The Bearded One invites George and his fellow-cooks to visit his own country. They accept and fly south to the island, where George unexpectedly meets his arch-enemy.

Then up spoke the Bearded One – still in the room,

“Yes, a holiday you should have before you resume

Your work in the club – I’m truly grateful to you,

And I’d like you to give you the opportunity to view

My homeland – a splendid place it is true

With beaches, mountains, beautiful women too.”

This offer was received with great acclaim

By all the cooks as it was their aim

To travel and to find some relaxation,

In a tranquil spot for a nice vacation.

A date was fixed and off they went,

Down south to another continent,

With skies of blue, swaying palms in rows,

Away from the kitchen and all its woes.

They boarded in the capital city,

A charming place, but it was a pity

That attractive buildings were not maintained

Or looked after at all, but still retained

Their original grace, with brass-knockered doors,

And balconies projecting from every floor.

George and his crew went out for a walk,

And wandered through a maze of alleys,

Hearing on all sides the people talk

In Spanish, but they did not dally,

But continued until they saw the ocean,

With waves describing a circular motion,

As they frothingly fell on a shore of white

Endlessly stretching until out of sight.

The water was calm in shades of blue,

With sometimes a fishing boat in view,

But the beach was empty, no people there,

No swimmers, no sunbathers, not a deckchair.

No children playing and laughing with glee,

Just a deserted strand and a tranquil sea.

Along the beach ran an esplanade,

With some old fellows sitting in the shade

And although this road was broad and wide

Not a single car was there in sight.

And on the other side one could behold

A row of houses quaint and old,

And seeing what seemed a restaurant

With Arabic letters on the front

Otherwise quiet except for the sound

Of eastern music in the background

And a bearded man with a dusky look

Who smiled a welcome to their group,

They went inside and settled down

At tables and began to look around,

But this place was only dimly lit

It was difficult to see just who did sit

In that dark room, but George could discern

A man who was polishing a coffee urn

Who came up to them a little later,

Enquiring what they’d care to order.

George asked his party what they’d like

And they said some coffee would be all right

Except for the lady cook who declared that she

Had always preferred to drink only tea.

Getting accustomed to the gloom

George could look around the room

And it was clear that they were alone

For other customers there were none.

But the coffee was good  and ere anon

The man who served them brought along

A box of dominoes which he did lay

On the table for them to play.

Later the waiter slipped up to George

And whispered in his ear some words,

Causing George to say I have to go

To meet a man who I don’t know.

This waiter’s master has invited me

Upstairs to see him privately.

The waiter told George to follow him

Along a passageway dark and dim

Then up a staircase made of wood

To a landing where they had put

A long green carpet on the floor

Which lead to a hand-carved wooden door.

This a swarthy guard opened for him

And inside it was nice and cool and clean,

With a glossy floor, but it really seemed

That there wasn’t any furniture at all,

Except for a low platform near the wall

On which sat a man in a cross-legged pose

With a long dark beard and an aquiline nose,

Piercing black eyes and loose flowing robes,

A turban of white and a masterful manner

And a powerful rifle propped up in a corner.

George blinked for a second but he wasn’t mistaken

He was now in the presence of Mustafa Bin Maden!

 

http://www.macdonrod.com

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