Conspiracy at Desert One
By Bernace Charles
At six a.m. the Swissair Airbus came out of the sky to land at Ben-Gurion
International Airport. No sky marshal noticed the envelope and money belt
beneath Roya's sweatshirt. She had flattened them by pressing against an
armrest of a coach seat on the flight back. After entering the airport,
Roya approached a custom's inspector. She held her knapsack with her elbows
against her sides. David Schofferman, a man with a solid form asked, "Do
you have anything to declare?"
Roya offered no hesitation. She said a firm, "No," and opened
her knapsack to present the suit jacket, pants, silk blouse, and sandals
she purchased in Zurich.
David Schofferman separated Roya's folded dress from the outfit. He
asked, "Is this all you have?"
Schofferman waved Roya through. After she reached her scooter, Roya
unlocked it and pushed its battery operated starter button. The scooter
failed to start. Roya quickly discovered that she forgot to turn the machine's
headlight off after driving to the airport that morning. She exclaimed,
"Damn it! Not now!"
A jeep driven by an armed guard circled through the parking lot. A young
man having served his time in the IDF turned the jeep Roya's direction.
Reaching her he asked, "Do you need help?"
The knapsack was on Roya's back. She brushed her hair out of her face
and said, "It won't start. The battery is dead."
John Gardenhire asked as he exited the Jeep, "Are you getting back
this early? What airline did you fly with?"
Roya brought her acting skills to the forefront. She said, "I went
to Zurich on Swissair. A girlfriend has cancer. I wanted to visit with
her before she dies. Now, my mother will worry about me."
"Let me try to start it. I owned one of these." As Roya watched,
John Gardenhire pushed the scooter in its first gear, got it started, and
rode it back to her. After he was back to Roya, he slipped the scooter's
gearshift into neutral, got off and said, "Be careful going home.
Don't let it stall."
Roya sat on the seat and said, "Thank you."
"How far do you have to go?"
John Gardenhire noticed the side bulge beneath Roya's sweatshirt as
she sat on the scooter seat by her leaning into the handlebars. He asked,
"You didn't smuggle anything into the country did you?"
Roya glanced at the bulge and partly lifted her sweatshirt while saying,
"I didn't want someone stealing old letters I wrote if losing my knapsack.
My friend wanted me to have then. They were checked in Zurich."
"Get going. You have a ride ahead of you."
Roya said, "Thank You." She turned the scooter toward the
highway and the Jerusalem Corridor. As Roya rode toward home, she wondered
how long it would be before she became paranoid to end in a hospital for
the insane. She lost her mother and found her father was Fred Southgate.
Moreover, because she placed the telephone call to America, she knew someone
would soon be looking for her.
Forty-five minutes later, Roya entered The Old City to pass through
the narrow streets. As she neared her home on Christian Street, Roya wondered
how to approach Lewis. Now, she wanted to sleep and there was no one to
go to with her story.
Roya barely got the iron door of the courtyard unlocked before Lewis
crossed the street. Lewis asked in hurried words, "Mary, where have
you been? I have been worried sick about you! There was a man here yesterday
evening asking for your mother!"
Roya's face turned pale. It wasn't possible they traced her to the house
in The Old City. She asked, "Who was it? What did he say his name
"He didn't give his name. He said he was a writer from America
and said your mother could trust him. I didn't tell him of her death. He's
staying at the King David Hotel. He left copies of two novels to give to
"Did he say what room he's staying in?"
"Yes, he said to have your mother call him there. Room 115. His
picture is on the books. It's the same as the author's."
Roya pushed the iron door open and said, "Come with me." Lewis
helped Roya get the scooter inside the narrow courtyard. Roya locked the
door behind them and they climbed the steps to the upper house. In it,
Roya pulled the envelope from inside her Levis and sweatshirt. She put
it in the knapsack and placed the knapsack on the floor by the kitchen
Lewis sat at the table and placed the novels on it. Roya went to the
refrigerator. There, she got out a bowl of Jell-O and took up a spoon and
a sack of cookies. Lewis watched her, and he wondered where she went and
whom she saw. She looked pale and frightened.
Lewis asked, "Mary, what's going on? Where did you go?"
Roya looked at Lewis and knew she wouldn't tell any truths until coming
to understand them herself. First, she wanted to know why a writer would
be searching for her mother. She asked between mouthfuls of the Jell-O
and ginger cookies, "What did this man have to say? Did he say anything
about The Raven?"
