Get In Its Way (Part 3)
Capo dropped a bundle of twenty thousand US dollars on Nadal’s desk, “We hire speed transfer too and pay with this money. Some clients booked in Italy refuse to pay difference.” This money came from payment due to the company reimbursed to the hotel directly to overcome inadequacies. TIE performed poorly in financing operations and supplies. Italian agent diverted money to run the resort properly.
Lady boss called abruptly, “It’s my money. You must send me weekly reports. What are you hiring?” She was very unhappy.
Nadal replied, “Universal Express.”
“You don’t like my boat,” she hung up.
Tuesday morning a photo crew touched down on a floating plane and beached to drop them. Next the aircraft approached to moor by the jetty and a tourist battled to stop it hitting the piles and pier as Nadal saw it. “Get out of its way!” he cried.
Capo shrugged, “Eh! Non ti preoccupare…”
Right there he saw Tutu stagger into his office in such a haste. Ten minutes later someone cried, “Fire! Fire! The hut is burning!”
Nadal rushed to the spot where Abe set up his beautiful thatched cabin. People were throwing water in buckets. It looked obviously like an onslaught. Someone threw fuel and set the cabin of fire. All the surfboards burnt to debris.
Nadal returned to the office to find Tutu still seated at his desk. “Abe’s hut is on fire! It’s torched!”
He ignored completely, “I’m going to Malé. My wife is sick and I might have to fly to Sri Lanka.”
Nadal found talcum powder spread all over the toilet floor, sink-top and seat. He discovered an empty bottle cut open with a blade and dumped in the dustbin. He wondered why. Tutu and another staff shared this room with him.
Wednesday morning Nadal stayed wide-awake for Alitalia departure. Junior chef prepared a midnight feast of spaghetti and grilled chicken. All joined at the senior staff mess to dine. The storekeeper was bound in his chair. When he was released he stuffed up so much he dropped flat out.
Four o’clock departure rooms were given wake up and breakfast served at the restaurant. By five in the morning speed ferry contacted on radio leaving Fesdu Island and asked to take the passengers out to the west side in ten minutes. A collecting point was basically arranged always on the leeward side of the island and this was outside the two kilometre lagoon. Two small boats carried the guests and luggage. Nadal climbed.
At close quarters, alongside the ferry, it looked like sitting under a roof in the glow of lights. The water in between was calm as a floor. The passengers climbed the boat ladder and to the comfortable seats of the air-conditioned cabin. On a rough day it would be quite a different story.
Nadal dropped a hand just like the rest for a support holding a grip on the ladder and elbow against the boat railing. In a silent swell the ferry boat climbed an inch pressing his arm slightly and released at ease. If it narrowed a millimetre in the powerful water his hand would pop up. He was saved by the cross.
Universal Express collected departures from North Ari Atoll island hotels and expected to reach the airport in sixty minutes. Tutu left to Malé.
Four days later, Nadal found the filing cabinet left unlocked. At first glance he saw the wrappings were torn open. He was robbed. He called the Capo.
Luckily, guests’ items of valuables were locked in the safe. However, staffs’ deposits were looted. Local managers at TIE quickly pointed the blame at Nadal. A lady secretary called to say that Nadal should forward a statement and attend a police enquiry. Nadal expected a police investigation. However, those talks melted when the lady boss said that she trusted him. Capo instructed to arrange compensation under insurance terms.
Five days ago, Abe lost hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth hardware.
Someone in Bathala told Tutu about the picnic and the belt she wore. Now the gold was in his hand. He took it and consulted with a gold expert who inspected carefully and said, “Gold value is around 400 US dollars an ounce. This piece of ornament weighs 6.6 pounds, it is a genuine antique. Say between 74 and 84 thousand dollars.”
“Gosh!” cried Tutu.
“Best place to sell gold is Dubai. I’ll give you an address in Sri Lanka of Sapphire Jewellers.”
Tutu flew to Sri Lanka and after meeting with the jewellers he couldn’t agree to terms of verification and drop of price by the double. The mineralogist gave another contact. “This guy is a Maldivian who deals with us frequently. You can reach him at Hotel Oberoi. His name is Ron Eduru.”
