Hamilton Gode

by Luca

Chapter 3

Setting foot in the hustle and bustle of Tangiers airport had the distinct flavour of the exotic. The change was tempered by the surroundings of an international airport, but soon completely enveloped them as they stepped outside. Palm trees stretched along the island in the middle of the broad avenue where a few taxis were lined up. The drivers casually talking, leaning against their vehicles, waiting for clients.

The countryside as far as Zachary could see was barren dry sandy earth that blew up in little clouds of dust with the hot breeze. Lowerstoff haggled with a taxi driver over the price to take them to Asilah. Once installed in the back of the old Mercedes Zachary let the hot air blow into his face, squinting his eyes half shut, looking but not really taking in the passing scenery. What he saw looked all very similar, small bushes, some straggly trees, a parched dry landscape. He looked forward to seeing the ocean. Somehow that thought brought with it a sense that there would be some relief from the intense heat.

He was wrong of course, even the passage of day to night brought little relief. What a contrast from Nice! Not simply the poverty, the heat, or the foreignness of the place, but something else. They would have to get used to it, there was no way out. Hamilton had said in parting they had five days before they had to find Emile.

If you like, that was the mission, to find Emile, the adopted prot é g é of Violetta Cantagalli. What that would bring to the party Zachary had no idea. They discussed it, Lowerstoff and him, the only conclusion they reached was he would provide the answer. They also know a few facts. Not to be dismissed in a world which was fluid, fast moving, and continuously changing in unexpected ways. Emile had artistic abilities, probably inherited from his mother, he was a painter. Actually a graffiti artist, but still a painter. He was twenty four. He would be in Asilah for the art festival.

They saw the posters advertising the festival which were everywhere. The two boys, Hassan and Adil, thought that was why they were there. They were half right. The morning following their first night in Asilah those boys appeared like magic outside the hotel at the moment they got up and decided to head out for breakfast.

Magic, synchronicity, whichever it was, it must have been something. They couldn't have been waiting there since the crack of dawn. Well, Zachary didn't think so, but it was possible, he supposed. They conversed in a fractured fashion with a lot of touching and gestures, smiling and laughing and ended up not far from the hotel in a little place with a large charcoal stove where the proprietor cooked up two large Spanish omelettes. Which were delicious. Surprisingly, so was the bread. A large flat round loaf which they learned was called khobz (pronounced hob-ze).

You could put it down to the sea air, the voyage, or the events in Nice, whatever it was, they both devoured the breakfast with a ravenous appetite. Adil laughed at Zachary's rush to eat, but he wasn't far behind.

"We go beach today?" He asked, smiling, stuffing omelette inside a piece of bread.

Zachary turned to look at Lowerstoff who nodded. As he observed him, he caught a glimpse of Lowerstoff's hand under the rough wooden table. It appeared Lowerstoff had his hand on Hassan's leg. Umm, Zachary mused, par for the course, and wondered what a day on the beach would bring.

The four of them walked together out of town, heading south, opposite to where they had arrived yesterday. Stopping at one of the little shops they bought a bottle of water, the only supplies they thought to take, apart from some Ambre Solaire, towels and swim trunks. The main street, the one where the hotel was, ended at ploughed fields and a dirt track.

Crossing the fields which stretched out all around, you could already feel the heat of the sun. It was after around four kilometres, the track became a footpath and eventually led slowly down through rocks to a magnificent beach. The golden sand stretched back towards the town and further onwards for some distance. Maybe something like a kilometre or more. Waves rolled in from the Atlantic. Large waves that crashed down on themselves and finished by gliding up the beach. It was totally deserted.

They laid out their towels and sat down together. There was an ocean mist in the air which obscured the farthest end of the beach in a haze. It would be burnt off later as the temperature rose. Whilst Lowerstoff and Zachary had paid for breakfast and provided towels and sun lotion, Adil produced a pre-rolled joint from his pocket and Hassan a lighter. They started the day at the beach on a high note.

