Saturday, September 29, 2007

Lucky for us

the Aishas had installed the Caddy on the edge of the midan a few weeks back, the better to catch the last dribbles of the Gulf sex trade, and they tipped us off by phone to the gathering storm outside. Nige hoisted the lathe onto his shoulder and disappeared toward the lift, a prototype Nefertiti in his right hand, trailing woodchips while I packed up the still and directed Ahmed to gather up the weasels. A moment later he too was gone into the night, Fatma and Mohamed squealing and peeing on each other with excitement at their sudden expulsion.

I was in the lift as the beetle-armored hordes poured up the stairs and kicked in the door of 309, raising shrieks of rage from the copulating Germans they found there.

Zahi was supervising this personally. He was out there somewhere in the night, commanding the raid on our little operation. I could feel his presence as I slipped through the kitchen, 12 meters of coiled copper pipe over one shoulder and the 30 liter distillation tank on the other. The staff finally earning those exorbitant tips by staring at the ceiling and seeing nothing until I had clanked out into the piss-sticky alley and was piling the goods into the back of the Caddy next to the chickens.

So ended our days at the Atlas, and so, nearly, this latest enterprise. Fortunately, when the troops finally found the right room, all they found was a litter of empty Stella bottles and Peking boxes, some shitty local magazines and a few dildos that Ahmed made on the lathe one night when no-one was there to stop him. Nothing to satisfy Zahi, and I imagine him there now, eyes crossed in rage, kicking at the evidence of our miscreance and cursing this latest narrow triumph of his competition in the fake antiquities business.

As I write this we are laying low in Imbaba, our capital equipment carefully concealed under a layer of chicken manure. Mohamed and Fatma have been released to forage and we see them only during the early morning, when they slink in guilty, jaws moist with the blood of their prey.

But our new headquarters are nearly ready and soon we shall be headed south under the cover of night, to set up again and execute our plan to flood the market with cheesy Horus repros, fake Nefertiti heads and off-struck 1st century coins.

[Nige - get someone to pull an archive headshot of Zahi for the hed. Thanks. HR.]