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Thread: The Tel Aviv Contractor.

  1. #16
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    Haha. Now there is an idea!!!!!

  2. #17
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    Chapter 6.

    It was at three in the morning when it occurred. He knew the exact time; for swinging* his legs over, and sitting at the side of the bed, he tapped his mobile gently and it came up on the screen. If anything, it brought him back from the vividness of what he had just experienced. There are for most people, dreams that seem to fluctuate and float in a hazy manner, of which you remember salient parts. In fact, you struggle to remember the contents of this type before they sink into a void, never to be revived.

    But this had been something different. The layout of the room he knew, and yet there in all its material composition, stood a young man in a white shirt taking the pulse on his left wrist. He even remembered offering the arm, whilst struggling to articulate. But no words came. Just dull attempts at mouthing. The figure, so real, was not in anyway threatening and proceeded to switch to feeling the pulse at the side of his forehead.

    He woke, and as noted, sat at the side of the bed besprent in sweat. The woman had gone. No trace or sound.

    He struggled to both comprehend and interpret. This was no ordinary dream. Too realistic. The rather bizarre thought crossed his mind, that if this was a visitation by one's guardian angel, did they now wear white shirts akin an airline steward?

    But doubt is but half a magician. She evokes the spectre which she cannot quell. He was a mortal momentarily without Heaven above him, or Hell beneath him.

    He checked the unlocked door through which she had gone, and relocked it. For some obscure reason he linked her as like the mystery of Mary Magdalena; had she been the penitent whore, or someone who understood him? For he realised that she had been adept at awakening in him that night, a waste energy as of Hurcules furibund.

  3. #18
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    This is getting better and better. Only your protagonist should check if someone hasn´t shipped him or if the most recent lady of his heart hasn´t put something in his drink, to make him sleep.
    #Stay home as much as you can and stay well

  4. #19
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    We manoeuvre effortlessly my friend between "Cherchez la femme," to a "Micky Finn." Its getting more Raymond Chandler by the minute!!! ��

  5. #20
    Registered User Steven Hunley's Avatar
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    Oh Jeez, as usual, as usual with everyone here, you have out-penned us. This is why I always put off reading your stuff. I always know it will be good, so like dessert, I save it for later.

  6. #21
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    Thanks buddy. Bon Appetit.

  7. #22
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    Chapter 7.

    The next day Aaron drove in light traffic the 51 miles from Tyre to Beruit along the main coastal highway through Sayda. It took just over an hour. The woman was still on his mind. Something more than an unplanned one night stand with a stranger was prodding him. Unknown factors always whet suspicions, especially in his profession.

    The first stop in Beruit was the Inter Continental Phonecia Hotel located at the junction of Fakhreddine Street and Ibn Sina Street, where his target was reportedly holed up. Imposing and overly plush, as one would expect from a 5 star hotel in what was once the playground of the Arab world, he was politely informed by the somewhat smooth concierge that the hotel, although still open despite recent events, was regrettably booked solid until the 18th January 2021.

    Aaron was surprised. Beruit had been a wasteland since the 4th August bomb blast at the port. The starkness of the ruined grain silos, bleak like violated cathedral pillars: a statement of abomination to the structures that existed before. Add on the virus pandemic, economic collapse and political chaos and one could understand the closed banks and the vandalised ATM machines he passed; the reports of starvation in Tripoli and the hard, resigned, barely suppressed anger on the face of the inhabitants. Nothing but what Nature gives her wild children originally of the desert: ferocity and appetite; strength grounded on hunger.

    He settled as an alternative accommodation the Radisson nearby and booked in a suite on the seventh floor.

    Not much for the moment could be gleaned from the Inter Continental. Tomorrow he would undertake a reconnaissance of the Babel Restaurant in Zaitunay Bay where the target was supposed to meet her minder. The yacht "Samaya", reportedly anchored there would also be of interest.

  8. #23
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    WoW! Aaron is back in high form. One good part of his job, is that it includes the visit and frequency of five stars places. I didn´t know Arab hotels held that preference for plush.
    #Stay home as much as you can and stay well

  9. #24
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    Yes buddy. There are some really luxurious ones all over the Middle East, especially in Qatar and Saudi that I know. Lebanon is a mess now, but at one time it was where all the Arabs went for: the beaches, skiing, fantastic cuisine and rock n roll.

  10. #25
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    Chapter 8.

    He got to the Babel Restaurant at around 12.30pm for an initial reconnaissance. Situated on the Marina he detected signs that both the establishment and its surroundings had known better days. The harbour was pristine and calm, yet he guessed the yachts moored there were less in number. The outward facing promenade; part concrete, part wooden decking had the inviting attraction of comprising both a yacht club and numerous substantial restaurants at the upper end of quality and most likely, price.

