Songs of Bliss HTML version

Alex is the Capo Bastone, the trusted captain, the man in day-to-day charge of affairs,
managing the family?s business interests in the coastal Adriatic clubs and bars that sit
within his family's sphere of influence.
The port area around the Factoria is brutally familiar, just like Durres, a place that
Alex has already visited and left behind in his search. Arbnor Jasari is on the run, on the
high seas with a satchel full of the family's dollars and little regard for the damage that he
has done, for the destruction, for the living death that he has inflicted. Alex nearly chokes
on the pain of it all as he heads along the Paseo. A bright red a nd yellow sign draws him
down the street. At arms length, in places where people make their choices and live with
the consequences, Alex has never before given a second thought to what he does. He
cannot afford the luxury of sentiment. It is business, a chance to put the record straight, to
make good the loss of honour, to avenge.
The ritual of death, the killing of a couple of family soldiers, is something to be
expected. These things happen from time to time in the Berisa family business. For Alex
the betrayal is in the doctor?s running, is in his failure to face up to his responsibilities. It is
why Alex is here now, at this late hour, in an industrial dust bowl in a foreign country. He
is facing his own responsibilities, and in the facing of them, although he might not mend
his heart, he will take a grim satisfaction in doing the right thing. It will sustain him through
the hard months and years to come, through the inevitable moments when he has to look at
his sister. Rezarta. Beautiful, vacant Rezarta.
As he walks away from the Factoria towards the late night bars frequented by a
polyglot sea of sailors and the hardier members of the local community, he turns to look at
the lights on the cargo ships that lie at anchor, loading and unloading, ploughing their way
through blue Mediterranean waters. Jasari made his way from Vlore to Durres and hooked
up with one of the freight lines, Med-Seva, Russian owned and Maltese registered,
spending dollars on a private passage out of Albania. Alex has called in favours to get this
far and now he too must spend dollars. The doctor can run, but he can never hide from the
Berisa family. Not now. Alex tells himself this again and again as he steps in and out of
shadows, but in truth Alex feels the trail already wearing thin. The doctor has a head start
of almost a week and Alex is certain that his quarry is already running again.
Low lights and hunched shoulders. Some of the conversation in the bar stop s as
Alex enters. He is out of place, a tourist, a lamb for the slaughter. He is sporting a day's
stubble and he knows that he looks like a fool with a wallet full of hard currency. Alex
surveys the room, looking for the tell tale signs of fellow travellers, ideally someone from
is own place and people, but the pale base skin of a Russian will do. In the deep gloom of
the bar everyone looks weather beaten, but Alex has a keen eye and a sensitive ear. Slavic
undertones. Mannerisms out of place. Alex is also aware of the atmosphere, of the
calculations being made about him. He walks up to the bar and orders a beer in faltering
Spanish. A table to his right, towards the back of the bar, has a half finished bottle of vodka
on it. Two men sit at the table in quiet conversation. Polo shirts and jeans. Jackets on the
backs of their chairs. Western styles. Unmistakable.