Get In Its Way (Part 4)
Shaft loitered under the trees outside Lubna’s lodge smoking a cigarette. He got all the guts to enter the house and call her.
“I know who stole your girdle.”
Lubna asked in shock, “Who?”
He said, “You must do me a favour if you wish to know.”
“Say it,” she said.
“It is asking to anchor in your lagoon.”
She paused speechless and as she was about to say something he uttered, “It was Friday.”
She froze with her mouth hanging open for a long moment. “You certainly know how to get in its way. Come,” she led him to her bedroom, “I’ll wash you first. Take off your dress.”
Lubna pulled her gown over her shoulders. She had fastened a black piece of cloth around her waist in lack of the weight. Those round bums made him rock at once. She ushered him to the bath and patted water on his body. His ego tilted towards the ceiling and it bore hallmarks of the roots of a coconut tree.
Lubna called Sergeant Mody afterwards. It was close to nine in the evening. Shaft was walking down the main street, smoking in the wind, when the police van stopped and asked him to climb.
Shaft was ushered for questioning at midnight. All that time he sat there cool as a cucumber.
“I lied,” he told the police.
“And you got what you wanted for a lie?” asked Cpl Valid. “Tell me what you know about the girdle.”
“I saw her wearing it. Everyone knows about it. All of us in Bathala saw it. I heard Friday mention about it and to too many people.”
“Who are they?”
“I can’t remember. There was Nadal. There was Tutu. There were the fishermen.”
“Who is Nadal?”
“He’s the front office guy in Halaveli. He came with me to Malé.”
“Well, Shaft, it’d be better if you tell us now all you know. I’ll let you go.”
Next morning Nadal was supposed to catch a boat to Halaveli via Furana. He walked with his shoulder bag to the waterfront when the police van stopped and asked him to get in. “Why?” he asked.
Nadal was taken to the police depot and locked behind bars, stripped and searched. Later taken to an interrogation room and tied to a leash from his neck to the table leg.
Sergeant Mody showed up. He was one time a classmate. “Buddy, you know what you’ve got into? We found this in your bag.” He dropped a plastic wrapping of marijuana. “Five hundred grams,” he asked, “Do you want to smoke some?”
“No,” Nadal cried, “that doesn’t belong to me.”
“But it was in your bag. We have picked another bottle of liquor from your bedroom at your house.”
Nadal couldn’t believe it, “Mody! You’ve got to trust me.”
“Take a look. This comes from Halaveli. I know you smoke. Taste this and tell me.”
Sergeant Mody was right about it. This stuff he smoked at Halaveli. “I’ve seen that. Someone told me it comes from Lando…”
“Hey! You dare not swear at me…”
“It’s the name of the yacht, sir, a red one in the lagoon.”
“Where exactly is it hidden?”
“In the boom,” he replied.
“Now you’re talking,” said the sergeant. “You’ve been tangled to a lot of problems these days. A hundred thousand dollars vanished from the safe deposit. You were involved in a theft. Don’t tell me. You have a lot of explanation to do, Nadal. You were one of the best guys at school. What got into you?”
“I know nothing, Mody. Believe me!”
“We know, Nadal, we know this drug has been sold at the street corners. We have been tracing for four months. We have enough evidence to connect this stuff to Halaveli. We label it A4, your call sign, because your staffs carry these all the time we catch them. They sell this stuff here. I know you have the girdle that belongs to Lubna. You show me and you can go.”
“Mody, please don’t do this to me, sir. I do not know a thing about the girdle.”
“Maybe you forgot. We can knock you round till you remember.” Sergeant Mody left.
On the bumpy waves coastguard vessel cut off its engines outside Kandoludoo. They watched the boats in Halaveli lagoon for several hours on powerful field glasses. They caught Angelo’s face on camera. He was the owner of the red yacht. He got long hair, messy look and beard, heavily tanned.
Coastguard 151 slowly approached as Angelo rowed to the island. They dropped an inflatable dinghy. Three marines and a sixteen year old boy climbed. For the dinghy there was no reef barrier. It headed straight into the lagoon towards the boats.
The boy jumped first into water. Swam to the yacht and climbed. He called, “Ciao! Bonjourno! Pronto! Mi scusi! Is anybody home?” He knocked the doors and turned the hatches. That was often the trick, he would ask for a fag if someone showed up. Finally, confirmed to the marines no one was on board. The dinghy moved up close and two marines in their briefs quickly climbed the yacht.
Like he said the package was in its boom. There was no time to remove it keeping their heads low. They entered the cabin and unfolded charts taking pictures on a waterproof Pentax camera. They turned the pages of the log and took photos.
In less than twenty minutes they were back on the dinghy heading to the coastguard vessel out in the sea.
Capo sat at the moodhu bar, a water deck over the beach water, sipping his Campari. He spotted the black dinghy spit away. His eyes were sharp to capture a boat prowling behind Kandoludoo six kilometres away. “Perche!” he uttered, “Abe! Get me Nadal.”
“Nadal is on leave,” Abe called from the bar.
“Get Tutu,” Capo said, “There’s an intruder in our lagoon.” Not for a moment he thought a coastguard vessel could stalk on them. He was once deported from the country for two years for carrying narcotics when he arrived at the airport.
Next morning Sergeant Mody examined those enlarged prints and maps. “Lando set sail from Phuket on 25th December and arrived here at this sandbank on the 7th January. This sandbank is called Engava in South Nilandé Atoll. What have they hidden there?”
“Same day Lando crossed to Halaveli taking the channel route between the atolls,” added Cpl Valid.
“Interesting!” cried Mody, “We don’t have time. Nadal is in police custody. We can’t let him go. He will talk. We can’t check his belongings left in Halaveli that might break this lead to Angelo.
“I will post some faxes to Italian Police and FBI while you arrange a speedboat with metal detectors and equipment. We leave sharp at noon.”
“Metal detectors can’t trace cannabis.”
“Of course not but we take what we have and use our eyes.”
Mody’s batch of school leavers were recruited to the security services with automatic promotions. As an investigation cop he added a new stripe to his career and after November Third Incident of 1988 he became a sergeant. He was authoritative but not matured. Most people described his tactic as ‘use of force’.
It was rough and rainy. Police launch reached the sandbank after a three hour journey. Within minutes they hit the jackpot. The metal detector buzzed on an object pretty big in size in the middle of the dune. They dug a metre and hit a plastic wrap. Soon the package was unearthed.
It contained four bags of cocaine wrapped in plastic and aluminium foils. If not for the aluminium it could have gone undetected. Each bag contained two kilos of cocaine.
Mody hit his butt in the sand in the downpour. “Now we have to make our journey back home in this shit weather, five minutes on a sandbank. We found the treasure, alright.”
“If we take this stuff we leave no proof,” Valid raised his voice under his raincoat hood. “We can’t keep an eye on Engava.”
“No. And we can’t ask the islanders around. We bury sandbags here in these wraps. We can only keep an eye on the yacht. Deploy a coastguard vessel and follow his Lando.”
“Angelo might send another boat.”
“Maybe but this stuff is not sold in Malé. Looks to me like an unaided job.”
“Perhaps listen to the telephones.”
“Exactly,” Sergeant Mody got up, “Boys! Let’s do it! We go home soon. I thought I was looking for a pot of gold.”