Authors: Kwei Quartey
Tags: #Fiction, #Mystery, #Crime
by Kwei Quartey
cover and book interior designed by Ellie Searl, Publishista
No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form
or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise,
without prior written permission of Kwei Quartey.
A million thanks as always to my editor Judy Sternlight for
her clarity of vision, and to Ellie Searl for the cover design and technical
expertise in the e-publishing of this novella.
The text of the novella contains
which take you to a brief annotation with photographs I’ve personally taken of
the places or things mentioned in the story.
In equatorial Africa, day breaks around 5:30 a.m. no matter
the time of year. Morning preparations at the Voyager Hotel in
, follow a similar timetable.
The breakfast buffet is laid out, the day staff arrives to take over from the
graveyard shift, the janitor sweeps the lobby, and tour buses and hired cars park
in readiness at the front of the hotel.
also has a set routine each morning. His alarm goes off at 5:40, and he rises
and changes out of his pajamas. His busy schedule begins with a one-hour swim. Leaving
his hotel chalet, he walks across the lawn to the pool, enjoying the feeling of
the springy grass underfoot. A former triathlete, he’s a healthy forty-five. To
his left stands the main hotel, an oblong, two-story building painted a singular
pink that glows in the dawn. Accommodations there are significantly cheaper
than the chalet. Fortunately, his company pays for his luxury.
The solar lights
around the pool deck are off, but there is already enough illumination from the
sun’s nascent rays. He tosses his towel onto one of the umbrella tables, pulls
his goggles over his head and presses them against his eyes to make a tight
seal. As he walks to the edge of the pool, he sees a shadow at the bottom of
the deep end.
Thomas, the gardener, is unfurling the
hose to water the
in the hotel’s back garden. He is the first person to hear the cries
for help. He drops everything and runs around the corner to the swimming pool,
where he finds Mr. Miedema on the deck kneeling over a naked white woman and pumping
her chest hard with both hands. She is ghostly pale except for her head and
neck, which are purplish. Her arms and legs are flexed upward in the rigor of
Mr. Miedema screams at him. “Go and get the doctor!”
around and begins to run as Amadu, the night security guard, comes rushing from
the opposite direction.
doctor!” Thomas yells to him. “Somebody drown!”
Amadu rushes back
to the hotel. As Mr. Miedema continues CPR, Thomas hovers, his hand over his
open mouth as he exclaims in distress, “
A spectator crowd,
mostly hotel staff, is forming at one end of the pool. Thomas takes off his
shirt and covers the woman’s private parts.
with Dr. Franklin, a squat balding man still in his pajamas.
happened?” he asks, crouching beside Mr. Miedema.
“Found her at
the bottom of the pool when I came to swim,” he says, out of breath.
“Oh, my God,”
Franklin mutters. “I think she’s long gone. Stop compressions a moment.”
He palpates her
neck with his fingertips, feeling for the carotid pulse. There is none. Her opaque
eyes stare up without seeing and her body is as cold and lifeless as a stone statue.
He shakes his
head sadly. “I’m sorry. We’re too late.”