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ONE

Derek Manning relaxed, infused with confidence, flaunting the rugged smile he knew was his best asset, allowing nothing to disturb his problematic reality. His throne was nothing more than a molded red plastic chair, the same as others lining the bistro, but to him, the most important place in his world, adjacent to the lobby of The Pantheon Sports Club in Irvine, California. Casting a watchful eye on patrons entering the club, Derek held court. Friends gathered in clusters by his table. Women tossed suggestive glances, hoping to grab his attention. He was as selective as he could be considering his options. His perfectly coiffed blond hair was dyed a shade too light, sideburns a tad too long, every wrinkle seemed to have a purpose. The designer jeans and woven dress shirt didn't just

Surname / TITLE / 3 fit, they molded in unison with his broad physique. The Pantheon was an ultra private, five-story, monument devoted to wealthy socialites pretending to have a desire to stay in shape. A café, spa, sun drenched pool and curbside valet parking introduced a new comer to the club. You’d have to be on the third floor before finding exercise equipment and need to look even further to find someone actually using it. Derek ran a hand through his hair, still damp from a blazing hot shower, the simple movement adding relief considering how late he partied the night before. It also reminded him how he had gone to great lengths to straighten his hair, being born with curly blond locks. His parents called them a gift, but after years of taunts from the neighborhood kids he spent six months of his allowance to get them straightened. It was a defining moment, because from then on he made an oath to never allow anyone to tease him again. The spin class was supposed to remove the residual toxins from his body and the bagel, topped with lox and capers, was hopefully going to give him more energy. He had joined The Pantheon more for the status than a place to exercise. It had the crème de la crème of Orange County as members and he wanted to rub elbows with the elite. The mayor of Irvine was a member as was every player of the Anaheim Ducks hockey team. Most of the Lakers worked out here at one time or another. Status

striving men came to find hot women and the women came to be found. Their make-up, so meticulously applied, held up against the minimal workouts they performed, their outfits so skimpy as to afford a lusty glimpse to the doctor or lawyer on the Stair Master next to them. Even the exorbitant initiation fee and monthly membership dues didn’t scare these opportunists away. Women made payments to the Pantheon before paying rent. Finding the right man meant they'd never have to worry about bills again. Derek respected their code of ethics even if he considered it perverse. The sun cascaded across the tumbled travertine walls forcing Derek to squint as he struggled with the morning paper, his head still throbbing. He considered reaching for his glasses but they made him look dated. Eye wear was for grandpas and contacts were uncomfortable. He likened his status to that of a being in fish in a bowl were everyone primped and paraded, jockeying for attention, each hoping to find the perfect mate as if that was possible. He was starting to think he had paraded for too long. Derek rubbed his eyes trying not to look as tired as he felt, as his long time friend and roommate Jim Stonehouse slid into a chair beside him, clutching a half-finished cup of yogurt. His wry smile indicated he was up to no good. A slovenly sort, Jim's disheveled appearance culminated with a loose fitting plaid shirt that hung off his pudgy frame. His shades were propped on

Surname / TITLE / 5 his overly round, balding head, another style faux-pas. Yet, even with his flaws Jim had become the perfect wing man, always knowing where the next hot party was and how to get in. Most of all, he was fearless at approaching women. "Dude, check out the plus two's on the Muffin top," Jim said, pointing with a plastic spoon. Derek glanced left, catching a busty woman struggling to stay in a pink tracksuit, two sizes too small. He shook his head, immune to the inane chatter of his longtime friend. "Or the Femi-Nazi, over there," Jim said, motioning toward an older woman in a Grey, form fitting business suit. Derek tried to ignore him, taking the last bite of his bagel. "Hey babe," Jim said, winking to a tall brunette in a tan blazer before leaning over the table. "Check out those teeth. Chick needs grill work." Derek picked up the paper, straining his eyes, trying to give Jim a hint. "That gal’s just one chromosome away from being hot,” Jim chuckled. “You going to the rave tonight?" "No more raves." "You're kidding right? It's going to be raging." "I'm thirty two. I shouldn't be going to raves." "Lots o’bitches," Jim said, trying his best to sound like a gangster.

"Where are you going to rent a beach front house by yourself?" "I’m in my thirties. hurt by the sudden disclosure.Derek shoved the newspaper to the side. Invite a girl to his place for a non-threatening bicycle ride." "A bunch of coked up wackos looking for a sugar daddy. It's time I find my own place. With your good looks and a cool million. Derek had his routine timed to perfection." "Oh yeah. It's not worth it. "What’s the point." "I thought we were doing the roommates night out?" "That's another thing. Their set-up was hard to beat. the perfect bachelor’s pad. his eyes looked as if his puppy had decided to run away." Jim’s face tightened. The upstairs apartment of a duplex with its patio lodged in the sand at the busiest part of Newport Beach. that’ll buy you a fixer in Costa-Mexico. The music’s so loud you can’t talk to anyone and every Vinnie bag-o-donuts shows up with their entourage." "But you've pulled hotties outta there before." Jim was right. maybe it's time I buy something. Then it was off to Woody’s for a sixteen ounce schooner or a Newport Iced Tea where the combination of five different . taking the ferry to Balboa Island and ending at a place called ‘The Wedge’ where they’d watch seals beg for scraps from fishermen returning to the marina. No thanks.

” he’d bemoan as he walked them to the door. Emotionally unavailable. "Look at that skizzle. "D-man. no muss.” Derek told Jim. They would catch the sunset on his patio. but doing it was a different story." Jim whispered. capping it off with a bottle of cheap wine. The effect on the surrounding men was immediate. "I did the numbers. He was about to say something as a petite blond woman approached their table wearing a lace mini-dress and dark high heels. but he had to admit the routine and the emptiness he felt afterward was gnawing at his soul. he’d hit it one more time before handing down the exit strategy. “It’s not you. grilling ahi tuna.” Derek squirmed at the thought of his finances.” “Who?” . they were doing the belly-slap in his bedroom. In the morning if she was good. The outfit might be appropriate for a night club but not a gymnasium. It was nice to dream about owning a palatial mansion. Before the women knew it. “I keep dropping money on cars and parties and at the end of the year I'm back to square one. The bills far outweighed the income. No sooner had the girl left before the search for the next would begin.Surname / TITLE / 7 liquors would make a longshoreman dizzy. it’s me." “Who’s that?” “Tammy 10K. “I’m a mess right now.” No fuss.

