THE SPICE MERCHANT
Modern Urban Mystery Romance Fiction Novella
© Copyright Cupideros, Thursday, July 23, 2015
8,433 WORDS



Description:
African American Detective Diane Cooperfield's husband is kidnapped for ransom on orders of jail drug dealer Big Javon and she has to go and save him. 



CHAPTER 1 



Five days, African American Detective Diane Cooperfield thought.  Where are you Zack?  You’ve never stayed undercover this long without checking in.  Detective Diane searched more of Zack’s latest searches on the Internet.  She knew Zack didn’t like Arabs.  She had nothing against them herself as her computer screen flashed and scrolled down quickly. He kept going on and on about Prophet Muhammad’s last wife, a girl of six or seven years old.  Wood steps squeaked and the door leading out by the side entrance of the apartment building of her detective office slammed again.  Diane recognized someone, a man, left from inside her nearly dilapidated building again.  Her office got good ventilation and had a perfect secure angle view capable of spotting people approaching from far away.  Most of the tenants were good people.  Quiet people who respected each other's privacy lived in her building. She and Zack confirmed and researched that before they bought the office over the Chow Mein's Pizza shop.  Her peach colored watch face chimed, two p.m.  “It’s official Zack,” Diane said to herself, “You’ve been missing five days.”

Diane shook her head.  She folded her arms across her chest in disapproval.  Her shoulder-length black hair shined under the sunlight streaming through the one-room detective office in the middle of big metropolis Hopeonia City's black neighborhood.  How could Muhammad?  What was he thinking?  Diane's heart-shape face made her look softer and nicer than other black women.  By wearing leather clothes, Diane played down her big hips and bust.  Leather clothes emphasized her broader shoulders, her inverted triangle shape.  Her fiery amber eyes fired and her short hardnose flared when men tried to ask her out.  She looked angry whenever she got angry.  There was no mistaking Diane for the, too, innocent damsel in distress, someone capable of being ignored.  What were the men thinking?  Everyone in the black community knew Diane was married to Zack Cooperfield, the local African American Detective who had the luck of busting some of the biggest crime dealers in Hopeonia.  Didn't her long graceful fingers, particularly the one adorned by a small glitzy diamond wedding ring mean anything to these men?  Or maybe her plump lips saying no and her sexy strut gave off another answer.  Diane didn't care.  Just as if she never wore high heels augmenting her five feet eight inch tall figure even though her husband, Zack, often tried to get her to wear them. 

Men needed to set back, tone down and accept a woman's word.  She was taken, taken for good, for eternity in fact to Zack.  Reconsidering, Diane thought, maybe Prophet Muhammad's last wife felt the same way.  Diane was certain the age was right.  As she read, the air conditioner buzzed grew fainter and fainter under her concentrative gaze at the Acer Laptop.  According to her sources on the street in the Arab community, five scribes waited to record everything Prophet Muhammad said; so it didn't take a hundred years for the Koran to be written down.  Therefore, the age of the girl must be correct.  Diana, often, reconsidered all information given to her, factually, though.  She had nothing against the Arab community.  She needed to find out for herself.  Her husband Zack, on the other hand, had a tendency to believe everything told by other races from the Dumb-down-Tube.  Diane didn't.  The government lied all the time.  One year transfats were good for you; five years later transfats were bad for you.  At least Zack believed blacks should help out other blacks and he remained hopeful things for blacks would improve.  People just have to look hard to see that improvement happening.  Diane loved Zack for his noble thoughts.  His courage and community spirit inspired her love. 


Rightfully Diane and Zack should be happy.  They just bought forty thousand in gold bullion and store some of it, ten thousand, in their office safe behind the wall of a green background, black outline, starlight interior double infinity art painting by the great black mystical painter, Zen Jones.  They had a breakthrough.  The coming cash crash wouldn't be a pretty sight and they wanted to be prepared.  Diane believed in sure things.  Gold was sure.  Cash was iffy, especially weak dollars floating around backed by nothing but politicians’ hot air.  She knew the combination and keyword to get the rest of the gold.  Zack knew what bank the gold was stored in.  This way no one could force the other to reveal the place and get the gold should one of them be captured.

