Authors: Michael James Gallagher
Tags: #Jewish, #Mystery, #Teen, #Spy, #Historical, #Conspiracy, #Thriller, #Politics, #Terrorism, #Assassination, #Young Adult, #Military, #Suspense
The plane circled over San Francisco
Airport at twilight. Seeing the sun engraving the stark form of the Golden Gate
Bridge from her window, Kefira sighed loudly enough to draw a comment from her
"If you were playing an instrument, it'd be called the
heart strings, honey."
"It'll do it to me every time," replied Kefira.
"I was beginning to wonder if I'd get anything but
snores out of you."
"Been a long week."
"I hear ya. Praised be the Lord."
The last snippet of conversation turned Kefira's head. She
had forgotten how forthright Americans were about their chosen faith. It was
something she loved about America even when it was pushy. She laughed, tossed
her head back, and gave the middle-aged African-American woman a big smile.
goes a long way."
"What say, honey? I never did learn my Latin in
"Nothing. Let's just say you made me realize what a
great country this is."
"Sista, there ain't no better, an' I bin ta some. I
sure wish I could sleep like you all."
The plane touched down with just a brush of the wheels on
the tarmac and both women joined in with the travelers clapping in appreciation
of their safe arrival. Kefira took her carry-on from under the seat in front of
her and nodded a good-bye to her seat partner.
"Take care now."
"Here honey. This is from my church. Everyone's
welcome. See, there's a picture of me. I'm in the choir."
"Thank you. I'll keep it in mind."
Kefira's Land Rover was just where she had left it. The
sound of the motor was like an old friend as Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd filled
the fast cooling air in the cab. She arrived at Parker and 9th Streets in 23
minutes. What was left of her dance school shocked her. The facade was
standing, but all the glass was gone at 950 9th Street. The inside was a total
write-off. Yellow police tape surrounded the building and was knotted around
the door handles. There was a detective's card taped to the window. She took
down the number and returned to her car.
Too many shocks for such a short
Kefira had come to California to follow up on her instincts.
Yochana did not want her to stop by here on the way to America. She had said it
was an unnecessary distraction. The ex-IDF General, her control, had told her
to let sleeping dogs lie, but Kefira could not understand why her studio had
been targeted. Something did not smell right about Yochana's insistence that
there was no link to the MacAuley assault on her team. How could Yochana
possibly know for certain unless Yochana was involved somehow?
The sleeper was so certain of her intuition that she had
covertly searched the Mossad databases for information about the fire. Kefira
had discovered that Mossad agents had found shards of detonators in the studio
fire, and that those detonators were sourced back to Mossad supplies under
Wheels within wheels! What possible reason could Yochana
have had for destroying my studio?
Kefira's drive took her by the old sights, such as Twin
Peaks, as streetcars rattled by in the darkening evening. The daily fog had
dissipated somewhat, but was still thick enough to add to the gloom in Kefira's
darkening mood. At one point, she could not see the streetcar that was jangling
and jolting toward her on Twin Peaks.
Kefira paused, unsure that she wanted to go directly home.
She was afraid that her home might be a shambles like her studio. The three
days of changing planes so that she could be certain no one had come after her
– from England to Helsinki, then on to Paris, then back to England. That leg of
the journey, by the Chunnel under the English Channel on the Eurostar, followed
by a car rental in yet another name, and a drive to Heathrow for the flight to
New York, ensued by the morning flight to San Francisco, had drained her.
People are getting killed all around me. This thing must
be much bigger than just my team's demise.
In a snap judgment, Kefira
pursued her hunch, turned away from Upper Terrace, the street address of her
home, and headed back downtown to a nondescript hotel using yet another
passport. "Not being careful means dying," she said aloud, shaking
herself into action.
Kefira spent the night tossing and turning in a cheap motel.
There was an odor of old feet that was impossible to ignore coming from the
spotted, nondescript, wall-to-wall carpet. The sheets had been tightened,
perhaps regularly, but not changed in a long time. Dawn came at the Lex, a
motel that advertised free porn and welcomed 'tranis' and 'dykes'. Kefira was
startled when she looked in the mirror. The fatigue of the recent past had
caught up to her. She left the second floor room, exiting onto an open-air
passage from which she could see her vehicle in the parking lot.
She had parked opposite her room as a decoy, both to
disguise her room's location and to be able to see her vehicle from a distance.
She got back into her car and took her cell out of her pocket and was about to
dial when she thought better of it.
Have I become complacent, here in California?
While driving around a corner with an abandoned building on
it, she opened the back of the phone and removed the SIM card. She then pitched
the phone out the window. On the GPS, she typed 2100 Martin Luther King,
Berkeley. It was the address on the card she had taken from the window of her
destroyed dance studio.
