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
Brad had quickly wrapped up his business in Israel and flown on to Beirut, Lebanon. He checked into his usual hotel a day ahead of schedule and wasted no time trying to find out about the terrorists who held William Duvall. Brad had good contacts in Lebanon. He was trusted and he paid well for information.
After four phone calls, he found out the terrorist group holding Duvall was led by a man named Khaled Qahtani. He also learned how to contact them. They were an extreme radical group of terrorists known for being inflexible in their demands, and for using unmerciful tactics to get what they wanted. They couldn't be trusted.
By the evening of the first day he had made telephone contact with a man who had connections with Khaled and was willing to be an intermediary between them. From that point, the arrangements became much more tricky than any he had ever done with terrorists. Khaled would not meet in a public place, which Brad required for his own security.
As Brad talked to the intermediary, he asked for the moon, knowing he would get less. "Tell Khaled I want to visit him personally, and I want to visit William Duvall personally. I also want an absolute guarantee for my personal security. So, I want two of his men to stay with a friend of mine near the southern border. They will be held until I am returned."
The intermediary called back the next morning. "I have spoken with
"So, does he agree?"
"He says you are funnier than a jackass who sits on a scorpion. He can imagine your ears flopping as you dance around kicking up clouds of dust, wondering what bit you. You are too stupid to deal with. He says, he holds all the cards, so you are in no position to demand anything. But he will talk to you anyway. If you will come to a certain street tonight, he will have you taken to him."
"Tell Khaled I am not as stupid as he thinks. All I want is to talk, so he has nothing to lose. Tell him I want guarantees."
That evening the intermediary called again. "I have spoken again with Khaled. He says he will never talk to you, because you only ask for things from him, and you don't offer anything in return. He shoots hungry dogs when they come begging at his door. Do you understand?"
Brad was used to the Arab's peculiar way of exaggerating everything. "Yes, I understand. Tell Khaled I would not insult him with stupid gifts he does not need. Ask him what he needs."
"He needs money, say ten million dollars, and two hundred rifles with ammunition, and someone to write a newspaper column every day for him in American newspapers."
Brad knew he was making progress, they were talking. "Remind Khaled about the jackass, he is beginning to sound like one. I'm here on my own, not representing a government. I can't offer those things. I won't help him make war."
"Then he thinks you are as useless as dog vomit. He will never talk to you, and he is thinking even now of killing you."
Brad was beginning to find the conversation unnerving, but he went on.
"Ask him what he thinks he can get from me?"
"He thinks maybe you would make good entertainment. He will laugh himself to sleep just after he slits your throat. What news could you make for him if he killed you and left your body for the birds to eat?"
News? Publicity was what he wanted. "Is Khaled there?"
"No, I am speaking for him."
"If I can speak to both Khaled and Duvall by telephone, I will make sure both interviews are printed in full in a large American newspaper."
"You must come here, telephones can be traced. Khaled likes to meet stupid Americans. You can record only Khaled's interview, and you must have a commitment from the paper to print it, and you must record it on a tape recorder so he can mail it, before he sets you free. You can talk to the American, but you can take no notes away with you. He has no story."
"I must have two of his men with my friend before I travel to his camp."
"He can not do this. He will never agree."
"That's the deal. Yes or no."
"Because you are a stupid American who doesn't know that you can't do these things, he will forgive your ignorance. Yes, he will agree. His two men will meet your man at eight o'clock tomorrow morning. You be there. If there is anything wrong, we will kill you and the other man. I warn you, we will have people watching. We will know if something is wrong."
"I know," Brad replied, wondering if it was too late to back out.
What bothered Brad the most was that he had gotten all he had asked for. Either Khaled needed publicity badly and he should have bargained to get Duvall out for that price, or Khaled planned to get more after he arrived. He would have to play it carefully.
He rendezvoused with his friend, Ahmed, in south Lebanon on schedule. They were in a small house among other houses.
"You know the terrorists could just as easily strike us here and go home without risking a hair," Ahmed informed him.
"Yes, but they don't know that. I picked the location. For all they know, we are among friends."
After a half hour of waiting, a pickup came within a hundred feet. A man got out and came to the house. He circled it and peered in all the windows. Finally, satisfied that he was safe within the house, he came in. He went directly to Brad.
"You! American?" He asked.
"Go to truck. Take to Duvall."
"Where is the other man?" Brad demanded. "There was supposed to be two of you."
"Sick. Sorry. Go, now!" He ordered.
Brad made a questioning glance at Ahmed.
Ahmed shrugged. "Guess what you would have gotten if you had asked for just one."
Brad looked at the pickup. There was only one man in it. He had no choice, if he was to go at all. "All right."
Ahmed checked the terrorist for weapons and found a hand gun and a knife. He motioned to the man to go to a far corner. "If you want anything, just ask. Otherwise, don't make a move or I'll shoot you."
"If I'm not back by midnight, call in the militia," Brad said, and walked outside to the waiting pickup.
The man in the pickup was holding a rifle across his lap with his finger
on the trigger.
"Get in," he ordered.
Brad climbed into the pickup.
"Lay down, head toward the door."
Brad didn't know if making him lay down was to keep him from seeing, or to prevent him from attacking. Since he wasn't made to wear a blindfold, he suspected it was both.
As they arrived, Brad was aware of large wooden gates opening through an arch in masonry walls. He had visions of an old Arab walled city. The pickup stopped and the man got out and motioned for Brad to get out. He kept his rifle butt resting on his leg and the barrel pointed at the sky and allowed Brad to walk ahead of him toward an entrance to a building. Once inside, he was met by a grotesque figure of a man. Brad was visibly moved by the man's appearance. The man smiled at Brad's reaction.
