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‘Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar.’
The words consumed the stale air around the balcony. Hypnotic vibrations produced by the megaphones shivered down my spine before a delicate smell of honey and cinnamon rose around me.
‘Whiskey, Mr Flint.’
I turned to see a slender woman dressed in a full white niqab holding a gold tray with a tumbler containing a double measure of whiskey with ice. Her blue eyes as clear as the sky above looked deep into mine.
‘No thank you.’
Sweat flowed from my brow, bringing the sun tan lotion I had applied to the top of my head down with it. The white cotton shirt, even if it was half sleeve, had been a poor choice. As I pinched the shirt to lift it off my sticky skin, I saw roughly three football pitches away, Britain’s finest engineering feat of the last century. Upon the runaway the supersonic bird sat glistening in the midday sun.
I wouldn’t have minded being summoned if that had been my taxi. What did he want from me? Payment hadn’t been transferred until the building be complete but he couldn’t change terms now. We had a contract. He’d bankrupt me if he did. Remember, he is your client and we need his money. These are the new men of finance and have the means to make your dreams come true. Just do what he wants. Don’t interrupt him for making you miss the reunion 4 months in the planning. Smile, and be happy you’re here despite the inconvenience.
‘The Caliph will arrive shortly.’
‘Okay. Can I ask you what these words mean?’
Hers eyes shifted left then right.
‘Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar.’ The megaphone recited.
‘The Muezzin is calling prayer. He sings God is great.’
‘Ash-had an-la il?ha illa llah.’
‘Witness there is only one god.’
‘Ash-hadu anna Mu’ammadan-Rasululla.’
‘Muhammad is the prophet of Allah.’
‘The voice. It’s incredibly soothing.’ I said.
Her pupils widened. Her eyes glared with the same fear I had seen on the TV pictures of those Argentinian soldiers who had survived the sinking. I imagined her lips were poised to say something.