Flight SN 353, from Brussels to Kinshasa
«So you will go down there», Marie had said on the telephone: «Terrific. Interesting, too.» Then it sounded over the wire as though she was making note of something.
«Are there really some cases of psychological disturbance in your family?» she proceeded to ask, her voice sounding amazingly matter-of-fact.
Maille began to get angry. «Why? You fellows are sending me there!»
«Na, in the Antarctic it was clearly too cool for you.»
Maille maintained a stony silence.
«I'd like to remind you that you are travelling to the Congo on account of Hing, not because of me», Marie said, her words sounding rather maladroit. «You need to find the message from Aral for sure. Then you must eat a grilled boa, wash it down with a drink of Afro-Belgian beer and take the next flight – perhaps then you will soon be standing before me here in the office. By the way, have I told you that I have had a tattoo done – a couple of centimetres below my belly button. You will never guess what is written there.»
«Heart of Darkness?» asked Maille, observing at the same time how the thought of Marie made his breathing ragged. Her disclosure about the tattoo on her tummy was strangely intimate; it seemed almost as if she were standing naked before him.