ANKARA – “You’re no longer in good standing.”
“What?” asked our shocked correspondent. “Why?”
“You know why. That money was for the conference,” explained the stern, leather jacket-wearing woman standing across from him.
“I did spend it on the conference! Didn’t the conference happen?”
“It did, but these receipts don’t add up. And even if they did, you took far more money than you needed to. You need to come up with the missing money, and fast.”
As his superior exited the room, our correspondent picked up his mobile and frantically dialled headquarters.
“Comrade, you’ve got to help me. I spent 1000 lira on bream and EMEP found out.”
“No can do, comrade. My account is empty and my cards are maxed out.”
“Bream, mostly. I had to go to Malta to organise the local bream fishers, and also purchase all their bream, and try out several new and inventive bream recipes.”
“We’re prisoners to our bream addiction,” sighed our correspondent. “I’m skypeing [REDACTED].”
“They’re in Kosovo!” warned headquarters, just as they were being hung up on.
“Kosovo, eh?” said our correspondent, lighting his Stalin-pipe and puffing at it thoughtfully. “At least there’s no bream there.”
“Greetings comrade,” said our intrepid Balkan correspondent. “What’s wrong, you look down?”
“Money troubles. Is there any chance I could borrow 1000 lira to get out of a tight spot?”
“How much is that in Euro? 10? 100?”
“Not yet, I’m afraid. It’s still a bit over 250.”
“Allahu jedini! I’m a bit tight at present.”
“Why, trip to Kosovo set you back?”
“Well, it’s more why I’m here. It’s a good-will mission, I came by train. I have to bring the impoverished Kosovar children much-needed…”
“Bream, I know.”
“Yeah. You might consider asking our extremely wealthy editor-in-chief.”
“Yeah, he’s in Qendîl.”
“The only thing I can think to do then is this: I will stay here in Kosovo, embed myself among the local population, run for political office on a platform of inter-communal peacemaking and international solidarity, earn the trust of the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Bektashi Order in Kosovo, appropriate funds given by the faithful, and divert them to your bank account.”
“Can you do that in the next 48 hours?”