Lewis studied Roya. "No. He said he needed to speak with your mother
and that it was urgent. I didn't tell him about your mother's death. I
told him you and your mother went to Tel Aviv for the day."
"Good," Roya said, "You can point him out to me. I'll
decide if I want to meet him." With the words, Roya turned the novels
over and to the photographs on their covers. She asked, "You said
he didn't give his name . . . he didn't give the name of this man?"
"No, but it's him."
Roya asked, "He's written on both the PLO and the IRA? It sounds
like he's in sympathy with the devils of the world."
"He said it was important to reach your mother. It was the way
he said it that makes me trust him."
"You think this with the topics of fiction he chooses?"
"I don't know. We can go to the hotel and hope he passes through
the lobby. If he should leave the hotel this morning, it gives us time
to see where he might go. Possibly, I can point him out to you. Maybe we
can follow him."
Roya studied Lewis.
Lewis continued, "Mary, I don't know what you're involved with,
but let me help you." Lewis encouraged Roya to tell him her secret.
Roya only said, "I don't know, Lewis."
Lewis turned intent. "Mary, there's something about the man asking
about your mother."
Lewis hesitated and recognizing a truth he knew he should've already
recognized. Lewis said, "He stood before your house as though he knew
it. I came into the street. He turned and looked through me as though he
knew the cafe. I could tell he was frightened. His book on the PLO centers
on a village where innocent people died. The man looked as though someone
played a trick on him."
"I don't know. He recognized the cafe. I'm sure of it. I think
he might have met Jacob. I read half of the book on the village killed
off. There's a character in it similar to my adopted father. The character
was part of the forces fighting the Palestinians. My adopted father was
involved in the killing of the innocent."
Roya gave a hard look at Lewis. Her thoughts plunged ahead of her. If
the man writing the novel knew Jacob Kolleck, he couldn't be in Jerusalem
to harm her or her mother. He was there for another story and fate placed
the two on The Old City's Christen Street. It all seemed too far-fetched
to be true. Roya asked, "Do you think the man interviewed Jacob?"
"I'm certain of it. He recognized the cafe. Let me call him and
tell him where to meet you. You can follow him from the hotel. He hasn't
Roya thought several seconds before saying, "Okay. But, I don't
want you doing anything other than pointing him out to me. I don't want
him seeing you. Call him and tell him I'll meet him at nine. Tell him I'll
meet him at the site of The Room of The Last Supper. We'll go to the hotel.
When he leaves, I'll follow him. "
Lewis stepped to the kitchen telephone. After dialing the King David
Hotel, he asked for room 115. Walker's voice came on the line. Lewis said
in soft words, "The daughter will meet you at The Room of The Last
Supper at nine. Is that Okay?"
Lewis hung up the receiver.
Roya looked out the kitchen window at a section of the sky. There was
a change in the light. Morning was growing brighter. She took up the knapsack
fearing that someone might break into the house and steal it. She locked
the upper door before going down the stairs, exiting to the street, and
closing the iron door. Roya and Lewis started walking in the direction
of the Damascus Gate.
As they started north, Jacob Kolleck watched them out a window. He had
watched Lewis talk with the man in the narrow street late the past evening.
Wes Walker had promised not to return to Israel.
David Rice sat in London's Heathrow Airport waiting for a connecting
flight to Zurich. The call coming into the home in Chicago was of sufficient
time to allow a trace to an international line out of Switzerland. It was
traced to the Hotel Zurich.
Lewis and Roya reached the King David Hotel at eight-thirty a.m. Entering
the lobby, Roya hoped the man coming to the house hadn't yet left. Lewis
went to the registration desk. Roya stayed in the foyer among a group of
tourists waiting to board a bus. Lewis soon returned and said, "He
hasn't come down. Do you want me to wait here?"
"Yes, but I don't want him seeing you. I'll wait outside. Give
me a signal. Don't let him see you."
"What kind of signal?"
Roya gave Lewis a look of irritation. She said, "I don't know .
. . wave or something. Just don't let him see you. I'll follow him. I'll
see you later."
Roya pushed out the hotel entrance. Five minutes later she saw Lewis
wave and point to a man with black hair and sturdy frame. Walker was dressed
in dress slacks, two-tone brown shoes, and white, short-sleeve shirt. Though
he had the beginning growth of a beard, Roya knew the man spent time in
the sun and he was better looking than the prints on the book jackets.
