The Lost Sailors

The Lost Sailors by Jean-Claude Izzo, Howard Curtis Read Free Book Online

Book: The Lost Sailors by Jean-Claude Izzo, Howard Curtis Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jean-Claude Izzo, Howard Curtis
doesn’t interest me very much.”
    â€œDoes that mean you prefer women?” he replied, curtly, suddenly convinced that he’d figured out the relationship between the two women.
    Gaby laughed. A deep laugh, throaty and warm. A real laugh. Nedim laughed with her, at himself, realizing how stupid what he’d just said was.
    â€œYou play with yourself too much on your ship!” She took him by the arm and pulled him to the exit. “Shall we get your bag and go?”
    â€œDo you have a car?”
    â€œWe’ll get a taxi.”
    â€œA taxi! There can’t be many taxis around here at this hour.”
    â€œLalla went to find one.”
    Nedim told himself, as she drew him to the exit, that he still had time to break free, find an excuse, and get away. But he didn’t have the strength. All he could do was make a rough estimate of how much money he still had in his pocket. He reckoned he could still spend five hundred francs, maximum. When he’d paid Pedrag, the truck driver, he would still have around a hundred francs. It wasn’t much. But once he was home, he’d manage somehow.
    Lalla joined them as Nedim was collecting his things from the cloakroom. A filthy US Navy bag stuffed with old clothes and a few souvenirs he’d been carrying around with him during the four years he’d been at sea.
    â€œI see you’ve become friends,” Lalla said.
    Gaby smiled, and Nedim knew he’d been trapped. A big, strong-looking guy opened the door for them and said goodnight. Nedim didn’t see the wink he gave Gaby. Outside, the air was muggy. It still hadn’t rained. The taxi was waiting.

    T he storm broke over the sea first. Then over the city. A violent storm, the kind that only comes two or three times a year. Every time the horizon was set ablaze with blue and green lightning flashes, the Château d’If and the islands of the Frioul emerged from the darkness. The thunder would follow a few minutes later. Not the usual roll, but a sharp, cold, metallic crash that split the air.
started pitching. Its hull seemed about to buckle. The rain came down. Huge, hard drops, almost like hail. It was as if the boat had come under machine-gun fire. At the first clap of thunder, Diamantis had jerked awake on his bunk. It had been hard for him to get to sleep. Because of the heat. His cabin—if you could call his cubbyhole a cabin—was like a sauna. He had stripped naked, but, even so, he was streaming with sweat. And when he couldn’t sleep, he started thinking. Or, rather, he was assailed by all kinds of thoughts that went around and around in his head, becoming increasingly gloomy. Since they’d been stuck here, he’d been waking up more and more often during the night. Today the storm had seen to that.
    Now he was watching the spectacle through his porthole. His cabin was on the port side, facing out to sea. He imagined himself out there. Not on board the
but on another ship. A big coaster called the
Maris Stella
, plying the classic navigation route around the Mediterranean, loading and unloading at every port. Diamantis had been a last-minute replacement for an old friend of his named Michaelis, whose wife was about to give birth. “I can’t stop you being a sailor,” she had said before they married. “But if you want me to give you a child, stop being away for so long.” Michaelis hadn’t hesitated. He’d just turned fifty. Angela was twenty years younger than he, and very pretty. Sailing on the
Maris Stella
, Michaelis could get home every two weeks.
    That night, in late January, the
Maris Stella
had just left Limassol in Cyprus, heading for Beirut. They were expecting a big squall. What they got was something worse. The kind of storm the Mediterranean sometimes has in store for sailors. Contrary to popular belief, the Mediterranean isn’t a calm

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