It was late and Ishmael Fane was furious. He paced the lobby of the UN Plaza Hotel barking questions into his cell-phone as he debated whether or not to pull the Israeli Prime Minister from the city. Trying to get answers from the American authorities was like trying to march through mud he thought ruefully to himself. They were being deliberately cagey. This moment was as important to them as it was for a lasting peace in his region.
“What about this thing that the news is saying about the possibility that it was a dirty bomb?” He asked as he stopped to face a large flat screen TV mounted on the wall of the hotel bar. Fane was a large olive skinned man. Broad shouldered with a line of stubble traced above his shaven head, he seemed to take up every bit of space in the room.
“That was never a possibility.” The man on the other end of the line replied.
“I saw HASMAT.” Fane shot back.
As if to punctuate this point the broadcast cut to a scene showing pictures of men in containment suits scanning the wreckage. It was now 3:00am. The blast on the FDR expressway had occurred during rush hour the previous day and Fane was still battling for information.
“That’s standard procedure.” The man responded flatly.
Fane had heard this all before. He’d been making calls almost as soon as news of the terrorist’s bomb had broken. As head of the Israeli Secrete Service and a high ranking officer in the Massoud he had access to a number of contacts in US military intelligence. He’d called them all at this point and had asked the same questions never once getting a response that satisfied his suspicious nature.
“Bullshit.” Fane said snapping closed the phone.
In Fane’s mind, the American’s had dropped the ball where the freeway terrorist had been concerned. The news media was playing it up as heroism, declaring that the nations heightened state of awareness in preparation for the UN address had made stopping the suicide bomber possible before he’d had a chance to harm more civilians. As it was over 45 people had been either killed or injured as they’d waited in traffic yesterday evening. True, it could have been worse but it shouldn’t have been allowed to happen at all.
Fane watched as the scene from the television showed the hulks of several burnt out cars smoldering in the rain. A shot from the top of one of the buildings near the blast panned the length of the freeway displaying the heart of the disaster as well as a blackened patch on a street beneath the FDR where the perusing helicopter had been felled by the blast. More burnt and mangled cars and more wreckage sat there among the bent and broken shell of the aircraft.
It had been stupid for Homeland Security to allow the man to get so far into the city. If he had in fact been carrying a dirty bomb there wouldn’t have been enough time for Fane to get the Prime Minister to safety before he’d become contaminated. If it had been worse, the unspeakable thought of an actual atomic bomb smuggled into New York from the back of a vehicle, then none of them would be having this conversation right now.
Fane checked his watch. It was seven hours until the Prime Mister was scheduled to step up to the podium OF United Nations General Assembly Hall and deliver his historic speech with the Palestinian leader. There was more than enough time for further security checks. He pulled out his phone and dialed his second in command.
* * * * *
“Shalom.” Abraham Tabor answered on the first ring. The short, wiry Jew was standing in the parking garage just beneath UN Conference Building smoking a cigarette and looking out on the driving rain. He’d come here to get respite from the Palestinian’s who’d been dogging his every move since he’d here arrived yesterday evening to complete his perimeter checks.
“Abraham.” His commander Ishmael Fane spoke briskly through the other end of the line. “How are things looking out there?”
Tabor sighed running a hand through his curly hair. This had been the forth call he’d received from the man since news of the truck bomb had been relayed. He was use to this sort of paranoia from Fane. It was a good quality to have in an agent but it could get tiring working for him.
“Things are fine Ishmael.” He said taking a final puff off his cigarette before tossing it out into the rain. “All of my men have been checking in regularly with nothing to report.”
“Are you sure that you’ve covered every entrance into the building?” Fane asked.
“I’m sure.” Tabor shot back turning to head inside. Out of the corner of his eye he caught one of the Palestinians quickly ducking behind a concrete wall to his side. “If you don’t count these asshole Arab security forces then things are fine. We’ve been in constant contact with the American’s guarding the streets and the buildings own international security. Everything is clear Ishmael!”
“How are the Palestinians?” Fane asked a welcomed glint of laughter in his voice.
