Winters & Deadshore - Forbidden Cure by Thom J. Poore - HTML preview

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Chapter 2: Arrival


In the stifling heat, beneath the mid-afternoon sun, traffic is bustling in Lima. A yellow cab pulls up outside the menacing beauty of Lima’s central bank. The driver steps cumbersomely out of the taxi and onto the kerb. Tall, middle aged and overweight, he sports a leather waistcoat and cap, which he pulls over his eyes as he walks slowly through the revolving doors and into the bank lobby. Once inside, the mammoth-man looks at the long queue in front of the five busy counters. He cracks a half smile and starts slowly barging his way through the queue of people, oblivious and unaffected by the protests resonating around him. The people surrounding him are frustrated, but relieved once the stale smelling mammoth has passed them. Walking up to a perplexed cashier, he slams a debit card onto the counter, along with a passport for validation.

“I want 84,000 Peruvian Nuevo Sols” he slurs.

The tanned woman looks at him with disgust, as he doesn’t appear to have washed for days. She turns toward her manager and signals for assistance, because the amount to be dispensed is unusually high. Her manager, whose head is buried in a desk a few feet behind her looks up eagerly, and walks over to investigate the issue. He looks at the passport photo and then places the man’s debit card into a keypad terminal.

“Could you enter your pin number, please, for security purposes.” The prim and proper bank manager forces a smile, which lies parallel to his pencil moustache. The mammoth-man grunts and enters the four-digit number. The pin is verified and the manager checks the screen in front of him. He sees a payment for 84,000 Peruvian sole, from a company called Vipercom Pharmaceuticals.He looks back slowly again at the man and checks his mug against his passport photo one final time, before turning swiftly to the young cashier and giving her a surprised nod of approval. The cash is counted out meticulously, sorted into bundles, bound, placed in a paper bag and pushed toward the mammoth-man, who cockily stashes the cash bundle on the inside of his sweaty waistcoat and triumphantly walks out of the bank. Once outside in the warm smog the man sees his cab has been clamped. Instead of airing discontent, he merely laughs. He walks to the side of the humid street and beckons an approaching taxi. Stooping down to the cab window, he stares at the driver.

“The Hotel Tropicana!” The Mammoth demands.

The driver turns down his radio, which is blaring pop music.

“I know it well, I hear the drinks are free!”

The Mammoth looks somewhat confused as he climbs into the back seat of the taxi. The driver looks at his rear view mirror and struggles to contain his exuberance and inquisitiveness as he begins to negotiate the manic streets.

“Hey, I know you, don’t I?” He asks.

The Mammoth cracks yet another lazy couldn’t-give-a-damn smile.

“Yeah, I picked you up a couple of days ago from that strip club! Hey, did you win the lottery? The Tropicana isn’t cheap, you know.”

The Mammoth shakes his head and looks out of the window, as if to shut himself off from a further interaction. The driver relents, realizing he’s not getting anywhere, and turns his radio back up, muttering to himself.

“I gotta start playing the lotto!”

Emilio and Karl appear through the arrivals gate of Jorge Chavez International Airport in Lima. They stand chatting at the luggage terminal. Karl is calmed by the immaculate cleanliness and professional calm of Lima’s award winning international airport.

“Hey, this is a smart airport, Emilio, real slick!”

“Of course it is, Karl, what did you expect?”

“I thought it would be like going back to the dark ages, because you kept talking about how Peru is one of the oldest civilizations in the world.”

Emilio’s mind locks in on the subject.

“Well, it is, Karl, but obviously they've advanced a fair bit in the last so-many thousand years. You know, humans have been on this earth for millions of years now. And then about five thousand years ago civilizations started to pop up out of nowhere, and the Peruvians are one of the oldest of them. They were among the first civilizations to start doing things like mathematics, writing, pottery making and metallurgy!”

“What’s metallurgy?” Karl scratches his head.

“It’s means creating and manipulating metals, in layman’s terms!”

“What are layman’s terms?”

