Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The King of the Franks part 5

But I must have done so, for the next day I was being picked up at the hotel again.  A viscous haze clung to the land; in the distance, the sea was smothered in fog.  I expected a government car to retrieve me, but a blue range rover pulled into the circular drive.  When I stepped in, I expected Charles to be in the vehicle, but there was only a tight lipped driver and an armed solider in civilian attire in the passenger seat.
 When I told a colleague at breakfast where I was going, he gave me the professional equivalent of the last rites: he took down the name and phone number of my editor, and noted the clothes I was wearing and an inventory of what I was bringing.   
With those images in mind, how to best describe my shirt and slacks in four or five sentences, the range rover steered through traffic, out of the city and on the highway, passed the unfinished exit ramps to planned villages which were never built, on black top which was not properly laid, and was puckering and blistering in the unrelenting sun, until even that blacktop tapered out into a graded dirt track, first with two lanes, but quickly to one.   
Then we were in the flat lands, once an immense plain, now studded with plantations, which began to raise the gradual climb to the foothills and then mountains to the north.  All the while, the radio crackled in the dash, and no one spoke a word.

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