On top of that, Diane and Zack had just put away Big Javon, the local Marijuana King who had shifted into cocaine’s more lucrative income line since the legalization of weed waited around the corner.  Zack her Detective husband, a stocky, former construction worker who wanted to build up the black community lectured Big Javon.  "You had the world at your feet, if you waited a few years. Legal marijuana is a dream for a school dropout, bully like you.  But you had to go into the cocaine trade.  And through some Arabs at that!"

Now Zack was missing.  He always checked in every other day.  Sometimes every two days.  His going undercover caused difficulties.  Just saying to criminals and thugs, "Wait a second, I haven't checked in with my wife in five days," didn't produce good detective work.  Five days had gone by and Diane worried.  He last called on his phone to say he was checking out some of his Arab contacts.  His Arab contacts!  Zack couldn't stand Arabs; they'd pick up on that right away.  Now he was missing.  Diane didn't like the raw gut feeling churning inside her belly.  Those Arabs picked up on his hatred and now trouble trouble toiled and bubbled.

What might her husband have told the Arabs under duress?  Where the gold was?  On the other hand, Big Javon had threatened Zack.  "I'll get you, maybe not with these hands," his gruff voice boasted, "but through the hands of others.  Your enemies! Life is made for the tough and those capable of leading others for good or bad," he spat.  Big Javon's chubby jaws shook with venom when he spat out those words.  His tall six foot five-inch figure didn't faze the six foot, eight inch tall cop who pushed Big Javon behind Hopeonia's jail bars.  Both of them were linebackers on their local high school team, before Javon dropped out to sell marijuana.  Diane blew off the threat because she and Zack were well liked in Hopeonia.  Even though Hopeonia rivaled the population of Chicago and plenty of weak people might be bought off by Big Javon's, no doubt, hidden cocaine cash stash.  Now, it seemed as though Big Javon's boastful fateful prediction came true.


That was probably the reason for going to the gold standard again.  To wipe out all the illegal cash from drugs, international trafficking, and arms shipments.  The more Diane thought about Zack and searched the computer on information on Prophet Muhammad, the more it seemed as if International characters and consortiums were in play.  Zack and she may have stumbled into something bigger than the two of them.  They were like Oedipus Rex vowing never to get involved over their head only to have done so. 

Diane stopped reading. 

The wooden steps squeaked again, more softly.  She brushed back her shoulder-length black hair. A woman is coming up from the side door.  Diane put her forefinger up to her lips.  This might be the time to bring in local law enforcement.  She had done a couple of favors for Naja Kruse the head of the Hopeonia City's Police Department.  Naja Kruse followed all the rules; so bringing her in right away was always a mistake.  When no other logical options remained, then Naja Kruse's cell-phone buzzed from the security missing app. on Diane's computer and in her and Zack’s android cell phone.  Woodrow Nicolas, twenty-two, black computer website owner on the underground Torr Network, who liked to sing old 60s and 70s R&B tunes with his headphones, installed the app. in exchange for getting his stolen  expensive computer equipment back three years ago. 

Zack and she made it a policy to never use one another's contacts.  Having the exact same contacts created bad business and inspired snitches.  Tyler Bonnell, twenty-six, local drug dealers knew a few Arabs; however, she had no time to find Tyler.  Meeting the Spice Merchant dominated all her actions.  And Diane didn't know anyone in the Arab community--trustworthy.  What Diane really wanted and searched for an imaginative revelation; something unique to the Arab Community to hint where to begin her search. 

