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Hostages

Terrence Crimmins

Hostages


To the memory of my father, John M. Crimmins and, as he would be the first to admit, his better half, Catherine Lucille O'Malley Crimmins.


BookRix GmbH & Co. KG
81669 Munich

Chapter One

 “May I help you?” asked the dark haired gentleman as he opened the door, with an accent the young man he questioned did not yet recognize.

“Didn't you order two pizzas?” the young man questioned in response, for he was confused, as this dark individual with an olive complexion did not look like a State Department employee. 

“Ah yes, come in,” came the response. “That's right.”

But things appeared quite different to the young pizza deliverer as the heavy door closed behind him, and this strange individual bolted the door with his left hand, because his right hand was busy supporting the weight of an Uzi Submachine Gun.

“Pizza!” he exclaimed. “They've ordered pizza! Ha-ha-ha-” and his laughter turned into a chuckle.

So the speechless young man was guided to the second floor while his mind reeled with apocalyptic questions of whether or not he might survive this unexpected calamity, which was occurring on his last delivery of the evening.

And it was in all probability his last delivery ever, as the young man had just graduated from Georgetown University that very day, and was just filling in for a couple of hours in this supplementary occupation.

Just four hours earlier young Tom, Tom O'Malley was his name, had been sitting with his girlfriend inside the Georgetown University football stadium listening to the ambassador from Holland speak about the future opportunities for their generation, bringing a bittersweet end to the four easiest years in the lives of these young Americans.

“Amy, psst Amy,” Tom had whispered to her as she looked over, annoyed, as she sat upright out of respect for that cherubic face revealing its wisdom in the distance. “I've got a secret to tell you.”

“Tchh-, what now?” she questioned, expecting some silly, prankish response from her lover.

But “I love you” he revealed as the great secret, and she blushed, whispering the same secret in return as they began to hold hands, but then:

“Come on Tom, he's speaking...” as she motioned up to that great master of public service who was commenting on their destiny.

It was important to the young lady that they act mature on this great day, for her parents were to meet Tom's parents, an event that seemed more important than the graduation itself.

They'd been seeing each other for a whole two and a half years, more and more as time had passed, and Amy had to fetch a whole carload of personal belongings back to her house for the graduation. Had she not, it might have been apparent that she lived with Tom, for they slept together at his house almost every night, and this discovery might have been viewed poorly by her parents on their visit from Maryland. So it was mostly this summit which fueled the butterflies in their stomachs on commencement day, which fluttered even more in anticipation as they hurled up their graduation caps.

The celebration had gone well, where the jocularity of the greetings of the many outstanding young students and their families mingled that day inside the Beltway. The two supporting parental delegations shook hands with an uneasy familiarity, for it seemed obvious that it wouldn't be long before the two youngsters asked permission for marriage.

But all this had been interrupted by the ill-fated phone call Tom had received while his parents freshened up at the hotel. Angelo, his boss for three years, needed someone to fill in for a few hours.

“I can't Angelo, I'm sorry but I just graduated and my parents are in town.”

And frankly, he thought, his employment was supposed to be over and done with. Why he and Angelo had even had a beer together in nostalgia

“But please Tom, please, all the others have run out on me.”

And Tom could picture sweet old Angelo in his frustration on the phone in the little pizza shop, while his wife stood forlornly in the corner fretting about the possibility of lost business.

“Please, just for three hours.”

And he succeeded in getting Tom to think. Why what a good impression that might make on the Amy’s parents, giving back a favor to the reliable employer who had furnished the occupation from which he'd earned his spending money. Why he'd seem conscientious, he'd seem like a hard working American citizen with a good understanding of the great business world. Thus favorably impressed while they waited and Amy charmed his own parents, Tom would arrive just in time for dinner, for he had three hours to spare.

“Okay, let me call you right back Angelo,” he said.

