Teaser 336: A Gift From the Phoenix

Phoenix told me he had a gift for me. It was the first utterance from him when we met in the terminal in the Munich airport the next day, Jacob standing beside me. Immediately I responded a gift from him was unnecessary.

Phoenix first looked at me curiously, gazed for a few moments at Jacob with some apparent recognition, and back to me and advised, “You have been traveling all over this world, Al-Barrak, with a very legitimate threat to your own life and doing so in a manner which does not render your safety and security unimpeachable, thus my gift to you is necessary.” Phoenix glanced again at Jacob, and immediately moved toward the counter of one of the few and small airlines which have sprung up from the Middle East. I glanced to Jacob and we both followed Phoenix as he moved behind the counters with barely any attention from anyone behind the counters and into the swirling activity of the other airline workers handling baggage or dealing with the many requirements for an airplane to get up in the air with a huge number of passengers. Straight to an open car with three rows of seats he guided us where his confidant from the compound waited behind the wheel. Phoenix turned to both of us. “Please, take a seat and we will take you there now.” I glanced to Jacob and he merely raised his eyebrows inquisitively. I climbed into the second row and Jacob followed me.

The driver steered the car out through the open back of the complex, the gates pulled up for business, and we scooted around the Munich airport along its perimeter for minutes. We left the edges of the commercial airline terminals and out along the runways and paths intersecting everywhere and eventually moving toward the private hangars. We had to wait a couple times at runways for airplanes to take off or land but the driver eventually reached a single, separate hangar and stopped the car to the side of the hangar door. Phoenix stepped out of the car to a security panel next to it, opened the latch of the panel, punched in some code, and the hangar door began to rise. Jacob and I stepped out of the car before the door and watched as the inside of the hangar was revealed, including the sight of a gorgeous turquoise blue jet, the fuselage not tall so inside one would have to stoop, but could probably carry twenty humans quite comfortably. When I turned to Phoenix, his smile, too, was gorgeous.

“This, Al-Barrak, I give to you,” Phoenix declared, “for you have a greater need for it than I do, and I have a much more suitable jet for my current needs and purposes.” To be completely honest I was trying to maintain a decorum of, well, it's nice. Thank you. I'm not so certain my expression was in collusion, but Phoenix smiled widely anyway. “You must not travel on commercial airlines any more, Al-Barrak. They cannot ensure your safety and security since their own safety and security can be so easily compromised by those truly committed. I give you all of this, the plane and the hangar. I have others. This is no burden to me at all. You, my brother, have experienced an attack against one of your wives and another which resulted in the death of the one who helped you build your entertainment empire. You are at war, Al-Barrak, and you must have the means to conduct this war or you will never prevail. This is a small way for me to help you prevail in this war. I told you once there was only one who could unite the tribes, but if you can be easily defeated, no one will unite the tribes. Accept this gift to you and achieve what you were meant to achieve, what I know you will achieve.”

Tanya and her security contingent had escorted Jacob and me to Munich and I had full use of a diplomatic car and driver, but Tanya was at her office. I called her and she immediately asked, since she knew we were meeting Phoenix, about the meeting. Calmly I responded, “I have a jet now, my own private jet with separate hangar. I'm currently in need of pilots, service and security people whom we can all trust, so Jacob and I agree we could use your consulting help, my beloved.”

It doesn't happen very often, more like once or twice every decade or so, and usually on some temporary basis, perhaps no more than weeks at a time, but in hours the German government flew in a high-level security team from Berlin and they set to work on first scouring the jet, the entire hangar and its full surroundings. It took nearly two days but as Tanya explained, with Jacob's full agreement, the Phoenix can't be completely trusted. I need to have a completely trustworthy jet and hangar before they can start creating and installing all the security measures. The German government, through a discreetly quiet proceeding as an act of their Parliament, took full control and responsibility for this private hangar and jet permanently lodged at the Munich airport, and still do so today. Also readily agreed was the employment of service people stationed at the Munich airport under national authority whenever we, meaning I, needed them, though I would have to pay for their time. Last came the ready agreement to provide German air force pilots when necessary. Again, their time working for us, meaning me, would be paid by me. Jacob and I had no objection to any of it, because all would be screened by Jacob and anyone else he designated at any and all times. Those affected never expressed any reservations, though any reservations about the entire arrangement were answered by Tanya herself, since she fully intended to use the facility and the jet whenever necessary and policy required control of such means of travel by national authorities, yet every time she used the facility and the jet, the cost to the German taxpayers was lower than any other means the government could provide. How about that? A win-win for everyone involved in a political arena, though throughout the whole process, there was only mildly negative reaction or comments. Reliable information and tracking, across the entire world, were beginning to reveal those behind the two bombings, and it was becoming more and more obvious they were linked and many of those now suspected were the very same people listed in the communique I read from Tanya's folder during Oscars week. I never expected any different.

We established a procedure which would begin before we flew anywhere in the world: we would receive at the destination airport a reasonable security contingent assigned to the jet as it sat on the tarmac or in a safe and secure hangar. Jacob and his designates would screen the contingent. Some public airports refused to provide such security. We never flew to any of them in all the years since we received this most generous gift from my one-time captor. In those instances we always found a private airport and arranged appropriate security with the owners. Our jet didn't need a long runway like commercial jets, just a reasonably paved runway of modest length and width. I always made mention once we arrived about the public airport's position. I enjoyed the top administrator's reaction to my mentioning their refusals, since each was usually swamped by media demanding comment. I have my lot in life. This is the lot in life of a bureaucrat, answering to media bees buzzing all around one. You may imagine I was greatly amused.

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

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