Title: A Fado for the River
Author: Geoffrey Wells
Genre: Espionage Thriller/Romantic Suspense
When they fell in love, all three warring factions wanted her secret—or her life. They thought they would share a life after Raf faked her death and they’d crossed the border, but their ideas of freedom tore them apart.
Years have slipped by, and now he’s an American executive with a blackmail note. Facing ruin, he must prove he did not murder her when he was a student on vacation in Mozambique—on the edge of chaos. As the Portuguese revolution raged, he helped her flee the colony and never saw her again. Both had committed to spying for the freedom fighters, but they both refused to blow each other’s cover. Now in Lisbon, a fado singer reveals his precious secret: he has never stopped loving her. He must find her.
Destiny provides a nostalgic refrain in this story, as the fado does in the Portuguese songbook. The narrative floats between the past and the present in the way a dream might slip in and out of reality. The setting is the ancient Limpopo River that has always been blind to itinerant traitors—the Europeans, Christian slave traders, Communists, Muslims, criminals, freedom fighters and terrorists, who have crossed its fated banks. The river holds the promise of Raf’s tale. Can it lead him down to the ocean to liberate him from the banks of his emotional apathy?
This is the first book of The Trilogy for Freedom: It is a lyrical, embracing international tale, part romantic suspense, part political thriller. In this story of treachery and deceptive alliances, Geoffrey Wells captures the heartbreak of lost love and Raf’s hope of freedom—if he gets a second chance with his first and only love.
Brace yourself for stories from the heart of forgotten places.
This is Book One of The Trilogy for Freedom. Readers who love to be carried away on wild adventures to unknown places with smart, interesting characters, should get a start on this series. Book Two, of The Trilogy for Freedom is no less exciting. All three books of the trilogy can be read as stand-alone novels.
Start reading the trilogy today.
Gida tells me they are calling this the Carnation Revolution, but here I do not see people walking up to government soldiers and handing them red carnations, and no one that I can see is getting bullets in exchange for a carnation. The whole idea seems impossibly naïve to me now. While that might be true in Portugal, this is Africa, and here the stakes are too high, and she especially, knows there are more than two sides to this story.
We find the seawall and soon come to the industrial section where I parked Gida’s car. Maria has begun to cry, and Gida asks for a break. She sits with her back against the wet seawall and rocks her child in her arms. Steve and I keep a lookout.
“Which car?” Steve asks. “We need the space, but if we take your car, Gida, we’ll have issues at the border.”
“And we won’t get that far unless we go now,” I say.
Gida nods in agreement, then says, “They’ll be looking for your car too.”
“True.” I’m formulating an idea about her disappearance. “What if they think you’re dead?”
She’s shaking her head. “What?”
“Gida, when we came to spend the night with Joaquim, you parked your car next to a fuel tanker. An eighteen-wheeler. Remember?”
“Yes,” she says. “So you couldn’t see it from the road.”
Steve throws his palms up. “Yeah, okay. So?”
“Fake her death. Soak a rag in the gas tank and then drape it over the engine. Start the car and run like hell.”
“I like it,” she says, pulling out a T-shirt from her bag, handing it to Steve.
“Okay. Give me the keys.” Steve is already running off. “I’ll meet you at the car. Be ready to move.”
He crosses the congested freeway and is lost from sight. Gida holds Maria’s hand and we make our way along the seawall and get to the impossibly small Mini. We arrange the bags as best we can, but it’s busy work while time ticks on, and our window for escape narrows. I am aware that we cannot wait for him, but I’m acting on faith that he will appear. I start the engine.
“Where is he?” Gida grabs my arm, shaking it.
I loosen her grip on my arm. “Just a little longer.”
We jump as three rapid taps on the roof signal Steve’s appearance, from nowhere it seems, and he slides into the passenger side, out of breath.
“Let’s go.” He sounds almost like he’s forgotten about his broken ribs.