As Walker stood outside the hotel lobby, he wondered if he was mad for
being in Jerusalem. If men of the Mossad found him in the city under a
false passport, he knew they wouldn't hesitate to lock him away. They would
also put him through a lengthy legal process before a lawyer gained his
release. But Walker knew he needed to find the woman The Raven spoke of,
and he needed to persuade her to leave the country. Walker began the walk
in the direction of The Upper Room.
He walked a street toward The Old City's Jaffa Gate and crossed the
higher end of the Valley of Gehanna. He walked at a leisurely pace, entering
the city gate to pass into the Armenian Quarter. There, he walked along
the Armenian Ptrichate and avoiding Christian Street. It wasn't long before
he approached the Church of St. James and moved toward Zion Gate. Roya
followed Walker at a twenty-yard distance.
With Walker passing through Zion Gate, people were shoulder to shoulder
with the tourist out early to beat the day's heat. After passing through
the gate, Walker stepped out of sight of the entrance. As he had left the
hotel, he took notice of the attractive young woman following him. Wes
now waited at the side of the city wall. His eyes studied the young woman
after she exited the gate.
As Roya passed through the gate, she feared she had lost the American.
Turning, she saw Wes Walker leaning against the stone of the walled city.
Walker stepped to Roya and asked, "Are you Laleh Sander's daughter?"
Roya stared at Wes. She thought he looked distinguished. He stood less
than three feet away and his eyes held fast to her. Roya said, "Yes.
Why are you asking to meet with my mother?"
Walker said in firm words, "I need to speak with her. It's important.
Is she in the city?"
"You spoke with Lewis Kolleck."
Walker studied the young woman. She was attractive though her face seemed
tired. He asked, "Can you bring your mother to the hotel."
Roya asked, "Why do you want to see her?"
"Because a story needs told. A man told part of it to me before
Walked studied the young woman and knew she was being cautious. He said,
"He was a man who knew your mother. He carried the name The Raven.
I met him in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He wanted me to meet with your mother."
Roya walked to within a step of the American. She asked, "Why would
someone send you to see my mother?"
"He thought there was a story needing told. I'm a writer."
"Lewis told me. He showed me the books. Lewis said you recognized
the house as though you saw a ghost."
Walkers said, "I can't go back there. Can you bring your mother
to me? If someone recognizes me I'll have to leave the country."
"Men of the Mossad didn't appreciate a novel done on a village
killed off by Jewish Irregulars. I've been to the cafe across from your
mother's house. It was seven years ago and late at night."
Roya gazed hard at Walker and said, "Lewis told me he thought you
recognized the cafe. His adopted father may have seen you."
A grimace fixed on Walker's face. He said, "I have no choice but
to get out of Israel. I can't go back to the hotel."
"Because they'll throw me in jail for being in the country with
an illegal passport. I've met Jacob Kolleck. It was at a time that he needed
to cleanse his conscience. He was part of a massacre but he saved a Palestinian
child from being killed."
Roya turned her eyes back to the people entering and exiting Zion Gate.
She said, "You're too late. My Mother died day before yesterday."
Wes felt the trip and his effort to be a waste. He regretted not listening
to Mike Corbin. Walker asked, "Did your mother ever say anything about
having papers relating to an accident at a place code named Desert One."
Roya again turned to those on the street and to the east where the sun
reached a near midmorning position. She brought her eyes back to the American
and asked, "If such papers exist . . . what would you do with them?"
With those words, the young woman returned hope of finding a truth.
Walker said, "I'd write a novel to clear the names of those involved.
To honor those killed in the desert that night."
Roya kept her eyes on Walker's and asked, "Do you think you could
write the truth? It might not be what you think it is."
Walker studied Roya and said, "You know. Don't you?"
Roya again turned her eyes to the street before bringing them back to
the American. She asked, "Who sent you?"
"As I said, the man gave the name of The Raven and said your mother
would recognize it."
Roya said in firm words, "If you'd been a day earlier I would've
Walker's words were a statement rather than a question. "You know
"It depends on which truth you're seeking, Mr. Walker."
"I can tell your mother's story. Would you be willing to help?"
"How can I help?"
"Did your mother say anything about papers documenting an effort
to cause the rescue attempt into Iran to fail?"
Roya glanced at the knapsack she held at her right side. She said, "Mr.
Walker, we've got to get out of this country. I have to get out. Can you
leave without having to return to the hotel?"
Walker looked on the attractive young woman and saw the fear in her
eyes and tight facial muscles. She was more than tired; her eyes filled
with absolute fright. The penetrating fear carried deep inside her.>>>
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