He watched the actors up on the stage going through their lines in their first full cast rehearsal. It was terrible to see and worse to hear. Pure amateurish rot-gut. My god, except for Richard, the rest of them were no better than a bunch of grade school children trying to put on a class play. Joseph was thinking this as he turned to one of the producers and asked, 'Is it always this bad the first time?'
'So you have noticed. Sometimes it is even worse. Most of them were just given the play to read a day ago. They have not had the time to study the lines or to formulate their characterizations yet. It takes a while for an actor to visualize his roll.' Whispered Carl Donetz, one of the producers. 'The only one that has had time to do any studying is Rich. We gave him the script a long time ago to read. Heck you yourself have read it more than any of the other actors have.'
'Why would you do that?'
'For several reasons,' he continued. 'One of them is because we want the star to be able to lead the cast. But the main reason is, we could not get 'A Star' to take the chance on a play without letting him know the type of material he will have to work with. Then there is also the fact that since this is a new work; we don't want to leak too much to the press. There are even times we may go into rehearsals before the play itself is finished.'
'Not finished?' Joseph whispered. 'You're kidding me! Aren't you?'
'Nope I'm not kidding you. Just like some Hollywood directors, there are some authors, who work with only a bare outline. While they are very rare, they are not unheard of. Their reputation is so great that just the mention of their name will bring both actors and investors running to participate.'
'How long will this first stage of production continue?'
Laughing Carl said, 'For the investors sake, It better not last too long. Usually it takes about a week for the actors, the author and the director to get their acts together. The process is very interesting to watch. They struggle along and all of a sudden there comes a time when everyone is on board and working together. Then the fun begins. All of a sudden, the cast becomes the characters they are portraying and they reach the point where each member will know what the other is thinking without even realizing it.'
'Kind of like my students. All of a sudden, one day, they find themselves thinking and then even dreaming in Arabic and then they loose their inhibitions and bashfulness and feel at home in the language.'
'Now you got it!'
'Ok that's a wrap for this evening.' Shouted the director. 'I want you to take the scripts home and study your parts. You will have a week to learn your parts and then the real work begins. If any of you have any questions you can call me at the number on the first page of the script. I expect every one of you to make every rehearsal and know not only your own part but everyone else's also. Anyone missing a rehearsal had better be dead or I will kill you myself.'
The cast, moaning started to breakup and leave the theater. Rich and Joseph after saying good night to everyone got in the BMW and headed uptown to the bridge. In the car on the way home Rich asked Joseph what he thought.
'You were wonderful. I'm told that the others will get better once they learn their parts. Are you sure you want to come to Paterson tonight? We could still go to your place, if you still feel uncomfortable.'
'No, I want to go there and see what your 'other life' is like. I have been silly about this whole thing and its time I grew up.' Richard said, 'Besides I need a change of scenery and the quiet will be good for me. I might even get in some time to go over the play. If we go to my place, it's for sure that the phone will be ringing all the time. Yes, I think a change of scenery is just what the doctor ordered. Besides, I can't think of a better change, then to make love in your lover's second boyfriend's bed. Shit! That didn't come out right but I think you know what I mean.'
Joseph started to laugh. 'You sure have a devious, dirty mind and I do love you when you get devious and dirty. Besides Fazzi said I was to party and invite my friends over while he was away.'
'I am sure he did not mean for you to sleep with them in his bed no less. How long before he comes home?'
'Unless he gets tied up, he should be back Wednesday.' Joseph smiled. 'That gives us plenty of time. I might even get dressed up in a formal Tux, give you my Fred Astaire imitation and let you dance me to bed!'
'Now who has the dirty mind? I'll bet you planed this. You did, didn't you? Come on tell me. Just how long have you been planning this?'
'Can't fool you, can I? Ever since the old desert fox first told me he was going to Syria. I even gave the hired help the evening off. So we can be alone and you can scream all you want. No one will hear you.'
They drove over the George Washington Bridge and along Rt. 80 and into the suburbs of Paterson. The trip only took about a half hour as the BMW soon passed through the iron gates of Fazzi's estate. Parking in front of the house, Joseph took Richard's hand and pulled him through the entrance doorway, through the hall and into the kitchen. There he sat him at the table and made a light snack for the both of them. After eating, Joseph showed Rich around the house (at the same time checking to see that the servants were not at home). After the 50-cent tour he took him up to his and Fazzi's room and after locking the door he grabbed Richard and held him in his arms kissing him.