She had run to a particular juicy piece of research when her gut told her someone watched from across the street, at the trendy new fashion shop, Fearless Lace and Lingerie.  She swivel her chair around and looked outside.  Then suddenly she heard a swishing sound on the floor outside of her office door. 
Diane turned back and when a mysterious note slid under her door, she pushed her swivel high back brown chair back.  Diane left her computer file running on the Arab Prophet Muhammad and ran to the door, swept up the note into her hand, flung the door open and noticed the Arab woman’s lighter steps squeak-thumping down the spiral staircase.   From Diane view, only the woman's green and yellow headscarf stood out.  "Wait!" Diane gave chase down a long spiral set of stairs.  "Wait!"   The woman moved fast in her black Arab garb and green and yellow headscarf.  She burst through the side door and ran down the street.  When Diane opened the side door, she saw several blacks and a few Arabs women walking up and down the sidewalk.  None of the women had on a green and yellow headscarf. 
"Damn!  That was my opportunity, my certainty." 
Pa Mein emptied the garbage into the big metal trash bin for Wednesday-morning pickup.  "That woman ran faster than a roadrunner."
"Did you get to see her face, Pa Mein?"
He scratched his curly white hair head.  "No she didn't have a delivery.  Nor a take-out order.  I don't pay attention to my tenants’ friends and relatives.  If I did, I'd be in big trouble when it came to you and Zack."  Pa Mein laughed.  He had a southwestern drawl. 
"That's okay, Pa Mein.  I appreciate the privacy."
"I tell no one knows you live in this building."
"Pa Mein, why are you talking like a Chinese?"
Pa Mein smiled.  "I always do.  It helps sell pizzas."


Diane nodded.  She and Zack needed their privacy.  What little they had after working for six years together in the Hopeonia City.  "Thanks, Pa Mein."
He came back inside, and winked, when the side door closed.  "But if she comes back, I'll try to get a better look at her and tell you."
Diane stood startled. "Thanks, thanks for the inside help."
"You have our trust and privacy.  I can't blow that by talking outside in public to you like a snitch.  Now can I?"  Dark-skinned Pa Mein winked again. 


Back upstairs in her office, sitting back down, she read the note:
Your husband Detective Zack Cooperfield is in chains and in need of help tout de suite—immediately. Come to the bazaar in the Hopeonia City Arab side of town and see the Spice Merchant.  Bring ten thousand in gold.”
  --Signed Artless Adept


Diane's anger flared.  Her amber eyes fired.  She just noticed all her research had been erased from her computer.  Did someone wait until I left to delete it?  Or was it some Arab computer hacker from the Internet?  She banged her fist on the table.  "I was trying to be understanding; not jump to conclusion until I had the facts.  Maybe Zack was right.  Arabs can't be trusted." 

Diane didn't believe in fate, but someone knew they had just purchased gold in lieu of the coming cash crash in the American market.  She went to her safe, unlocked it and retrieved ten slim bars of gold worth ten thousand dollars. 

"Okay Artless Adept.  Here I come and you’d better deliver Zack or else things are going to get nasty and hurtful in a hurry."




CHAPTER 2



Diane put the gold bullion into the bottom of her brown tote and left the office.  Her phone began to ring when she was halfway down the spiral staircase.  She paused.  "I can't take on another case, but what if it were Zack calling? A thousand and one questions ran through her mind.  Questions that made her like the writer of the Arabian Nights, Scheherazade--wife of sultan of India, who spared her life because she told such wondrous tales each night.  Each time she had to end the story in the middle of something important to keep the king's interests.  And Diane knew that tout de suite meant immediately!  Diane kept going down the stairs and emerged out of the front door.  She waved to light skinned, rectangular-shape Ma Mein in the Chow Mein front window, raising a doughy pizza crust drooping down her hand before dropping it to wave properly.  Diane hopped into her white sedan and sped off down Patterson Way to the Arab district halfway across town.

When she arrived at the busy Fahd Ghannam Market she drove around looking for a parking spot.  "Damn it.  She squeezed the driving wheel.  "When is someone going to leave?"  Just when she voiced that wish-thought, someone pulled out and Diane pulled into the spot.  She put change into the meter and started walking the length of the market. 

The Fahd Ghannam Arab Market was long and full of colorful foods, matching nature's abundance.  Foods and domestic products like cooking pots, Persian rugs.  Diane smiled and ignored the stares of the women in their headscarfs.  Under different circumstances, she'd love to come and shop here.  They had lots of fresh produce for cooking original dishes.  If she's here, the Spice Merchant, best to check the spices.  After walking for five minutes she reached the vegetables and asked, "Where can I find the Spice Merchant?"
"Spice Merchant isn't here on Wednesday.  No wait.  There she is?"


