The Delivery, Episode 34, Odysseys in Paradise

Rich walked back to The Odyssey. He slipped into a windbreaker and tucked the pistol into its inside pocket.

Rich’s heart pounded. He gave no thought to doing anything other than delivering the pearls in the box and collecting his fee.

The bar at 27 Rue Francois Cardella was called ironically, Le Parle. It was a small building that stood on its own. It was shaded by palms. The building needed scraped and painted; the white paint curled exposing the wood beneath. There were no windows, only a door with a round window about the size of a hubcap. It was closed.

Rich crossed the street and sat on a grassy knoll waiting for it to open. Just before 11:00 a dark white man wearing a tropical white suit with a tilted white fedora walked down the street. He unlocked the door to Le Parle and walked in. Rich waited. Another man, a native wearing pink shorts and a flowered shirt rushed in. “He’s late for work or really needs a drink,” Rich thought.

Rich walked in. It was dark and smelled like liquor and cigarettes. It was difficult to see because his eyes had not adjusted to the dark. He sat at the bar. The man in the flowered shirt was the bartender and walked toward Rich.

“I have something for the Dubois Exchange,” Rich said.

The bartender said nothing, but nodded to a table and turned away.

Rich discreetly removed the pistol from the pocket and placed it under his armpit and made sure it was hidden by the flap in the windbreaker. Rich turned. The man in white sat at the table with a drink.

Rich walked to the table and sat across from the man. He placed the box of pearls on the table. “The Dubois Exchange?”

“Yes,” the man said with a French accent.

“I have pearls for you,” Rich said.

The man reached across the table and opened the box. “Yes they are pearls, where did they come from.”

“An oyster,” Rich said.

“How much do you want for them?” he said.

“It’s a delivery from Raroia,” Rich said. “All I want is 500 francs for delivery.”

“They were supposed to pay you,” he said.

“When you pay them, deduct my fee,” Rich said.

“Get out of here, mon ami,” he said and lifted his hat from the table where an antique Perrin revolver laid.

“I am not your, mon ami,” Rich said. “Having a gun is one thing, being able to use it is another, so give me my fee.”

By the time the man’s hand inched near the revolver, Rich’s elbow rested on the table with his pistol firmly aimed at the man’s head.

“You know I’ll use it or it least you should,” Rich said. “Someplace northeast of Tahiti there’s a beached fishing boat full of bullet holes. They are thankful to Tumu-nui I was in a particularity sentimental mood that day, but sentimentality has its limits and this is where it ends. So, reach slowly for your wallet and extract 500 francs.”

“I don’t have that on me,” the man said.

“Tell your bartender to bring 500 francs,” Rich said. “And make him and me believe this is all business.”

“Putu,” the man called out, “Bring me 500 francs.”

“If you don’t mind me saying,” Rich said. “You sound a little on the nervous side.”

“Wouldn’t you?” the man said.

Rich gave a crooked smile. “I’d be crappin’ my pants by now.”

The bartender came with the money. He handed it to the man.

“I’ll be taking it,” Rich said and snatched it from his hand.

The bartender saw Rich’s pistol and his eyes widened.

“Nothing to worry about, Putu,” Rich said. “Just a transaction taking place. Negotiations were tough, but I held out.”

“If you don’t mind, Putu,” Rich said, “Could you just sit at the next table until I leave?”

Putu swallowed hard and sat.

Rich stuffed the money in his pocket. He pushed the box of pearls across the table with the barrel of the pistol and stood. “Nice doing business with you, sir. All the pearls are there.” Rich reached down and grabbed the man’s revolver. “I’ll take this. It’s a beautiful piece. I’m thinking about starting a collection.”

“Monsieur,” the man said. “It is special, it belonged to my grandfather.”

Rich emptied the bullets and put them in his pocket. He tossed the revolver to the man.

“Merci beaucoup,” the man said.

“There is a place for sentimentality in all things,” Rich said. “Au revoir, mon ami.”

Rich sprinted back to The Odyssey and an hour and a half later Tahiti was no more than a green patch on a blue horizon.

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