In the Shadow of Cedars (Part Two)

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Can Samir Najwa escape Hezbollah forces before it's too late!

Submitted: April 04, 2011

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Submitted: April 04, 2011



In The Shadow of Cedars (Part Two)

Vantage point: sundown, zero hour, a vast expanse of nothing spread out before him in front of the kill zone––even through binoculars, nothing, not a….wait. There they were. The Israel and Lebanese ground forces were indeed approaching. Somewhere a lonely hoot owl broke the thick silence. Samir looked behind him. Not too far away the Hezbollah had concealed themselves on either side of the pass––the kill zone. Nervously, Samir looked at the walkie-talkie in his hand, the one to which he was to report to Hezbollah General Waif Kobdullah, then back at the advancing army. Just a little closer. Just a little….

They stopped. They saw him. Into Samir’s eye a bead of sweat ran, burning like hell. From his back pocket he pulled free the white handkerchief that was there. Waving it, he came to them. Tersely, he explained the dire nature of their course, and flashed his identification to the apparent squadron leader. “You must move your soldiers out to the shore and take the back route to the stronghold. You have no choice but believe me and we have to move quickly.”

The other man handed back the identification. Portly for a commanding officer, he had three chins, an olive complexion and a crooked mouth. Though there seemed to be the slightest hesitation, when Samir pointed the way, the other pursed his cockeyed lips tightly together, nodded and gave the order. As they then made their way to the shore, Samir Najwa, as inconspicuously as possible, intermixed with his new gang, a tail between his legs that was very much on fire.

In the ensuing darkness, he didn’t look back, only pushed forward finding limited comfort wedging himself within the mob. It was then, from the beach, that he saw it. Out on the ocean, not too far from shore, a yacht. A distinctive yacht. Freneaux! It was his big break. A risky one, but he had to take it. Breaking with the army, he fell out of file, dove clumsily into the waves, and swam for his life into the night and onto the yacht. But it was only after fourteen urgent bangs on the hull of Francaise Femme that the inimitable Glam Job Freneaux finally saw him and fished him out of the water.

Au clair de la lune, mon ami Pierrot, prete moi ta plume….ah, out for a swim, monsieur?”

“Very funny.”

“Here, grab this pole.”

On board now, the wide-eyed thespian turned smuggler was covering his mouth with his hand, evidently to shield a laugh. “What are you wear….”

“Don’t even ask,” Samir shot back. “Going to Cyprus, you old con?”

“Oui. But probably not fast enough, eh?”

“Probably not.”

There were a dozen other natives on board, and Samir noticed that they were native Lebanese of all ages. He turned back to his friend. “You have no idea how glad I am to see you, to see any friendly face,” and the two embraced.  Nervously, Samir gazed over into the dark, lonely sea, “can’t this thing move any faster?” he complained, Freneaux still standing beside him, humming some obscure French melody into the night.

“Gently down the stream we go,” the Frenchman, now dressed in seafaring garb, sang. “Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,” and with each word, he rubbed his fingers together depicting the money symbol.

Samir sighed. “Life is but a nightmare”, he finished, deliberately shivering, standing there on the cold portside of the ever gaudily bejeweled Francaise Femme.

“Come, lets get in out of the cold,” Freneaux said. “Zee troubled night has eyes.”

The Frenchman directed Samir to his own private cabin, offering him a robe, blanket and privacy. Though the cot was not comfortable, and though there were strange inexplicable sounds outside in the night, Samir fell almost instantly to sleep. He did not wake until the yacht had docked at Larnaca Marina at Cyprus early the next morning.

“Rise and shine you wild Arab stallion on the run,” the Frenchman bellowed. “Cargo is transported. And, uh….” He was looking at Samir’s hanging pants, “any Euros I might be interested in in those sopping Hezbollah britches of yours?”

Samir didn’t have to answer. The unabashed Frenchman went through the pockets of the pants hanging up to dry, found the wallet, and helped himself to the available Euros within. He looked at his friend with an exaggeratedly sad expression.

“Yeah, yeah. I’ll pay you the rest if we both get out of this mess alive.”

Samir found the time to purchase some new casual vacation clothes before enjoying lunch with Freneaux and a few of his cronies in an open-air Cyprus café that overlooked the ocean. The small group found themselves passing an Argili, an Arabic ceremonial smoking water/tobacco pipe that featured hoses leading to a filtration chamber. From it, each took big, gurgling drags, slapped the back of the hand of the person next in line, as custom had it, and passed the pipe along. The food, when it arrived, tasted superb, almost holy to the famished gun shop owner. They talked and laughed, but when Samir looked down to wipe his mouth with the napkin, savoring the salty, soft breeze, he heard a click that put a sudden damper on the jolliness. Two unwelcome gunmen saw to that. He looked up. To the side of Freneaux’s face on the opposite side of the table a revolver was pointed, its possessor a stranger to Samir. Even more immediate, and his eyes had to cross to see him, was the icy-cold familiarity of his own present captor. Waif Kobdullah had caught up with him. Even worse somehow, in his hand, the rude welcoming of a familiar friend, his very own 1973 government issue sleeve gun was now pointed against him.

