One day after lunch, as Claude returns to the shade of his simple but pleasant hotel, the receptionist hands him two mangoes in a small wicker basket. “These are for you,” the receptionist says.
As usual, a group of young men stand around the desk. Claude thanks each of them individually, makes a short speech expressing his gratitude, shakes their hands, laughs along with them and bows. Then he walks away without the mangoes. Because he assumes it is all some small joke he does not quite understand. (Because, seriously, aren't most things?)
By the time Claude has put one foot on the stairs, a young man is beside him. "Sir," he says. "You have forgotten your mangoes." He is looking at Claude a little strangely. And Claude, for his part, has an extremely hard time understanding, believing, and accepting that the mangoes are actually for him. He asks, Seriously? Really? several more times before consenting to take hold of the basket.
Claude climbs the stairs carrying the delicate wicker basket feeling -- despite his gray beard and combat boots -- exactly like a preschool flower girl at a spring wedding in a lace frock.
Many strange things have happened in the life of Claude. There have been many odd surprises. Nothing, however, has quite prepared him to be given two ripe mangoes, one bright afternoon without warning and right out of the blue.
Immediately Claude has theories. Does this mean the daily rent is going up? Will there soon be another wedding blaring next door?
Or, is this mystery somehow connected to the other mystery? Are these mangoes a peace offering from his lurking family members? Are they in cahoots with the hotel staff to monitor his movements?
Claude is so perplexed, and also so moved, that he is ready, almost, to cry. He decides the mysteries must go together: the mangoes must be a gift from his invisible family. The mangoes are very cool, obviously having been refrigerated. Yes, it was all part of a plan. The mangoes must be a gift from his family. As such they are presumably saturated with cyanide. Thus the delicate wicker basket: to ensure the receptionist did not die while handling them.
Claude takes a knife and peels the first mango. He is determined to cooperate, even unto death.
Claude is not at all surprised when the mango is the very most perfect and delectable mango he has eaten in his life. Somehow he expected that. One mango he finishes, the other he puts aside. Perhaps someone will come along with whom he can share it. He is so covered with juice he must shower, which he does, still marvelling that, even at this late hour, he still understands so very little about the world, which is as saturated with mystery as a mango is with juice.