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
"When I woke up, I was here, in this cell," William said to Brad. "I'm surprised Khaled didn't kill me immediately."
"Where is Kenza?" Brad Strom asked William, having heard the end of his story.
William shrugged, and rising from his pallet to lean against a cooler inside cell wall said, "I don't have any idea. I don't know if she and Ismail survived and escaped, or if they're captive, or dead. I just don't know."
The heat of the afternoon had passed, but the masonry walls continued to radiate the suns heat like a furnace. Brad wiped his brow. "Give me some names and numbers, William. Somehow, someway, I'm going to get you out of here. There's a town with a Mosque in it three miles east of here. If you get out, you'll find us near the Mosque at night. We'll be watching for you."
William gave him all the contacts he could and then Brad banged on the cell door for the guard. He came quickly and let Brad out. Brad turned to William. "I hope this isn't goodbye."
Khaled let Brad go without further incident. During the trip back to the house where the terrorist was being held until Brad's return, Brad searched for ways to maintain contact with Khaled. He had given Khaled a mailer without an address for sending the taped interview to an American paper. He was supposed
to give the correct mailer to the terrorist accompanying him. He would risk Khaled's wrath one more time. He neglected to give the mailer to the terrorist. Khaled would not disappear without getting the mailer first. Brad rushed back to Beirut and immediately began phoning. His first contact, Cecil Birkhoff paid off. He knew the rest of the story.
"They both escaped," Cecil informed him. "Ismail went into hiding and Kenza returned to Morocco."
"Can we count on you for help?"
Cecil paused for a long time, thinking it over. "If I'm caught, I could go to prison for it. But I'm willing to help for William's sake, just keep my name out of it." He gave Brad names, addresses and telephone numbers to contact the others.
Brad called Kenza next. She was overjoyed that William was alive, and, threatening to get him out personally, she arranged immediately for the morning flight from Rabat to Beirut.
The next call he knew would be stickier. Gerald. Reaching his apartment in Germany, he was lucky to find Gerald at home. Gerald was immediately ready to go, but then Brad asked him about working with Kenza. Gerald was surprisingly willing to allow her on the operation, as long as he was in charge.
Gerald also made flight arrangements for the next morning, and then phoned Kenza with the basic idea for getting William out. He had work for her to do - chemistry that would have to be done overnight.
By late afternoon of the next day, the three had met and preparations were underway. Brad had used his contacts to reach Khaled and arrange for delivery of the tape mailer, and for a food delivery for William Duvall. Khaled agreed to see another American, "Just for the amusement," but not at the same camp.
He smelled a rat. But Gerald had a delivery to make the next afternoon.
* * *
Gerald arrived at the terrorist camp the same way Brad had. His guard and driver had taken the paper sack from him as if it were his own. As they left the vehicle, Gerald glanced around him, seeing there were rifles pointed from buildings in several directions. They moved across a yard and entered a small uninhabited home. The room was barren but for cushions on the floor for sitting.
Gerald had not seen Khaled before, but he had been described along with the fact that he liked to see people's reaction to him. Although Gerald was not moved by his grotesque appearance, he pretended to be moved and saw that Khaled was pleased. His guard handed the paper sack to Khaled. Khaled, still standing, withdrew the mailer and examined it carefully.
"When will Duvall be hanged?" Gerald asked. "His family would like to know, they want to pray for him."
Khaled laughed. "Three of my men died on a ship in the Mediterranean. Did Duvall tell their families when they would die?" He pulled the other items from the sack. "What is this?" he asked. "For me?"
"Food. For Duvall."
Khaled looked at him, his eyes dancing with merriment. "He doesn't need this, he is healthy as a camel full of water. He amuses us with his exercising - keeping fit to die," he said sarcastically.
Gerald continued, struggling to find a way to get the sack in. "I'm told he gets only soup and bread. Why not let him have some fresh bread and cheese?"
"Duvall made things difficult for us, why should we make it nice for him?" Khaled eyed Gerald carefully. "You look like a military man. Tell me, do you not think this is a just fate? What would you do with a prisoner who had made your life difficult and killed your men?"
Gerald answered honestly, "I would treat him honorably, knowing that I would have killed him in battle if I had had the chance."
Evil manifested itself in Khaled's smile. "You would never torture someone? You know of no one a slow painful death is too good for? There is not a mongrel dog around you would love to kick?"
Gerald didn't answer, but his thoughts turned to Khaled. Khaled read his eyes and laughed wickedly. Khaled sat on a cushion and laid the items of food before him, a loaf of fresh bread and cheese. "It is too easy to conceal escape tools in food. Americans are very sly, and we can't risk allowing a very dangerous man to escape."
Gerald saw a way to do it, an obvious way. "There is nothing in the food. Let a condemned man have a last meal."