As it got hotter they all stripped off and ran into the sea to cool down and enjoy themselves. It was a shallow slope and the water was not too cold. Back to rest on the beach the boys messed about applying sun tan lotion to each other and Adil produced another smoke. By now it was approaching the hottest time of the day. That synchronicity was at work again and there was not much talking between them, but lots of touching, laughing, and joking around.

"I think Adil likes you," Lowerstoff told Zachary, which caused him to start laughing. Probably a mix of being stoned and seeing what was obvious from tight fitting Speedos.

Adil of course heard that remark and rolled over towards him. So Zachary and Adil ended up on their sides face to face, smiling. At that moment Hassan ran off towards the water and into the waves with Lowerstoff chasing behind him. Zachary turned back to watch them playing together in the ocean. Then Adil did an amazing thing. He leaned over and kissed Zachary on the lips.

Maybe you can picture the scene, deserted beach, the two of them alone together. Lowerstoff and Hassan some distance away. Zachary let his hand trace lightly down Adil's back as they rolled back together.

It was a great day. They could have brought something to eat, but food didn't seem to matter until the afternoon had worn on and it was decided, reluctantly, they should go. Leaving the beach and climbing back up through the rocks, Zachary suddenly felt hungry.

By the time they were back in the town, the street lights were on, and day had turned to night. Not far from the hotel they found themselves a nice restaurant which overlooked the little harbour. They ate outside, a delicious dish of small grilled fish cooked with oil, garlic, lemon, and spices, served with fresh bread. Not being a fan of sweet deserts and on a low budget, they skipped what was on offer and wandered along the sea front.

Hamilton, whether by chance or reason had given them five days of freedom before they needed to find Emile, and they profited from that time to themselves. Lowerstoff and Zachary revisited the paradisiacal beach, by themselves, because Hassan and Adil were not around. And the boys took them on a magical camping trip which was perhaps the highlight of the week. Sleeping under the stars, snuggled together.

Zachary's relationship with Lowerstoff was a first for him, the time with Adil and Hassan, something like a dream. During the last five years the only sex Zachary had was on his own or in his dreams. In those dreams it was virtual, imagined encounters, in reality still on his own. Of course Zachary fell for Lowerstoff as soon as they met. With Adil, in Morocco, it was a dream turned real, and he fell in love with him too.

Carried away by his emotions Zachary tried to envisage a way they could stay together. But like any holiday romance, it was never going to last. Lowerstoff tried in his manner to warn him, but Zachary paid no attention. The last day with Adil they shared a hamman which Hassan had arranged. The four of them had half an hour there after closing. The building which housed the baths comprised three rooms. Vaulted stone ceilings and walls, with stone benches running the length of each wall, each chamber resembled a cellar. They became progressively hotter and in the last they found buckets of cold water to throw over themselves to clean off the sweat and grime.

As it was the end of the day, the first room was not as hot as it would normally be. They moved through to the second room. There they sat and talked. Zachary could not remember what they said, but it wasn't anything very important, what mattered was what passed between them. Because the connection they had there, in that final encounter, the end of the five days, it was unreal. It was something that went straight to the heart. Everyone felt the same.

The following morning Zachary and Lowerstoff left Asilah. They told the boys they had to go. They were upset at the news. It wasn't what was planned, but nothing planned ever worked out quite like you imagined. Before meeting up at the hamman, they had gone back to the hotel. The owner was there behind the desk and he handed over a telegram.

It confirmed the year, 1975. No mistaking where they were. No mistaking the epoch. Nineteen seventy-five, June 14, it was stamped on the telegram. Zachary read it, Lowerstoff read it.

Emile is staying in Sidi Allal el Bahraoui.

Use him to get to Baragsen.

Discover plan for Paris.


That place was some two hours from there and they had to go there. They should have received the telegram yesterday, but the disagreeable teenager who worked at the hotel hadn't given it to them. That made Zachary angry, because time was of the essence. If they missed Emile, and he was supposed to be coming there for the art festival. That would start Saturday. If they missed him, they would have a problem to get to Sheikh Baragsen. Anyway, there was no point now in leaving until the morning.

