Later that morning the doctor paid a house call and after an examination, he proclaimed Joseph fit to continue his normal activities. As soon as he left Fazzi said, 'I did not need him to tell me that! I could have told him that. Now I want you to go into the city and have some fun. I was not joking last night when I told you about my meetings today. There is nothing for you to do here now. I will keep up with things from here and let you know if I hear anything from Allie. I'm sure it will be over soon.'
Joseph reluctantly called Rich and arranged to meet him at the rehearsal theater. Rich, the producers and the director of his new play were holding auditions. With only a few more rolls to fill the play was set to go into formal rehearsals as soon as the entire cast was assembled. It was Rich's first staring roll and he wanted everything to be perfect. So Joseph joined him and sat in the theater listening to a bunch of 'want-a-bees' reading the same lines over and over.
About dinnertime a tired and hungry Joseph leaned over to Rich and whispered, 'If I have to hear those lines one more time, I'll scream. When are we getting out of here?'
Rich agreed and looking at his watch turned to the director and said, 'It's getting late let's call it a day. We can continue on Monday.'
'That's it for today people. It's getting late. Let's call it a day. Those we have not heard yet come back Monday 10 AM sharp. Thank you for coming.' Called out the director to the accompaniment of moans and groans. 'Sorry but even tyrannical dictators like me need food and rest.'
After saying good night, Rich and Joseph went out to a nearby restaurant to eat. During supper Joseph's cell phone started to ring. Seeing that the call was from Fazzi, he apologized to Rich, 'It's Fazzi. He might have news about Ibrahim, I better answer.'
'Good evening Fazzi. Anything new?'
'So curt, so business like. Are the Worthingtons with you?' Fazzi asked.
'I'm just with Rich. It was a long hard day and we have not left for the Island yet. Is there any news?'
'Yes, I have great news. Allie arrived in Syria and was told that his man has made contact with Ibrahim's 'New Friends'. It appears that Ibrahim had tried to escape and was giving his 'friends' a rough time. They might have done some things to him to restrain him and make him even more uncomfortable shall we say. However once Allie's man got there and used your coded message things changed. I am told that it worked like a charm and they are in the process of making the final arrangements for his release as we speak.'
'That was real quick. I am amazed. I really had not expected it to move so fast.' Joseph said,
'Yes it was fast. Allie is a good man and it proves that a little push here and there in the right direction can move mountains. I'm just sorry we could not have got to Ibrahim sooner; we might have avoided some unpleasantness.'
'What 'things' did they do?' Joseph asked.
'You know better than to ask that, habibi. The important thing is that he is all right now, he has been turned over to Allie's man and he will be back in Syria by Monday. We have been in contact with the American authorities and have been assured that his processing will be kept at the bare minimum. Allie said that your idea of getting the Paterson community involved was a stroke of genius. It provided them with a face saving exit. His captors announced they were releasing him to the Paterson community as a show of good faith and good will. By next weekend it will all be a bad dream. In any event I have arranged that he and his mother be our guests at our little celebration here in Paterson, next Saturday.'
'That is great news! You must thank everyone for me.' Joseph said relieved. 'Is there anything else new?'
'Yes there is. You remember that I told you I was having some friends over this afternoon?'
'Yes I remember. You were going to have a three or four way with them.' Joseph said in Arabic because Rich was within hearing distance. 'Was it better than it was last night?'
'I was joking about that and you know it. While you were asleep yesterday I called my lawyers and arranged for them to come over today. I asked them to draw me up a new will.' Fazzi said. 'With all that has been going on I decided not to wait for you to decide on your conversion. Yussef, with my daughter and Mary gone I am totally alone. It has started me thinking about the possibility that something might happen to me and I decided that I want you to be my heir. I am not going to wait till you decide to convert or not. I have no one else and....'
'Are you completely off your rocker?' He said switching to English.
'Don't argue! It is already done, Mary and Kassie get taken care of for the rest of their lives, but you get everything else and you administer my estate and the fund.'
'You are really out of your mind.'
'I may be, but once I'm gone I won't care. It will be up to you to administer everything and I want it in the hands of someone I love and know I can trust.' Fazzi said. 'I have thought about this from all sides and have made the decision. I really have only one choice. You are the only one. Who else is there? I have no relatives that I can trust. If you convert, I will adopt you by Muslim law and you will get it anyway. If you had married Kassie, It still would be left to you. I love you and want you to have it, so don't fight me. It is as you say a 'Done Deal'.'
