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 Write for The Iranian

Conspiracy at Desert One
A novel

By Bernace Charles
The Iranian

Chapter Twenty-Six

Day Three
Jerusalem 1999

Lewis Kolleck woke. He looked the direction of Roya's bedroom window. From there, Lewis turned his eyes to the door of the shop. Not seeing Roya opening it he quickly pulled on slacks and shirt, went down stairs, and crossed the street. There, he pushed up and over the wall of the narrow courtyard and climbed the stairs to the upper house. A note lay taped to the door. Taking it, he read,

"Lewis, I'm leaving the city for a day. I'll be back tomorrow. Roya"

Lewis pushed the note into his pocket and expressed, "Damn!" He was certain Mary Goldwaith boarded a plane to take her somewhere he didn't know, and he resented her lack of need for him.


The plane landed at the Zurich-Kloten Airport at eleven-thirty a.m. After getting visa clearance, Roya exited the terminal. She entered a taxi and said, "Please take me to a nice hotel."

"Hotel Zurich is very comfortable and off the city center."

"Take me there."

The taxi driver turned into the traffic. As he drove through the green and beauty of the space separating the airport from the city, Roya watched the passing hills and distant mountains. As she did, she feared the information she might find at the bank. Before the taxi was a kilometer from the airport, Roya asked, "Can you take me by the branch of the Habib Bank at Weinbergstrasse 59? I need to go there later today."

The driver glanced to Roya in the car's review-mirror. He said, "Yes, I can drive by it. We pass Weinbergstrasse on the way to the hotel."

Twenty minutes later they pulled in front of the Hotel Zurich. Roya paid the taxi fare. Looking around her, she thought the city gave a scrubbed appearance. Everything was clean and reminding her of a modern Garden of Eden compared to the heat and stones of Jerusalem. Roya entered a luxurious hotel and walked to the check-in counter. There, she asked in French, "Do you have a single occupancy?"

A young man looking as clean as the city checked a computer screen, and said, "Yes, we have a single occupancy."

"Good. I'll take it for one night."

"If you are from out of the country, I need to register your passport." Roya presented the false passport. The young man quickly registered its number and handed it back to Roya. He asked, "Do you have any luggage?"

"No, just the knapsack."

"Very well. The room is on the fourth floor.


Roya found the room number and let herself into it. She went to the bathroom to shower and wash her hair. After this she used a hotel, courtesy hair drier, and brushed through her hair. As he pulled on the summer dress, Roya thought of the house on Christian Street. Tired from her restless sleep, the drive to the airport, and the flight, Roya knew she feared what she might discover at the Habib Bank.

Twenty minutes later Roya left the room. With a great sense of dread, she locked the door behind her, descended to the lobby, and exited to the street.

Outside the hotel, a hotel attendant flagged a cab for her.

The cab soon arrived at Weinbergstasse 59. There, Roya crossed the sidewalk to the doors of the Habid Bank. She pushed a door open, entered, and found the window for the deposit boxes. With her, she carried her wallet with new Israeli Driver's License, and her National Health Insurance card. She also carried the IDF deferment papers and the false passport. With a disciplined confidence, Roya stepped to the bank window.

An older woman with gray hair asked in French, "May I help you?"

Roya presented the woman with the key. "Yes, could I please get the things from my mother and my deposit box?"

Alice Martin typed the number of the key into a computer terminal. It showed no flagged warning from Interpol or other constraint. She asked, "Your mother paid for the box for thirty years, and in the name of Betty and Lori Hudgins? Do you have any identification?"

"Yes." Roya pushed the driver's license, passport, and the National Health Insurance Card across the counter.

The woman studied the name and the face on the passport. She asked, "Your mother rented the box fourteen years ago?"

The question surprised Roya. She hid her surprise away. She answered, "Yes. My grandmother died in the Holocaust. My mother recently died, and I have come for my grandmother's papers."

"Please step down to the far counter."

Roya stepped into the room for box access where the woman motioned her to sit at a row of cubicles while getting the box number. Having it, the woman stepped to Roya and set the box on the table. "Please call me when you're through."

"That won't be necessary. They're letters my mother wrote to an uncle before the Nazis sent her to Auschwitz. My cousin wants me to place them in the Holocaust Museum."

Alice Martin watched Roya open the box and take out a thick vanilla envelope. Roya stood and said, "I would like to keep the box open. I may decide to return the letters if they're not appropriate for publication. I don't want them destroyed."

"That's fine. Your mother rented the box for thirty years. There are sixteen left."

Roya followed Alice Martin out of the vault. Upon reaching the sidewalk, a tremendous fear rushed through her. In every face, she saw a stranger named The Raven. As she walked to a tram pick up, she thought of what the papers might say. Before she would sit to read them, Roya wanted to celebrate the experience of being out of Jerusalem. To do this, she decided to buy a new a set of clothes.

After a tram ride to Bahnhofstrasse, Zurich's famous shopping street, Roya walked before the windows of dress shops. There, she found a silk, doubled breasted summer suit. It was in a summer green with a white, silk blouse. She entered the shop selling the fashion labels of Sasson, Versace, Grati, and others. A woman stepped to Roya and asked in French, "May I help you?"