And that doesn’t count dinners and travel. You name it. "Tapping a little Asian persuasion did we? It must be true what they say about Newport. thumbing toward an Asian woman standing at the deli counter. "What's with you?" Jim asked. it's just not your turn. “What’s the matter?” Jim asked.” “I can hook that up if you want." After the woman passed. You're never NOT dating a girl in Newport.” “No thanks. nails.” Derek said with a grin. “Yep.” “The oil guy?” “Yep. car. As Derek looked over he quickly turned away.” Jim burst out laughing as he shook his head. .” “What’s with the 10K?” “She made him take care of her personal things. They say it was at least ten thou a month. “Too rich for my blood. “There’s history there.” “Ten clams?” Derek asked. Derek turned back.” “Like what?” “Hair.“She used to date Richard Ledmax.” “How about little miss Thailand?” Jim said.” “That’s a lot of squid for a chick.

in a somber tone before grinning. "That's the problem. but Derek just stared in disbelief. “Yep." Derek did enjoy his single life. blond Mac Daddy that you are. I'm full frontal and you're a slow roller!" he snorted a laugh and leaned in to knock knuckles. We just have a different way of working the ladies. His crew never accepted serious girlfriends. but recently he felt as if he had played the field too long. "You need to work on your delivery. being dubbed the "it" guy." "Well I'm not the six foot four. even with the sub-literate friends and ear splitting headaches. In his time he had passed on some great girls who wanted commitments.Surname / TITLE / 9 "Nothing. "About one in ten. He hadn’t been on a real date in a long time." "Yeah." he said peevishly. opting to remain single.” Jim said. I'm lucky to get your cast offs.” "Delivery? I just go for the gusto. Your ratio's too low." "And what does that get you?" He scraped the last of the yogurt staring into the empty cup. “Do you ever get the sense that something’s missing?” Derek asked. “A huge . but they both knew it was much worse. likening them to cancer or other contagious diseases. I prefer the more subtle approach.

Maybe you could hypnotize me and turn me into Brad Pitt. "Check out this chick. “Ever think it’d be nice to have someone around?” Derek asked.” The joke hit home with Derek who had started his business. bad habits.” Derek clenched his eyes." Jim said. but before he could finish . got certified and opened a clinic in Irvine with obscure. In less than a year he aced the hypnotist’s exam. He enjoyed running his own shop and the flexible hours conformed to his lifestyle. Derek didn’t care. His father. "Good from far. As she got closer her flaws became apparent to the prankster. on a fluke." Jim started. “Who are you kidding? The longest relationship you’ve ever had was three months and most of that was spent in a Vegas hotel room. but the economy had reduced his patient flow to a trickle. stressed out. watching a buxom blond approach. becoming more irritated by his companion. thought hypnosis was a part of the occult and it became the subject of many fevered arguments. overmedicated housewives becoming his best customers. People. would try anything to cure phobias. especially those from Southern California. a devout church-going evangelical. even marital problems.set of hooters hanging down like ripe melons. A friend put him in a trance while on vacation and he saw the monetary potential. the Mindful Hypnosis clinic.

" he laughed. "Going after the homeless are we now?" Derek asked. "but far from good. "No dude. not knowing ." Derek sighed." "Don't think so." "She'll work through it. That's Mina Szabo.Surname / TITLE / 11 Derek chimed in. A large floppy hat covered her head and square shaped sunglasses with red rims masked her eyes. but instead eyed a woman wearing an over-sized plaid shirt over a black Lycra outfit." "And?" "She’s great at what she does." "I know. She st-st-st-st-stutters worse than Porky Pig. "Your jokes are as old as the hills. I know. check out who's coming into the Pantheon now. They canceled her live show. She carried a canvas tote bag thrown carelessly over her shoulder. one that came in handy quite often. “Even ugly chicks have hot friends. a flaw." Derek turned expecting some dolled up vixen. but she's got a tick." "They may be. She was supposed to get the prime-time anchor position." Jim burst out laughing as Derek shook his head. the big time reporter for CNN. as they both repeated it together. "Dude." It was a rule they lived by. but Rule number one always applies. "Started a few months ago.

Nothing matched and he wondered if she was trying to go for the ‘thrift store’ look. She looks great when she's on camera. The elevator buttons revealed she had pressed the fifth floor. "Yep. Derek stuck his hand in the doors as they were closing and Mina’s face soured as she whipped out a cell phone. thumbing the keys. "You say it started a few months ago?" Derek asked as he tried to focus. "What the —." Derek’s mind drifted as Mina bee-lined through the lobby to the elevator. ." "I'll say. "What's up?" Derek asked. trying to catch her attention. leaving his gym bag and a surprised Jim still sitting at the table. Funny as shit. but she continued pressing buttons on the tiny keypad." "Hold that thought. Somebody made a montage and put it to music.when it might flare up. the rooftop jogging track. launching himself toward the elevator." Jim uttered. You should catch the You-Tube snippets." "That sucks." Derek said. the cardio area and his only other option was the sixth floor. Darndest thing. On closer inspection her outfit was more hideous than he first thought. but today she looks like a rag-a-muffin. but her personal appearance was not what he was after.

" Derek blurted out." The elevator announced the passage of the second floor and with it precious seconds slipped away. his voice echoing off the stainless-steel chamber. tipping her glasses forward so she could observe the person who had interrupted her solitude. her voice having a soft texture. "Your stuttering problem. remaining focused on the phone." The fourth floor had passed and the elevator slowed. As the doors separated Mina shook her head. sounding a bit desperate.Surname / TITLE / 13 "Ding. . "Ding." The third floor had passed. "You're selling me in an elevator?" Mina asked." Derek said. She resumed staring at the device in her hand." "Ding. She ignored him. I can fix it. not looking up. glancing at him. "Let me help you. "I can help you with your problem. but was firm and confident." "What?" Mina asked. "I can cure it through hypnosis." Her eyes studied his face before doing an eye roll. "Not selling. curing. "I don't have a problem." she said. firing a parting shot.

" The way she paused and stared at the card." she muttered to herself and dashed away. fixed on it for a moment. never having ." The word ‘cured’ must have struck a chord because she stopped and spun around. his lips curled upward. "Big words.” "Not words. Cell phone's on the back." "Funny." Derek said. "One hour in my office and you'd be cured. He considered the fallout if he couldn't fix her flaw. Nobody needs to know. "Get your own knives. told him she was considering his offer. excited at the prospect of having a potential A-lister in his midst. This could be the break he needed to start the next chapter in his life." Mina took the card. "One hour. "Does your promise come with a set of Ginsu knives?" Derek handed her a card. Just one hour. but avoided eye contact. As the doors closed." Derek said. If he cured her she would be indebted to him and he could promote his business better than ten years of advertising. holding the doors open. hurrying to her destination."I suppose you're going to dangle a gold watch in front of me. Derek did a fist pump. “A promise.

high-fiving Derek. "You made a play for Mina didn't you?" "You bet.” “Not another chick. “Dude.Surname / TITLE / 15 worked on someone with a stuttering problem." "And?" "We'll see. You'd be a God. Derek slid into the seat at the table where Jim was still seated. "This is a breaking news alert. drawing the attention of a woman who waved. gawking at the occasional passerby. but he brushed it aside. She took my card. “No. Imagine if you could cure her. thinking he was looking at her. As he waved back he found himself lost in the thoughts of saving his business before Jim interrupted him once again." "That would be epic. His crescent shaped dimples bracketed his mouth.” Perched overhead was a flat screen TV set to a news channel.” a reporter started. check this out. just maybe he could actually cure her. Look over there. "Dude. No." Jim said. “A suicide bomber has ripped apart an Israeli checkpoint in the ." Derek smiled. There was nothing to lose and maybe. Making his way back to the lobby. furling his brow.” Derek said.

