THE ANGRY DOVES
By Dorian Scott Cole
Copyright 1980, 1987, by Dorian Scott Cole
This book is copyright material, not public domain, and all rights are reserved. This book may not be reproduced in any form, in any media. This book may not be sold or included in any collection. The reader may make a printed copy of this book for his personal use.
All characters in this book are a work of fiction. Any resemblance to any person, living or dead, is purely coincidental
William heard the pounding outside and wakened. He rose stiffly from his sleeping pallet and groaned, the cold having penetrated to his bones. He glanced at the sunlight on the opposite wall of his cell and knew from the angle of it, it was too early to be up. The day would be interminably long. He cursed the pounding, what were they doing? Gunfire and shouting he awoke toe very morning, but pounding was new. He couldn't see outside by any normal means, because the only window was ten feet off the floor. He huddled in the corner of his cell and wrapped his blanket around him, trying to keep warm.
Perhaps he could doze a little longer to pass the time - to pass his 170th day of captivity by terrorists. But he could not sleep, not with the pounding.
What were they doing?
If he hadn't been two inches shy of six feet, he might have been able to jump to the window. As it was, he had one way to view the outside: he could climb on the water pipe which ran part way across the rear inside wall. He sighed. The water pipe was ancient and it was rusted through at the end where it dumped into the trough that ran out. If he broke it, when the water came on the water would disperse over the entire floor making life in his cell even more miserable. He studied the pipe. He had climbed on it once before and had heard it creak. He didn't like the risk.
He caught his image in the pewter mirror inset in the wall. He seldom used it since he was in isolation and no one ever saw him. He polished it with his sleeve and chuckled at what he saw. He looked like a wild and wooly old hermit, his hair tangled and his beard scraggly. He had finally gotten accustomed to the beard. He had never had one before, and with a little trimming, Kenza might like it.
He could hear shoveling now. He studied his face closely through the beard. He had turned forty in this cell. He was certainly much thinner because of the food, which seemed to have no nutrition of any kind. But his hair was still dark - long, but dark - and his face still had balanced features in spite of the thinness, perhaps a little rugged and a little handsome.
They began pounding again. He had to know about the pounding. He put one foot on the pipe, testing it with a little weight, then thrust himself upward with the other foot, gingerly allowing his weight to come to rest on the pipe.
It creaked and groaned, but it held.
He looked across the cell and out the window. There in the old prison yard he could see a framework being erected. It was a simple framework, an upright beam, and an overhead beam. It could be made into a hoist for loading munitions crates. It could be a gallows.
As William watched, the men constructing the framework added a brace between the beams, and then they quit. They left nothing dangling from the end of the overhead beam. No pulley and rope assembly for lifting. No hangman's noose for hanging.
William jumped down. What was it to be? He had heard no practice firing in the terrorist camp for two days now. They must be moving camp, and if they were, they might need a lifting rig for loading up. If they were moving, what would they do with him? Probably hang him.
So this was the way his peace mission was to end? Is there no justice? Until nine months ago he had wasted twenty years of his life dragging useless intelligence information out of people. Then he had finally found this job where he could make a difference. More than a difference, he had a mission that could alter the course of history. Maybe, just maybe, he could have helped these people in the Middle East stop their endless wars. He had too much to live for.
He searched the cell franticly for any sign of a way of escape - just as he had a thousand times before. He pounded the masonry walls with his fist, looking for a hollow spot or loose material. There was none. He felt around the pewter mirror for any place to get hold of it and pull it out. It was cemented solidly into the wall and he had no tool to pry it out.
Perhaps the window? He stooped low and jumped toward the window with all his strength. He couldn't reach it. He had jumped for it every day, but he still couldn't reach it.
Everything was always just out of reach for him. Kenza. He had almost had a wife after twenty years of loneliness. Why had he let this happen? If he had listened to her from the first of the mission, he would have found better ways. But no, he had to antagonize people. He kicked the door bitterly with a karate kick, focusing all the power into his foot. The massive old
wooden planking didn't flinch. He cursed. The door was as stubborn as he was. He had blown it. He was going to be hung like a common criminal. His life would count for nothing and he would never have a wife and family. Somehow he had managed to lose it all! But he knew he wasn't a loser and he wasn't a quitter. There must be a way out.
Senator Danforth's offices were impressive. The staff appeared to be engrossed in its work and everyone moved with haste and efficiency. The general office decor and furnishings were wood and steel and cloth, not overdone. Senator Danforth's office was of respectable wood and leather. As Brad Strom sat down across the desk from the Senator, he eyed him suspiciously.
The Senator was a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee and he was known for many things. Truth, justice and the American way - yes. Grandstanding - certainly. Exploiting others to make himself look good - on occasion. Posturing for reelection - always. His physique was strong and powerful and his features were deceptively handsome and honest. He was a powerful person, and difficult for anyone to reckon with. What was he up to? Why had the Senator called him?
"Mr. Strom, you look uncomfortable. Can I get you something?" The Senator asked disarmingly.
