Welcome to the Excerpts section. Here you'll get an opportunity to experience some of what makes SIROCCO great. Enjoy the passages below, taken straight from the book!
Ma walked into the kitchen with the baby’s empty bottle. “It’s time for the news. Turn on the radio, Nanna.”
I knew she wanted to hear that the roads would be open and safe from fellagha’s attacks. That we wouldn’t have to cancel our Toussaint’s trip to her grand-parents’ at the last minute because of Arab rebels’ road ambushes, like last year. While Ma washed Yves’ bottle, the news bulletin concluded with no special alert. “Does this mean we’re going, Pa?” I asked.
He peered into the broken breach of his shotgun. “We’ll see,” he muttered, dashing my excitement.
Ma dried her hands on her apron. “I’ll finish packing, just so we’ll be ready.”
Papa snapped the gun barrel shut and polished off his fingerprints with a chamois cloth, set the gun aside and picked up his revolver.
Nose twitching at the sharp tang of gun oil, I hunched over the table, elbows propped on the flowered oilcloth, hands cupping my face. “Can’t we go, anyway, Pa? I really want to see Pépé and Mémé Rousillo.”
“Are you deaf?” he spat. “I said ‘we’ll see.’”
I swallowed my hurt feelings and watched his long, elegant tan fingers load his weapons. One purposeful round at the time.
Finally, desperate to get him committed to the trip, I prodded, “Aren’t you looking forward to go see Pépé and Mémé, Pa?” I crossed my arms on the table, leaned toward him, and begged, “Allez, Pa. Say oui.”
But there was more to our farmyard than just quacking, waddling, slimy-water wading ducks. Lots more, if one counts run-of-the-mill nothing-to-the-eye bland chickens or, in contrast, the rooster—ah, the rooster! What a magnificent full-of-himself strutting-hennizer aging Don Juan-in-plumage. Always running after one hen or another, pecking heads, if nothing else—a real Guy.
The paim-pon, paim-pon, of ambulances rushing through the streets, grew louder. I watched, hypnotized, as soldiers tramped in and out of the café, their boots splattered with blood coating the terrace. But, unlike the long-ago sacrificed sheep across the street, this blood wasn’t alive, didn’t flow; it lay in wait, thick and unmoving like a swamp.
Casserole concerts and chants of Al—gé—rie Fran—çaise, Al—gé—rie Fran—çaise, intermingled with megaphone speeches. From streets beyond the gathering, automobile klaxons underscored the beaten saucepans’ Algérie Française mantra. My zeal soared in tune with the chaotic rhythm. Familiar faces dotted the festive crowd. Friends and families greeted each other with handshakes and hugs.
I fell asleep with the heaviness of a timbered oak and woke up at dawn in the hush of a household lost to slumber. I lay on my side of the bed, filled with
unease, trying to make sense of the dream I had just shaken off—a dream in color.