There was a knock on the hotel room door, and everyone jumped. It wasn’t a really loud knock or anything. But, you know how it is when everyone is focused on one thing, and then something else happens, kind of unexpected. Everyone’s attention suddenly gets shocked out of its orbit. For me it was no big deal. I’m used to it. Let’s face it, grass growing on the lawn could distract me. I have this A.D.D., thing, remember? But, anyway, when that knock came, even the other people in the room looked at the door as if it might explode or something. It didn’t. Of course, Leon became hysterical anyway. “Oh my God,” he shrieked. “Who could that be?”
No one seemed to pay much attention to his panic attack. Even the rabbi didn’t seem to notice too much, which was kind of surprising to me. I mean, Bobby and I were used to it, having lived with him all these years, but most strangers seem to take his drama seriously, at least at first. I know you’re probably wondering who this rabbi was and what he was doing there in the hotel room with Leon, Bobby and me. I mean, that is, aside from filling out a great opening for the joke. I wish I could have told you. The truth is I had no idea myself at that point.
Actually, the truth is, there were actually a lot of rabbis in the hotel. We, that is the terrorists and I, had taken over this whole convention of rabbis as a protest against all the inhumane and horrible things that were going on over in Palestine. Of course, no one did any research as to what kind of rabbinical conference it was, which was a bit of a problem because this particular convention was a conference of rabbis who were kind of against Israel.
It took us all a bit by surprise, actually. We never expected a bunch of rabbis to be against themselves. I mean, the rabbi that was trapped in the room with me told me that Zionism – you know that idea that Israel belongs to the Jew - was a part of Judaism from the time of the Bible. Which kind of made sense to me. Not that I know anything about it, really. But, they were so entrenched; they had to have been doing all their inhumane type things for a long time, right?
By the way, just so you know, it was Mustafa’s idea - the takeover of the hotel, not that the rabbi should be stuck in that particular hotel room with me. So anyway, it was Mustafa, our brilliant leader that saw an ad in the paper about the convention. The rabbi in the room with me had nothing to do with the convention, or the takeover for that matter. Well, that is except that he was there now, so I guess he was one of the hostages. He certainly wasn’t one of the terrorists. Though, if you ask me, he didn’t seem to act much like a hostage. Then again, I was having a hard time in my role as a terrorist, so I guess we were even. He actually came with my parents. They were outsiders too. I mean, they were insiders, now, I guess. Because they were inside the hotel, but they weren’t part of the plan or anything. I mean you’re not really allowed to take your parents hostage, are you? Isn’t that part of the Geneva Convention, or something?
Does anybody really understand that thing anyway? I mean, whose idea was that? What bunch of people sat down and tried to figure out rules for killing each other? I mean, wouldn’t it have been a better idea to work out a bunch of rules for getting along, or at least tolerating each other? And, it’s really kind of a silly idea, too, if you think about it. Like there’ll be some referee walking around the battlefield throwing little yellow flags every time someone violates a rule? “No, sorry France, you’ve violated rule 16a. You’ll have to withdraw your troops from that city you just conquered, give the other side a chance to regroup, and then try and take it again. This time, according to the rules, okay. Personal Foul, fifteen ballistic missiles!” I don’t really remember reading anything like that happening in the history books. It seems that the only people that are ever accused of violating the Geneva Convention are the ones that lost the war. Kind of funny the way history works, isn’t it? Maybe the History Channel should do a special about it or something.
Anyway, I made the mistake of calling Bobby before we actually took over the hotel. To tell you the truth, I was kind of nervous about the whole thing. It was a first for me. Not being nervous - I’m used to that - but, the actual going out and doing something. As I might have mentioned, I’m not a big risk taking guy. You might consider this to be a pretty big exception. I thought I might die or something, and wanted to give a final farewell to my loved ones. Now that I think about it, I may have inherited some of my father’s tendency towards drama.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I told her we were taking over a hotel or anything. I’m not that big of a loser. I didn’t call her up and say, “Hey, Bobby, guess what I’m doing this afternoon.” But, you know how mothers are. Or is it fathers? I don’t really have a good point of reference on this one, to tell you the truth. Anyway, parents always seem to be able to figure out what’s going on, even when you think you’re hiding it pretty well. Growing up, I was convinced my mother worked for the CIA or something.
