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The Violinist

Hi there,

Two news items this week. For those of you who like to read my books on a mobile device other than Kindle, The Arrows of Islam Part 1 is now FREE on the following platforms, iBooks, nook, kobo,and also through these retailers, Scribd, tolino, page foundry and 24symbols. Please share this with your reader friends. Go to iBooks or wherever, search for The Arrows of Islam Part 1, download free. It’s that simple.

If you leave a review on whatever platform you bought the book from I will send you a link to a FREE download of another book in this series or my Mystery series.

All you have to do is email me at spencer@spencerhawke.com together with a copy of the review confirmation or copy and paste or screenshot of the review. It’s that easy!!!

This was such a busy week that I didn’t meet my writing goal for The Violinist, the sequel to The Forgotten

For those of you who missed the last post (two weeks ago), the Ari Cohen series continues with our protagonist embarking on another adventure. This book is titled “The Violinist”. It has not been published, I am no where close to the end. I am sending my loyal fans chapters as I finish them. I would love your input, whether it be grammatical, editorial or suggestions as to where the story should go.. Anybody who helps will get a FREE digital copy upon release, at which time a review, your opinion, would be most welcome.

I am including the first two chapters, that I previously sent out, as well as the next chapter (3).. Please let me know what you think. I will keep writing to make sure I have new content for my next blog. If you think this is a terrible idea I would like to know that to. Please SHARE with your friends. As much input as I can get will only make this a better read and GREAT ENTERTAINMENT for you.

The beginning of the new installment is highlighted in red to save you some time if you have read and remember the first two chapters.

BUT please share this and let me know your thoughts. Where should Ari take it from here?

The Violinist

By

Spencer Hawke

Chapter 1

He stood on the observation deck high above the sea on the ferry ‘Tassili’. The boat had slowed to a crawl. He no longer needed to hold onto the handrail, the rough crossing was over. The aromas of the clean Mediterranean breeze giving way to the faint scents of land coming on the gentle breeze from the south. Diesel, fish and something else he struggled to identify. He inhaled analytically again, trying to place the aroma. With a slight nod of his head, he affirmed that he had recognised it. Cinnamon…… cinnamon mixed with something else….. nutmeg.

His slight nod changed to a frown as the thought of the last time he had smelled that combination of spices. Zanzibar. His frown of concentration changed. It was as if the weight of the world was suddenly etched on his persona, even his demeanor was altered. His stature seemed to diminish and bend slightly. Katarina had still been alive then. Imperceptibly his head shook from side to side. If only…..

He looked up from the deck of the ship, at the town in front of him. The glistening white of the buildings surrounding the port, so bright he had to squint. Another older settlement rose up the steep hill behind the port area and its modern facade. Standing at the summit of the steep hill, as if maintaining a vigil over the old and new, stood a casbah. Behind the casbah, the Atlas Mountains.

The ferry blasted its horn, precipitating a flurry of activity onboard as deck hands secured messenger ropes on the bow in front of him to throw to waiting hands lining the quay. The southerly wind already carried the heat from the desert behind the mountains. He took off his raincoat, folded it over his arm. His expression changed from sadness to determination. He turned around, walking purposefully towards the disembarkation area.

The decrepit arrival facility added one more combination of smells to the list he had noticed on board the ferry, sweat. Bitter acrid male sweat mixed with stale tobacco. A local official growled at him in a language he did not understand.

He looked at the official, a week’s worth of stubble lined his greasy face. His wrinkled uniform badly in need of the services of a competent laundry, though he doubted this person had ever walked into one. His dark hair escaped out from under his official cap at all different angles. It was as if each cluster was in a panic to escape the purgatory inside.

The official realising that this was a tourist who did not understand his language waved him over to his tiny kingdom behind a disheveled stand that served as a desk. He extended his hand. The new arrival gave him his passport.

The visitor tried to stifle a laugh, but a wide grin did smuggle through. This was straight out of the movie ‘Casablanca’. The official gave his passport a precursory examination, even shaking the paperwork expectantly, hoping a more thorough search would reveal a hidden bribe. Frustrated, the passport was tossed back to the visitor.

“Welcome to hades,” the tourist said under his breath.

