“Doctor Chase, come in, come in,” the Moroccan said with exaggerated motions. “Please, a seat? Something to eat? You must have qahwa.” Even as he asked, he was pouring the coffee from an ornate brass pitcher into small bowl shaped cups.
“Thank you, old friend,” Chase answered, pressing a cup to his lips. Hassan’s coffee was always exceptional.
“You are here. We never expect to see you again, but here you are. My wife misses your Jessica every day. Every day, she says it. I am sorry for what happened, for what they did to you. Why they are so violent all the time, I don’t know. How can they say it is Allah’s will? They listen to the wrong imams. I am sorry, my friend, truly I am.”
“I know,” Chase said. “Thank you.”
Hassan sipped his qahwa and settled back into the couch. “So, you are here with new men, faces I have never seen before. But you don’t bring them here to meet me, I think. Tell me, Doctor Chase, why have you blessed Hassan with your presence?”
“Did you see the news today?” Chase asked, setting his cup on the coffee table. “An American was taken hostage by Athar’s followers. His name is Michael Givens. He’s a close friend of mine; he was there for me when Jessie was killed.”
“I have heard,” Hassan said with a click of his tongue. “Terrible news. He is here in Jeddah?” “He’s probably here in Al-Balad. I’m here to find him, but I need help.”
“Yes, you do need help,” Hassan answered. “Athar’s people are protected, and even the Emergency Force won’t challenge them. If they wanted to negotiate, I would have heard. No, they mean to do him harm. You should be very careful with these men, Jacob. They are a dangerous brood.”
“That’s why I’m here. I need to contact Abdul. There isn’t much time. He’s the only one I know that can help.”
Hassan drew in a sharp breath between his teeth. “Those who seek trouble will find it. You will surely find it if you go looking for him.”
“Death is a black camel which kneels at every man’s gate,” Chase said, quoting an Arab proverb. “I am not afraid of it.”
“I know,” Hassan answered. “If you were, you would not ask me for this. But still, I do not wish it for you.”
“You know how to find him, Hassan. I know you do. I just need to know how to contact him. That’s all.”
Hassan tapped his foot uneasily on the floor. “What you ask, I cannot do. I have a family to think of. And you are a friend. I don’t want to see your body on the news tonight.”
“Hassan,” Chase said very directly, “You have to trust me when I tell you that nothing bad will come of this. I have met him before and, I believe, he considers me a friend. I believe this strongly enough to stake my life on it.”
Hassan fingered a string of prayer beads anxiously. “There is a place, here in the souk, where one can go to get a message to him. It is not a safe place for me, and certainly not safe for you. But you are in Allah’s hands now. I will tell you the place, and inshallah, we will both live through the night.”
Copyright Dustin Turner–November 2013–all rights reserved
No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the author.