But this was all a world away from Tom now, for the two pizzas' cardboard containers were shaking on the assent to the second floor. His newly found guide was dressed in a blonde Bermuda jacket with gray wool blend pants, and, to Tom's surprise, a polo shirt. For heaven's sake, a polo shirt. And what even seemed more stunning, he seemed amused by his occupation in this terrorist act.

“Pizza, pizza, pizza, let's have some pizza,” he announced as he opened the first door on the right at the top of the stairs. “I hope you're still hungry.”

And he thrust Tom into the room with a smirk. But the occupants probably weren't disposed or even able to munch on pizza at the moment, for they sat on the floor along the walls, all nineteen of them, restrained by plastic handcuffs and gags.

***

“Greetings from Islam my friends, it is almost time for us to talk.”

It was André, the man who had interrupted young Tom in his pizza duties, speaking from the balcony to the cameras, the reporters and the multitudes.

“Islam and Allah have tried many times to speak to you about the rights of the Palestinians, who you crush under the heel of your Israelis, but you have not listened. So now we come to your own turf, my friends, and you will see that we are not intimidated by your guns and your money.”

This was the moment André had been looking forward to for many years.

André Armoceeda had grown up in Lebanon and was not unaccustomed to chaos. He reveled in anarchy in fact, and a history of past successes in that dramatic part of the world had helped to place him on that balcony, flanked by two steely-eyed Iranian stalwarts. The Iranians were standing at attention and they too had Uzis, which were clutched upright with the barrels in front of their noses. André’s gun moved casually about as he spoke, as though he might like to shoot a few bystanders for the fun of it.

André had been born a Christian in Beirut in 1948, in what was then a rising metropolis by Western standards. It was fast becoming a playground for the rich, or a place for the display of western vices, depending on your point of view. His father was for a time fortunate in economic matters. As a young entrepreneur in what was then a tourist Mecca, he owned three hotels before they were demolished by Muslims in 1964; at this time André was kidnapped by the occupying vandals and taken away to Syria. He never learned what had happened to his parents, which was probably for the best. They'd been gunned down on their knees while his father's flagship hotel was burning down.

André was taken to the western part of Syria, which had just been cleansed of the Christians and their large private farming enterprises. Here he had a change in vocation. Instead of head bellboy he became latrine cleaner, then goat tender, wheat planter and gradually supervisor as he worked his way up the ladder. And the Syrians were impressed. Here was evidence of the advance of Allah, where a young man who was formerly a tool of the barbarians was rapidly becoming a soldier in the army of His justice. (And his last name was changed to Abdul, a far more fitting name for a soldier in the army of Islamic Justice.)

But André was drawing further into himself, which might be expected under such a difficult transition. He was, like his father, a strong willed man; but also, like his father, he was accustomed to adapt to circumstances.

And so it was not to help Allah when André joined the Syrian Army when he turned 18, but to obtain a higher form of servitude. Gradually rising through the ranks before an Israeli bullet removed the two small fingers of his left hand during the war of 1967, André Abdul had become a hero.

But he did not consider himself a hero, for he thought that the Syrians were cowards. They'd lost battles where they'd outnumbered the Israelis three to one. The Syrian infantry, formerly accustomed to bare feet, had on several occasions slashed off their boot strings with razors so that they might retreat more in a manner to which they were accustomed. Cowards! And as they were fleeing, the Israelis were firing on them with the same Russian tanks they'd just abandoned. Cut off your boots, get shot with your own weapons, and you call yourself soldiers?

But it was only in his own soul that André reminisced in this manner, for his main goal was to insulate himself from what he'd come to consider a world full of fools. So there was a basic irony in his character during his advance in the Syrian armed forces. The promotion to lieutenant colonel and the purchase of a house in Damascus did not satisfy him, as might be expected of one who had been diverted from upper class to serfdom. Andre wanted and expected to feel himself a part of the ruling class again.

So he resigned his position in 1982, and went back to Beirut, this time with the other team, as it were.

