Conspiracy at Desert One
By Bernace Charles
After the American Airliner touched down in London, Wes departed it
to pass through the visa Que. He was soon on a train taking him into London.
After entering the city, and leaving London's Victoria Station, he took
a taxi to a bed and breakfast on Sussex Gardens. Being tired from the trip,
he got a room and slept soundly through the night.
The next day he used the telephone. Tommy Emmons answered the double
ring. Walker said in coded words, "This is Juniper. I'm in the city
and I need the following items."
Wes listed several items he wanted delivered to him. The print shop
on Edgeware Road was several blocks to his north. Hyde Park was a block
to the south. It would be along the Serpentine where he would take delivery.
Wes remembered the right code words for the right weapons. He knew where
to take delivery and he knew how to use them. The months with men in North
Ireland taught him of their plight that resulted into a best seller that
questioned England's rule over a fragile truce.
Now, Wes knew he was part of another dangerous puzzle. The Raven had
given him information and he was in London under an assumed name. Jerusalem
would be his destination before traveling to southern Scotland. First,
he needed to make preparations to protect himself while writing the story.
At noon, Wes left Albion Street at its intersection with Bayswater Road.
He cut between the traffic of Bayswater to enter Hyde Park through the
Albion Gate. As he strolled across open grass, Walker remembered the last
time he was in London. On that day, the sky was overcast and the day dreary
and forlorn. Now, the sky was bright and the sun was out. People moved
through the park carrying novels, sketch pads, and deck chairs to take
advantage of the day. Wes followed a pathway taking him across a field
where a group of young men formed to do battle over a game of soccer. From
there, he cut through a grouping of trees and down a slope leading to Serpentine
The contact was dressed as Walker instructed him. He wore a blue jacket
with brown trousers. Tommy Emmons sat holding a brown shopping bag. He
sat on the third bench to the left of the path facing the lake. On the
ground next to Tommy's right leg was a black suitcase. Tommy's true name
was Shaun O'Brady and he was from Belfast. He had lived in London for the
past fifteen years. Walker stepped to the bench and took notice of scuffmarks
on the case. It wouldn't attract attention.
Walker sat on the bench and unfolded a copy of a London paper. After
doing so, he turned to view the brightly colored rowboats maneuvering the
lake by people out for exercise. He said without looking in Shaun O'Brady's
direction, "Place the case on your lap and open it." He then
faced O'Brady and added, "If it's a bomb . . . I want it to take both
Shaun moved the shopping bag off his lap and picked up the case. He
said, "It's good to know you remember what we taught you. The novel
was first-rate. It put a humane face on us. Tell me . . . are you planning
to assassinate one of our British Conservatives or are you still writing?"
"Strange way of doing it." Shaun opened the case on his lap.
He asked, "Did you bring the money?" Shaun O'Brady stared into
the distance, before turning the case to give Walker a view of its contents.
Tightly packed in formed Styrofoam was a field stripped Chinese AK47 assault
rifle with night sighting device and grenade launcher. To the side was
a Browning pistol with two extra clips. Three fragmentation grenades lay
in a tight grouping. O'Brady said, "You make a strange request for
a man writing a book. Perhaps you are going to war to do your research."
"Not unless I have to." Wess took a tourist booklet from a
jacket pocket. Contained in it was twenty-five hundred dollars. Walker
handed O'Brady the money and said, "I don't want anyone following
me. This has noting to do with North Ireland . . . it's a different game.
It's a game I'm not yet certain I can win."
"Mr. Walker, what you do is your business." Shaun said latching
the case and placing it on the bench between them. He added, "You'll
have no interference from us."
Walker felt no kinship with the man but only sadness the world didn't
change with the passing of time. He said, "Don't place too great a
value on your interpretation. It's a blind understanding."
Shaun took up the shopping bag. "It's good to know you haven't
lost your interest in life. There will always be a certain amount of disorder
tolerated if it's to one's benefit. Good luck with whatever you're hunting."
O'Brady turned and walked away.
Walker watched him become lost among others. He left the park to Oxford
Street and passed through the underground. Back on the street, he hailed
a taxi to go to Euston Train Station. Within an hour, Wes was sitting in
a first class car of the 11:32 train. The train began its run north to
Carlisie. The rows of homes north of London soon gave away to the English
countryside. Walker was safe. He managed to travel to England. The home
on the Esk River was only an afternoon away. There, he would make preparations
to write the novel after contacting Laleh Sanders. In his thoughts, Walker
hoped the woman might accompany him to the home in Scotland where he could
begin work. First, there were preparations should others track him. The
home was his secret and private recluse where his mind could sort through
the myriad details to put together a novel. There, he would be unhampered
by those possibly protesting his work. As he stared at nothing out a train
window, Walker thought of the day he gave the home the name "The Hawk's
Lair" to instill within him the seriousness of past writing efforts.
