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Hebephrenica/ It's Time You Knew
by:  Ken Egbert (aka K. Griffiths), One More Haggard Drowned Man
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March 27, 2015

The Human Game, pt. 341:Casting the Die

“Alhamdulillah, our Creator doesn’t ask you what you want to do, does He?” Nadia commented when we had finished catching her up on the week, but for the Leah ‘problem.’ “Peter will tell you, I wasn’t expecting to be in the resettlement business. But He uses us for His purpose and we have but to accept, or be used against our will. And that’s about all I remember!”
-We’re all used against our will, I sometimes think. –F.
“Oh, you had your own way for a long while, Frank. It’s payback time.”
-If only we’d known how good we/ had it, all those centuries –D.
“Ignorance is no excuse-- Oh, Peter, it’s almost noon. Maybe you should make your call.” Thanking her, I excused myself and walked towards the front of the paddock where a minimum would overhear.

Leila was not expecting me. One could tell from her tone of voice. Seemed a bit early for that; it had just passed noon GMT when Leila picked up on ring seven.
“This is 2247.”
-I have called for my orders. –P.
“You are not on an encrypted phone.”
-What a shame. Sometimes one must improvise. –P.
“Fine. We’ll have to be more circumspect, then. Here is the location of your
dead drop. The operation is about to go live. Just before sundown today we will place the headphone rigs beneath a tree stump in St. James’ Park. Look for the east-west path where there are three benches in a row on one side, in the center of the park’s far north end. Walk towards the east border road until you are in the far northeastern section. You’ll come to a small copse of trees on your left. The rigs will be in a gray one-gallon garbage bag under the largest stump. As soon as you turn them on, you will be on the network. Sign on verbally, each of you in turn, with the code word and your identity that is attached to each rig. Since you aren’t on an encrypted phone, that’s as specific as I can be.”
-Understood. Are the rigs encrypted? –P.
“They are. You recall that our position is ‘all or nothing at all.’”
-We do. Any changes in the deal? –P.
I asked this just to see if she would gasp. She didn’t.
“There are. My request to have you locate and allow us to detain no longer applies. You are to assist us on an even footing; any prime target of the sort that we have discused is fair game. No method of neutralization is off the table. This ‘open season’ protocol, however, covers no other involved or uninvolved person under any circumstances. Only those persons of greatest interest.”
I laughed heartily, was gratified to hear her freeze near to solid.
-Welcome to the gulf beneath the Gulfs, Miss Al-Adil. I hope you will enjoy your stay. –P.
Recovering admirably, Leila managed to continue: “Upon the dispatch of all assignments, you next will hand yourselves over for detainment and trial. I will give you the location at which to meet at the operation’s conclusion. I will be there, of course. Trial will take place at the World Court in Den Haag or in the UK. That part isn’t decided yet. If found guilty you will pay with your lives. If you have a manifesto, we’ll allow you to spread it. If a ‘black trial’ is preferred by you, we will attempt to accommodate that.”
-And Dr. Bernheim? –P.
“She will be met tomorrow at six PM by SIS security officers and will be brought to a safe house. There will be an armed matron there to keep her company. As agreed, another officer will arrive at four AM tomorrow morning to take her to Cambridge for her classes and bring her back to London at the end of the day. The same will go for her one week a month at CERN. For as long as you are cooperative, this arrangement will continue until we are certain that she is no longer in any danger. Is that understood?”
-Perfectly. Does this include after conclusion of the operation? Those who may want her could have very long memories. –P.
“The program will stay in place as I’ve said. If they’re dead or imprisoned they’ll be much less of a threat.”
-Just as you think we’ll be. And what if I say we couldn’t trust you for as far as a horse can sneeze? –P.
“I will personally guarantee her complete safety.”
-How do we know to credit that? –P.
“If you are cheated in any way, I will turn myself over to you to do with me what you will.”
-At any time, previous to or after our capture? –P.
-I’m sure you know what that would entail. –P.
“If you feel you have been badly used and I make myself available, I don’t doubt that you will kill me.”
-Far, far worse than that, Miss Al-Adil. So you’ll come to our cell in some black site or other – say, the one with the courtyard and four gallows – and enter the lion’s den. Knowing that all that will leave will be your bloody scraps. –P.
-Done. We can’t protect her. Mad though it sounds, there are only four of us. You can. –P.
“We will. Are we agreed?”
-Yes. Continue with our orders, please. –P.
“When you are signed on tonight, be ready to begin the operation. If I can’t reach you on the earphones, will you still have this cellular number or are you going to trash it as soon as you hang up?”
-I’ll have it. What’s left to discuss? –P.
“Nothing more at this time. We’ll expect to hear from you before 7 PM, GMT.”

