The battered napkin map showed that I still had to gasp a few more meters to find the treasure. It was impossible to make them. A solemn police looking more as a cowboy than an investigator stepped out with half smile of mountaineer courtesy. I explained who I was and what I wanted to do. It was like talking to a log. Fortunately, a fat man in civilian clothes, cropped hair and a Browning in the belt, came out of the woods and ordered him to let me pass.
—I’m the commissar —announced, without stretching the hand—. Are you looking for something?
—I’m interested in necrology.
He smiled. He easily measured one meter ninety, weighed at least twice than I do and, no doubt, belonged to my generation, which did not mean much, or little. His face showed an undisguised mixture of races and his accent a lengthy attempt to silence with colonial education an elemental language. I explained him who I was and my reasons.
—Come along —he invited me with a gesture—, not much to see.
We went down in Indian file along a narrow embankment pierced by roots, dust and rubble, and try to get a foothold on the edge of an abyss where a group of troubled firefighter had taken down a set of ropes. Down there among the rocks, a green riverside and the gentle stream, divined the dull work of two policemen and the sordid presence of one dead body.
—He leaned over the balcony, vertigo dizzied him and he slipped —said felly the commissar, kicking a rock that followed that hypothetical and final flight.
—Doesn’t he leave any letter?
—Nobody gets to suicide with a chicken sandwich in the pocket.
—An irrefutable argument.
Other domesticated mestizo emerged from the bushes zipping the pants and frowning.
—Our forensic —presented the commissar— and GP.
—Nice to meet you —he said disenchanted with life—. I still don’t know the whole thing but I don’t think there is much story —he said a little livelier.
—I’ve been attracted to the smell of blood actually —I jived.
—A professional bias?
—Much boredom and curiosity. Do you play chess?
—We play poker —the commissar went on before—. Don’t you stay to watch the end of the show? It can’t take long.
—I’ll spare the raw part, if you do not mind. I’m in the hotel —I added going back—, you put the cards and I pay the cognac.
My contract contains the imprecise title of Project Manager. I’m actually a specialized firefighter, as more than managing anything I dedicate most of the time to prevent or extinguish fires, and after more than twenty years in the industry, one could predict a fire as others predict rain. This one had all the earmarks of becoming one of biblical proportions.
The Mayor had contacted us two weeks before my arrival in Não-Me-Toque. He had a movie to sell. We are an international mining company and our Expansion Department buys movies with unusual avidity. The film, in this case, was titled: important mining concession in my area, details to clarify in person. I, however, thought to know the script: I give you a gold mine and you make me fat, Swiss francs, if possible. Obviously the screenwriter of the Mayor’s movie was more inclined to film noir. It was also obvious that the Mayor did not need money, at least from now. And my problem is I like good movies, especially noir.
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).