Part 5

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Tehran's Old Ghosts

A short story set during the Iranian Revolution in 1978. Eight westerners find themselves trapped in their hotel. Little do they realise that the trouble on the streets is the least of their problems.

(Part 5)


The call from David West had been treated as the last conversation they were likely to have for some time. There were matters concerning his own personal insurances to sort out and what money needed to go to Janet.... If the worst happened.

"You'll be fine Harrison, you wait and see. It'll all blow over."

"I read a book once, one of those motivational things." He'd told David. "It said that no matter how big the problem, you should always believe everything was going to be fine."

"Sounds a good plan."

"Yep, even if you're off to the hospital to be tested for something really nasty.... After all David, you're always going to be right about everything being fine... Apart from just that one time when it isn't."

"Crap, you've got a weird sense of humour."

"It's a weird situation over here David, very weird."

The call home had been bleaker, with Janet crying at one point. There was no chance of simply going to the airport now. There might well be seats available to somewhere, for a price, but he'd promised to see the job through until the end.

"We need the cash and...... You wait and see, everything will be fine." He'd told her.

Or if it wasn't fine, he'd only be wrong just the once.

"I love you Mr Thistle and the stupid surname you've lumbered me with."

"I love you too."

He passed the mirror in the bathroom after the call, surprised to see his own red eyes and tears dampening his cheeks.

"I know what I need." He muttered. "I need Rachel and a night of fun and maybe....."

Maybe, still only maybe. It might be no strings fun to him, but Rachel was single. Did she think it might go further than a few hot and steamy nights in Tehran ?

"Get ready and take it a step at a time." He muttered at his reflection in the mirror.

~ ~

He'd put on the suit he'd packed for special occasions. The likelihood of getting laid for the first time in months felt like a special occasion. A few minutes before ten, flowers and chocolates in hand, Harrison noticed flashes of light coming through the bathroom window. He clambered around his bed, opening the curtains.

"Christ ! It's really happening." He muttered.

Gunfire in the distance, a lot of it judging by the number of flashes. No sound to go with it, the windows at The Wilkinson were designed to keep outside noise to a minimum. There was the occasional brighter burst of light, though he had no idea what kind of weapon was being used. It was surreal to see the constant flashes, yet to not hear even the faintest sound.

Most of the action seemed to be coming from the direction of Danesh, a good four or five miles away. Harrison put his gifts for Rachel on the bed and leant on the window, trying to see further to the West.

"That was too close."

A flash much closer than Danesh, a big one. His fingertips against the windows felt it, the slight tremor as the concussion hit the glass. A grenade launcher maybe ? There were constant rumours about the demonstrators being well armed. They'd seen a burnt out police armoured car one evening, on the way back to the hotel.

"Dinner." He muttered. "If the world is about to end, I'll face it with a full stomach."

Just after ten by the time he left his room and walked towards Rachel's room. It was rare for any of them to be wandering around the corridors at such an hour. Normally he'd have been with the rest of them, getting drunk in someone's room and playing yet another game of Monopoly.

"Later Gary..... Look, I don't want to go in there looking ravished."

Just down the corridor, it was a miracle they hadn't seen him. Gary and Ruth, his right hand right up between her legs. She was objecting, but giggling and making no attempt to move away.

"Promise to come to my room tonight." Said Gary.

"I will, don't I always ?.... Stop, you'll mess up my dress."

Someone opened the door and they went into Adam's room. Jeez ! Gary and Ruth were at it, he'd never suspected it and still found it hard to believe. He'd seen it with his own eyes though, Gary trying to give Ruth an internal examination in a public corridor.

"Wow, wait until Rachel hears about this." He muttered.

It crossed his mind that maybe that was why Ruth was staying in their hotel. As the wife of a diplomat, she could be staying in the relative safety of the Norwegian Embassy. He'd seen Ruth's husband once or twice, a serious looking man in a pin stripe suit and brogues.

"Poor bastard."

He thumped hard on Rachel's door and held out the flowers as it opened.

"You found some flowers." Said Rachel. "You are a miracle worker."

"And these."

He handed her the truly enormous box of chocolates, which seemed to please her.

"Wow, that is some box of chocolates."

"Biggest they had."

Her face lit up, it looked like the young cop had been right to get the biggest box in the shop. Their lips touched again, just before she ran off to fetch a vase for the flowers.

"I keep matchbooks in this, but it's intended for flowers."

Her collection of dusty matchbooks went into a drawer. He watched her use the bathroom tap to fill the vase, before arranging the flowers in it.

"I have I got a story to tell you." He said.

"You mean the fighting to the south ? I've been watching it for a while and it's spreading to the west of the city."

"No, not that. Guess who I saw at it in the corridor ?"

"I'm useless at guessing, tell me ?"

"Gary and Ruth."

"No... Never !"

"Honest, he had his hands all over her."

"Wow, maybe that's why she lives in this four star shithole."

"That's exactly what I thought."

~ ~

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