Copyright 2010 by K. Griffiths. All rights reserved.
This is an excerpt from a work of fiction. Any similarities between this narrative and actual events or between these characters and any persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.

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March 24, 2015

The Human Game, pt. 340: Approaching Noon

At Nadia’s door it was not as it had been; no yeshiva students ogled us, but the midday traffic along the Tarik Bab As Silsile opposed as much as any invisible Hand. We decided not to draw any conclusions. Miss Basayev, as severely attired as before, greeted our knock with a small cry of joy and a kiss for each of us.
“Someone’s been at your horses, I see,” she commented. “They’re almost as beautiful as my flowers. Well, I suppose I’m taking lunch out…”
-Off to archery practice again? –P.
“No, but let’s go to my club anyhow. We can sit and talk by the grazing paddock so we won’t have to leave your friends outside. I am very happy that you’re here.”
-If you would, Nadia… do you have any cellular phones of the one-time variety? I think that’s what they’re called. I need to make a call at noon. –P.
“Of course. I keep them for my clients, do you need one?”
-Please, if you can spare it. I’ll have to take it with me. –P.
“Don’t trouble about that. One moment. Can I get anyone anything while I’m in my office or in the kitchen?”
-No, thanks, Nadia, we’re fine/ very good to see you –D.
-Been too long. –W.
“Let’s allow that subject to go by… let me go tell the ‘staff.’”
Out she came moments after, with a small sack of pastries, a smaller backpack than usual and a phone. “It has international calling, if you need it. My German and Eastern European clients sometimes have relatives back home.”
-Much appreciated. –P.
“Oh, I’m the grateful one! So, Willie. How’s my worthy adversary?”
It would go on like that, all the way to her club. This late morning Nadia wore all black from scarf to hem; it suited her far more, to my mind, than it did Leila Al-Adil, especially given today’s topic. For whatever reason the press of merchants, cars, soldiers, et al had at us with significantly more force on the way there, this day.
-Same old, Nadia. Uh, you look well. How’s stuff? –W.
“Insanely busy, odd aches and pains, not quite enough energy to get up in the morning, lately. Even an Arabic coffee won’t always help.” While she said this she of course led us by brisk steps, talking back at us as she forded the human river. We walked, one behind another, leading our mounts as best we were able.
They continued to behave themselves.
-How goes the work? –P.
“Well enough! I’m in fashion just now. The new Premier is big on alluding to the ‘People of the Book,’ he’s giving lip service to helping settle non-Muslim families in Palestine. No idea yet if he means it, but my Jewish resettlement agencies are getting hopeful, as are my newest families.”
The market place known as the Souk Al Kattakin pretty much exploded in every direction this day, so there were lengthy moments that Nadia could not address us from up front. As things became less frantic she went on, “I have an extended group of relatives from Nurnburg occupying Maryam’s and Issa’s room right now, they’ve become my de facto office help. I may allow them to stay. I might just give them the whole second floor.” She looked back at us. “Other than that, still tearing my hair out.”
-Seems like yer doin’ all right. –W.
“I’m in a good mood today, I’m sure you figured that,” Nadia tossed back as the athletic club heaved into view on our left and the shock waves from the overloaded souk behind us further diminished. From her backpack she pulled a ID, getting ready to make herself known to the reception guards. “I’ll admit, there have been threats,” she confided to us as we at last collated ourselves at the front gateway.
-Somebody doesn’t want more Jewish families. –F.
“And somebody else does. Hamas is not in power now, so they’re doing most of the saber-rattling on the ‘no’ side. Thankfully they’re a bunch of angry old men, they talk more convincingly than they act, but our guards here are going to look at you funny anyhow. As Peter knows, I teach archery here, so…”
-We recall… --D.
The on-duty detail did give us a sour regard, but they knew Miss Basayev well enough, so they only admonished us to clean up after our mounts and waved us through. Getting comfortable on two adjoining benches, we let the horses wander off to nibble grass. Frank as ever, Nadia asked William, “You found your man? Peter told me about your assignment. How bad was it?”
-Found ‘im an’ lost ‘im. So we got another job. –W.
“Worse than the first?”
Not as bit taken aback as they might have been at my spilling so many beans, my brothers regaled her with our last few days’ misadventures. Nadia began to hand out the pastries; of course Red, Geist, Midnight and Whitey reappeared, expectant.
-Thanks… --W.
-You’d better, Nadia/ they won’t go away if you don’t/ --D.
“Fine,” she addressed our mounts, “each of you gets half of one, and there will be no more so don’t expect it.” Each took his treat and departed, after a fashion.

