“Shileesh,” Chet said, extending his hand. “Why are we meeting here instead of the warehouse?”
“This conversation isn’t happening.”
“I don’t understand. You told me to come and I am here.”
“We will speak, but this conversation never happened.”
“Ah! I understand. Speak my friend. I am listening.”
“I know you will not let me have the things I bought,” he said, looking around cautiously.
“Shileesh, you know it is. . .”
“Stop, I think I’ve known it all along. You will give them to me, but then take them back, or give me something much more deadly that will find prey of its own. Either way, the outcome will be the same. You know it and I know it. But I don’t care. I will be more formidable as a martyr. But I have a request, and in return, I will give you back your Miles.”
“Speak Shileesh. What do you want?”
“There is one with Miles. He does not know he is my son. He thinks me his uncle. Allah punishes me by making him . . . by making him like Miles, un-natural.” Shileesh fiddled with something in his hands as he looked at the floor. “He thinks that he hides it well. But I see where his eyes go when with the other boys.” Looking down he whispered, “He has no future in our land.” He took a deep breath through his nose and bolstered himself up again. “So, I will give you what you want and in return you will extend hospitality to Sirhan until he is grown and on his own. In return, I will give you my death. Call your people and tell them to fill the boxes as they had planned. I will tell them that I checked the shipment. They won’t question me. I will take my men with me and tell Sirhan to watch the boy and I will be back.”
“He will resent me . . ., us. He will not believe what you have done. He will martyr himself.”
“No,” Shileesh said, holding a note out to Charlie. “Give him this. He will understand.” Charlie took the paper from him and placed it in his pocket. “We have a deal then?” Shileesh asked.
“Yes. We have a deal.” Shileesh glanced briefly into Charlie’s eyes and turned to leave. “Can you have it ready in two hours?”
“Yes,” Charlie said, watching him stroll away. “Shileesh!” Charlie said as he reached for the terminal door. He snapped around to see a smile on Charlie’s face. “Try not to use up all those virgins in one night, will you.”
Shileesh smiled, “I shall see if I can have yours too, since you won’t be needing them,” he pulled the door open and disappeared into the terminal.
Charlie reached inside his pocket and retrieved his cell phone. Pushing a couple buttons he held the phone to his ear. “This is Charlie.” He said pausing for a moment, then he folded it shut. He walked toward the terminal wondering what the ramifications of this deal would mean.
Jamie lay there under the pile of blueprints, scared and wondering if he was in the clear, when his phone started to play the Barney song he had programmed for Will’s ring tone. Jamie grabbed for the phone and carefully sliding it up to his ear, he whispered, “Hey Will. Look, this isn’t really a good time. I’ll call you back in just a little bit.”
“Ok, sorry. Are you having sex?”
“No Will, I’m trying to rescue Miles, they have him.”
“Oh shit, are you in danger?”
“No, I’m alright, but I have to go. Alright?”
“Sure,” Will said, now whispering too, as if perhaps he could be heard too. “Uh, Jamie?”
“What?” Jamie whispered back.
“Be careful, you’re all I have left. I love you. Call me when you’re safe.”
“Love you too little brother. I will.” He closed the phone, then opened it again and turned the ringer to vibrate. He slowly put the phone back into his pocket and tried to move the papers that had cascaded on top of him. He peered out into the room and saw a man sitting, smiling, looking at the moving pile of papers.
“I have always hated that song, and that stupid purple dragon,” he said with amusement. Jamie saw that the young man leaned back against an old desk, his arms crossed, with a pistol in one hand. He could see the barrel sticking out from under one arm. “Come out now and perhaps I won’t have to kill you. Who are you and what are you doing here?”
Jamie started to climb out of the papers, brushing the dust off of him as he stood up. “I’m Jamie. I was just looking for a place to sleep. I’m homeless.”
“Oh? The government now issues two hundred Euro telephones to their homeless so they can order out and make reservations at fine restaurants?” he said, holding his hand out for the phone. “You wouldn’t be lying to me, would you?” He pointed the pistol at Jamie with the other hand.
