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An African Sunset – an excerpt

Through the open bathroom door Shatz could hear the Priels’ chatter, the bursts of
laughter that accompanied it. From the few words he managed to hear, he had no
doubts at all – he was their conversation’s subject. No wonder, he woke up at eleven
forty, and besides, she had to spread a smole screen, to beguile her husband – and that
was the right opportunity.
When Shatz left the bathroom and stood on top of the staircase, ready to descend, they
turned their smiling faces up to him.
‘So, as far as I understand you did return just this morning.’ Hilla welcomed him
sweeping her husband in another wave of laughter.
What’s the matter with her, has she released herself from every mean of precaution?
Shatz wondered surprised smiling back to them with embarrassment. He didn’t
answer but sat down opposite them, sneaking a look into her laughing face, noticing
her lovely dimples her rose cheeks; and again he was overwhelmed by her exceptional
beauty and the serenity with which he was enveloped up to that moment – vanished.
Like a repeated projection in slow motion, Hilla’s naked body formed itself in his
mind’s eye, at that certain moment before dawn, when she sneaked away from his
arms. He could see her rising, the lovely features of her face, her proud shoulders, her
full bossom and the dark triangle down her belly, between her thighs…
‘Would you like a cup of coffee?’ She asked waking him up from his hallucinations.
‘It’s a bit lukewarm I’m afraid.’ She added.
Shatz didn’t notice that they were both relaxed already and kept watching him
‘Alright, thank you…’ he answered her absent-mindedly. Sending his hand forth to
the empty cup. Right after she poured him the coffee he raised the cup to his lips.
‘Aren’t you hungry?’ She went on asking, ‘after the good times you surely had last
Shatz was choked in mid drinking, laid the cup back in a hurry, and while taking pains
to swallow the little that was left in his mouth he sneezed suddenly; spraying the table
before him with the numerous tiny coffee droplets that gushed out of his nostrils.
Moshe burst in a surprised laughter, but cut it off immediately.
‘I’m terribly sorry!’ Shatz said wiping his nose with a paper handkerchief.
‘So, it’s a bull’s eye then,’ Hilla remarked nonchalantly. ‘Leave it, just leave it I say!’
She scolded Shatz who started to wipe the table with some paper towel.
‘Ouf, I’ve forgotten completely, I left the beddings, which I’ve bought yesterday in
my car’s boot.’ Shatz declared rising to his feet. ‘I’ll be back in a moment.’ He added
and rushed out right away.
Good God, what a bitter blow, so unpleasant it was… He thought while opening the
car’s boot and pulling out the package of beddings. After having extracted the batch
of newpapers, which he had brought for the Priels from the front seat; he slummed its
door and the boot’s lid releasing all his anger – getting rid of it.
‘I’ve brought some newspapers with Everon’s blessings…’ Shatz said smiling, trying
his best to make them forget his unfortunate incident, putting down the beddings on
one of the chairs.
‘Thank God!’ Hilla called out, expressing her joy on seeing the packed beddings.
‘We’ll be able to close the box at last! Let’s get outside for a short while, we’ll read
the papers later.’ She ordered the two of them. ‘But we’ll have lunch earlier today,
Reuven must be terribly hungry after such a loss of fluids.’ They were laughing again
on their way to the rear door. Shatz didn’t mind this time and completely relaxed he
joined them, laughing with them quite released.
At the court outside under the shade of the few trees, Hilla called their boy and sent
him to the kitchen to prepare lunch, releaving him from his babysitter tasks. Priel
junior slipped off the swing and rushed towards his parents, while Leat their daughter
was raising her little head to her mother, standing up in the sand box urging her mther
to pick her up in her arms. With her little daughter in her arms, Hilla was strolling
around the court singing softly to her daughter, kissing and caressing her from time to
time. Shatz was standing opposite Moshe Priel on the other side of the swing,
guarding their eldest son while Moshe was pushing his son back, higher and higher.
‘Enough, I don’t want… I don’t want…’ screamed the little one, ‘I wana down!’
‘Okay, okay, wait till I’ll stop it,’ his father hastened to warn him. ‘But tomorrow we
won’t be here and we won’t return, and it will take sometime till you’ll have a new
swing.’ He added explaining his son what expects him. But the little one slipped off
the swing and was on his way to the safer sand box.
‘Tell me something,’ Shatz turned to Priel while they were following the Priels’ little
one. ‘How are you flying, do you intend to fly with that infamous line?’
‘Do you mean the West African that lands in Mouaka? No, my dear fellow we’ve no
such intentions. We’re not going to fly with them, the first experience we had with
them was enough; and then it was much easier to handle our children they were
babies then – all we’d to do was to stick a pacifier in their mouths or a bottle and they
were fast asleep. No, we aren’t flying from Mouaka this time, but from from Avouka,
the neighboring country’s capital.’
