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A n o t he r Sun Timothy Williams

Another Sun INT(fin).indd 1

1/21/13 11:11 AM


This work was first published in French, as Un Autre Soleil, in 2011. Copyright © 2011, Editions Payot & Rivages First published in English by Soho Press in 2012. English copyright © 2012 by Timothy Williams Published by Soho Press, Inc. 853 Broadway New York, NY 10003 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Williams, Timothy. [Autre soleil. English] Another sun / Timothy Williams ; translated from the French by the author. p. cm. “This work was first published in French, as Un Autre Soleil, in 2011.” ISBN 978-1-61695-156-6 eISBN 978-1-61695-157-3 I. Title. PR6073.I43295A913 2012 2012027237 Map of Guadeloupe: © istockphoto Printed in the United States of America 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Another Sun INT(fin).indd 2

1/21/13 11:11 AM


Another Sun INT(fin).indd 4

1/21/13 11:11 AM


1 Tim tim

It was past six o’clock and night had begun to fall. The group of men moved aside as the Land Rover came down the track. The whip aerial swayed against the red sky. The yellow beams were like two eyes. The Land Rover halted and the engine was turned off. The toads resumed their loud monotonous croaking in the grass. Two white men jumped down. They wore kepis, neat khaki uniforms and black shoes. They walked toward the group of waiting men. The driver remained sitting behind the wheel. “What is it?” one of the gendarmes asked, turning to an old man. The old man was holding a bicycle. He had one hand on the cracked leather saddle, and with the other, he pointed to the middle of the pond. The black water reflected the lingering light of day. A dark, humped shape was caught among the reeds. “A man?” The old man shrugged. The others stood in silence. Some wore rubber boots, several had narrow machetes that hung loosely in their hands. Their eyes followed the two white gendarmes.

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Another Sun INT(fin).indd 1

1/21/13 11:11 AM


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timothy williams  <

“I’ve never seen this pond before.” “It comes with the rain.” The old man spoke in Creole. The fronds swayed and creaked. The pond lay in the hollow of the sloping valley. Grass-covered hills ran down to the edge of the white dirt track and its two parallel lines of coconut trees. To the east, against the darkening hill top, rose the gaunt silhouette of the derelict sugar refinery. A couple of hangars and a tall, crumbling chimney that pointed to the sky and the rising half moon. The gendarme turned to his companion. “You’d better pull whatever it is out of the water.” “The water is infected—there’s bilharzia.” Anxiety in the eyes beneath the brim of the kepi. “The cows drink the water.” The captain pointed to the dark forms of an indistinct herd of cattle grazing on the far side of the pond. As if in acquiescence, a cow emitted a single, mournful low. Elsewhere in the valley, another cow gave an answering call. The third gendarme slipped from behind the driver’s seat and began to undress. “I’ll go.” The captain returned to the vehicle and leaned inside the Land Rover. He then clambered onto the rigid bonnet. A searchlight on the roof came alight, and he aimed the beam toward the dark water. A mist had started to form, dancing wisps along the surface. The gendarme had stripped to his underclothes; he walked across the grass and stepped into the pond. “A damn fool wanting to fish.” Behind the searchlight, the captain lit a cigarette. The old man said, almost under his breath. “No fish in that water.” The black gendarme stepped further into the pond. A circle of light followed his movements. He gave a curse, stumbled and began to swim, only his head above the water. A couple of strokes brought him alongside the floating object. He stood up, took hold of the nerveless bundle and waded

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Another Sun INT(fin).indd 2

1/21/13 11:11 AM


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back toward the edge of the pond, bright rivulets streaming down his face and body. He squeezed his nose and spat into the water. “He’s dead.” Throwing away his cigarette, the captain jumped from the roof of the Land Rover while the crowd moved forward. Many hands helped drag the body onto the grass. The corpse lay like a landed fish, transfixed by the single beam of the searchlight. The captain crouched down and ran his hand over the bloated, pale flesh. In the light, the fingers cast spiderlike shadows. “Gunshot wounds.” Red mounds against the white skin. “Stand back,” he ordered and, tugging with both hands, the captain pulled at the corpse. It rolled over slowly, the body faster than the head. The mouth fell open and water ran from colorless lips. The throat gurgled. The old man with the bicycle peered at the body. He clicked his tongue. The captain turned, shading his eyes against the light. “You know him?” The man nodded. “Who is he?” The old man did not answer and the captain raised his voice, “Who is this man?” “They’ve murdered Monsieur Calais,” the man replied softly, and with his gnarled hand, he crossed himself.

