Chapter 14 - April 4, 2003 PM - Episode 7Listen to podcast
A couple of weeks ago — it seems like a million years — Ahmed got word that Yasir was found dead in a mosque in Jenin. Not at all clear who killed him, but very clear that he is dead. This sounds like good news but Ahmed doesn’t want to tell Larry until he is sure that Yasir doesn’t have any accomplices who might plan on carrying on the attack. Apparently the guy’s a known loner, so there’s hope. Also there had been absolutely no leaks about where he’s hiding, which also might mean he’s working alone. No new threats come. There are no answers to the negotiation emails. Soon the email addresses that Yasir has given start to bounce mail. It looks like there is nobody following up. They even put word out on the street in Jenin that former friends of Yasir could be richly rewarded. But not a peep.
On March 31 Ahmed gets a message through his uncle that means to him it’s time to talk to Larry. He is eager to do this himself after all everybody’s been through. He also wants to get paid for the project the rest of the Jenin Group has now finished, but the main reason for the visit is to tell Larry that the threat is over, they can all go back to normal life.
“How did Ahmed say Larry reacted?” asks Mark.
“He didn’t say,” says Rachel. “He hasn’t said. In fact, he isn’t talking to me.”
“Why’s that?” asks Mark.
“Look,” says Rachel. “I told you a lot of stuff that’s very personal, very hard to tell, because you said it would help with your report. Fine, I did that. And I told Louise. I’m glad I did that, I think. But now I don’t see any reason why I should go into my personal life with Ahmed. I don’t. That’s not going to help your report. Can’t you tell from the video how the meeting went? Louise says the meeting is on the video, that it goes back six hours or something before Larry … before he died.”
“I’m going to tell you something about the video,” says Mark. “I’m going to tell you because I believe you really want to help and wouldn’t deliberately put Louise or anyone else in danger. I’m going to tell you, but then I’m going to expect your cooperation.”
“Or what?” Rachel looks Mark in the eye.
“I think you’ll want to cooperate,” says Mark. “So, here’s the scoop on the video. First of all, it’s a video, just that, no audio for some reason. So we don’t know exactly what Ahmed said to the deceased or the deceased said to Ahmed. We do see them meeting. We see Ahmed come into the office and we see the deceased is surprised to see him, surprised that he can get in without setting off the alarm. But he doesn’t look like he’s afraid of him; that’s good. It even looks like Ahmed gave him a present.
“They both sit down. They don’t smile; they don’t shake hands. Ahmed has his head down for a while, we can only see the back of his head in the video by the way, not his face. But we can see the deceased’s face. He is mainly listening. He does not look like he’s getting good news. He only talks a little, like he’s asking questions. We think Ahmed is talking most of the time but, like I said, we can’t see his mouth. We can sometimes see his hands are moving in front of him. His head is bobbing; so we’re pretty sure he did most of the talking. And he did it slumped over. Again not like good news. But we don’t know what he said.
“Then Larry gets up. We see that in the video. He gets up and he’s angry. He’s yelling, but we don’t know what except at least one ‘fuck you’. Ahmed gets up, turns around, and leaves the room. We see his face. It has no expression.”
“That doesn’t mean anything,” Rachel says. “He NEVER has an expression.”
“Ms. Roth,” says Mark. “I believe you don’t know what happened at that meeting. I believe you thought you were telling me the truth when you said Ahmed went downtown to give the deceased good news. But that’s not what it looked like in the video. I haven’t told that to Ms. Lazard yet, but I’ve got a big decision to make — and you can help — about whether she needs police protection. I’m also going to have to talk to Ahmed Qali again. There’s a lot he didn’t tell me. I’m hoping for everybody’s sake that he’ll be more forthcoming now. But it’d be a big help if you tell me how you can live with someone and not be talking to him.”
“I have to think,” says Rachel. “I’m not going to be rushed.” She is quiet for over a minute.
“Okay,” says Rachel at last. “I’m disappointed that Ahmed didn’t tell me the truth, very disappointed. In fact, I feel used. I don’t know what he told you when you interviewed him. I take it he didn’t say anything about the problem with Yasir?” She waits, but Mark doesn’t answer the implied question.
“Anyway, I’ve told you about that. And I’ll tell you about our relationship. I’m not sure what he told you about that either but, if I had to guess, I’d say not much.
