Chapter 15 - April 5-7, 2003 - Episode 1Listen to podcast
“Zoop?” the old lady asks Dom.
She is the woman Dom rolled under a truck as the World Trade Center tower collapsed. At the time, he left without telling her his name. A year later she saw him on All About Hackers — a cable TV late-night local talk show — as she was channel-surfing. She recognized him immediately; saw his name at the bottom of the screen; and found him on www.411.com. When she invited him to dinner, he came. Dom and the old lady have become fast friends. She liked techie stuff and was already using the Internet to communicate with her children and grandchildren. Dom introduced her to Vonage VoIP services so that she could talk as long as she wanted on the Internet without running up big bills. She fed him things he liked.
After Dom intercepted the text message to Mark Cohen’s cell phone ordering his arrest, he went to the old lady’s apartment in Brooklyn with his computer, a toothbrush and Listerine he bought on the way, chocolate for her, and no changes of clothes. The only questions she asked him were whether he had a girlfriend yet and what he wanted to eat. After dinner, he immediately went to work on his computer. He didn’t use the old lady’s broadband connection, but switched between several local WiFi nets he hacked into: Verizon WiFi (from a nearby ex-payphone location) and Verizon 1xEVDO.
By 11:00 PM, he has recaptured the packets from Donna’s spy camera, and starts watching them from the time he remembers entering Larry’s office. He starts a few minutes too soon, so the first thing he sees is Donna’s face as she leaves the office.
Watching her, he sighs.
That’s when the old lady asks, “Zoop?”
“What?” asks Dom, disoriented.
“Zoop,” she says. “Do you vant some zoop? Is good for you. You need it.”
“Yes,” says Dom. “Yes, I do. I’m upset.”
“Ich weiss,” she says. “I know. Somebody has disappointed you. Was it the beautiful lady I saw on your computer? She is beautiful but I do not tink she is a good person. I do not tink she is Jewish, either. Is it she vhat … that disappointed you?”
“Yes,” says Dom. “I feel like I was kicked in the stomach.”
“That’s vhy you need zoop,” says the old lady. “Is for your stomach. And for your soul. Did you luf her?”
“No,” says Dom, now breathing normally and smiling fondly at the old lady. “No, Alte, I didn’t love her. It’s not what you think. I thought she was my friend; that’s what hurts me. She is trying to make trouble for me and I don’t know why. She has betrayed me.”
“That is vorse,” says the old lady. “It is vorst of all to be betrayed by a friend. That’s why we could not belief it when our neighbors turned us over to the Nazis. They vere our friends, these neighbors, and they turned us over and we could not belief it. Drink your zoop.”
“Alte, I must work. I can’t tell you why. It is better for you not to know why. But I have to work all night. May I work here?”
“You are always velcome here,” says Alte. “Whatever you need to do it is okay, as you say. You vill vork and I must sleep because I am an alte lady and I vill talk too much to you if I stay avake. And after the night it vill be morning and ve vill have breakfast, yes?”
“Yes, Alte. We vill … will have breakfast. Thank you. Thank you for being my friend.”
“Gute nacht, liebchen.”
“Good night, Alte.”
Dom watches himself enter Larry’s office in the jerky video. “Shit,” he says as he watches himself shake the mushroom jar.
After much fast forwarding, Dom sees Ahmed enter Larry’s office. The two men sit down and talk for a while. Ahmed hands Larry a Lucite pyramid. Larry looks crestfallen when he sees it. He puts it on the shelf near the mushrooms.
Dom rewinds to the pyramid and zooms in on it. He stops as if lost in thought. He puts his head down next to the computer and folds his hands over the nape of his neck. After some time, Dom picks his head up, changes broadband connections, and continues watching the video.
