Burbank Big Boy, Los Angeles, United States. Charlie Kaufman in the Beatle Booth. “Final Draft” with S.T. Dupont fountain red corrections. Beads of sweat on the small your back. Dramatic pauses. Acco #5 Brass Fasteners. Riverside Drive horns spontaneously interrupting. Country Boy Breakfast, black coffee, double sausage. 2 crumbled packs of Gauloises Brunes non-filter. Acne denim sponge. Eyelid flutters between lines. Crumbled bills and change. 3-hole punch chads on elbow. Trailer moments. 80 million dollar budget riding on your close-up or that TMZ-ready video of the executive producer’s daughter in a Soho House stall with the starting Lakers frontcourt that just happened to fall into your lap.
Logbook: LAX (34.0500˚ N, 118.2500˚ W) to PVG (31.2000˚ N, 121.5000˚ E), Air China (Boeing 767-300ER), non-stop, first class seat 2D. Clock change +15hours (GMT +8, China Standard Time), 6,497 miles. Executive sedan.
Din Tai Fung, Shanghai, People’s Republic of China. Three men in Leonard Logsdail and Jon Green respectively. Privatived domotic specs. CFIUS sub-right guarantees. The xiaolongbao soup is exceptional. 30,000 resistive touchscreens, analogue offerings. Dropped chopstick. Mobile depository shares: 6%. You resist the last pork dumpling. Annual microprocessor output gains. Auto speech recognition tech. 1 piece sweet taro bun. With bully premiums and Small Knife Society ties they thought sabre rattling would weaken your stance, but the scopolamine you put in their waters already has them forgetting the low-ball bargain you just brokered.
Logbook: PVG (1.3000˚ N, 103.8000˚ E) to HKG (22.2670˚ N, 114.1880˚ E), Dragonair (Airbus A321-200), non-stop, business class seat 11C. No clock change (GMT +8, Hong Kong Time), 761 miles. Shared urban red taxi.
AMMO, Hong Kong, People’s Republic of China. “Gweilo.” Group in what’s undoubtedly Sam’s Tailor. You talk in a quiet, slow manner. Fassone beef tartare, bruschetta, Earl Grey martini. Dynasty notes. Tony Cheng inquiring health. Kingdom of Bhutan, BLEG, bullion. CMU clearing assists. Teal in Salvatore Ferragamo necktie matching armchairs. HKMA coin, Tienstsin mint. Pata Negra croquette, beetroot & chrysanthemum tequila. Citibank Ultima card. 400 troy ounces. “This may be difficult” is not an answer you are going to accept. The introduction of a Hermès Carbon briefcase with Polaroids depicting members in compromising poses (ball gags, clamps) changes that to: “I hear you.”
Logbook: HKG (22.2670˚ N, 114.1880˚ E) to NBO (1.2833˚ S, 36.8167˚ E), Kenya Airways (Boeing 777-200ER), via Bangkok, premier world seat 3J. Clock change -5hours (GMT +3, East Africa Time), 5,450 miles. Rental, Suzuki Maruti Gypsy.
Tamarind, Nairobi, Kenya. You’re dressed in chino and John Lobb Odessa slip-ons. Men in black berets and open olive drab field jackets stand behind your host. 32 lbs. raw ivory dust in 1 1⁄2 x 2” 2 Mil White Poly Bags. Pâté Liègeois with Cumberland sauce in mustache. 1 Pelican-Hardigg crate of Luna Optics night vision. Across eggshell cloth-covered table he wears Lucchese Classic tan crocodile boots. Flambéed with cognac, the Lobster Thermidore. 320 pairs of polished bush tusks. Straight Kenyan Gold. Reaching into your Dries Van Noten suit jacket too quickly gets you a Baikal-441 PSM pistol in the side. A long hand of knuckles helps extract the bundled pound sterling notes.
Logbook: NBO (1.2833˚ S, 36.8167˚ E) to DXB (24.9500˚ N, 55.3333˚ E), Ethiopian Airlines (Boeing 787-8), via Addis Ababa, Cloud Nine seat 3H. Clock change +1hour (GMT +4, Gulf Standard Time), 2,205 miles. Helidubai Agusta 109e VIP transport.
Manhattan Grill, Grand Hyatt, Dubai. As-salamu alaykum. Crispy fried Brie, red onion jam, rocket leaves served by Iranian expatriate. You touch the minibar in the Grand King Suite before arriving. OPEC clientelism, ADCO contract favoritism. He doesn’t blink under white keffiyeh and agal, soft lighting, and the shine of Audemars Piguet from Mall of the Emirates. Zakum Field reserves. 600 million bbl. Go heavy: Wagyu tenderloin, Grade 7, 10oz, Béarnaise. A 2 million b/d Caspian repository surplus inclusion. He tried to stall; Insha’Allah, but you counter with that offer from Sabah al-Sabah. His dish-dasha ruffled, your right hand placed over your heart.
