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Chapter 2: The General’s Vice
Danny’s point of view
The world’s newsrooms burn up viewer ratings with the mysteries of the severed bomber’s hands, the survival of the Pope and the President, and how the Secret Service accomplished such an incredible feat at undetectable speed. “Shows you how sophisticated our Secret Service is, doesn’t it?”
“Yes and that goes for the Pope’s Security team as well.”
This being an election year, the presidential political advisors suggest withholding news of his survival for several hours. “Keep the public on the edge until their outrage at the attempted assignation and desire for him to survive peaks before announcing he is alive and well.”
This strategy works because commentators and show hosts whips public sympathy and outrage to frenzy. Ratings soared, and the hearts of America were his.
Twelve hours after the assassination attempts, the Pope’s spokesman announces his survival. Four hours after that the White House spokesman announces the President’s survival.
The President holds a press conference the following day.
“Mr. President, how do you explain surviving getting shot twice and recovering so quickly?”
The President makes direct eye contact with the reporter and flashes his winning political smile. “Our Security Director of the Secret Service anticipated such action after the Vice President’s abduction, and invested in special body armor. Bruises were worse than the superficial bullet wounds. The blood made it look worse than it was.”
“Mr. President, the way agents handled the bomber was exemplary and phenomenal. Since his thumb was pressing the trigger, all he had to do was release it and BOOM! As I understand it, that’s supposed to prevent him from being killed until he is ready to detonate the bomb. If he releases the dead man switch for any reason, the bomb detonates, isn’t that correct?”
The President looks grim. “Yes, that’s the way I understand it.”
“But Mr. President, the bomb didn’t explode when the agents apprehended the suicide bomber. How is that possible?”
The President flashes his charismatic smile and follows it with a serious, no-nonsense expression. “I asked that same question and this is my understanding; to defeat a suicide bomb, someone must cut the wires between the trigger and detonator without shorting the circuit. The security teams on site were on their toes, and their performance was exemplary. Their skills are incredible, aren’t they?”
“Indeed, but how did those super agents do that?”
The president chuckles and says, “That’s out of my expertise, but they have a job as long as they want it.”
“Thank you, Mr. President.” The reporter finished the interview happy with the story.
The Pope grants a short interview in his office.
“Your Holiness, a sniper shot you and yet you are still alive to tell about it. How did you survive such an assault?”
His expression is pleasant. “A great God, a sensational security team, and fabulous body armor.”
“But sir, you were bleeding and fell hard. Weren’t you beaten and bruised from the falls and the impact of the bullets?”
“Shallow bullet wounds bleed, and bruises heal, dear child.” He holds up one finger. “Remember one thing; Man proposes, but God disposes.”
“Yes, your Holiness. What does that mean in these circumstances?”
“The heavenly one is in charge, and no man or people alive can change that. Nothing thwarts his will.”
Danny claps her hands in glee. “They followed our directions and suggestions for their interviews. They were great, weren’t they?”
I am proud of them too, and my smile shows it. “The boys did well.”
Kammy holds up her hand. “Wait! What about us? What’s our status?”
“Yes, I mean, we’ve earned the top spot on the Terrorists most wanted list.”
I agree. “That’s as right Büyükesat Escort as a man with no left arm. We’re a hot commodity in the Arab world, guys. Before they try another big score for Allah, finding and beheading us will be an obsession. Like you said, Kammy, we’d better play underground and stay out of action for a spell.”
Kammy trots off to the kitchen giving us time to talk in private. Danny asks me quietly. “How do we compensate Kammy?”
“She can’t handle numbers this big. Let’s set up an offshore trust account for her, fund it with ten million every year, for ten years and pay her two hundred fifty thousand dollars a year, plus bonuses and perks, like exotic vacations, cars, sponsor a NASCAR race car for her to drive, or whatever suits her. She’ll decide. Sound good?”
When I tell Kammy the plan, she spins around like a drunk duck. “WHAT? A million dollars. A WHOLE MILLION DOLLARS? For me? Mine?” Her expression is like someone who sat on a cattle prod. “One. Million. Dollars! Oh my gosh! I’m a millionaire!”
She tickles her tongue with the numbers over and over wearing a goofing grin. “A million dollars. MY MILLION dollars? A million U.S. DOLLARS all for me? For real?”