Larry leaves the room. While Larry’s gone, Ahmed picks up Larry’s gun from his desk and examines it. Before Larry returns, Ahmed puts the gun back. The two men sit down again, Larry facing the camera, Ahmed with his back to it. Ahmed and Larry argue and Ahmed leaves. It is a few minutes before Larry can calm himself enough to sit down. He also grimaces occasionally and rubs his stomach. He appears to be belching. Larry picks up the Lucite pyramid, then slams it back down on the shelf. He sits down and works for a while on his desk computer. He interrupts himself with frequent breaks during which he leaves the room.
“The mushrooms?” Dom asks himself out loud. “Shouldn’t have been that soon, but maybe. Or something that bastard Ahmed told him?”
Now Donna enters the video and the office. She and Larry sit kitty-corner from each other at the coffee table. The camera swings to their conversation. At first they seem amiable. Donna touches Larry’s knee; he laughs at something she says. Then he shows her the Lucite pyramid. Clearly it upsets him. She pats his shoulder; it looks as if she is reassuring him. But now they are arguing. Their heads are back like two intertwined snakes hissing at each other. Now they are friendly, again. Donna leans forward and smiles at Larry. He smiles back weakly.
Donna picks up the gun from the table and puts it to her head. Larry takes it from her hand as she puts it on the table, gestures with it for a while, then puts it to his own head.
Donna in the video flinches just milliseconds before Dom watching the screen. The left side of Larry’s head explodes. Dom rewinds and watches again. Then he runs to the bathroom and throws up.
Rachel is shown into Mark’s office. Despite her makeup being fresh, it is clear that she has been crying. She is in slacks and a sweater, far more casual than when she met Mark in the fern bar the previous afternoon.
She slumps in her seat. Silently, she hands Mark a handwritten note.
My Dearest Rachel:
It is time for me to leave. It is not likely that we will ever see each other again.
The problem we had thought was over has not ended. I have caused a situation for which I must take responsibility. I am afraid that I will not be able to succeed, but I hope that you know me well enough to understand why I must try. For the last four days I have thought of my alternatives and tried to fix what is broken from here. It cannot be done.
I asked you to tell the policeman as much of the truth as you know, and I hope you have done so. There is no reason for you to be further at risk than my presence in your life has already put you. Now that he knows what you know, he will have to try to prevent me from taking further action myself. I cannot let myself be restrained. I must do what needs doing, Allah willing.
I have never told you that I love you. My culture did not allow me to say that. I am no longer willing to be a captive of that culture. I cannot leave you without telling you that I do love you in a very Western sense. If I were not a danger to you, if I did not have to do that which I must do, I would ask you to be my wife.
It is not to be. You must think of me as dead. You must resume the life you should have.
Please show this letter to the Jewish policeman Mr. Mark Cohen. Bring it to him yourself and show it to him. I believe that he is a good person despite his job and he can arrange protection for you.
I Love You.
“I understand why you’re upset,” says Mark. “This must be very hard for you.”
“No shit,” says Rachel.
“I have to ask you this: Do you know where Ahmed is?”
“I’m sure he’s on his way to Jenin. Can you stop him? Can you save him?”
“I’m already trying. There’s no record of him buying a ticket for international travel recently. But he’s very intelligent. I don’t want to be negative, but I don’t think he would have told you to bring me the note if he thought there was any way I could stop him. I think he knows what he’s doing, and I have to assume he’s already left the country under a fictitious name. I’ll request assistance in Tel Aviv. If he goes through there, we may be able to restrain him. I just hope he knows what he’s doing when he gets to Jenin, if that’s where he’s going. He’s absolutely right that you need protection.”
Rachel argues that she can just leave town for a while. She uses Mark’s computer to go online and make plans for a two week ski vacation in Utah using an alias that Mark has provided.
Mark has her picture taken for an ID with the alias to use on her flight and, after receiving proper receipts, also gives her a credit card with the new name. He says he will contact her about transferring money inconspicuously from her bank account to cover the credit card.
She says that Barcourt won’t like it when she says she’s going to be gone for a while, but fuck them — they owe her.
Mark provides an inconspicuous escort back to her apartment and arranges watchers through the night before she leaves.