Professor Hubnoth suffered from a severe hangover and a headache that nearly paralysed him and he kept complaining about his sprained ankle, so we let him ride the donkey. He had put on a new wig with richly flowing auburn hair and a wide brimmed summer hat. Shmuel Eregast stayed at home to clear the breakfast table and prepare lunch while the rest of us followed Marcello for a walk through the pueblo..
“Let me lay out the deal for you,” Marcello started to explain. The village has 24 houses, a small chapel and a tiny synagogue. I have made deals with about a dozen of the owners to sell their properties. The council will throw in the chapel and synagogue for free on condition that the new owners restore the buildings and return them to their former glory.”
“Former glory indeed,” Moshe Cohen muttered. “What a mess, what a dump. No water, only rocks and sand.”
“The council will also take care of water, electricity and sewage. It's all there, it just needs to be repaired. And they'll build a decent road.”
We continued our walk and had a closer look at the houses that were up for sale. Some were in a really terrible state, but others were not so bad.
We stopped near a pretty little house that from the outside looked as if it only needed a new coat of paint and some roof tiles replaced. It had a lemon tree in the yard.
“This will be the reception,” professor Hubnoth announced from his donkey. “Right at the entrance of the village.”
“Reception to what?” Erik asked. He did not have a clue.
“The resort! We're turning this place into a beautiful resort!” the professor exclaimed, all bubbly with enthusiasm that as yet was not shared by the rest of the group. He opened his arms as if to embrace the entire pueblo. “Look at the possibilities! It's going to be gorgeous!”
“This place? It's a ruin.” Erik looked at us in total disbelieve. “Who is going to come here, in this outback, in the middle of nowhere?”
“Do you have any idea what you're getting into?” I asked the professor. “Do you have any experience in running a resort? You're a retired classics professor, remember?”
“Of course I have experience! Or have you forgotten the Hard Cock Cafe?”
I hadn't forgotten.
“And as a retired classics professor I have vision, my dear friend,” the professor replied solemnly.
“And money, apparently,” Erik muttered underneath his breath. He sat down on a low stone wall and lit up a cigarette. He blamed me for smoking again as his search for me had caused him so much distress. I sat down next to him.
“The professor wants all of us to to take part in this new venture, Erik. Marcello is going to be the General Manager and he plans to offer you the job of Chief Financial Officer. CFO.”
“You've got to be kidding me.
“I'll be in charge of entertainment.”
“Yeah, right. That'll work,” Erik answered disapprovingly.