grasping one of the metallic chairs. As Derek slowly emerged from the fog of his personal situation he took stock in the images on the screen and shook his head. but he hadn’t called for the meeting.” TWO Sheikh Yousif Al Alawi labored toward the center of the rectangular warehouse. was not designed to host gatherings. dropping into its unsteady embrace. We are going live to reporter Corey Ginott who is at the scene. sparsely filled with crates covered with canvas tarps.” Jim added. Reports of chaos and confusion as a man approached the checkpoint detonating a bomb.West Bank town of Ariel. “Thank God that’s a million miles away. killing three civilians and wounding one Israeli soldier. The sweltering sun had recently faded but the stored heat emanated from the unpainted cinder block walls ." “That’s gnarly. The area. but on such short notice he had few options. With his health fading he detested nightly meetings as his eyesight and strength deteriorated rapidly.

Surname / TITLE / 17 making the space feel like a sauna. wire-rimmed glasses which hung on his pimpled nose. the shape of a flying saucer." The Sheikh took a deep drag on the cigarette and adjusted his thin. where only the black of his . An Arabic reporter spoke through a microphone. The weathered old man shook his head as the guard turned on a small TV set perched on an empty crate. "Did you watch the news. The Sheikh stared at the screen. His wide face was adorned by a thin goatee and gold stud earrings pocked both ears. A metallic fixture. casting a circle of light where the Sheikh sat. A group called the Sons of Martyrs has claimed responsibility for the attack. but the remaining parts of the room offered reduced visibility. stroking his dense beard which was the color of white smoke. "In the Jewish settlement of Ariel a lone attacker detonated a bomb at a police checkpoint killing four Palestinians including the bomber himself and wounding an Israeli soldier. accentuating his duplicitous gaze. more Brillo-pad than hair and struck a match lighting a cigarette. my Sheikh?" asked a heavy-set man wearing loose fitting dark clothes. The less he saw of his visitor the better. standing behind the Sheikh's table. hung from the ceiling. In the darkness he appeared as a cardboard cutout with an AK-47 machine gun draped across his chest. which suited the Sheikh well.

ignoring the throbbing pain in his stomach. something every Muslim is expected to accomplish before he dies. showing little remorse for his victims. no?" asked the guard. It would be the last smoke before the visitor arrived and he savored the nicotine high. complications abound. his fingers yellowed from a lifetime of smoking. In his profession. Whether he was nervous. "These young thugs. With age came an aversion to stress and petty problems. Hajj is a title. The man. "Hajj?" the guard asked.eyeballs were visible. The Sheikh turned briefly to glance at his trusted guard. he knew. prayed on the weakness of others. taking another puff. his hand trembled requiring his other hand to assist as if it were some rogue part of his body. or becoming feeble he would have to hide the handicap from the visitor before the negotiations started. an offer of respect typically paid to an elder person who has attended the pilgrimage to Mecca. The Sheikh shook his head in disgust. "This is good news." "But have we not struck a great blow to the oppressors?" The guard was a natural born killer. but he was naive in the ways of politics or strategy. "Fools. They know not what is best for Palestine. as if his experience should shield him from such occurrences. ." the Sheikh whispered in Arabic and as he reached to turn off the TV. tired.

you need to give me one reason why my boy's still alive. coughing. known only as Zell. His eclectic. Instead his mind rolled over the cryptic words the arms dealer relayed to him on the phone. but kept many secrets from his trusted protector. Various couriers handled the transactions and conveyed Zell to be strict and demanding yet trustworthy." "Is this not why we are meeting with the American? To get better weapons?" The Sheikh knew the answer. flamboyant personality was deemed unorthodox. Money.Surname / TITLE / 19 "A great blow? the Sheikh said. you got the guns. Most of the people the Sheikh dealt with were one dimensional pricks with self serving agendas. unsavory amongst the religious zealots. The man. it was said. You sent the money. but tonight’s visitor was different. wouldn’t turn the gears in his head and neither did political or religious fervor. “The idiot got spooked and set off the jacket killing three civilians and none of the enemy. but there were persistent rumors. All this will do is enrage the beast. Zell was also not the sort of man you would befriend or . When I see you in an hour. Hardly a great blow. had turned up only once before at a Syrian bazaar from where they established a fruitful exchange of high quality weapons for freshly laundered currency. but it never interfered with their business.

There had been a request made a month earlier. its windows lowered enough so the men in the warehouse could hear the haunting sounds of Fairouz singing Ya Teyr. Their remains were found in an underground basement devoured by hungry rats and maggots. but the Sheikh owned it up to Zell’s odd behavior and let it slip from his mind. as he knew he had never set eyes on the boy in question. There was comfort knowing Zell wasn't coming as a bill collector. Weariness and fatigue had become a daily nuisance. Somehow the visit and the attack at the checkpoint were related which created more uncertainty and greater strain. her angelic voice drew the Sheikh into a . the Sheikh sensed an urgency. Either way. but the war had to continue. This was going to be different. a sort of distress signal. The authorities had to use dental records to confirm the identities and shovels to dispose of the remains.deceive as it was told he had kidnapped two Egyptian tycoons from a fortified retreat after they stiffed him on a payment. Amir. that a certain boy be trained to become a suicide bomber. something to decipher. It became part of his essence and he had yet to exact his revenge against the enemy. A car passed in the alley. Perhaps his cryptic message included a code. The Sheikh had earlier called his bookkeeper. by now it was too late. by a courier. who assured him there were no outstanding payments owed.

Medi.Surname / TITLE / 21 dreamlike state. The guard pulled the chain to raise the metallic roll up . cooked slowly in a Tagine. charred remnants of a world filled with hate." He lifted the hood on his tunic covering his balding head and half his face which had been scarred by deep crags and appeared like a carved African mask. The sound of the music drifted off and with it the memories. Most men cowered in the presence of such a specter. In his youth he had stood six feet tall. layered with a myriad of spices. in what seemed like another life. Decades ago. One for the family and one for any unforeseen guest looking for a meal. You'll never find every weapon he carries and if he wanted me dead. "No need. She would make two plates. but Zell was not most men. The last time he saw his wife and child alive. you'd be standing over my body reciting the salat-l-janazah. The meal. Memories of the past clouded his vision and vibrant aromas of his wife’s seven vegetable couscous flooded his nostrils. which happened more often than not. "A car approaches." a second guard called out. represented four hours of culinary foreplay. "Do we search him?" the lieutenant asked. That was the last time he was in Lebanon. but decades later and a case of acute scoliosis produced a noticeable hunch. as the Sheikh crushed the cigarette butt. leaving behind the acrid.