Exiting the terminal area he walked over to a taxi, bent down to look through the passenger side window at the driver. The middle aged man was asleep. Prompted by a grunt from the visitor, the driver woke up, turned his shaven head to look with hawkish eyes at the intruder. The visitor recalled slightly, that acrid smell of sweat and tobacco again. Through thin lips the driver asked in French.

“Where to Monsieur”?

“The casbah”.

He got into the back seat of a very rundown Renault. The aromas in the arrival terminal were bad, but were a perfumery compared to the inside of his ride. He wound down the window to avoid suffocating.

He had planned his incursion well. His destination was a small dentist’s office in old town. But he would start his approach at the Casbah, change out of his western garb, then walk downhill to his destination, to the man who would tell him where he could find ‘The Bedouin’.

He had changed, he now looked no different than the local people. This was one of the reasons he had been so successful in the Mossad. He could blend in, almost anywhere. His professional code name in the Mossad was ‘Raincoat’. Although he frequently sported a raincoat, he gained the moniker because of his ability to change his appearance as easily as one would change a coat.

A few minutes after leaving the Casbah he entered an open area. He moved to the side, sat on a large stone to reconnoiter the old town in front of him. He was now high above the modern city, to one side the Casbah or old fort, that had been home to many a Barbary pirate. Down the hill, beyond old town lay the modern city and the Mediterranean.

After verifying that he was not being observed he allowed himself the luxury of relaxing a bit. The sounds of the old quarter began to register. Hawkers in open bazaars peddling their wares. The alleyways so narrow, full of merchants displaying their goods, partially blocking access. He spotted the street he was looking for, ‘Rue Sidi Abdellah’.

He entered the centuries old alley, passed stalls selling colorful linens, clothes, burqas, trinkets, carved ivory and food of every description. He moved to the side of the alleyway, he was close. He passed another stall displaying various cuts of goat meat. He had been warned that this was a look out for the Dentist. He brushed the swarming flies away. When the guard was distracted with a customer he detoured into the alleyway.

At the end of the alley he could just see a door. In the middle of the door, a cracked and stained glass, with the drawing of single molar tooth. He stepped around two very old and wrinkled beggars, who simply lifted their hands, hoping for a dinar before arriving close enough to hear
two people arguing inside, both speaking French…

“Non, Monsieur, we cannot do this”.

“I’ll pay you……..”.

The stranger boldly pushed open the door. He was met with silence. In the quiet that followed the door to an inner office opened to reveal a man in a stained lab coat.

The stranger didn’t hesitate, he walked across the reception area to the inner sanctum. The dentist so surprised he willingly retreated back into his office.

The stranger towered over the little dentist, he leaned forward and whispered something in his ear. The look of uncertainty on the dentists face was replaced by incredulity and fear.

“I can’t do that, he will….”

“You don’t have to worry about that. Where is he?”

The dentist backed up, his hands to his side until he reached the far wall.

“Where is he?”

Chapter 2

Blair House – Two Weeks Earlier

In 1942, Blair House was purchased by the U.S. government for use as a guest residence for visiting dignitaries. Between the 1950s and 1980s, Blair House was internally reconfigured to seamlessly attach it to the nearby Lee House and Peter Parker House, as part of the creation of the President’s Guest House complex.

Many have often speculated that Blair House was attached to the White House as part of the underground complex designed to allow the President some privacy and as a secret exit should it ever be needed. Wonder no more.

During the presidency of Harry Truman, Blair House served as the temporary residence of the President of the United States, while the interior of the White House was being renovated. An ideal time to extend the reach of the White House underground complex.

The President of the United States lay in bed next to a man. As lovers often do, they were whispering to each other.

“It’s been almost a year. We have to find him.”

The President’s lover leaned over, kissed her lovingly before responding, “I know. After Katarina died in South Africa… He has not been the same. I don’t know. He hasn’t been back to his house in Georgetown for more than 6 months.”

He turned over to lay on his back. He extended his right arm, the President eagerly snuggled up on his arm with her head under his chin. The man reached up to itch his nose and pushed a few strands of her hair to the side. They were both deep in thought, concerned for their friend.

“I’ve had our people keep an eye on his bank accounts, credit cards, nothing. He has become a ghost. When Ari wants not to be found, he can disappear.”

The President’s face grew even more concerned, the frowns deepening.

“David, we have to find him.” She said with determination.

“I could go operational again, I could go do it. I’ll go talk to Athena, they must be worried too.”

