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
CHAPTERs 4 and 5
William sighed. "I guess it began sixteen years ago."
You've been working on this peace mission for sixteen years?" Brad asked incredulously.
"No. I've been in the Middle East that long. You see, I wouldn't have cared a thing about these people if I hadn't come to know them - some of them maybe a little too well." William shook his head.
William paused, then said softly, "Kenza."
"The woman you mentioned earlier, your companion and assistant?"
"Yes. Every time I get close to her, I lose her again." The pain blazed angrily across William's face.
"I don't understand."
"It's a sixteen year comedy of errors," he said with frustration. "I'll tell you about it sometime, if I live that long. But I know you want to know the political side."
Brad looked at William compassionately. "They won't run me off. Tell me what you feel like telling me."
"The Air Force brought me to this region, to Morocco."
"I thought you were with the State Department."
William chuckled. "Air Force, Navy, CIA, State Department - I've been with them all, and each has brought its own troubles. Yes, the State
Department was the last one."
Brad gave William a puzzled look. "Ok, I'm confused. Start somewhere in time please."
"I was here in the early sixties with the Air Force. Communications Officer assigned to Crypto. I met Kenza. Her mother was Moroccan - Arabic - and her father was a Frenchman. She didn't speak a word of English when we met. We kicked around together for a few months, and then her mother kicked her out for "whoring" around. While Kenza was at an Aunt's house in Tangier, the King kicked the Air Force out of Morocco."
"We had five Strategic Air Command bases here, and the Russians convinced the King that if it came to nuclear war, Morocco would be the first place to cease to exist. Well, when we had a fire on a B-1 Bomber and evacuated the base, everyone thought there was going to be a nuclear explosion, and that was all the excuse the King needed to throw us out."
"I understand. So did Kenza leave with you?"
William rose, troubled, rubbed his face and leaned against a wall. "No, I couldn't find her. I went back twice to look for her, but I think her Aunt and her Mother conspired against me." He shrugged and continued with a discouraged voice. " Finally I joined the Navy and got assigned to Morocco in Naval Intelligence. They needed people there badly - that region is the world's hot spot, you know.
"As soon as I returned, I learned from her father that she had gone to England to school, and she was convinced that I had abandoned her, like many servicemen do. From what I can put together, her mother didn't want her to make the same mistake she made, marrying a foreigner, and she convinced her she really was a whore, and a foreign country was her only escape. I didn't see the point."
"So what happened?"
"When my Naval tour was up, I returned to the States. Since I had a background in intelligence, I joined the CIA. Since I knew Morocco and the
Arabs, they taught me Arabic and sent me right back to the world's hot region." William chuckled at the irony of it. "Seems I couldn't stay away from Morocco if I wanted to."
William looked away for a while, contemplating. "God only knows," he finally replied. "What does a man's life add up to? What does it mean when you come this far only to look out the window and see a gallows?"
Brad said nothing. He shifted uncomfortably. "What did you want it to mean?" he finally asked.
William thought for a moment, unsure. "I left the CIA, you know. After ten years, I was becoming... something I didn't like. I used people. I ruined their lives, maybe, some of them. And for what? Useless information that didn't make a bit of difference. I never saw anyone use it. I was turning myself into smut for nothing. I'm a better person than that!" He looked at Brad. "Do you know what I'm saying?"
"I think so."
"I gave up having a wife and family and even friends, to do intelligence work. Oh, never mind, it's history. Let's go on."
"What did you do after the CIA?"
"For a while, nothing. I rented an apartment in Kenitra, Morocco, and took it easy for a while." William looked at the ceiling and closed his eyes, remembering the events of just a few months ago. He began telling the story to Brad.
William's thoughts turned instantly to a French cafe that was always a favorite of his. It was only a block from the hotel, and it was the same one he had met Kenza in, sixteen years before. After leaving the CIA, he quickly fell
into the habit going there, just to be around people and activity. He sat and read the paper and drank espresso, and the afternoons were becoming lonely and boring.
He laid down his paper and noticed a woman being seated near him. He nodded and smiled, hoping to make acquaintance. "Excuse me, do you speak English?"
"Yes," she replied, revealing she was very American.
"I'm about to have lunch. Can you make a recommendation from this menu?"
"What do you like? Steak?"