Danny laughs too long and hard to answer, so I take the wheel. “As real as pain, sweetheart, but you feel much better. With terrorists on our asses, it may be awhile before we take another gig. We’ll set up an offshore account for you while we are here and fund it so your money will be tax-free until you bring it into the states.”
“Oh yes! I pay taxes because I have a green card.” She scrunches her nose. “But Danny, it expires in a year or so.”
“I’ll handle that once we’re back home. You’ll continue training with us and learning more means of transport on a flat salary of two hundred fifty thousand a year plus bonus’ when the risk warrants it.”
She screams and jumps up to do her happy dance. “Whew-hoo! I’m a Hawk!” Fifteen seconds later she stops dead still. “Um, excuse me, but did you say two hundred fifty thousand dollars a year?”
We both grin and nod before Danny replies. “Yes, every mission could be your last. High risk equals high pay. You’ll still oversee the house, but hire someone to do all the work. Do we have an accord?”
She squeals and does her happy dance. “Yes, after I faint and go to Amsterdam for a joint. This is all so overwhelming.” She runs out of the room to get a bottle of wine to celebrate.
Danny flashes a seductive smile, “I feel I’ve earned some personal one-on-one time with Sir Lotsa Cock, don’t you?”
“Hmmm, yes, let’s go work off some of that excitement.”
Two days later we receive overnight delivery from the Vatican. There’s a note attached to it that says: “What does one give those who save his life twice, once from a bomb, and once from being shot?
We open the package carefully in case it contains something fragile or easily torn. Inside the box is a purple velvet bag with gold cords for each of us. Our curiosity soars. The bags have a papal sign embroidered on one side that covers one third of the fuzzy velvet sack and the word Falcon on Danny’s, and Mando on mine. I undo the cord quicker than a chocoholic can wolf down a double slice of decadent chocolate cheesecake served with chocolate ice cream smothered in hot fudge garnished chocolate coated espresso beans. Each bag contains a solid gold Maltese cross suspended on thick chains of gold. They are elaborate, elegant, and astonishing.
Danny’s mischievous grin precedes a cute remark. “I’m so proud of this I’ll wear it to the synagogue!”
I thump her on the head. “With you, that’s not a joke.”
Bubbling with enthusiasm, Danny calls the Pope. “Your holiness, these gifts are magnificent.”
“Mando, that seems like Elvankent Escort a fitting gift. I believe we work for the same boss.” He chuckles. “Since you left, talking to myself isn’t the same.”
His mannerism switches to a wise, elderly man. More like the formal mannerisms associated with a world leader. A Pope, even. “Falcon, from what the President told me about the Vice President, her son, husband, and six security guards, and what I saw; you have a blessed gift for healing. You are a man of power with a pure heart. I am blessed to have met the two of you, so please accept these blessings I bestow upon you now.”
“Being blessed, I bless thee. Loving, I love thee. May the guidance of God be your light and compass, and may His angels ever protect you both, and keep you safe to save others. May God’s love and grace watch over you always, and shall the two of you always find refuge, peace, and purpose because he holds you in the palm of his hand forever.”
Danny’s eyes glisten with tears. I can sense she realizes that in keeping him alive she kept an element of goodness in the world.
As for me, a quasi-Catholic and sponsor of Catholic mission churches in China, I’m in awe of the peace and love that emanates from him. We are both humbled. “Your holiness, our paths shall cross again, and I already look forward to it. The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; and may the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”
The Pope is ecstatic. “Numbers chapter six, verses twenty-four, five and six. I’ve always cherished that blessing. Thank you, my son. Do you know scripture well?”
“The verses come to mind when I need them, Your Holiness.”
“You have the spirit of a religious leader, are you?”
My head dips into a slight bow even though it’s a phone conversation. “Sort of. When the Cardinal closed the Catholic mission in China it crushed the Catholic students in local Kung Fu schools. So I incorporated the Catholic Church of China and invited the Roman Catholic Church to provide priests. I offered to support the mission and pay half the priest salary and expenses. Although I am a Buddhist, my Catholic upbringing is still intact. Buddhists don’t worship a god, so there is no conflict. I still head the Catholic Church of China as an administrator.”
There is a long pause. “Bless my soul; you are Hogee Kin, the man who established many missions in China. Tell me, my son, why would a Buddhist support Catholic missions?”
“One reason is my family raised me in the Catholic faith and tradition after I moved to the states at ten years old. Another reason is there are areas in China that can’t support a church but have Catholic tourists, students, and workers from other countries. It is much easier for a Chinese citizen to start a Chinese Catholic Church than it is for a European to start a European church or set up missions.” I chuckle. “I may be the only Catholic Buddhist Monk you know.”