Diane turned and saw a young woman of twenty-three emerging from behind an enclosed section of the market.  She stood by her stall of multicolored spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, onions, garlic and more exotic Arab scents and taste. 
"How can I help you, Miss?"  She smiled.  We don't get very many African Americans around here, unless they are revert Muslims.  Are you a revert Muslim?"
"Revert.  I don't understand. I was sent here by the Artless Adept."  Diane drew closer and showed the note to the Spice Merchant. 
"I see.  You want to see Asadel Tannous; he is cousin of the Owner of Arab Market, Fahd Ghannam.  Asadel doesn't like strangers and I believe your husband interrupted his peace when he came here looking for some harsh men."
"You mean drug dealers."
"Everyone is a dealer here in the Fahd's Arab Market.  I deal in spices.  Others deal in meats or Persian rugs.  Coming to a place like this asking that kind of question is very dangerous."  She looked around, shifting her eyes and raising on her toes.  "I will show you to your husband.  Come."

The young woman's green and yellow headscarf looked new. 
"You have a pretty headscarf?"
"Ohhhhh, I'm glad you like it.  A woman's headdress is her pride and joy.  This way."  They walked into the enclosed section of the Fahd's Arab Market.  Made of glass and wood, the building reminded her of a big white barn with many windows.  Cool airbrushed against their skin.
"I wish you had stopped in so we can talk."
"Ohhhhh, no you don't," the girl laughed.  "I did you a favor by keeping your residence a secret."  Spice Merchant turned back and glanced at Diane.  "Privacy is important to people in the merchant business."
"Yes." Diane followed the girl as they walked past the interior meat section of Fahd's Market and several Arab men with brown tawny skin looked at her disapprovingly.  Diane’s amber eyes fired.  Her nose flared. 
"Ignore those fools.  They disapprove of your dress; leather is for animals not human beings.  And, right this way," they began to go down some steps.  "Your clothes fit tight, revealing your form."
Diane tensed her lips.  "I guess they're not used to seeing a woman's true form."
"That is correct," said a voice that jumped out from behind a white pillar in the underground parking lot.  "Arab woman dress modestly.  Eyes hold the beauty it is said." 

The man looked gruff and had a two-year-old full sideburn and beard.  His wiry built implied he had quick muscles.  He was the same height as Diane, except the gun he pressed into her side, on top of her kidney, gave him power of control. 
"One shot here and you'd have all kinds of trouble recovering, even with the best of care, Diane Cooperfield.”




CHAPTER 3



The young Spice Merchant turned around.  "Sorry for the deception, Detective Diane, but whites can never be trusted to play fair.  And in this business, those who deal with whites a lot like you and your husband Zack Cooperfield can't be trusted either.  I have to search you."
"My gun is behind my back."
Artless Adept's gruff voice thundered.  "And the gold?  You brought the ten thousand in gold or you'll both be floating down the river."
Diane hesitated.  Trying to take the two them might be doable, but she was nowhere nearer to her husband than when she first stepped out of her white sedan.  And he might be injured or dying.  Hold on, Zack, Diane thought to herself.  I'm coming.  "No trouble.  The gold bullions in my tote."
"Check it Spice Merchant."
"Ohhhhhh, there it is.  And look how sparkly she's kept the gold?  The love of gold never ends does it Asadel?"
Asadel smiled wickedly at Spice Merchant.

