Our hero, Miles Diamond, narrowly averts financial catastrophe when he is hired by David Travis to find his missing twin brother. Unfortunately, Miles’ new case almost immediately throws him into a dangerous world of sex trafficking, drugs and international terrorism where he is soon in as much danger as the man he is trying to find. So far, Miles has survived an attempt to drown him, a bomb aboard an airplane, a pitched gun battle, a fall from the roof of Notre Dame Cathedral and enough hot sex to bring an ordinary man to his knees.
Part 5: Miles and his pals arrive in Morocco and are immediately sidetracked by a sinister drug smuggler who whisks them up into the remote Atlas Mountains. After several tense days, the crew make their escape. They arrive in the fabled city of Marrakech where the action and danger intensifies as they draw closer to the elusive twin. The action reaches fever pitch in a derelict hotel where Miles makes one last heroic effort to save himself, his friends—and the money.
“You would like to make hashish?”
“I show you how.” He pulled a battered tin pan out into the center of the room and put a fine screen on top of it. Then he handed me a bundle of dried plumes. “Like this.” He took one of the plumes and crumbled it over the screen. The sweet smell intensified, almost making me dizzy. The kef broke into fragments and a fine dust filtered through the screen into the pan. After we had crushed the entire bundle, he shook the screen until no more powder went through, then set it aside.
“Now it will be hashish.” He scooped up the dust and rolled it between his palms. I dipped in myself. The dust was actually sticky pollen, which quickly formed into a ball. When the pan was empty, we had two golf ball-size spheres of the stuff. It seemed remarkably straightforward for something so illegal.
“Smoke?” He smiled at me again and I nodded, thinking that under the circumstances, I’d be a fool not to. I took the pipe he offered and drew on it as he held a match to the bowl. It tasted slightly sweet and was raw in my throat. I sucked it into my lungs and immediately launched into a fit of coughing. Moulay pounded me on the back, then pushed the pipe at me again. I took a smaller puff the second time and managed not to strangle myself.
After the third puff, I could hardly tell whether Moulay was one person or two. Then there appeared to be a whole crowd of him spinning around me. I closed my eyes and immediately floated off to parts unknown.
When I came to—waking up is too polite a term for it—sunlight streamed through the door that led to the courtyard. I stumbled over to the light and right into the middle of an angry discussion between Rod and Mohammed. They were chattering at each other in Arabic. The conversation appeared to end in a draw as both participants stalked off in opposite directions.
“Goddamned bastards have me by the balls.” Rod stopped beside me, his hands clenched into fists.
“Pardon?” I didn’t feel much like playing confidant to him.
“They’ve raised their fucking price way out of line. Last trip they wanted two hundred euros for a kilo, now they want more than twice that.”
“Market forces at work,” I observed cheerfully, leaving him to stew while I went to look for Rudy and Jackson. I found them in the room where we had eaten the night before. Rudy, hands stuffed into his pockets, slumped dejectedly on the bench. He looked up at me when I entered. A less-than-blissful expression clouded his features. Jackson paced up and down the length of the room, already beginning to wear a trail in the packed earth floor.
“We have to get the hell out of here, Miles.” Rudy sprang up and grabbed me by the arm as soon as he saw me. “Do you have any ideas you’d like to share?”
“Nothing comes immediately to mind.” I dropped my voice to a whisper. “I don’t think they’ll let us just walk out and even if they did, then what? We don’t know where the hell we are and I get the feeling we wouldn’t last long wandering the roads alone. It wouldn’t be safe.”
“Safe?” Rudy’s voice rose in pitch and volume as he turned on me and let loose. “Safe? Why didn’t I think of that? I sure as hell feel nice and secure tucked here in the middle of a major narcotics operation. We could always wait until the Moroccan military arrives to bust the place, then explain how we’re just innocent tourists who’ve lost our way.” The veins in his neck bulged and spittle sprayed in a wide arc. “Safe! That’s really great, Diamond. Thanks for putting my mind at ease.”
There was clearly no use pursuing this conversation. Jackson looked at me hopelessly and shrugged his broad shoulders. I turned on my heel and returned to the relative peace of the courtyard. Moulay saw me and smiled. I nodded at him and he walked over and leaned against the wall beside me.
“Your friend is a greedy man.” He scuffed his toes in the dirt at our feet.
“Rod?” He nodded. “He isn’t a friend of mine.” I figured I’d better put as much distance between him and us as possible. “We just wanted to get to Marrakech. We aren’t interested in buying drugs.”
“It is no problem,” Moulay assured me. “I like you. As soon as this transaction is completed, Mohammed and I will take you to Marrakech. No problem.” This was the most comforting bit of information I’d heard recently, but it left me far from feeling relaxed. It was, however, better than nothing. I thought that perhaps I’d go and try it out on Rudy. I left Moulay and went inside. My announcement elicited stony silence from Rudy and a tired smile from Jackson. Troop morale was at low ebb.