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 Write for The Iranian

Conspiracy at Desert One
A novel

By Bernace Charles
The Iranian

Chapter Thirty-Six

Southern Scotland

The BMW sped through the night until it reached lower Scotland. It was nearly three in the morning. Wes turned across the bridge over the Esk River. Roya slept and Wes hated to wake her. He said after steering the car to the back of the house. "Ms. Southgate, we're here. We're safe now. No one can find us."

Roya stirred and woke. She forced herself up, pushed open the passenger door, and took up her knapsack. Walker came around the car's hood and led Roya up short stairs to a patio entrance. Walker turned on a light. Roya's eyes looked on furniture covered with sheets. The house looked as though it didn't expect anyone's arrival. Nevertheless, even in her weariness Roya thought the home charming with the look of an English country house.

Walker said, "There's a bathroom off the kitchen and one up the stairs to the left."

"I'll go upstairs."

Walker watched Roya climb the stairs still holding onto the knapsack. He knew the young woman's life was far from The Old City and unable to get her mother's ashes. Walker called after her, "Roya, your bedroom will be the first door on the right."

Roya turned back, gazed down on Walker and said, "Thank You." Five minutes later she crawled into a large double bed and slipped beneath the covers to sleep.


Roya woke early to descend the stairs and find Wes pulling off the furniture coverings. He stayed up during the night while reviewing the papers and photographs. He said as Roya entered a breakfast area, "Since we're going to be here for a while we might as well make it livable."

Roya knew Walker needed sleep. She said, "You go upstairs and get some sleep, Mr. Walker. I'll do this." Roya pulled a cover off a chair and folded it. "I'm serious," she added, "Go to bed. You can't write if you're exhausted."

"Will you be OK?"

"I've slept for most of the trip. I'll clean up. After you're rested, I'll make you breakfast."

"I stopped to have the power turned on before continuing to Israel. There's food in the fridge." Walker said nothing of the Browning pistol or the weapons placed opposite the highway.

Roya appreciated the man taking her out of The Old City and back into the world. Nevertheless, Roya still had to hide and she hoped that would soon end. Wes said, "I'll be upstairs." Walker left the room with Roya thinking that he presented a robust form that carried him through the night drive.

Through the next hours Roya folded dust covers, vacuumed with a machine found in a closet, and dusted the lower level. In the kitchen she found a dishwasher, and washed all the dishes and silverware. At eleven, Roya went to the upper bathroom to shower. She put on a robe she found in the bedroom before returning downstairs to the kitchen.

Wes Walker slept soundly. It was now two-thirty in the afternoon. Roya made an omelet along with toast and coffee. After finding a tray from a pantry, she carried the meal up the stairs, and pushed open the door of Walker's bedroom. Roya wore the robe with her hair tied up in a towel. She said, "I fixed you breakfast or a late lunch. You deserve it."

Wes sat up in bed. He said, "Thank you." Walker thought Roya an angel.

Roya set the breakfast tray on Walker's lap. She said and sitting on the bed. "I hope you managed a decent sleep."

"I did. What did you find to do?"

"I finished downstairs. It kept my mind off the last days. I took a short walk to the bridge. It's beautiful here. It's almost like a dream."

"We're going to be here while we put a story together. You're going to be an intricate part of the effort. I can't do it without you."

"I want to be here. It's as though I left the problems of the world behind. I only wish I could have gotten my mother's ashes."

Walked saw her sad expression. He said, "Men will protect you after this is over. You'll be able to return for your mother's ashes."

Roya tried to smile but found it hard to do so. She asked, "Mr. Walker, I need to ask you a question."

"Sure . . . anything."

"Do you find me attractive?"

The question surprised Walker. Roya surprised herself by asking it. Walker answered, "I find you exquisite. You're beautiful. Hasn't some young man told you that?"

Roya's face remained expressionless as she answered, "I never really went on a date, Mr. Walker, and I'm twenty-six years old. The boy you talked to on Christian Street is the only boy I really know. We would go for walks and talk about the problems of The Old City. It wasn't very romantic. He was more like a brother. I think it often hurt him."

"Maybe he's in love with you and doesn't know how to tell you." Walker took a bite of the omelet and toast. He was thankful the girl knew how to cook.

Roya answered, "But I want more out of life than living in The Old City and selling trinkets to people. Many come to The Old City and leave disappointed. Jerusalem isn't what it was two thousand years ago. Belief is in the soul . . . not in the place. I want to become a Carmelite, but doubts trouble me."

"We all have our crosses to bear. Perhaps coming to the city helps those with their different faiths."

"Do you believe in Christ as the Son of God?"

Walker knew he just about lost faith in everything. He said, "As a young man I did. Now, I don't know what I believe. I've been too busy writing the last years to stop and ponder the question of faith."

"Someday you will."

The young woman impressed Walker. Not all she suffered had killed her faith. He envied her for it.

