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Opportunity Knocks

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This story is part of "Project 1947", which is part of the Basilicus project.

Cooperative: This story is coordinated by Laveaux. It is open to any new writers with characters alive during the year 1947 and have access to Israel. The coordinator asks that any writers that do join the story, complete a character description in accordance with this article. Note that writers can only write for their characters, the coordinator will write for all other characters and events. Use the talk page if you have questions or suggestions.

Current Active Writers:

  • This story has no current active writers. Any of the characters can be used by other writers.

The brawny Westerner strode down the twisting dun colored streets of Jerusalem looking for a coffeehouse in which to break his fast and read the newspaper he had just purchased from a corner newsstand. Around him the city had already come to life and was full of the sights, sounds and smells of the Middle East. The aroma of fresh baked bread and ripe produce mingled with the stench of animal dung and car exhausts. Colorful awnings shielded peddlers and their wares from the elements and people from a wide collection of cultures went about their daily business in a clamor of humanity.

It was winter in Jerusalem and that meant cool days and cold nights. The colder weather also brought the rain but in a region like Palestine it did not rain much even in the �rainy� season. Palestine, a region in political and religious turmoil. Jerusalem was a city sacred to the three major religions in the area. The Muslims wanted it, the Jews wanted it, and the Christians wanted it. It seemed like everyone wanted Jerusalem except for the British� and the British owned it. Palestine was the spoils of war for the British, seized by the victors from the Ottoman Empire at the end of the Great War. That probably sounded like a good idea at the time.

The man was dressed in a pair of crisp khaki slacks and a long sleeved shirt made of Egyptian cotton. On his feet were a pair of polished but well worn brown boots that laced up the front and on his head was a brown felt fedora. Around his muscular neck was a scarf-like red and white checked kaffiyeh that added a dash of color to his wardrobe and over his shirt was a leather jacket, its purpose was twofold. It was primarily worn to ward off the cool winter air but it also served to conceal the big bore Colt service pistol that was riding snugly in a holster under the Westerner�s left arm.

A man couldn�t be too careful in a place like this. There was trouble brewing between the Arabs and the Jews and the Jews and the British. The problems were many and complex� and they were none of Blake Garrison�s business. He didn�t want to get embroiled in the middle of all that but if trouble came his way he would be ready as always.

This looks like a good spot� kinda like Fishawi�s�

The coffehouse he had spotted was just off the edge of a market souk just like Fishawi�s coffeehouse in Cairo hugged the edge of the famed Khan al-Khalili. The entrance to Blake�s favorite hangout in Cairo was through an alley and the best seat were padded benches around small tables in the alley itself. There were a lot of memories there, some were good� and others were best left in the recesses of his mind.

Blake Garrison found a table just outside the door where he could put his back to a wall. Setting his newspaper on the table he took a seat.

--WickedWays


From his outdoor perch, the cafe was visible, masked only by a weather-worn sand-pocked window. Strange decorations inside suggested that this was not an average local hang out. There was a strong Indian decor and besides that the distinct smell of cumin, garlic, and caraway seeped into the street. Frescos of Biblical scenes animated the walls and sandalwood incense danced above the food aroma.

The coffee was rich and exotic with a creamy texture. The beans were likely grown in a tropical habitat with a very recent vintage. Silky and with only the slightest bitter tang. There was a strong assortment of teas as well, rivaling anything found in England, the region's staunch proprietors.

Blake was served by a young Jewish woman, who's head scarf and sarong were meant to give her an Indian appearance. Quite enamored with the American, she stood by his table long enough to get a disapproving glance from a passing server, likely her boss.

"Hello," she said in very broken English, "welcome, what are you drinking and eating today sir?"

A quirky smile split her lip as she waited to hear what her dreamboat's voice sounded like.

--Laveaux 20:18, 10 December 2005 (CST)


Blake noted the d�cor with a bit of pleasant surprise. India was a place that had captured his imagination when he was but a child and years later he still found himself intrigued by its draw. His travels had not carried him that far to the East as of yet but he was still young and had a lot of miles left in him he hoped. The aroma of the food wafting from the kitchen was mouth watering and Blake made a mental note to return here for dinner and experience the exotic fare when it was most likely at its best.

The American removed his hat and set it on the bench beside him underneath the coffeehouse�s colorful outdoor awning. He reached into his jacket pocket and withdrew his cigarettes and lighter. Removing a cigarette he flipped open his Ronson and lit up his first smoke of the day. Inhaling deeply, Blake enjoyed the taste of the dark almost black French tobacco of the Gauloise cigarette. Setting the Ronson on the table next to the cigarettes he reached for his newspaper but something stayed his hand.

The presence of the young waitress was felt by the American as soon as she arrived and he paused a moment before looking at her. It was obvious she was either a Christian or a Jew for no Muslim woman would be working in a job such as that, her family would never allow it. When Blake leveled his gaze upon her he took in her Indian style dress and how it contrasted pleasantly with her features.

�Good Morning�

His voice was a rich baritone full of confidence and composure and his smile showed a flash of pearly white teeth under a pencil thin mustache. Blake unabashedly looked her straight in the eye as he spoke in a manner designed to capture her attention fully. He answered her in English for he had no knowledge of Hebrew having recently arrived in Palestine and never being exposed to the tongue before.

Sir Richard Burton had once commented that the best way to learn a foreign tongue was in bed with a willing local woman. A hundred years later Blake Garrison could not agree more and he owed his knowledge of several Mediterranean languages to the fairer sex. He toyed with the idea of adding Hebrew to his list of studied tongues before he placed his order.

�I hope you are having a pleasant day so far? I would like a cup of that delicious coffee I smell, a slice of melon if you have it, and some fresh baked bread if you please.�

--WickedWays


A bow of the head, continued eye contact, and hesitant move back into the cafe suggested she was not quite ready to leave the American's presence. Following her motion inside would reveal that she avoided the eye contact of who was most certainly her mother. An aging version of the young woman, glowering with folded arms from behind the bakery.

It would hardly be two minutes before she returned with coffee, honeydew, and naan with herb butter all the while receiving a harsh supervisory stare from the woman at the bakery. The unspoken drama was broken as one of the cafe's occupants became suddenly visible.

A round man with a salt and pepper beard sat with a young man at a table inside, just beneath an open arched window. The man was none other then Doctor Benjamin Ben-David. Blake worked as the professor's bodyguard in the early days of 1946 as he excavated a Moroccan tomb dating back to the Roman era. Ben-David was under a great deal of scrutiny by the local Muslims and at last the pressure got to him and he retreated back to Palestine. The American was awarded a handsome sum for two weeks work, although they hadn't spoken since.

Still trying to gather Blake's attention, the young Jewish girl waited for a response from his coffee tasting. Smiling with young earnest, she hardly noticed her mother stepping onto the patio.

They exchanged strong words in Hebrew before she reluctantly returned to the cafe.

--Laveaux 20:18, 10 December 2005 (CST)


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