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W h a t ' s that ? ' I requested . I cou l d see a few ok i n d of commotion , up ahe a d , in the direction of the a i rport . ' Accide n t ! ' Domingo shrugge d , a n d gri n n e d agai n . 1 09 B ruce Chatwin Then a l l the ladies have been scre a m i n g , and scatteri n g their yams a n d pineapples , a n d speeding for the defend of the garde n s . A white Peugeot shot down the center of the roa d , swerving correct and left to overlook the wome n . the motive force waved fo r us to show again , and j ust then , we heard the crack of gunfire . ' C 'est I a gue rre ! ' our motive force shouted , and spun the taxi around . ' I knew i t . ' Domingo grabbed my arm . 'I knew it . ' The sunlight was once up by the point we acquired to downtown Cotonou . I n t h e taxi-park t h e crowd h a d panicked a n d overturned a b razi e r , and a stack of crates had stuck fi re . A policeman blew his whistle and bawled for wate r . Above the rooftops , there has been a column of bl ack smoke , risi n g . 'The y ' re b u r n i n g the P a l ace , ' stated Domingo . ' speedy ! Run ! ' We ran , ran into different run n i n g figures , and ran on . A m a n shouted ' Me rce n a ry ! ' a n d l u n g e d for my shoulde r . I d u c okay e d and w e dodged down a sidestre e t . A b o y in a r e d s hello rt beckoned me right into a b a r . It used to be darkish i nside . humans have been clustered around a rad i o . Then the bartender screamed , wildly , in African , at m e , and on the boy . A n d then i used to be out aga i n at the dusty purple stre e t , protective my head with my arm s , driven and pummelled aga i n st the corrugated construct­ ing through 4 tough , acridly-swe ating m e n until eventually the gendarmes got here to fe tch me in a j e e p . ' on your o w n right defense , ' their offi cer acknowledged , because the handcuffs snapped round my wrists . T h e l ast I ever s a w of Domi ngo ; i e w a s status i n the road , cryi n g , because the j eep drove off, and he v a n i shed in a conflict of colored cottons . I n the barracks shield room a s okay i n n y boy , stripped to a couple of red unde rpants , sat hunched opposed to the wal l . H i s fingers and expense t have been sure with rope , and he had the greyish glance Afri­ cans get once they are actually anxious . A gecko hung immobile at the d i rty whitewash . outdoor the door there has been a papaya with a t a l l scaly tru n ok a n d yellowish frui t . A mud-wall ran alongside the a ways facet of the compou n d . past the wall the noise of gunfi re persisted , and the high-pitched wailing of girls . A corporal got here in and searched m e . He used to be s m a l l , wiry , angu­ lar, a n d his chee kbones shone . He took my watch , pockets , passport 1 10 A Coup and noteboo okay . ' M e rcen ary ! ' h e acknowledged , pointing t o t h e patch-pocket at the leg of my khaki trouse rs . His gums have been spongy and his breath was once foul . 'No , ' I stated , submissively. ' I ' m a vacationer . ' ' M e rcenary ! ' h e shrieked , a n d slapped m y face-not not easy , yet tough sufficient to harm . He held up my fou ntain-pe n . ' W h a t ? ' ' A pen , ' I stated . I t was once a b l a c ok Mont-B l a n c . 'What for ? ' 'To write w i th .

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