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They Meet Again
by David Keyser
9/26/2013 / Short Stories
This is the introductory chapter to The Greater Part Of Love which is a "boy meets girl" story that also involves international intrigue.
Belvedere was a strange character. The son of an English father and a Turkish mother, he was born in Maryland right on the beltway. He grew up on his uncle's farm there. His uncle was a natural born American, albeit a first generation one. His father Charlie Belvedere emigrated to America to join his brother as a young man. He had always wanted to be an American. So Hassan was born in Maryland.
All Hassan ever wanted to be was a government agent. Starting in grade school in a Baltimore suburb he dreamed of being a Federal agent. All through high school he dreamed of being a Federal agent. Now this was not considered all that unusual in a school where a good number of the parents worked for the Federal government and some of these were even agents in some member of the alphabet soup that comprises Federal security whether it be FBI, ATF, CIA, NSA, DSS, SS, or DOD, or some so secret that the kids at the high school weren't even sure that they really existed. Hassan knew exactly which branch of government each of these agencies was under and he really didn't care which one he eventually would work for, although he preferred the most secret one he could find. All through high school he dreamed of being in the NSA which was jokingly called "No Such Agency" by the families with government employment. Hassan knew it was The National Security Agency.
When he got into the University of Maryland at Baltimore, Hassan enrolled in political science because it was good preparation for either the law or the mysterious halls of counter-intelligence. Due to his fanatical devotion to his future career Hassan had always been on the "A" honor roll in high school and he did not let down his determination at University. There was not much doubt on the part of any of his old high school friends that he would end up working for some cloak and dagger outfit. The only real question was which one.
Jamie Hudson never doubted Hassan's devotion or eventual destiny. Jamie and Hassan had been friends since third grade. Hassan had always been big for his age and at that time Jamie needed a big friend to protect him from the bullies. Jamie was a smart kid too and he helped Hassan on the only subject that he had trouble with, English literature, especially poetry. Hassan was good with numbers and words. He was good in science. But poetry, especially the "spooky" or "mushy" kind escaped Hassan. Since Hassan did not want to make a "B" on anything, he desperately needed help in the poetry area. Jamie could understand it and he was one of the few people who could explain it to Hassan. Jamie and Hassan became inseparable friends.
Jane Anne Carter wanted to explain poetry to Hassan but she always lost out to Jamie for some reason. They rode the same school bus together for 10 years. When his mother encouraged Hassan to let Jane Anne help, Hassan would let his mother know that Jane Anne was a "scrawny freckled faced red head" and he definitely was not interested. Besides, she was also "religious." Little did any of them know that three local kids would end up involved in some of the wildest espionage cases in American history.
Hassan raved on to Jamie about his "sum of the parts" theory. "No sir, my old friend, if it doesn't add up in the end, there is a piece missing. Find the piece and you solve the case."
"I suppose you're right," Jamie said between potato chips. "It is certainly a sound theory."
"No doubt about it," Hassan bellowed.
Hassan and Jamie had chosen to be roommates in the University dorms from the first day of their freshman year. They had been roommates for over three years now and they would graduate together in June. Most of the various agencies had represented themselves at the senior job fair and Hassan had landed himself a contract with the DSS, Department of State Security. This was plenty secret and Hassan was very happy with it.
Jamie had actually landed an accounting position with the FBI. "Remember it was an accountant that finally landed Al Capone for tax evasion," Jamie had bragged.
After graduation they took a short vacation together and started work at their respective agencies on the very same Monday, July 8th, the Monday after Thursday the fourth of July 1996.
Neither Hassan nor Jamie had seen Jane Anne since high school graduation. One very busy lunch hour Hassan and Jamie had arranged to meet at a crowded bistro in Washington for lunch. They tried to meet up every two or three weeks to catch each other up on their jobs. To tell the truth, they were both secretly disappointed at the humdrum way things had proceeded. They were learning that they each had to "earn their spurs" with the agency before they would be allowed to participate in even the most routine of important cases. Needless to say, Hassan was much more disappointed than Jamie with the situation. They did try to give each other the rosiest view in their reports, but they knew each other well enough to be able to read between the lines. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union five years before, the espionage business had lost some of its luster. However, something else was moving across the horizon that was going to keep them very busy.
It started to rain before they got to the bistro so they broke into a run and collided with a young woman right in the doorway. Anxious diners had moved the line inside to get out of the rain and this young woman arrived at the door at exactly the same time as the two friends.
"Oops, sorry lady, go ahead, really it's O.K."