    He left the car with the attendant for the convenience of private parking and walked across the outer canopied terrace to the entrance. A tall, smart middle aged man, hair combed forward greeted him in the traditional Arabic manner, welcoming him to the restaurant.

    "As-salaam alaykum. Marhabaan bikum fi mateam Babel.

    And almost as if he sensed the new guest was a travelled individual, he quickly switched to English

    "My name is Adnan Mahdi and I'm the Manager."

    Aaron responded likewise, "Wa alaykum as-salaam. Can I have a table for one please."

    Adnan moved like a man with very sound muscles, who despite required civility on his part, did not look like the type to mess with.

    Adnan opened the main entrance door and one could see from the imposingly sandstone column / shaft wall structures, that the interior of the building had been designed to theme the biblical tower of the restaurants name.

    Too much like an overbearing mountain cliff edge atmosphere for Aaron, who chose to eat instead outside overlooking the harbour.

    The Babel was sparsely occupied with diners. Perhaps most of the Lebanese cliental ate their main meal in the evening, or business was tight due to the current state of the country? In any case it was quiet, and numerous waiter staff hovered aimlessly at the doors or discreet vantage points.

    It was a prudent move on his part coming here at this time; low key, and important to understand the layout, or even exit routes if required quickly in the event of a potential hit location.

    He blended in well and looked the part as one of the more successful of the Good Lord's creatures: dark blue suit, white cotton shirt, smart loafers and the subtle understatement of a Tag Heuer watch, suitably apparent on the left wrist.

    He ordered the meze, fish, a side salad and a glass of white wine, whilst noting from his coign of advantage the various yachts. Most of the smaller ones were moored side by side nearest to the restaurant. A few individuals could occasionally be seen on deck, doing whatever one does on such craft. But over to the outer breakwater side near the harbour entrance, there were a few larger, (one might even say), substantial craft; ostensibly more like floating palaces than a means of marine transport. They caught his attention.

    The manager approached through the terrace to his table, moving with that easy grace that some large men are endowed with. He enquired politely if everything was to Aaron's satisfaction?

    Aaron nodded in agreement, throwing in the requisite complimentary aside; then, looking out across the marina, asked if there were any yachts one could hire for a sightseeing trip along the coast?

    There was returned that professional smile; white teeth set in an olive tanned face.

    "I'm sure sir that in these difficult times, that might be quite feasible." The eyes, intelligent yet with an unknown depth, held his gaze.

    "I'm obliged," responded Aaron. "Perhaps I will just take a stroll and see who I can talk to."

    He made no enquiry of the "Samaya." It paid at this juncture to impart as few specifics as possible.
    Last edited by MANICHAEAN; 11-07-2020 at 12:47 PM.

  11. #26
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    Chapter 9.

    Aaron left the Babal and leaving his car in the restaurant garage turned left and started to walk along the marina.

    It was by now mid afternoon and hot. Few other walkers were apparent. Strolling casually he passed the yachts lined up adjacent each other and nearest to the restaurant side.

    He proceeded around the inner western side to the breakwater to where the larger vessels were moored. It was there that he saw the "Samaya" for the first time. She was a beauty; whether one was into boats or not. Sleek, white satin exterior finish and oozing wealth.

    A young fit looking man was on deck and Aaron nodded to him whilst standing on the quay as if in admiration. Aaron was unaware he was being observed, until a voice from somewhere inside asked something of the man on deck.

    Aaron was then asked if he wanted to come on board to meet the owner and see more of the yacht. Smiling pleasantly he gave thanks for the hospitable gesture and proceeded up the metal ramp.

    It was as impressive inside as he anticipated: brown stained teak deck and walnut finish panelling with luxurious beige leather seating. The deckhand motioned him in from the rear deck into the cabin.

    There sat a man, quite old in an upright chair obviously dying. He watched with eyes from which all fire had died long ago. The face was akin a parchment mask with bloodless lips. Hands like claws across his lap were mottled with prominent knotted veins. A few strands of white hair took precarious refuge on his scalp.

    " Come in, come in," he said. " marhaba, welcome."

    "I see so few visitors these days. I am Zaynab Nakhjevani. Please take a seat," flourishing weakly with his left hand to the chair opposite.

    The voice alternated between a breathless wheeze and a rasp deep in his chest.

    Aaron introduced himself as Dr Rami Kabanni, travelling through Lebanon on his way back to the USA.

    The owner appeared interested.

    "But you are Lebanese by birth?"