Diane picked up some tension between them; they were lovers or enemies.  If need be, she used that to her certain advantage.  "Did you hack my computer Artless Adept--Asadel?"
"No one should be spreading filth about the Prophet Muhammad like your husband Zack."
"Your men married girls young 7-10 back in the 1880s and that was only two hundred years ago!" Spice Merchant snapped.  She waved her hand dismissively at Diane.  "White men always think in terms of filth about Prophet Muhammad instead of voicing their true criticism, which is against Islam itself!  Airborne Dreamers."
"She means hot air talkers, Americans," Asadel explained.  "They never do mean what they say?  All talk is for show."
The girl was smaller than Diane and didn't look to have a muscle in her body so Diane felt no fear.  Only her situation and Zack’s left much to be desired.  And much to be feared, if all the Arabs were this hotheaded.  "I apologize for Zack.  You should know Zack is going to retire at the end of this year."
"Retire! Adept, you hear that.  We won't have to worry about Zack’s filthy rumors continuing.  But what about yours Diane Cooperfield?  I have every record of your search of Prophet Muhammad.  I believe life doesn't work unless people talk or communicate with one another." 
"You can put your hands down," Asadel barked.  He laughed.  He wrapped the gold up and stuck it in a brown messenger satchel he had hanging from his shoulders strap to his hip.  "Gold is just what we need when this lousy American weak dollar crashes and burns.  I like your show of anger for our Prophet Muhammad; finally, you are sounding like a true Arab."
"In doing my own research, I found nothing he did to be so terribly wrong, when taken the concept of when his marriage took place.  Roman men married women that young too.  We want to have a family.  He's going to teach the Blue Grats' Reform school over on Blue Grats Street."
"Muslims were not born yesterday, Detective Diane," barked Asadel.
"You got your ten thousand in gold.  I want to see my husband Zack!"


"Patience, Patience,” Asadel said, grinning.  "Can you believe this Spice Merchant?  Even these African Americans can still understand fidelity and love."
Spice Merchant stood with her hands on her hips, hips covered in her black traditional Arab garb.  She raised her hands and pulled her headscarf off her pretty golden face.  She said, "I believe it's a rarity.  They're always sleeping around with someone else's partners.  They lost their morality during slavery days."
Diane grimaced.  She hated when foreigners brought up American Slavery.  Who could understand it?  Being ripped from Mother Africa and being carried across an ocean so vast, and not swimmable to return?    Diane took in her surroundings.  She shrugged her shoulders.  She waited, as Asadel finally came around to her front.
"Now we meet face to face, Detective Diane Cooperfield, the capturer of Big Javon and the spreader of filth about Prophet Muhammad," bragged Asadel.
"I didn't spread any--"
"Your husband did!" he waved his black pistol in Diane's face.  He pointed the pistol to her hard flat nose.  "I should blast this nose off your face, like Napoleon did the Sphinx in Egypt."
"Adept?" Spice Merchant said cautiously.  "Mubin Hadad wants to speak to them--alive."

The tension in the air was so thick; you could put it between two slices of bread and eat it for supper. 

"Mubin.  She means Mubin our religious leader here in Hopeonia City."  He smirked at Diane and then smiled at Spice Merchant.  "One day, I'm going to marry you and even your dad cannot deny me, spiritual leader of all Muslims in Hopeonia City or not."
Spice Merchant put her finger to her nose and pinched the bridge of it.  Then she moved close and pointed her finger upward but close near Asadel's face, "You'll never marry me because you think like a thug and act like one too!  You're an Airborne Dreamer, too," Spice Merchant blared.
"I ought to--!" Asadel Tannous' gun hand trembled.

"I'd like to see my husband," Diane said, and took a deep breath.  Diane spoke up to break the rowdy tension between the two possible lovers.  If she played her cards right, she could use Spice Merchant to their advantage.  And Diane and Zack's situation cried out for help.  Diane's patience wore thin and when that happened she usually took certain action, prudent.  All opposition had to be tested.  Maybe they were bluffing.  But, she decided to wait.  More to this little snare smelled a foot to Diane Cooperfield.  This wasn't just about Arabs.  She sensed Big Javon's workings behind the scenes.

"Come we need to rejoin you with your husband," Asadel laughed.  "Perhaps you will provide more gold.  Or maybe you will meet your end.  The contracts out on your heads from Big Javon read, "Exterminate him or her or them within forty-eight hours."
"But it's been a week already!" Diane shouted, as Spice Merchant went back up the stairs. 
"Nice meeting you, Diane Cooperfield.  I bought you a week, with my influence.  And it was superhard to find you," she paused at the top of the stairs.  But now your forty-eight hours begins!"  Spice Merchant gave a curt nod to Asadel, the Artless Adept.

As Diane watched the green and yellow headscarf disappear back up into Fahd Ghannam's Arab Market, a sense of sadness came over her.  She and Spice Merchant had a lot in common.  Women should be completely free and unencumbered by the state of marriage.  Here she freely chose to marry Zack, but like young girls from a bygone era, Spice Merchant struggled to choose her own husband of her own liking.