Roya asked, "The suit jacket, pants, and blouse in the window, do you have it in a size eight? I would like to try it on and with new sandals."

The sales clerk smiled. She said, "Yes, Madame, I'll show you to a fitting room."


Forty minutes later, Roya exited the shop. She wore the new clothes with a Herme~s scarf, and green, soft leather sandals. Roya's dress and flats were in a shopping bag. As Roya walked the sidewalk before the other shops and feeling a sense of freedom, she knew she was just as attractive as those women shopping the exclusive dress shops.

But Roya also realized she was putting off reading the papers in the knapsack. An inner pain drove her thoughts back to them. She hailed a taxi, knowing her escape would soon end. One stopped. She entered, and asked its driver, "Can you take me to a restaurant with good food?"

"Yes, Madame. I can call for a reservation. What is your name?"

Now knowing why she did, Roya lied, "It's Brandy, Brandy Smith." She then sat back in the seat to watch the people on the Bahnhofstrasse.

The cab driver turned his eyes back to the street. He used a cell-phone to call the Restaurant Riesbachli. After brief words, he put the cell-phone down, and said, "Ms. Smith, you have a reservation at a nice restaurant."


Forty minutes later Roya finished reading the last page of the information left her from her mother. Her eyes teared over. A waiter saw them and stepped to the table to ask, "Is anything wrong? Is everything to your liking?"

The words rolled passed Roya.

The waiter again asked, "Is there anything wrong?"

"No, everything is fine."

The young man asked, "Can I get you anything. We have a fine wine list."

"No. I have to go to the hotel. Would you please call a taxi for me?" Roya handed the man ten francs.


A taxi delivered her back to the Hotel Zurich. Roya now knew the why of her mother's outrage. There, in her room, and with a great swell of anger, Roya again opened the envelope. She opened it as she sat on the bed. A bundle of hundred-dollar bills, official papers, photographs, and twenty pages of a hand written letter tumbled onto her lap. Ignoring the money and the photographs, Roya wanted to read the handwritten letter for a second time.

"Roya, I am writing this before the final name change for you. You are now at an age where you need to know why we left America and why I left the man you remember as a father to you. I am sorry I had to take you away from your friends. Now, it's long enough that you feel Israel is home to you. I pray this is our last move. Tomorrow morning we leave for Israel.

The reason I took you into hiding was I couldn't stand the thought of you being in danger. I loved your father with all my heart. Roya, he wasn't the man who died during the war in South Vietnam. At the time we left the United States, it was because of my work in the American Central Intelligence Agency. Though it will be years before you read this . . . there are those who may hunt us. It is reason for the name change. Roya, I was involved in an event of history not remembered by many and wanting to be forgotten by all . . ."

After reading the letter, there were new tears in her eyes. Outrage at men having used her mother swelled within her.

Copies of original documents authorizing the action were with the letter as were several different birth certificates, and passports to further give her the option of multiple names and lives. Each certificate carried the same date of birth to match her birthday. Roya studied several passports, Swiss, English, French, and Egyptian.

Roya knew Fred Southgate was her biological father. There wasn't any mention of The Raven. Roya wondered how her mother expected her to know the man. Was the name a fiction of her mother's mind? She wondered if the man Fred Southgate continued to live in Chicago. Roya had always remembered the home's telephone number.

She took up the hotelroom's telephone and called the hotel registry. She said, "Please get me an international operator."

One came on line and she gave the telephone number of the house in Chicago. The telephone rang three times before a man's voice answered. The voice was calm and sure of itself.

Roya asked, "May I speak with Fred Southgate?"

There was a lengthy pause as David Rice watch a second hand of a watch. Too many seconds passed before a question came back, "May I ask who is calling?"

Roya's voice sounded weary, "His daughter. Is Fred Southgate there?"

David wanted to keep Roya on the line. He asked, "Did you say you're Fred's daughter?"

"Yes. Is he there?"

"I'm sorry. He's out right now. Do you have a name or telephone number?"

Roya realized someone might trace the call. She quickly hung the receiver up and exclaimed, "Damn!" After entering the bathroom, Roya studied her face in its mirror. She saw the resemblance to Fred Southgate. She had his forehead and nose to balance her mother's cheek bones and facial depth. Her eyes were green, but they could have easily been blue.

As she calmed herself, Roya changed into her Levis, yellow sweatshirt, and flats. She took up the papers, stuffed them in the envelope, and secured them and the money belt inside the Levis and beneath the sweatshirt. After putting the new clothes inside her knapsack, she went about the task of making certain she cleaned anything she might have touched.

If the man on the telephone traced the call, the new passport held a Tel Aviv address. She would return to Christian Street in The Old City and decide what to do. It was eight p.m. and Roya left the room to descend in an elevator, cross the hotel's plush lobby, and exit to the curbing. There, she entered a taxi. >>> Go to Chapter Twenty-Seven

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