"Yes. Is it good here?"
She frowned. "Hey, look - are you just another sailor looking for an easy pickup? Because if you are, I'm not interested."
She caught on too easily. William decided she must be a nurse with the Naval Base, in Kenitra.
"No," he replied, "actually I'm with the U.S. Foreign Service."
"Really?" She was intrigued. "The steak is good. Actually the waiter can take your order in English. What are you doing here? With the government, I mean."
He faltered for an answer. "I, uh, actually nothing. I'm on leave, a, uh, vacation." He knew he had blown it. It was going to go sour.
"I've never known anyone in the foreign service before. Are you a diplomat of some kind?"
CIA operatives don't usually reveal their identities, so he tried to dodge the question. "I've never known you before, so we're even." Usually that was a good line.
William could tell by the look on her face she wasn't impressed with lines. Her instincts were telling her he was fudging.
"Why don't you speak French, if you're a diplomat?" She studied him suspiciously, then said angrily, "Sure you're a diplomat, and I'm the King's daughter, fair skin and all." She moved to another table with her back to him.
A voice from behind William startled him. "What are you going to do now, 007, shoot your way out?"
William recognized the voice of his former Station Chief, Cecil Birkhoff. He turned toward him with a disgusted look on his face.
"You used to call me when you were in a jam, and I would say that. You would laugh and start bouncing some ideas off me. Pretty soon you were making progress again."
"Have a seat, Cecil." William tried to say it nicely, but the words fell caustically. "You've obviously come a long way to see me." He looked him over. The stocky build would never change, and the balding head would only get worse. He was fleshy, with a round face and narrow blue gray eyes. His voice was shallow with no warmth to it, but he wasn't a bad person.
Cecil sat down. He looked uneasy. "Funny. You can always find an operative in a cafe," he said, obviously trying to use humor to break the ice. He handed William a piece of paper.
"Ha, ha. What's this," he asked, knowing it was his resignation, but wanting to know why.
"Your resignation." Cecil paused, letting the words hang in the air mysteriously. "I didn't process it. Instead I put you on leave of absence for four months. I thought a long vacation would do you some good and perhaps you would reconsider.."
"I thought I made myself clear when I left."
"Yes, my ears are still burning. 'An eighth of an inch away from being snake shit, and not going a step further,' I think is how you put it."
"Yes, exactly!" William confirmed emphatically. "Nothing has changed. I want my life to count for more than ruining other people's lives."
"Come back to work. We both know you need it. You're not happy doing what you're doing," Cecil stated frankly.
"I never needed much, Cecil. I just tried to do a good job and live with the life I was given..."
"You never were a complainer," Cecil interrupted with a smile. "Always up. Always a good attitude. That's the William I know. How about it, got back the old spirit, huh?" He winked. "I knew it couldn't last."
William closed his eyes and shook his head. "I'm not some flunky agent that needs a pep talk. Give it up, Cecil."
Cecil smiled and shrugged. "Ok. Let's have it."
"I got to counting my friends one day. Fact is, I don't have any. Tell me, if I got hurt or killed, who would care." The anger grew in William's voice. "Just another statistic, that's all! That's all I am, a damned number on some piece of paper!"
"That could change."
William rose and pointed to himself. His voice was loud and angry. "Who am I, Cecil? Where do I belong? I've never carved out a place for myself. I'm just a lonely, thirty-nine year old CIA hack. Have flight bag, will travel. Well, I'm not going to go out this way."
The woman turned and looked at William curiously.
Cecil made shushing gestures, and motioned for him to sit down. William glared at him, than sat down.
"So its your midlife crises time, huh? Throw the job away. Come here every day and sit around like some thirty year old beach bum trying to find yourself, languishing in some sixteen year old romance that went sour? C'mon
William, get hold of yourself. You're better than that. Be a Humphrey Bogart, kiss the girl goodbye at Casablanca and get on with it."
William's anger flared high. There was too much truth in what Cecil was saying, but Cecil had no right to interfere in his personal life. He kept his voice down, but said seethingly, "You think it's that damn easy, Cecil? Just burn your life out for the agency and end up with nothing. I'm the one who has to face the lonely hours, night after night, year after year. Just what do you think I live for? How does a man keep going without someone waiting for him and a dream to follow? What do I have, Cecil? What do I have?"