Spice Merchant had bought her and Zack a week.  Now they needed to make the most of their forty-eight hours left.





CHAPTER 4



Diane's feet and hands were tied.  She willingly stuck out her hands to be tied after getting into the truck of the SUV.  She let her feet be tied.  She hated closed in places, but this was for love.  She'd do almost anything except worship Zack Cooperfield.  Their hearts held a special bond for one another.  His five days missing increased her love for him, and she knew Zack's love for her grew as well.  She wanted to see him again.  Hold him.  Just being in his presence and him in her presence supplied them strength.  They rescued each other somehow.  They always had.  She was put into the back trunk of a black SUV.  The route to the hideout location where Zack was being held would be difficult to sniff out.  She listened carefully to the number of traffic stops.  She listened to the sounds beyond the sound of tires screeching and turning, manholes being popped up by the SUV's tires.  Diane listened for the unusual sounds, like children from a schoolyard, or the sound of water from a river or ocean.  She had been blindfolded as well.  Things had never been so difficult. 

The program on her computer, if it wasn't completely shut down would alert Naja Kruse the police department head to put out a search for them, if it was not stopped with a keyword within twelve hours.  Both Zack and Diane had the app. on their android phones, too.  Asadel and Spice Merchant didn't take her phone.  Little good that did, because Diane had no way of stopping the app. anyway.

Her eyes closed threw her back to her childhood when she was sixteen and decided to become a detective.  A Scottish scientist cloned a lamb from Dolly the sheep.  Right then, Diane knew men's aspiration led them astray and evil men would someday use science against the masses.  She wanted to be a detective and stop them.  Although, men had been using science against the masses ever since the early days.  She busted meth labs creating synthetic LSD and crack cocaine.  She broke up Marijuana fields in basements of abandoned buildings.  Her life meant keeping the children safe from drugs and being forced to take them.  Just as her husband Zack wanted to create a healthy black community when Nelson Mandela became president of South Africa; at the time of the cloning, she also wanted to create a healthy black community in Hopeonia City.

Listening intently shortened the trip for Diane.  She estimated it took thirty-five minutes.

Bright lights streamed through the blindfold, but Diane still saw nothing, but the figure and Calvin Klein cologne smell of Asadel, the Artless Adept.   "You're home.  And if I have anything to do with it, you'll be residing in our estate forever!"


Diane walked wobbly.  Her legs circulation hadn't been good in the fetal position of the SUV trunk.  "I'm glad you're not the religious Muslim leader in Hopeonia City then."
"I'm his right hand man, for eliminating the competition though!" Asadel gruff laughing continued as he pushed Diane over some gravel pathway that led to a smooth sidewalk and to the front door of a huge mansion.

Diane sensed the space within her gut.  The birds became more numerous.  Too numerous.  A bird fountain stood nearby the entrance way.  She smelled the salt of an ocean too.  This mansion was by an ocean--Saker Keep!   Not too many oceans near Hopeonia City.  For certain, she'd find the place again, if they survived!

"You're back, Asadel.  Didn't I tell you never to use the front door?  You Fool!  At three fifteen in the afternoon?  Anybody could be looking?"
Asadel stuttered, "Sul-Sulaiman we live out in the middle of nowhere!"
Diane heard Asadel’s voice flying off into the wide-open spaces. 
"No one is within five hundred acres, Sul-Sulaiman."
"Bring her in--Bring her in." The young voice of patience sounded from Sulaiman.  "At least you know how to handle black drug dealers.

Diane put his age at twenty-eight and her gut was good at guessing ages.  Both men were the same age, but Sulaiman had more of a foreign accent.  Asadel the Artless Adept earned his name.  Sure someone, using the right tools, found it possible to see the goings-on at Mubin, the religious leader's front door. 

"Take her down to the basement with her husband!" ordered Sulaiman.

Diane's heart thumped for joy.  Zack was still alive.  He was still alive.  Spice Merchant kept them safe, but, now, their forty-eight hours ticked away.  Still blindfolded, she noticed the smell of Arab spices coming from the kitchen.  The kitchen stood above the basement.  This gave Diane possibilities of escape.  All she and Zack needed to do was coordinate their attack, their escape.  First hijack one of the cars and two, takeoff. 