“We have been lovers for years. That’s no secret; and we’ve been living together quite a while. Stop me if this is too much or too little detail, please.” She is expressionless, as is Mark. “Like every relationship, ours had its ups and downs. My being Jewish and him being Muslim made things interesting in both a good and a bad sense. I’m ethnically Jewish, anyway — neither of us is very religious. It kept us both away from our parents, but that was probably a good thing. The cultural differences were tougher. I’m naturally expressive, demonstrative; he’s … well, you’ve met him; you know … he’s a cold fish. That was hard on me; I’m sure my sloppy emotions were hard on him. We’re both ambitious; we both work hard; we both understand people who are ambitious and work hard so that was a good thing.
“Despite the chauvinism built into him by his upbringing, I always felt that he gave my career and my accomplishments the same respect he would have had I been a man. I could’ve used more affection, but I certainly got respect. And I knew that he really did care for me. I knew that living with me put a huge strain on family relationships that were very important to him, but that he had chosen me. So, even if he couldn’t say it in so many words, I was pretty sure he loved me.
“We always kept our business lives very separate from our personal life together. Obviously, he couldn’t take me to dinner with his clients. I guess I could’ve involved him more in my business life but I didn’t. Almost the only exception was our relationship with the Lazards. Frankly, I set that up because I hoped that, if Ahmed had some clients who weren’t Arabs, we could have a more normal life. Larry ended up being a customer of both my bank and Ahmed’s Jenin Group; that’s just what I hoped would happen. And Ahmed and I socialized with Larry and Louise every once in a while.
“So, as I told you, when I heard about this problem with Yasir, I was crushed. This was more than just a client problem for both of us, it hit at one of the few ways that we could have a ’normal’ life together — I realize I’m making a Western value judgment when I say ‘normal’ but there you are. It was an important part of our relationship. And I felt really bad for Larry. First he almost lost the company to antihack — and I wasn’t able to be any help to him in that as his banker. In fact, I think he sort of blamed me for what a bad position hackoff was in as a target of a hostile. But he got through that thing with antihack because they had the bad luck to get hacked themselves, and he thinks he’s in the clear, and then there’s this thing with Yasir not only threatening the business, but saying he’s going to kill Larry. I felt badly about that. Especially because if it weren’t for Ahmed and me, Larry wouldn’t have this problem. And then I felt bad for Ahmed because if it weren’t for me he wouldn’t have this problem. Us Jewish girls are good at guilt.
“So, like I told you, I got the idea to help Larry buy time to protect the company by pretending that he and I were having an affair. I just meant to help and it did give him cover. I knew Ahmed wouldn’t like the idea but we had to do something. But what happened is that Ahmed started treating me like I really was having an affair with Larry. He withdrew even more into himself. He moved into a separate bedroom and said that we should split at the end of our lease. I kept hoping he’d get over it, but it just got worse and worse.
“I thought that when he got the good news about Yasir being dead… I guess that’s not a very nice way to put it, but it did certainly seem like good news at the time… I thought after that we could get our relationship back together. He did tell me he was going downtown to tell Larry about Yasir’s death. That was more talking than we’d done in weeks. But, when he comes back from seeing Larry, it was back to the silent treatment. I was awake when he came home… I don’t know why I’m giving you all this detail but might as well get it out. When he came home, I hoped he’d knock on my door, talk to me — but nothing. I called to him through the door, but no answer. It’s even possible he didn’t hear me. I didn’t want to call out. I wanted him to come back to me.”
She wipes away precisely one tear.
“He sent me an email yesterday,” she said. “He says he’s leaving the apartment, but that he’ll continue to pay his share for the duration of the lease. No reason. No emotion, of course. And, it’s … it’s hard. And it’s very hard that Larry is dead. I’m lucky to have a career, I guess.” She draws herself up, pats her hair, which isn’t out of place. “There isn’t any point in feeling sorry for myself. There, have I told you what you need to know?”
“Yes,” says Mark. “I think you have. You cleared up why the two of you aren’t talking. Of course, I have no way of knowing what you’re not telling me, if anything. I may have to speak to you again after I talk with Ahmed.”
“Well, tell me what he says,” she says. “He certainly isn’t going to tell me.”
Mark doesn’t tell her what Louise told him.
“The funny thing is, Mark,” Louise said, “she did fuck Larry. I believe her that the affair was a fake — even if she didn’t want it to be a fake. But I can always tell a woman who’s fucked Larry.”
As Mark leaves the restaurant, his mobile phone beeps that it has a text message:
917 555 3098
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