Thursday, July 16, 2009

Beatlick Joe & Orwell's Down & Out

I read this book by Orwell recently and extracted this story about a drug deal. Joe Speer.

Down and Out in Paris and London, 1933 by George Orwell

George has a friend Charlie who tells him a story about a rich miser named Roucolle who came to a bad end through putting his money into a wildcat scheme. One day a Jew appeared with a first-rate plan for smuggling cocaine into England. The miser was approached by a Pole willing to put up 4,000 francs if Roucolle put up 6,000. His innards churn at the possibility of making a small fortune from the happy dust and yet he was loath to risk the money. After much cajoling he at last slit open the mattress where his money was concealed and handed it over. The Jew delivered the goods and promptly vanished. Such deals are risky because of spies in the quarter or chicanery.

The next morning the police raided the hotel and began working their way up the floors. A packet of blow was on the table with no place to hide it and no chance of escape. The Pole wanted to throw the nose candy out the window but Roucolle would go to prison rather than throw his money away. The miser had an idea. He had a dozen tins of face-powder. The powder was thrown out and the cocaine substituted and left openly on the table. The police arrived and searched the flat to no avail. As they prepared to depart the inspector noticed the tins.

“What is this?” he asked.

“Face-powder,” said Roucolle, moaning and groaning. The two men were arrested and led off to the police station. A tin was sent to be analyzed. When the results came back from the lab it was determined not to be a drug.

“Mais, alors, what is it then?”

“Face-powder.” Roucolle and the Pole were released at once. They had been double-crossed. The Pole was glad to be off the hook but the old miser was livid. Three days later he suffered a stroke and died of a broken heart.

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