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Description

The Shifting Sands is a tale of love, sacrifice, and survival. Various sexual and affectional attractions constitute the core of the plot.


In the 1950s, decolonization is shaking the world , the empires are crumbling. In Northern Africa, the Algerian War of Independence from France is raging.


Outside Mers-el-Kebir, Alicia rules over the plantation of her aristocratic Andalusian ancestors. She is flamboyant, eccentric, and a thorn in the side of the upper-class colonial establishment. The conflict escalates. Will Colonel Michel d'Anset, her devoted yet controversial companion, be able to continue shielding her from the ever increasing deprivations and threats that coil around the domain? Federico, her nephew, abandoned by his mother, lands at Oran Harbor; his arrival transforms Alicia's and Michel's lives. As the months unfold, the trio gets entrapped in the powerful webs of love and hate ; forbidden passions are played out. What awaits them lies in the secrets of the shifting sands of the Sahara.

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Publié par
Date de parution 23 avril 2018
Nombre de lectures 1
EAN13 9782334214339
Langue Français

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0034€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.

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Cet ouvrage a été composé par Edilivre
175, boulevard Anatole France – 93200 Saint-Denis
Tél. : 01 41 62 14 40 – Fax : 01 41 62 14 50
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Tous droits de reproduction, d’adaptation et de traduction,
intégrale ou partielle réservés pour tous pays.

