I returned to our uninspiring accommodation carrying a bottle of cheap red from the Hotel Taroudannt, having left Jess reading some trashy paperback she’d bought at the airport. I’d had trouble finding my way back in the dark, but was determined not to call upon the services of a horse-drawn carriage.
As I climbed the stairs there was some unexpected noise coming from our room, and I quickly inserted the key and pushed open the door. I immediately recognised a policeman we’d seen in Essaouira, who was attempting to force Jess down onto the bed. Without thinking I rushed at him with the bottle and brought it down on the back of his skull; Jess flopped down on the bed, struggling for breath, while her attacker landed on the highly-polished tile floor. The heavy glass bottle was somehow unbroken despite the powerful impact.
‘Shit ! I think he’s dead !’ I shouted.
‘Feel for a pulse’ Jess replied, struggling to her feet.
‘Let me try.’
The man’s sweaty and smelly body showed no signs of life.
‘What the fuck do we do now ?’ Jess wondered.
‘It’s no good going to the police, we can’t trust them.’
‘I’ll get a blanket, at least we can cover him up.’
I noticed that a window to the central ventilation shaft was open, presenting us with an immediate solution to our dilemma.
‘We’ll have to dump him in there, and head for Marrakech as soon as possible.’
‘Won’t he be missed ?’ asked Jess anxiously.
‘The Essaouira police won’t think of searching in Taroudannt.’
Somehow we manhandled his fat, hairy frame onto the sill and forced the blanketed body through the narrow opening. Fortunately, there was no blood to clean up; it had been like one massive lucky punch in a heavyweight boxing bout, except there would be no doctor rushing into the ring.
‘Are you OK ?’ I asked.
‘Do you think he killed the Australian ?’
‘I’m not sure, I don’t know what to think any more.’
‘We’ve got to get away, NOW !’
‘They’re not going to find his body for a while, let’s try to behave calmly and leave in the morning as planned.’
‘I can’t stay in this room.’
‘We’ve got no choice; we’ll get the taxi to Marrakech straight after breakfast.’
‘I thought he was going to kill me.’
I stroked her hair and held her tightly as she sobbed.
‘We’ll need to get out of the country as soon as possible; I’m not sure if the airport is a good idea.’
Jess didn’t hear me, she was still caught-up in the horrific events that had just unfolded, like something from a low-budget Hollywood thriller.