The hotel dining room was cramped but friendly. Each meal taught something about the geography of the island; fresh vegetables from farms on the green coast, spicy, colourful dishes from North Africa and plates piled with fresh local seafood. Eddie’s bedroom window looked out on the village square. A few other tourists sat outside the hotel drinking cocktails; at the cafe opposite, old men argued and laughed and played cards as the tinny bells of the church cleaved the soft sea breeze. An armed policeman swaggered into the square and past the cafe. The old men stopped talking and watched him go by.
On the third day of the holiday Eddie travelled from the village on the ancient service bus. The locals laughed wheezily at his fumbling schoolboy Spanish. He alighted deep in the countryside and followed sandy paths through orange groves and fields along the northern coastline.
He stopped; an orange grove dropped steeply to the silver-blue disc of the sea. Pines sheltered the crop from the hot, dry western winds. Eddie savoured the warm scents of sea-tang, citrus blossom and pine resin, then turned his back on the coast and picked his way towards the outskirts of the village. As he came through a belt of pines the air turned rank, smelling of human confinement and misery. Right on the edge of the village was a compound of shabby concrete buildings. Two leering, baton-wielding policemen smoked nearby.
When he reached the square Eddie entered the church and took a pew near the back to enjoy the coolness. Some old women prayed in the front pew. Then the door banged open and two more policemen walked in, their footfalls heavy and echoing. One old woman stood up and asked them to show respect. Eddie watched as the argument developed. One of the policemen wearily lifted his hand and struck the woman, who crumpled to the floor.
Eddie stormed towards the policemen and hit the woman’s attacker in the face. The other policeman restrained Eddie while his colleague recovered. Eddie saw a baton being brought down heavily and then knew only silence.
The sun declines and the cell grows dark.
He had been ordered to put pressure on the church, to enforce compliance with the new order but because he defended himself against this foreigner, he has been imprisoned. The Government needs money and is encouraging tourists. He wonders whether the Scotsman will live or die.
He lies down in the darkness. A light breeze has risen, carrying the scent of orange blossom into the cell.