'Are you sure there is nothing I can say to make you change your mind?'
'Nothing will change it. Don't try. Now go back to your friend and give my regards to the entire family. It is getting late and I would not like to see you drive all the way out to the Island. You still need to take it easy. Why not stay with Rich and play it safe? As long as he is there, can I speak with him for a few minutes?'
'He wants to talk to you.' Joseph said handing him the phone.
'Hello Rich. I just wanted to ask you how Yussef is doing. He had a nasty shock yesterday and I just think he should not try to overdue it today. Rather than drag him out to the Island, he should perhaps rest at your place. You and your family will all be together anyway next weekend and we will really have a ball.'
'Now that you mention it, he does look a bit ragged out. I agree with you. I will talk to him about it. About next week I really intend to be there. I am looking forward to meeting you.' Rich lied. 'I just hope we finish the casting calls by then. We are having a rough time for the last three rolls.'
'Well I hope you fill them soon, I am looking forward to meeting you. May I please say goodbye to Yussef?'
'Here he wants to say goodbye.' Rich said handing Joseph the phone.
Fazzi switching to Arabic said, 'I want to tell you again that not only is the house empty when you are not here, but so am I. I love you very much. Goodbye.'
'As I do you too.' Joseph hung up and turned to Rich and said, 'the man is out of his mind!' and then he gave Rich an almost literal translation of the exchange with Fazzi. 'He is leaving me in charge of everything. His estate, the fund and about one quarter of a billion dollars.'
Like an idiot and without thinking, Rich blurted out, 'Well how does it feel becoming one of the world's most expensive 'kept men'?' and then he turned ashen white. 'Oh god..!'
'I won't even demand that you apologize for that. I just hope you did not mean it--even if it is true. But, to tell you the truth, damn it feels good.' Then looking at Rich he said with a twinkle in his eye, 'now you tell me how you feel about seducing a half-billionaire into your bed.' And the both of them started to laugh.
'I thought you said it was one quarter billion.'
'Well I do intend to double it by the time he dies.'
Later that evening from a pay phone Joseph & Rich called Agent Barns and told him everything that had happened. The FBI man was ecstatic about the latest turn of events. 'That is fantastic, we could not have asked for anything more. I can't believe it... Now you just be as careful as you can. I have to think he has something up his sleeve. He can't be that stupid.'
Then after Joseph told him about what was going on with Ibrahim, Bill almost screamed into the phone. 'Joseph you are ... I just can't think of the right words. The big guy is going to flip when he hears this. I am calling the President and will make sure that the pathway is cleared for Ibrahim's return. The only other thing we need to find out is the reason why Fazzi is going back to Syria. Something is going on and no one knows anything about it. I am sure our friends in the Mossad must know something but they are not telling us a thing. They are just waiting for him to leave the United States so that they can assassinate or even capture him alive. They would know how to get information out of him.'
'Are you sure you don't want me to try to go with him?'
'NO! Damn it NO!' Screamed the FBI Agent into the phone. 'I don't want you out of our reach and protection. If and when the Mossad decides to take him down, I don't want you caught in the crossfire. You are not to even suggest it to him. He might change his mine and decide to take you and that's all we would need is to have you fall into their hands. They would have you singing like an opera star and our whole operation would fall apart.'
'I would never talk!'
'Yes you would and so would any agent they got their hands on. They know how to make you spill everything you know. You would be singing like a canary in a short time. And what's worse is they would enjoy doing it. You stay here and we will try to find another way. You can consider that as a direct order from the President of the United States. No heroics. Promise?'
'You are the boss. Besides I hear it gets too hot in Syria this time of year.' The soldier said and he bid farewell to the FBI agent and hung up the phone.
Since it was getting late, they decided not to take the long trip out to the Island. They spent the rest of the weekend resting and eating out and having fun. They even found the time to attend a Sunday matinee movie, after which they made love. It was a relaxed love, one that he could never have or even want with Fazzi.
Monday Joseph returned to base and was teaching when the news broke that Ibrahim had arrived in Syria and then had been flown to Germany for a medical exam. He had called his mother and told her he was on his way home. Joseph called her and she was excited to say the least. She told Joseph that Ibrahim had said to tell him that he was going to buy him the biggest bacon sandwich in history. Joseph smiled as he put down the phone. Later he caught Ibrahim in a news conference. He was telling the reporters how glad he was to be free and that he looked forward to personally thanking the Arab/American community of Paterson and others for their efforts and help in arranging his release. He said 'I'm doing it here and now in public but I sure look forward to being able to meet personally with and thank each and everyone that helped arrange this.'
