All Stories, General Fiction

The Camel by Jay Tanji

The cerulean waters of the Mediterranean splashed against the rocks below my table at the bar. I’d secured a seat on the cliff’s edge under the bamboo canopy of Ca’s Patró March, a seaside bar overlooking the popular inlet of Cala Deia. It was still early in the spring and the cove wasn’t yet filled with the typical sunbathers, swimmers, and cliff jumpers of the summer months. The bar was relatively empty with the exception of a German couple discussing the insurance package on their villa over two cañas grandes and a table of three profane teenagers sipping on Coca-Cola. I skimmed over the copy of the Majorca Bulletin strewn out in front of me, reading the garbage my fellow journalists had written for the week.

‘Rafael Nadal Visits Students at his Academy’ – Jimmy Dansworth

 ‘12 New Hotels Opening this Summer’ – Joanne Moore

 ‘Balcony Deaths in Majorca Rising’ – Thomas Cooper

Their articles were always shit but people would read them up anyway. Jimmy would pull in the numbers by even mentioning Nadal, his favourite and easy target to cover. Joanne brings in all the real-estate junkies and tourists looking for the next big property scene. And Tom goes after anything with a death or injury involved. I think he always wanted to get into forensics but didn’t have the brains for it. So he settled on journalism with the rest of us muckrakers.

I took a sip of my white rum and looked out over the sea through my tinted sunglasses. The sultry air made the water even more appealing and for a moment I thought about going in for a dip. I could taste the salty moisture in my mouth and longed for the cool water on my back. But the thought of having to brave the jellyfish turned me away. And besides, I had work to do. I turned the page and read the title of the next article.

‘Who’s Bringing Illegal Drugs into Majorca?’ – Danny Pearson

Danny fucking Pearson. He’d been my biggest competition the entire time I’d been working for the Bulletin. Ever since he saw my success with the drug articles, he’d been trying to snake my stories and take the credit. He’d write anything he could get his hands on if he thought it would move him up in the world. I’d been just getting by at the Bulletin until my drug articles picked up and brought in a new audience for the paper. Everyone from worried mothers, pesky coppers, and stoner punks were now reading my articles trying to keep up on the latest drug craze in the Mediterranean. Be it blow, dope, smack, or whatever was currently being pushed. And then here comes Danny fucking Pearson trying to ride my coattails.

I read the article. Total bullshit. He thinks the dealers are smuggling the goods in from the Porto de Palma? Ha. Fat chance. That’s the biggest port in the island and has security checks along every access point. Where the hell did he get this stuff from? He’s probably just making the information up at this point. There’s no way he’ll ever catch up to my stories. Besides, I’m the one with a guy on the inside giving me the scoop.

From over the paper I saw a llaüt pull into the cove from around the corner. The thin Majorcan canoe was being steered by a dark, slender figure. Another man stood near the bow. The overhead tarp was up, protecting them from the sun and shielding their identities.

Señor,’ I called to the bartender. ‘¿Qué le debo?’

Dos cincuenta,’ he replied. I finished my drink and left some coins on the table.

I walked down the rock inlaid steps to the parking lot next to the water. My beat up SEAT was one the few parked cars. I popped the boot and took out a paper bag. The llaüt was approaching the single boat ramp up the rocks next to me. I glanced at the few sunbathers scattered along on the rocks. They were all preoccupied in their conversations and home brought bocadillos. No one seemed interested in the small boat coming ashore; a Majorcan llaüt was all too common a sight. Leaving the trunk open I walked over to the boat and was given a cold greeting by the two men onboard. They were Moros from North Africa, untrusting and quick with a trigger, but they knew how to act on an EU sanctioned island. The front man on the bow eyed me up, saying something I’m sure was disdainful in Arabic to the captain. The man behind the wheel came forward. He looked at me questionably.

¿Eres el camello?’

Si,’ I replied. I tossed him the paper bag and pointed to the open trunk of my car. He looked in the bag and nodded to his companion. The crewman proceeded to pull out four wooden crates from under tarps and load them into my car. I lifted my shades and eyed the bar. The German couple and the teenagers were still sitting there, chatting away over near-empty glasses. To my right the sunbathers hadn’t stirred and a few kids had ventured into the shallow part of the cove. The man finished loading the car and returned to the boat. I gave a nod to the captain and turned away. I shut the boot and hopped in, making the windy drive out of Cala Deia, off to spread the news of the illegal drugs being shipped onto the island.

Jay Tanji

Image by David Vives from Pixabay        

5 thoughts on “The Camel by Jay Tanji”

  1. Jay
    I’m happy to see this one up today. It pays modern homage to the continued presence of Peter Lorre in the streets, and as Al Stewart also sang, “contemplating a crime.” Only the “Almighty” will ever be able to blog Peter Lorre types out of existence–And if there were such a supreme entity S/he would be inclined to work from home. Well presented.


  2. The MC’s petty jealousies of the other journalists hint he might not be of the finest character, so the ending doesn’t come out of the blue. Excellent descriptions place the reader in the setting. Nicely done.

    Liked by 1 person

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