“Look familiar?” the scoundrel said behind clenched teeth. “Found it on the beach. You must have lost it before your little swim to the Frenchman’s yacht.” He clicked his tongue four times. “Thought you could double cross us and actually live? but you know what, I’m not going to kill you just yet. I find myself so fond of this little….toy, (he examined the gun,) that perhaps you could lead us to more, Mr. Najwa. We can always use a stockpile. I’ve learned you’re a gun shop owner,” he continued in the monotone whisper. “Say we….I don’t know, take what we want and then grenade the shop before your very eyes? sound fun?”

“And if I refuse?”

The other laughed, and applied more pressure to Samir’s head with his own gun. “Now must I really answer that?”

Kobdullah nodded to the other gunman, who in turn ordered Freneaux to ready the yacht. It seemed the Cyprus vacation had come to an end.


The ensuing voyage back to the mainland was an awkward, silent, hold-up starefest until: “I need to use the restroom,” the plea was Samir’s as he sat there, his own gun to his head. “Can I just use the damn restroom.”

Irritated, Kobdullah finally allowed it, casually waving the pistol. Samir had had the wherewithal to purchase a cell phone during his shopping jaunt back in Cyprus, and now in the restroom, from his pocket he fished it out. From the farthest corner from the door, he nervously made the call.


“Honey, this is Daddy,” he whispered. “I’m safe….I’m fine. I can’t talk now, just don’t go to the store. See if you can….”but he had to stop at that and thrust the cell phone back into his pocket because Kobdullah had just kicked the door open. “Time’s up.”


“We have no further need for this one,” the Hezbollah general decided about Freneaux after Frencaise Femme was ported. They were standing along the Lebanese coastline when the comment was made. He looked again at Samir’s hand gun. “Nor this. We’re men here. What kind of soldier uses such a plaything seriously. One with a tiny dick, eh,” and he skipped it along the water, replacing it with an AK 47 that was tucked in the trunk of a VBL reconnaissance vehicle that was conveniently parked next to them ready for use.

“Preparation, yes?” he showed his cell phone. “Isn’t modern communication wonderful?”

All around them, Israeli missile strikes continued to bombard the countryside, demolishing Hezbollah sites but at the same time striking innocent victims in the way. All hell had broken loose in general, and in Samir’s little party in particular. He just wished Israel could concentrate their shells at the source of his troubles.

“So,” the general turned to Freneaux. “I could kill you now, but, as you know I am a reasonable man, so, you have a ten second head start.”

Like an Olympiad sprinter, Samir’s friend darted off, a terrified deer in a headlight––but soon enough, those lights were out. The Frenchman fell to the report of the gun not 30 yards away.

“You son of a bitch!” Samir buckled loose from the goon that was holding him, grabbing

Kobdullah’s arm.

“Now, now, now, that’s no way to become a general, Colonel Muhammed. “You know, I think we’ve reached the point in our friendship for you to show me your livelihood. I’m most anxious to see it. Barrouff,” he looked at his assistant ape, “take the wheel.”

Pushed into the VBL light armored vehicle, Freneaux’s former captor driving, and the lunatic Kobdullah pointing the guns, they made their way by Samir’s directions to his little gun store in the mountains of Tripoli.

The Good Shot was right were he left it, a benign and insignificant mark, presumably safe in the toehold of the mountains, just beyond the valley of destruction they had just left. The VBL had stopped.

“Time to clean house, boss?” Barrouff was digging out a gigantic duffle bag from the back seat. “Fill it up with fancy guns.”

“Yes, moron. Have at it.”

And off he went, the vermin virus to his livelihood, the splitting wedge to all he’d worked for, and there was not a thing he could do about it. He felt the machine gun pressed tighter against his mid-rib as he sat helplessly in the French reconnaissance vehicle. There was a ten minute sweat soaked wait, and then from within the store:


Samir Najwa bowed his head. Sarat. Poor Sarat.

Meantime, Waif Kobdullah seemed to shuffle his position in the vehicle letting out a laugh. “Now watch this!” and when Samir turned, he saw the monster shouldering a rocket launcher. Before he could react, the shot was off. The life-shattering explosion that came next was not something Samir allowed himself to witness. When he opened his eyes again shortly after, in fact, his head was turned the other direction. The Good Shot was history.

“Bastard! Make you feel pretty powerful?” Samir said, brushing off waves of rage. “So much for your guns.”

“You think I care about those useless collectors’ items? or that stooge hand with me? even less. That takes care of business,” and Samir could hear the fire crackling from his building, “now lets talk family.”