'You know, Rich, this is a first for me. It is the first time that I have ever wanted to make love to someone in this room. I feel so free that I want to fling open the windows and scream my happiness to the whole world.'
'Then what the hell is stopping you? No one can hear us, or so you said.'
'I've got an even better idea.' Joseph said as he walked to the big sliding doors leading on to the widow's walk porch that overlooked the driveway outside Fazzi's room and then he screamed, 'this is my only lover and I don't care who knows it.'
Richard pulled him in and said, 'I was just kidding! Are you nuts? Get in here before someone out there sees or hears you!'
'Now who has lost his sense of adventure and romance? Remember what you told me that evening on the hotel roof garden?' Joseph laughed. 'No one is going to hear or see us from here, unless they fly low with a helicopter. Besides I just don't care anymore. I don't care who knows about my love life anymore. When Fazzi gets back I'm through with this shit. It is going to be over. As soon as I get out of the army, and that will be soon, we can live our lives together as two 'normal queers'. Come here and make love to me right here on this balcony, just like we did that night in that fancy hotel room. We don't have hot tub here, but that whicker lounge will do just as well.'
Richard took Joseph into his arms and after kissing him deeply said, 'My love, if it is one thing we have always tried to do it was to tell the truth to each other. So let's cut the bullshit out, I know you well enough by now to know that you will not leave a job undone-but it was nice to hear you say that anyway. We both know you are in this for the duration, so 'shit-can' it and damn it, fuck me!'
'Yes,' Joseph said as he lifted him up in his arms, carried him over to the chase, set him down on it. He then undid the actors belt, unfastened his pants and after removing his shoes and socks he removed his pants and under pants. Then an idea came into his mind and he said excitedly, 'Wait, don't move stay right there I'll be back in a minute. We may not have that hot tub but never let it be said that necessity is not the mother of invention.'
A few minutes later Joseph returned with a basin of warm water, a bar of soap, washcloths and a towel. 'If we can't have a hot tub-the least I can do is to wash your body down.' He smiled as he knelt at Rich's legs and placed the actors' bare feet into the basin. Taking the washcloth in one hand and soaping it up he began on Richard's hairy legs. Although they had bathed together many times he never realized how hairy and strong the actor's legs were. He bathed each toe and the undersides of his feet and lathered up the legs. He continued rubbing with the wet cloth until he had washed both legs and his washcloth-covered fingers had worked their way up the legs to his privates.
'Oh that feels so wonderful. So relaxing. I could get used to this.' Richard said as he stood up and removed his shirt and undershirt and stood nude in the basin.
'Relaxed? You don't look relaxed. At least not your cock. Excited would be a more accurate term.' Joseph laughed as he turned him around and washed his back, letting his nimble fingers glide over the actor's smooth skin. His fingertips continued their sexy journey around his upper torso until they came in contact with his nipples. Using the rough washcloth he teased and excited them to hardness. Like small mountains peaks they rose to the stimulation. Richard breathed a deep sigh as Joseph placed his lips over one tit and kissed each nipple, rubbing his teeth over them and playfully nipping on first one and then the other.
'Bend over, baby.' Joseph ordered. 'I want to clean that backside of yours.' Richard bent over and Joseph parted Rick's ass cheeks and ran the wet cloth between them and with the tip of the cloth he carefully cleaned the puckered hole, teasing it until it sucked at the cloth covered pointed finger. Then his fingers again covered with the warm wet cloth moved between Rich's legs and he cleansed his cock and balls. When this was done he then took the dry towel and patted him dry and laid him on the chaise lounge. Rich by this time had one hell of an erection on. The soldier placed his lips on the tip of his cut cock head and ran the tip of his tongue around the scar and over the head. He placed his lips over the head and sucked it in with one fluid motion all the way down to the base.
