Actually they were more receptive to my plan than I had expected. Well, the group was. The hostages thought it was a cop out.
“You can’t give up,” said Rabbi Arikman. “Though, you should probably change your demands a bit. I can help you write new ones if you want.”
“I think it’s a great idea,” Bobby said.
“Really?” I was not used to my mother’s support. I waited for the “but.”
“Yes, it would have been better if you thought about this before the whole takeover, but at least you’ve come to your senses.” I can always count on my mom for a ‘but.’
We had Leon on the gurney. He already looked better. He was conscious, but fortunately not conscious enough to realize that I was going to have to be the one to stay behind.
“I can’t believe you’re giving up,” said Arikman.
“Well, you can stay and become one of the terrorists,” I said. “They don’t know who’s who. That’s the point.”
“Well, um, no, I can’t really.” Arikman demurred. “I’d like to, really, but I have all these responsibilities and things. You know how it is. Busy, busy, busy. I’m leading a delegation to Israel next week to accuse some settlers of a whole list of horrendous crimes.”
“What did they do?”
“We haven’t decided yet,” he said. “But, well, I would stay, you understand, otherwise.” He realized everyone had stopped listening to him and went over to the corner to devise a list of horrendous crimes that the settlers had committed. The rest of us got organized by the door.
Bobby gave me a hug. “I’m proud of you,” she said. She would push the gurney. She’d also tell Moretti that I’d be out shortly to discuss the next step in the deal. I just hoped she didn’t tell him too much. Though, my biggest fear was that Leon would recover enough to start talking to Moretti. I had visions of him pulling out my baby pictures.
Alisa Cooper had the other side of the gurney. She gave me a hug too. We both blushed. “Thanks, America,” she said. If they put you in jail, or something, I’ll come visit you.”
“Will you wait for me?” I asked.
“Get real,” she said. “You want me to wait for what, like a whole month or something. That’s kind of crazy isn’t it?”
Well, I was crushed. She thought a month was too long to wait. And, I didn’t have the heart to tell her that it would probably be a lot more than a month. I hadn’t even really expected her to wait a week, but still, she could have said she would, just to make me feel better. Anyway, it actually felt like she had been hiding a huge knife behind her back or something, and only now did I get a glimpse of it. I was pretty devastated. But, of course, I didn’t tell her that. I agreed it would be crazy to wait. She smiled like I had just given her permission to date the football team and went out the door.
The rabbi leaned over and whispered in my ear. “Don’t worry, Nebech. I got a nice Jewish girl for you. She’ll kick some crazy sense into that noggin of yours.”
As usual, I was confused. I know this might sound fickle. I mean, only five minutes ago I was willing to spend the rest of my life with Alisa Cooper, but I got to tell you, I got a little excited at the rabbi’s suggestion. I couldn’t wait to meet this girl. That said, I didn’t understand why the rabbi was suddenly being nice to me.
I guess it was strange for him to. He felt he needed to explain. “That was a nice thing you did,” the rabbi said. “The first thing that showed any promise. Listen, the real reason your mother called me is because I also do a little legal work on the side. I’m also a lawyer. So, now, I’m going to help you, okay. Come with me.”
We went to the hotel gift shop. The rabbi took three plastic guns from the shelf, looked at me and put one back. “I think, maybe, you might be a little dangerous, even with a plastic gun,” he said. He calculated their cost, took out some money, wrote a note and placed it in the register. We went back into the lobby where he handed one of the toy guns to Mustafa, and the other one to Steve.
“Okay, here’s what we do,” the rabbi said. “Give me the real guns.”
We brought him the AK47s. He looked at them a moment. Then he gave us another one of those looks of his. He really had a talent for looks, if you know what I mean. I wondered if he practiced them in the mirror. He and my mother must have inherited them together. “These guns aren’t loaded,” he said. “There’s no ammunition.”
“It’s on order,” said Mustafa.
“Ah, that’s good,” said the rabbi. “You’re a genius. Remind me to call you if I ever need any advice on how to commit suicide.”
“Well, we didn’t really want to hurt anybody, anyway,” I said.
The rabbi held his fingers to his lips. “Shh,” he said. “I was just starting to change my opinion of you. Don’t remind me what a leiftmenschen you are.”
For once I was able to control myself. I wanted to ask. You know I did, but I managed to restrain myself this time. I think that’s a major accomplishment, if you know what I mean. But, I couldn’t tell anyone about it. I might never find out if there’s also a right munchkin, and what these little people have to do with the whole Palestinian cause. ”We represent the refugee club, the refugee club …" Okay, maybe not. I suppose I could look it up on Wikipedia later. Do prisons have WiFi?
The rabbi passed the guns off to one of the hostages. “Here, go make yourself useful. Hide these guns somewhere in the hotel, like on the fifth floor or in the basement, or something. It doesn’t matter.”
“But, what if someone finds them?”
“Don’t worry. They’re made in China. They’ll probably disintegrate in a week or two.”
“Okay, I need everyone to listen.” The rabbi motioned everyone to sit down, and everyone listened, even Arikman, though he did so grudgingly. The rabbi continued. “Now, I don’t care if you think these boys did something heroic or stupid.” He looked directly at me when he said the last part. “The fact is, they were a little foolish, more than a little, but they didn’t mean any harm, right?”
Sylvia shouted out. “It was fun actually. Like an adventure.”
“Right.” The rabbi tried not to roll his eyes, but it took effort, you could tell. Anyway,” he said, “we don’t want these boys to get into too much trouble, so I’m going to ask you to ask the cops not to press charges.” They still will of course, that’s what cops do. But without any complaints, without any real victims, with any luck the most these boys will be charged with is the equivalent of a really bad prank phone call. Okay?”
The rabbi then looked at me. “Of course, I’m sure they’ll stick you with the bill for all this. That circus out there doesn’t come cheap, you know. You’ll pay through the nose. Retail, too.”
Everyone except Arikman nodded. He stood up, and started to say something, but the rabbi gave him a look that could freeze water in the middle of July. Arikman muttered something about “the Cause” and stuff, but I think he knew that if he were to press the point, the rabbi would have given him the gun and told him to be the terrorist for the rest of the afternoon. I don’t think Arikman was that serious about the “Cause,” if you know what I mean. I don’t know, maybe I’m not being fair. I certainly didn’t want to go to jail so that Palestinians could use the bathroom at McDonald’s. Anyway, Arikman already mentioned he had his provocation tour coming up next week to prepare for. So, after a moment, he just sat back down.
So that was that. Now, all I had to do was convince Moretti not to shoot us when we came out.