Conspiracy at Desert One
By Bernace Charles
Roya was nervous and she knew it. She was afraid someone would remember
her from disembarking from the flight returning her to Israel less than
six hours earlier. Walker made certain they boarded an El Al flight instead
of Swissair. Only after walking the isle of a 747 to their seats did Roya
feel relief. She used one of the other passports taken from the bank in
As the plane taxied for its take-off, Roya felt a sense of guilt for
abandoning Lewis. She also knew the single reason causing the security
of El Al to allow her and Walker to board the plane without being searched
was because she and Walker didn't present themselves as Arabic. Now, Roya
thought of never being in Scotland, and she realized she didn't have clothes
for the northern weather. The thought was lost with the realization of
the depth of her weariness. She was back on a plane and she wanted sleep.
In his tired thoughts, Walker thought of the irony of the young woman
living across the street from Jacob Kolleck. Two sad histories crossed
and not knowing it. They crossed in a city filled with a sad history. Turning
to face Roya, Wes found her sleeping. Roya stirred and rested her head
against his shoulder. With her doing so, Walker realized that out of the
madness of his life there was another as himself. Roya Sanders didn't know
where she belonged or whether she would be alive to see the next sunrise.
It wasn't until the plane was over Italy that it passed a Swissair plane
that was more than fifty nautical miles to its port side. David Rice sat
in an aisle seat on a flight to Tel Aviv. He passed the tine by reading
a copy of the Wall Street Journal purchased before boarding the plane.
Tel Aviv was hot. The air seemed to sear his skin. David entered a taxi.
As the taxi made its way down the street bearing the address given at the
Hotel Zurich, David realized the address didn't exist for a home. The taxi
pulled to the curbing of a narrow street and parked before a building that
was an empty warehouse. David expressed an angry, "Damn!"
The cab driver turned and spoke in English, "I'm sorry. Perhaps
you have the wrong address . . . perhaps the wrong street."
David glared at the man and threw a wadded address at him. The driver
read the paper. He handed it back noticing the American carried a look
of being more than a little disquieted. Rice said in angry words, "Take
me to a payphone! I need to make a call."
The driver turned the taxi back into the street to make a U-turn and
travel south. Several blocks later he steered the car to the curb before
a call box. There, Rice exited, slammed the door shut, stepped to the telephone,
and made a local call. A male voice answered. David said, "I need
to speak with Butterfield. It's urgent."
There was a pause before an answer came, "I'm sorry you must have
a wrong number. There's no one here by that name."
David's anger broke through the line, "Damn it, I need to see him."
Again a pause came and a man on the opposite end of the connection glanced
across the office of a building housing a furniture company in Jaffa. His
eyes met those of the company's manager. He said, "There's someone
wanting to speak with Butterfield."
An older man in his mid-sixties, with dark hair, broad face and shoulders,
and wearing a lightweight shirt and dress slacks stood. He walked to the
telephone. After taking the receiver he said, "I understand you need
to speak with Butterfield. I am sorry. He retired."
David answered, further irritated at wasting time. "Damn it! I
need to speak with him. This is a code one on a bad delivery."
Another pause came then, "I'll have him meet you at the bar in
the Hilton on Hayarkon. It will be at two. Is that agreeable?"
Rice answered a curt, "Yes." He hung up the telephone in irritation
at the Israeli Mossad. Their agents were good. Sometimes they were too
damn good. If anyone in Tel Aviv knew where Laleh Sanders could get illegal
passports and other papers, the retired agent with the code name Butterfield
would know of him.
As he sat in the Hilton Bar, each minute seemed an hour. The name given
was an ongoing name signaling that an officer of America's Central Intelligence
Agency needed to meet with a top officer of the Mossad.
A cab came to a stop at the curb across from Independence Park and before
Tel Aviv's Hilton Hotel on Hayarkon Street fifteen minutes later. The sun
was hot and releasing its heat. The passenger of the cab got out and walked
casually toward the hotel entrance. The man with the code name of Butterfield
made his way to the bar. The bar was empty but for an American sitting
in a back booth. The American sat with his back to a wall. The Mossad Agent
stepped down the aisle between a row of bar stools and booths and sat opposite
David said, "I need to know who might do illegal passport work.
