‘Today In Tel Aviv’ by Cleveland W. Gibson
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The door was locked.
I struggled with the realisation, yet instincts said nothing changed. The door stayed shut like a steel rat-trap, right there in my mind. The shutter tampered with my sanity, blocked off an escape route and stopped me from functioning properly.
One major stroke and the door stayed locked forever; it caused my lack of speech, my loss of movement. ‘If only’ covered such a massive area and I needed a clear inroad to my mind.
I sat there dumb, as a statue, in the darkened room. At my feet lay Becky, my helper. I heard the shot, her brief scream when the two men captured and killed her. I remembered rolling my eyes; it was the only way I showed my displeasure. The men laughed and stuck a pair of sunglasses on me.
Death was nothing new; I’m Max. Max, the Israeli once in the Foreign Legion, then the Belgian Congo. I’m still Max living here in Tel Aviv but now it’s Max in a wheel chair, Max the cripple unable to move anything but his eyes. And Becky, she’s lying dead at my feet.
After the stroke I managed to survive but my active days were over; finished. Months, years later my condition worsened. Each day Becky took me to ‘Jimmy’s ‘, next to Wingate’s statue. Then when I sat there she’d go and talk to her boyfriend.
I always wore a twisted look on my face. People hated the look. I can’t help it. Now Becky can’t help her looks either. Becky is dead and without vanity. She’s silent too.
The two men came in and fiddled with my chair. They boasted about their terrorist plans. I heard but couldn’t answer back. How I hated being told they wanted my help to kill innocent Israeli men, women and children. And in the same cafe I went with Becky each day.
Their plan was simple enough. With a pair of pliers and a screwdriver, leads, explosives and a little mobile phone they hoped to set off a bomb. And the bomb hidden beneath the seat of my wheel chair would get triggered when my mobile phone rang.
The Arab girl with long black hair dressed in Becky’s clothes. When the men finished talking she set off with me. I still wore sunglasses but underneath my eyes rolled. The girl tucked the mobile phone into my useless hands. Everybody saw it.
Once in the cafe the Arab girl found me a spot right in the centre where many people chatted. I heard voices and the cacophony of street sounds. More visitors flooded the cafe, perhaps from a coach. The Arab girl left. As I waited sweat sprouted on my face and hands.
My mobile rang persistently. I got the whiff of expensive perfume.
“Shall I get that for you?” A gentle voice asked.
Death beckoned, a click away. One little click.
I failed to answer as, ‘today’ in my mind, the door was locked.
Cleveland W. Gibson ©2005
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