Jamie froze, “Okay, okay, I’m here looking for my friend Miles. The boy you took from the car a few hours ago.”
“Who is with you?”
“No one, I’m alone. They wanted me to go back to the manor, but I jumped out of the car and ran.”
“Why would you do such a thing? You had to know you would get caught and that we would kill you.”
“All I could think about is my Miles, being blind and alone.”
“Your Miles? What do you mean?”
“I am . . . I am his companion. He’s blind. I help him along. You know. Get him a drink if he needs one, help him get dressed. Pick out his shoes.”
“Oh, so you are his butler, his gentlemen’s gentlemen. But you don’t sound British. You sound American.”
“I am American.”
“Such things they don’t have in America.”
“He has been there for a couple years. I was hired to serve him. I had no home and needed the work.”
“Why have you no home? Are your parents dead?”
“Uh, no, they just don’t want me.”
“Because . . . because I am gay.”
“Are you gay with this blind boy?”
“No, I’m his servant. I told you.”
“Tell me why I shouldn’t kill you right now.”
“I’m just a boy, I have no gun. I came to help Miles. I can be useful.”
“You can be trouble too. But Shileesh will have questions for you. Give me any trouble and I will kill you in an instant. Turn around.”
Jamie turned around and the man took his hands and bound them with cable ties he had in his belt loops. “Make a sound and I will cut your throat and think nothing of it. Do you understand?” The man showed Jamie the knife and held it to his throat.
“I understand, please don’t kill me.”
“Be silent and I’ll let you live. At least until Shileesh comes back.” The man held Jamie by the collar of his shirt and they made for the door and down the steps to the court yard. Keeping him close to the wall so passer-bys would not be able to see him he whispered, “Make one noise and it’s your last.”
Jamie’s eyes filled with water as he feared his eminent death. They reached an alcove with a door in it near the three cars Jamie saw earlier. He pushed Jamie into it, slamming him against the brick wall. With one hand he opened the door, with the other he jerked Jamie inside it, letting the steel door close behind him. “Ouch!” Jamie said, as his face slammed against the brick, and then he felt himself thrown through the doorway onto the floor of the dark room.
“Get up!” he said, grabbing his arm and pulling him to his feet as if he were a rag doll. Jamie felt his hand on his arm like a vise. Jamie winced as the pain of his grip and the places where his face was smashed against the wall called out to him in pain. “I told you to be silent!”
He dragged him up the steps, four flights. Then he pressed him against another wall as he opened the door and pushed him through it.
“What’s this?” the man asked angrily.
“I caught him in the back trying to work his way forward to rescue his little friend. He is the servant to the blind boy.”
“Why didn’t you just kill him and leave him?”
“I am not into killing unarmed children. Besides, Shileesh may have questions for him. What if I was to kill him and then find that Shileesh had questions for him? He is a boy. He is no danger to us. Better to wait and let Shileesh make the call.”
“I think it is better to kill him now and be done with it,” he said, grabbing Jamie by the hair and pulling a knife from his pocket, he made for his neck.
“Alright, but when Shileesh asks, it is on your head. Remember what he did to Ahmed for getting the dinner order wrong.”
“He had other reasons for killing Ahmed.”
“And did Ahmed know those reasons?”
“Why should he know?”
“Right, and why should you? He knew to come here.” The man said, pointing at Jamie. “I think Shileesh will want to know how and who else knows.” The man turned around and walked out the door and back to his post.
The fat guy with his knife to Jamie’s throat paused for a moment and took his knife away. Folding it and placing it in his pocket, he stood and dragging Jamie along by his hair, he led Jamie to the steps without a railing. “Sirhan!” he shouted, and the young boy appeared at the top of the steps. “You will have two to kill when the time comes. Here, take this dog also.”
Sirhan reached for the boy as the guard led him up a few steps and pushed him forward. Sirhan took his arm and pulled him up.
“Who are you? Why are you here? I am Sirhan, do what I say or I will have to kill you!” He pulled Jamie to his feet and ushered him over to the bed and pushed him down next to Miles.
Jamie said nothing as he whimpered, laying on his side. “Jamie?” Miles said quietly.