Beaming lights from a newer model BMW blinded the men for a moment. marching straight to the Sheikh stretching his arms outward. unsure how to react to the brazen entrance as a pungent floral odor emanated from Zell's body." Zell said. Cologne. spinning around. his flat top hair style was shaved to the skin. "Greetings my old friend." Zell said. His outfit was entirely black consisting of well tailored slacks and a full sleeved dress shirt. "Yousi. Instead of dangerous weapons in his hands he proffered a bottle of wine and two glasses. speaking in Arabic that locals would find rustic but passable. The Sheikh almost gagged." . Zell bound from the car holding something that glistened in both hands causing the guards to draw their weapons in defense. A lot of it. open at the collar. breaking the Sheikh's concentration. In his mind real men didn't wear such concoctions. Set somewhere in his late fifties Zell appeared frighteningly fit. The Sheikh remained seated. "I love what you've done with the place. with no signs of love handles. but Zell ignored the flare up. A large silver belt buckle drew attention to his mid-section shining as brightly as the headlights of the car. the color having gone Grey long before. crawling to a stop a dozen feet from the table.garage door.

” After a moment of staring." the Sheikh offered.Surname / TITLE / 23 His sarcasm was outshone only by his casual use of the Sheikh's given name. His protruding bald spot was damp with beads of sweat. Are you planning to shoot me?" Zell's jocular demeanor disarmed Medi who redirected the gun and managed a reluctant grin. ”What’s with the hoodie?” The Sheikh offered an inquisitive look. simulating a hood over his head. Medi." Zell continued. "Don't mind if I do. “We don’t need to be hiding anything. "We can finish our talk in English if it pleases. "We have much to celebrate.” Zell said. "Perhaps one too many falafels?" Zell said as he kicked the other chair aside and placed the wine and glasses on the table. “The Darth Vader get-up. the pale skin littered with dark colored veins resembling marbleized blue cheese. his voice creaked like the hinge on an old door. Medi who was still aiming his weapon at Zell. It was Zell’s turn to smile as he poked himself in the gut. the Sheikh relented dropping the hood. "We do?" "We've just passed the five million dollar mark together. something no one else dared. "Ah. feeling embarrassed. Isn't that worth celebrating?" . He turned again facing the guard." Zell said. look at you.

the alcohol might help subdue the burning in his midsection and there was little doubt that Zell had brought a fine wine.” Zell said. something nonexistent in the West Bank. Even the Koran depicted a river of wine ‘delicious to the drinkers’ and it was Jesus who had turned water into wine for his disciples. The Sheikh released his breath. "As you wish." the Sheikh said. “From the smell of it you're still smoking those Gaulioses? That shit will kill you. shocked that his adversary was asking him to explain the Koran’s stance on gays. his eyes widening.” Zell said. bowing his head.Was it part of Western culture to celebrate a milestone of death? The Sheikh had expected a rigorous negotiation instead of a party but refused to let his guard down. glad to have mis-interpreted the direction of the conversation. making a sniffing sound with his nose like a puppy. What does the Koran say about fags?" The Sheikh lifted his head." the Sheikh relented as Zell poured the wine . "Like cigarettes?” Zell said. If it was part of a negotiating strategy. With no one of any significance watching. he wasn’t going to fall into the trap and sat quietly still rubbing his beard. “I mean cigarettes. "I am sorry but the Koran dictates that I must abstain. “I insist. holding the bottle above the glass. but he knew Zell was right about the wine.

“and I asked myself. here's this kid who's blown himself up at an Israeli checkpoint.Surname / TITLE / 25 beaming with a victorious grin. That's marvelous. "I'm sitting at my favorite French bistro in Jerusalem watching the news and blamo. who drank most of his in one gulp." Zell said." The Sheikh raised the glass to his nose pretending to smell the wine. His throat quivered in delight and his hand trembled as he placed the glass down gently wondering what potion was in the magical elixir.” Zell continued his rant. putting down the glass and cupping his hands together in an effort to simulate the small screen of a TV. Is that my boy who's just been vaporized?" It was difficult to follow the man’s train of thought after tasting such a wonderful concoction. buying time as he studied Zell. "All this hubbub at the border caused me to be a bit late and for that I’m sorry. "Picture this. "So I scratched my head. To discuss the boy that he had . At first he tasted nothing but in a moment his mouth was flooded with lilacs and acacia berries surrounded by a barnyard aroma that reminded him of his grandmother’s garden in Lebanon. no?" Was he trying to illicit a knee-jerk response with his question? The Sheikh found himself dumbstruck again and chose to taste the wine instead of reacting to the man’s words. but at least the Sheikh understood why the man had come.

He thought of telling Zell this was not a reality TV show. Zell said.” Zell said. I didn't come here to haggle with you. “If it was.” "At least they're getting things done". but reconsidered. What others do is beyond my control. we’d be drinking Dom instead of this tired Bordeaux. one hard and self assured while the other was distant and glassy never quite closing. How typical of a Westerner to assume that anyone could become a suicide bomber as if you simply flipped a switch or that every Palestinian lined up hoping to march to his death. "Look. his pronounced shark-fin nose divided his eyes. although you know I love to haggle.dismissed as a foolish request. as if revealing two parts of his diseased soul. his cheeks flushed red.” Zell broke out into a cackling laugh." "You must understand. more like a high pitched wheeze before his face tightened into a knot and he crouched lower getting eye to eye with the Sheikh. making a flipping motion with his hand. "Maybe I should take my business down yonder. shaking his head in the negative.” "What is it you want?" "That boy to kill himself?" "You mean Helal?" . So that's when it dawned on me to come see you in person. "I figured as much.

Feuds usually involved money or romance. to ask this of me? Why?" "It's personal.” “He was an Israeli spy." "Not ready? I was told the kid sings verses from the Koran like a canary. Maybe a family dispute." . but in this case romance might involve another man. knowing time was running out. rarely retribution against an innocent.” "He’s not ready. “How do you ask me to kill someone and then tell me it is not my business?” “You had no problem killing Berwald. Was this some kinky death fetish that Zell thrived on? He was out of his element. for crying out loud. on this night." "He has not the proper combat experience. Elvis. If the man had a vendetta against the boy there had to be a reason.” “Back to the boy." The Sheikh felt proud to have discerned a weakness in the dealer. If we put a vest on a boy like that. Call it my pet project. he will pee his pants. Things of this nature take time. something his homophobia found abhorrent." "You know this boy?" "That's none of your business. like the idiot did tonight.Surname / TITLE / 27 "No. Of course I mean Helal." "You came here.

the Sheikh thought to himself."I don't want him to be ready." “That means you don't know. pitching his head back pouring drops into it. No military. If it wasn’t for me." the Sheikh paused." "This is most unusual. Helal’s the one I want. the Israeli secret police. The Mossad. I want him to blow his sorry ass up." Zell's left eye twitched. Conventional weapons were met by a stronger response usually resulting in massive losses for the Palestinians. "Look." "Why this boy? I have one from Falamia. I’ve been taking care of you people for years. Civilians. his body shook violently as if the liquid burned." He was right on that count. Maybe a bus in Jerusalem. Zell's weapons were indispensable although the Sheikh had been unable to strike a death knell to the Israeli’s. He snatched a small plastic bottle from his pocket. "We must have patience in these matters." "Patience. Make it an easy one. you wouldn’t have a single bullet to fight your holy war. We could have his ceremony tomorrow. Why not him?” "No deal. longing for his own 9-11 . What is the target?" "I don't care. always seemed to be one step ahead. How did that idiot Bin Laden get so lucky.