'God, I don't believe that two years ago you were new to this!' Rich said moaning and entwining his fingers through the blond hair using his lovers' mouth as a pussy he pulled his face up and down his rock hard shaft. 'This is fantastic but I want to fuck you! Let me fuck you. Strip down and ride my rod.'
Joseph reluctantly let the hard meat slip from his throat and reached into his rear pocket for the foil wrapped condom and tossed it to Rich as he undid his pants, slid them off and threw them to the corner of the balcony soon to be followed by the rest of his clothes.
'Someday I'm going to have to teach you to be neater.' Rich said as he rolled the lubed rubber over his dick and waited as Joseph straddled his body placing the dickhead between his ass cheeks and squatted down he allowed the cock to slid into his love channel. He pushed down until the monster was buried inside him. Savoring the feeling of his lovers cock buried deep inside him, Joseph bore down squeezing and driving Richard insane with desire. They sat like that for a while, not moving, but with his ass pulsating around Rich's cock. There was no need for either of them to move, the walls of the soldier's ass were slowly masturbating the actor's throbbing cock. Then he started to slowly lift his ass an inch and then down. Slowly, ever so slowly increasing length of the upward and downward stroke. Richard's moaning soon turned into excited cries and then screams as Joseph's ass sucked the life giving fluid out of Richard's balls until he was drained dry. And the two lovers fell asleep out on the balcony in each other's arms. The next morning Richard and Joseph had breakfast together. Joseph drove Rich to the bus station where he caught the bus into the city. Joseph then drove to the base school. Rich was planning on spending the day in the city and visiting his dad and mom and return the next day.
Later that morning in the Oval office the President sat at his desk taking a high security phone call from Israel.
'We cannot confirm the death of Mr. Muhammad,' the Israeli PM said, 'but we are almost sure of it. Our observers reported that they saw and photographed Syrian troops mopping up the area and they were not taking anyone alive. It appears that those not killed by the explosions were rounded up and shot in the back of the head. I don't think anyone survived. It was a blood bath. And these are the animals you would want us to sit down with?'
'We know. Our satellite tells us the same gruesome story. I don't know why you would not be sure of Fazzi having died there. Is there something you're not telling me?'
'Well, yes there is. Unknown to Fazzi we had a tracking devise planted on him. We are still getting signals from it and they are moving from place to place.'
'You are a bunch of sneaky devils!' the president laughed.
'With only a small country like mine, we had better be. It may be that one of the killers spotted the expensive watch on Fazzi's wrist and decided to take a memento. Since the tracking devise was located in the watch and it is moving......... we are assuming he is still alive. When we get proof otherwise we will inform you. Mr. President just to repeat, we had nothing to do with this either directly or indirectly.'
'I know that. Do you have any idea who did?'
'We can only speculate. A lot of people wanted these cutthroats dead including your CIA.'
'Well I'm sure none of our boys had a hand in it.' He laughed, 'After all it did work! And our guys have not been very successful at that sort of thing, lately. But I will check it out anyway.'
'I would not rule out the Syrians or even the Emirate itself. My money is on the Emirate. Now they are the 'King of the Mountain.' The PM said and as he was about to hang up, he added, 'however, Mr. President as you Americans say, one should not look a gift horse in the mouth.'
Meanwhile, back in New Jersey, at the base Joseph's cell phone was ringing. He picked it up and heard an unfamiliar voice saying, 'Hello, Sergeant Joseph Benson? Hassan Segour here, we met a while back. Do you remember me?'
'Ahhh, yes I do. I met you with Allie Balbak that evening at my father's house.' Joseph said. 'My father is back home in Syria for a week or so. Is there anything I can do for you?'
'Yes, there is. I was wondering if I might come over to your house this evening and talk to you for a while?
'Sure I'll be home this evening. As a matter of fact I am having some of my students over this evening. Will that be all right?' He asked, and then a bit cautiously asked, 'Is there something wrong?'
'No! No, there is nothing wrong. Allie asked me to check in on you to see how you are doing with Fazzi away. Besides the last time we met, we seem to have got off on the wrong foot and I wanted to clear up a few things. Your friends being there will pose no problem.' He said thinking that it would even be better if there were someone around to comfort him after he told him about Fazzi. 'What time should I come over?'
'Perhaps you would you care to join us for dinner?'
