I stood on the Dalmatian stone wall like a castaway overlooking the Dubrovnik harbor and the gray Adriatic Sea. My gaze drifted with a light drizzle. I was thinking about my misdirected youth filled with alcohol, drugs and discarded woman that were after my commitment, when Zimmerman finally arrived.
The middle-aged blond German requested this private meeting, businessman to businessman, entrepreneur to mercenary.
He copied my composure; slightly bent at the waist, resting his forearms across the white stone precipice. We looked like massage therapists about to discuss the physical benefits of moisture on the skin and sunlight in the soul.
I took a quick glance at Mr. Faust, having a prescience idea about his family's prosperity. He wasn't a comedian and I wasn't a clown. This was going to be a serious business offer.
"My proposition is this," his accent was as heavy as a stout ale. "You kill my in-laws tonight and you'll be compensated a king's ransom."
The Adriatic opaque haze drew our gaze. A glance at each other now would be unacceptable.
I entertained his offer without judgement.
"I know the answer to this question," I said, "but I need to hear it from you. How would you benefit from their demise?"
"Inheritance, of course." His dead tone painted a picture in my mind of a vulture on the side of a road in Africa plucking out the eyes of hyena corpse.
"And, what would that consist of, Mr. Faust?"
"Not that you need to know," his conviction was resolute. "But since you asked, the inheritance would be two hotels in Dubrovnik, three restaurants in Zagreb and a hostelry in Split, not to mention six off-shore oil rigs, a shipping yard in Rijeka, and five jewelry stores in various Croatian cities."
His feckless arrogance nauseated me. He pulled a pack of Marlboro's from his inner jacket pocket, offered me one and lit his. The smoke intermingled with the mist overhead. I straightened up and looked down six inches where his eyes met my chin.
It was judgement time.
"I could help you, Mr. Faust," I said, "but I won't. Because if I did I'd have to kill you, too. You see, I couldn't live with the guilty conscience knowing that if I let your in-laws live, eventually you'd inherit their good fortunes anyway."
"Consider my offer withdrawn," he said, and started walking away down the stonewall pathway.
I turned around like an officer of the law and said, "I'll be watching you. If your in-laws lifestyle changes you'll be as dead as a hyena at the jaws of a lion."
Mr. Faust ducked like a ferret into a parapet chamber of stairs spiraling downward. I returned to gaze over the Adriatic Sea where fresh sun's rays glazed the sea with azure hues. My previous thoughts of alcohol, drugs and women was now a metaphorical haze of high morals and eminent ethics in a land eight thousand miles from my home in San Francisco.