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
CHAPTER 6Another hour had passed in the warm cell. Brad was wiping the sweat from his brow. "How do you stand it in here? I thought cells were supposed to be cold, clammy places."
"I don't have any choice," William replied. "But if it pleases you, it gets cold and clammy in here at night."
Brad chuckled. "How do you keep your sense of humor?" Brad asked.
"Laughing in the face of death, you mean? Gallows humor? I never found it did me much good to be miserable," he said, shrugging it off. "Tell me something, is there any chance this Senator Danforth can get me out of here?"
Brad bit his lip and looked down. "I don't want to say there is no hope, but at this point I don't know of a thing he could do. There is no way Khaled will negotiate."
They sat in silence for a moment. William rose and looked upward through the window at the sky. "Beautiful sky," he commented. "That patch of blue always reminds me of days I spent with her..."
William hadn't seen her come in. He had been sitting in the French cafe, toying with his food, lost in thought about his new vocation with Samuel.
"Excuse me, do you know the menu here?" she asked.
William looked up at the intruder on his thoughts. "Yes," he replied.
She seemed familiar. He studied her for a moment. Could it be? He dared not hope. "Do I know you?"
"Is your name William?"
"Kenza!" He cried, jumping to his feet.
She seemed pleased to see him, but wary.
"Please, sit down," he offered.
For a moment he didn't know what to say. Should he ask how her husband was? No, too obvious. But her father? "How is Louis? I haven't seen him in years."
"My Father is fine. But my Mother is dying. Cancer. That's why I'm back in Morocco."
"Oh, I'm sorry."
William gazed at her, drinking her in. Her hair style was different. It was once shoulder length, but now was cropped short of curling down her neck. The color was still auburn, maybe just a little lighter with the sunlight bringing out blond highlights. Her eyes were not as deep a brown, having faded to match her hair. Her skin had kept its dark complexion, even in England, and at thirty four there were no wrinkles showing. Her short 5' 4" frame had stayed trim and firm. He guessed she must stay active. He was more than pleased with what he saw.
"What brings you here? Are you still with the Navy?" she asked.
He didn't want to explain the CIA, so he fell back on his cover. "I remained here in Foreign Service, a consular intermediary. But I got mad a few weeks ago and quit. I'm... kind of between jobs now, but I'm discussing some possibilities with some people."
"Oh, what kind of work is that?"
"More of the same, I'm afraid. Consular work is pretty dull, but it's a
living. What about yourself? Has England been good for you?"
"I like England, but there's nothing there for me right now."
"Aren't you married?" he asked, unable to hide the hope in his voice.
"My husband was killed in that awful Falkland Islands invasion last year."
"I'm sorry," William said again. It was welcome news, even though he felt sorry for her.
"I imagine you're a good father to three or four children?" she asked.
"No, as a matter of fact, I'm not married. Divorced, and no children."
They studied each other for a moment, but neither reacted.
"What do you do in England?" William asked.
"I'm a chemist, or at least I'm going to be."
"That's a surprise. How did you get into that?"
"I went through two years of college before I met Mike. I was majoring in chemistry. We married, so I dropped out. And then when he was killed, I decided to return to college. I like chemistry; especially plant and soil chemistry. You know: biochemistry."
"Good field, I guess. Are you going to return to school in England."
"I really don't know what I'm going to do. I left school when I found my mother was gravely ill of cancer. I hadn't seen her in years, actually. I visit my father, and he visits me, but my mother and I still don't get along."
They exchanged glances, William's full of compassion for her.
"How is your mother?"
"She seems to be in remission. The doctor says it's just a matter of time, but she may go on for months. We're talking some. She seems like she wants to say something, but she never gets it done. She seems confused. Maybe it's just the medication. So, anyway, I'm kind of in limbo. I don't know where to turn. I'm sure my father will need me when she dies." She was quiet
for a moment, and then a puzzled expression came to her face. "And now you're here... "
They sat silently for a moment. William puzzled at life's twists and turns, good fortune and bad, wondering where this would lead, to good or ill.
Their eyes met again.
William broke the silence. "I don't suppose you've ever forgiven me?"
She looked away and sighed. "I was very hurt, you know. Sometimes I wonder if it was just a cruel impossible test of your love - some silly school girl romance. I..." She stumbled for words to describe her feelings. "It was the most important thing in my life, my honor."
"I'm sure it was real enough," William said reassuringly.
