Part 7

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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 7)

                              Π

Harrison didn't want to go and look for Rachel. It looked a bit needy and they had arranged to go to Victor's room that night, for the usual get together. There would be a get together of course, no one could leave the hotel. Trapped there for their own protection.

"I'm sorry Mr Baig, I'm not allowed to check you out. The road to the airport simply isn't safe anymore.... Yes I know you can see gunfire from your room.... That is why no one may leave the hotel."

So it went on, with yet another guest wanting to leave. Always the non-westerners, feeling the rules didn't apply to them. Nathan had been told to keep everyone in the hotel though and he was determined to do so.

"..... Americans causing all the trouble."

He heard Mr Baig's wife say. It was a common sentiment among the angry guests from the other Arab nations and Islamic countries. Harrison accepted there might be some justice in what they were saying, but they were now all in it together, all prisoners in a luxury four star hotel, with an Olympic size indoor pool. As prisons went, it was fairly nice one.

"I heard gunfire." Someone said.

Harrison was bored anyway, so he walked towards the main doors. They opened every few minutes, to allow worried looking soldiers to wander in and out. Some were carrying what looked like ammunition boxes. No sound of gunfire though, even when he stood very close to the door.

"Please go back into the hotel lobby."

He obeyed the soldier, which was a good thing. It meant he heard Ruth screaming and saw Nathan trying to comfort her. There was a lot of agitation fairly quickly. Soldiers looking confused, while the police began to use the Persian word for murder quite a lot.

آدم کشی Murder, began to be shouted by a few of the hotel staff.

Harrison wasn't a man who liked situations requiring nosiness and sharp elbows. He wasn't normally one for gossip, or putting his nose where it wasn't wanted. He knew Ruth though, she was one of his group of friends. He actually jostled a policeman slightly, to get closer to her.

"What happened ? Who was murdered ?" He asked.

"I don't know..... So much blood."

"One of the cleaning staff, using the lockers in the basement." Said Nathan. "A terrible business."

At one time Harrison would never have connected two police officers talking to Gary, at the other side of the lobby. Now that had meaning. Why use the basement to meet though ? They both had nice rooms, but he knew some people liked the thrill of sex in places where there was a chance of discovery. Like getting felt up in corridors.

"No discussing this matter, or you will be arrested."

A middle aged member of the police with a lot of emblems on his uniform, was pushing him away. Nathan too, it seemed neither of them was going to be allowed to talk to Ruth. There'd be a political angle for the Iranians too, a diplomat's wife getting a little strange sex with a UK arms dealer.

"Was the cleaner killed in the same way as Bijan ?" He asked Nathan.

"I don't know, I didn't see her body. Ruth said the woman had been ripped apart, barely recognisable as a person anymore."

"Did she see anyone down there ?"

Nathan just shrugged and there wasn't going to be a chance to talk to Ruth. She was currently surrounded by at least five or six senior members of the Tehran police. The body was taken out through the kitchens he found out later, quickly loaded into a military ambulance. Whatever had happened to the cleaner, the authorities didn't want anyone looking at her body.

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