Monsoon in the Making


by Clive Radford

Set against the turbulence leading to the Arab Spring, Glyn Sumner and his comrades have unexpected encounters in Tunis, profoundly affecting their futures.

On sojourn, Sumner and the crew of the schooner Poseidon voyage around the Med. Finding solace away from the ever-imposing regulations and sterility of Blighty, they experience transcendence and seminal life in North African ports.

Tunis brings bewildering confrontations for the crew with Saleh, an Ethiopian asylum seeker suspected of crime and terrorist involvement, and Chief of Police Colonel Nassar, responsible for homeland security.

Off Sicily, Poseidon’s crew witnesses an asylum seeker sea rescue by the coast guard. They wonder if Saleh is aboard, or whether he is shaking hands with Neptune. Glyn ponders if the dark side also beckons them, visions of a European dystopia on the horizon.


Chapter 1: Surf's Up


Tunis, Spring 2009


Glyn Sumner flinched at the funsters and hustlers parading by. Far from what he knew back in Blighty, they challenged his perceptions, cast doubt on certainties and opened his psychic valve, paving the way to paradise. An explorer by nature, and in more recent times a borderline anarchist, savagely decrying the acerbic effects of twenty-first century modernity, he had embraced the trials afforded by a Mediterranean venture, hoping they’d neutralise the sterility of his home life.

Absorbing more of the carousel, he watched evening’s jubilant emissaries race down Avenue Mohammed V, their incessant noise drowning out calls to prayer at the minarets, leaving Glyn torn between the need for modern innovations and a desire to stay planted in the cultural past.

Overhead, cobalt turned to Prussian then graphite-steel blue, the city retaining a soft, balmy feel from the day’s luxuriant heat. Neon signs flashed honeyed words, their carousing messages lost on souls more abstracted by the city’s drones and murmurs. Hosing down the last remnants of discarded food packaging, street cleaners swapped gossip, their sights fixed on the night ahead. Glad to have finished their daily toil, shop workers hurried home to families and a nourishing meal. Reminding Glyn that a change of location did not necessarily bring a change in required daily actions, he conceded every city must host a common conformity adhered to by its residents. Tunis was no different from London in that respect. It ignited the question, had the venture he embarked on really provided any differences from what he knew in England, apart from sampling local traditions and habits?

As commerce subsided, Tunisian nightlife rose up, inviting reckless abandonment and nocturnal curiosity, its biting beguilement flushed with swollen distraction, Glyn tramping in limbo regarding whether to become a practitioner or stay as an impartial observer.

Buzzing and bubbly, the Tunis rich parked their Mercedes’ then leapt into the night stalking excitement. Wanting temporary release from sombre or taxing lives, they hoped to elude colossal fate and sticky betrayals, at least under the cover of darkness, their searing self-confidence boundless and on high alert. Wives and girlfriends giggled, preened coiffed hair and licked glossed lips, their smiles encouraging tactile and furtive contact. A throng of pleasure seekers in fleeting escape, the dynamic though short-lived, still treasured, always sought, never neglected, no matter what the cost.

Drifting on the wavering breeze, traces of freshly smoked kif found its way into receptive nostrils familiar with the candied scent. A forbidden indulgence, its liberating affect overcame visions of confinement, the transgression worth the risk.

As nightclub doors opened, the sounds of chanteuses and raconteurs modulated the background melee noise, their calls freeze-dried from another epoch, dipped in mellow blarney and sent through the ether like a travelogue fishing for green custom. Beckoning the crowd, Glyn witnessed them plying their trade, selling silver coke spoons, unconditional love and offering an Arabian Disney.

Further down the track, gimlet-eyed nighthawks gathered for clandestine liaisons, their ravenous wantonness brimming over with anticipation. Amazed by street conjurers’ tricks tourists caught their breath, the easy deception having them spellbound while street urchins picked their pockets. Mosquitoes and moths vied for air space; the party goers oblivious to their feeding frenzy. Dogs howled at the weeping moon. The screech of tyres announced someone narrowly avoided death. Others, less fortunate, were already Hades bound, an unforgiving hiatus with an infected needle ensuring fulfilment of his daily quota.

Blistering colours and shades beyond garish imagination, Tunis, everyone’s delight, brought up to order by room service, sassy and sumptuous, always available, but sometimes, as Glyn found, unpredictably surprising.


"Monsoon in the Making"


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Thriller / Suspense

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