But first, they needed to nail down Big Javon's coffin.  He'd get out of the cocaine deal after twenty years.  She wanted him put away for life, and knew Zack felt the same.




CHAPTER 5



"Honey!  Honey!" Zack cried out.  "Blindfolded or not, I'll kill all you Arab Motherfuckers if you harmed a curly hair on her head or body." Zack angry and pulled and tugged at his brown duct tape around his wrists and ankles.
"Zack baby.  Zack are you all right?" Diane said, hesitantly still being guided into a wooden chair next to her husband.
"I'm fine Honey.  Fine.  Fit as a fiddle and ready to kick some butt if they don't let us out of here soon.  You should have seen the black eye I gave to one of them A-arabs.  Probably hiding out in Morocco somewhere."

Sulaiman Baz pushed Detective Diane over to Waddah Khoury. 
Waddah Khoury punched Zack in the mouth.  "Shuttttttt Up!  I cannot stand these American Airborne talkers.  You can't do nothing, all taped up."
"Big Javon is behind all this, Baby."
Waddah forced Diane into a small wooden chair.  The type of chairs one sees in high school.  He left her blindfold on.  "No removing of the blindfold," said Sulaiman, you're good detectives and what you might discover just seeing with those brown eyes is not something we're willing to risk."

"Silence."

"Baby you all right?"
"Nothing they can do to hurt me, Honey.  Their Prophet is a child fucker."
"Baby, baby stop with that.  All men were sleeping with little girls back then.  Romans.  American's going out West.  Spice Merchant was right.  I came across the research in 1880s men were sleeping, marrying girls that young."
"That don't make it right.  Today it ain't right."
"With all the pedo going in by your high and might officials in their MK-Ultra program, you got your nerve Zack Cooperfield," Sulaiman shouted.  "You’re a hypocrite!"
Waddah boasted, "I don't care how stocky you are.  Or what you lifted during your construction jobs.  Neither do I care about the tight fixes you got out of in the Black community during your eight years as a famed Detective of Hopeonia City."  Waddah Khoury hit Zack again, on the right cheek.  "Thud!"  He waited.  "You're supposed to turn the other cheek again, Zack.  Aren’t you a good Christian detective?"

"Good Christian Detective my ass," Zack thundered back.  "I'm going to kill you Arab scum Motherfuckers."
Diane pleaded.  "Zack stop it.  This isn't about Prophet Muhammad--this is about Big Javon.  We've only got forty-eight hours."


Zack stretched out his callused thick fingers.  Diane's slender fingers stretching out toward him.  "Nobody can put a time limit on my life but God!" Zack argued rocking and slamming his chair down.  "Least of all that oblong face, droopy eyed nearly overweight fat Big Javon!"

Diane listened.  The chair underneath Zack squeaked and creaked like the stairs in the office building.  That chair neared the breaking point.  "Zack we need to discuss this rationally."  Diane lifted her chair and slammed it down, but actually moved it closer to Zack's chair.  She whispered.  "The apps going to go off in twelve hours and Naja Kruse will search for us."
Zack stopped slamming his chair down.  "I know that.  That's why I'm distracting them."

Zack stretched out his callused thick fingers and touched Diane's slender fingers stretching out toward him.

"At least someone can make him keep his big mouth shut," Waddah declared.  "I tell you, you're one irritating black African American.  I'd like to put you in Palestine and see how long you'd last under the Israelis’ bombs."
Sulaiman Baz spoke.  "I'm not an evil man.  Zack and Diane Cooperfield.  We simply brought you here to stop your badmouthing the prophet Muhammad.  And from what I can see, Zack, your wife is a reasonable person.  If we can work this broken nail sticking up out of place, e might let you go.  You can then take care of Big Javon yourself."
"It's a trap, Baby.  We need to know how Javon is getting his drugs?"
Sulaiman and Waddah laughed uproariously.  "Boy they are funny.  Do you really think I'm going to tell you two that?"