'I would love to, but I already have plans for dinner. Another time, perhaps. Shall we say about 8 PM?' he said thinking that it would be better if Joseph had eaten before he told him the bad news.
'Yes, by that time we should be finished eating. Perhaps you will join us for coffee?'
'Yes. That sounds wonderful, see you then.'
Joseph and his guests had just finished eating and Summaya had cleared the table and they had retired to the library for coffee when the doorbell rang. 'That must be Hassan now, Summaya will you let him in and show him to the library. The Housekeeper went to the front door, opened it and let Hassan in then she showed him into the library.
'Mesaa El Kair, Good evening,' said Hassan. 'It is nice to see you again, Yussef.'
'Good evening, Hassan.' Joseph said as he introduced him to his students. After all the introductions were made and coffee was served, they all sat down and made small talk for a while. After a while Joseph excused himself and said he had to give the housekeeper some instructions for tomorrow and he went into the kitchen. After he was gone Hassan got up and said to the remaining guests, 'I'm glad you are here. I have some very bad news for your teacher and it is good that he have some friends here to help him. His father has died and he will need friends to help him after I inform him.'
When Joseph returned, he could feel that something was wrong. Hassan asked him if they could talk in private and they went into the next room.
'You had better sit down Yussef, I have some rather bad news for you.' Hassan said and after Joseph was seated he continued, 'there is no easy way to say this, so I will just come out with it...Fazzi was killed a few days ago in a family feud. A relative shot him. It had something to do with inheritance. What the exact nature of the dispute was I can't say as these things can sometimes go back generations. The cousin has been arrested and will be tried in short order.' Joseph turned white. 'Are you all right?' Hassan asked.
'Yes, I am alright. To tell you the truth I was expecting something like this to happen. I had wanted to go with him but he said it was too dangerous. He told me there was bad blood between him and his family, but that he thought it was forgotten by now. Will his body be sent back to Paterson for burial?'
'No he was buried in Syria according to Muslim traditions.' Hassan said. 'As much as he loved this city and his people here we knew he would like to be buried in a military cemetery in the capitol. He was awarded full rights even the president was there. I am sorry to be the bearer of this sad news, but Allie insisted that I tell you in person and not let the news come to you through a stranger or perhaps the newspapers. I just told your friends and they have decided to stay and comfort you. Before I go---is there anything I can do to help you before I leave.'
'I will need proof of his death and can the cause of death be changed to natural causes as I would not like to have it known that he was killed by his own family.' Joseph asked. 'That is the least I can do for him now.'
'That is so thoughtful of you. Yes, I will see what I can do about that. However you do know that his killer will still be punished according to our law. Are you sure you are all right? Is there anything else I can do for you?' Hassan said. 'My office is at your disposal if you should happen to think of anything.'
'Leave me your card and if I should think of anything I will let you know. I will have to contact the Imam and arrange some kind of memorial service. Will you be one of the speakers to give a eulogy if one is required or will Allie come in for that.'
'I am sure he will be here, but if not than I will be honored to do it. If you want I can arrange everything for you. You should not have to do this yourself.'
'Thank you! Not being a Muslim I would not know where or how to get started.' Joseph said. 'And one thing more I am sure Ibrahim Smith would like to speak and also perhaps his mother. I will inform his wife and daughter, if you have not done so already.'
'They have been informed, but they were asked not to contact you until I had the opportunity to tell you first.' Hassan said, I did not want you to get the bad news on the telephone.'
'That was very considerate of you, thank you and I do appreciate it.' Joseph said. 'Now I leave the details up to you, just keep me informed.'
'Yes sir, I will get right on it.' Hassan said as he left the room and house.
Joseph's students paid their respects and stayed with him for a while then left to return to the base. He called Rich and told him the news.
'I'll be right there. Is there anything I can do for you? Are you all right?'
'Yes I'm fine. Will you inform your dad and mom? This changes everything. A rather unexpected ending---but an ending never-the-less.'
About an hour later a call came in from Mary and Cassandra (Kassie). Kassie was glad to see that Joseph was taking it so well.
'You sound almost relieved now that he is gone.' Kassie said, 'Does this make any difference in our relationship?'