And that was the breaking point for Samir Najwa. With impulsive rage, he turned grabbing the machine gun the tyrant now carried with one hand, and his face with the other. “Kill me now, asshole, kill me now. You’ll never get that information. Take you chicken-shit shot!”

Evidently surprised at the move, Kobdullah was momentarily speechless, until finally Samir let go. “Lets get out of the car,” he said softly. They did. “I guess that leaves you the same option as your dead French friend, hero.”

At first Samir was in a cloud, staring at his enemy with blind anger. But it was Kobdullah that spoke in a hoarse whisper: “You’ve got ten seconds….


Samir started to run. Suddenly, he heard the roar of an incoming jet and a loud thud. He fell to the ground, looked back. A convenient and well-placed small missile had jarred the machine gun from the enemy’s hand, who was now crawling to retrieve it. The fighter jet was still circling. What happened next, Samir could hardly believe. Kobdullah’s hand had found the weapon in the sand, but the sky had begun to fall upon it. One white, round object, and then another, and another, until it was raining….soccer balls! The flurry had all but covered the gun, and Samir, figuring the count was still on, got up to continue running just after his eyes met Kobdullah’s, who was reaching for an alternative concealed weapon. Shit!


Samir fell to the ground, exhausted, but apparently unwounded. When he looked up, he saw smoke still coming out of the barrel of a familiar revolver. Loop Barrows was still pointing it.

“Just practicing.”

“Good shot, my friend, good shot.” For in the distance, they both saw that Waif Kobdullah was dead.

Samir Najwa picked himself up and dusted himself off. Gathering the courage, along with his American friend, he looked on at the remains of The Good Shot. “Sarat was a good man. A noble worker,” was all he said. Above, they saw an old cargo fighter, the hatch from a noticeably large compartment open and swinging back and forth from the belly of the plane. From the cockpit, circling like a protective hawk, his loving daughter waved with a wink.

Two days later, at the Ehden house, Asmahan Najwa had outdone herself with one of the finest home-cooked meals her husband could remember.

“Welcome home, honey.” And to his delight, a great pan of Kibbeh, the traditional ground sirloin with cracked wheat and herbs was accompanied with a smorgasbord of other delights. They had settled in to enjoy it when:

Knock, knock, knock.

“Someone’s at the door.”

Samir answered it, and from the other room there was a roar of exaltation. “Sarat! You’re not dead! I can’t believe it! Come on in, Join us! Are you really Sarat?”

He was, and the answer to his survival was in no short supply.

“….so, yeah, I shot the guy,” the clerk explained at the dinner table, “then, sensing danger, I ran like an antelope to the basement!”

Samir couldn’t help but smile. The secret was out. “I guess my little provision paid off. I never thought I’d need it.”

“So the guy started filling up this bag with your best guns, right,” Sarat continued. “Hiding behind the counter, I popped up and pointed your World War II Colt at him, and said, ‘let me demonstrate this one for you, and see if you like it. Well, I sure did. And he sure got it!”

“But so did the place!” retorted Samir.

“You’ve still got all that bad ass artillery in the downstairs, boss. Remember? Here’s my idea: Lets reopen and call it: The Good Shot Underground!

“The Good Shot Underground,” Samir was mulling the thought over. “Has a nice ring to it.”

The little clan ate quietly, the news from the TV audible in the adjoining room.

“What does everybody think about this war?” Asmahan wanted to know, her Arabic delicate and concerned.

Samir grumbled. “I think….I hope the U.S. backed UN Resolution 1701 ceasefire will eventually be followed. We just gotta have faith in the UNIFIL,” his reference being to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon.

He shifted his glance to Loop. “So what happened to your hand?” the American was missing his left one, and in its stead was a well wrapped dressing.

“In our search for you in Beirut, one of the guerillas tried to snatch your daughter from us. I said ‘hands off.’ The bastard obliged. But it’s okay, I’m lucky to be alive, really. I guess I got nine of ‘em. And….” He turned to Araya. “You want to tell him, Flygirl?”

She broke into a bubbly smile. “Okay, habibi. We’re going to get married, Daddy! We haven’t got all the details worked out yet, but Loop has agreed to stay until the wedding, and then…who knows?”

He was at first stunned. There was an awkward silence and then: “Well, sugar, you could do worse. You could certainly do worse.” He turned then to Loop. “Congratulations, Big Shot….and thanks.

“By the way,” Samir continued, “What are you gonna write for your article?”

Loop thought for a second. “Well, you wouldn’t believe what we went through trying to find you. I was going to call it Hands off to Loop Barrows in Search of MIA ,but….I think I’ll just call it: How I Spent my Summer Vacation by Loop Barrows. Together they laughed, and it was a language they all could understand.

© Copyright 2019 CP Dawson. All rights reserved.

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