Later that evening at Fazzi's place Joseph was able to talk by phone with Ibrahim and both he and Fazzi officially invited him and his mother to the party on Saturday. He said that he would be glad to attend if he could clear it with the government.
Joseph assured him that everything would be arranged. A special effort was made to arrange all the details, and by Friday everything was arranged. Ibrahim and his mother were reunited in a New York City hotel and Saturday morning they were picked up and driven to Fazzi's Estate where they had a grand reunion with Joseph. After hugs and kisses, Joseph introduced Mrs. Smith to Fazzi and told her that he was the one that arranged for Ibrahim's return. Fazzi, ever the grand host, took her on a tour of the estate while Joseph and his buddy went into the Library and talked about what had happened.
'OK, you're home now, what was it they did to you.' Joseph asked.
'It is really too embarrassing to talk about. Until that man you sent came they had me hung up like a side of beef. I thought they were going to hang me or cut off my head. There were four of them. They questioned me in relays, not letting me get any sleep. It went on for hours, or at least it felt like hours. They would stop, feed themselves and then..'
'Then what?' Joseph asked. 'What did they want to know?'
'I don't think they wanted to know anything. They just wanted to play mind games with me. They were playing with me like a cat plays with a mouse before it kills it. One of them put his pistol in my mouth and cocked the trigger. I thought I was a goner. My head blown to smithereens. However, he just moved it around my mouth and ran it over my tongue. He made me suck on it and get it wet. Then he removed it and pushed it up my ass. The bastard raped my black ass with that cold steel barrel, pushing it in and out. Then he made me suck on it again. I passed out and when I woke up I was tied to a bed and the four of them took turns fucking me. I passed out again and when I woke up this time, it was as if I had become the guest of honor. I was told it had been a mistake and that my interrogators had been shot. I doubt that but.. I never saw them again. The new guys kept saying how sorry they were and that had they know I was 'one of them' they would have never.. I did not know what was going on, but they gave me medical attention and food. It was all kind of fuzzy - then this Syrian shows up and gives me that message. I cannot explain to you how those few words just drilled their way into my brain and I began to believe that there was a God and that he was good. All at once like a miracle the sky opened and the sun came out. After that things got better and better. I can't tell you how glad I am to be home and to be able to thank you in person.'
'Well it was not only me, Fazzi really took control and then there was Kassie and her mother in Michigan who helped. You, yourself, had a big part in the transformation of this community. Until your kidnapping this community was afraid to show its humanistic side, but you changed that.' Joseph said as Fazzi and Mrs. Smith rejoined them.
'Yes your capture changed us. It forced us to take a really hard look at ourselves and made us begin to think of how others have seen us. Some things we saw we do not like and perhaps in time we will change. It is hard to express in words, but we are very proud to have helped, but also we are ashamed that an outsider had to teach us. Don't let him fool you, the whole thing was Yussef's doing. I was only his tool.' Fazzi said. 'Now it's time to celebrate. We have dedicated this bazaar to you, Ibrahim. As soon as Richard gets here we will leave. I am told that the entire downtown area is filling up with people and it has been turned it into a real Arab Shuk. Dina has arrived and the men are lined up to see her dance.' The doorbell interrupted him. 'I'll bet that's Richard and Sarah now.'
It was and after introductions were made, they all piled into a van that Fazzi had rented for the occasion and traveled down into the center of town.
'Where is your son Richard? Is he not coming?' Fazzi asked.
'I hope he will join us later. He says that he does not want to take anything away from the 'Star of the Day', Ibrahim.' Richard said laughing. 'To tell you the truth I think he is going 'Broadway' on us. An entourage always trails him these days. I'm afraid it has given him a big head.'
'Well if what I read in the papers is true, that young man has a great future ahead of him.' Fazzi said. 'You must be very proud of him. About as proud of him as I am of my son-Yussef. Has he told you I have made him my son and heir?'
'Yes he has and I'm very glad about it. It is so nice when we fathers have sons that they can brag about.' Richard said.
Sitting in the rear seats Sarah turned to Ibrahim's mother and said, 'I'm Sarah, I'm sorry but I did not catch your first name.'
'Bessie, Bessie Smith. It's nice to meet you.'
'Bessie, you must be proud and happy to have Ibrahim back. We were all so concerned about him.' Sarah said. 'Regardless of what the men may say, we woman also take a special pride in our sons.'