Jade McQueen lifted her head to look at her husband with a very serious look.

“If anyone ever found out that the husband of the President of the United States was involved in this debacle I would be impeached.. Imagine if they kidnapped you? I can’t have you involved.”

David continued as if the President of the United States had not spoken, “There might just be a way to find him, just perhaps, perhaps. Jade looked inquisitively at her husband again.

“If he has gone deep underground, we might be able to find him.” Her husband hesitated a little too long. Jade McQueen slapped him on the chest to hurry him up.

“He never goes far or for long without his mistress. If if his mistress isn’t with him he will find a way to borrow one.”

At first Jade frowned, then as understanding dawned on her she smiled.

Chapter 3

Tamanrasset – Algiers

At the southern edge of the Algerian Sahara, intersecting a network of ancient trading routes, sits a lonely, sweltering sandy Oasis.

During the days of French rule in Algeria, the town was established as a military outpost, manned by the Foreign Legion.

Some of the more enterprising local businessmen, mostly made up of Tuareg nomads adapted some of the local buildings to cater to the Legionnaires’ insatiable thirst for wine. The remnants of some of these places still exist today, though finding them is a challenge, unless you know to follow the smell of Turkish tobacco and music as dusk approaches.

It is a perfect place in which to lose yourself. The only chance of being discovered, perhaps by a wondering tourist, drawn into a dark alleyway by curiosity.

Ari had found one such place. Dark, murky, a perfect place to sit alone and ponder. Ari looked around, he was getting edgy. To the side of the bar was a music stand, a microphone and some instruments. Then he saw her. It was as if an overwhelming sense of relief engulfed him. He stared through moistening eyes. She wasn’t as beautiful as his mistress, but she might just do.

Ari walked over to the music stand. He was right, she was there, it wasn’t his mistress, a Stradivarius it was not, but she might just help him relieve his angst. He picked her up, the bartender and some guests looked at him, but he paid no mind. He gently fondled her strings, then looked around for a bow. After making a few adjustments he lifted the bow to his stand in mistress and started playing their song.. All conversation in the bar halted. Ari was a different person. He played and played, it was as if Jimi Hendrix was there in person playing ‘Purple Haze’ only he was playing it on a violin. He was sure his real mistress would not mind him betraying her on another instrument. If she ever complained he thought, he would tell her he was practicing for her.

After 5 frantic minutes, he had finished his rendition. Unnoticed by Ari, his music had attracted a crowd. From the entrance a German couple started clapping enthusiastically before shouting,

“Wunderbar, Wunderbar”………
*********
It had been 8 months since he had left South Africa. Katarina was dead. His lifeline, his hold on reality, his motivation to live, was no more.

He closed his eyes, wiping the moisture with the back of his index fingers. He clenched his fist tightly till his knuckles whitened, showing the contour of the bones and muscle and sinew underneath. It felt as if his skin might split.

His hands dug down deep in the sand beneath him. He lifted his hands back up, each with a fistful of sand. His fingers were slightly ajar. He could feel the rough granules sliding between his fingers, but when he looked down at his hands that was not what he saw. His hands were covered in blood, her blood. It was as if her very life was still trickling away through his fingers.

His mind’s eye created an illusion so real he was not sure whether he was back at the Lodge where Katarina had died or he was here, in the middle of the Sahara, hunting the last beast who had been a party to her murder.

He knew and she knew that the gaping knife wound she had received from one of Tippu Tip’s henchmen was fatal. They could both feel life gushing out of her. He tried to put pressure on the artery. The more he squeezed, the more it tormented her. He couldn’t stop her life from cascading out of her. Her fate was sealed.

He knew it wasn’t possible. Even as he looked at his hands he was sure he could see it. His conscious mind, his rational being told him he was hallucinating, but still it was there. Her blood, mingling with his salty tears. He felt her body too. He stared at the sand around him. Her blood seemed to be spreading out all around him, as if he was still holding her body.

Her eyes pleaded with him to understand. To beg his forgiveness. She knew he wanted a life with her. That she was his only hope for redemption. Only she could understand all the things he had done.

Ever since that first time he had put his hand on the small of her back at the Airport in Moscow, she knew it. He felt it …… she felt it. Although they had only just met, she knew their futures would be inexplicably intertwined.