Directly on the way to the Berkeley Homicide Department was
Wireless Gadgets. They advertised: 'We unlock all phones.″ Kefira parked
on Geary Street and walked to number 10. She went in and bought four phones,
had the techie unlock them all, paid cash and left, all in twenty minutes. Back
in her car, she removed the SIM cards and replaced them with secure cards
provided by Zak, all except one. Using the fourth phone with its original SIM
card, she phoned the number on the detective's card. He responded brightly,
"Berkeley Police Department Homicide. Lieutenant Chavez."
"This is Ms. Kathy Sonata. My dance studio suffered an
accident when I was out of town. I found your name on the business card
attached to the front door and I am on the way to see you. Are you free?"
"I will make time for you, Ms. Sonata. Please come
right up to room 305."
Kefira, using her pseudonym for the attendant, parked her
car and went in the front entrance. A constable at the front desk directed her
to Homicide and Lieutenant Chavez's office. He was waiting at the door as she
arrived. Chavez could not help himself. His eyes took in Ms. Sonata, cleavage
to eyes and then to cleavage again.
"You always do that look-over thing to women,
Lieutenant?" asked Kefira, unbalancing the interview in her favor right
from the start.
"I, ah …"
"That will be all, Lieutenant. Let's get down to
business. My family was in the military. I am used to being around men. Don't
take my abruptness to heart. I am my Daddy's girl and he was a Major in the
"Please come in, Ms. Sonata," he said emphasizing
the 'z' in 'Ms.' as a sign of respect. He still could not resist a repressed
sigh as she passed in front of him and sat down. Her perfume was working its
magic again. Kefira started talking a little breathlessly and filled Chavez in
on her tourist visit to Israel. Then she proceeded to ask questions about the
remains of her employee. The police, it seemed, had called it an accidental
explosion. They did not know that Mossad agents had scoured the site and found
a piece of detonator missed by 'the Blue' in Berkeley. Kefira was waiting to
get information secretly from the Mossad database on the forensics of the
detonator. Here, from Chavez, she wanted some clarifications only.
The Lieutenant was arrogant but helpful, his eyes
uncontrollably greedy. She had chosen the right outfit, a tight-fitting,
violet-colored Danskin wrap-around dress that left little to the imagination.
She wanted the staff to remember her here. Kefira wanted to distract Chavez,
keep him paying attention to her, not her questions.
"Are there any articles that I could pass on to the
family of the deceased employee?" asked Kefira.
"Actually, I went to get them when you phoned. Here in
this box is everything."
He passed the box over the desk between them. Kefira bent
over and gave him an eyeful as she took the box. He cleared his throat, looked
away, and tightened his neck muscles, jutting his chin upwards. He was unable
to judge how to behave with this woman. Opening the box, Kefira realized that,
coincidentally, she might have been the real target. Her favorite Panama straw
sunhat and part of her Aquascutum trench coat jumped out of the box at her. Her
breath inhaled loudly, but she recovered quickly.
"Something wrong?" he said.
"It's too real seeing this," she replied, without
skipping a beat.
Her coat and hat were a mess. The coat was burned to shreds
and the hat was soot covered. "What a shame. Such a young life snuffed
The Lieutenant came around his desk, misunderstanding her
reaction. He tried to be someone to hold onto, having no idea that Kefira's
visible reaction was masking an inner confusion.
Why hadn't Yochana wanted
her to come here? She must have known something,
thought Kefira as her
outer persona cried large tears and let an overeager officer of the law comfort
"On second thought," she said, after taking a
Kleenex proffered by Chavez, "I can't follow up on this with Miss
Gonsalves' family. It's just too grizzly for words."
"I kinda thought that would be the case. It's no
problem. Comes with the job."
Kefira was scheming. Maybe MacAuley or his henchmen had
blown her legend. Her life might be in danger here. Even still, something
bothered her about the fire and explosion, but she just could not put her
finger on it. Kefira said her goodbyes to the Lieutenant and left the station,
knowing that she had to become someone new immediately.
Looking around furtively, she got into her Range Rover and
made for a safe deposit box, containing new identity packages and cash, in
downtown San Francisco. She wondered how MacAuley had found out so much about
her and ended up believing that Shafiq was the leak. The other possibility was
unconscionable. Yochana could not be involved. Kefira was not one-hundred
percent sure about Shafiq's treachery, but she felt he merited a visit and she
felt MacAuley was in Buenos Aires, too. It was just a hunch, but she trusted
Sitting in the luxurious bucket seat
of a Cadillac Escalade, 'The Girl From Ipanema′ punctuating their
conversation, Zak turned right down an oak covered lane. Their vehicle took up
most of the roadway as the late afternoon spring sun dappled through unseasonably
early light green tree buds. Kefira opened the window and inhaled some
much-needed peace of mind. They pulled up under the covered entrance to the
Covey Manor, a hotel inspired by the charm of George Washington's Mt. Vernon
home. Zak popped the lock on the rear door and went out back to get their bags.
A tall hotel employee had already removed the luggage from the space under the
Bienvenue chez nous, Monsieur et Madame
said the bellhop, in welcoming Quebecois French.
d'être ici, cher Monsieur
," replied Zak, returning the niceties, as he
quickly picked up local intonation patterns.