Copyright 2010 by K. Griffiths. All rights reserved.
This is an excerpt from a work of fiction. Any similarities between this narrative and actual events or between these characters and any persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.

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March 21, 2015

The Human Game, pt. 339: Return to Al-Quds

-Now we know why they stopped. –W.
-Trying to get Leah? –F.
-Yeah. The case in Th’ Hague. Anything happens now, everybody’ll know who did it. –W.
-Well/ nice one, Jacqueline –D.
-Ah, really? They’ll think they know. –F.
-Unless the ‘badgers’ left something behind. –P.
-Where? Bailter’s office? He hasn’t found anything. That we heard of. –F.
-I don’t mean Bailter’s office. Or home. –P.
-Dr. Bernheim’s, you mean/ --D.
-Now I know why I told Al-Adil that Leah couldn’t go home… --P.
-Woulda been nice if you knew when you said it… --W.
-Dimbulb. –P.
-Was gonna give ya th’ benefit a’ the doubt, but... we still gotta make sure Al-Adil does ‘er job. –W.
-Naturally. We’ll have to do ours. –P.
-I’d like to do more... –F.
-Leah’s a big girl, Frank. Some things she’s gotta do herself. –W.
-Yeah. --F.
For the sake of all we had done, for all we had promised and had no actual way of doing ourselves, we rode that morning, after the crew returned from synagogue, for Jerusalem once again. Below us, a hundred million souls passed through our regard. We saw them and did not see them. We tried not to think about that, either.
-So. How bad was it? –P.
-Synagogue? They made us wear skullcaps. –F.
-Kipot. –P.
-Show-off. Again. –F.
-Now who’s repeating himself? –P.
-Was kinda embarrassin’, actually, since Leah hadda tell them we weren’t Jewish. We were one short th’ number needed ta do, uh, minyan, an’ some a’ the old men gave us dirty looks, but just as I was about t’ lose it Leah said, ‘Wait a minute, in an emergency situation can’t th’ Ark stand in to make it the right number?’ Th’ rabbi wasn’t too happy about it, but he said, ‘Yeah, let’s call this an emergency situation.’ So we had coffee with ‘em after prayers an’ everybody parted th’ best a’ friends. –W.
-So she likes that synagogue, does she. –P.
-I think so. She’ll probably go back tomorrow. –F.
-Al-Adil told her/ not to do that –D.
-I’ll be there, we’ll allow it to slide. Just once. I’ll remind her to go to another next time she’s in Geneva. –P.
-In other words, Petey/ it’s your turn –D.
-I know! I’d bet Rabbi Aller told her that, about the Ark. Sounds like him. –P.
-No shock –D.
-…We’ll miss her. I know I will. –P.
-Good to hear I’m not the only. –F.
-I agree, but why? When ya come right down to it, she’s a pain. –W.
-She is an agreeable pain/ --D.
-From you we get this… --W.
-I’m afraid I may no longer be able to take anyone/ all the more reason for us to be gone/ as soon as can be done –D.
All the more reason for us to take advice from the other woman we will be leaving. Something was asking us, what would she think? If Leah knew. What would be her opinion of herself, as well as of us? Something had been asking us all along. The angel said she would be needed. She would have to be of reasonably confident and sound mind. As much so as possible. Gabriel would not say why if we asked, of course, so we didn’t. On to Al Quds, then, and the Family of Mary. We wondered if Nadia would be in her office, or out visiting Palestinian government agencies, or…
You must have noted by now that this was not as it was with Ozzy or with any of our other disposable Fifths. With Dr. Bernheim, we were those to be dispensed with, and because it was we who were no longer of use. To recall William’s deathless phrase—
-‘Deathly,’ ya mean. –W.
Deathly phrase, yes. It had become apparent that we could no longer keep the gutters dirty. The human race didn’t need the help. Not here in ‘Verse II.
-So what’s Nadia gonna be able t’ tell us that we don’ already know? –W.
-I have absolutely no idea. I told her I’d come back, though. It’s only fair that I do so. –P.
-Women carry the virus, more than men do/ --D.
-Nah/ just th’ ones we know –W.
-Not exactly what I meant/ it seems that women root men to the earth/ they give them a place to return to/ if men are lucky/ odd how that actually can be irritating --D.
-Fancy way to say they bury ‘em –W.
-No wonder women often outlive men –P.
-If they were all dead, it wouldn’t matter… --F.

