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The plane roared down the runway, its nose directly in front of them. Hassan glanced down. A pile of rockets lay between him and the driver, who was positioned as a launching pad for the assault. Hassan shivered as the plane's belly bared itself for their attack in the deafening liftoff . . .
"Fire!" barked the man behind him.
Finding a New Place to Start
Chet and Wende looked helplessly at each other on the backbench of the Ford van. The trip to the gaol, as the Brits call it, from Mombassa to Nairobi was hell. They were caught and wondered if anybody would care. They looked spent. Wende's white blouse was half torn from the blast at the hotel and from the rough treatment of the guards who had pushed them into the small, windowless and foul-smelling Ford Escort panel van. The fat, surly guard posted with them only glared at them during the journey from the coast to the capital. And he smoked. Only the mesh of small vent holes between them and the driver's open window kept them from choking as they bounced along the many ruts in the national highway from the Indian Ocean to Nairobi.
Wende dropped her head on Chet's shoulder and put her arms around his neck as if she were hanging on to him for dear life. She sobbed softly in his ear. As the van bumped along Wende dug her fingers into Chet's back and whispered in Spanish, "Diga me. Por favor, dígame por favor acerca del día. . . ." She bit her lip, struggling for the Spanish words to ask Chet to explain something to her.
Chet looked over at the guard. The guard glared at them as he heard words he didn't comprehend.
"You're making the guard nervous with your Spanish. Besides," he dipped his head to tease her, "your mother might be Spanish but you're not too good with the language." Chet winked at her.
"Okay, just because you speak perfect Spanish and French and everything else let's talk in English or whatever." She half smiled at Chet and then looked over at the guard with disdain. "I wanted to say that you know about me, my husband, family and my relationships. I know only a little bit about your work. How did you get me tied up in this situation?"
"Well," he said, "believe it or not, it started at my Dad's birthday party. It seems like a long time ago. Lemme see, as I recall, I was about to cut Dad's birthday cake in the party's waning moments when the Filipino kid Fred who cares for Dad came running out of the senior home waving his arms at me to come inside quickly. I asked my wife to do the cake honors and left our family and friends on the patio to answer the phone. It was Jerry Gimani calling me from Langley, Virginia."
Chet lowered his voice to a barely audible level, "I was needed in Marseilles on an assignment to find out information on a nest of terrorists in France and Spain. That's what got me here-and you here, too, and you saved my skin."
Wende squeezed him at the compliment.
He continued, "They (whoever they are) needed some fresh eyes on the ground. Jerry said he could explain if I would take the red-eye and be at Dulles in the morning. Well, I told him I needed time to get the tickets, to pack and to rearrange work assignments for my staff.
"But Jerry told me, 'Look, this is just a nice vacation assignment. You deserve it.' I should have suspected something then."
-----[Snip]----- ...The van screeched to a halt. The back doors flew open, and the guard on the side bench grabbed Wende by the neck of the T-shirt under her blouse and pulled her roughly toward the opening. Chet reached out to protect Wende, but a tall, lean guard leapt into the van with his truncheon aimed right at Chet's neck. Chet swung his head to the side, and it hit so hard that the butt of the truncheon nearly ripped the wire mesh behind him. The next thing he knew they were on the ground behind a big, dark building with their wrists handcuffed behind their backs.