Roya added, "I better go see if my clothes are dry. I found your washer and dryer. I need to buy some things . . . girl things."

"You're free to use anything you want. I'm going to have to go into Edinburgh to buy a Laptop. You can shop there."

Roya stood. The robe she wore reached above her knees and Walker saw the redness of her right knee. Roya saw Walker looking on it and she said, "I cut it when I found my mother. The stitches are solid so I think it'll be all right. I suppose I need to keep an antiseptic on it."

"There's some in the vanity of the bathroom." Roya turned to leave the room. Walker's words caught up to her. "The breakfast is great . . . thanks."

Roya turned back at the door. She said a simple, "My pleasure." Roya closed the door. Thirty minutes later, after coming down the stairs, she wore the outfit she purchased in Zurich two days earlier.


Walker stayed on highway A1 driving to Edinburgh. On reaching the city, he stopped at a petrol station and bought petrol. He also stopped at a phone-box and went through a telephone directory. From there, he drove to a store where he and Roya walked the aisles. Fifteen minutes later, Walker picked out a laptop, formatted disks, and software he used in The States.

Paying cash for the purchase, he drove to a clothing store where he remained in the car as Roya shopped and purchased several articles of clothing. He also drove her to a chemist shop for her personal needs. To allow Roya time to feel free, and returning to the house, Walker drove a road through the moorland country. He drove a detour through the Moorefoot hills, descending through the Ettrick Forest, and to Yarrow Water. From there, he stayed on the road through the Ettrick and Tima Valleys. After this, he connected back to A1. As he drove, Roya remained quiet and taking in the green of southern Scotland.

Roya didn't speak until the BMW crossed the bridge before the home. She said in a sad voice, "I've forgotten what the rest of the world is like. I've come to accept heat, and dust, and dreariness."

Walker said, "Well, you have nothing to worry about. There's not any way that anyone can trace us to the house. The property is in my first wife's father's name."

Roya felt a tremendous sense of sorrow wash through her. She hadn't thought about Wes Walker's problems. She repeated the words, "Your first wife owns it?"

"Legally, her father does. The family never uses it. It's a hideaway . . . a place to escape and work without the intrusion of others."

Roya dreaded asking the question. She asked, "What about your current wife?"

"She died five months ago. A drunk driver hit her car. My unborn son also died."

Roya felt a sense of sorrow for Walker. She said, "I'm sorry."

"It's not any one's fault except the son-of-a-bitch killing them. All he got was a year in county jail."

Roya asked, "What was she like?"

Wes said as he parked the car behind the home. "Sally was twenty-five and too young to die. I met her in L.A. I was autographing a new novel. I was sitting in a bookstore in a mall. I'll never understand why anyone wants an author's autograph. Sally read my writing." Walker turned to Roya and added, "You remind me of her. She possessed a certain spunk and a need to know life."

Roya repeated her earlier words, "I'm sorry. I guess all of us have to suffer in some way."

Walker pushed the door open and said, "Isn't that the truth. Isn't that the damn truth."

Roya pushed her door open to reach for a shopping bag containing the clothes and personals she purchased. If having to be in the home for an extended time she was determined to look alive.

Inside, she climbed the stairs and went to her bedroom. There, Roya changed into a blue cotton print and white flats. She teased her hair and applied makeup and lipstick. Returning down stairs, she found Walker sitting in the library, behind a desk, and gazing at the screen of the laptop. He just finished installing the word processing program. Wes said, "You look lovely."

"Thank you. Would you like dinner?"

Walker said, "Sure. We can celebrate being alive."

Roya turned to leave the room. Walker turned his attention back to the desk. There, he opened the envelope from Roya's knapsack and placed its contents before him. Again gazing at the black and white photographs taken with a long-range lens, he studied a man running as fire consumed him. He studied the photograph and thought of the horrible death. The next shot exposed a body laying on the desert floor and burning. In the background, he saw men running to escape the flames.

Putting the photograph aside, Walker turned his attention to the laptop and began typing. The first words he typed and centered on the page of the screen were "Chapter One."


David Rice sat on an El Al Airline to New York. He settled in a seat and winging his way through the indifferent altitude of thirty-five thousand feet. David thought of killing the young man entering the house on The Old City's Christian Street.

Roya Sanders was with Walker, and Rice knew Laleh would have told Roya some part of the truth. The girl had gone to Zurich to retrieve something from a safety deposit box. David was certain that something would contain the papers he sought.

Now there was a desperate need to know Walker and Roya's direction. It was the key to finding the young woman. Walker would have a place removed from others where he could isolate himself and write. On his arrival in Washington, D.C., he would need to make a decision about interrogating Fred's sister. If Southgate knew enough of Walker's life to know he had a secure place to write, Rice was certain the sister would know of it. It would be another reason Fred reached out to Walker with the story. The next days would tell. David Rice laid his head back on the headrest to endure the flight across the Atlantic. >>> Go to Chapter Thirty-Seven

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