'This only means that you and Mary will each become very rich women. The last time we spoke I told you there was no future for us. What happened to Fazzi does not change anything. If you want to hire a lawyer, I will be glad to meet with him and come to some agreement on a legal settlement over Fazzi's estate.' Joseph said.
'Yussef, habibi, anything that you decide will be fine with mom and I. We already have all we need. You know I will always love you for what you did for mother and I. I'm glad and I'm relieved that you too will be free of him now and that you can find someone to settle down with and find happiness with. You were right about my future. I have very good news for you. A while back I started going with one of the men at Med-School. He goes to the same church as mom and I do and we are going to be married in six months.'
'Wonderful, I am so happy for you. Will you permit me to arrange and pay for your dowry and wedding?' Joseph said and then added, 'As your brother it would be my pleasure and duty to do this.'
'Yes I would like that and we would also love for you to 'Give' me away, if you will.'
'That sounds fantastic, Yes, I would be most happy to do that, Kassie.'
After this he placed a call to his company commander and asked and received 'Bereavement Leave'. 'Some of your students reported to me about the death of Fazzi... I am so sorry to hear of his death. I will take care of everything from here. Just try to take it easy. He was a great man and I know how much he cared for you and you for him. You will notify me when the memorial service will be held. I would like to attend and I'm sure some of the students would like to show their support for you as well as pay their last respects to your father.'
Rich had told the Worthingtons. They were shocked. They called and offered condolences. Joseph called Bill Barns and told him. He was told to go right ahead with the funeral plans and Bill would get in touch with him later.
Allie called from his commercial flight and they were on the phone for a long time. 'Look I will make all the arrangements. You do not have to do a thing,' Allie told him. 'As far as the memorial service goes you can have anything you want, except that Ibrahim's mother will not be able to eulogize him at the service. I am sure she will have time to express her feelings at a time and place and in a manner that is suitable later. You as his son would be allowed to participate but as a infidel it would be best if you did not show too high a profile.'
Joseph told Allie that he appreciated his willingness to help but that he would rely on the local Imam as to what form the arrangements take. 'However I would appreciate if you would consult with him.' Joseph said.
The next morning the Imam came to call with a delegation of Arab notables and Joseph was informed of what was going to happen at the service. Latter in the day a tired Allie showed up and Joseph, Allie and the Imam went over the final arrangements.
'Given the special circumstances of the situation I think we can permit Mrs. Smith and Ibrahim to express their comments at the service. We shall even permit Yussef to say something. In cases like these we can and will make exceptions.' The Imam said. 'Yussef, I know how close you were to Fazzi and he would have liked to have had you participate.'
'Thank you, but I don't think that I could speak, I would break down. And I do not think the Muslims emissaries would understand a man crying in public. My father, Fazzi, knew how much I thought of him and I think it would be too much at this time. Allie will you do the honors for me?' Joseph said as he turned to Allie.
'Yes it will be my honor to do it.' Allie said.
After they left Allie sat back in the soft chair and said to Joseph. 'I was sort of Fazzi's legal advisor and he showed me the latest will he had drawn up. He left you everything except a small trust fund for Mary and Kasemah. The estate is quite large and then there is the 'fund' which you will now manage in his place. He left it up to you as to what to do with the funds. I will do what I can to help, but you are free to administer it as you see fit. Need I remind you that the continued support of the Arab/American community will rest upon how you handle both the fund and yourself?'
'Allie, for that I will need men like you to help me.' Joseph said as he put out his hand to Allie. 'Fazzi wanted us to work together and he trusted you enough to suggest to me that you would make a very good assistant. I hope you will take the job and advise me until my feet get wet.'
'I love your American expressions and yes I will be glad to serve as your assistant.'
And so the memorial service was held and went off like clockwork. A letter of sympathy was read from the President of the United States thanking Fazzi for his help and stating how much he would be missed. Everyone spoke and said such nice things about Fazzi that you would not have recognized who they were talking about. Afterwards at the house Joseph said to Rich when they were alone... 'At last it is over and we can go back to living our lives.' He pulled Rich to himself and kissed him and the two of them felt at ease for the first time since Joseph had started his undercover work.
'Yes --- it is done. It is over at last!'.............