Dominique Manotti: Rough Trade

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Dominique Manotti Rough Trade
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The concierge arrived to cast an eye every now and again. First dustbin: nothing. All the jumble of rubbish had to be put back. Second bin: nothing. Third bin: contents which could have come from Bostic’s kitchen, like the other sacks. Coffee grounds, paper plates, wrapping paper, stale bread. And two strong plastic bags of a good size, transparent, empty. Thomas stood up. Along the joints was a very fine white powder. Very carefully he took a speck on his index finger, and tasted it with the tip of his tongue. Smiled at Santoni. This was it. Heroin.

9 p.m. Villa des Artistes

It’s already dark. Soleiman walks briskly down avenue Jean-Moulin, dives into a porch and enters the villa des Artistes, muttering. Third house on the right amidst a jumble of greenery, big studio window, white blinds lit from behind. An outside lantern glows above the entrance. He rings twice, pushes the door, enters and locks it behind him. A large spacious room, spotlights almost everywhere, leather, wood, a mezzanine in the shadows. A man is busy in a kitchenette at the back of the room behind a wooden counter. The kitchen’s very modern, tiled in shades of ochre. The man’s about thirty-five, rather handsome square face, well-built type once, a Rugby three-quarter, brown eyes and hair. In jeans and polo neck, bare feet.

‘Ah, congratulations. Your meeting was a success, well beyond all your expectations. My chums weren’t anticipating that — quite honestly, they didn’t know what to do.’

‘We said you didn’t meddle in that sort of thing and you’d left me carte blanche.’

‘But I didn’t meddle, did I. Congratulations.’

‘Leave off. I can manage without your congratulations.’

‘OK, OK. let’s get down to business. You’ve seen loads of people today. Now, do you have something for me?’

‘Possibly. Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Martin, near the boulevard, on the left as you go up, there’s a Turkish sandwich shop. A tiny little shop, with a counter right on the street. The Kurds say that that’s where the Turks are peddling drugs.’

‘I know where you mean. I’ll put it under surveillance tomorrow morning. It may be our first lead, after a month of floundering around …’ Going back to the kitchenette. ‘It’s ready. Lay the table.’

‘I’m not staying for dinner. I’ve friends to see.’

‘Soleiman. Stop messing me around. You can go and see whoever you want, but afterwards. You’re dining with me, because I want to fuck you after I’ve eaten, not before.’ And, with a big smile: ‘And there’s no need to look so grim all the time. It doesn’t put me off; quite the reverse, it gives me the feeling I’m forcing you, and that I find exciting.’

* In France the investigating magistrate has wide responsibilities for investigating crimes, arresting suspects, and gathering evidence.



8 a.m. Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Martin

Daquin had stopped off in a café right opposite the sandwich bar, which had just opened. The sandwich place was somewhat basic. Just a deep narrow passageway, with a counter all down one side and a cramped street frontage, completely open today as the weather was fine. No tables or chairs. Three men were busy behind the counter. At the back were a door and hatch through to the kitchen. Customers were forever coming and going — all Turkish, on first impression. Sandwiches, salads, coffees, teas, rakis, beers. No one seemed to stay for any length of time. A duff lead?

‘Another coffee please.’

Once the early morning rush was over, the clientele quietened down. People standing at the counter chatted for longer. Every so often, someone went right to the back of the shop, passed behind the counter and from there into the kitchen, then came out again. Must check if there’s any significance in this.

10 a.m. Passage du Désir

Daquin walked up to the Local Squad’s headquarters in passage du Désir. It was there, on the third and final floor, of a small brick and stone building, jammed into a tiny scruffy street in the 10th arrondisssement, that Daquin and his team were installed: a meeting room had been turned into an office for the duration of their investigation. They were a small ad hoc team, whose remit from the head of the Drugs Squad was to explore any leads to an eventual ‘Turkish trail’, following tip-offs from the German police. Large bright room with sloping ceiling, two metal desks — one for Daquin, the other for his inspectors,* two upright armchairs, six chairs, an oval table, two typewriters, two telephones and a small sink, a stove, a coffee-machine. On one side two big windows overlooking the courtyard, on the other, a glass door on to a calm, light corridor. It was a makeshift den, but pleasant.

Daquin’s two inspectors were waiting for him. On the surface Attali and Romero appeared much the same. They’d grown up together in a council block on the Belle-de-Mai estate in Marseilles. They were the same age — around twenty-five — and both wore bomber jackets, jeans and basketball boots. But Attali had been the good boy, top of his class, quickly passing his inspector’s exam, so he could support his mother and sisters, who’d been having a hard time. He was serious, polite, boring. Romero’s childhood and adolescence had teetered on delinquency. He was a handsome guy: regular features, jet-black hair. But he’d abused his physique. He’d passed his inspector’s exam at the same time as Attali, purely as a challenge, and perhaps because of a secret wish to be up and off. It was the first time that, after three years in the business, they’d teamed up together under Daquin’s leadership, as from a month ago. When Daquin came in, they were playing noughts and crosses.

He cast a disillusioned glance in their direction, made himself a coffee, then said: ‘I’ve some work for you. A Turkish sandwich shop, at the bottom of rue du Faubourg-Saint-Martin, very near here. It’s to be put under surveillance — with cameras. It’s a lead from one of our snouts. No way you can use a vehicle. If you have to stay several days, you’ll be spotted right away. Might be better, perhaps, to find a window in the building opposite. Take complete responsibility for mounting this operation. I want photos — not of all the customers of course, but all the ones who go right into the shop and pass behind the counter. See the Super at the 10th arrondissement: Meillant’s his name. He’s been told about our team. He’s been in this neck of the woods at least twenty years. Knows everybody. He’ll certainly be able to help you.’


Once the two inspectors had left, Daquin delved into the newspapers. He was convinced that part of the solution to the problem was back there, in the countries of origin, and he needed to understand what was going on there. With the Ayatollah Khomeini coming to power, always making trouble, US hostages in Tehran, the extreme right and extreme left slaughtering each other in Turkey at the rate twenty deaths a day, and now Soviet intervention in Afghanistan, reading the papers was a lengthy business.

10 a.m. Parish of Saint Bernard

It was here that the Defence Committee for Turks in France had found a base. A small windowless office in the basement of the parish hall next to the church.

Today, the day after the demo, it was like a tidal wave. The narrow dark corridors of the ground floor were swamped with Turks who wanted to join the Committee. Soleiman made each new member answer an anonymous questionnaire. How many hours a day d’you work at present? In the off-season? Wages? When, why did you change your job? Family? How long have you lived here? Lodgings? Who’s the landlord? What rent d’you pay? Four packed pages of questions, in Turkish and French. Men were sitting around all over the place, in the corridors, the yard, assiduously filling in their questionnaire. And supposing, by some miracle, it might come in useful for something? Soleiman read through them all again, discussing items with each person, explaining or filling in gaps, if questions hadn’t been understood properly. He was here for everyone, listening attentively. He’d never sat behind a sewing-machine himself, had lived on his wits, always, while he’d been in Paris, photographing tourists at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, selling popcorn, roast chestnuts, and here he was becoming a specialist on work problems in the rag trade.

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