-Yes, it would. We have our orders. From above and below. If we want whatever pittance we are to be given, the orders from above take precedence –P.
-Try not to follow the good Doctor’s every step, Petey –D.
-So we aren’t goin’ t’ visit Leah after all this is done. –W.
-No. We take our leave tomorrow morning. We won’t see her again. –P.
-First we need a way out of the world. In a manner that will force MI6 to close the books on us. –F.
-The Agency, their subber, or the Gate shall provide. She’ll mourn us. I’d like to prevent that. –P.
-So would I. We can’t. We’re in foreign waters here, and we’re starting to drown. Either way, we’re done. –F.
-He meant this to occur. He meant it all. –P.
-I told you, the passage is narrowing/ we’ll barely be able to stand up, shortly/ if we don’t get out of it soon/ --D.
The Valley of Hinnom approached as we spied the Birket Es Sultan. We’d come to earth in the Armenian Gardens, pick a few flowers for Nadia and walk our horses the remainder of the way. Still on something of a ‘high’ from their thorough brushing session earlier, our mounts did not bother to complain. It would wear off, much as the time towards noon, Greenwich Mean, did.

Copyright 2010 by K. Griffiths. All rights reserved.
This is an excerpt from a work of fiction. Any similarities between this narrative and actual events or between these characters and any persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.