Here André was again successful. His brash demeanor and military connections stood him well in this chaotic environment, and even attained him the adoration of Iran's Party of God, as well as certain of the Ayatollah's chieftains. They considered him a great asset in their undeniable goal: the humiliation of spoiled and sinful Western decadence by the mighty hand of Allah.

His leadership and charisma were very noticeable in helping them gain a strong foothold on the Muslim side of the Green Line in East Beirut, where André Abdul was able to open a Swiss bank account with profits from the heavy arms trade there. Eventually, as his presence in Beirut became more well known, the financiers of Islam grew to respect him enough to let him plan and lead this essential mission.

So André was quite satisfied by the view that day from the balcony, the yellow POLICE LINE DO NOT CROSS tape, the jeeps, the silent soldiers, and most of all, the cameras. He smiled benignly at these signs of crisis in the Western world of fools.

And he rose to the occasion for propaganda which might even increase his stature in that other Middle Eastern world of fools. The tools were certainly at his command. Hostages. A worldwide audience. Washington, DC, the center of power. But most of all he appreciated that last minute gift of fortune, that perfect vehicle of propaganda, the Pizza Boy.

“We have inside this building twenty hostages who shall not be released until our demands are met. I will not state these conditions now, but shall give them to you in writing through an intermediary.

“Now I would like to speak to you about the intermediary. He is an American citizen who was delivering pizza to the spies who work here; yes spies, do not bother to deny it. He is one of your own kind American people, a hard working individual who is crushed under the merciless heel of your capitalist pigs. How could we be more honest than through negotiations with one of your own downtrodden? Allow me to show him to you.”

Tom was inside the glass doors trembling during this little speech. His captors had re-costumed him for the presentation, replacing his ban lon shirt with a ribbed undershirt, his cotton blend slacks with a pair of sweat pants, and his penny loafers with a pair of Converse Sneakers which, unfortunately, were a size too small.

It was difficult for Tom as he was pushed roughly through the doorway by Allah’s servants in the tight and unfamiliar sneakers. But André was in his glory, rising far above this world of the mediocre. He raised Tom up to a firmer stance. There he stood, eyes squinting at the camera lights, his hands clad in plastic handcuffs, slightly chilled by the spring breeze on his new attire, as André introduced him.

“Here you are America, take a look at your Pizza boy.” 

***

André then gazed out above the crowd, as though he was looking beyond it, to America itself and the world at large, before turning on his heel to take Tom back inside, leaving the two gun toting henchmen outside. He took Tom down the second floor hallway into the first office on the left, which was normally occupied by the agency’s boss. His first move was to turn on the television, where, after a bit of channel surfing, the following report appeared:

“We now interrupt this program with a special report. Here is our correspondent Philip Curtin.”

“Good Evening. Twenty hostages have been taken today in the Georgetown area of our nation's capital, Washington D. C. Here is our correspondent Rick Stearns, who is on the scene.”

“Thanks Phil. The hostages are being held in a State Department office in the brownstone building you can see on your screen behind me. There are two guards, with machine guns, on the balcony of the building who, we presume, are helping to guard the prisoners. We have a tape of a gentleman who officials here believe to be the leader of the group.”

“Greetings from Islam my friends, it is almost time for us to talk...”

While watching the televised recapitulation of his speech, André surveyed the office in a glance. Its normal occupant was Quentin Billingsley, whose diplomas were mounted on the wall: BA, Summa cum Laud, Bates College, Sociology. MA, Brandeis, International Finance. Phd. Harvard Kennedy School of Government, International Relations. Upon the bookshelves were scholarly looking tomes standing at attention above the bottom shelf where, to eliminate the possibility that Mr. Billingsley might be perceived to be a total bore without any desire for leisure, more casual items: a baseball, autographed by several members of the 1962 Washington Senators, mounted in a plastic case. A bronze statue of Thomas Jefferson gazing with a Napoleonic view toward the horizon. An eight by ten picture of the Billingsley family, Quentin and his wife, grinning, and two teen-age sons dressed up for Groton on their way to the Ivy League. And in the middle, the television, (usually concealed by a sliding wooden panel.)