Cecil visibly backed down. "I'm sorry I said that, William. It's none of my business, but just the same, you're one of our best men. You belong with us - the CIA. We're you're family. It's a big one, but we care about you."
William had trouble containing his laughter. Sure he had made some good friends. The men share a common experience and a common fate, and many enjoy a camaraderie that goes beyond business. But family? You were never sure who were your friends and who were the backstabbers.
Cecil saw his smirk and quickly changed the subject. "Isn't there gratification enough in doing a job well? Not many can measure up to the work you've done."
"Cecil, the job is not my life. I need more."
Cecil handed William another piece of paper. William read it. It was a promotion to Deputy Station Chief.
"This would get you away from danger, and limit your travel. Frankly, you've earned it. It's your just reward."
William studied the paper, thinking maybe Cecil was right.
"You work well with others. You care about them. I would be proud to have you working with me."
"But Deputy Station Chiefs still live a life of deceit and manipulation. Sorry. I think it's time I settled down, found a job that doesn't shoot back while I'm still young enough, and maybe even get married again."
"Anyone in particular?"
William resolved not to show any sign of weakness. "No," he replied, as if finding someone was no problem.
Cecil studied him for a moment. William knew there was nothing more he could do. If he had still been on staff, he could have sent him to one of their psychiatrists for burnout. But Cecil had had his resignation for four months, and he couldn't ignore that.
"Well, I can understand that. I hate to lose you, but..." He paused. William knew Cecil was waiting to see if he was playing the negotiating game. Make them suffer. Wait until the last minute and extract every bit of flesh. Get all you can, then give in. But he wasn't playing.
Cecil sighed. "Regrettable." He took back the resignation and scribbled on it. "What are you going to do now?" he asked, casually.
"You have to make a living somehow. You won't mind if I call on you from time to time, uh... for consultation." It was a statement, not a question.
William didn't respond. He knew Cecil was leaving the door open for future contact, probably trying to lead him somewhere, and he didn't want to encourage him.
"Once in intelligence, always in intelligence. It's a good old boy profession, you know."
William kept his silence.
"I'm going to miss you, William," he said sincerely.
"Good luck to you, Cecil." William rose and shook his hand firmly.
"You've been good to work for."
Cecil smiled weakly, held back by the events. He handed William a manila envelope. "Some of your papers. Do look them over this afternoon. And, mind you, silence is golden."
Brad looked at his watch: ten o'clock. Already the sun was heating the cell up. William had stopped talking, reflecting on Cecil. "Did you dislike Cecil?" Brad asked.
"No, Cecil was OK. He would do anything for you. It was the organization I didn't like. Ever feel like you were in prison? Trapped in a life you couldn't get out of, with someone else master of your destiny?"
Brad looked around the cell. "One prison to another, eh?"
"I remember that day so well. Somehow I knew until Cecil came around that day that I was still under their thumb. After leaving Cecil, I went for a long drive right away." William crossed his legs and continued his story...
William got in his TR-6, spirits soaring that he was free of the CIA, and celebrated with a long draught of fresh air and sunshine. Just below Kenitra, near Sidi Bouknadel, was his favorite beach, Plage des Nations, the most popular beach in Morocco. It was called the Beach of Nations by the French, or Sidi Bouknadel by the Moroccans. He had long since become accustomed to this curious habit of double naming everything.
At the cliff's edge the road dropped sharply. He swung to the right, to a spot that overlooked the beach. The red flag was flying, meaning no swimming because the undertow was too great and would sweep even the best swimmers out to sea. It also meant the ladies would be sunbathing or playing games near the
water's edge. He drove down to the parking area, adjacent to the beach. The view was good - lots of bikinis, at least for a September weekday afternoon, not the tourist season.
He spotted a woman in a bikini laying on a beach towel, looking back. Wouldn't it be nice if she was single? Not wanting to be too obvious, he reached in the car and took the manila envelope. He expected something innocuous, such as a paper mentioning twenty years of foreign service, no reference to the CIA. He found nothing but a handwritten note.
Uh, oh. Cecil's trying to pull something. The note read: "Meet us at 9:00 tonight at the US Embassy in Rabat, room 214. The government has an offer that might interest you."