Tutu sat back in a resting chair with his heels on the footstool in a posh suite room on the top floor. The gold rolled to his fist. A tiny guy served him coffee. “Well, let me see! Where did you get this?”
Tutu replied, “This belonged to my great great great grandmother.”
Ron Eduru weighed it in his hand, “How much is your bargain?”
“I’ll go for fifty…”
“I’m a broker,” Ron returned, “been here for a week coming from Dubai. My boss will be keen to take a look. In that case you’ll have to leave this with me this afternoon.”
Tutu shook his head, “I can’t.”
“I understand,” uttered Ron, “he likes to keep matters private. Well, have you had some lunch? I’m in a mood to go out. Shall we?”
Tutu agreed. Ron picked his backpack and they climbed down the elevator to a restaurant at ground floor. They had a large meal and Ron signed the bill. His next request was to take a short ride. “I will set up an appointment with my boss but not at my hotel. Let me see your place.”
Tutu took him to his place where this couple lodged in a cheap private residence among some other Maldivian visitors. They sat talking until sunset.
“It’s getting late. You should better go to your hotel,” reminded Tutu.
“Yes. I must go. May I use your toilet?”
Tutu showed him to the water closet.
In a while Ron Eduru began to wash his clothes in the bathroom. The couple left worried. Ron came out wrapped in a towel. “I washed my clothes. It’ll dry up in a minute. Don’t worry.”
Ron Eduru didn’t want to leave. He said, “I was looking for a cheap place. If you don’t mind I’ll take nap on the couch out there.”
Tutu’s couple objected apologetically. However, Ron Eduru began to beg. “Do me this favour, please. My boss sent me no money and I couldn’t pay the hotel. I have been expecting his call for a week. They set me in a suite room. I’ll pay you when I get the money.”
And for three nights he stayed at Tutu’s lodge. Tutu wore the golden girdle tightly below his belly for a precaution. His wife was too fat. They walked to Hotel Oberoi twice a day to see if there was a message left at the reception from his boss.
On the third day Ron Eduru came face to face with the hotel manager. Ron was escorted to his office and Tutu never saw him again. Since Ron Eduru left the hotel without paying bills he was thrown to the pantry to wash dishes.
After the hassle Tutu’s couple returned without selling the gold.
At daybreak, Nadal sat on the beach watching the dolphins cross in the glow of the sun. By noon Shaft in Bathala observed the white caps forming on the sea in the Ari Atoll Channel. An unprecedented weather was building momentum in the month of May.
Pamela still carried tourists outside the Italian tour operator. She entered into the lagoon around the north-west tip gracefully moving holding its head high above water. Pamela always docked by the wharf and picked the clients all at ease.
In the afternoon, wind hit the beaches throwing sand in their eyes. Both Nadal and Shaft were going to Malé. As the weather turned bad all supply boats bound to Malé that night were called off.
At nightfall Pamela left Halaveli. She pulled its nose to tip on Bathala jetty immersed in the crackling water to pick Shaft. In few minutes, the boat was in the open sea. Waves washed over the ship. An angry cyclone broke loose from the Arabian coast and it was spinning like a mad houthi. Captain continued to cut the engines and revive over the rising waves and rotate its steering. Nadal barked at him, “Leave those controls alone! Do you know where you’re heading?” as the boat tilted on top of a huge wave.
Captain angrily stopped the boat in the middle of the swells. He ordered, “Get out of my cockpit!”
Nadal was kicked out in the rain, “These guests, they have a flight to catch. You’ll have to take us to the airport on time.”
“Shut up! This is my boat.”
Some tourists addressed, “Let us know when to wear the lifejackets.”
The gust that night was at 90 km per hour. She reached Furana at midnight. Furana was the key resort of TIE and all coordination based here. Few kilometres from the airport and the capital but Nadal hit a bed in one of the stopover rooms and slept. Shaft took a boat to Malé.
That precise night Pamela was instructed by Colonel, head of operations, to go back to Ari Atoll with urgent supplies and prepare for departure transfer. This powerful boat made of wood and dipped strongly in its draft made it in the rough weather. It was the only boat in the sea that night. A flat-bottomed speed ferry could hardly fight those waves.