"Papa said you came back. When I was away in England, he said you came to his apartment looking for me. But after you left the country like you did, with no warning, no goodbye, no message that you would return, it was very hard to believe in you again."
"It wasn't the way you thought, but I can see why you might have thought what I wanted was a girl in every port. I'm sorry. I would like to change what happened, or make it up to you somehow. Do you suppose we could get to know each other again? Could we start with dinner?"
She looked down, a pained expression on her face. She looked up and smiled briefly, but her thoughts took the smile away. "I... I don't know if I can." She looked away, obviously struggling, groping for words. William held his breath for what seemed an eternity. Her gaze came back to him. After a moment she began to smile, involuntarily. "I want to... " William could see the mixed feelings dance across her face, the smile coming and going with them.
William smiled and took her hand. "I promise never to hurt you like that again, no matter how things work out between us."
She studied him, and then said, "It won't be easy."
They faced each other for a moment. William waited for a final yes or no, his heart pounding. She said nothing more, but her smile became calm.
He looked at her hand he was holding. Suddenly he felt compelled to apologize for his marriage. "She... she and I, we lived in two different worlds, continents apart," he said hurriedly. "That's why it didn't work out. It wasn't my fault. It was a rush marriage, we didn't belong together."
"Mike and I never got along. He... well..." She laughed. "Why are we apologizing? If I owe you an apology, it's for what happened sixteen years ago..."
William interrupted. "Sixteen years makes people new people. I'm not the same and you're not the same, so we can skip that."
She looked at him, searching for something. "Are we really so different?"
He reached out and took her other hand. He wasn't sure what she meant by that, but he suspected it had something to do with her mother having made her feel like a tramp. "I'm glad you're here," he said softly.
She smiled in return. "This place holds memories, doesn't it."
"Remember that Vespa cycle you had. Remember the places we went. Tangier and Azru and Casablanca. We were always on the move." Her eyes lit up.
"You couldn't speak English, what else was there to do?"
She laughed. "I'm sure now my mother thought I was sleeping with you every evening. I understand that now."
"I never understood any of it."
"Being an American, I suppose not. The cultures are very different."
"Tell me about it. Do you have time? I'd love to know what you were going through."
She looked around, and then at her watch. "Sure." She looked down, collecting her thoughts. "Things were changing in Morocco in the fifties and sixties. I guess they were everywhere. Young people wanted to look like Westerners. We had thrown off French colonial rule, and there was a lot of hostility between them and us." She laughed, "It certainly didn't help that I had a French father and a Moroccan mother. I was a misfit everywhere. We lived in the French quarter of town, but that didn't seem to make any difference to my mother. She wanted me to wear a caftan, you know the robe that buttons down the front, and a djellaba - the overdress with a hood - and a veil." She shook her head. "I was covered from head to foot.
"I remember that first night I met you. That morning was when it started between my mother and me." Kenza looked away, getting into the story. "I entered the kitchen that morning in slacks and blouse. My mother just stood there with her hands on her hips, not saying a word, glaring at me. I knew I was expected to turn around, go back to the bedroom, and change.
"Please! Please, let me wear these close. My friends are wearing them," I said to her.
"They are the clothes of a prostituee, a whore. My daughter is not going to wear the clothes of a whore, I don't care if all the other girls do."
I wouldn't have had the clothes were it not for my Father. As soon as he brought them in the house, the battle raged. I knew he was on my side. "Papa, tell her. You bought them for me. They are European, not whore."
"It is true, Aysha. Why can't she dress as the Europeans? I am European. Why not?" Louis asked.
"You are not in France now, you are the French of Maroc. She is not in France, she is in Maroc. In Maroc, these are the clothes of a whore!"
"Not anymore," I retorted hotly. "King Mohammed's daughter wears European
clothes and she doesn't wear a veil. Is she a whore? Many of the women don't wear veils, and half of your friends wear European clothes under their djellabas!"
"That is enough," Aysha snapped firmly, her feelings apparently too deep for logic to touch.
I wouldn't be squelched. "None of the French girls wear those - none of them, and I'm French."
"No. You are not French. This is Maroc. You are Moroccan and you will stay Moroccan. I will hear no more of it."
Louis shrugged, shook his head and turned away.
I stormed back to my room.
"And the veil, too," Aysha yelled after me. "And then I want you to stop associating with those whores at the market. Find some nice friends before you end up in jail."