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March 18, 2015

The Human Game, pt. 338: Information arrives

Playing the dutiful junior agent, Leila walked to the elevator bank at Vauxhall after removing a few more personal effects from her desk and locking it up. She hoped she would be back soon, but there was no way to predict the siege’s length. None of it appeared quite actual, even the promise of carnage that night, that morning, the coming days. It all had to be prevented. It all had to be controlled. This was known, and no more. Leila accessed the elevator and made for the lobby. Bellachiusa had taken her hands in his and said, “Come back to us, Leila. That’s an order.” There might have been a few others she’d have liked to speak to, but as the word among the Block’s denizens was that she’d been ‘temporarily reassigned to another section,’ best that she told Tom she’d do what she could and be off.
In the front of the building, Leila received a buzz on the encrypted… the long-lost Farid from IT. She decided to cut him some slack. Some.
“This is 2247,” she intoned, turning towards the building to make it more difficult for anyone to read her lips. Although Farid had at least somewhat proved himself there. The warning message on the wall art installation across the way remained as it had been for several days.
“Leila, it’s Farid. What’s this I hear, you’ve left us?”
“Smart, Farid, but not entirely true. Just temporarily reassigned. How are you?” ‘And you had your chance,’ she half-wanted to say, but maybe later.
“I wanted to let you know what we’ve found out about the bombings since Mashhad.”
“Oh, very good.”
“Not only are the bombers all male, but we’ve been going over the patterns of signal bursts in the bombed cities just before and during, and it’s very odd. There is no trigger pulse extant in any of them. These bombs are not tripped simultaneously by radio, or at least not by any method we can discover.”
“Surprisingly low-tech.” Or is it… “Got anything you can e-mail?”
“Right in one, on its way.” She heard clicking keys. At his desk, as usual.
“So you’re cluing me in because…”
“Oh, yeah. Well, I brought the info to Bellachiusa and he said to pass it on to you right off. So where are they keeping you?”
‘Why so interested?’ she wanted to say, but instead sufficed with “I’m hoping I get to tell you when I have seconds to talk. Sorry, but I’m running for a meeting. Speaking of which, though...” She waited. Leila already knew the answer, but again, why not. Abba would have rung with the news.
Trying not to swallow his tongue, Farid managed, “I haven’t had a chance, yet. I’m really sorry. I will.”
“Abba remains in very good health,” Leila informd him in a bright tone. She let him sizzle for half a moment more, then… “So there’s time. We’ll find out how much...”
“I hope to see you soon,” he offered.
“You know what you have to do,” Leila concluded, and with a “Bye” she disconnected. Calling Dr. Bernheim seemed a good idea next, but she would have to explain why. Six PM the following day would have to work. She could make certain that the scientist had been met and was on her way to Cornavin, the Geneva Euro-rail station. The usual Bentley and its driver slid to a stop out front; readying her code word, Leila made for the return to Thames House.

Copyright 2010 by K. Griffiths. All rights reserved.
This is an excerpt from a work of fiction. Any similarities between this narrative and actual events or between these characters and any persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.