The terrorist looked at Gerald dispassionately for a moment, and then said begrudgingly, "let me see what you have." He opened the aluminum foil wrapper around the cheese.
"There's nothing there but good protein and it won't spoil for days."
Khaled picked it up and sniffed it. He examined it thoroughly for cuts and discoloration, and then put it down. "Maybe you have placed a key or a knife inside."
Gerald laughed. "Slice it. Cut it into a thousand pieces."
Khaled studied him for a moment, and then withdrew a knife from a sheath on his belt and carefully sliced the cheese. He held each piece to the light. Glancing at Gerald, he muttered in explanation, "Razor blades." Finally he laid it all down together, saying, "What else?" He picked up the loaf of bread. "And this, it contains a file?"
Gerald shrugged. "Please, cut it open."
The terrorist sliced the bread also, examining each piece as he did so.
Afterward he paused, considering the food. "You are clever as a starving dog. I still do not trust you."
He shoved the food away and took the sack. Gerald caught his breath. The terrorist looked at him. Gerald coughed to cover his mistake. Still eyeing Gerald, Khaled took the sack and turned it upside down. An envelope fell out.
Khaled looked pleased. "Well, we come to the real reason for your visit." He opened the envelope. Inside he found a letter and a watch battery. He unfolded the letter and read it, and then put it in his pocket. "A coded letter, yes?" Lifting the battery, he asked, "And this?"
"A watch battery."
"So he can watch the seconds pass until he hangs?" He tossed the battery into a far corner. "What is the real reason for the battery? To know a time to meet you that you tell him in this coded letter?" He laughed. "You have the cunning of a desert rat."
Gerald's spirit sank. William had to have a battery in order to escape. He searched frantically for a solution. Did he dare risk stealing the battery back? No, he was no good at sleight of hand. That kind of mistake would undo all that he had accomplished, and would likely land him in the cell next to William. No. He had done all he could.
Taking the most important piece, the sack, Khaled examined it.
Gerald felt no panic now, since the battery didn't get in, only sorrow. Somehow William would have to find a substitute.
The terrorist felt around the bottom of the sack, satisfying himself that nothing was stowed in a false bottom. He then sat down and considered the matter, tasting the cheese and bread. "I have eaten better cheese."
"Can he have it?"
Khaled smiled contemptuously. "I am confident we have foiled your little
attempt to help Mr. Duvall. Yes, I will see that he gets it this evening.
The noise of the door opening startled William. He immediately looked out the food slot and saw the guard carrying a sack. Without a word the terrorist folded it into a small package and shoved it through the food slot, and then left, reclosing the heavy door.
William took each item out and looked it over thoroughly. Just the sight of it made him ravenously hungry, but who had sent it? He took the sack and examined it for markings. It had a U.S. manufacturing stamp. He began carefully unfolding the bottom flaps. Seeing they had been carefully glued in place, he knew he was on to something. Under the flap he found a message.
"William, the food is real. The sack is impregnated with plastic explosive. Under the other flap are special low voltage detonators shaped like paper sheets. There is also a coil of very thin wire. Careful of the wire, it breaks easily. Use the watch battery to fire the detonator.
"Attach the two wires to the detonator papers where the marks are. Roll the papers tightly, and then roll the paper sack around the detonator roll. Place the rolls on the window bars. The rest is up to you. We'll be waiting. Good luck."
"What battery?" He searched meticulously for it. There was none. He knew where it went. He removed his watch from his shoe. It had a battery in it, but could he get it out? He would think about that while he worked. He began the assembly while he still had light.
Within an hour he had it all ready and hidden under his pallet. He leaned back and enjoyed the food while he considered three major problems. One, how could he get the battery out? Two, how was he going to reach his cell window, eleven feet off the floor? They had moved him to a different cell after Brad's visit, so he couldn't use the old water pipe as a step. Three, his escape route, if he did manage to solve
the other two and blew out the window. He tried his best jump, hurt his ankle, and decided he wasn't going to get the plastic onto the bars that way. He looked around his barren cell. It was hopeless. The only items in his cell were a bowl and a pallet. He tried for a half hour to figure some way to use them, but they were useless. He stared at the wall. The only other thing in his cell was a water pipe on the opposite wall.
If he could get a piece of the water pipe, he could climb it to the window, but how could he unscrew the water pipe? He had no pipe wrench, and the connections were undoubtedly rusted together. Even if he did break it loose, the connection that gave might be several connections up the line and would bring the terrorists.
He would never know until he tried. He tore shreds from the pallet and wrapped it around the pipe, and then bound his shoe into it for leverage. After several tries the heel tore from the old shoe, but the pipe wasn't about to budge. In frustration he grabbed the pipe and gave it a mighty heavy.
