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The Bishop had fled Zaire, now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo, and it wasn’t hard to see why. The country was a powder keg, with genocide raging in the neighboring country of Rwanda, spilling over into the already unstable Zaire like a festering wound. It was a place of chaos and madness, where even the most devout men of the cloth were not immune to the temptations of the flesh.
The Bishop was no exception. Despite his position of power, he was plagued by the same frailties as any mortal man. And in a place like Zaire, where scarcity was the norm and corruption reigned supreme, it was all too easy to fall into temptation and indulge in the seven deadly sins. The harsher the environment, the more likely one was to succumb to their vices.
And so it was that the Bishop turned to dealing in minerals, from emeralds and diamonds to even uranium, all extracted from the earth by child slaves.
At first, it was meant to be temporary, a means to build a school and clinic for his churchgoers. But the money kept pouring in like the drippings of wine from a lustful mistress, and the temptation for more was too great. Soon, the Bishop found himself entangled in a web of bad company, and he knew he had to get out before it was too late and the chaos that had ensued presented the perfect opportunity.
And so he fled, with nothing but a bag on his back and a pouch of emeralds in his pocket. He jumped onto an East German-made truck called the IFA, which had earned the nickname “the International Funeral Association ” for the number of people who had died hitching a ride on that big moving coffin. The truck was overflowing with refugees, all desperate to escape the madness of Zaire.
The journey was treacherous, the truck bouncing over potholes so large they threatened to swallow it whole. The stench of ripening mangoes and human waste was overpowering, and the heat was suffocating. The Bishop was exhausted, but there was no hope of sleep, not with the crying babies and the constant jostling of the truck.
As he looked around at his fellow refugees, he couldn’t help but wonder if this was the end, if he was truly on the road to hell. The faces in the truck were haggard and deafened by the noise, their eyes vacant and hopeless. The Bishop closed his eyes tightly, his mind racing with fear and doubt. But then he remembered his faith, and he began to recite a prayer, the words tumbling out of his mouth like a desperate plea to a higher power. “Our Heavenly Father…”
The road to hell is paved with potholes, and the Bishop had just spent two days bouncing over them with barely a break. It was like an eternity, a never-ending nightmare that he thought he’d never wake up from. But finally, they had reached the border, about to exit Zaire.
The Bishop was lucky enough to hitch a ride from a good Samaritan to the capital city, his clerical collar a passport to a little comfort in the back of a sedan with air conditioning and a radio that gave him a sense of hope. It was like he had been pulled out of purgatory, dragged from the road to hell. He didn’t have a plan, didn’t know where he was going, but the sense of relief was such a reprieve he didn’t care to think of what he was going to do next.
The drive was a six-hour trip, a quiet journey with only the sound of the whispering wind through the slightly cracked down window. The Bishop managed to catch some shut-eye after his arduous journey on the back of the truck. He was in a foreign country now, a place where they spoke a different language. French was his official language, but he found himself in an English-speaking land, common in most parts of Southern Africa.
The Bishop could speak English fluently, but he played dumb to avoid conversation. He just wanted rest. They finally arrived in the city, the Samaritan offering to take him to his church. But he resisted, insisting on a motel. Being a man of the cloth, he knew too well the politics of the church, especially across denominations. And just as he had his own secrets, he was sure that church, had its own secrets hidden behind God’s closed doors.
If one is dreaming of luxury, a luxury car, house, clothes, black-tie events, then they are living in good comfort, for those who are in honest discomfort will dream for more simple things. For the Bishop, a hot shower was like the calling out of the last number of a lottery ticket in his hand. Each drop that fell from the showerhead was like an embrace, as if God himself was gently cradling him like a newborn baby. Some of the simplest things in life are priceless, but we have to go to hell and back to appreciate them. And the Bishop had certainly been through his share of hell.
As the radio blared out the horrors unfolding in Rwanda and his home country, the Bishop found himself thrust into a new reality, a new place that he might have to call home. It was time to get to work. He couldn’t afford to wait for fate to sweep him up in its fickle embrace. No, he had to take control.
First things first: money. The Bishop knew he had to convert some of his dollars into the local currency. It was illegal, of course, but the Bishop was no stranger to indiscretions.
The Bishop’s heart pounded as he stepped onto the unfamiliar streets, his eyes flickering nervously from side to side, scanning for danger.
The air was thick with tension, a palpable sense of unease that made his skin crawl. He was a stranger in a strange land, and the threat of violence hung heavy in the air like a storm cloud.
But the Bishop was no fool. He knew how to survive in a hostile environment. He had learned to read the signs, to assess the risks, to keep his wits about him at all times. And so he moved cautiously, his senses alert for any sign of danger.
As he walked, he found himself drawn to the black market, the seedy underbelly of the city where anything could be bought or sold for the right price. It was illegal to trade currency, but the Bishop was curious to see how it was done. He watched as shadowy figures slunk through the alleys, hissing at him to come closer and tempting him with offers of stolen goods and counterfeit wares.
But the Bishop was no fool. He knew that these were the same kind of people who would kill him without a second thought if they suspected he was an enemy. And so he kept his distance, his eyes darting around like a trapped animal, scanning for any sign of danger.
