I threw aside my guards. He fought through his. He and I embraced on the steps. He was bony through the sweater, but warm and strong. And excited. "It all comes back," he said. "I remember you had a goatee."
"I thought you would be gray."
"Thank you, thank you from my family for this. Remember me to the brothers, the Olympic brothers."
"You are remembered," I said. I told him I was carrying the best wishes of the IOC, the IAAF and at least a dozen friends from the Olympic movement, as well as a standing invitation to be grand marshal of the Honolulu Marathon, back in the islands where I now live. As the list went on, he lifted his eyes and arms. "These are words from God," he said.
I hugged him again. He didn't seem bruised. He had on flip-flops and blue socks. I said, "We just have to get you out of here."
"This is a good government now," he said, an eye going to the listening guards. "It will release me soon, I'm sure. It will see that the charge was false. It will realize it was a bad man trying to save himself."
"Is there anything that you need?"
"I never got my house from the emperor. I had to live all these years in the mud house you saw. All I need in the world is to get out, remake it in stone and live with my children in safety."
We had maybe eight minutes together. A guard must have given Mamo a sign, but I didn't catch it. He took my forearms in his hands. "It restores my soul," he said. "It is something I can feel in my body, that people outside the country remember." Then they led him back upstairs.
Later I would call prosecutor Abraham once more. He now felt Mamo might be charged "before the end of the year." Every time I asked, it seemed, the date receded further.