Upon the far wall was a document which described the function of the institution, The Agency for World Peace, (AWP). A distinguished looking document, it was printed on parchment in flowing Italics, explaining the aims of the organization. “The purpose of the AWP is to help American corporations promote the peace and freedom of American life to our brothers and sisters overseas by trade and commerce for a better life for all the world's citizens,” the document said. The organization had been set up by the Democratic Party as an appropriation to a bill of what they considered wasteful defense spending, in 1983, hopefully, so they’d thought, to create a new and peaceful foreign policy in the post Cold War world. Next to the document were mounted pictures of photo ops of some of the distinguished moments in the organization's history, some of which contained Mr. Quentin Billingsley.

What a bunch of garbage, André thought, just like dad would have believed. For his father, during his abbreviated life span, taught André that men of all political persuasions and religions should live in peace and harmony. He had practiced what he preached, opening his hotels to Christians, Muslims and Jews alike. How could André forget those memories of his boyhood when his father's hotels stood tall in the days when Beirut was in its heyday. What a city it had once been, a veritable tourist Mecca. Sometimes, secretly, he fondly remembered the adolescent reverence he had once held for his father’s flagship hotel. And majestic it had been. Its white stucco frontage lined dark glass windows that rose thirty-three stories high on an Olympian hillside above the Mediterranean Sea, looking down upon the azure blue waters. The echoes of the squawking sea gulls could be heard rising in the swirling wind. Out by the pool he recalled his father sitting and socializing with the hotel's customers in the late afternoon sun, his eyes gleaming with enthusiastic appreciation as he socialized with the variety of cosmopolitan Beirut society.

“Dad, Dad, Look! I'm going to do a back flip!” young André would call out from the end of the diving board.

Thus as a young man he was entranced by his father's visions of peace and harmony.

“Encourage all you encounter to cooperate and help each other,” his father advised him. “And if they disagree, so be it. But encourage them to discuss their disagreements.”

But there wasn't much discussion after the hotels were burned down that fateful day, a day that was the beginning of a revolution in the way André thought about the world. No, Dad, you had it backward, he’d mused as a Syrian goat tender, a more realistic view of the world led him to believe that only fools would try to profit from cooperation. For what was the point? It was a nice thought, world peace, and all that, but surely not a normal state of affairs. For centuries the Jews and Arabs had fought, and when the Jews left, the Arabs fought amongst themselves. And then, in the so-called “modern” twentieth century, the Jews came back! They said they were there to establish some Holy Theocratic State but André knew very well that their true purpose was anything but holy. They were there as a military launching pad for the Western Powers' control of their oil interests. The Western powers, of course, though they might pretend otherwise, had a history that was no better. In the Twentieth Century alone there was the Spanish Civil War and two World Wars that involved half the globe, as well as all the minor wars of American colonization from South America to the Philippines, finishing off with internal conflicts of repression and ethnic cleansing in Eastern Europe. (That’s not mentioning the dozens of wars of religious oppression in the previous centuries.) No Dad, you had it all backwards, the way to true and reliable wealth was to seek profit from conflict, for that was the true way of the world. In André's homespun philosophy the world was full of conflict, and this was normal. Why bother in a quest for the ideal when it was likely to get you killed? (Right Dad?) This was the planet earth, and things were far from perfect, so why not be a realist and learn to gain from what was normal. And the normal thing was that humanity, on the whole, was greedy, warlike and corrupt, and cared only for its own best interest.

The average man of any nationality, thought André, was a fool and a coward. Far too insecure to make their own decisions, they banded together behind the closest available leader. He could see it in Lebanon: the Catholics behind General Aoun; the Syrians invading with their army; the extremist Hezbollah, a Muslim militia, funded by the Shah and his minions; or look at the Phalangists, who latched their allegiance on to whoever was convenient at the time.

