Croccante doesn’t mean crisp.
It’s local jargon for rogue.
So, I must be rouge.
To pass my green card stuff.
To get my all American reality set ok.
First contact: Brink’s connections down here in Northern Sardinia.
Brink hosting an out of hand dinner, nice restaurant, over the sea.
His connection somehow late, a retired guy from SISDE - now AISI, more MI5 for the Brits than FBI for us.
Late fifties, bulky, receding hairline, bad teeth, bad breath.
Call him Mario.
We talking Italian.
Brink’s all American drawl.
Me almost native.
I know I look weird for my face contradicting my accent.
Mario almost no accent. No local guy. Spent years in Rome, I bet.
Sounds like he knows everyone in the job. Bet he doesn’t so much.
Brink: “Let my friend here introduced to local clans. Let him have support. Logistics. Infos”
Me listening to Mario’s piece-of-cake rap.
Think him bent, think him ex-cop, think him on Brink’s payroll, think Brink skimming all the time from his slush funds.
Mario - synthetic: “Any special kind of support?”.
Then his cigarette.
Empty restaurant, no tourists’ time.
Think Brink fixed it all in advance.
Feature Brink’s HUGE slush fund.
No neat answer from Brink.
Mario’s quizzical stare at Brink.
Feature him thinking something big ahead.
Then Brink - downsizing: “Prosties. Here AND - pause - there”.
A nod at the waves.
Good boy Brink.
Don’t let Mario guess high stakes ahead of me.
Mario asking my cellphone number.
Tell him my phone number 3.
“Stay safe, big guy. Keep your phone on, day and night. I’ll call you soon.”
Mario getting up, no nods at the check.
See him driving away in a midsize Hyundai.
Brink at me, serious: “Got the goods for you, kid. I warn you, Zastava made. I know I know it all sounds a scheme to frame you, my Sprska Republica young pal. My own lords imposed me the choice. I couldn’t dodge this at all. But Director C loves you and she urged me to find neutral ammos for them. Got them in the trunk. Now we leave, you follow me down to the pineta , you go straight and bury them wherever you feel comfortable about.”.
Dark night , almost empty streets.
Down to the pineta.
From his car’s trunk to my sun bleached once red polo.
Big stuff, believe me.
All of it from Kragujevac.
Two M91 - excellent marksman rifles.
And, amazing, a Crna Strela (Black Arrow).
One of a kind.
Say HUUUGE shots ahead.
Say them military.
Say there’s almost no use against civilians.
Say ammos from Israel. Amazing. Bet them manufactured back in Serbia. Israeli engraved cartridges only. Israeli and Serbs old time allies, I know.
Me driving alone in the middle of the night down to the Nurra lowlands, heading to Palmadula and then all along backroads almost to Argentiera.
Recognize the crossroads, turn into a dirt road, lights off, only the moon high above in the sky.
I cracked the window, strong cold Maestrale wind from northwest.
Then the old abandoned house.
No brakes. No brake light.
Turn the car so I can drive away.
Unload the guns - heavy. The ammos too.
More than a hundred pounds.
Stash them in a safe hole I had prepared in advance. Move some stones, some rotted wooden furniture to hide them.
Use my jacket to sweep dirt over my footprints.
A blanket hanging down from the trunk until I’m again driving on tarmac.
Back to downtown Sassari home.
4 o’clock am.
Get some sleep.
My hands shaking.
My head burning with dangerous hypotheses.