    " Yes, but I left Lebanon during the civil war and now call the States my home," he responded.

    "All too common these days. But the Lebanese are as you know the original Phonecians; traders throughout the world, but in their hearts Lebanon is still their spiritual home. A bit like the Jews with Jerusalem."

    There was something about the eyes in that last sentence.

    " Myself, I am Iranian as you may have noted from my name. I have been successful in life, but now my health is precarious. My sleep for example, is so close to waking that it is hardly worth the name these days", he said.

    All the time he watched Aaron's face, licking his lips, drawing one slowly across the other with a funereal absorption, like an undertaker washing his hands.

    To Aaron's mind here was an old man two-thirds dead physically, but mentally still there, and still determined to believe he could take it.

    "Excuse my manners, would you care for a drink? I normally have a whisky about this time. My hold on life is slight, but I must have some small indulgences."

    The deckhand must have been standing quietly behind Aaron, for as if by instinct, there appeared a bottle of Balvenie 21 year old malt, two crystal glasses and a silver bucket of ice.

    The drinks poured Zaynab held his tentatively up and sniffed it, as if drawing strength from its contents. He sipped, leaned back and closed his eyes momentarily as the liquor ignited that which was not there before.

    The pulse in his lean throat throbbed visibly and yet so slowly that it was hardly a pulse at all.

    "Let me introduce you to my daughter."

    Unaware of the new presence Aaron rose and turned.

    It was the woman from Tyre who stood before him.
    Last edited by MANICHAEAN; 11-11-2020 at 01:17 PM.

  12. #27
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    Loved the descriptions and am quite keen on the Babel Restaurant.

    But for an experienced international spy, Mr. Aaron is somewhat careless. Boarding a unknown ship without checking first.
    #Stay home as much as you can and stay well

  13. #28
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    Chapter 10.

    She gave him a broad smile and a "hello." Secret thoughts and open countenance.

    This lady was; cool, composed, contained. Unrestrained alliteration, yes, but it summed it up.

    More elegantly dressed than when he had first met her: mustard top well cut, knee length pleated black skirt and a few jewellery accessories that spoke of educated wealth.

    She kissed her father lightly on the forehead and then sitting to one side, viewed Aaron, with something akin amusement. Like Caesar's wife, all things to all men.

    Perhaps it was mutual surprise; both having shown some of their top cards. Its not as if "sleeping with the enemy" is a parlour game to be taken lightly.

    Aaron knew that he was as deep in as he would ever be; both with his ex-bed partner and likely the father as well.

    The ensuing conversation was polite, not overly intrusive and if anything, seemed to hang in a kind of benign metamorphosis, with mysteries flowing like sap in narrow channels.

    Outside in the harbour, a succession of singular prismatic tints, flush after flush diffusing the Mediterranean horizon, signalled the end of the day, whilst on the Elysian Fields there was a pause.

  14. #29
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    Enjoyed Chapter 10!
    #Stay home as much as you can and stay well

  15. #30
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    Chapter 11.

    They finished talking about 10.30pm and Aaron made his goodbyes. Strolling back along the marina he retrieved his car from the restaurant car park and proceeded to drive back to his hotel.

    Passing the stark bombed out silo structures in the port, he shuddered. What was once the playground of the Arab rich lay like a wasted decaying cadaver; silent as a vault, and bereft of either hope or emotional sustenance.

    Arriving at the hotel he handed over the car keys and proceeded to the hotel bar. A strong drink was the order of the day to help sort out priorities and options.

    The place held just one couple sitting at window seats and himself.

    Ordering a “Negroni” he slipped onto one of the bar stools and glazed vacantly at the display of backlit bottles.

    He thought back on the night’s events. In the past he had attained an internal satisfaction in the belief with regard to his opponents, the saying, “Just when they think they are screwing you; you are screwing them.”

    Tonight, was the exception, the only saving grace being that it had comprised a mutual state of equipoise regards the screwing being undertaken.

    If she had caught him off-guard in Tyre, he had countered in Beirut. But all the more reason to be wary, for he guessed she was durable; the kind of lady who could function under strain.

    The father was obviously; rich, intelligent and sinister in a way that his hold on life seemed too slight to include any Victorian hypocrisy. Even so, he played whatever cards he had memorized in a brain that still functioned acutely, and positioned face down on the table.

    Aaron ordered another drink.

    It sat before him, swirling bright and deep red; the bar lights reflecting off the ice; and he cradled it between his fingers, akin a priest’s chalice.

    “This is my blood that I give up to you for the redemption of sin.”
    Last edited by MANICHAEAN; 12-13-2020 at 06:17 AM.

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