Problem was, Lebanon wasn't big enough for all of them, and when you threw in the Israelis, it ended up in a civil war where no one was the winner. Well Dad your heart was in the right place, but your kind couldn't hope to run the world. The extremists would always win out.

Ah, but America. It was, culturally speaking, quite different from Europe; the land of plenty, and that meant plenty of everything. Walt Disney! McDonalds! Automobiles! Frisbees! And television! There they lapped up information like pigs at a trough! Look at them now! As usual, on television:

"Any ideas as to who's behind this Rick?”

“I'm afraid not Phil, I'm sure they're going to analyze this fellow's picture but that's going to take some time.”

“It sure seems different in our own country, doesn't it?”

“You can say that again.”

“Thanks Rick, we'll be getting back to you.

“Once again, ladies and gentlemen, twenty hostages have been taken tonight in the Georgetown area of our nation's Capital...”

André, now satisfied that the show was going on as planned, turned off the television and invited Tom across the hall to check on the other hostages.

“Let's go Pizza Boy,” he said.

He grabbed Tom by the shoulder and dragged him across the hall, into the building’s conference room, where the rest of the hostages were held. They sat on a hardwood floor, backs propped up against the walls, their feet protruding out onto the pale blue carpet at the center of the room. The room's table, chairs and blackboard were crowded into the far corner, where one of André's henchmen stood to guard the prisoners.

A common feeling of outrage pervaded the room’s occupants. Raised eyebrows and rolling eyeballs conveyed their sentiments in spite of the gags and hand restraints, as the agency's employees did not consider themselves to be a legitimate target. It was the Agency for World Peace, for heaven’s sake. It was their mission to protect the world from tinhorn dictators and rabble-rousing megalomaniacs. How ironic! So their cooperation was muted and unenthusiastic when André began to question them.

He did so by reaching down to temporarily unfasten their gags and asking questions.

“Who are you?” he inquired.

“May Parchman,” the round middle aged woman replied.

“And what do you do here?”

“I'm Mr. Billingsley's secretary.”

“Are you armed?”

“No,” she replied testily.

“Hmm,” André Abdul responded.

And so around the room he went, questioning each in turn, with no evidence of any particular interest, until he came to a young gentleman.

“Who are you?”

“Amado Salpedro.”

“And what do you do here?”

“I'm a translator.”

“Where are you from?”

“I was born in Santiago Chile.”

Amado was a handsome young man with high cheekbones and jet-black hair, which was combed straight back. He wore dark blue slacks with a black belt fastened by a gold clasp. His green and red striped tie was fastened up to the collar by a gold tiepin, and his shirt was very white.

“Does it not bother you to work in the nation that oppresses your country?”

“Our agency attempts to establish-”

“Silencio!” shouted André, showing off a little knowledge of Spanish. “Get up and come with me.”

He roughly helped pull the translator to his feet and took him, along with the newly christened Pizza Boy, back to the office across the hall, and thrust them into the room together.

Then both doors were closed.

Chapter Two

“This guy's crazy,” said Tom.

“You are right my friend,” the Chilean replied.

Now separated from the perpetrator of his distress, Tom began to vent some of his anger.

“I'd like to take that bozo and his bouncers and kick their little Muslim-” Then, checking himself, in fear of being xenophobic in front of a foreigner. “My name is Tom.”

“Amado.”

“How’d this start? How long have they been here?”

“Not long,” said Amado. “They came in about 15 minutes before you showed up.”

“What happened?”

“They just came in downstairs and locked the doors, I guess. I was in my office down the hall. That head guy came upstairs with his machine gun and herded everybody into the room across the hall at gun-point, and then ordered the guys in the black robes to put these plastic handcuffs and gags on us and made us sit against the wall.”

“That’s it?” asked Tom.

“Not much to tell until you showed up.”

“Jeez, I wonder why he let me in.”

“So do I,” mused the Chilean. “He must have seen you out the window holding the pizza boxes and had a moment of inspiration.”

“Inspiration?”