The man with the rifle said, "This is Khaled."
Khaled waved the other man out. "I hope you have had a pleasant journey, Mr. Strom. Would you like some mint tea?"
Brad knew better than to refuse Arab hospitality. "Yes, thank-you."
Brad turned on his tape recorder, and placed a mailer with an address on the table.
"Perhaps you are wondering how I got my good looks?" He asked, as he poured tea for both of them. "I want you to know much about me, so I will tell you. When I was a child, we lived in what is now Israeli occupied Palestine. One day the Israelis decided it would be nice to have our land, without my people of course, so they took it. They helped us decide to leave by shelling us." He touched the scar tissue on his face. "This was my going away present from the Israelis. It was a gift I will always remember, and I return it
everytime I can." He handed Brad the cup of tea.
Brad pointed to the tape. "It's in the story. What is your name?"
For the next two hours, Khaled outlined his biography, telling of the misfortunes of himself and his people and their attempts at repraisal.
When Khaled finished, Brad had more questions. "What do you hope to gain by fighting Israel?"
Khaled's face became red and he stood up. Brad was afraid he had made some terrible mistake.
Khaled gave his answer, punctuating it with his fist on the table. "Do you not understand what we must do? It is obvious! We are as the sting of a scorpion to Israel! The sting of a scorpion is deadly! You see, this is even our symbol, the scorpion with its tail stuck in Israel. We will not stop until we have driven the Israelis into the ocean and every one of them is dead!"
Brad was shaken by Khaled's response. "Is there no hope of peace?"
"Peace?" Khaled asked in disbelief. "Never. There can be no peace until the war monger oppressor Israelis are dead."
"Then why are you holding William Duvall if you are not trying to get the U.S. to put pressure on Israel to make concessions?"
"We want help to make war on Israel."
Brad shook his head. "You can't get that from the U.S. They will never help you make war on Israel."
"Then we will be a scorpion to the U.S. until it does."
"Is there any way we can get William Duvall free?" Brad asked in desparation.
"Only if you can get the U.S. to give us help."
Brad felt sick.
Khaled picked up the mailer and looked at it. "Put in the tape."
"That isn't the correct address. It is with my friend, and I don't have it memorized. I will give it to your men when I am safely returned with William Duvall at my side."
Khaled breathed hostily while he considered that. "You are a shrewd man, Mr. Strom. Now, tell me, why should I trust you not to have my men killed when you return, and then my story will not go to the papers?"
Brad could see Khaled was restraining himself. If Brad said the wrong thing, Khaled might lose his temper and kill him. "You sent only one man instead of the two I requested. Why should I trust you not to kill me and my friend after you mail the tape to the newspaper?"
Khaled thought about that for a moment. Finally he laughed. "I will make you a new deal. I will not kill you now, and then when you return to your friend, you will give me the address. How do you like that deal?"
"I can live with it."
Khaled laughed again. "Live with that! You are very funny, Mr. Strom." Instantly he turned serious. "No more tricks, or you will die. Ok?"
"Now I will take you to see William Duvall. Please remember my hospitality, Mr. Strom. I have not hurt you, and I have been very nice to you. I can be sure there will be no bad reports in the paper?"
William heard the corridor door creak. His first thought was that they were coming to get him to hang him. He was expecting it any minute. He couldn't move to the food slot to look. He caught his breath when an American entered his cell, and he stood up.
He had not seen anyone in western dress for months and the clothes seemed strange. The man was dressed casually, not in government style. He looked in his early thirties, lean, clean cut and with a no frills haircut. His face was slightly oval, clean shaven, and might be friendly were it not for stress contorting the features.
"Another prisoner?" William asked Khaled.
"Knock when you want to leave," Khaled said to Brad, and left without making any introduction.
"Are you here to get me out?" William asked, the question spilling over with hope.
Brad shook his head. "I wish I could offer some hope. I came here to get the full story of your activities which led to your being taken captive by Khaled, and to find out what the terrorists conditions are for letting you go."
William groaned. "I know the answer to that."
"At least there is a dialogue open. A U.S. newspaper is going to print Khaled's story. Maybe if we offer him more publicity we can use that for leverage to get you out."
"Chances are I'll be hanged by then."
"Why? Why so quickly?"
"They're moving camp. They won't want me along."
Today, tomorrow, the next day. Who knows?"
"Look, William, it isn't much to lean on, I know, but I'll do my best to negotiate with them quickly. I may be able to get a Senator involved. Danforth is a mover and shaker," Brad said sincerely.
"Thanks. Is Kenza alive? Have you seen her?" William asked anxiously.
"Who is Kenza?"
"She was my companion and she assisted with our work."
"I'm sorry, I wasn't briefed by anyone about the details of your work."
William inhaled deeply and let his breath out slowly, trying to pull himself together. He could see Brad was still very tense. He smiled at him. "Pull up a chair."
Brad looked around.
William laughed. "There is no furniture, but you can sit on one end of my bed, if you don't mind being close to the floor."
Brad smiled and sat down, seeming to relax a little. "So tell me, how did you get here?"
"You mean why am I working in this part of the world, and the mission I was on, and everything?"
"Yeah. I may have to appear before a Senate investigating committee. I want to know everything about you so I can paint the best picture possible in order to get you out, if I'm not too late."
William looked at Brad for a moment, smiling. "It's good to have someone to talk to."
Next: Chapters 4 and 5