They both felt that surge, almost like a static electric shock. That was why he had withdrawn his hand so quickly. She had turned around to look at him, he had looked at her, uncertainty in his eyes. She knew then. But he was too surprised and embarrassed to realize what had just happened. It would take him some time. Men need time.

In the days that followed that first meeting, she would catch him looking at her. Always when he thought she wasn’t aware of his stare. But she was. She could feel his eyes penetrating her very being. She tried not to notice or give him any indication that she knew. But when she couldn’t resist anymore and furtively looked back at him she saw the confused, questioning look in his eyes. As if he was trying to come to grips with this sudden emotional upheaval he was feeling.

His training had taught him to control his emotions and up to this time in his career he had been successful. It was as if he had been stricken with something over which he had no control.

The sound of a vehicle engine struggling to make way through soft sand broke the spell. He looked down beneath him at the bottom of the sand dune. He saw the truck heading towards a small dwelling. It was more like a tent, made out of goat skins. It occupied the only shade within miles between three palm trees. It was too small to be a real oasis, but still it was a haven of greenery in the blistering heat of the Sahara Desert.

He now lay flat just on the far side of the crest of the sand dune overlooking the tiny oasis. He scraped sand away from in front of him so he could focus on the person below. He buried his binoculars in the sand so only the lenses peeked out, trying to make no silhouette against the skyline which would give away his position.

On the floor of the desert below, between trees lay discoloured, dried out palm fronds. At the center, a small brick circular enclosure. Each brick of the well only a slight shade darker than the sand around it. To the side of the well a rope was thrown carelessly. He watched the driver of the Toyota pick up truck park, get out of his vehicle, approach the well, throw the rope into the gaping hole and pull up a skinful of water.

One hand held the binoculars. The other arm was folded under his chin. Both arms steadying his eyes as he looked through his field glasses. High overhead the wind blew gently. The tops of the Palm trees below swayed majestically as did the few strands of his hair not pinned down by the sand coloured balaclava cap he wore.

The sand dune on the side he lay sloped gently; but on the side leading to the oasis, it was steep. Any idea of rushing down the slope in an attempt to surprise his target and beat him senseless would not work. He would lose control of his footing as soon as he took his first step.

He took a deep breath, trying to calm his emotions. He so wanted to exert a physical toll on the monster below. Make him feel pain. The same agony that he felt every time he thought of Katarina’s last moments alive in his hands.

Ari cradled his FN rifle to his side, moved his free hand to pat it lovingly, feeling comfort knowing it was there if he decided to use it. He knew he could end this monster’s life at this very moment. But it would be too easy. The brute would feel no pain. He wanted him to feel pain, to feel the loss as Ari felt the loss of Katarina.

Below he could see the dark shadow of a well used path winding through the oasis, bits of gravel and animal dung lined the way. There was a dry ditch alongside the path, dug deep by the infrequent desert storms.

Ari watched the man in the fading sunlight. “What is he doing here?” he asked himself. “Does he know I am hunting him.” “Did he come back to hide in the desert, feeling that he would be safe if he went back to hide in the land of his Bedouin ancestors?”

Something on the far side of the oasis caught Ari’s attention. He instantly froze, moved his hand to feel his rifle again. Slowly a keffiyeh began to appear on the ridge, swaying slightly. After the Arab headdress appeared, a face came into view, then the head of a camel. Slowly the rider, dressed in a purple thawb, riding a scrawny camel came into full view.

The driver of the pick up truck noticed the visitor as well. He did not act surprised, but stood outside the tent waiting, watching reverently, as if the visitor were an elder of his tribe.

The visitor seemed to tap the flanks of the camel as it entered the oasis. The camel stopped, knelt to the ground, the visitor descended, unhitched a small bag from the pommel of his saddle. He was short, seeming a good head shorter than the driver. A deeply tanned and aged face gazed out from his keffiyeh. He walked towards the truck driver, handed him the bag and went straight past him into the tent, without a sideways glance or a word.

The driver had his back to Ari, bending his head, looking into the bag. He had no idea he was being observed. Ari removed one hand from his field glasses to retrieve his rifle. As he nestled it down into the old familiar position he pulled the protective eyepiece away from the scope, rested the barrel along the sand in front of him and put the scope to his eye.

