

As they left the hotel the surly teenager was gone. An older man in his forties called them over. "Your passports," he smiled, handing them back. "Is everything good for you?" he asked.

"Yes," Zachary replied, returning his smile. "Better with you here than the teenager." He didn't know why he said that, it wasn't supposed to sound like a complaint, but it did.

The man frowned, but remained smiling. "I will speak to him," he said.

Euphemisms. The man was his uncle. Speak to him they discovered later didn't exactly mean that. For now they ignored it all and stepped out into the crowds. Threading their way back along the main street and turning through the stone archway that gave access to the kasbah. Together they wandered vaguely along the small alleys in the general direction of the sea. Eventually emerging beside a wall. On the far side the sound of crashing waves broke the silence of the night.

Hamiltomn Gode - Location shot

Following the wall the pair came to a promontory. Climbing a few steps a path led out towards the sea. On one side was the rocky coastline and on the other the mosque laid out down below. At the far end they glimpsed the Atlantic Ocean the lights from the town reflecting on a sea of blue with white cresting waves.

The place was oddly deserted except for two boys sitting talking on the low wall overlooking the mosque. As they walked past the boys looked up, then continued their conversation. Looking out together at the ocean, standing there side by side, he was struck for the first time by the beauty of the place. The whitewashed walls of the buildings highlighted by that unique Moroccan blue leant a magical touch, the darkness gave an air of mystery.

He became aware they were not alone anymore and turned to see one of the two boys standing close to them. Then Zachary took in his friend who was sitting alone on the low wall. He wore jeans, black trainers and a black sweat, almost camouflaged by the night. His short dark hair shaved close at the sides. Sitting with his legs crossed looking over the wall his beauty matched that of the town.

"You like it here?" Their new companion asked, and Zachary turned his attention back to this boy.

He smiled. "Yeah, it's kind of magical."

The boy returned Zachary's smile. Both boys he guessed to be similar in age, maybe fifteen or sixteen, only a couple of years younger than themselves.

"You just arrived," the boy said.

Lowerstoff spoke this time. "Yeah, we did."

"There is a good beach not far. If you want to go there?"

"Er, yeah. Maybe. Not tonight though."

The boy smiled and so did Lowerstoff. It seemed like there was some synchronicity in this encounter. They were having a conversation where a certain feeling passed between them. Which was confirmed when they walked back to join the other boy who smiled broadly. Lowerstoff sat down next to him and his friend took his place next to Lowerstoff. Zachary stood there surveying the scene. Lowerstoff removed his tobacco tin and Zachary became a sort of lookout as he proceeded to roll a joint. It occurred to him this was a little risky, but there was no one around and night had descended. The lights were on in the town, but they were all four in the shadows. They shared the joint, laughing and joking, and arranged to meet up tomorrow. It was a great evening in an oddly magical place.

Only later when they were back in the hotel did he think about Hamilton Gode. He was the reason they were there. They had a mission. A task to complete. But like Lowerstoff said, "you got to profit from life a bit."

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