Conspiracy at Desert One
By Bernace Charles
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
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?"
"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. >>>
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