As they left to go to the hamman it was the moment they both spied Mohammed getting what Zachary always thought he deserved. Apparently, the surly teen was the owner's son or nephew. Their ears pricked up at the noise emanating from the rear of the hotel. Lowerstoff leant over the counter by the entrance.

"You gotta see this," he said, turning back to Zachary.

He joined him, leaning over the counter, looking where he was looking. The door to the back room was half open and Mohammed was clearly visible. At least, it had to be him, because even from behind it was obviously a boy his age. He was bent over a table and, it was his dad or uncle who was giving him a whipping.

"That's his comeuppance," Zachary said to Lowerstoff.

Then he turned back to leave. Even if he thought he deserved it, Zachary wasn't about to be a voyeur. Maybe, even if it was justified, he didn't like to gloat. He had almost come to accept the kid's attitude, thinking one day it might change.

"Come on." He tugged at Lowerstoff to get him down off the counter.

"Hold up, I wanna see this," Lowerstoff said, pulling his arm away.

"I'm waiting outside," Zachary told him, and left.

Reluctantly, Lowerstoff followed.

"That'll teach the little git." Lowerstoff said as they walked to their meeting place.

"It's a bit over the top," Zachary confided his feeling of unease about it.

"You reckon? It made me hard watching."

"You're a pervert, Lowerstoff."

He punched Zachary's arm. "Maybe," he smiled.

The next morning they left. Sitting on the bus for Sidi Allal el Bahraoui Zachary couldn't help wondering what was next. He was in an emotional turmoil about what had gone down in the last five days. Seeing Hassan and Adil there to wave goodbye did nothing to help. They were actually crying. He could have jumped up and demanded to be let off, but he just stared out the window. The bus pulled away in a cloud of smoke and diesel fumes. Hassan and Adil were a memory.

Hamilton Gode - Coach

"You know you might wake up one morning and I won't be here," Lowerstoff said.

Zachary turned to look at him. "What the fuck are you saying?"

"It could happen. That's what I'm saying.

"You're gonna walk out on me?" He couldn't believe where this could have come from.

"Oh no, shit" Lowerstoff mumbled. "No, I didn't mean... I see how it sounds. You and me. I didn't mean that. I'm not leaving you."

He was all flustered.

"So what are you talking about?"

"Here, now. The time, it's June 1975, but you remember when we met?"

Zachary looked at him puzzled.

"In Paris,"he added.

"Yeah, of course I remember. So?"

"I don't think it was in 1975."

Zachary felt like he had been hit by a thunderbolt. He was right, he knew it. Suddenly nothing seemed real. The sound of the engine, the noise, heat and smell. Being shaken about in the hard old plastic seat. These were the only indications he wasn't dreaming. The only proof this was real. He could not get his head around what Lowerstoff was saying.

"You know how sometimes you think you've done this before? Deja-vu. It's memory, and that's not fixed. I don't know if this is all in my head, or real. If time is an illusion, or if it's a trick played by Hamilton."

The bus hit a pot hole as they bounced onto the main road, the gears crunched and they picked up speed. There was now at least, a breeze of warm air blowing through the crowded vehicle. Even a warm air breeze was better than no breeze at all.

"The telegram was time stamped. It's 1975, so shut up," Zachary told him, exasperated.

"And in Paris?"

He wouldn't let it drop.

"It was 1975," Zachary said emphatically. "I know when we left Paris for Nice I wondered."

"You wondered?"

"Yeah, I asked myself that question. But it was, 1975. There was a little time slip."

"What? When?" Lowerstoff almost shouted at him.

"It was nothing. An itsy-bitsy, tiny moment when we stopped at the petrol station. Everything there was like the set on a film from the sixties. I had this jingle from an old TV ad playing in my head. It all fitted. But that's all."

"How did that happen? I noticed nothing."

It was Lowerstoff's turn to look puzzled.

"I don't know. When you said he made you, Hamilton. What did you mean? He made you do something?"

"I guess."