'Yes that's true, but I do remember when Ibrahim's father was alive there was this special bond between them and I'm sure that he is feeling that pride in heaven right now.'
When they arrived downtown the cheers and the applause of thousands of town's people and many outsiders met them. Most had come to celebrate Ibrahim's release. Some had come out of curiosity. The town fathers, after originally opposing the bazaar now tried to take it over. They had tried to tone down the involvement of the Arab community. They had even wanted to move it completely out of Fazzi's Arab committee's control. When the Arab committee protested, the council tried to refuse them the needed permits. The Muslim community together with the Black community then threatened to stage a mass march on city hall and burn the mayor in effigy. The politicians, after realizing that there was an election coming up, reluctantly agreed to allow Fazzi's committee to handle the entire thing, but not before warning them that they would have the State Police and National Guard on standby in case things got out of hand. Now however, with Ibrahim's release, they were falling all over themselves helping and playing like it was their idea in the first place. Not only the Mayor but also the Governor and members of the congressional delegation, all were on hand to welcome Ibrahim home and play up to the community as a whole. Speeches were long-winded and repetitious. Finally Ibrahim got up and thanked all the people and his friends for their help and then introduced Fazzi as the man who was responsible for his being alive today. Fazzi then took the microphone and invited them all to partake of what the Arab community had to offer. In his speech he noted that the Army Language School had accepted his personal invitation and sent a large contingent of soldiers.
'I remind you all that they are here at my invitation, and as my guests. Most if not all of them are my son's students and a while back I had the honor of being a guest lecturer at their school. While we disagreed on many things, they treated me with the respect due to royalty. I repeat they are OUR guests. You are to treat them as such. They are here to learn and enjoy themselves. Let us show them and all our other guests here today the hospitality that the Arab Nation is known for. Now lets have fun!'
And fun they did have. Politics were forgotten. Old hatreds and fears evaporated. Food, music and entertainment were the order of the day. Dancing and storytellers filled the streets. Food vendors served dishes that most Americans had never tasted or even heard of. Mr. Amoz, the owner of Cafe Casablanca, had outdone himself and prepared free food, (at Fazzi's and the 'Fund's' expense), for the bazaar. Everyone had a great time and there was no trouble at all. Ibrahim, Worthington, Joseph and Fazzi joined hands and danced the Dabbke. During the dance the members of dance group formed a circle around Fazzi and Joseph and applauded as the two danced alone together. Then the two of them insisted that everyone join them in the dancing. Everyone laughed to see Ibrahim and Richard stumbling in the dance line. The men even enticed some of the soldiers to join them in the line. There were hugs and kisses and good feelings all day long. Dina did her performances and used Joseph as well as other men in her act. For some reason the women cheered her on more than the men. Joseph overheard one of them talking in Arabic to a friend saying that she was glad to see a woman making the men look like fools. Dina was especially nice to Ibrahim. After she had used him in her dance, Joseph saw her give Ibrahim one of her cards and he knew what that meant. Joseph smiled as he recalled the showers he had taken with the black soldier; I'll bet she loves riding that big long cock of his.
Sometime during the day Rich called and announced that he was unable to break away from the rehearsal. He asked to speak to Fazzi and when he was handed the phone the two of them spoke for about five minutes. When he closed the cell phone, Fazzi told Joseph that Rich had expressed his disappointment at not being able to get to the party, but to make it up he was going to reserve some seats for Fazzi front row center opening night.
'I told him it was not necessary, but he insisted. He sounds like such a nice boy.' Fazzi said to Joseph and the Worthingtons. 'I really would like to meet him soon. However, since putting on this little party, I know how much it takes and how hard it is to put on a production. We all have to make sacrifices for 'Art's Sake'. Even Joseph had to give his all for our little enterprise here. Isn't that true. Yussef?'
'Anything for you Fazzi. You people don't know the hours of practice I put in learning that Dabbke. My feet still hurt me, to say nothing about my back and legs.' Joseph said putting his arm around Fazzi's shoulder ready to squeeze it if he thought Fazzi was going to relate his 'Dina adventures'. 'Rich is lucky he does not have Fazzi as his director. He is a slave driver, but I am going to miss him when he returns to Syria for a few weeks. It will be lonely without him in Jersey. I guess I'll stay on base.'
'No there is no need for that, you can always come out to the Island and visit us. You know that you are welcome anytime.' Richard said and then Sarah added; 'Besides when you come you always bring Rich with you and it's a double treat for us.'