“They’re assholes!” Tabor replied making sure to be loud enough for the one who was shadowing him to hear. “They’re too curious and always around. I liked it better when we could kill them.”
Fane allowed himself a small chuckle. “I really should reprimand you for saying that.” He said lightheartedly.
“It’s okay.” Tabor quipped. “This peace, it’s a good thing. I’ll let them live. If they’d come out and stop sneaking around maybe I’d share one of my smokes with them. Maybe we’d become friends.”
“Friends would be nice.” Fane sighed. Then his nature turned towards the serious again. “Unfortunately Abraham, we are not there to make friends. I want you to check everything again.”
“Yes Ishmael.” Tabor replied warily.
“Try to think of anything that you’ve missed.” Fane snapped and then the connection went dead.
Tabor closed the phone and stood there for a moment debating whether or not to have another cigarette before making his rounds. From his position he could see the shadow that the Palestinian cast on the wall of the garage from his hiding place. These new security forces for the Arab state that had been created by the recent peace accord had a lot to learn about discretion he thought to himself with some amusement.
Considering his commanders last words Tabor turned an idea over in his head for a few moments before calling out to the man lurking there. “Hey!” He shouted beginning to walk in the direction of the silhouette. “I want to talk to you!” He could see the Palestinian trying squirm deeper into the darkness as he approached.
Coming around the corner Tabor held out a cigarette towards the man. “My name is Abraham.” He said cocking his head and nodding for him to take it. “If our people are to be living side by side then we need to at least introduce ourselves to one another.”
Hesitantly the Palestinian took a step forward and snatched the smoke from his hand. “Abdul.” He spoke dipping his head for an introduction.
“Light?” Tabor asked, clicking open his Zippo and extending the flame towards the man. The Palestinian leaned in to accept the offer. For a moment their eye’s locked. Generations of animosity and confusion were exchanged in those few seconds between to two of them and then the man suddenly turned and stalked off towards the lip of the garage. Tabor followed pulling another cigarette from his pack and beginning to smoke it. A chill ran up his spine.
It was a long while before any of them spoke again. They stood there side by side watching the rain without a word uttered between them. Tabor occasionally glanced over at the Arab sizing him up and making sure that he was still there.
The Palestinian was taller than himself with a shaved head and dark obsidian eyes. Rail thin and with the hint of a mustache lining his upper lip the man looked almost like a kid making a clumsy attempt at appearing to be an adult. Had they met on the street the Jew might have mistaken the Arab for being a juvenile if it wasn’t for those dark eyes. As they looked out into the wet night beyond it was almost as if Tabor could see the reflection of years of conflict in them.
“Tabor.” The Jew said introducing himself again to break the silence and tapping the name tag on his fatigues. “I’m second in command of the Israeli Secrete Service battalion that was sent here to protect the Prime Minister.”
“I know who you are.” The Arab muttered matter of factly.
“That’s good.” Tabor smiled. “I don’t know who you are.”
“Abdul.” The man repeated.
"Yes, that’s your name.” The Jew laughed. “Now, do I have to torture you for you to give me your rank and serial number?”
Slowly the Arab turned to face Tabor fixing him with those ancient eyes. “This is not a matter for which you should be joking about.” He said seriously. “I am Abdul Karam. I too and second in command of the Palestinian President’s security forces here at the UN.”
“Ahhh.” Tabor said nodding. “I’m sorry. I kid.” He shrugged. “Sometimes I say stupid things you know?”
“It’s alright.” Karam replied taking a final drag off his cigarette before dropping it to his feet. “Why did you speak with me Abraham Tabor?”
“Well,” Tabor began, a smile curling up at the corner of his mouth. “My boss, he is crazy. He wants me to make sure every inch of this building is secure so I thought I’d ask you for help.”
“You want me to help you protect your Prime Minister?” The Arab asked dubiously.
“In a way.” Tabor replied. “I figure, you people are experts at being sneaky little worms with bombs so I ask: How would you try to assassinate my nations Prime Minister if you were still a dirty terrorist instead of whatever you are now?”