He landed against the opposite wall, the pipe having broken. Apparently the trickle of water and air had rusted it nearly through. He examined it. It was only three feet long. But perhaps it would work. He stood the pipe in the corner under the window. And then in the waning evening light he put the string of plastic explosives around his neck, ran to the corner in two steps, placed his foot atop the pipe, and thrust himself upward toward the window bars. He caught a bar in one hand, and then pulled himself up until he could see out. He scanned the area, memorizing every detail, until his hands ached. And then he let go one hand, placed the plastic on the bars, quickly brushed the wires away from him, and dropped the four feet to the floor.
For a moment he was elated, but as he sank on the remains of his pallet, the second problem goaded him like a dagger. The battery. Where could he get
one? He had seen one made from a stack of pennies and dimes. He had none. If he could get his watch battery out, would it have enough strength left? He had replaced it months before he was captured, and it usually only lasted a year.
Would it have enough power?
How could he get the battery out? The back was threaded and he had no tools to unscrew it. He could smash it to pieces, but he risked destroying the battery. Besides, if he destroyed the watch, he wouldn't know what time it was. If he escaped too early, the terrorists would still be up and might easily catch him, and the others might not yet be waiting for him, or they might all be caught and hanged.
Daylight was fading quickly - only a few minutes left. He couldn't think. He was panicking. He tensed his muscles and relaxed repetitively, and told himself there had to be a way; he had managed this far.
He quit shaking and began to breathe regular, slow, deep breaths. The panic was passing. He turned the watch over and examined the recesses for the watchmaker's wrench slots. He placed his thumb and forefinger nails in two of them and tried to turn it. His nails split. He held it more firmly and tried it a second time. The band sheared off. Again and again he tried until his fingers were bloody and he had no nails left.
Despair gnawed at him as he felt the darkness consuming his cell like a foreboding picture of the doom awaiting him. He gritted his teeth against it. There had to be a way! He picked up the pipe to smash the watch. The rough end of the pipe scratched his hand, screaming at him to be recognized. The rough surface would unscrew the watch back. He put the watch face in the palm of his hand and, pressed the watch back against the rough pipe edge, and turned his hand. The light had gone, so he couldn't see, but he felt the back and it was loose. He had it! He frolicked around his cell like a colt on a spring day,
lightly tapping the walls, dancing in the dark. He was as good as free.
One A.M. came quickly for once. Many times he had lain awake on his pallet, fighting insomnia all night, the minutes creeping by. But this night, his mind was racing and time passed quickly.
When his watch said one, he lay on the floor, pulled the pallet over himself for protection, and tore the battery from his watch. Fully covered and ready, he placed a wire on one finger, laid the battery on top of it, held his breath, prayed, and touched the other wire to the battery.
Nothing happened. He clenched his teeth to keep from screaming. Freedom was too close, it couldn't fail now. He repressed the urge to fly into a blind rage and tear it to pieces. Was the detonator faulty? Was the battery too weak? If it was the detonator, he would break his neck trying to get up there in the dark. Was he destined to die one way or another?
He fingered the battery, trying to think of any possible solution. Flashlight batteries often corrode and give poor light. All that was needed was to clean the ends and the connection was good. Maybe watch batteries were the same. He rubbed both sides of the battery on the rough floor and tried again.
Even under the pallet, the explosion was deafening. Rubble flew around the room, bouncing madly in all directions, covering him well. He raised the pallet slightly to watch. A terrorist entered, moved across the cell, scanned it quickly with a flashlight, and then momentarily looked out through the gaping hole five feet above the floor. "He's gone," he yelled through to the other terrorists outside.
As he turned to leave, William shot out an arm, tripping him. Quickly climbing from under the pallet and rubble, William pounced on him and put him out cold with a karate blow. Quickly he yanked the terrorist's clothes off,
threw them on himself, took his gun and keys and left. He moved quickly through the corridors and outside into the main prison yard. Seeing a group of terrorists moving out the main gate into the darkness, he fell in with them, and outside the walls, split away as the others did, to search. In the darkness, the walk was simple and safe.
William found them quickly near the Mosque. Kenza threw herself onto William, clinging to him and sobbing and laughing and kissing. Gerald had to force them both into the back seat of the car, never separating from each other, as they needed to leave quickly to avoid being recaptured by the terrorists. As the car moved away, William grabbed each man in the front seat, Gerald and Brad, by the shoulder, shaking them in praise and gratitude. He was a most happy man.
"What a mix!" Gerald proclaimed loudly. "A soldier, a chemist, an operative and a detective. Plastic explosives were compliments of the chemist, low voltage detonators compliments of Cecil Birkhoff, planning compliments of your soldier friend, and investigating and coordinating compliments of the detective. Escape compliments of yourself. Khaled never had a chance!"
"It was too bloody close for me!" Kenza shot at him.
William sat back and breathed deeply of freedom and friendship and love.
Next: Chapter 21