In the end, the Bishop managed to exchange some of his dollars for the local currency.
But even as he walked away from the black market, he knew that danger still lurked around every corner. This was no place for the faint of heart. This was a place where survival was a daily struggle, and where the only way to stay alive was to keep your eyes open and your wits about you at all times.
The Bishop strolled into the local clothing store, his keen eyes scanning the racks for the perfect ensemble. He needed to look the part of a shrewd dealer, and nothing said savvy like a sharp sport coat, new dress shoes, and a sleek briefcase. Despite the tension and anxiety that pervaded the city, the Bishop exuded an air of confidence. He knew the emeralds he had stashed away in his motel room were worth a fortune and he had the knowledge to move them.
But the Bishop was no fool. He understood that finding the right buyer was the key to unlocking the door to his fortune. And he needed a location to operate from, a base of operations where he could conduct his business and avoid detection. As he left the store, briefcase in hand and a wry smile on his face, the Bishop knew he was just getting started.
The Bishop’s eyes darted around the empty streets as he approached the rundown building. It had a few vacancies and looked like it had been forgotten by time. But the location was perfect, quiet and unsuspecting yet conveniently close to the black market. As he stepped into a nearby store, the Bishop couldn’t help but notice the sharp-tongued Indian man behind the counter. The man didn’t seem to care about the Bishop’s clerical collar, but rather sized him up with wary eyes.
“I’m looking for the landlord of this building,” the Bishop said, trying to come across as friendly.
“What do you want?” the Indian man asked bluntly.
“Office,” the Bishop replied.
The man scribbled on a piece of paper and handed it over, along with a hefty price tag of $5000. The Bishop was taken aback by the cost, but he knew it was worth it for a safe and affordable space in this dangerous city.
“Good deal no? 12 months, bring on Monday and I give you office, ok?” the man said, already focused on his next customer.
The Bishop’s heart was pounding as he made his way back to the motel. He had a plan, but it was risky. He didn’t have the cash to secure his new office space, but he did have something that could fetch a pretty penny: one of his precious emeralds. He carefully examined each stone, looking for one that he could part with without sacrificing too much value.
Finally, he found it – a beautiful emerald with a slight flaw that he knew he could use to negotiate. He tucked it away in his briefcase, he put the other emeralds back in the pouch along with the landlord’s scribbled quote and set off once again to the black market, feeling like a predator on the prowl.
Pretending to only speak French, he listened carefully as people spoke, gathering information and sizing up potential marks. It wasn’t long before he found himself back at the currency dealer’s booth, eyeing the three well-dressed men who looked like they belonged in a boardroom.
With a combination of broken English and hand gestures, the Bishop conveyed that he had a deal for them – an emerald that could change their lives. The men were skeptical at first, eyeing his briefcase warily, but the Bishop was persistent. He knew that he had what they wanted, and he was willing to do whatever it took to make the deal happen.
After some haggling and negotiations, the men finally agreed to meet the Bishop that night in a dark parking lot outside a nearby nightclub with a swanky name: Valentinos. The Bishop felt a surge of anticipation mixed with fear as he left the market, clutching onto the hope of a successful deal.
The Bishop was on high alert as he made his way to the parking lot outside the nightclub. He couldn’t shake the feeling that something was off, but the allure of the emeralds in his possession was too strong to resist. Instinctively, he removed the prized stone from his
briefcase and replaced it with soiled items from his journey from Zaire. It was a risky move, but he couldn’t shake the feeling that the men he was about to meet had other intentions.
He placed the emerald in the pouch using the piece of paper from the Indian landlord as a barrier from the other stone and then placed the pouch in the inside pocket of his sport coat.
As he approached the dimly lit parking lot, the Bishop surveyed his surroundings. Cars were parked haphazardly, and the area was eerily quiet. He waited in a small space, trying to stay inconspicuous, but before he knew it, he was attacked from behind.
Three figures emerged from the shadows and pounced on him, dragging him down to the pavement. The Bishop’s body smacked hard against the concrete, and he felt a sickening pain in his ribs as he curled up for protection. The attackers grabbed at him and made a run for it, leaving the Bishop gasping for breath and wondering what the hell had just happened.
As he struggled to his feet, the Bishop realized that his briefcase was gone. His heart sank as he realized he had been played for a fool, and he cursed his own stupidity for trusting strangers in a city that had already proven itself to be treacherous.
He walked limping and holding his ribs gasping for breath, thinking it was only a matter of time before those thugs came back after finding the contents of the brief. Suddenly, a young man walked out of the nightclub and into the alley. “Help me,” the Bishop groaned, reaching out to grab the shoulder of the young man.
The young man was startled at first, poised to fight, but then relaxed upon seeing the vulnerable state of the Bishop. The Bishop collapsed onto the ground, wincing in pain from his ribs. He pulled out the pouch from his pocket and, gasping for air, managed to say, “Take this and go, go! A lundi!” The young man was shocked by the situation but quickly turned and ran off into the shadows with the pouch.