He glanced again at the woman in the bikini. Who was he trying to fool. No witty lines were going to befriend a woman for him. He would have to make friends in Kenitra and hope to be introduced through one of them to some American nurse from the base. What a long shot.
His options sounded lonely for a long time. Maybe Cecil was right. No! Not the CIA! But he would consider a government job, especially one that put him back in society.
He left the beach and had an early dinner at a nearby French restaurant. He drove to Rabat, whiling away the time at a French movie and driving around, until at eight thirty he drove up the hill into the embassy area. The winding hillside drive faced East, with a beautiful view overlooking the valley below. It was a favorite place for Muslims to come and spread their prayer shawls, and bow toward Mecca as they prayed.
The Marine Embassy guard at the gate was expecting him, and wrote his name on a list. Once inside, another Marine guard at the front desk confirmed the room number and recognized him as a former regular who once had an office
"Haven't seen you for a few months, Sir."
"Extended leave of absence."
The Marine smiled. "Your office had a thorough cleaning while you were gone. Not even a pencil left. There's a gentleman waiting to see you in 214."
William climbed the stairs, noted the new paint, and knocked on 214. He was met by an intense looking man in his fifties, impeccably dressed in a blue pin stripe business suit, and well groomed - obviously a man in high position.
"William?" The man asked.
William nodded. "Samuel Rogers, US State Department. Please come in." As he entered, Samuel said, "I'll fix you a drink. Rum and coke, I believe?"
William watched as he fixed the drink, chatting about knowing Cecil, and about travel. His brown eyes darted here and there, seeming not to miss a thing, but they lingered long enough to reveal a genuine interest. His gate was springy, like a young man's, revealing reserves of energy. Yet his manner was easy going, not uptight like someone with nervous energy. He kept his energy under control, directing it at precisely what he wanted it focused on.
"I've had my limit," he said, as he handed William the drink. William was impressed that Samuel was sure enough of himself not to feel pressured to drink as a social imperative.
"You have an interesting background. Also happens to be a background which we are looking for. Military officer experience, intelligence, high level contacts with the CIA - impressive."
"I understand you also have had paramilitary training."
"Yes, I tried to get all of the training I could. I never used it,
though. And I guess I should say, I don't want to use it."
"I'll be very upfront with you. The job may call for it, but ultimately we have just the opposite in mind."
William considered that for a moment, then rose to leave. "To be perfectly frank, I wasn't much interested, and now that I've heard this, I'm not interested at all. Paramilitary adventure I don't need."
"Well, thank-you for your time. I had you pegged as a man who might like to be involved in the peace efforts, but I guess I was wrong."
William paused for a moment. Samuel had earned a measure of respect already, and peace was something he wouldn't mind working for.
Samuel continued, "You see, we're kind of at a loss in the Middle East. We pour billions of dollars and our best men into the area, but it's like fighting the wind. There are too many people over there who hate each other, and as soon as any prospect of peace is raised, they do something to turn the entire area upside down."
William picked up his drink. "Just where would I fit into this, if I was interested?"
Samuel rose and came to him. "I need people who can work at any level. I mean any level: from working with terrorists to working with politicians. But people who are level headed; not someone who first turns to a gun, but who knows how to use one if he needs - people who can't be intimidated. Understand what I mean?"
"Walk softly, but carry a big stick?"
"Close." Samuel walked to the window and gazed out into the darkness.
William sat down. "For peace, I might be interested."
Samuel turned back toward him. "Good. I haven't misjudged you." He leaned against the window. "Let me lay it out for you. I'm from the State
Department. We've watched the CIA wallow in the gutter and we don't like their methods."
William snorted. "Amen to that."
"In spite of themselves, they don't have good, dependable contacts in the Middle East. The CIA lives at two extremes, either gathering information, or paramilitary operations. We want to build a group that can work at high levels and control situations. People who have influence."
William was puzzled. "A diplomat with a gun? Look, I know the State Department isn't authorized to interfere internally in other countries. This isn't making much sense to me."
"I understand. Look at it this way. The Middle East is an explosive area that threatens world peace. We have to contain it. Sometimes we do it politically, sometimes diplomatically, but at all costs, we have to contain it. Military force isn't an option. CIA manipulation isn't an option. So we have to find ways to control the situation."
