After his swim in the hotel pool to loosen his taunt tired frame the Assassin went into the sauna. Striding past the Israelis, guests and other foreigners in the gym no one glanced at him. While his body was wiry and strong it was not muscle bound like the young Israeli men pumping iron , nor was it sloppy and flabby like the rest of the retired and semi retired lay abouts inhabiting every corner. The heat of the sauna would finish off the usual routine he chose after a successful assignment.
With his long glued on beard torn away, his baggy clothes shoved into the trash, his lithe frame could resume its normal posture, taller and more erect.
The knife used in the stabbings was down a drain, everything disposed of. No traces. One American dead and a dozen slashed in the mayhem that ensued during the early evening attack.
He stretched and eased his body gently onto the hot pine slats letting the heat seep into his bones. He thought back over the mission.
All along the board walk that edged the rocky coastline from Jaffa to the Old Town people had bled, and fled in terror. His rampage was well thought out, quick and effective. Slashing at people of all types as he ran down the street to his exit point. Flicking the blade with practiced ease in a back hand motion thru open car windows. Jabbing faces, slicing throats and jabbing arms. Blood splayed everywhere. But the Israelis where quick to react, as they were all trained to fight. But not quick enough to respond to their loved ones with blood spurting out of their faces.
This was not the first time Jaffa had seen blood on the street. Greeks, Romans, Knights Templar Ottomans and Turks had all cascaded their fair share of blood onto the rocky shores of Jaffa’s coastline.
Shots had been fired at him near the end of his stabbing spree, but to no avail. The Israeli security forces were too slow, they just could not be everywhere at once. He had grabbed the American and split him horribly. Then dashed up and away from the beach, through the scented trees, up steep stairs and into his pre arranged staging area.
His attack with impunity was meant to encourage other less capable men to believe they too could succeed like him. Mayhem would spread. The news would inspire and the social media chatter would foment copy cat attacks.
Jihadi’s would be inspired to follow in his wake. All would die. Martyrs one and all. For this he was pleased. No connection, no trail, no loose ends. The alleys and by wasy would fill with killers.
He now flipped the sand glass timer. Fifteen minutes would be enough he thought quietly. Ignoring the sting of hot wooden panels in the sauna against his bare skin he relaxed, released his mind and sucked in the hot air through his nostrils. His heart slowed.
Just a few hours ago his heart had been racing as he leapt rickety fences, crashed through apartment buildings and sprinted along cracked and worn pavement. Not until he had changed completely and eased back into the flow, faceless and nameless did he relax. Sirens seemed to wail all around him, despite his training it was still unnerving hearing the sirens and recalling his youth under the tyranny if the Zionist regime. He breathed deeply and willed himself uphill, through noisy traffic. Making his way to the highway, across and into the Crown Plaza hotel complex he walked at a brisk deliberate pace.
He recalled where he paused on Dizengoff Street in a side alley among one of many abandoned homes situated along the highway and right next to the IDF recruit training center. Ripping his shirt off to expose a padded vest with different clothing that doubled as part of his disguise, that of the older man weighted down by too much humus and bread over the years. The smells around him were of decay, mold and disuse. Now changed he strolled back into the street attired in gym gear.
SLAM…The door to the sauna opened, an old burly man shuffled in closing the door behind himself muttering all the while. It bounced open. The Assassin had opened just one eye to assess the threat. The gentleman saw this, smiled at him and spoke in Hebrew accented with thick German. “Hello! Finally today the sauna heat is right yes?! Much better than yesterday” The Assassin said nothing but nodded in agreement, closing his eyes. The man sat down nosily.
The old man in the sauna began to fuss, and moved erratically, then stood up. ” The body is good but the mind is weak, I forget this thing” The Assassin followed the mans motions, curious now. His hands dropped to be flat on the scalding hot boards he was seated on. Ready to push into motion should he need to.