“Miles?” Jamie said, trying to sit up. Miles helped him upright.
“Are you alright?” Miles asked, his hands roaming over his face and head as if he were taking inventory. “Are you hurt?”
“No. Just scraped up on my face, I think. Are you alright?”
“Yes, you are safe now. Sirhan will look after us.”
“Why do you say such things? I should kill you now just to show you.”
“Oh stop it Sirhan, this is my Jamie. You know, we’ve talked about him. Now cut these off of him. He is no danger to you.”
“Ah! The one who has been unnatural with you. I should kill him for taking advantage of the little blind dog.”
“Would you stop calling me that? My name is Miles. And he didn’t take advantage of me. I went willingly.” He turned his head back to Jamie and pulling his face to him, he kissed him and laid his face next to his. “I love you Jamie. You are all I could think about. They said they had you too.”
“They just got me a few minutes ago when Will called me and my cell phone went off. I was stupid. I should have set it to vibrate.”
“You should have gone back to the manor and let Charlie handle this. Now they have two of us. Sirhan, please, cut his bindings. He’ll promise not to do anything wrong. Won’t you?”
“Yeah, I don’t think I’m going anyplace. The guy downstairs only let me live because the other guard told him that some guy named Shileesh might have questions for me. I don’t think I want to meet up with him again.”
“Shileesh is my uncle! You would do well to fear him. Just as you would do well to fear me. One wrong move and I will kill you.”
“Sirhan,” Miles said. “Again with the kill you stuff. Just knock it off. He won’t do anything. You have my word.”
“Your word? The word of a little blind dog?”
“I have kept my word with you, haven’t I?”
“Well, yes you have. But only because you are afraid I will kill you. Now you out number me.”
“But you have weapons and are a trained warrior. I am nothing but a boy with the boy he loves. How can he hold me and stem my fears with his hands bound?”
“What, so you can be unnatural? Allah spits at your unnatural ways.”
“Okay, well, we all spit sometimes. I thought Allah was merciful. Can you not also be merciful? Please, we won’t try anything, I promise.”
“Well, I guess to be merciful I will impress Allah because I do not fear you. I will cut his bindings. But be warned . . .”
“Yes, we know,” Jamie and Will said together. “You’ll kill us.”
Sirhan cut the cable ties with his pocket knife and then jumped back in fear as Jamie brought his hands out in front of him, rubbing his wrists. “Thank you,” Jamie said. Then taking Miles, he hugged him and kissed him. He smiled up at his face and whispered, “A kiss from you. Now I can die in peace.”
Miles turned his head to Jamie. “I love you too. I’m sorry they caught you, I’m sorry they caught me. But we’re ok now. Sirhan is a friend. He will protect us.”
“Why do you keep saying that?! I am not your friend.”
“Of course you are. We have even shared intimate moments.”
“What? What are you saying? We have shared nothing.”
“Of course we have. How else would I know about you and the goat’s penis?”
“What are you saying? There is nothing to know about me and a goat’s penis! Now shut up before I have to kill you.”
Both boys turned towards Sirhan. He looked back. Then Miles leaned closer to Jamie and whispered to him, “He had a thing with a goat and touched his penis.”
“Stop saying that! I did not touch the goat’s penis!”
“He likes to watch when I piss too.”
“That is not true. You know I only saw it for a moment. Then I turned away.”
“He’ll watch you too, I am sure of it.”
“Stop talking this nonsense. I want to hear no more of it.”
“Whether I say it or not, Allah knows it. He knows when you are sleeping, he knows when you’re awake. He’s making a list and checking it twice. He’s going to find out who’s naughty and nice. So keep in mind that Allah is watching.”
“Allah knows all!”
“You think Allah turns away when his warriors piss?”
“No, why would you ask such a thing?”
“Well, if he watches, then why can’t you?”
“Because he is Allah! And why would I want to? It is unnatural to want to.”
“So then, Allah is unnatural?”
“What? Where do you get that from? Allah is not unnatural. I should kill you for saying so.” He was squeaking he was so frustrated.
“I didn’t say so, you did!”
“What? I said no such thing.”
“Yes you did.”