Ari couldn’t wait any longer, he had to end it right now, right here. Ari pulled the bolt back, loaded a bullet into the breach and began to gently caress the trigger. He wanted to wait until the driver turned around, not shoot him in the back. As Ari took up the tension of the trigger, he heard a strange sound, almost like the cry of a seagull. He took up more tension, took a deep breath. The scope was centred on the back of the driver’s skull.

The driver dropped the bag he had been given, he started to turn around to face the dwelling and face Ari. Ari smiled, he was going to get his wish. He would be able to see this monster’s eyes as he felt the impact of the bullet enter his skull. He needed to see him suffer, it was his only chance to let go of all this anger. Kill the monster. It was all he had thought about since he left South Africa, since he had felt the life pour out of Katarina. KILL THE MONSTER….

Ari held his breath. It was as if the world had stopped, everything stood still, except the driver below. Ever so slowly he continued his movement until he faced Ari. The driver slowly raised his eyes away from what he had been holding. It couldn’t be, but….. but it seemed as if he looked directly at Ari.

Ari was frozen, mesmerised by the intensity of the moment. Then the man looked down at the bundle in his hands, Ari followed the man’s eyes, they both looked at what he was carrying. The man took one edge of what he was holding inside a blanket and pulled it back. A pair of the prettiest brown eyes looked back at the man. Ari could see the eyes as if the face was grimacing to let out a howl of protest. The baby was hungry.
White House – The President’s Private Quarters

The Presidential briefing dossier is normally distributed to a handful of senior aides by 7.00 AM, that is on a normal day. The President doubted that such a day ever existed, at least in her administration. By 6.45 AM this morning those same senior aides had summoned the President to the situation room. The meeting had lasted three hours. Junior staffers were uneasy. Nobody outside the situation room knew what was going on. No coffee or breakfast had been requested. A total information black out.

Five hours later the President was exhausted. Jade McQueen had made her excuses, she had to have some alone time. She needed to think. To give this matter some serious consideration, without the scrutiny of the press and her staff examining her every expression.

At last she went up to the second floor, walked over to the Queens bedroom, entered her “Go to Place” when she needed solitude. This is the room where Winston Churchill stayed when he visited with Presidents Roosevelt and Truman before and after World War 2. She thought it an appropriate venue to contemplate what could well be World War III. She had had the entire suite re-painted as soon as she was sworn in, a light blueish-green. Every time she entered the queen’s quarters she marvelled at the power she yielded. The most powerful person in the world. But would she be wise enough to confront this latest challenge?

She sat down on the edge of the bed facing the window looking out to the north. Through the lace curtains she could just see the fountain in the north lawn. She thought back to when she thought it a national symbol of tranquility. But these were not normal times. Could her founding father idol, Thomas Jefferson, have even dreamed of the extent to which the rest of the world relied on a strong America to keep the planet safe?

Jade walked over to the window to look at the spot where the statue of Jefferson used to stand, praying for his guidance. She felt no inspiration. In frustration, she turned to her left to be confronted by a vanity mirror with her own reflection. How she had aged. She stared hard at her reflection, her make up was doing a good job, but even the best make up money could buy couldn’t hide the ravages the responsibilities of her office was wreaking on her appearance.

She had desired this job, needed it so badly. But sometimes she fantasised. What if she could make it to go away. Call her lover, her husband, tell him to pack his bags. She looked down at her cell phone, should I call him? So many other presidents had passed the buck, why not her? Suddenly her hand felt the vibration of her phone coming alive. She jumped, almost dropped the device, before recovering her composure, looking down at the text message she had received.

“I found him”

Jade tried to refocus her mind. She texted back.

“Who”

“Ari”

She was still trying to gather her thoughts. Almost in a blur she responded.

“Where”

“The Sahara”

“The Sahara?”

“Yes, Tamanrasset?”

“How?”

“Facebook”

“Facebook?”

“Yes, some German tourist posted on his Facebook page that he had come across this incredible artist playing Jimi Hendrix’ purple haze on a violin, in the middle of the Sahara.

“Wow”

“Blair House?” Asked her husband hopefully.

She so needed to feel David’s strong arms around her torso. She texted him back.

“Two hours”

Please email me spencer@spencerhawke.com to provide feedback to me. I want to make sure you get on my list and get your early release version of the Violinist.
Thank you,

Best wishes,
Spencer

spencer@spencerhawke.com.

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