They continued arguing loudly. I changed into the djellaba, but I couldn't make myself wear the veil. I rushed out, not caring if my mother saw me or not.
My friends were at the usual place, crouched on the sidewalk in front of a shop. Naima, my favorite, was in a djellaba. Marie was in slacks and a blouse. Like me, she was part Arab, part French. But Marie's father was dead and her mother worked as a domestic for an American serviceman, and could hardly support herself. Marie saw opportunity in the Americans. The one she lived with had duty that weekend, so Marie was free. Together we went to our favorite spot, a French cafe on the corner, with an outdoor patio facing the street.
I hadn't cooled any on the walk over. I was feeling very rebellious, and I'm sure my voice showed it. "My mother will not allow me to wear European
clothes. I hate it! I wish I could leave home!"
Marie smiled and responded, "you can do what I did. Find an American and sleep with him. He buys me all my clothes, American clothes."
"And American records and watches... maybe even an American home," I added. They all giggled.
My anger tempered a little. "My Father talks of sending me to the university in Rabat. I wish it could be France. Couldn't I live there." I put on a little pout.
Marie sighed. "You are lucky. I have no one to support me but myself. If I'm lucky, the American will take me to America with him." She continued flippantly, "If not, then he will drop me like a dirty rag. I'll probably become a whore and spend my life in the prison entertaining the Gendarmes."
I knew Marie was telling the truth, but I was so angry I wanted to check out every option. "How do you know which American to pick? Who will treat you nicely and who will take you to America? I'd love to go to America. In all the movies, it looks like the most wonderful place on earth. Maybe I would pick an American if I could be sure."
Marie looked shocked. She reached forward and took my arm. "Kenza, you don't know what you are saying. I may act happy and proud about what I'm doing, but I'm really ashamed. If the American gets tired of me, then I've thrown my virtue to the wind, and I'll probably end up in prison. Wake up and pay attention to what you have. I wouldn't do it again, the risk is too great. Don't do it! Don't even think it!"
I was embarrassed. They all thought it was funny until they thought I was actually serious. "Well," I shrugged, "I don't speak English, anyway."
William laughed and brought Kenza back to the present. "Is that why you met me later in the French cafe?"
Kenza reacted sharply. "No! When I saw the way they reacted, I was ashamed of myself. They broke through my anger, and I realized I didn't want any part of Marie's life. But I decided right then and there I wasn't going to spend my life behind a djellaba and a veil. That was no way to catch a man in those times. God, what a difficult time that was."
"I saw you later, and you were stunning."
Kenza smiled. "I went home that evening and put on slacks and a blouse. After I slipped out of the apartment, I put on lipstick. I knew if my mother caught me in the clothes, she would only make me change them. But lipstick! She would have killed me."
William touched her cheek. He remembered the first time he had seen her. Her auburn hair had cascaded softly to her shoulders, brushing her high cheek bones and emphasizing the slender line of her jaw. Her slim figure had not been allowed to fatten under a djellaba. She had been all a lonely sailor could want.
"I remember your two friends. They were with you when we met."
Kenza nodded. "You had trouble getting rid of them."
"Yes, you were the one that sparkled. I wanted to go walking with you. They left after I bought them a steak."
Kenza chuckled. "They weren't fools. They had their price."
"That was some evening. Enchanting, but shocking."
"Why was that?"
"You don't remember what happened? Let me remind you. After we left the cafe, we went walking around the French Quarter. I tried to hold your hand, but you wouldn't let me. You ran a little ahead, and hid in the shadows and played chase around the roundabout in the intersection. After several rounds, you sat on the low wall to catch your breath. As soon as I walked around to
join you, you looked up mischievously and bolted away, down the street, playfully daring me to catch you."
William remembered the moment well. She had captivated him. He had had to catch her. With renewed energy he had chased after her, finally catching her by the shoulder. Though she was winded, her feminine voice added a melody to every breath, enchanting him. Smiling shyly, she took his hand and her touch seemed to radiate through him.
She had stopped in front of her apartment, and somehow they communicated in French that this was her home. They looked at each other. Neither wanted to leave. She was bewitching in the lamplight. Her cheeks were flushed with color, and her soft brown eyes were sparkling. He drew her close and his hands stroked her luxurious hair. Still a little breathless, her soft full lips were slightly parted, beckoning him. He pulled them to his and kissed her. And then again."