Kefira found herself sliding her arm around Zak's elbow.
They followed the door attendant through the stained glass entranceway and turned
left towards the wainscoted check-in desk. The aroma of lavender,
dutifully-polished solid oak woodwork and some delightful cooking odors filled
"Mister Sexton and Miss Chapman, I presume," asked
the owner, Sandra Heavysege.
"That would be us," said Zak.
"There is a special request for adjoining rooms, if
possible, with a view of Lake Massawippi, according to Manon, the regular
"I didn't think I recognized your voice," said
Zak, now answering to the name Mr. Sexton.
"Manon is at the dentist. Let me introduce myself. I am
Sandra Heavysege, the owner. Just to show you how appreciative we are of the
patronage of our friends from south of the border, I managed to contact some of
our regular customers and arranged a change in their schedule to next week. You
have the loveliest adjoining two suites in the manor."
"I can't thank you enough. To what do we owe this
"I'm not shy. Congresswoman Hildabrand called last
night and asked if we could bend the rules for you. Seeing as her family's been
coming here for over a century, my husband and I decided to make a special
place for you. Let me show you personally to your rooms. Tom, the bellhop, has
already seen to your bags."
They walked along the hallway towards the library and
sitting room. Sandra pointed out the room and remarked on the magnificent view
through wide, floor-to-ceiling windows. "The books in the library here
date to the early 1900s, when they miraculously survived a very destructive
fire," said the owner.
"On your left we have the main dining room. Your 9:00
p.m. dinner reservation will be personally supervised by our 'Chef de Cuisine'
and the wine specialist will offer you the congresswoman's choice for your
They continued upstairs to the Treetop Suites. Kefira was
subdued by the understated charm of the inn. As well, all the recent strain and
stress was wearing her down. Despite having no real idea where MacAuley was,
they both decided, however foolishly, that they could let down their guard and
just be ordinary people.
The innkeeper left them outside their private hallway
entrance, looking out the windows in the hallway at a spring sunset shimmering
on Lake Massawippi that was months earlier than usual.
"Who's Congresswoman Hildebrand?" asked Kefira.
"Okay. I admit it. I pulled some strings in advance.
I've just been dreaming about spending some time with you since that Capoeira
demo," answered Zak.
"I'm grateful, Zak," said Kefira, sighing deeply
and breathing in the atmosphere of the inn.
They entered their separate yet connecting rooms. Kefira
opened the windows in the beautifully appointed turn-of-the-century bathroom
and lifted the natural oatmeal soap to her nose. She filled the tub and added a
deep lavender bubble bath. She removed her sleeveless silk top, and her
snug-fitting silk shorts slinked down her legs. She darned off her thong using
a first finger to slide them to her lifted right foot. A deft sweeping Capoeira
move saw the small triangle flying through the air. Her body in motion, she
started her strength and release workout. After twenty minutes, the harmonized
movements had cleansed her soul.
A new person slunk into the tub and added some hot water.
The water soothed her psyche, lavender smell penetrating to her core. After
soaking in the tub, she sat on a stool and warmed her jojoba based perfume in
her hands, slowly messaging it into every part of her body. When she arrived
near the line of her Brazilian cut, Kefira felt increasingly aroused. She stood
up, naked, and oiled with a handful of cinnamon and clove scented oil in her
palms. Around her neck, she wore Tuareg beads that absorbed her natural musk
and intensified the combination of odors.
The door to the adjoining suite opened easily to the
manipulations of her agile feet, because she had secretly unlocked it before
the bath. Zak was lying on his bed, reading, a towel flopped over his groin.
Kefira moved towards him silently, in a sensuous dance, never spilling the oil
in her hands. She approached the bedside and raised her hands in a personalized
variation of the sun salutation pose, offering him her submission, one knee
grounded. Zak was speechless. Her jet-black hair gave her a feline ardor. Her
skin, olive perfection, shone in the moonlight entering the room. Most enticing
was the smell of musk, of woman, oozing from Kefira.
He moved sideways and carefully covered his obvious
interest, slipping between Kefira and the bed. His back rounded before her and
received the oil in her hands. The warmth of the oil and its scent aroused him
painfully. Warm oil slipped over his vertebrae, Kefira's hands caressing his
upper, middle, and then lower back. Still oiled, her right hand reached under
his scrotum and massaged him, while her head snaked around his hip. He came in
seconds. It was the first time in almost five years, five long years since his
wife's death at the hands of a suicide bomber.
Partially spent, he gasped a second time. Then his highly
trained muscles flipped Kefira over his back and onto the bed. His tongue sought
her warmth, her center. His hands greedily worked her body as he gently bit and
manipulated her clitoris. She climaxed the first time on his tongue. They had
not yet spoken. She purred as he turned her over on her stomach and rubbed her
oiled body, licking her, searching for erogenous zones. Aroused a second time,
she murmured languidly and fell into his movement, climaxing slowly. She cried
out, spent. Both of them succumbed to a deep, dreamless slumber.