" the Sheikh said. Zell's voice grew more irritated as he gulped wine interspersed between words. piece of shit weapons from that Persian dealer and prey they actually work. still perplexed by the questions boiling in his mind. "This we know and are most grateful. “You are a weapons dealer. It should be a simple task for someone like you. destroying it.Surname / TITLE / 29 moment. Helal. "But I'm not here to talk about God damned weapons am I? I'm talking about that kid. He would not be living on this planet in one year’s time. "Maybe you should get those moldy." The pain in the Sheikh’s belly roared again. yet you bring the boy to us so we can kill him?” . It reminded him of the Star Wars movie where a tiny spaceship hit the death star at the right spot at the right time.” the Sheikh started. the Israeli death star remained impenetrable. where something as simple as box cutters could bring down the symbols of Western superiority. From the Sheikh’s vantage. seeking to placate his opponent. reminding him of his frailty and the diagnosis the doctor had given him. making it all the more important to find out why they were having this meeting. pinching the bridge of his nose. “Please explain this to me.” The Sheikh face tightened. Or go back to throwing shoes at people.

fighting an emotion that might reveal his own weakness. a guy I hired to do the job. "Is not a dead kid a dead kid?” . reaching for the glass. died of a heart attack six months ago and I brought him here because this suicide bomber crap is the kind of thing you're supposed to be good at. Helal needs to pull the trigger.Zell rubbed his forehead.” the Sheikh said. but behind closed doors he applied every psychological trick to convert scared youngsters into willing participants of unspeakable violence against his sworn enemy." Zell had done his homework. To outsiders his madrassa presented the appearance of moderation. the Sheikh moved to offer a simple solution. “If his death is what you wish. “Cannot we put a bullet in his head?” Zell sighed. With Zell’s tone softened. “I know it sounds weird." “And this is not the same result?" the Sheikh said. His own Imam. seeming to appreciate the conundrum. “This was supposed to be explained already. filling both glasses again before looking up at the Sheikh. turning his fingers into the shape of a gun. The Sheikh knew more about converting suicide bombers than anyone having been dubbed the ‘Pied Piper’ in some circles.

” “Well I'm running out of time. throwing his arms forward. He kicked back in the . Mr. Most American’s were Christians and he knew more about that religion than most.” Zell roared. slamming his hands on the table. A waft of offensive cologne enveloped the old man who fought a reflex to gag.Surname / TITLE / 31 Zell sat up. catching the Sheikh by surprise as both guards brought their weapons to bear." "Only God decides when he will fulfill his destiny. "You're not getting it.” “Why?” “Because you people don’t do shit during that month and I can’t wait any longer. letting out an exasperated gasp.” The Sheikh ignored the insult. With the conversation circling around religion the Sheikh saw an opening. “It has to be his choice. "Do you believe in God. hoping to change the rhetoric and learn more about his adversary." “Your holy month of Ramadan starts in two weeks. I need this to be done before then. still unclear as to the motive but not wanting to press further. The movement rattled the wine bottle. “Things are in motion. Zell?" Zell seemed put off by the question.” the Sheikh said. Capish?” "Yes. He needs to do it.

least of all your God. "We are at war. "I don't submit to anyone. raising the stakes. Who gives a shit what side he's on? His wars are good for our business. Whose daughter do I have to marry before you kill the little bastard?" The only leverage the Sheikh had was the boy and he intended to use it. Sacrifices are a way of submission to God.chair. “All I know is you people seem to answer a question with a . “You want to know what we want?" "Yes. He's on everybody's side. "I regard religion with reverence and disdain in equal measure." "What does every Hamas commander dream of?” Zell shook his head and tilted the chair so it was resting on the floor again." Normally the Sheikh would react to such blasphemy. Let's get back to this kid. tilting it on its hind legs and clasped his hands behind his head as he processed his response. a necessary discomfort. but he knew it was just another move in the game of chess meant to evoke a response. There was no moral argument to sway the man toward any religious cause." Zell angled his jaw which made a snapping sound like popping bubble wrap. You think God's on your side? Guess what? He's on our side. Like toilet paper.

I’ll tell you what. "You people are good at asking for more shit. “You know that’s impossible to get.” “Like it is an easy task to have a boy kill himself?” “And?” “I would ask that it be delivered inside Israel.” The Sheikh paused. The Sheikh knew that with two weeks time anything could happen to the boy . sitting back in his chair as if done with the conversation.” “Inshallah.Surname / TITLE / 33 question and it’s god-damned irritating. I’m not a mind reader. Zell shook his head. “Do you need me to put a bow on it. press the trigger and shoot down a commercial airliner for you as well?" "As you wish. I ain’t getting you squat. tapping two fingers across his lips. A cricket hidden somewhere under a tarp chirped away as the men began a staring contest.” The room became quiet. but delivering’s another story." the Sheikh replied.” Zell ruminated on the offer for a few seconds.” Zell’s mouth opened wide as if he found some part of that funny. setting up the right moment for his delivery. “We want a shoulder launched FIM 92 stinger missile. If the kid doesn’t blow himself up by Ramadan.

" The Sheikh glanced away." "They say the same about Jesus." "It is as God decrees. was a peaceful man. may God bless his soul. By then I need to see results. “You'll get your missile. I wonder what the Vegas odds would be. You know Mohamed." the Sheikh replied. It had been a spirited joust between both men and the Sheikh had had enough. Zell hurried to the car as the guard pulled up the chain ." "Well I ain't had my seventy two virgins yet so that makes me a bit ornery. "I'm coming back before Ramadan. Zell was the first to speak. Zell. Mr." “Inshallah. bowing his head again." Zell replied. and for a brief moment the Sheikh felt a communion with his rival before the man spoke again. You'll get your missile when I get what I want.and used the silence as a weapon against his foe. "You are a cynical man. finishing the wine in his glass as Zell stood. doing his best to temper his excitement. “In fact I'd love to see those two duke it out in the ring." The pressure in the Sheikh’s neck dissipated as he reached for his wine glass and motioned for them to commemorate the moment." the Sheikh whispered. "Excellent.