“When did I say something so stupid?”
“You said watching someone piss is unnatural. I asked if Allah turns away and you said no. So you said Allah is unnatural.”
“But I never said he watched or wanted to watch.”
“Then why did you say he watches his men piss?”
“I said no such thing.”
“Yes you did. I asked if he turns away when he watches them piss and you said he doesn’t. So you admit that he watches his men pissing! So if Allah is gay why can’t you be?”
Jamie stifled a grin. Miles had him on the ropes, a place where Jamie has been more than once.
Sirhan just sat staring in overload.
“Right, Mac. Look, there is a change. Load some boxes in the back of a pick-up. Meet me in an hour and a half by the train station near the warehouse. There is something else. I’m going to need to arrange refugee status for one. A minor. Yeah, he is making a trade. His life for the life of his son. Here’s the gig. He wants to martyr himself and in return we keep the guns and the boy.”
“What’s that? He is a refugee from the standpoint that to return him to his country would mean certain death. He’s gay.”
“Hello Will? What’s wrong hun? Oh dear. No you did right. Let me talk to Annie please.
Hi Annie, look I didn’t want to say anything but I think now that Jamie may be in their clutches. Keep an eye on Will and stay close to the phone. One way or another, this thing is coming to a close. I’ll keep you posted. Right then. Goodbye.”
“Hello, this is Chet. I need to get a message to Charlie. It’s urgent. The message? They have Jamie too.”
He hung up the phone and sat down in the chair with his head in his hands and wept at his helplessness.
Morley came in just in time to hear him say that they have Jamie too. Placing a hand on his shoulder, he gave a slight squeeze.
“There, there, Chet. It’s almost done with. Hold tough. Our boys are good at what they do. Have faith in them.” Then he let go and stepped into the hall. “Vivian, some tea please. Make it strong. I think it will be a long evening.”
Chet’s phone rang, “It’s going to be alright, Chet. We’ve made a deal. I am sure we will get Jamie back too. Just hang tough. It’ll all be over in about an hour and a half. How did they get him?”
Chet relayed the story Will had given him.
“He’s pretty lucky then. Keeping him alive would not be to their benefit. Listen, I haven’t met this Annie. Think she would mind a little trip? I know Will must be terrified. I know we have a flight out within a couple hours. A diplomatic flight. If I give you the information can you get her to be there? It leaves in about two hours.”
“Sure, but they don’t have papers, so make sure your folks know that there will be three.”
“I’ll make the call.”
“Make ready! The truck will be here in less than two hours. Rhaul take one car, wait at checkpoint fifteen. Call if you see anything. Siheed take the other car and make sure the way from here to checkpoint 32 is clear. Come back as soon as you can, see there is no construction or other deterrent. Go now. You,” he said to the guy sitting downstairs, “start getting the maps and papers ready for the trip. Leave nothing for them.”
Sirhan jumped up when he heard his uncles voice and the urgency it held. He looked down the stairs and back at the boys. The time was drawing close. His breathing was rapid as he watched his uncle come up the steps. He stepped back. Glancing over at the two boys he swallowed hard.
“Uncle, is it time?” Again he glanced over at Miles and Jamie.
“No. I have a special mission for you. It is difficult, but I know I can count on you to do anything I ask. “
“Yes Uncle. Allah be praised.”
“It is important then that you do nothing to hurt these two boys. But you must watch them and wait for Charlie. He will come for you all. I have made arrangements with him and you will follow those arrangements to the letter. Do you understand?”
“But, what arrangements?”
“Do not ask questions. Do as I tell you. We will leave in the truck. You will stay with them and keep them hostage until we are off this cursed island and over the border. You will not stay here. Charlie will come after we leave. Let no one know of this do you understand?”
“The truck is here!” came a voice from below. Shileesh pulled a gun from his belt and motioned for the boys to be quiet. He fired three shots in the air and slipped the gun back into his waistband. He kissed Sirhan’s forehead.
“Allah be with you son.” He whispered, and went down the steps and out the door. He got into the truck and two of the cars escorted it away, one in the front and one in the rear.