I drive cautiously along the esplanade with its tall palms waving their farewell to us. Gida and Maria are huddled in the back. In the rearview mirror I look for the explosion, but instead see part of Gida’s shoulder, and the top of the child’s head where it rests against her mother’s heart.
I wish against reason that I—we—could sleep and wake up in a different place.
Although we are several blocks away, the explosion rocks the Mini.
Flames rise up high, lighting the clouded night sky. Steve, Gida and Maria look back at the flames above the traffic, making silhouettes of the warehouse buildings.
“Goodbye life,” Gida says, looking back at the fireball burning through the clouds.
“Say goodbye for us all, Gida,” Steve says. “Everything is changed now.”
“Okay, okay, enough of that. Gida, how the hell do we get out of this city?” I say, as I wonder how they will identify her car, and ask other questions without answers.
Gida directs me, and I swerve into a side street and pick up speed.
We’re lost in our thoughts as I leave the suburbs behind us. I am thinking about the two of them asleep now in the backseat, and smile; the joy of their leaving with us gives me strength. I think of the line from Macbeth, about sleep knitting up the raveled sleeve of care. Can her sleep ever knit together her raveled life? Now that Vincense is gone, can sleep heal and nourish her even after all the cruel kindness she has endured? Will she heal with me?
An hour down the road I notice she is awake, this woman of grace who stares out at the world with only the best intentions, is attending to her child. I catch her eye in the rearview mirror, and I feel awed. How did she feel when she witnessed the murder of her daughter’s father? Not now—there will be a time to ask her.
We’re all drained. Africa has bled us of our youth and we are left brittle, fragile. Ineffective. We are four people swept downstream in a torrent of chaos. We know with certainty that this will not be a bloodless revolution—we have already seen blood. Blood on our own hands. Motorists stand beside their vehicles at the petrol stations waiting for attendants. Burnt-out cars block our progress. I check the fuel gauge and remember with relief that we filled up before coming into the city earlier this evening.
I backtrack and find a road heading out to the city limits. The headlights stretch out into the blackness like a suspension bridge across the divide between us and our future. Steve, who has also fallen asleep, now wakes, and with sudden energy tells me to pull over so he can drive.
I am grateful to be in the passenger seat, which I tilt back a little, against the duffle bags. Gida stirs, rearranges the bags, mutters something, and I hold her hand, which smells like soap and is warm and soft in mine. As we both drift into sleep, I hear the drone of my conscience as the car accelerates onto the road under Steve’s control.
The next thing I know, Steve is pushing at my shoulder. We’re at the border, and if we can cross it, I promise myself I will never return to Mozambique. Ever.
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Geoffrey Wells is the author of three stand-alone novels on freedom, now a series entitled, The Trilogy for Freedom.
In his latest eco-thriller, The Drowning Bay, based on a water crisis and climate change, published in 2021, Wells looks at what the responsibility of freedom means and how it might lead to finding a belonging in a lost ecosystem.
Inspired by his ascent of Kilimanjaro in 2003 and horrified by the devastation of elephants, he published, Atone for the Ivory Cloud, in 2016. Wells writes about how respect for all life liberates us.
The sixth 2021 edition of A Fado for the River is based on his experience in Mozambique one year before the Portuguese revolution spilled into the colony. Wells explores his quest for personal freedom, against a backdrop of a nation struggling for its liberation.
Wells started writing fiction after a career in IT, rising to VP and CIO at two major broadcasting companies.
Concurrent with his corporate life, he wrote and produced an award-winning animated film, The Shadow of Doubt, directed by his wife, Cynthia Wells, an animator and painter. The film showed in 27 film festivals and won 5 awards.
In 2015 he edited, designed, and published the award-winning children's book, Moonglow written by Peggy Dickerson and illustrated by Cynthia Wells. He lives on the North Fork of Long Island where he participates in triathlons and swims the open water with his wife and their dog, Luciano.
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