” the Sheikh said. what do you desire?” “He must really want this boy dead. He signaled Medi to the table. I can manage. his maligned teeth resembling corn on the cob. Helal. If he knew he could get a stinger missile just by disposing of the boy he would have done it months ago. he found himself almost giddy with joy. “Go now. moving to help the Sheikh get up. This was going to be as easy as the daily prayer ritual. eying the remaining wine in the bottle. Whether it was the alcohol or the outcome of the meeting." THREE .” “Hajj?” the guard replied. waiting for the door to be lowered before breaking out into a devilish smile. The Sheikh sat quietly for a moment. slack-jawed. Bring him to me in the morning.Surname / TITLE / 35 providing Zell space to drive out. Hajj. still snickering to himself before reverting back to Arabic.” the Sheikh insisted. “Do as I ask. I must learn what it is that makes this boy so special. “Go find this boy. "Yes.

but then their initial meeting was forced and somehow it had worked and he was thrilled to get a shot with her. His assistant had left it in plain sight. It was a notarized statement from his landlord informing him of a two week period to pay or quit. It was rushed. The multi-level parking structure abutted the ultra modern building encased in back glass where Derek’s office was located on the tenth floor. There were to be no witnesses. he dismissed his assistant to lunch as part of the bargain he made with Mina. As he breezed through the double mahogany doors. He assumed he would only have one attempt at curing her and without progress she might vanish as quickly as his bank balance had. Normally he’d be in the gym by early morning. sending him a message that time was running out. Did he have to get such a grandiose office with a grand city view? He recalled his original line of thought in making the selection. Sitting at his glass topped desk. but in a surprise move. Mina had called and requested an immediate session over lunch. which he readily accepted. If you live like you’ve made it . Derek noticed one document that stood out from the rest. but now he needed to gain her trust and respect.Derek accelerated the Mercedes sport coupe up the freeway ramp hoping to make quick time to his office. When Derek had met Mina in the elevator he was cocky and confident and it helped get the introduction.

where he was born. The charade could only last so long. one that even her brilliance couldn’t overcome. It was his motto in life and had gotten him out of the poedunk town of Shelbyville. Derek learned that Mina Szabo was originally from Hungary and her family immigrated to Los Angeles when she turned five after her father became a diplomat. several blog sites postulated that she had been removed as a possible anchor because of her condition. Things always work out. Derek swept the pile off his desk into a basket sitting on the floor. She moved many times to different countries before graduating with honors from Berkley and then being recruited by CNN. He was living the good life in Orange County and knew he could never go back.Surname / TITLE / 37 then you’ll make it. unable to invest the energy to resolve the issues. Her shining career had hit a roadblock. Conservative websites claimed she had a liberal bias. She was fiercely protective of her personal life and with no official word from CNN. hoping the mantra would bear fruit. The potential meal ticket was about to walk through the door and he needed time to get more background information. She became the youngest woman to win the ‘Courage in Journalism’ award at only twenty eight with a one hour special on homeless children in Iraq. but for the most part people respected her veracity. he repeated to himself. Tennessee. He thought of his parent’s meager existence running a dusty old office supply store and how far he had come. .

” “Most.” she said. I’m going to guess most of your clients are women. seemingly mesmerized by the ebb and flow of the afternoon traffic and the jetliners at the airport in the distance. leaning against his desk. tied in a pony tail.” he said. but lacked basic fashion sense. “It adds to the minimalist charm. The same over sized square shaped sun glasses dominated her face and she wore a loose fitting navy track suit jacket over dungarees that were cut for a man.A few minutes later Derek heard the lobby door open as Mina scampered in. Not the type of girl Derek would normally notice. standing. “Hello. as if I’m standing in a Tiffany box. She was an accomplished woman perhaps. Kind of draws me in. “I love the sea foam green color on the walls. . however his interest today did not revolve around appearance. masking any trace of feminine curvature. She lingered at each of Derek’s abstract art pieces as if trying to decipher some meaning from them before responding. silent as a cat.” Derek said. a baseball cap pulled down tightly over tresses of silky brunette hair. She let her fingers trace along the chocolate brown suede chaise and turned to gaze out of the floor to ceiling windows. Mina strolled across the room past Derek’s desk as if disinterested.

She wasn’t some ditsy bimbo with marbles for brains. but Mina shot him a stern look that told him he had missed the mark. “There doesn’t seem to be much in the way of success stories. I wanted to see what your office looked like to see if it was a total scam.” Mina said.” He was completely taken off guard with her frankness. Derek let her air her thoughts. Maybe I saw some honesty in your eyes despite the cheesy one-liners.” “Then why did you come?” She stepped lightly toward his desk. Feeling off kilter.Surname / TITLE / 39 “Is it your day off?” he asked in a veiled attempt at small talk. he had to regroup mentally. her eyes scanning his face before looking away. And maybe. “Can’t you tell? I usually wear Versace gowns. This was an educated. worldly woman who wasn’t buying his prepackaged gig. cutting him off.” She turned to stare at the sky again as a jet seemed to float toward the airport landing strip. Maybe because I’m at the end of my rope and willing to try anything. just maybe. It had been so long since he met someone who put him in his place. “I’m sorry I didn’t —” “I did some research on hypnosis and stuttering. “I don’t know. opting for some levity to .

“I’m going to assume you came to see my office because you’re not a desperate housewife and my eyes were so bloodshot yesterday you couldn’t have seen anything close to honesty in them. Her face was more angular than he had seen on TV.” Mina must have enjoyed the joke because she let out a thin smile as he continued. On seeing her whole face for the first time. Her facial structure was evident.” he said. reaching around to pick up a document off his desk. She crossed . but with today’s makeup and lighting he knew they could turn a slug into a Victoria’s secret model. “OK. “I’m putting a check in the ‘skeptic’ column on your form. appearing almost gaunt with dark lines under her eyes that revealed the toll of her affliction.” She smiled again and as she did her face took on a more pleasing.ease the tension. Derek almost did a double take doing his best not to expose his surprise. If he didn’t know any better he would have deemed her unfit for television. relaxed mood. She slid into the chair across from his desk and removed her glasses before crossing her legs. high cheekbones and a delicate jaw-line but her skin was nearly translucent and she clearly avoided using makeup except for a splash of pink lip gloss on her thinly chapped lips.

“Since were being straight here.” “I thought as much. A . It created an opportune time for him to play a different card. hoping to dwell on a positive note and something he was proud of.Surname / TITLE / 41 her arms offering a defensive posture. biting her lower lip. Derek launched into a diatribe about the benefits of hypnosis and the success he had achieved with other patients.” Derek wondered if his shtick had become too obvious. which he took to indicate someone troubled and not fully sold on his service. “You’re either very much in touch with your feminine side or you’ve got a childish obsession with seducing women.” A painful silence ensued and sensing a loss of interest on her part. “I may have over reached when I said I could guarantee a cure. looking away. hypnosis offers real benefits and I really believe it could help you.” she said.” he said. “However. “You can tell a lot about a person from their workspace.” “What does it tell you?” She studied the surroundings again. her head turning with poise and grace. The mind. not fully understood. slightly offended that she saw through his smoke screen life with such ease.” he started. “It seems like you approve of my office. as you know is a complicated machine.