That was the only answer he got from Lowerstoff and it was no real answer at all. It made him think about what Hamilton had said when the drone attack thing happened, it's smoke and mirrors. And it made him think about Lowerstoff. He made me, he said. Made him do something, or made him, like invented him, produced him?

That was nonsense and still this idea persisted. Maybe, he invented Lowerstoff. He so desperately needed someone to... he was lonely. He could have made him, not Hamilton?

It took a little over two hours and they were pulling into the bus station at Sidi Allal el Bahraoui. A ladder was put up the side of the bus and luggage was thrown down by a guy who had climbed up. Lowerstoff made sure he got their rucksacks down. Sidi Allal el Bahraoui was very different from the old coastal town they had left earlier that morning. Much more ordinary, a lot of new buildings which lined the long straight main road. They lugged their baggage over to a nearby cafe and sat down at one of the tables on the terrace. When the waiter appeared, another teenager, but much more agreeable than Mohammed, they ordered two mint teas.

For a moment they sat in silence watching the world go by. And then Zachary saw him. He knew immediately it was him. A slim young man dressed in elegant clothes, designer clothes. He approached with the swagger of one of those male models you see on the pages of glossy fashion magazines. Not surprising. Because like his mother, he had the same career. He was a model as well as an artist. That is if you consider graffiti as art. The expression on his face as he got nearer was unreadable, fixed, neither smiling, nor a grimace, blank, but demanding your attention.

Standing next to their table he looked down at the two of them. First at Lowerstoff, then fixing his gaze on Zachary who couldn't see his eyes behind the dark Ray Ban's, still he maintained the contact.

"You must be Zachary Turin."

The voice was smooth and educated. Emile Cantagalli was a confident young man.

It occurred to Zachary for the first time in the taxi with Emile that this, this what? Voyage, adventure, mission? It might not be all about Hamilton Gode. It might be about him? After all since meeting Lowerstoff he had pursued a series of encounters like it was his quest. Quest, he liked that idea, he could easily imagine he was on a quest. It had a heroic sound to it. Hadn't Lowerstoff said that Hamilton was an anti-hero? Perhaps he was the real hero of this story. Zachary smiled to himself at that thought.

"What's with you?" Lowerstoff asked, and squeezed his leg.

That did not go unnoticed by Emile who was sitting on the other side of Zachary.

"What?" Zachary replied, a little put out.

"You look pleased with yourself," Lowerstoff said.

"I was just wondering if you and I are living in the same reality?" Zachary wasn't thinking that at all, but thought that would shut him up. It did. He turned his attention to looking out the window, and Zachary spoke quietly to Emile.

"I didn't know you'd be meeting us. I thought we would have to somehow win your confidence and persuade you to help us get to see Sheikh Baragsen."

"No persuasion needed." He took off his sun glasses and Zachary saw his eyes for the first time. Deep, deep eyes. Pools of brown and gold that you could drown in. Lose yourself completely. He smiled.

The villa they entered was fantastic. Whitewashed walls surrounded a lush garden, like an oasis with fountains and a stream. The tops of the walls resembled the battlements of a little castle, but with the unique rounded arches typical of Arab architecture.

Zachary found himself alone in a small cool room which had a large open glassless window looking over the garden. Lowerstoff had gone off with the luggage. The calm and tranquillity made him reflect on their circumstances, or more particularly, the situation he found himself in. It seemed to Zachary the date thing, which epoch was when and how, it was a scientific, mathematical problem. Wasn't he on some kind of Arabian nights adventure? His quest, their mission, whatever it was, it was about him. Exactly as it had occurred to him on the taxi trip up there.

Since he met Lowerstoff he had been propelled through a series of sexual encounters. Before he met him he was an eighteen year old virgin. In a very short time he'd discovered gay night life, met Fabien, then Adil, and now Emile. He didn't want to admit it, even less say it, but he was in love with him. That realisation made him consider he might actually be a very shallow person. A normal guy wouldn't tumble into sexual encounters with everyone who came along, would they?