ISBN numérique : 978-2-334-21431-5

© Edilivre, 2018
The Shifting Sands
 
Within the turmoil of the Algerian War of Independence in the 1950s, when the French colonial empire was crumbling like a sand castle after the fall of Dien Bien Phu, I was adored and requited. I learnt that the path of the heart knows no limits; passion crashes the norms of culture, class, and morality. Love is everything, worth every sacrifice, worth every crime. True love gives more than it receives.
It all started at sea.
The boy stands on the upper deck at the stern as the ship gains the open sea. Hunched over the railing, he observes the backwash of whitewater whipped by the two propellers. He straightens up, and stares at Marseille in the distance, a vague stain left by dawn on the curve of the Gulf of Lion: The harbor city fades in the iridescent haze. He closes his left lid; his right thumb, erect, gauges the size of Notre Dame de la Garde; the white basilica shrinks to the size of his finger. He clips the monument out of the larger picture; this symbol of reconciliation, this harmless souvenir from a country that has no love for him, he inserts in the breast pocket of his jacket.
The sun climbs, the matutinal heat increases. The tugboats turn back. The shrieking seagulls give up on their frenzied pursuit of the vessel. All around him, the pelagic immensity and the infinity of the sky, both dyed of the azure peculiar to Provence, expand awesome and threatening. The intense photospheric hue escorts him to the opposite shore of the Mediterranean where its splendor intensifies to brilliant lapis lazuli and gets more vivid as the color crosses southbound the wild stretches of the Sahara, past the equator, to the austral limits of the world.
He removes his school cap, loosens the fraternity necktie that constricts his throat and unbuttons the collar of his shirt. He tilts his head back, takes a deep breath and screams at the top of his lungs: “Go to hell… all of you! Nunca Mas!”
It was I – Federico.
At fifteen, on my mother’s orders, I was shipping out to Northern Africa. It was on a bright Sunday in August 1958, my first and last sea crossing, the most significant of my many voyages. Resentment, anger, and fear were vying for control over my mental state. For the vassalage in exile that had been my lot so far, I faulted fate for blundering with the parents I was born to and the country I was born in. I was too green to see that fate is always right, its mechanism is unemotional therefore constantly just and wise.
Paul parked the Silver Wraith by the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique, a low-rise brick building pierced with three symmetrical rows of windows and a centered glass entrance door. On every pane of glass the company’s logo was printed in vermilion: a sun next to the abbreviations Cie Gle and below these the word Transatlantique was spelled out. He got out of the car, raked his fingers through his gray mop and threw over his shoulder: “You stay put, Federico. You might get lost; it’s a jungle out there. I don’t want to go searching for you in this burning heat… the stench is terrible, the reek of dead fish on an empty stomach is disgusting. I won’t be long.”
He took my passage documents and stepped into the office of the French Line. His silhouette was visible through a ground-floor window; he was leaning over the counter and chatting up the female clerk. I could not see her features, she was probably young and pretty – office girls often are. He was hitting on her, that’s for sure, he always did, he could not help himself – he was a pollinator constantly on the lookout for blossoms to rob. I figured that once the ship had sailed he would return to the Transatlantique office, work his charm on her, and complete the conquest in a low-budget hotel, then drive to Paris via the small town of Richelieu for a meal and the blonde waitress who had waited on us the previous eve. He was the type of male that sensitive women fell easily for, to regret their foolishness once the vapors of lust had dissipated and their common sense cleared. The lothario was a good catch for the short haul, the episodic rumpy-pumpy in the haymow, nothing more.
Ensconced safely inside the back of the Rolls-Royce, I skimmed over the clamorous crush of trucks, cranes, and dockers, and my impressive transport named Ville d’Oran moored nearby. Passengers were arriving in droves as the hours neared departure time; luggage was removed from car trunks and carried on board. The ship’s enormous broadside glistened in the rising sun, secured by hawsers to the bollards sealed into the mortar of the dock. Her bulk was the focus of tense industry, her spacious decks invaded by creatures prompt and compulsive. She was prepared to quit her berth for the freedom of the main. I sensed in her glamour the pulse of impatience, and like her I wanted so badly to leave those shores, to cut the old ties, to discard the old wounds.
On boarding, I walked up the gangplank with resolute steps. I did not look back at Paul who stood on the wharf by the patrician automobile, disheveled, unshaven, and spent in his crumbled black suit, perhaps envious of my sudden escape from a grinding routine. But for the brief stop made in the Loire Valley at the routier restaurant thronged with loud famished truckers and traveling salesmen, he had driven straight through the night across France to deliver me to La Joliette Harbor on time for the 8 AM sailing.
Paul was an essential cog in the complex arrangement of my early years, not as mentor, he was somewhat misopedist, but as my mother’s chauffeur and the legal appendage to Maddy, the devoted proxy who raised me from the moment I exited the womb, blue in the face, half asphyxiated by the umbilical cord tied around my neck. Mine was a breech presentation; my mother agonized for endless hours, flirting with death, resisting the call of the beyond with teeth and claws. Her formidable Spanish tenacity, her insolence overcame the odds and the suffering, we survived the ordeal. Distant and formal as her behavior was to me for all those years, consequently I grew up with the idea that she never forgave me.
I fixed my eyes on Paul seated across the red and white checkered paper tablecloth set with ordinary china and aluminum flatware; the unflattering neon lighting of the blue-collar eatery emphasized the appearance of rosacea in his complexion – tiny blood vessels webbed his cheeks. His macho brow, seductive black mustache, strong steel eyes shimmering with a glint of trickiness at the bottom of the gray that I commonly observed in the rear-view mirror as he chauffeured me around Paris… I saw plainly that I had fictionalized the impressiveness of his physique, exaggerated the erotic appeal, built up the fantasy, hence creating a fetish for my nascent sexual impulses to toy with and feed on.
We lived at the farm when I happened to push ajar the kitchen door and caught Paul entirely naked, legs spread apart, washing at the sink. I closed the door without attracting the bather’s attention. The unexpected sight of his swelling buttocks, heavy scrotum, hairy bulging calves, and taunt scapulae, attributes typical of a healthy stud issued from solid peasant stock – had stirred the carnal seed dormant in my subconscious. The instinctive spark of desire as yet misunderstood by a boy of my age had been sufficiently strong to crack the dam of my virginal sensuality. Subsequently, the fortuitous erotic encounter – a paradox of pleasure, sin, and guilt – pothered my interacting with Paul for weeks. Discomfiture would flare up unexpectedly when he looked at or talked to me, as if my secret was written in the beetroot-red blazing my face.
That night in the blue-collar restaurant the object of my investigation suddenly unveiled stood out plain and disappointing in the dock of my court – the verdict was cutting. Paul had been nothing more than a decoy positioned by a teasing cupid on the trail of a youth hunter.
“Will you miss me, Paul?” I blurted over Choucroute Alsacienne and beer.
He gave me a broad smile, then sucked audibly on his vintage Hardcastle brown-bruyere pipe, drawing a big puff inside his tumid cheeks. He puckered his lips and slowly exhaled a ring of bluish smoke which rose and grew larger in the space between us. Poking his right index finger through the hovering nimbus of Amsterdamer tobacco he replied “as much as this, Federico” with the gravity of a harbinger of sacred tragedy.
“ Sacrebleu ! Imagine – you going to Northern Africa tomorrow, that will toughen you up. I did not teach you much during the years we spent cooped up on the farm – solely on your account were we stuck in cow’s muck for twelve consecutive years – but target shooting I did, and that ought to come handy over there in Algeria when the Bicots are up to their dirty tricks. If they get too close, don’t think twice, just pull the trigger; shoot the bastards!” Then raising his glass of frothy beer added a ceremonial “Now, a toast. I drink to your manhood in hell.”
Dumfounded by his oracle of misfortune, I sought no clarification; timidity prevented any further questioning. I ignored his pro-colonialist woofing and took a sip of beer.
Her part concluded in the practicalities of my move, my mother deemed her presence at my side superfluous, she did not see me off at La Joliette harbor. She had organized my trip: booked a luxurious stateroom on that fancy ship of the Transat, gave Paul my travel documents, stuffed a wad of cash in my hunting pouch in case of some mishap in the middle of the sea, and forbade Maddy

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