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March 15, 2015

The Human Game, pt. 337: The Unauthorized Lunch Item

“Nice nads? Wish my ex-wife’d agreed. I tell the Inspector, you want me to shut up, fine. I don’t call my cousin’s dog’s dogwalker who writes freelance for the POST and give him the scoop, he’s always begging me for cop scraps. Long as you tell me what’s going on with our Captain.”
“Where do you get this stuff?” asked his partner. “I am seriously impressed.”
“The Captain was always square, Juan, and yeah, he’s a Captain and thus too far above the common herd to relate to us, but you know Bedard was all right. He knew we were still visiting Ramiro’s house after and before shifts, he had to, and he turned a blind eye. So you were right, Pemmican, there’s a revelation. Anyway.” Teitelbaum sighed. “Inspector Chaudhury – yeah, that’s his name – tells me he’ll recommend me for a distinguished service medal if I don’t ask him any more questions than that. He laughs like it’s funny and says, ‘I’m kidding, that’s what else I came to tell you.’”
“I think you already had one coming.”
“You’re the best, Juan.” The patient indicated, and his listeners leaned closer. In a lower voice: “The Captain got a package from this big guy who walked into the house dressed like some Grenadier Guard or something. He rode away with three other guys, all on horses.”
“…That so.” Pemmican kept silent, for once.
“In that package was a very detailed drawing of a man screwing a woman who looked almost exactly like the photo of Bedard’s mother on his desk. It also looks like she’s caught on fire, but it’s only her who is. Not the guy. And the guy looks a little like the one who dropped off the drawings! This is according to Chaudhury. You remember. We hadn’t left yet, I think. Somebody brought it to Bedard, the package, and as soon as he opens it everybody heard him starting to scream. They don’t know if he’ll come back.”
“Circumstances and circumstances.”
“You think so, Pem?”
“It sucks, I agree. They knew he told us.”
“And ‘they’ would be who, now?”
“What, is this philosophy class? Do I have to define my terms?”
An attractive young woman in standard blue arrived at the door, greeting the Sergeant and his visitors. They turned. All right, this must be Nursie Babe. “Good afternoon, officers. Sergeant Teitelbaum, can I get you anything?”
“Not me, ma’am, thanks very much.” Nursie Babe then turned to the fellow in the first bed, still dead to the world.
“Look, guys…” Teitelbaum thought half a moment, and… “I have told you what I know. I am going to ask you not to say anything to anybody else. I am going to suggest we all just get on with our lives and go back to enforcing the general ignorance.”
“…OK. Fine.”
“Mr. Eichelwitz?” asked Nursie Babe, somewhere behind them.
“Can do, Gerry.“
“For the Captain’s sake, all right? I appreciate it.”
“That’s all right. So, are you retiring or what?”
“Mr. Eichelwitz, aren’t you hungry?” the nurse continued. “You’ve barely touched your lunch.”
“Yeah, and I’m sorry. They’re getting me a part time gig with the Brooklyn DA’s office. They really want me to shut up, I think. But we know what’s up. That idiot James as much as told us when we arrested him. He said he dropped the paperweight. It fell through the skylight and brained Ramiro. That’s all she wrote.”
“But where did James really come from? Up in the sky?”
“Oh, dear…” they heard Nursie Babe say behind them.
“’Swhere we found him. You answer one question, you think up 5 more. I’ve gone as far as I can go, guys. I’ll miss you. Yeah, Pemmican, even you.”
“You can’t take away our poker nights,” the sergeant said. “I’ll sue.”
“Uh, pardon me, Sergeant?” asked the nurse. “Officers? I’m very sorry, but I need you all to sit right where you are and not move.” A buzzing tone sounded at the nurse’s station up the hall.
“Jeez, no…” began the patient (the live one), but it was too late, half a dozen people were piling into the front of the room wearing differing vivid colors and
so forth. A crash cart followed them, but Nursie wisely slashed the curtain shut at about this point. Gerry looked at his visitors. “Staying for dinner?”
“Looks like it. So we still got our poker night?”
“Hey, you don’t show up Tuesday at six with a pocket full of change, I’ll call Chaudhury and tell him you guessed everything.”
“Good,” Gonzalez responded, quieter.
“We will not do like cops always do. We will keep hanging out.”
“Good. Then I guess we’ll have to.” Pemmican also nodded agreement.
Teitelbaum moved the tray farther away on the wheeled table. “Now we just have to get the Dragan to throw in.”
“Shouldn’t be too difficult,” shrugged Pemmican. “She’s even more divorced than you are. Oh, wait.”
Teitelbaum relaxed. At least his old compatriots weren’t going to walk out on him. Not before he won too much at the next game. “Hm?”
“Been meaning to mention. Awful lot of guys on horses in Brooklyn, lately…”
“What?” His eye lighted on the piece of paper under his meal tray. Picking it up and taking a quick look, the detective handed it around. “I’m not putting in my papers. Forget everything I just said. Got me?”
For once, Pemmican had nothing ‘smart’ to add. Gonzalez was not so reticent. “They gave your roomie your meal…”
“Yeah. Screw them. I’m retiring when there’s no crime any more. Maybe we'll never find out what the hell happened to Bedard and maybe we'll never find the mystery man of 332 86th Street but I am not retiring. Do I render myself pellucid?”

Copyright 2010 by K. Griffiths. All rights reserved.
This is an excerpt from a work of fiction. Any similarities between this narrative and actual events or between these characters and any persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.

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R E A D E R   C O M M E N T S

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"A good writer is an expert on nothing but himself. And on that subject, if he is wise, he holds his tongue." --John le Carre

Exactly how interesting can the author be, anyway, when nobody has any idea where their creativity comes from or how the mechanics of inspiration works? Maybe it's something we all have access to. Maybe it's a sluice that empties into your head when you're facing in a particular direction and thinking a particular series of things. Then again, maybe not.
However benevolent inspiration really is, to say nothing of what it is, I suspect that any good fictional character is a lot more interesting than the person who dreams it up. So mine speak for me here.

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