Zachary listened to the sounds from outside the room. There were birds in the garden. The faint sound of cascading water. The question of time was easier. You only had to be logical. The telegram set the time firmly in 1975, no question. Paris was more difficult. It was definitely before 1995, because there were no computers, no mobile phones, that was certain, and as far as he knew, computers started with Windows 95, or was he wrong? He was discounting the likes of the ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64. Hamilton sat firmly in the 1930s, the Cadillac and the Magnum 357.

He let it drop. Let all the turmoil produced in his head flow away. What stuck in his mind was Lowerstoff saying you got to enjoy it a bit. He pictured him with the champagne in the spa. His only niggling apprehension was the idea it was a little shallow to think like that. Then Emile entered the room and he forgot everything.

"You look like you are carrying the world on your shoulders," he said, gently.

"I have some problems," Zachary replied.

Emile returned a little smile. "I know."

He paced around the room taking deliberately slow steps until he stopped in front of Zachary.

"I should kill you, don't you think?" His eyes bore into Zachary and his arms were stretched each side of Zachary's head, pinning him back against the wall, but not touching him.

He looked up at him, then looked away. He was scared. Emile was taller than Zachary, probably stronger, and maybe completely crazy. Or was he testing his reaction, Zachary's courage. At that moment he didn't have much.

His face approached Zachary's. Inches away. He could feel his breath.

Quite suddenly he moved away. "You tried to kill my mother. She said you would be coming here."

What could he say. Zachary knew he was right.

"Hamilton Gode sent us," he said weakly, not looking at him.

"Let me explain something to you."

Emile moved to look out at the garden. Zachary waited.

"Hamilton Gode is manipulating you. He has only one goal."

He studied Emile. Tried to discern something from his expression. "What's that?" he asked.

"You won't believe me, but he wants to destroy your friend."

"Lowerstoff?" Zachary was puzzled.

He nodded. "Yes, he is the key here. You don't remember too far back, do you?"

How could he know that? "I remember when I was in Paris."

Zachary felt he was laying all his cards on the table. What if he was playing him? What if... but no, he appeared to have a lot of information. Zachary didn't think Emile was lying.

"Your friend Lowerstoff is not real!"

Emile said that in all seriousness, almost solemnly, but it was a mad claim. Only, Zachary believed him when he said it. He believed him because he felt it was true. He knew nothing about Lowerstoff and he'd never asked him anything. He was too afraid to discover what Emile was telling him.

"This is not real!" Emile stood up and spread his arms out wide.

He came close and reached out with both arms, his hands gripping Zachary's shoulders.

"Hamilton took advantage of a flaw. An inclusion, if you know what that means? Like a diamond that isn't perfect. Baragsen's little experiment opened a crack. A fracture in the matrix which allowed material exchange and growth. None of this matters. Or would matter, except for Hamilton. It seems to me his only raison d'etre is to cause chaos. As if he derives satisfaction from that. My mother is determined to stop him. So am I."

Zachary stared at him, kind of shell shocked.

"He told me you were coming. He probably thought I would kill you."


What were all these revelations? Emile looked at him sympathetically, like you might regard a child whom you wouldn't expect to know or understand something.

"Well, you know, because you tried to kill my mother." He chuckled. "Or was that your friend, Lowerstoff?"

"It's not funny. And... I don't know exactly what happened. Lowerstoff launched a drone. The rest... I'm guessing it was programmed. It wasn't me or Lowerstoff who controlled it. There was an explosion, but..."

"Oh!" He was laughing now. "Don't look so worried, no one was hurt."

"If you know all this, and you know Hamilton was using us, and Lowerstoff? What are you saying about him?"

"So many questions," he frowned. "You need to speak to Baragsen."

At that point they left the conversation. Emile agreed to take them to see Sheikh Baragsen. Zachary went to find Lowerstoff and when he did, he recounted what Emile had said.

"So I'm not real," Lowerstoff said.

"According to Emile."

"You know, I don't believe anyone. Wanna visit the garden?"