“You know, for publicity. He used you as a prop, didn’t he?”

“Yes,” said Tom despondently. “Pizza Boy.”

“You don't seem like a pizza deliverer.”

“It’s part time.”

“Oh?’

“I just today graduated from Georgetown and was filling in because of an emergency.”

“Emergency?”

“It's a long story.”

“I see,” said Amado. “Georgetown had its graduation today, no?”

“That’s right. I worked part time for that parlor for two years, and today they got stuck, so I was just filling in for a couple of hours.”

“On your graduation day? That was certainly going out of your way.”

“You got that right,” said Tom, looking dejectedly at the walls of the office of their confinement. “What about you? Why did he pick you out of all those people?”

“I don't know, my friend. Maybe it's because I'm not American, and he can use me out on the porch, like he did with you. It's like you say, this guy is crazy.”

“If it weren't for this right now I'd be, ... ah-” Tom thought, alas, of what might have been, had it not been for this catastrophe he'd probably have been, at that moment, swirling ice cubes around in a nice snifter of Grand Marnier, after a nice gourmet dinner accompanied by some gourmet wine in a gourmet restaurant, with, of course, a distinguished atmosphere. There he'd be theorizing about the glorious life as an adult that awaited him out there.

“I'd be out to dinner celebrating our graduation. My girlfriend and I with our parents.”

“You must not have liked the way they introduced you.”

“I'd like to take that guy and, ... have you ever seen anything like this before, down in…where are you from?”

“Chile.”

“Yes, Chile. Ever seen anything like this down there?”

“Once, sort of,” Amado mused, strolling over to the office windows where the staccato noises of the multitude out there still reverberated, the voices, the sirens, the speakers, the foot traffic.

How could he describe this to an American?

“Once when I was a boy, some revolutionaries wanted to break into our house.”

“Revolutionaries?”

“When Salvador Allende was elected president in 1971, he told his followers that the rich should share their houses with the poor. One night a whole crowd of his supporters came and demanded to move in.”

“Did you let them?”

“No, my father did not, I was just a boy.”

“Did you live in Santiago?”

“Yes, but this happened at a place we had out in the country. It was very scary.”

“I'll bet.”

Ah, the hacienda, was a place that was an arcadia to Amado as a boy. For the Salpedro family it was a place of escape from the toils of everyday living. On that springtime day Amado had been out riding horses with his boyhood heroes, Juan and Romero, two of the farm hands. As the family relaxed to a late, 9:00 PM, leisurely dinner, out on the screened in verandah where the lengthy picnic table sported a sumptuous buffet, life was grand. Amado, then fourteen years of age, was trying, with limited success, to narrate the big event of that day for him, his heroic passing on the left of Romero's horse on a narrow bend in the path; to Romero the assault wasn't at all expected, so he and everyone else laughed it off. But it remained a superb adventure to the young Amado. Then as the adults retired to the living room to enjoy some cognac and Cuban cigars and listen to the cicadas, Amado was sent off to bed.

It was then that the trouble had started. A whole gang of socialists stormed the gates of the hacienda. It was lucky, thought some, that they hadn’t made a rear approach. They rattled and banged the heavy black iron bars, demanding admission.

“Let's go, my friends!”

“Let us in!”

“It is time to share!”

“The poor deserve better!”

And it was the first time that Amado saw a different side of his father who, as an army general, had a professional life that was usually quite set apart from his family. That night was what General Salpedro most feared after the election of Salvador Allende, that the poor would follow their leaders' advice literally and demand, ad hoc, to share the quarters of the rich.

Amado's father was a handsome man then, not far out of the prime of his life, in his early fifties, a big barreled chest with muscular forearms covered with a coat of coarse black hair. A career military man, in the way of the Chilean Army, he carried himself with the quiet dignity of a man who has known the company of great warriors, and that night he led his other three sons in repelling these foreign invaders. Amado knew that he was too young to participate.