'You can always stay at the estate. It is your home now. I want you to think of it as yours. Someday it will all belong to you. Why not invite the Worthingtons over for a weekend while I'm away? Maybe throw a wild party? Isn't that what American boys do when their family is away on vacation?' Fazzi joked and then turned to Richard senior and said. 'At least with you around I know that they will show some restraints and not wreck the place entirely.'
The day came to an end and everyone was sorry to see it end. The commanding Office came say goodbye and to thank Fazzi for a wonderful day. All of Joseph's students lined up behind their C.O. and joined him in saying good-bye. Hugging and kissing Fazzi and Joseph in the Arab style, each one expressed his thanks for the opportunity to learn about a side of Arab culture that was not taught in school.
Ibrahim and his mother also came to say goodbye. He again thanked Joseph and announced he was going to take his exhausted mother back to the hotel, but that he was going out on a late night date. When he had finished his goodbyes to Fazzi, Joseph took him aside for a private conversation. He volunteered to take him into Manhattan and drop him and his mother at their hotel, since he was going into the city anyway.
'After we get your mom settled for the evening,' he told him, 'I can drop you off at Dina's place; if that is where you are going?'
'And how did you know that?'
'I saw her give you her calling card.' Joseph laughed.
'We are just good friends.' Joseph said. 'She is all yours, I have enough on my plate right now. Although with Kassie in Michigan, it does get lonely.'
'When are you two going to get married?' Ibrahim asked.
'Who knows if we will? Since she went to Michigan she has become Americanized; even changed her name to Cassandra and she has learned to love her freedom. I don't think she really cares to marry me any longer.' Joseph lied. 'She is not the subservient Muslim daughter that she was. She is out there going to school learning to be a doctor.'
'And what about you, what will happen if you two don't get married. It looks as if Fazzi will kill her if you don't become his son-in-law. From what I can see he already treats you as his son.'
'He has no son. He always wanted one, but it was not in the cards. Now what I am going to tell you is just between us and you are to keep it that way. Cassandra and Mary have gone back to their church. She will not marry a Muslim. Fazzi has almost disowned her. He still has hopes that I will convert, but that would not make any difference because he has already drawn up and signed papers making me his son. I argued with him on this but he insisted. He told me I was his son and heir and that's the way he wants it. With or without his daughter. He still has hopes that I will convert, but he no longer insists on it. When I told him that I would just turn over everything to his wife and daughter, he said they were already taken care of for the rest of their lives. Anyway that it did not matter. What I did with the money after his death was my business. He trusted me to make the right choices.'
'I don't know what to say, except that this is all unbelievable.' Ibrahim said, 'When I think that this could have been my lot. If I had bartered for her hand, it would have been me..'
Hey you ass hole... Do you know how many men would kill for a chance to bed Dina?' Joseph smiled and slapped Ibrahim on the back. 'You know you still have to buy me that big bacon sandwich.'
'That stuff will kill you- all that fat is not the best thing for you.'
'I'm still young. I'm in good shape and I can afford the luxury of having the best gym equipment in the world installed on the estate.. So don't you try to get out of the deal, you owe me and I intend to collect.'
'It's your life but since you saved mine; I was just trying to return the favor.'
They all started to pile into the van to return to the estate when Fazzi had a fit and started cursing in Arabic. His watchband had broken and the watch fell to the concrete sidewalk. It was one of those old and very expensive Rolex types. The ones that had so many hands and buttons that made it difficult to tell the time. Picking it up and seeing the crystal smashed he was almost beside himself.
Joseph looked at the watch and said, 'It can be repaired. It looks like you can use a new watchband. A metal one this time so it won't break.'
'Yes I know that, but do you know how hard it is to find a real jeweler these days?' Fazzi moaned. 'The only one I know of is a friend of Summaya. He's an old Yemenite and he is always busy with repair work. Whenever I enter his shop, it is like going back in time. You can always hear the tick tock of all the old clocks he has on display. It reminds me of the past. Maybe I should get one of those new digital watches. Like everything else these days timekeeping has falling victim to a new technology, but I'm old-fashioned and I like to lift it to my ear and hear it ticking. The sound soothes me. I'll see if he can fit a heavy gold band, one with a safety chain to prevent it from falling off if it should open.'
'I'm sure it can be done.'
When they returned to the estate Fazzi called over his cook and housekeeper and told her what he wanted done. 'Do you think he can do it? Ask him to have it done before I leave for Syria next week. I will pay him extra for such short notice.'
'I'm sure he can do it.' She said and took the watch.
To be continued...