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Tommy Cooper jumped into the passenger seat of the battered jeep pickup.

“Did you find any Tequila?” asked Matthew Butler, not looking up from the map he was examining. 

“No,” Tommy replied, “I had to settle for Rum.  I guess there’s not much call for Tequila in Kenya.  I also got Captain Z his Johnny Walker.  For beer, I got plenty of Tusker, the Budweiser of Africa.  I grabbed the last of the Guinness, and to round out the order, I got 10 cases of a South African beer called ‘Old Four Legs’.”

“I’ve never heard of it,” Butler grunted half-heartedly.  “Is it any good?”

“No clue!”

“Well, it really doesn’t matter.”  Butler reflected.  “As long as the label says its beer, the Pelican’s crew will drink it.”

“The store said they’d deliver the order to the ship as soon as they can borrow a truck,” said Tommy.

“Good, we can check booze off the list.”

“The owner offered me a taste of something called kumi-kumi.  Unfortunately, he said it had to be drunk on-site, and I didn’t think you’d want to wait while I did the local moonshine justice.”  Tommy said.

“That’s just as well, seeing as how you can launch a fighter jet on kumi-kumi.  It’s not a friendly drink.”  Matthew said, as he slipped the jeep into gear.”  As I understand it, it’s a local concoction made from coconuts.  Well, mostly coconuts.  Apparently it brews in a matter of hours, and has been known to make a man insane in the same amount of time.”

“Sounds like I missed an opportunity to drink with the Big Boys.”

“Nah, the boys that drink kumi-kumi don’t live to be Big Boys.”  Matthew lifted his ball cap, revealing sweaty blonde curls plastered to his head.  “So, what else do we need to get?”

Tommy consulted a hastily written note, wrinkled and sweat stained from riding in a shirt pocket in the midday heat.

“It looks like we’ve got to go down to the street market.  EB wants some local handicrafts,” he said, referring to the chief engineer on the Pelican.  “She specified either carved wooden sculptures of African animals, or some of those happy-face tribal masks.”

“What in God’s name does she want with African tourist schlock?”

“She sends the stuff home to her brothers, a little something from everywhere we visit.  Anyway, since we left Mozambique in a hurry, she claims she didn’t get time to do her usual souvenir shopping, and today she had to stay aboard to repair that number two engine, so you and I have been delegated to do it for her.”

“Lucky us.  Well, we had one hell of an excuse for leaving Mozambique in a hurry.  We were too busy running for our lives to do any souvenir shopping.”  Matthew declared.  “It’s been over a week and I’m still dragging from the adrenaline hangover.”

“So am I.”  Tommy sympathized.

Tommy and Butler were silent as they drove the rented rust and white colored jeep pickup through the dusty streets of Mombasa at a crawl.  The slow, sweltering afternoon closed in around them.  Even the perspiring pedestrians were moving faster than the traffic jam that filled the area around the street market.  Thunderstorms loomed on the horizon, pressurizing the seventy percent humidity into a suffocating ninety-degree sauna.

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Comment by Frances Thomas on June 26, 2011 at 5:16am
I loved it! It is so detailed in the moment of what is going on...this is going to be a great read.
Comment by Sally Pomeroy on June 27, 2011 at 6:53am
Frances, thank you so much!  I hope you enjoy the rest!


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