Who were these crude barbarians, these lowly ingrates who, without knowing it, had fallen back to lower levels of animal behavior? Thinking that they deserved to share in the belongings of others that they hadn't done a thing to earn. For the Salpedro family was aware that their ancestry was of a higher order indeed- even the young Amado knew this- and it would be impossible to consider even for an instant such ridiculous suggestions, share our belongings with these- these- only God knew what they really were. The Salpedros did not consider themselves, in fact, to be South American. They were descended from great Spaniards, from a higher aristocracy. These lowly creatures outside were South American, Mestizos, or partly so, indigenous native peoples who, having lost the respect and dignity of discipline, work and honor, were happy to entrust their undignified fate to whatever idiotic idealist best promised them the world for a song. Amado's older brothers, clad in linen slacks and broad collared shirts that tied with a string, went to unlock the gun case while listening to their father's instructions.

Crouching at his bedroom window listening closely, afraid for his life, Amado heard new things.

“We'll shoot the guns off in the air and if they don't leave then we'll go and hang a few of them.”

Fortunately they fled at the sound of the guns, but that night was the start of the bad times, and Amado did not see much of his father for a while. But he was old enough to watch the television and read the paper and so could not help but wonder what was his father's role in the squashing of the revolutionaries.

How could Amado explain this to an American?

And who was this American anyway, sitting there in sweat pants and a ribbed T-shirt?

“Are those your work clothes?”

“No, no, this is what they put on me. My clothes are out in the hall.”

“Why?”

“I guess it's a sort of a costume.”

“That was not very nice of them.”

“No.”

Who was this young man? They were such an insulated people, so isolated from the troubles of the world outside, the revolutions, civil wars, starvation, and political oppression. They read about them in the papers, of course, but to them, in their privileged little dens and parlors, it was just entertainment. Young Tom here could have been out with his parents to be celebrated like some trophy in a case, soon to be packed off to some elevated cushy job, what a spoiled people the Americans were, in the opinion of the Chilean.

“Do you think we'll survive this?” asked Tom.

“Oh I think so,” said Amado. “It's purely for propaganda probably. He'll just put on a little show, then get arrested and we'll be fine.”

“I hope so.”

***

Despite these momentous events, the earth still revolved on its axis around the sun, making night follow day, and darkness fell upon the little brownstone holding Tom and Amado. Their conversation gradually died away, and, though the two were unnaturally pumped a bit by adrenaline, they became tired, and lay down upon the carpeted floor, using two chair cushions for pillows, and drifted into a state of semi-sleep.

What was the young American feeling? A large part of him, of course, was caught up in the controversy of fear, rage and resentment toward his captors, who had deprived him of one of the best days yet in his young life, and threatened the very freedom which he’d come to take for granted. In another part of his being, however, Tom O'Malley sought relief from these difficulties in the fact that he was a young man in love. In such romantic reminiscences he could find escape, at least in part, from these momentous burdens, by taking himself to a place where such worldly concerns were soothed away, and log onto vistas and horizons that transcended mere earthly troubles.

Secretly, to himself, he renewed his feelings of veneration toward his girlfriend, which, in times of crisis, he found a source of great comfort; this he did by renewing his previous personal emotional commitment to her, reaffirming for her a high and special status in his priorities. Of course it wasn’t the first time he’d recommitted his feelings to her in such a manner but now, under these new, different, dangerous circumstances, it was with renewed intention and vigor, for he wanted the intensity of his affection for her to match the new adventures of his own experience. This, he felt certain, she at that same time was also doing. He drifted off into the fairy land of love by dreaming of little things, like her nose wiggle, her smile, her light laughter, her demeanor, the way she touched him, greeted him, stared at him with bright eyes, or held him tight when they were alone. Thus having established a beachhead of emotional security, he enhanced it by recalling times that they’d spent together, in a most wistful and appreciative fashion. Like that day they’d gone to the shore outside of Ocean City Maryland, where the two had sojourned one day the summer before last. Her little Honda Civic took them into a beautiful world where it was just the two of them.

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