Turning side ways to edge his rotund belly that stood 18 inches out from his hips the old man shuffled past, muttering. The door to the sauna opened and closed, letting the heat escape. Outside the Assassin could see the old man gathered a plastic bag with a container in it and a bottle of water. He watched as he took a tablet of some kind and picked up a towel as well. Then back he came, banging the door yet again.
Waving the bag at the Assassin who now scowled at the man as he returned “Dead Sea salt rub. You should take some! It speeds up the drying of skin to open the pores. Accept this as my apology for letting the hot air out.” The old man smiled. But the smile did not extend to his eyes. He waited arm outstretched. The Assassin waved him away curtly.
The old man now sat next to the Assassin but kept a respectful distance. He rubbed the dead sea salt over his huge belly, across the powerful shoulders and even down his comically skinny legs. “Here I insist take some” He pushed the jar in the plastic shopping bag towards the Assassin. Shrugging in acquiesce one long hand snaked out and took a small scoop, raising this to his nose he sniffed, and pressed the gritty cream between fingers. He nodded his thanks at the old fool. The Assassin began to rub it vigorously on arms and chest. The cream absorbed into the skin quickly, and left the surface feeling dry while the salt crystals absorbed the water and worked their way over the skin exfoliating.
The Assassin sat back, asking in Hebrew ” may I use a little more ” with a smile. “I would not offer with out expecting you to want more!” said the old man. The second application went along the hard muscle of the Assassins legs and down to his calves. It felt good on his skin, he rubbed generous portions more over his legs and torso. It was a soothing feeling to sense the droplets of water popping from the pores in his skin. Very relaxing.
Outside the sauna the din subsided. Less lockers we reopening and closing, fewer showers were running. Strange thought the Assassin. A bead of perspiration trickled down his long bicep, gathering in the crook of his elbow. Both hands rested palms up on his thighs now, legs partly spread. One foot turned toward the old man. More as insurance than anything, he was not afraid of him, just aware of his presence.
The old man started breathing heavily, lifting his arms up and down, tapping the ceiling in a rhythmic manner. Yet another disrupting noise and movement from him. The Assassin sighed inwardly. His eye flicked to the sand timer, the timer had passed so quickly he noted, strange he thought. His body felt heavy and weary. Time to leave I must be more tired than I realized he mused. The Assassin began to roll upward from his slouch using his abs and core to straighten. His body felt leaden, his left hand fell to his side. He could barely lift his arm. The accumulated sweat from the crook in his arm plopped in a puddle by his side.
In that instant the old man was raising his right arm up towards the ceiling. In a flash it connected with the Assassin’s face across the bridge of his nose. Crunching gristle and forcing a spurt of blood out to mix with the sweat on his face. Stars blinded his eyesight. Yet he could barely move. His arm raised slowly to fend off another strike to the face. Then another. I am in a trap was all he could manage to think as his leaden arms refused to move normally.
The Assassin saw the door to the sauna ripped open and a hard bodied shaven headed man entered. Special Forces tattoos adorned his biceps, a bar code tattoo was above his heart he noted. The third strike from the old man went thru less effectively this time as the Assassin partially blocked the punch.
Gathering his strength under his feet which were already in position to lunge at the old man he flung his body forward. To his great surprise his legs buckled. Grappled from behind the Assassin stumbled into the old mans lap. The plastic bag that held the Dead Sea salt rub now found its way quickly to the Assassin’s head. Face down, throat over the old mans knee and his arms locked from behind, he had a chance to grab one last breath. The lethargy spread, his arms and legs would not function to allow to use his abilities.
“Do you have him Herr Dr?” said the Special Forces tattoo man. “Ja,Ja..est ist gut” The Assassin bucked, convulsed, trying to tear the bag with his teeth. With a meaty hand behind his neck he could barely move.
The old mans left hand now clamped down on his mouth and nose. ” Never develop a routine, for we will find you” The Assassin bucked and kicked, trying to shake off the effects of the Dead Sea salts…or whatever was in it.
“No more killing for you” whispered the old man into the ear of the Assassin, who barely heard it over the rushing roaring sound of his heart pounding and his gagging for air.