“What of Sirhan and the infidel dogs?” the man asked, sitting beside Shileesh. “I took care of them. Sirhan was becoming weak and would have slowed us up. Allah will reward him.”
“And the evidence will be destroyed,” the man said, looking at his watch, “in five, four, three, two, one.”
“What do you mean?”
“I set the incendiaries. It is normal procedure.”
“So is this,” Shileesh pulled the gun from his waistband and shot the man next to him. He grabbed his wound as Shileesh fired another round into him. He threw his pistol on the dash and grabbed his phone. Pushing buttons, he called Charlie. “Charlie, Abraham, he set incendiaries up in the warehouse. You have to get them out now!”
“Jamie! I smell smoke,” Miles said, sniffing the air. Sirhan went to the steps and looked down.
“Shit, it’s on fire down there. We gotta get out of here.”
“Come on,” Jamie said. “This way.” He led them into the hall next to the bathroom. He laid his shoulder to the door. He backed up and did it again and the door gave way.
“Where are you taking us?” Sirhan asked in between coughs.
“There is a staircase back here. It’s where they caught me.”
An explosion occurred behind them and the room they had just left was engulfed with flames. The age of the wood made it burn quickly and burn hot.
“Quickly or we will be trapped,” Sirhan said, helping Miles to navigate while Jamie led the way. They went through another door. Sounds of crashing walls and exploding containers of developing fluids went off all around them. One sent a container flying like a missile, missing Miles by a whisker but hitting a wall, causing it to fall in on the boys. Jamie jumped clear of the debris, but Sirhan and Miles were hit and trapped. Jamie crawled over to them. Moving pieces of bricks out of the way, he could see that Miles was unconscious and Sirhan had a cut on his forehead. He struggled to move pieces and pulled on Miles until he was free. Then he began to dig Sirhan out. He was struggling to pull his legs out and wincing in pain as he did. Finally freeing Sirhan, Jamie started to pull him to his feet. Miles stood, grabbing his other arm.
“Are you alright?” Jamie asked Miles.
“Never better. Come on, we better get moving or I won’t be for long.”
They went onward and emerged in the room with all the blueprints. Smoke had filled the rooms and breathing was getting difficult as the smoke burned their eyes and throats. Jamie tore at the door wildly, remembering he could only get it open a short ways before. He squeezed his way through and pulled at Sirhan and then Miles.
The smoke billowed out above their heads as they made their way down the steps into the courtyard. The gates in the front were chained again. “Follow me,” Jamie said, leading them back to the back of the compound and through the construction graveyard to the low spot under the fence. Jamie slid underneath first and then Sirhan and then Miles. Jamie noticed Sirhan’s legs were bleeding pretty badly.
“Come on, we have to get you some help, quick.”
“I am a warrior of Allah. It does not hurt . . . much.”
“Come on,” Jamie said, putting Sirhan’s arm over his shoulder. Miles picked up the other arm and did the same. They made their way to the sidewalk and towards the commotion of the fire trucks.
“Too bad we don’t have a phone, we could call Charlie.”
“And what would you say to him? That you were an idiot for running off like that? That you were sorry for thinking with the head below your waist? Just what would you tell me?” It was Charlie.
He scooped Sirhan up in his arms and as he carried him he said, “You’re going to be alright. I have a note for you. I will take care of you now.”
Jamie stood and took Miles by the arm and they walked toward the fire trucks with Charlie.
Jamie asked Charlie if he could use his phone. He pushed the speed dial for Will.”Hi Will. Look, I’m alright. I don’t have my phone but I’m alright. You’re where? No kidding? Look, wait until you get way up, then take Sebastian to the bathroom and . . .”
Jamie handed the phone back to Charlie smiling, “Thanks. And thanks for bringing my little brother over here. I miss him so much.”
Miles stopped Jamie and turned him to face him. He studied him for a moment. “Even dirty, you’re beautiful.”
Jamie’s eyes lit up when he realized that Miles was looking at him and seeing him. “You are just as beautiful as always.” Jamie kissed him deeply right there on the street. Together they turned, hand in hand, glancing at each other; they followed Charlie back towards their future.
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