"Thank you, true gentlemen," she replied. Jamie had been pushed right up against her and he was favorably impressed with the feel of her soft little body against his even through two sets of clothing including raincoats. As they pushed into the bistro dripping on the tables of those fortunate enough to get a table near the door, she looked up at the two men from under a very feminine full brimmed rain hat. Her big brown eyes seemed very big for her face peering out from under the hat brim. She had on bright orange lipstick and an orange scarf that was really 'her color,' as they say.
"Jamie, Jamie Hudson, is that you? Jane Anne. Jane Anne Cutter. Why it's been years," she said.
Jamie had to admit that Jane Anne had turned out much better than anyone would have guessed. She looked up at Jamie smiling and fluttered her long eye lashes. Then she pulled off her hat and shook out her long wavy auburn hair. This attracted the attention of any number of males in the immediate area.
"Hi, Jane Anne," Jamie said.
"Hello," Hassan chimed in. "Yes, it has been a while."
Several tables had opened up by now and the hostess was asking them if they were together.
"Eat with us, Jane Anne," Jamie almost begged.
She shook her head 'yes' and the hostess showed them to a table near the back. It was nice and quiet there. The guys sat on either side of her. They helped her off with her raincoat and saw that she had indeed grown up very nicely. They both sat down and couldn't take their eyes off of her. This she enjoyed.
The men rattled on about their jobs and finally, amidst the drink orders and the food orders, asked her what she was doing in Washington.
"I work for The Children's Plate," she said. "We are an international feeding agency."
The three friends met almost every week at the same bistro for almost four months. Then Jane Anne had an announcement.
"Jamie, I thought you would never get here," she scolded.
"Sooooo sorry," Jamie retorted. "My boss held me up for over 20 minutes." He sat down between them, gave Hassan a good solid punch on the arm and leaned over and hugged Jane Anne. He liked to hug Jane Anne. She never objected. Hassan had taken to hugging her too, but his hugs were considerably quicker. "What's happening?" Jamie added.
"Well, I haven't told Hassan yet," Jane Anne said. "I wanted to tell you both together. I am so excited, but in a way I am sad too."
The men were all ears.
"I am being sent abroad," she said with a big smile. "To Turkey, no less. . . . You see they need me to run a program there. A program to feed the kids."
Neither of the guys spoke right away.
"Well, aren't you excited for me?" she asked.
"Of course we are, Jane Anne," Jamie said. "It's just that we will miss you, that's all."
"We sure will," Hassan chimed in.
"And I will miss you guys too, a lot. I've sort of gotten fond of you two big lugs by now, you know?" She put one hand on each of their arms.
Jamie put his hand on hers and Hassan did the same, briefly.
"You know, Jane Anne, I have relatives over there," Hassan said.
"Yes, I seem to remember something about that," she replied.
"You can go see my aunt Fatma. You'd like her. She's a lot like my Mom, only younger. A real bubbly person."
"Hassan, you really have an aunt named Fatma?" Jane Anne said teasingly.
"That's like a normal name in Turkey," Hassan insisted.
"Oh, I didn't mean to hurt your feelings. I'm sure that's a normal name." She touched his arm again. He managed a smile. It was obvious that both of the men were disappointed that they would not be seeing her very much from now on. Or at least that was what they thought.
"When do you have to go?" Jamie asked.
"In ten days," she said.
"Wow, ten days. We had better have several suppers before then," Jamie said. They all agreed and they kept their words. They had three more suppers before they took her to the airport ten days later. The men then went straight out and got drunk together.
"You ever think of, you know, with Jane Anne," Hassan asked Jamie after the fourth drink.
"Yea, for sure. She turned out to be really pretty?"
"Yea, she sure did. And sweet. One of us should have moved faster." Jamie said.
"Yea, which one?" Hassan asked.
"Me," Jamie said.
Hassan was silent.
About a month after Jane Anne left, Hassan's boss called him into his office.
"You got relatives in Turkey, Belvedere?" Ross Burke asked. Burke was a big man. He thought of himself as a man's man. He was 45 and single and the agency was his life.
"Sure, chief, I've got oodles of relatives there."
"Any that you can live with?"
"Yes, sir. Plenty."
"You speak Turkish, Belvedere?" Burke asked.
"Like a native, sir. Just like my Mom speaks it. She taught me from a baby."
"Uhh. That's probably one reason you were put on," Burke added. "Oh yes, it says here," he was looking at Hassan's file by now, although how anyone could find anything on that desk was a mystery to all. "You speak English, Turkish and French. Where'd the French come from?"
"I learned it in college, and at Berlitz. I sort of wanted to be stationed in France some day, sir. I am also pretty good at Arabic," Hassan added.
"Arabic? That ain't in your file," Burke said leaning back in his executive chair.
"Well, a fellow has to have some secrets," Hassan joked lamely.