It was the hawk waiting patently for its prey and the symbolism for dedication
to the writing task facing him. Walker thought of the code name The Raven.
Now, The Raven's words and The Hawk's Lair would come together for a single
The sun was over the Irish Sea. It shone with brilliance. A lingering
yellow light lay over it at Walker's arrival in Carlisle in North England.
Following the train's arrival, Walker rented an Austin Saloon from the
Rail Drive Office. After that, he made stops at a sporting goods shop and
at a market before he drove the highway to the north. As he drove, the
small car skirted the Solway Firth. Within an hour, the box shaped car
turned to the northeast to cross into Scotland and followed the Esk River
that emptied out of the Eskdale Hills and into the Irish Sea. Along the
river were groupings of pine, birch, and juniper. The hillsides were holding
blankets of brightly carpeted heather.
As the car passed through the town of Canonbie, Walker took notice of
the heavy stone of its buildings, and he thought of how they reminded him
of the stones of Jerusalem. Comparing the city in Israel to one of peace
seemed abnormal to him. He didn't need to stop to have any utilities turned
on at the home. Lin Thi's father forwarded the cost out of money sent to
Lin Thi supposedly part of their separation agreement.
Several kilometers to the north of Canonbie, where the road follows
to the west of the river, Walker turned the car onto a sidelane. There,
the road followed the crest of the hills overlooking the river and Scotland's
highway A1. A mile later, after the car traveled over a level stretch of
the roadway, Walker steered it onto the shoulder, stopped, and got out.
He took up a pair of binoculars he bought in Carlisle. After walking fifty
yards up the crest of a hill, he positioned himself by leaning against
a stone wall. He adjusted the field glasses in the late, afternoon light.
Below him, half a kilometer to the east was an unoccupied home. It sat
on the far bank of the Esk River. It was a two-story home of English Tutor.
A bridge arched over the river to an open courtyard. To the North, South,
and behind the home were groupings of pine and birch. Beyond the trees
were rolling hills covered with heather. The scene presented a bucolic
picture of southern Scotland. It was a place of peace.
As Walker focused on the house, it was evident by the lack of kept grounds
that it was empty. The home was in need of being painted and offered the
appearance that its care came from a halfhearted caretaker. The home stood
reflecting distant ownership. Only a few in the county knew an American
sometimes came to stay in the house. Fewer knew the name given it. A stone
mason chiseled "The Hawk's Lair" into a stone pillar standing
to the right of the arching bridge.
Wes turned his interest to a rock formation down the slope of the hill.
There would be nothing left to chance. He needed to make preparations,
and he would have to secure the Austin. He rented the small car for three
months with the pretext of taking an extended vacation through Scotland.
He would also have to position the weapon case.
A refreshing wind struck Walker's face as he turned to walk back to
the car. The green of the hill country gave way to a sky of a setting sun.
He opened the weapon case and took out the Browning pistol and extra clips.
He lay them on the passenger seat, started the car to drive back to the
highway, and crossed the bridge to drive to the house. After parking to
the back, he unloaded the groceries and sat them on a stone patio along
with the pistol and clips of ammunition. He returned to the car to drive
it back to the turn-off where he viewed the home with the binoculars. After
hiding the small car in a ravine, he came down the incline running to the
highway. Halfway down it, he placed the weapon case behind a bolder, covered
it with heather, and descended to the highway.
Before crossing the bridge, Wes paused to study the stone pillar with
its engraving. From there, he walked the gravel drive to the house. After
reaching the back patio he took a key from a plastic case beneath a heavy
stone and opened the door. He carried the bags of groceries into the house.
Now he needed sleep.
Tomorrow he would thumb his way to Edinburgh where he would take a flight
to London and continue to Jerusalem. There, a woman named Laleh Sanders
knew the details of the deaths of eight American aviators. She possessed
the papers to prove the accident in the desert wasn't what the White House
told the American public. Unlike the novels on the IRA and the PLO, Walker
felt a sense of fear for the unknown. If Harold Rush died because someone
thought The Raven talked to him, his life was on a trading block. It was
there for a story . . . a story that could rock the American public.
Go to Chapter Twenty
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