"How long will it take?" she asked. "Okay. "I'm sorry. . she cut him off again. she grasped the device.” Her gaze met his and he could tell her stoic. speaking to Derek without looking at him. defiant personality had fled. pushing keys in rapid succession. Tears welled up in her eyes. Have to stay in touch. the face was simple. goo. In mid-sentence. good." She marched to the windows again. engrossed by the phone." she cried out. goo. leaving a girl who was lost and terrified.” It took everything he had to maintain composure." she said. snatching a tissue off his desk as she stood. "Home office. goo. still thumbing the phone. “Goo. He noticed that she wore a watch that appeared to be platinum." she stammered. sounds goo.beep emanated from somewhere in her outfit and she fished out a cell phone. sighing as she sat upright. She crossed her legs again. he continued his explanation undeterred. "My life's a mess." Normally Derek would have been put off by this modern form of impertinence. "My life. but sensing the ‘golden goose’ teetered out of his grasp. elegant and delicate not unlike herself. “About thirty to forty minutes. With both hands. but couldn’t stop her other foot from tapping the floor with an irregular beat.

but he made sure his eyes didn’t linger when he looked at her. It’s not alright. “Here you’re trying to help me and I come off as this bitch from hell." “That’s alright.Surname / TITLE / 43 "I'm stuck with this affliction.” “Thank you. Most people list hypnotists somewhere between witch doctors and palm readers.” Derek said.” “No worries. clutching the tissue to her nose. “I had no problem dealing with a roadside bomb in Iraq. For now it would take every . She snapped shut the phone case and stuffed it in her jacket. turning to look at him. I came here to give you a shot at helping me and you certainly deserve my full attention. “No it’s not. It's a living hell. I can't even ask for directions without being afraid I'll stumble over my words. wiping a tear from her eye as she walked back to the chair.” He took comfort in the fact that she was opening up to him which was a good sign for someone trying to heal.” It was hard not to feel compassion for her predicament and while he initially sought fame and fortune. standing. but this tick. the thought of actually improving her life gained importance. He visualized seeing her on TV as an anchor and the pride he would feel having made a profound impact on her life.” she said. this flaw is tearing me apart.

"Do you know when you started stuttering?" he asked. even surgeons.bit of experience in his arsenal to find the root cause of her affliction. he guided her to the chair next to the couch and motioned her to sit. but the bureau's had enough." "And then?" "Recently it's gotten worse and much harder to control. You name it. doctors. With notes in hand. They won’t let me do anything live. A year ago I thought I was actually getting better. Her shoulders revealed points where the arms met and the collar bones formed fragile lines across her chest. They want to move me to the research department. "Not exactly. She looked more like a victim of famine than a successful steward of the media. The condition was eating her alive and he felt the pressure exerted on him to save her from it. psychologists. Can you believe . Speech therapists. Seems like it's always been a part of my life. Sure the camera crews have been sweet and they’ve let me do as many re-takes as I need. There’s only so many bloopers you can have on live TV before they say see-ya. I've been to at least six specialists in the past year but none of it has helped." "What have you done about it?" "Everything. As she removed the top of the tracksuit he could see how abnormally thin her arms were.

Surname / TITLE / 45 that? Me in research? My life is ruined. poking around hoping to hit something.” “Did the condition get worse after you got back from Iraq?” “No. Most of the work would be done in the ‘accepting phase’ of hypnosis. but no big deal. It only started to get bad in the past year. like playing a game of battleship.” “If I had to look into a camera knowing ten million people . He would search for the land mines and root them out.” “Your job today ‘on air’ seems quite stressful. sometimes productive but more often not and that would be the direction he would take. He knew that painful experiences caused blockages. “How would you rate the level of stress?” “I don’t think it’s that stressful. I'll just die.” Derek said. When I get on set all I do is read the prompter until I’m finished." It was a complicated predicament and one that Derek wasn’t sure he could solve. "Any traumatic events as a child? Car accidents? Heart attack? Stroke?" “A couple fender benders. but his line of pre-session questions were geared toward narrowing down painful parts of her life. We don’t get to do much ad libbing. I can't go to a desk job in Washington. Initially I was fine. but the passion she held for her profession was real.

“There are two main reasons for aggravated stress in our lives. . grinning. You obviously don’t have money problems so that’s why I’m asking.” “I guess I’ve been doing it for so long it doesn’t cross my mind. but I have to ask. Any boyfriend problems?" "You’re a shrink too? Mine charges four hundred per hour and says I have a daddy complex. “Every day?” he asked. Money and relationships. "Maybe. her cheeks flushed with redness. I’d have a cow. “Does smoking count?” “How often?” Her eyes darted toward the window.” he said." "Down tiger.” “Any addictions?” She drew in a deep breath as she scratched the side of her neck. “The next question is nothing personal.” She stared at him before looking down in her lap." It was the first time he saw color in her face and it added a feminine feature to her otherwise emaciated appearance.were watching. Her face cringed and it became clear she didn’t want to discuss it so he changed the subject.

smiling. Was there any physical violence?" "No.” Derek started.Surname / TITLE / 47 "Maybe? Are you kidding me. "About a month ago I broke it off with a man I've been seeing for three years." "Well that's a start.” he said. Imagine your body melting into the floor. He could sense that she had become a willing participant. before he continued. If you really want help then it’s your turn to be straight with me." “He’s married." Derek explained the process of reaching a calm relaxed state and what part she could play to make sure it went smoothly. “Your eyelids are getting heavier." she sighed." he said." "Okay.” “Ouch. Possibly made your condition worse but obviously not the cause since you’ve had it from childhood. Okay. Are you feeling relaxed?” “Yes." "I mean toward him. “Concentrate on the point I’ve marked on the far wall. She let out a small laugh. Relax your arms. "I believe your stuttering is more of a mental issue than a physical one.” . By regressing to your early years hopefully we can find the traumatic event that triggered the condition. in the hopes that his joke would take the edge off. absolutely not. “We all make mistakes and God knows I’ve racked up my own.

but he was prepared for the worst. reinforcing their negative beliefs.In Derek's experience. “I’m with my friend Jenny. In the initial state. getting the most benefit from hypnosis.” In a few moments she was resting comfortably and mumbled some illegible words. “We’re in detention. when you experienced pain or suffering. finding it impossible to relax and finally. refusing to get into the awakened state. in a calm tone.” “That got you detention?” . “What was that?” Derek asked. His calm voice continued to move her into a more relaxed state of mind. The point where a patient accepts suggestions is similar to sleep walking and after gently repeating suggestive phrases. “Go back in time to your childhood.” Mina said.” He sensed she was receptive so he prodded her. Others had attention deficit disorders. some clients had strong positions against hypnosis. “Why?" “They were serving mashed potatoes at the cafeteria. some were labeled ‘super-hypnotizers’ and fell into a deep trance quickly. Mina transitioned from doubtful to open-minded and eager. he knew he could ask questions and elicit responses in direct dialog. her mind seemed to switch to the heightened awareness state.