Who might have access to the correct paper and ink?"
The older man studied David and knew the CIA could easily provide such
papers . He asked, "Are you out in the cold?"
David looked the man in the eye and thought of the novel with the title.
Rice was getting tired of novels and their writers painting the intelligence
services with a negative brush. He answered, "No. We have someone
on the run. She's been out for the past ten years. Yesterday, her daughter
made a call from a hotel in Zurich. She was carrying an Israeli Passport
with a Tel Aviv address. The address is bullshit. I don't doubt she got
the paper work here in Tel Aviv."
The Mossad agent already heard of another American being in Israel.
One of its retired agents received a call in the early afternoon from Jacob
Kolleck. Mossad agents were currently looking for Wes Walker. The Mossad
agent felt the arrival of the American connected to the man sitting across
from him. He asked, "What has the woman done?"
"She disappeared with action orders from years back. We need to
"Do you think she is in Israel?"
The Mossad agent looked at the American before turning his eyes to the
counter and the empty stools before it. He brought his gaze back to David
and he asked, "Has this got anything to do with an American named
The question caused David's stomach to turn. He didn't want Walker taken
before he found where he might go to write. If the Israelis already had
him in custody, Walker would be alive and able to tell of a meeting in
Tulsa. David said, "We want Walker for the murder of an FBI agent
in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Do you have him?"
A stone-like jaw hardened within its owner. The Israeli said, "Walker
was in The Old City along Christian Street late yesterday. A man called
it in this afternoon. He may have already left Israel. A young man spoke
with him. We haven't seen him since. The boy said the man was asking for
directions to a house but said he was on the wrong street."
"Damn!" David exploded in anger with the word. "Was he
seen talking with anyone else?"
"No. Only the boy."
"What about the passport? Who could've made it?"
The Mossad agent studied the American and said, "I want a trade
David lighted a cigarette and said, "What kind of trade off?"
"I want Walker killed."
"Why? Just because he wrote on the PLO?"
"It isn't good enough."
"We have no need to talk." The Mossad agent started to slip
out of the booth.
Rice caught him by his arm feeling the man's powerful muscles. He said,
"Wait . . . if that's what it takes . . . the man is as good as dead.
I need to know who might have provided the passport and other documents."
The Mossad agent pulled an ink pen from his shirt pocket and a napkin
from a holder. He made some quick marks on the napkin, passed the napkin
to the American, and said, "He's been out of prison for twelve years."
David asked, "Did he work for you?"
The older man didn't care to discuss history. He said, "We used
him before he turned his skills to the Palestinians. We can't touch him
for what he may have buried somewhere. Don't kill him or I'll have no choice
but to come looking for you."
The face was hard and deadly and David knew it. They were both killers.
It was their single track in life. The United States had stood behind Israel
when others hadn't. David felt Israel was a millstone hung around America's
neck. He asked, "On what street did someone see Walker?"
"It was Christian Street in The Old City's Christian Quarter."
"Did anyone see him other than the boy?"
"No. No one remembered seeing him. He didn't return."
"Are there an American woman and her daughter living there?"
The Mossad agent knew there was. He decided to allow the American to
find the truth by himself. He said, "I don't know. Christian Street
isn't a worry to us. Our worries are in the Arab Quarter."
David stood and offered his hand to the Israeli. The man didn't take
it. David left the bar and hotel. As he exited, David was certain he would
soon find Laleh Sanders. First, he would go to the address in southern
Jaffa along the coast road. He entered a taxi to take him to a car rental.
Rice wonder if the Mossad agent didn't know where Wes Walker was . . .
Right now, Rice wanted to know who worked for both the Israelis and
the Palestinians. Nevertheless, no member of the Israeli Intelligence Agency
was going to tell him what to do.
Along the coast road south of Jaffa, the sun burned its way into the
mid-afternoon. As the Ford David rented in Tel Aviv worked its air-conditioner,
David studied the road signs. Thirty minutes later, he reached a bungalow
style house that sat a quarter of a mile off the highway. With the Ford
cresting a low hill, the house sat to the west of the highway. It was a
hundred yards off the Mediterranean shoreline and along a great stretch
of sand. Rice backed foot pressure from the accelerator. He allowed the
car to slow as a transport truck passed going north.
