That my first day at Alcatraz, in a clearly faulty act, I put the computer to charge. I showered with cold water —hot only between seven and nine in the evening—, shave, grant myself in the mirror a willing “approved” and went out to do what brought me to this town. It was about nine am, but the village offered the same desolate aspect that it had in the morning.
I walked to the City Hall where thrived the politician who I supposedly had to visit, the Mayor. The owner of the hotel, more intrigued than before with the purpose of my visit, told me that the building was located in the town square.
It was a nice square, kept as a garden where nothing was missing: a church, several small businesses, a coffee bar, and the City Hall that disfigured the whole. The bureaucrats had built a two story building, with straight lines and large windows, which the locals derisively called “the petit Manhattan”. The building boasted modern, but computers weren’t working because a power outage until noon.
—The Mayor traveled to the capital —a woman in her fifties told me, without stopping to nibble a croissant.
—We pass each other, then. I could have saved my trip.
I turned and left the office without saying adieu, and listening behind me that woman saying to another, what a manners, the foreigner and I told to myself I wasn’t acting cleverly. I needed a coffee, and a pack of cigarettes. I got the second in a kiosk whose sleepy owner took forever to provide me.
The news of the first death came with breakfast. It was deposited on my table, along with coffee and toast, by a struggling mulatto, the waitress, whom everyone called Clear. Clear’s clarity was more than eloquent.
—A man has been found with the neck broken —she said, blinking vividly.
—How interesting —I sighed—, is there more jam?
—If you hurry, you can still see him —she picked up speed, heated and impatient—. Police are working on the height and don’t bring him down until noon.
—By the way, what’s for lunch?
—How can you think of eating at such moments? —she was exasperated—. What kind of person are you?
—A hungry, on holidays and utterly decadent person.
—I’m going to tell you something —she threatened, lowering her voice.
—Tell me, I hear you.
—It’s rumored it was no accident.
—I don’t get carried away by rumors.
—Neither an assault.
—Will be a sexual crime then —I couldn’t stop yawning.
—It’s the Mayor.
—What? —I almost choked with the toast—. The Mayor a criminal?
—No, the man with the neck broken. You do your investigation, then tell me.
She hid her own embarrassment in a supposedly enigmatic expression. I couldn’t hid my bewilderment. She was spying me until my cup and the dish became empty and a cigarette went up to my hand. Then approached me with a scribbled napkin and showed me the shortest way to the scene, and the treacherous trails. I didn’t want to ask her how she did know that I sought the Mayor.
With the hands in the pockets, I crossed several streets and went into the foliage.
In the “Diula” language in Mali, the term « dugutigui » (chief of the village), literally translated, means: «owner of the village»; «dugu» means village and «tigui», owner. Probably the term is the result of the contraction of «dugu kuntigui» (literally: chief of the village).