Café de la Gare, Djibouti
Juliet and Howard arrived in separate cars just as most people at the restaurant were finishing lunch. They parked on different side streets off the broad Avenue d’Esperey, and met, as if by chance, near the restaurant’s arched entrance. Howard doffed his hat, gestured to Juliet to precede him through the open wrought iron gates, and bowed slightly as she passed. They walked past the enclosed patio and continued to the welcome shade of the dining room.
Juliet’s light gray suit and mid-calf skirt looked professional and didn’t offend local sensibilities. The neckline of her blouse was more daring. Howard’s white linen suit, pale blue shirt, and polished manners suggested a man of leisure, or a man accustomed to impressing the wives of others.
A waiter seated them at a corner table under a painting of men in long white pants playing tennis. The dark wood frame looked at home on the stucco-like texture of the white-plaster wall. The corner and a potted palm provided privacy, the leather-upholstered chairs comfort.
Juliet relaxed into her chair. “Your tourist hasn’t learned to travel lightly.”
Howard put his panama on an unused chair next to him and his fake pack of cigarettes on the table. “I watched him board the plane, and two of our people in Jeddah followed him to the Saudi German hospital. A nurse on his floor said he carried a small library with him. She’s supposed to identify the books for us by tomorrow.”
“Impressive! It must be very tempting to pick him up.” Juliet looked at her menu.
“Not until we know we can . . .” Howard peered over his menu to make sure a waiter or other diners weren’t approaching, “also pick up his package.”
“How was the fish when we were last here? It looked wonderful.”
“Excellent. I recommend it.” Howard studied his menu. “Anything going on at the buildings his friends leased?”
Men, Juliet thought, gay or straight, think of nothing but work. “I don’t know if I should answer that, Howie. You are being unusually cheap lately.”
Howard looked over the top of his menu, again, this time at Juliet. “Hunh?”
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish