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Conspiracy at Desert One
A novel

By Bernace Charles
The Iranian

Chapter Twenty-One

Roya woke from a short, troubled sleep, feeling the weight of the world on her shoulders. The last words Roya remembered telling her mother were that everything would be OK and everything wasn't. It was four a.m. and The Old City wasn't yet awake. Roya entered the kitchen, turned on the light, and placed a kettle of water on a burner to make instant coffee.

While she waited for the water to heat, she took up a large spoon to dig through the potting soil holding the rubber tree plant. She soon discovered a sealed, plastic case. Pulling it out of the potting soil she brushed it off and lay it on the table. She made a cup of coffee, opened the plastic case, and sat thinking as she sipped coffee.

As Roya eyed the rubber tree plant, she remembered the day her mother brought the plant home. Now, She peered at it and wondered if it would survive her digging through its soil. A key lay on the table and bearing the name of a bank in Zurich. The plastic case also held new identification papers, and a money belt with two thousand American dollars. A new passport bore the name of Lori Hudgins. There was also a new Israeli Driver's License, National Health Insurance card, Jerusalem for Bikes card, and IDF deferment papers. A new life lay on the table before Roya.

As she shuffled through the papers, Roya's glance would come back to the safety deposit key. She remembered a time her mother took her to the old city of Jafa south of Tel Aviv. They went to a shop behind a cafe on the Harbor road before driving south and to a home along the coast. . The next week her mother went to Zurich for the day. The man from the house had come to the crowded home the second year her mother was out of the hospital. Her mother never said why he came.

Zurich had also been the last European stop before reaching the Middle East fourteen years past. At the time they were in Zurich and spent time visiting the city's Grossmunster Cathedral, and the Kunsthaus and Rietberg Museums. During that time, they walked in Belvoir Park and through the Zurich Zoo. Now, Roya knew she would have to return to the city alone.

Ten minutes later, Roya pushed away from the table, went down the outside stairs, and opened the iron door to the street. She looked both directions before stepping back inside and returning to her bedroom. There, she pulled the shutters closed, took off her housecoat, and checked the stitches in her right knee.

Dressing in Levis, a yellow sweatshirt, and flats she folded a green, cotton, knee-length dress, and placed it in a knapsack. She returned to the kitchen to take up the new identification papers, the money belt, and the bank key.

Life along Christian Street wasn't yet awake. Lewis wouldn't be awake to see Roya leave the house. Coming down the outside steps, Roya pushed her motor scooter into the street before closing and locking the iron door. She pushed the scooter for a full block before she started it. Soon, she steered it out of The Old City to drive the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv Highway. As she drove northwest, Roya passed through the Jerusalem Corridor where housing developments reminded her of those in the United States.

It was early. The sun broke into the day. Roya didn't ride into Tel Aviv but turned off the highway at Lod and headed to the Ben-Gurion International Airport. There, she parked the scooter and followed the arrows from the parking lot to the Swissair terminal where she joined the early line at the ticket counter. As she stood before a woman at the counter, she said in French, "I need a round-trip ticket to Zurich with a return tomorrow morning."

An attractive woman in a Swissair Uniform checked Roya's identification cards. She asked, "Your passport." Roya handed over the new passport. The woman's voice came in a natural French accent, "Do you want a connecting flight or straight through?"

"Straight through."

"Do you want first class?"

"No, economy will be fine." Roya paid cash for the flight.

The Swissair flight would arrive in Zurich a little less than four hours later with its departure thirty minutes away. The woman asked, "Did you want to check the bag?"


Thirty minutes later after submitting the knapsack to airport security, Roya gazed out an Airbus window and into the morning sky. It was seven-thirty a.m. and she would land at the Zurich-Kloten Airport before eleven-thirty. Now, she would try to sleep. >>> Go to Chapter Twenty-Two

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