William didn't like the sound of what he was hearing. He rubbed his face. "Sounds like Viet Nam all over again. Send people in with guns, but tell them they can't win."
Samuel came close again. "No, William, you can win! Just don't kill anyone doing it."
"I'm sorry, but manipulation and control sound like the same words to me, and if I don't know the difference, then I can't do it."
Samuel pulled a chair near William. His voice became intense, but hushed as he tried to explain something very important. "When you work behind the scenes and trick people, that's manipulation. When you give people a framework to work within, and you're open about it, that's control. There is where you come in. You make contacts, establish the framework, and do what you have to
do to make them stay within it. The more of these groups we can control, the more stability we will have, and the less risk of war."
"Sounds like recruiting agents and working cases. Same thing I've been doing," William said in disgust.
"Except! Samuel held up a finger. "Except you're not going to manipulate anyone into working with you. Stay out of the damned gutter!"
William smiled broadly. He understood.
Samuel smiled. "Ok, some final personal questions. About this sixteen year old romance? Is that wound ever going to heal, or are you going to bleed to death?"
William was troubled by the direction of Samuel's question. "Has someone written a book about my love life?" He laughed defensively and poured himself another drink, and tried to keep his anger under control. He reasoned it was Cecil who had stirred up this pot of nonsense. He shot Samuel a scalding glance and downed half the rum and coke.
"You're not a lush, William. I already know that. What's wrong?"
"Cecil means well, but he doesn't understand. The romance is done, over, final. I've been married since then and divorced." His voice trembled with intensity in spite of himself. "Yes, she is an old flame that still has fond memories for me. But that's all."
Samuel studied him for a moment. "Can you be compromised by an affair with a woman? Set up?"
William faced him squarely. "I'm vulnerable."
"As long as you realize it, I'm not worried." He extended his hand. "Are you on board sailor?"
William shook hands and nodded with a smile.
"Excellent. Have a seat." He pulled an end table between them and began
laying out reconnaissance photos and maps from his briefcase. William studied them carefully, remembering bits and pieces he had learned about interpreting photos. He counted the number of tents in several pictures and estimated the number of men; too small for an Army Battalion, too big for a listening post, no evidence of heavy weaponry, so it fell in the category of training or terrorist, or half a dozen other military maneuvers.
"Terrorist camp?" He guessed.
"That's what we want to know. I shuffled it around the Pentagon, but the best heads there say it's hard to tell. Could be a lot of things. We've watched from the ground - there is definitely military training going on."
"You mean you don't know who they are?" William asked in disbelief.
"We're not sure. We think a Lebanese politician is running the thing, and we believe he may be a man we can work with, depending on what he is up to. We want you to find out."
"That doesn't sound hard." William suppressed a smile.
"You haven't heard it all. This could go one of two ways. If this is another terrorist group that is going to destabilize the area further, then we must control it. The framework is, we'll help them achieve their goals peacefully. No manipulation, just yes or no. If they won't work with us, then they're out of business."
"My God, you mean I would have to close down a terrorist camp?"
Samuel nodded. "Without killing anyone. No international incidents."
William took a deep breath. "Isn't that interfering in another country?"
"They're not in Lebanon. They're over the border in Syria. Very remote area."
William shook his head. "You don't want much."
"That isn't all," Samuel continued. "We had some AIS men go in and check
it out. They got the pictures and tried using a big ear. Couldn't get close enough, so they sent in an Arab agent. They killed him - whacked off his head with a sword."
William whistled. It was hard to believe that the AIS, American Intelligence Service, the paramilitary wing of the CIA, had failed their task.
"Why is it so difficult to infiltrate?"
"I'm no expert in this kind of thing. I'm told that in spite of its vulnerable position, it's a fortress to break into. I'm going to have to leave the details to the other two men I've selected for this mission."
William frowned. Other men should be up to him. "Other men?"
"Subject to your approval, of course," Samuel said quickly. "You lead this team. They're waiting in the States and can be here Wednesday night, so we can talk about this then. Can you be ready to leave, say the following Friday?"
"Good. I'll have a private plane on charter. Do you know where the Sidi Slimane air strip is?"
"The air base we evacuated years ago? Do I know where my left arm is?"
"Let's meet there at four AM."
Next: Chapter 6