Brad feigned a smile. "No thank-you, Senator, I'm fine. What can I do for you?"
"I have some investigative work I might want done, and you seem to have some experience in doing international investigations. I have a little dossier on you," the Senator said as he patted a file on his desk and gave a self-satisfied smile. "But I would rather hear about you from the horses mouth."
Brad shifted in his chair. The Senator having a dossier on him was not a comforting thought, even though Brad had done nothing wrong. "I worked in the State Department in the Middle Eastern section for a few years, and since then I have been doing investigations which relate to Middle Eastern problems."
"So I'm told. I'm also told you have an impressive record. Tell me, how does one become an international investigator?"
Brad wondered what the Senator was up to. His line of questions was going nowhere. "One gets tired of sitting behind a desk analyzing information and one gets busy getting it himself."
Senator Danforth smiled tolerantly. "Any danger involved?"
"Not really. It's a matter of knowing the laws and customs of the areas and never putting yourself into a spot you can't get out of."
"Um hmm," the Senator mused. "Sounds like the kind of levelheaded approach I need. But tell me, would you be willing to get into a dangerous situation if it was an important job?"
It sounded as if the Senator was about to propose a danger filled investigation. Possibly something illegal. Brad's palms began to sweat.
"Perhaps you could just tell me what the job is, then I could tell you yes or no."
"All right. But first you must agree to keep anything I tell you confidential. The public doesn't know this information."
"Good. Well then, I suppose you saw in the news about four monnths ago that Arab terrorists have taken another American hostage?"
"A yacht salesman from Beirut, Lebanon. Yes, I remember. Name of Duvall, I believe."
"Yes, very good. I see you stay current on events. It has come to my
attention that there's a little more to it than that. It seems Mr. Duvall was secretly contracted by the State Department and was on some kind of a peace keeping mission over there. Strange kind of operation. But anyway, he stepped on the wrong toes, I'm afraid. Now, it seems to me we owe Mr. Duvall a debt of gratitude. We at least ought to be working to get him released."
"Don't you think that is the State Department's business?"
Senator Danforth laughed. "Certainly. But they and the President aren't doing a damn thing. How many hostages have they gotten released? None. They don't even know where they are being held nor by whom. The C.I.A. admits it doesn't even have competent people in that area. Ask me a real question, Mr. Strom."
Brad was glad to oblige. "Are you aware it would be against the Neutrality Act for you to contact the terrorists as a representative of this country without the State Department's authorization?"
"Yes, of course. Now, let me tell you my plan. I don't want you trying to get Duvall out. All I want you to do is contact the terrorists and Duvall, find out what you can from them, and then I'll do the rest."
"I'll make so much noise about this that the President won't be able to ignore it. The man was on a peace keeping mission, for God's sake. Every bleeding heart in the country will be pressing us to do something. For once the liberals will be pushing the conservatives to take some action, even military action. And it will play well in the press so the Senate will thrive on the publicity. We can't lose."
Brad didn't like it. The Senator wanted the information to manipulate opinion. Brad suspected it would start in his committee. "So you need this information for a Senate Intelligence Committee investigation," Brad stated
The Senator huffed and looked down momentarily. "Yes, of course that's one of my reasons. Too many things don't look right. Duvall was probably operating outside the law, and the State Department has never been sanctioned to operate in this way. Obviously we want to know what the hell Duvall was doing over there."
"And what about William Duvall?"
The Senator shrugged. "He may end up a winner, too. Who can say?"
Brad shook his head. "Too much danger for too little gain. I'm afraid I'll have to pass on this one."
The Senator smiled and tapped the dossier menacingly. Brad flinched. The pressure was on. What could the Senator possibly have on him? The dossier was probabably the Senator's usual tool for scaring people, and held nothing.
"I suppose talking to terrorists is too dangerous for you?" The Senator asked condescendingly.
Brad shrugged and rose to leave. He was not going to be manipulated no matter how powerful the Senator was.
"Is it money?"
"Sorry." Brad walked toward the door.
"Well, I guess when the boys at the club ask, I'll have to say you turned me down. Bad publicity doesn't last very long, does it?"
Brad paused. "I have an established group of clients, Senator." He looked back at the Senator and the dosier. The Senator was smiling smugly, waiting expectantly. On the other hand, Brad wouldn't mind talking to the terrorists, for William Duvall's sake, he just didn't like the idea of working for the Senator. He had talked to terrorists before.
Was there any bone he could throw this man and get him off of his back without getting mired in his plan? "Senator, I will be leaving for Israel in two days for another client. In the interest of helping William Duvall, I will arrange to spend some extra
time in Lebanon. I'll take this in any direction I feel comfortable. If I get any information, then you pay my fee. But any information I get will be given first to the State Department. And keep my name out of the papers."
The Senator pursed his lips thoughtfully. "Agreed," he said reluctantly. "Just find out what Duvall was doing that stirred up these terrorists."
Next: Chapter 2