Emilio starts getting frustrated by the constant questions.

“Layman’s terms mean explaining a complex subject to someone like you in a way in which you can understand!” Emilio replies, with a hint of venom.

Karl looks down at his sneakers, trying to ignore the ridicule he senses. His stomach feels fragile from vomiting on the plane. Emilio is keen to move on and enjoy his time in Peru. He is elated, massively inspired by his surrounds, and excited by the prospect of his plans beginning to unfold. He pushes his earphones in, and selects a Rolling Stones song from his phone. The euphoric track Jumping Jack Flash kicks in, and Emilio begins to jolt and punch the air in rhythmic ecstasy. His imagination is ignited as he begins to cavort through a scattered sea of foreign bodies. He is blissfully unfazed, with unrepentant disregard for how any of the people around perceive him. Karl walks behind, laughing at his friend’s bravado and show of elation, which remedies the sour moment between the two only seconds before. Karl holds his phone up to Emilio’s showmanship and catches the improvised performance on film. Emilio jumps around, miming to the song, occasionally walking up to strangers and dancing inoffensively in front of them. Passersby see the two boys filming and dancing, most of them smiling and grinning as they pass the scene. The song fades out, and Emilio walks in provocative slow motion towards Karl’s rolling camera. Karl puts his phone away shaking his head, grinning ear to ear.

“That’s some great footage, bro! You crack me up sometimes. So, where we are staying then, Emilio!”

“Karl seriously, you never listen to a word I say, do you! It’s called the Hotel Tropicana”

“Hotel Tropicana! Sounds like the title to that crappy song”. Replies Karl sarcastically.

“You're thinking of the Copacabana, Karl, and loads of people love that song, including me!”

“What is with you and your old music, Emilio? I just don’t get it!”

“I’m a connoisseur, Karl. Fine wine, art, music, women.”

“Since when did you start collecting art and drinking fine wine, and what’s a connoisseur anyway?”

“I have drunk one hundred dollar bottles of wine, Karl! Come to think of it, so have you! Do you remember that little house party I threw when my parents went on that Caribbean cruise and you threw up on Emily Saunders?”

“I wasn’t sick on her, Emilio, I just sneezed and blew a few chunks out by accident, that’s all.”

“Who are you kidding, Karl, you completely vomited all over the poor girl’s head. She had to wash her hair five times just to get rid of the smell of your guts! It tainted her forever, Karl. I swear she used to be this sweet innocent blonde. After one evening hanging around with you she became a purple haired pot head.”

“Emily was talking about dying her hair a different colour anyway, Emilio.”

Emilio doesn’t reply as he notices their luggage travelling down to them on the sloped conveyer belt.

“Come on, Karl, let’s get our stuff and get on our way.” Seizing his luggage from the conveyer belt Emilio sees an opportunity to educate his companion.

“Getting back to the connoisseur thing, Karl. It’s an old French expression. It means someone who has a lot of knowledge of a fine art or cuisine, an expert in the matters of taste, to put it another way. Also, coincidentally and unfortunately for your delicate mind, it sounds a lot like Cono Sur. Which is a province in the south of Lima. You see Cono Sur is one of the six areas that make up the Lima metropolitan area. It is located in the southern part of the metropolis. The area is popular for its awesome beaches. But we're staying in the area where the beaches are generally used for surfing rather than bathing.” Emilio parrots the Peru information pamphlet he read on the flight over.

“Awesome beaches, we have to visit some of those! You know this Cono Sur thing is starting to sound really cool.”

“Are you for real, Karl?" Says Emilio with a half-baked gaze.

Karl picks up his luggage and stands up straight, looks directly at Emilio and replies.

“Connoisseur. I get it. So, for example, I’m a connoisseur of beautiful ladies. And the beaches in Cono Sur are full of attractive women!”

Bursting with laughter Emilio puts his arm around Karl and escorts him out of the airport.

“Jesus, Karl, I think I just taught you something! You know what buddy, maybe you’re not such a dumb ass after all.”