My mother used to make me eat them. So here I am. but she put them on my plate anyway. I would sit at the table for hours. The smell of them makes me sick. They were all over her face. “Where are you?” “I’m in a hospital. the bowl having gone cold long before.” “The potatoes?” “Yes. It was hilarious. her voice rose an octave but had the quality of a teenager. “I threw them at her. “I hate mashed potatoes.” “And?” She bit her lower lip. I told that to the server. he asked. but she forced them down my throat. I see my Mom at the principal’s office and she’s yelling at me.” “Did you have an accident? Are you ill?” “No I’m wearing a candy striper outfit. Derek thought. Everybody was laughing. I’ll try.” Derek recalled himself seeing young volunteers at hospitals wearing similar outfits." Interesting. “Can you go further back in your life?” “Yes. but he suspected it wasn’t traumatic enough and decided to dig deeper.” After a few moments. .Surname / TITLE / 49 After a brief moment.

” Perhaps she knew him but blocked the knowledge from her memory. I’m holding his hand. He’s very sick. People are speaking Spanish. “They’re rushing back and forth trying to save him.” “Who is he?” “I don’t know. Loved ones dying were a good potential starting point for a traumatic response. where are you now?” “I’m in a room with an old man lying in a bed. . pausing before taking a long breath as if she was reliving the moment. I’m singing a song to him now. in a somber tone.” she said. No one seems to visit him.“Where’s the hospital?” “In Venezuela. They’ve asked me to leave. having devastating impact on the psyche.” she said. “The nurses have arrived. “Okay.” Derek recalled from the research he had done on Mina that she had spent time in different countries with her father who worked at various US consulates. He looks so peaceful. He would ask her again when she was not under hypnosis and jotted down the notation on his pad. but this man wasn’t a family member and probably had no effect on her life.” “What’s going on now?” “He just died.

These were dicey periods where he was able to discover dark secrets about clients. Some clients came in to cure one thing and discovered they needed help with more serious issues. He felt a bit woozy yet excited at the progress.Surname / TITLE / 51 “Keep going back further." “Stop it!” Mina cried out.” Derek asked. trauma. He knew that cases involving abuse were known to have been stepping stones to losing confidence thereby initiating a variety of physical and mental conditions. clearly molestation. "Mina. Try to tell me what happened. even sexual abuse. he thought. slowly. “I said stop that!” Derek tensed up. remaining silent for a few moments. She sat upright. “Stop touching me!” she screamed as her hands began squeezing her thighs. This is it.” she cried out. Many hypnotists documented horrible events covered up by the sub conscious mind as a defense mechanism. I know this is hard. “Stop that. "Breathe. He reached out to touch her shoulder. using higher pitched child’s voice. Accidents. “To a time when you were much younger?” He whispered more relaxing phrases in an effort to bring her into an even deeper hypnotic state." . the possibilities were endless.

white light. since he knew the mind often used symbolic gateways in the sub-conscious to isolate bad experiences. Bright. many doors. or the pain. “No. It’s hard to see.” she said. The process would have to continue.” she said calmly. Just a brother-sister squabble. Real pain.” Derek knew many people claimed to see lights in various forms . His excitement grew and he moved to the edge of his seat. Repeating more suggestive phrases he accelerated her into a deeper level of consciousness.” Derek hoped the barrier might help eliminate her guilt."Stop touching my toys!" Derek sat back. “What’s wrong?” “Light. you must find a time when you experienced pain." In a moment.” she said.” “It’s open. That wasn't it. The door will help you heal. lifting her hands over her eyes. “Should I open the door?” “Yes. “Mina. she stopped moving and sat perfectly still. "What?" “It’s my brother. Don’t worry. He keeps grabbing my toys with his grubby hands!” Derek let out a long disappointed sigh. “Can you reach the one closest to you?” “I’m scared. “I see a door. "What do you see?" he asked.

Surname / TITLE / 53 while under hypnosis and was intrigued to find out what she had discovered. No. touching her shoulder. Mina?” She didn’t respond but the agitation continued.” “No. “Go through the door. . It’s long.” “Where? Who’s running?” “Gotta keep moving. then right. “Okay.” What was a little girl doing in a trench? Was the wooden rod a shovel? The puzzle still had clues yet to reveal. her head rose and fell in random directions while her eyes remained closed.” “Are you in a playground?” “I’ve got something in my hand. “We’re running. A ditch. I’m walking through. More like a trench. She ducked left. growing impatient.” “Where are you?” “In a hole. “Mina?” Derek called out. like a boat bobbing in the waves. like a prize fighter in a ring.” “Go through it. “Is everything alright?” She seemed lost in a world he could not see.” he said. I’m scared. made of wood. “Where are you now.” She paused and in a moment began to sway ever so slightly.

bayonet. delicate face contorted into a twisted gnarl and her eyes bulged open as if the bright. “Mina. bay. like sewer and . beautiful Mina had mutated into a different person.“Are you alone?” “No. mumbling more illegible words. bay.” “Wow. Somehow her parents had left a weapon available for this little girl to get her hands on. “Lots of noise. She started bobbing and weaving again. There’s a stink in the air. “What are they saying?” Her fits added a moaning of incoherent words. Lots of people running back and forth. The story was heading for a sad ending but Derek’s curiosity had been piqued.” “Where?” “It’s a foreign country. “What’s going on?” Derek insisted.” “What is it?” “It’s a bay.” she stumbled on the word. This had to be as traumatic as any kid could endure. what are you doing now?” “I’m putting something metallic on the wooden rod.” Derek wasn’t surprised at her being in another foreign country having traveled so much as a child.” Derek whispered. “A bay. I‘m not sure. her pretty.

How could she be a man? What language was she or he speaking? . dropping the notepad. more garbled tone. “Bereiten Sie die Kanons vor. his other hand releasing her shoulder. This shouldn’t be happening. She was in a state of terror but he was unsure how she got there or how to get her out. as Derek sat back in the chair. “Mina. Derek thought as he grabbed hold of her left shoulder trying to stabilize her. “I’m a man. Bedecken Sie Ihre Köpfe. sending shivers down Derek’s spine.” Mina said.Surname / TITLE / 55 cat piss. Kommen Sie herunter.” Derek froze. her smile turned into a treacherous grin. Schnel.” The unknown words echoed in the large room. “Now I’m saying something but I don’t understand the language. “Schnel.” Her voice had changed again taking on a deeper.” Her mouth contorted again before she cried out.” she said. his jaw falling open. “There’s no girl here. What’s a little girl doing with a bayonet?” “A girl.” “Try to repeat it for me.” She pinched her nose as if actually experiencing the vulgar odor.

pointing at an imaginary spot on the wall.” he asked. “I’ll try.” she moaned as her arm rose. Keep your head down. “What is it. “The Americans.” . looking to see if anything was there before she yelled at the top of her lungs. Look at them come.”Can you translate the words?” he asked. Here come the Americans.

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