By Kevin Smith, Walter Flanaga; Art Thibert
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Lyle’s looking at the rocket while Charles looks at me, his face a mirror of mine. ’ It’s an order. I glance around the meanly lit hangar. A circle of ten men stand silent in a ring around the trailer. Black overalls, HK MP5s slung across their chests. Relaxed, alert, poised. I know the look of these men. I’ve been one. They are pros, even if we are in the heart of black Africa. God knows … but where had they come from? Three or four others huddle around Brodie. Their bulky awkwardness and cheap leather jackets give their game away: ‘secret police’.
Moto’s mission is to take democracy and the rule of law into EG. To spend their petrodollars on clean water, education programmes, blitzing malaria – the good stuff. Our plan – our hope – is for a bloodless coup. Just in case it isn’t, we’ll be bombed up with enough guns and ammo to win a war. It is 2004 and regime change is in vogue. The US and UK governments have just unseated another despot: Saddam Hussein in Iraq. We too are doing the right thing. But, as I feign sleep in the Hawker, it’s as I say.
The President, it turns out, had taken a shine to Wayne when they had met on holiday. My seven-day trip to Libreville is as much a waste of time as I had feared. A pain in the arse. The city is a dump, a slum, despite years of oil boom. The palace of Monsieur Le President Bongo, on the other hand, is a thing of beauty. When I meet Bongo, I feel like laughing and not because of his name or because he is such a short arse (even in high Cuban heels). What is revoltingly hilarious is that nothing matters to Bongo except the flat dollar-a-barrel tariff deals that he has with Big Oil.