Seb drove very fast, banana trees and coconut palms zooming by Adel’s window, but with total control of the Samurai. He knew the roads like the back of his hand, anticipating each new curve, knowing what laid behind each new blind spot. Adel felt completely safe with him at the wheel.
“Hey, you mind if I make a quick stop by a friend’s house? A Saint-Barth, lives right up ahead. Just gonna grab some money he’s got for me.”
“Sure, no problem.”
They went on for another quarter-mile and Seb took a left turn onto a bumpy dirt road by fuchsia-dripping bougainvilleas. They drove for a minute or so through dense shrubbery, then stopped in front of a plain white house, two-story under a red roof. Seb turned off the engine. “Be right back,” he said, opening his door.
The air was heavy with heat and the sweet coconut-almond fragrance of frangipani blooms. Adel took a look around, getting that same sense of isolation he’d felt standing on Daphnée’s porch earlier in the day.
“Yo, Bruno!” called Seb.
“Over here!” replied a deep voice.
A shiny yellow Jeep was parked off to the side of the house. A man pulled himself out from under it, wrench in hand, his face and fingers smeared with motor oil.
“Oh,” he said flatly when he saw Seb, “it’s you.”
Seb took a few steps toward him.
“Got my money?” he asked, a sudden arctic chill in his voice.
Even though he was still lying on the ground with his legs under the car, Adel could tell Bruno was a big dude. The Saint-Barth scratched his head and let out a chuckle.
“Nah, man,” he said, “I don’t have your money,” then slid himself back under the Jeep.
Seb stood there for a moment, silent. He wet his upper lip with the tip of his tongue.
“When’d you think you’ll have it? Tomorrow?”
“I don’t know,” Bruno testily replied from under the car. “But definitely not tomorrow, no.”
Seb sighed and walked back to the Samurai. But instead of climbing back in as Adel was expecting him to, he continued to the rear of the car. Adel watched him in the rearview get something out of the hatch then stroll back to the Jeep.
“Damn it!” The Saint-Barth’s head and torso shot back from underneath the car like a cannonball. “Can’t you see I’m fucking busy here?”
By the time Adel realized Seb was holding the tire iron, he was already bashing Bruno’s skull with it—once, twice, three times, the muted sound of each blow making Adel blink. He reached for his cigarettes and lit one, looking around, spotting a large iguana basking on a rock in the sunshine. Seb stopped hitting the guy and the reptile hopped off its rock, Adel exhaling a lush cloud of smoke in the still air before glancing back at Bruno now moaning low under his car. Seb got a step closer to him, the Saint-Barth holding his blood-covered head with both hands.
“Better have my fucking cash by the end of the week or I’m gonna fucking kill you, you get that? Saint-Barth or not.”
He kicked the guy in the ribs and spat in his face, turned around and walked back to the Samurai, the bloody tire iron in his hand. He opened his door and climbed behind the wheel.
“Okay, I lied,” he flashed his grin, throwing his improvised weapon in the back. “This dude’s not really my friend.”
Adel just stared at him, smoking.
“You got blood right here,” he said, pointing to the spot on his own forehead.
“Yeah?” Seb checked himself in the rearview, then started the car. “Good thing we’re going swimming then, huh?”
“I just saw an iguana,” said Adel.
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