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Another Sun INT(fin).indd 3

1/21/13 11:11 AM


2

Tw el ve b o re

The Mercedes pulled off the track and the driver opened the rear door. The procureur rose with difficulty from the seat. The procureur could have passed for a white man, despite the short curly hair, now turning white. His skin was pale. He was overweight and he had to exert himself to get onto his feet. He was wearing a white shirt and a pair of pale blue slacks. His tennis shoes appeared exceptionally small. The onlookers had come from the neighboring hamlets, on bicycles and mobylettes, or in battered Peugeot and Toyota pickups. There were several women, squat on their rubber sandals and shapeless beneath cotton dresses. One held a child to her chest. Barriers had been put up and a gendarme held the crowd back. Uniformed men and civilians moved within the radius of the converging floodlights. The corpse lay beneath a dark blanket. A van stood near the pond. Nearby, two men were talking. Commandant Lebel looked up and, noticing the crowd of onlookers draw apart, rose to his feet and saluted briskly. The procureur was out of breath. He took a small cigar from his mouth. â&#x20AC;&#x153;This Calais?â&#x20AC;? Commandant Lebel nodded. He bent over and lifted the edge

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Another Sun INT(fin).indd 4

1/21/13 11:11 AM


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of the blanket. The procureur squinted, smoke in his eyes. He looked down on the face, now grey in death. “Poor bastard.” “You knew him, monsieur le procureur?” “Who didn’t know Calais?” Slowly the procureur turned on his small feet and looked at the stationary vehicles, the Jeeps and the Saviem van. “Everything in order?” Lebel let the blanket fall back on the dead face, “Everything in order, monsieur le procureur.” “I’ll be needing an autopsy.” He paused, looking at Lebel thoughtfully. “Gun wounds?” “We’ve found the cartridge—twelve bore.” “Fingerprints?” Lebel shook his head. “The cartridge had been trampled in the mud.” “When did he die?” “The corpse must’ve been in the water for at least eighteen hours.” The procureur took a small packet of Déchets de Havane cigars from his pocket. “Twelve bore?” He lit another cigar with the burning stub. “We’ve located the culprit.” “Fast work, Lebel.” The procureur raised an eyebrow. “My congratulations.” “We need permission for a search warrant—and to bring the man in for questioning.” “Who?” “An old man. A revenge killing.” “You’re sure?” “The man spent most of his life in French Guyana—in the penal colony. An ex-convict.” “How do you know he’s guilty?” “He’d been making threats against Calais.” The procureur sucked on the new cigar and looked upwards into the sky. For a few seconds the moon broke through the

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Another Sun INT(fin).indd 5

1/21/13 11:11 AM


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low clouds. It soon disappeared again, leaving a blue aureole. Addressing no one in particular, the procureur said, “Calais must be disappointed.” “Disappointed, monsieur le procureur?” “To be killed by an old convict.” He raised his shoulders. “Calais who wanted to be a martyr, who wanted to die for a cause.” “What cause?” “God knows.” The procureur laughed again. Commandant Lebel appeared embarrassed. “You’re sure it’s the old convict?” “Good evidence, monsieur le procureur. I think we can be sure.” “Hearsay is not evidence.” The procureur’s smile was bland. “You want me to bring him in?” The procureur nodded; his thoughts were elsewhere. “I can entrust the enquiry to Juge Laveaud.” The floodlights caught his smile and revealed large, stained teeth. “Let’s see what she can make of it.” “She’s an intelligent woman.” “No doubt. Intelligent and ambitious.”

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Another Sun INT(fin).indd 6

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Another sun excerpt