They did. They took a walk around the splendid oasis with its palm tree, cacti and exotic plants. The fountain was relaxing. As they sat on the stone seat opposite it, he listened to the falling water. He could have fallen asleep, but the seat was not that comfortable and he had niggling thoughts playing on his mind. For one, Zachary had the notion that Emile had not said everything.

There's a part of this story which has to be told now, a part which Zachary didn't know at the time. Something he learnt later, but which throws light on what happened next. If you remember he said that Hamilton seemed familiar. Like he had seen him before. Before Lowerstoff introduced them at the gay bar in Paris. Lowerstoff had been dispatched by Hamilton to find him. He had met Hamilton in London. It's a memory that came back to Zachary like a fragment in a dream. Maybe it was the calm of the garden or the deep sleep he had that night.

He was about seven years old. It would have been 1962, which accounts for him having the TV jingle in his head when Hamilton stopped to fill the Cadillac on the way to Nice. They had met up outside Saint Paul's Cathedral. It's in the centre of London, a tourist attraction as well as a place of worship. Like Notre Dame or the Sacr é -C œ ur Montmartre, in Paris. Saint Paul's resembled more closely the Sacr é -Cœur because of the dome. Which was what they were going to visit.

Zachary only vaguely remembered his mother and the encounter with Hamilton. He was unable to conjure any image of her in his head, but he knew she was there. Of course, he presumed the woman he was with was his mother. It was all feelings and fragments that followed no logical pattern and which he only half recalled.

The point of the visit was to climb up into the dome and the whispering gallery. It's called that because from anywhere around the gallery you can speak in a whisper and it will be heard right across the other side. It's a large dome. The odd thing about this fragment of dreamed remembrance was everything turned out like a horror movie.

Hamilton Gode - Gallery

They were the last people to enter and the gallery was empty. Zachary couldn't recall what happened exactly, but his mother was knocked to the floor and he was running around the dome with Hamilton leading the way pulling him by the hand. They had to escape something, or someone. It was urgent, but he didn't want to follow Hamilton and leave his mother behind, lying unconscious on the stone floor. He was crying as Hamilton dragged him away. Then his hand slipped from Hamilton's who was several yards in front. He turned with a look of horror on his face.

"Zachary!" Hamilton screamed. "Jump!"

Zachary climbed over the metal balustrade and jumped. He didn't remember hitting the floor which was nearly a hundred feet below. If he had, he would surely have been very seriously injured or died.

Why is all this important? Because it proves a link to Hamilton. He wasn't simply a crazy person, but someone he had met before. Zachary thought he must be important somehow, because Hamilton sent Lowerstoff to find him. Which poses the next big question, one he couldn't answer. Who is Lowerstoff?

The next morning as promised, they bundled into an old taxi, and Emile took them on a journey into the mountains. Baragsen lived in an isolated place east of Rabat. Where he lived resembled more a castle than anything else. They drove through huge stone walls, an arched and turreted gateway with massive studded wooden doors which must have weighed a ton.

"Go in," Emile said. They were outside a room, inside the castle.

Lowerstoff seemed keener than Zachary was and he pushed open the heavy wooden door. At the end of a large room, sitting at a solid desk whose top was in dark green leather with gold trim, was a big, rotund, gentleman. Behind him was a tall bookshelf stuffed full of oversized books. It reminded Zachary of a library.

This was Baragsen. He was dressed in a white djelaba, it had buttons in the middle at the top, like a shirt, embroided around the edges in burgundy. To Zachary he looked to be about sixty something. His beard grey, but not completely, and his hair thin. He watched them as they crossed the room towards him.

Looking at Zachary, he said, "You must be Zachary Turin."

It wasn't a question, but a statement. He knew who Zachary was, which was unnerving.

"Sit down."

Zachary glanced sideways at Lowerstoff and they both sat in front of the desk.

"You've come a long way," he said, which Zachary reflected was true.

When he said it though, it had a double meaning for him. A long way. A long journey and a long voyage towards understanding.

"You know who sent us, right?" Zachary asked him, and he smiled.

"Of course, your father!"

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