Conspiracy at Desert One
By Bernace Charles
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.
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
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
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
"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
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
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
"Yes. Is he there?"
"I'm sorry. He's out right now. Do you have a name or telephone
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. >>>
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