I remember one winter. I think I was in second or third grade. I came home and Bobby asked me why I didn’t wear my coat during recess. How did she know about that? It spooked me out, to tell you the truth. I mean, how could she have possibly known? The next few days I was always on the lookout for hidden cameras in the trees and around the playground. You know like the stuff you see on television, where the camera cuts to some hidden camera in the knot of a tree that the hero didn’t know about as he was infiltrating the enemy base. I figured my mom probably contracted out to some secret spy organization or something to keep an eye on me at school. As I’m sure you probably figured out, I never ever took my coat off again during recess for the rest of my elementary school career - even in the summer.
Anyway, as I was saying, there was this knock on the door. We all stared at the door. And then, there was a second knock. No one moved. Finally the rabbi said, “Maybe you should see who it is?”
I looked at him for a moment like he was speaking Swahili. Does anyone know if that’s a real language, by the way? Anyway, I said, “Why me?”
He made one of those faces that most people make when I tell them my name. He said, “You’re the one with the gun. That tends to put you in charge.”
“Oh, yeah,” I said. He had a point. He really did. So, I took a deep breath, unlocked and opened the door a crack to peek outside. It was Steve, a fellow member of S.TO.O.P.I.D. I released a deep breath. I didn’t even know I was holding it.
”It’s okay,” I said to the rest of the people in the room. “He’s one of us.” I looked at the others in the room. “Well, I mean, he’s one of me.” Bobby gave me one of those looks that make you feel like you’re eight years old and had just lost her favorite fishing rod. I tried to offer her a smile, but it didn’t melt any of the ice. Even without the air conditioner working, Bobby had discovered a new Ice Age. I let Steve into the room.
“Where’ve you been, man?” Steve asked.
Steve’s not so swift, really. For some reason he had trouble realizing the obvious. Couldn’t he connect the fact that he knocked on the door, and that I was in the room when I answered? I mean, I was the one who let him in. Where did he think I had been? Mars? I know what you’re thinking, but no, it wasn’t him that came up with the name of the organization.
Anyway, to help him out, I tried to answer him as directly as possible. “I’ve been here,” I said.
It didn’t help much. “No,” he said, “Like, where’ve you been?”
I gave him “the look,” which by now was now becoming quite popular, and Steve said, “Everybody’s like wondering what happened to you, man. Mustafa sent me to check all the rooms.”
To tell you the truth, I wasn’t so concerned that Mustafa wanted to know where I was. He can manage just fine without me. Well, that might not actually be technically, or even factually, true. I mean, this whole brilliant plan was his idea, but I wasn’t so concerned about Mustafa’s success right then.
But then Steve said, “Alisa’s worried about you too.”
Had I mentioned that I have this thing for Alisa Cooper? “Really?” I asked Steve. It wasn’t that I thought that he was lying or anything, but sometimes the truth is so difficult to believe, you need to hear it at least twice.
“Yeah,” Steve confirmed. He noted my expression. I was getting a little excited. He then thought about it for a second and said, “More like concerned, really.” He knew how I felt about her and didn’t want to give me any false hopes.
He succeeded. “Oh,” I answered.
“Yeah, man, so like, are you coming or what?” Steve asked. Steve had this really annoying habit of adding the word, “Man,” to almost every sentence. Most of the time I could ignore it, but when you’ve just been downgraded from worried to concerned, you become a bit sensitive. It was getting on my nerves.
“Listen, man,” I said. “I’m kind of in the middle of something right now, man.” My sarcasm was wasted on him though.
Now it was Steve’s turn to give me that look. “You’re in the middle of something?” he repeated. “Maybe we should just tell the cops to come back tomorrow, because something came up.”
Actually, I thought that was a good idea. If only we could get them to agree. I wondered if there was anything in the Geneva Convention about this. But, the truth was, Steve had a point.
I took a deep breath. “My parents showed up.” I nodded in their direction. Steve looked up and suddenly noticed that there were other people in the room. He’s quick that way.
“Oh wow,” Steve said, “What a drag. Isn’t that like you’re mommy driving you on your first date?” He then looked towards them and said, “Hello, nice to meet you.”
“Nice to meet you too,” everyone responded, even the rabbi.
“Finally, we get to meet one of your friends,” Leon added.
“Yeah, anyway,” I said to Steve, “So tell Mustafa, and Alisa, where I am, and tell them I’ll join you guys in a minute. I got to finish up with my parents, ok?”
“He’s going to be pissed,” Steve said. “He’s counting on you.”
“I’ll be there in a minute,” I said, and pushed him towards the door. “I got it under control.” Of course, you know that was a bald faced lie (or is it a bold faced lied?), but what else could I say. I don’t think I’ve ever had it under control. Never. Even if, at the moment, I was the one holding the gun.