As he turned the car into the asphalt drive, Rice studied the house.
It was a low bungalow giving the appearance of belonging in Southern California.
It was stucco, with red, tile roof, and the home white. A carport sat at
its north side. Along the sides of the house were undulating dunes of sand.
David stopped the Ford behind an old, white Mercedes. He walked to an entry
beneath the carport.
Azis Nusseibi was already at the door, having been at a kitchen window
where he saw the car turn into the drive. David reached the door and asked,
"Are you Azis Nusseibi?"
The man stepped onto the asphalt beneath the carport. Others came for
his services. They came with less self-assurance than the agents of the
Nusseibi answered in accented English, "I am."
David answered, "Butterfield sent me. He said you might be able
to help me."
Azis Nusseibi thought he knew why the American was at his home. Butterfield
was the code name of the man of the Mossad he had worked for many years
in the past. He said, "I don't know anyone named Butterfield."
"He said the day was one in the past."
Azis Nusseibi looked into the American's eyes. Azis turned to step from
beneath the carport. He walked across a sand dune in the direction of the
beach. He didn't speak with anyone near the house. David followed noticing
a cool breeze coming inland from the Mediterranean Sea. The two men soon
stood on the beach. Azis stopped to turn to Rice. The American was trim
and Azis knew he would be in excellent shape though he gave the appearance
of being in his late forties. Azis asked, "What do you want?"
David asked, "Did you make a passport for an American woman and
her daughter two years ago? The girl traveled to Zurich day before yesterday.
She did so under the name of Lori Hudgins."
"Why do you seek her?"
"That's my business. Did you make the passport or not?"
The Palestinian once serving the Mossad turned to the sea. He said,
"It depends. Why do you seek her?"
"She's wanted for murder."
The answer surprised Azis. He answered, "I don't believe it."
David's patience was growing weary. He said, "It doesn't make a
damn what you believe. Did you do any paper work for her?"
The Palestinian thought back to his days of being a journeyman printer
in Beirut. In the early days, he was an apprentice, but now a master artisan
of forged papers. He knew the American could easily kill him. He was now
seventy-five years old and with little strength to defend himself. He carried
no weapon. Whether it was his hands or otherwise he was certain the American
had his ways to dispatch him to Allah. Allah hadn't stopped the Jews from
carving a country out of one belonging to others. He said, "She came
to me needing papers. I did the papers for the mother."
David felt his search was near its end. He asked, "Where is she?"
Azis turned back to the American and wondered if he shouldn't allow
the mother and daughter left to their freedom. She was running from the
Americans and the thought pleased him. He said, "I don't know."
Azis took several steps toward the water line to stand with his hands behind
David walked to stand beside him. He stood in silence and listened to
the sounds of the sea. Rice said, "I can kill you now, and no one
would know before I was out of the country."
"Your threats don't impress me."
"Maybe not, but I don't have all day for this bullshit. I'm not
part of your war or sell out to the Jews. Where is she?"
Azis Nusseibi said, "She's in The Old City. She and her daughter
live on Christian Street. Number 52."
The old man had made a fatal mistake. Rice stepped behind him and with
a lightening strike of twisting, he broke the old man's neck. After killing
him, David dragged Azis Nusseibi to a wrinkle in the sand dunes. He walked
to the house. There, David stepped inside to make certain no one lived
with the old man. Finding no one did, and knowing he needed a weapon should
he have to shoot his way out with the Mossad, he rummaged through the house.
Poking for any hidden compartment until he finally found one, he discovered
the false wall of a closet.
There, he found the inks, papers, and counterfeit seals and stamps to
produce a large variety of forged documents. He looked on the bed and stepped
to its head. There, under a pillow, he found a loaded Biretta. Rice took
it up and left the house.
After backing the Ford out of the drive, David turned it to the coast
road to drive toward the Jerusalem Corridor. It was four in the afternoon
and he knew he could be outside The Old City before dark. There, he would
take a walk past the address on Christian Street to become familiar with
the home's position and entrance. Then he would return late in the night.
Go to Chapter Thirty-Two
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