Part 6

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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 6)

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Apart from a lack of much choice, the restaurant carried on serving food, just as it had every day he'd been living there. Normality helped and Harrison could understand why the band had carried on playing, as the Titanic had sunk beneath the waves. There were few guests eating there that night, probably less than a dozen, all non-westerners apart from Rachel and himself. A buyer for a department store in Pakistan was eating alone. Harrison recognised him and exchanged a brief nod.

"Are we mad to still be here ?" Asked Rachel.

"Probably, but it's too late to get off the ride now." He said. "They've locked the security bars in place and we're on our way to the top of the rollercoaster."

She laughed at him, while picking at her food.

"Are you ever serious ?" She asked.

"I try my best not to be... Otherwise I might start screaming and never stop."

They saw it in each other, the terrified and vulnerable person wishing they were somewhere else. Almost anywhere else, apart from Iran. He put his hand out towards hers and she held it.

"You do realise I'm happily married ?" He asked.

"Of course, you mention Janet quite a lot. Is that your way of politely saying we'll only ever be friends ?"

Was it ? He was still torn, especially after seeing Gary pawing at Ruth. It had all looked so.... Sordid. It was those wonderful hazel eyes which made the decision for him. He wanted to see them looking up at him, as Rachel moaned with pleasure.

"I was about to say that we're both just playing with our food." He said. "Will you come to my room and spend the night Rachel ?"

"Of course I will, you idiot."

Harrison signed the bill, after assuring a worried looking waiter that the food had been perfect. On an impulse he ordered an entire bowl of profiteroles to take with them and a bottle of champagne. He wasn't usually spontaneous... In fact he was never that spontaneous. It had to be the threat of war and the wonderful way Rachel was smiling at him.

"I never knew you could be so crazy."

Said Rachel, juggling the bowl of profiteroles and her room key.

"Neither did I..... Eat, drink and shag like bunnies... for tomorrow....."

"No, no, nothing serious or dark tonight."

Rachel undid her dress and stepped out of it, the instant they were alone in her room.

"I do like the idea of fucking like bunnies though." She said.

~ ~

He'd seen the pupils dilate in those wonderful eyes of hers, as they'd made love for about the fifth or sixth time. He'd felt like a horny teenager again, being ready and able to make love all night. It was probably the result of the tensions outside and wanting to sleep with her for quite some time. Harrison felt like a new man, as he left his room and took the elevator to the ground floor lobby.

"There will be no car today I'm afraid." Said Nathan. "No Kris either, the army are guarding the district where the foreign workers live."

A foreign workers district ? Harrison had never realised there was such a place. He'd always imagined Kris went home to house in a fairly nondescript part of the city.

"Is Kris alright ? Do you know ?" He asked.

Nathan usually looked as though someone had just kicked his puppy, but he managed to look even more upset and concerned.

"They're all fine for now Harrison, the army will do what they can."

The hotel manager came around to his side of the counter, leaning close enough to almost whisper.

"I am worried about the hotel. It started at about six this morning, all our phone lines will only call numbers in Iran and the army have forbidden anyone to leave. We're all trapped here now, staff and guests."

"I think we all guessed this was coming Nathan. Sooner than I thought though."

"There is an army Major going around talking to everyone, trying to reassure people."

"That won't take him long ! I saw less than a dozen eating in the restaurant last night."

Poor Nathan, the captain of the Titanic must have had pretty much the same look on his face, as he realised his large and expensive ship, was actually going to sink.

"I suppose we will be alright for food ?" Asked Harrison.

"Yes, this trouble was foreseen and planned for." Said Nathan. "Mainly tins and dried food of course, but we also have several large freezers in the basement. Also, as you've noticed, we have very few paying guests in the Hotel. We have enough food to feed everyone for years."

There was just one piece of mail waiting for him. A letter from the British Embassy, once again suggesting that he left Iran, as quickly as possible. Harrison never did meet the Iranian army Major, but one of the young soldiers by the door was quite chatty. Speaking fluent Persian helped of course.

"We're setting up tents at the rear of the hotel." The soldier told him. "Our sergeant said we should prepare to be here for a while."

"How long ?"

The young man had simply shrugged at him. He also told him that their phones might work some days but not others, though he couldn't say why. That was the trouble with wars, no one seemed sure about anything. Adam was lurking by the front doors, glaring at the soldiers.

"They won't even let me out and I've been visiting Iran for years." He said.

"One of the soldiers said our phones might work tomorrow, or they might not."

"A shambles a bloody shambles !" Yelled Adam. "I'm freelance Harrison and if I don't call in my copy, I don't get paid. Biggest story in the world going on around us and I can't tell anyone."

Adam wandered off, bending the ear of yet another of the army officers. It would do him no good of course, they were simply obeying orders.

~ ~

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