‘With what company then?’ Shatz asked feigning surprise, as the whole matter was
just an excuse to strike a convesation and pass the time away.
‘We’re flying with KLM, they’ve opened an agency in Mouaka just recently, although
they don’t land here.’
‘Oh, and how did you manage it, they didn’t had their say about it, our embassy’s
crew, they didn’t react in some way or another? I mean… after all the West African is
the only company that lands here…’
‘That’s right, no company except the West African lands in this miserable hole. But
I’ll explain to you right away how it was settled.’ Priel added and turned to exchange
a few soothing words with his offspring, who started to feel neglected. ‘Well, I
entered their agency about a month ago out of sheer curiosity, to check conditions,
you know, to see what they’ve to offer; well. their agent made me a deal I simply
couldn’t refuse. I didn’t consult with Hilla who wasn’t there at that time, but accepted
it on the spot. I left his agency some fifteen minutes later with the flying tickets in my
hand, what do you know…’ He uttered watching Shatz with a proud smile.
‘Well go on talk!’ Shatz retorted feigning urgency.
‘Alright, if we took the West African flight, we would have flown on Thursday
morning, while KLM’s flight schedule is Saturday morning; so, on top of the trip to
Avouka on the company’s expenses, we’ll have two day stay in a suite, at Avouka’s
Intercontinental Hotel, again on the company’s expenses – great isn’t it?’
‘Sure thing, it’s simply fantastic, I hope that deal would last till the end of my term
here.’ Shatz remarked with a short laugh.
‘Well, we’d better go inside, Hilla’ already entered and lunch is ready…’ Priel said,
putting his hand on Shatz’s shoulder. ‘You know, last month she was terribly nervous;
the packing and the arrangements did get on her nerves – the thought of leaving this
place in particular. But thanks to you during this last week she’s become quite another
person… It’s a pity really, we should have served the same term together…’
With quite an effort Shatz smiled back to him, while the astonishment that Priel’s
openhearted declaration added a touch of sadness to his face; as if he was sorry that
Priel’s wish couldn’t come true.
‘Yes, that flight is going to be real fun,’ Priel praised on the precious deal’s
advantages. ‘Some two hours ride to Avouka in a Quat-Cent-Quat and a chauffer
provided by the agency, cold drinks, lunch at the Intercontinental – and all this on the
company’s expenses…’ He added while they were crossing the living room’s
Hilla was sitting next to the table holding her little daughter in her lap, talking to her
in babies talk, while Priel kept on telling Shatz the advantages of that deal, which he
has accomplished all by himself.
‘These two days in the suite of that plush hotel, will be for us the start of our journey
– and that’s some start, isn’t? But you can count on Hilla to spend all the money we
would save in a shopping spree.’
On hearing her husband Hilla stopped the baby parley with her daughter, and kept
listening to him without expressing her own views on husband’s opinion.
‘What makes me happy about this deal, is the fact that we’ll fly in a modern jet plane
and we won’t repeat that torture flight we did from Paris, when we first landed here.’
She interrupted her husband monologue, turnning to Shatz ‘But why don’t you sit
down the two of you?’ She added with wonder, looking up to them. ‘I haven’t finished
yet, but I won’t go on till you’ll sit down.’
As they sat down opposite her, Pascal arrived and started laying the table,
manoevering between them; each time that the boy stepped between Shatz and Priel,
Shatz ventured to flood Hilla with his beseeching eyes, while she was talking on.
‘… and we won’t have to wait at the airport with all the embassy’s staff, up to the last
moment before boarding the plane. I don’t know what I would have done with myself
in such a situation.’ She laughed gaily watching both of them each one in his turn.
‘That’s the deal’s greatest advantage. ‘Reuven would take us to the KLM agency and
from there we’ll ride straight to the embassy, to take leave of all that dear gang
without getting off the car… and that would be it; within two minutes all that
embarrassing issue would be behind us!’
The explicit description of their future departure depressed Shatz with a sudden
unexpected shock, after having repressed that unavoidable fact for quite a while. He
lost his appetite and had to feign hunger attacking his plate as if he was famished. The
Priels kept on talking, where they would stay more time and where less; where they
would do their shoppings and some more such details, which are so characteristics to
such kind of conversation – Shatz could hardly hear and comprehend the sounds that
enveloped him, except the very fact that they were leaving in two days time and he
will never see her again.
Well, let it be… He told himself forcing himself to clean his plate. If Priel’s wish had
come true, our love affair would have been exposed sooner or later. Being her lover
in that forlorn hole is one thing, and she doesn’t have even the slightest notion of
leaving her husband. I’d rather prepare myself mentally to see her off.