"When I got you to your apartment, there in the shadows of the street, I kissed you. And then you pulled away, slapped me, and told me in French that you were no whore. I never did understand that."
Kenza laughed aloud. "I saw my mother watching us from the balcony. I knew I was in deep trouble. There I was, in European clothes, with lipstick on, out without permission, kissing an American serviceman."
William chuckled. "I think I'm beginning to understand. No wonder your mother was on you."
"As soon as you left that evening, the battle really began." Kenza began again telling her remembrances.
Aysha laid right into me. "You whore! Where have you been, to bed with this man? A foreigner yet. Allah have mercy on me. I cannot hide my shame, she has shown herself all over the village. Why have you done this to me? Why?"
Louis tried to intervene. "Times are changing. She will wear the clothes sooner or later."
Aysha's anger was not about to be abated. "Lipstick!" she shouted. "Even the face of a whore. Americans! No! They are infidels. Infidels! Curse the Americans, they bring terrible things. May the King throw them out!"
"And curse the French, too?" Louis asked. "Are we better than the Americans? Did your own husband not help bring the same changes? Would you have the King throw me out, too?"
Aysha was in a rage. She let it all out, years of repressed feelings. "Curse the day I married a Frenchman. I was too young and foolish to know better. Look what it has brought me now. I have shamed my parents and my people. I will not let my daughter make the same mistake. She will live totally as a Moroccan woman, and maybe Allah will see this as expiation for my sins."
Louis was quiet for some time. His face was full of sorrow. When he spoke, despair rose in his voice. "I'm sorry to know that you feel that way. Maybe I should divorce you."
"No. No! I pray to Allah, no! Do not divorce me and give me an even greater shame. None of my people would have me. Daughter, pray to Allah that all may be forgiven before it is too late! Do not make this mistake!"
"Pray to Allah?" Louis asked. "But Kenza is also French. I never heard the French claim such rules from God. Nothing about clothes and lipstick. She is part French. Let her choose her own ways and not be cursed for it."
Aysha screamed back at him, "You have corrupted us with your foreign gods and your foreign ways. Yes. Yes! She will choose your ways. She will be a whore, wait and see. Allah is punishing me for my sins. He rubs my face in them."
I had not said a word. I was sorry I had caused the argument, and I was ashamed it was over such a petty thing as clothes. I felt degraded by my mother's remarks, but I was sick of living under my mother's thumb. Except for my mother's sobs, all had been quiet for a minute. I had been staring at her, unable to say anything that might hurt her, but neither would I acquiesce. "I suppose when these clothes have made me a whore and your words are fulfilled, and then you will be happy."
Aysha said nothing.
"I am no whore, mother, and these clothes cannot change what I am." I went to my bed and sank onto it. I wondered who I was, half French and half Moroccan, caught between two worlds and part of neither.
William looked at her across the table in the French cafe. He felt a deep sorrow for her. He had never really known how she felt. "I suppose when we evacuated that base and I left the country, that was the final rejection."
Kenza looked down. "What was I to think? We made love for the first and only time, just a week before. With you gone, I was a whore for certain." She continued looking at the table for a moment. When she looked up there was a tear in her eye. "Why didn't you come back sooner?"
William was puzzled. "I came back for you the next day after we evacuated. Didn't anyone tell you?"
Kenza shrugged and shook her head.
"Even though all American military personnel were restricted to their bases, I got special permission to come back. I got on my Vespa and rode to your apartment. Louis said you were in Tangier. I went to the address in Tangier. I'll never forget it, 223 Rue De Spaniol. The woman there wouldn't talk to me. She didn't even understand your name."
"Fatima! My Aunt. She must have pretended I wasn't home. Now I understand. You see, like my mother, she thought Americans were evil incarnate. She would have told you that just to break us up."
"Well, I guess she accomplished her mission." William shook his head with despair. "Did you even know I came back several times, and was finally assigned to the Navy in Intelligence and came back here."
"Yes, Papa told me you were back, but I thought it was over."
"Why did you leave the country?"
"Because I was tired of the struggle. I was broken. I was a citizen of neither the French world nor the Moroccan, and I had been shamed. I felt England was the only place to go that would accept me. A clean break."
William held her chin in his hand, and looked into her eyes. "Kenza, I hope we are still the same people we once were. I would like that very much."
She put her hand on his and kissed it. "So would I."
He tried to kiss her hand, but she wouldn't let him.
"You'll have to chase me first!" she said mischievously.
Next: Chapter 7