"Not in the DSS," Burke shot back. "Anything else I should know about you, Belvedere?" Burke asked. "Any other languages, like maybe Chinese, or anything?"
"No sir. No more languages. At least not right now," Hassan answered. "If I learn any more, I will tell you right away," Hassan said.
"Well, the Arabic will also come in handy on this assignment," Burke said.
The word 'assignment' rang in Hassan's ears. "Assignment, sir, to Turkey?"
"Yep, you are now a field agent, Belvedere. Report to Opps in Istanbul by next Tuesday. Here study this file before you go and take this ticket to the control desk right now." He handed Hassan his orders. Hassan picked them up quickly and carefully and eased out of the room before Burke changed his mind. Field Agent. He was a Field Agent already. Why, he bet that Burke had had this in mind all along. He studied the file there at the office. He knew that he could not take it out. He memorized all that he could and he was good at memorization.
That evening he called his aunt Fatma in Turkey and casually arranged for a family visit. He made up a story for his Mom about being a courier for the agency and made her promise not to tell. He arrived in Istanbul on schedule after a long drunk with his friend Jamie.
"You be sure to hug Jane Anne for me when you see her," Jamie said.
"Sure will," Hassan promised. But he never really expected to see her.
Hassan reported into opps right away. He was to work surveillance on a terrorist group that operated out of Turkey.
"Now this group is not the toughest or the smartest of terrorists," the team leader said. Jeff Albright was young to be a team leader and Hassan thought that he had it all together. Hassan felt that he would get some good experience here. "Most of the toughest and the smartest don't operate out of Turkey," Albright continued. "But we still have to watch them. We have a visit from the Under Secretary of State in two weeks and it is our job, ladies and gentlemen, to be sure that he arrives back in the good ole U.S. of A. on time and in one piece."
The team including its newest member, Hassan P. Belvedere, went to work right away studying pictures and reports on this cell. Then it was time to check hotels and routes and the hiding places of the bad guys. Hassan was in his element. His life-long dream had come true.
After more than a week Hassan suddenly found himself with an evening off. He decided not to let his aunt Fatma know about it. He had worked very late every night since he came, and wanted to just go exploring by himself and maybe find a great place to eat on his own. Just as he was about to escape from the office alone, he heard Albright calling him from behind. He turned and waited. Oh well, a good idea, but he couldn't pull out on the team leader. He reminded himself that this was his dream job.
"Hassan, wait up," Albright said. He caught up with Hassan at the elevator.
"Want to catch a bite? I can show you around. I've been in this town for over a year now."
"Sure, I bet you know of some really good places," Hassan said.
Istanbul is a really beautiful and ancient city. They walked along the river to an authentic Turkish restaurant. Hassan was pleased. There was a short line and they talked in generalities while they waited. Their business was hardly restaurant talk.
"So, am I destined to always meet you in restaurant doors?" Hassan heard a lady's voice behind him. Albright's face was already showing approval.
Of course, it was Jane Anne Cutter. She had a friend, Amy Williams, with her. Amy was no slouch either. The four of them had a long Turkish meal together.
"Of course, these guys can't tell us anything about what they do," Jane Anne began after the hor'dourves.
"It's all rather pretty boring," Jeff said. Hassan nodded in agreement.
"Sure," Jane Anne said. "Well," she sat up straight in her chair, "on the other hand, our work is quite fascinating. Where shall we start, Amy?"
After dinner the men walked the two women back to their apartment which was over the offices for "The Children's Plate" in a less that opulent part of the city.
"Come on up and meet some of the gang," Any said.
Hassan was about to decline when he got a signal from Jeff to go.
"Sure," Hassan agreed. He shot a 'why' look at Jeff as they climbed the stairs but Jeff waved him off for fear that the women would notice. Hassan knew that Jeff would give his reasons later. There were two apartments up there, one for men and one for women. There were five men in one and six women in the other; just a little crowded. Jane Anne and Amy introduced Hassan and Jeff to the women first, only three of them were there and everyone just made social noises. In the men's apartment only one man was in, a short Scotsman named Angus McLaren. Angus turned out to be especially talkative and Jeff readily took him up on it. Hassan joined in some and the women soon excused themselves.
"Hassan, here are the phone numbers for downstairs and the hall up here. We share the one in the upstairs hall. Please give me a call so we can catch a bite on a regular basis," Jane Anne said. "It will be almost like old times. If we could only get Jamie over here, it would be."
copyright 2007 David J. Keyser All rights reserved.
Dr. David J Keyser has served as an international theology teacher and college adjunct faculty. His earned degrees include a B.S. , an M.Div, an M.S., a Th.M., and a Ph.D. in Theology. He is the author of over a dozen fiction and non-fiction books. www.davidjkeyserphd.info
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