Teaser 335: Developments in China, Lost Anglos, and Munich

The reaction to the speaking engagement, accompanied by the fact Esperanza's office had been bombed in the morning, was strong, and from all sides. The support for Tanya and me was encouraging and I expected the strong support for those on the Chinese side, but the vast majority of pundits whom I remember spread the idea Chodak should remain in India with full citizenship and both his family and his friend's family should be granted the same opportunity. The official Chinese reaction was slow and blundering and by the time it actually reached international consideration, out came, on the internet, the face of Chodak's friend—the man I met only once in Barang who, quite innocently but with my complete, appreciated and deserved compensation, had driven Chodak's minibus ably back to Lhasa—appeared battered, bruised, and swollen and photographed from a camera phone within hours after his release from yet another interrogation, this one obviously much more physically intense. Within hours of this illuminating development, came another pronouncement from Chinese authorities, but the pronouncement was not coordinated. It came from one member of the elite in the innermost circle of the Chinese bureaucracy, and this man was not to be trivialized. Cao vehemently expressed his absolute disgust that everyone within the Chinese bureaucracy allowed me to be such an inviting target in a country, which he granted had been one China itself had militarily conquered, but it was still their responsibility to secure and China did nothing to secure my safety during my visit to Tibet! Absolutely nothing! Why? Because Chinese authorities could use my injury or death to their inevitable advantage and Cao proceeded to explain for the next thirty minutes exactly how it would all turn to their advantage. Many expressed contempt for Cao's explanation, that it was all self-serving, and to a very great extent, it was self-serving. Cao, though, produced all the documents he needed to persuade the rest of the world his contention was correct and accurate. I had never spoken with Cao one time, yet another in my corner from the beginning, because Cao was in my corner from the beginning when he learned who I was, what I was, and why I expressed my interest in visiting Tibet, and discovered I was the target of kidnapping or murder should I step foot in Tibet and his fellow Chinese authorities would do nothing, even to the point of refusing me some security presence whom I trusted.

This all took some time to play out but I had a screening of a movie for the many who pleaded with me to see it and I would not allow a disruption or delay in the screening. I showed Terms of Surrender to the three hundred some in the hotel's conference room two days after our speaking engagement and the pervasive reaction was the movie should be in theaters and soon. All the principals agreed, which was enough for me, although one of the principals was missing, Rebekka. When I contacted Rebekka about the screening, she advised she was in the middle of a commitment she could not interrupt, but she assured me she was confident what I would determine sufficient for the movie would be more than adequate. I never put anything else into it and the screening for all was sufficient, too. This will do.

The following day a car parked before the AVAP building in Munich exploded with such force and devastation much of the exterior of the building directly facing the street evaporated, like Oklahoma City and the Marines complex in Beirut. The explosion wasn't as big nor was our building, but the effect was the same, except for one instance. The explosion occurred late at night and the block was mostly a commercial block, despite the park across the street. Few lived anywhere in the block, few were present anywhere in the block when the explosion occurred, other than a handful of employees, owners, of AVAP. The vehicle had been parked across the street on the side of the park but almost equidistant from either end of AVAP's building. There was never a question AVAP was the target, but what caused my immediate flight to Munich, Germany was the sole and only fatality. On the third story of our building was the most lavish and attractive office of them all, since the office was a third of the entire length of the building and much of its length was open window space, with many windows which could be opened onto the park below. Jens had asked, if not demanded, this office from the beginning and since he was so instrumental in bringing everyone else into the fold and keeping them there, no one ever considered his right to the office other than deserving. Should he be sitting in his office late in the evening and deserve such a fate?

I flew into Munich the next day to begin arranging what was necessary because Jens' family could barely keep anything together. Authorities in Munich could not find enough pieces of Jens to even resemble a human body! We obviously had to conduct a closed casket ceremony and I had to be the rock for a wife who was barely twenty-four with two children, a boy and a girl, the girl not even eighteen months in this world! I knew one thing as I flew to Europe after I received the news. I would not rest until I had exposed the scum responsible for the bombing of Esperanza's office and this bombing. I would find them, I would expose them, and I would render them immobile and subject to the mercy of those who would have no interest in them whatsoever.

During the very restrained gathering after the funeral, Jacob received a call on his phone. He stepped to me while I was talking with the mother of Jens and very delicately pulled me aside. “You must take this call, Al-Barrak. It is the Phoenix and I recognize his voice. He says he must speak with you.” Jacob shoved his phone into my hand. We hadn't spoken with each other since the day before I left his compound in the company of Ali El-Nushara. We spoke barely a few sentences this day too, but the conversation ended with our both agreeing to meet in a terminal at the Munich airport the next afternoon. I handed Jacob his phone, told him what the conversation included and he would accompany me to the airport the following day.

I left the reception only after I pulled Jens' widow tightly to me and comforted her with the explanation I would never leave her with nothing, I would always take care of her and her children. I would never leave them to fend for themselves alone. It gave me great relief when I released her and gazed into her desperate eyes to see a glimmer of hope, of release, of belief. Personally, I never would have stopped providing for her and her children, but eventually I had to relent. I had grown her dead husband's earnings and worth for a few years despite the great financial panic and she called me. “I cannot express to you how much you have helped me, helped us, keep our lives together, but both of the children are in school now, and I know what I want to do with my life. Give me access to my husband's funds and I will be fully responsible. I take full responsibility and absolve you of all of it.” We discussed it because I was reluctant to absolve all of it, so she took only some of it and made quite a life for herself and her children. It has been many years since I had any control of it but I often think about Jens, a young man with so much wisdom, drive and determination, meeting this younger woman and knowing she was the one for him, and how right he was.

- Just Desserts, Segment Forty-ThreeFatalities” by Gregory R. Schussele, © 2021

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