Logbook: DXB (24.9500˚ N, 55.3333˚ E) to BEY (33.8869˚ N, 35.5131˚ E), Emirates Airline (Airbus A340-500), non-stop, First class seat 1K. Clock change -1hour (GMT +3, Eastern European Time), 1,329 miles. Lcc bus service # 7, Bain Militaire-Airport.
Indigo on the Roof, Beirut, Lebanon. A squat, exuding man reeking of arghila smoke and cedar waves you over. Exquisite Iranian Oscetra caviar, 20 grams. 9 dozen TM-35 mines, anti-tank, pressure detonation. Domaine Wardy. 90 RPG-43, 95mm. Elie Saab at an adjacent table. Rhythmic daff percussion and lute drift below tête-à-tête. 40 DS-39 Degtyaryov, 7.62x54mmR, reserve. Chicken liver foie gras parfait with preserved fig underneath fingernails. 8 OSV-96, folding barrel. Commotion in the Cigar Lounge, but he pulls you back into your seat, his hand on your leg a bit too long; he’s clearly CIA. You pay him with Syrian banknotes and an address to a Damascus brothel.
Logbook: BEY (33.8869˚ N, 35.5131˚ E) to LHR (51.5071˚ N, 0.1275˚ W), Middle Eastern Airlines (Airbus A320-200), non-stop, Cedar class seat 2A. Clock change -2hours (GMT +0, British Summer Time), 2,150 miles. Underground, Piccadilly Line.
Cinnamon Club, London, England. You meet 2 polite, tall gentlemen in Anderson & Sheppard. Bottle, 2006 Chateau Pavillon Rocher, Grand Cru, Bordeaux. Kimberley Process certifications. Easily 6’2”. The Mezzanine Level. Diplomatic pouch, felt lining, 10,000 Type IIb rough diamonds. Per waiter’s recommendation, you order Rajasthani-style beef soola with black lentils. 5.50ct D color IF. ECOWAS passport. Internally flawless. Coutts World Silk card and Organic Bohea, 2 lumps. After further pleasantries, 2 Oppenheimer local toughs replace product with a key to a safety deposit box. Once a Bank of England transfer is verified, you are free to leave.
Logbook: LHR (51.5071˚ N, 0.1275˚ W) to GRU (23.5500˚ S, 46.6333˚ W), TAM Airline (Boeing 777-300 V2), via Madrid, first class seat 1D. Clock change -5hours (GMT -1, Brasília Time), 6,465 miles. Stanchioned tarmac, SUV limousine service.
Skye Bar at Hotel Unique, São Paulo, Brazil. She’s wearing a brightly colored dress. Kisses your cheek, Rouge G L’Extrait. 1 skid of Federal Reserve packaging. BEP 3-D ribbons. Ice in the caipirinhas quickly melts. 5” above the knee. Colour-shifting portrait watermark, 4 offset photoengraver plates. Jimmy Choo Tania pumps. Liquid lunch. BEP engraved pantograph copies. Her laughter rises over Krug Clos Du Mesnil toasts by the pool. R$ banknotes passed, hands touched. USCIS bypass codes and the Xícara chocolate. It’s clear after 3 rounds it’ll take a suite, 1020-thread count, and “mais” to consummate the deal. It doesn’t bother you that her bodyguard watches.
Logbook: GRU (23.5500˚ S, 46.6333˚ W) to MEX (19.4333˚ N, 99.1333˚ W), Aeromexico (Embraer E-190), non-stop, premier class seat 4D. Clock change -2hours (GMT -6, Central Time), 4,612 miles. “Vocho,” decommissioned taxi.
Izote, Mexico City, Mexico. He’s most certainly Los Zetas in casual khaki and off-white. Pechuga, Real Minero, Ocotlán, Oaxaca, one cube. Open collar. 21,394 names and addresses, US Border Patrol. The Tarascan soup helps the calming of your nerves. Uncapped anthracite & bituminous rights. Savory Chiles en nogada go down quietly. 500 Mack coal fleet. IVA tax exceptions. His nonchalant big-handed gestures and a dab of walnut sauce on your chin. WHTI complaint documentation. Colossal fee rates, but in the Pee Chee folder underneath the contract they have pictures of your wife sunbathing by a swim spa you had put in last autumn. So you sign it.
Logbook: MEX (19.4333˚ N, 99.1333˚ W) to LAX (34.0500˚ N, 118.2500˚ W), Eljet Private Charter (Gulfstream G550), non-stop, “empty leg” flight. Clock change -2hours (GMT -8, Pacific Time), 1,548 miles. Uber. Back in time for dinner, Spago?