September 18th
Strange lull.
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Sardinian Blues V

by Zulfikar Ahmetovic
Croccante (part two)
September 18th
Strange lull.
Sniper rifles stashed.
Waiting for Mario’s call.
Two days spent wandering.
Wasting time.
Brain frying with anxiety.
Phone n.3 always with me, always on.
Day one, Saturday 16th.
Damn hot weather.
Maestrale wind dropped.
Woke up late, shower, coffee.
Out for a walk.
But - just at my door, literally on my doormat, a big wrapped box. Strange. A gift.
Almost stumbled on it.
Take it in. No booby trap expected.
I wondered.
I opened it. Carefully.
Two automatic S&W, one revolver. 
An automatic Beretta, 9 gauge. Italian police kind of weapon.
One switchblade knife.
5000 €.
Think Brink, but still a maybe.
Stashed them at home.
Beneath the water reservoir, under the stove.
Switchblade in my pocket.
Out for a walk.
Abetone almost empty. 
Strange music.
My own greyeyed beauty there, on duty. 
Waitress, psychologist.
One beer, almost noon.
Two sandwiches.
Ask her our for dinner.
She said “Today post-emo-punk, I can’t choose the menu.”
A smile.
Sex later on.
Hope Mario won’t show up in the meantime.
Inside myself: every time I’m with her I can’t help but wondering about my friend’s life here.
Don’t want to arise her attention.
Say, just after love, a low tone question: “Why do you think he’s kinky?”
She propped up, staring at me.
“I’m a psychologist, you know. He is not kinky. Not at all. His soul is dark. Period. Don’t ask me why. I know.”
Sunday 17th.
Again, out for a walk.
Ice cream cup next to Museo Sanna.
A lady coming up.
My friend’s friend. 
Great pals they were. 
Not lovers, if grey eyes S is right - women are always right about sex and love, my granny Fatmah used to tell me back then in Visegrad.
Me waiving at her, she stopping by for a coffee.
“Any news from our friend,” she asked.
“I intended to put on sale some terrains of mine. He knew about. Gallura, 60 km from here. Not on the seaside. A huge property I want to dismiss. He said he had friends that could be interested.”
Me quizzical.
“Gallura is not where La Maddalena is?”
I know there’s an underground NATO bunker serving as a long time deposit down there.
“Sure, looks you start knowing Sardinia,” she smiled.
Call her pure Sardinian gentry.
Politeness, class, education.
We shared a cake. Warm weather, she looked in no hurry.
Maybe gently curious about me.
“E., our friend, told me wonders on you. He claims you are one of the best minds at Stanford.”
“It’s Hoover Institution. Inside SU, but a sort of a world apart.”
Chit chatting.
Then I asked her, nonchalantly, if she’d ever met his friends interested in her property.
“Just once, briefly. He mentioned a couple of names, Italians. But stopped short of telling me the real investors behind them. We hypothesized a meeting, say it was January 2022. Just after New Year’s Eve. Then the war in Ukraine began. And all of a sudden his friends disappeared from sight. So I happened to guess they were Russians.”
I didn’t intend to force her memory on E’s friends’ names, but she told me, spontaneously.
I knew those names.
GRU proxies.
E. the weirdest kind of man.
Dark soul of his, as S kept telling me.
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Balkan Memories

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