“A Buddhist monk and Christian leader in the same clothes; that is astonishing! I understand your missions are all self-supporting, is that correct?”
“If by self-supporting you mean that I support them myself, then yes, Your Excellency. My school and foundation support the churches.”
“Then the Cardinal did us a great service by closing that mission without knowing it.”
“It appears so.”
“Yes, it’s difficult to outdo our Heavenly Father. Here’s a thought worth meditating on. God guides a Jew and a Buddhist Monk to save the Catholic Pope and Protestant President from Muslim Terrorists. These are mysteries of significance and worthy of pondering, no?”
“Worthy indeed. Call us if you need us. Thank you so much for the gifts and blessings.”
Danny’s voice is even more cheerful when she adds, “Yes, you overwhelmed us with Beşevler Escort your generosity and graciousness.”
The Pope’s voice takes on an even humbler quality. “I continue to be in His service because of you. Any gift is inadequate for such a service. Be well, and please, when you receive a dinner invitation from the Vatican, accept. ”
She can’t resist. “Your Holiness, I have a secret to share, but you can’t share it. Want to hear it?”
“Consider yourself in confession. I dare not repeat a word you tell me.”
“Not only did the church have a Jewish pope for five minutes, but it also had a female Jewish Pope.” Her laughter is merry and light.
He cackles. “That is precious. I assumed you were a male pope. What fun. God has such a sense of humor.”
We exchange goodbyes and thank you’s, and end the call feeling blessed by much more than words or gratitude.
“Gino I’m trying to tack a name to the overall impression I have from the conversation, but to tag or label it seems vulgar. I relish it.” Then a look of puzzlement furrows her brow.
“Gino do you think there is any significance in all of us representing different religions?”
I consider the question. “The Pope’s comments were provocative and inspiring. It reminds me that when diverse believers unite they form a wall of protection against militant aggression and bigotry. That’s our only defense against mass genocide and wholesale persecution.”
She squints at me as she processes my statements. “Gino you’re talking about the inhumane events like the Hitler’s Holocaust, the Roman persecution of Christians, and the slaughter of various tribes in Africa, right?”
“Yes, those are examples of the persecution of minority religions, but I’m specifically referring to terrorists and jihadist. Keep this in mind: Militant religions are death merchants that build walls and weapons to keep out or destroy all but themselves. Religions that stand apart are their prey, but religions that unite against them can defeat their hate and blood lust.”
“I can see that, Gino” She ponders my observations “That’s a dynamic thought.”
I lock my mind onto the Pope’s statement. I analyze it because I want all I can gain from it. “Yes, and there’s a powerful lesson here. Religions can welcome, embrace, and unite for the common good without compromising their own faith or relinquishing their culture and identity.”
“I can see that. Religious and cultural identity is crucial for many reasons. But, here is my question: Do you think Islam has it all wrong?”
I smile and dig deep into my Zen heritage. “Danny, everyone should have the right to be wrong, but those who think only their religious beliefs are right can only be wrong. Other than Islam, religions can declare all believers are wrong without the desire to eradicate them from the planet.”
She’s deep in thought. “Right: Like Orthodox Jews, the Hasidim, and evangelical Christians. They consider other religious beliefs wrong, but don’t kill them because of it.” She pauses in reflection. “But Gino terrorists, and jihadist will never change. They never have. The world needs Hawks. After all the damage we’ve done, the terrorist will want to eradicate us first, but not just because we’re the infidel, but because of our actions against them to prevent their atrocities.” She grins. “We’re treating them like they want to treat us and it’s pissed them off might much. They want our asses, heads, and our extinction.”
“You’ve got that right. What is our enemy’s next move?”
“That’s a foregone conclusion, Gino The terrorist’s next move is already underway.”
“They’ve launched a massive manhunt for us complete with huge bounties. They’ve widened the net, Gino, and are combing the world for our identities and whereabouts. The bounties will breach their religious boundaries and lure criminals and hoodlums from their seedy bars and high-class gangsters and organized mobs after us. We’re talking about seventy-five mil for the three of us, and it’ll keep increasing until some greedy fucker finds us.” A concerned Mando, Chief hawk, and Danny conclude in a strained voice; Gino if we’re not diligent, we’ll be dead within days.”
END OF CHAPTER TWO
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