Diane calmed down.  "There something bigger than Big Javon going on here.  Isn't it?"
"Sanity at last," Sulaiman clapped.  "You know, you two could help us out--"
"I don't know about that," Zack cut Sulaiman off.
"Haven't we treated you two nice?" Sulaiman continued.
Diane turned her blindfolded head to Zack.  "Baby, they've treated us OK.  Just stop fighting and hear them out."


The slow footsteps sounded, patient footsteps from someone season and wise. 
Zack said, "Sixty-three years of age, probably got a long white beard and turban on like Ruhollah Khomeini, except Mubin's was white and not black."
"I agree," Diane said, turning her small ears toward the steps leading from nearby the kitchen.  She pegged Sulaiman and Waddah as childhood friends who believed in loyalty, to each other and obviously to Mubin.
Sulaiman Baz, said reverently, "MUBIN HADAD."
Waddah Khoury said, "MUBIN HADAD."
"Boys.  Boys, don’t mistreat them.  We've got less than forty-eight hours to see if they want to help us."  He paused and looked around. 
"Here is a chair for you,” said Sulaiman." 




CHAPTER 6



Diane and Zack listened to the metal chair being set down.  The old man Mubin Hadad sat. 
"I'm glad we're closer to resolving this Prophet Muhammad, last wife stuff."  He waved his right hand slowly. 
Diane squinted and tried to get a look at him through her blindfold.  The sparse parts of the black mask didn't reveal much, but she could see his long-white beard and white head turban. 

"These religious past events are important . . . Yes, but properly understood, even your history clears us of any charges.  And yes, yes, Detective Zack those days were very, very different.  Slavery existed.  Women were chattel, and Islam brought improvements.  But today you have the same kinds of things going on, right here and it's not even in those," he slowly waved his hands majestically, "those days.  This is today."
"He's right Zack.  I've been doing some research.  It's deeper than you think.  It's really bad out there.  And these children at the Blue Grates' Reform School need a strong stable hand to help them.  There's plenty of work for you to do for children Zack."
Zack turned his head right and left.  He leaned an ear toward his wife, Diane.  "You serious?"
Diane believed things only improved if people keep trying and never gave up trying to make it better.  She tried to help out by donating money and helping out at the local orphanage whenever she found free time on the weekend.
"The lifely precision work you can do for children is waiting, Zack.  But we have to survive this."

Zack changed his mind.  "I apologize.  My hunch was all wrong.  Now how can we help you, Mubin Hadad?"
"Thank you, Detective Diane and thank you Detective Zack.  We can discuss things peacefully.  As you know, Fusion technology is being developed."
"That's correct," said Diane and Zack together.
"What you may not know, is the implications.  It will make the oil in the Middle East obsolete.  Carbon based fuels will be a thing of the past.  My Arab consortium wants to--as you say get in on the Fusion market."
Mubin gave two sharp claps of his hands.  Vigorous claps.
Waddah ran upstairs.
"Let us wait for Waddah to return.  Meanwhile, I will say a prayer to Allah," Mubin concluded.  He bowed his head.
Diane got the impression Sulaiman Baz bowed his head too.  "Let's pray, Baby.  God can do all things,” Mubin obviously wanted everyone to be more religious. 
"Well--I've never been as big on God as you, Diane, but it can't hurt."

They all prayed.  Each to their own God or all to the same God.

Two minutes later rapid footsteps returned.


Mubin said, "Ah here is my Fusion associate, Vlado Šimunoviæ, from Croatia; Fusion expert willing to work with Arabs."  Valdo's oval face held bright blue and hard small eyes.
"I don't understand why do you need us Mubin?" Diane said.
"Because, Europeans don't want us to get our hands on this technology."
"You know why?" Zack said, because you'll hold it against all the people's in the world."
"Zack.  My husband is a little reactive.  Zack listen to Mubin.  Remember we only have less than forty-eight hours."
Zack nodded.
Vlado Simunoviae said, "The technology is available, but it cost money.  That money comes from the drug deals."
Zack immediately said, "No. No.  No!  You are not going to fund saving Arab countries by getting our children hooked on drugs."
"I don't think he means that, Zack.  He's talking about distribution of parts, chemical supplies, and like."
"Correct," Vlado said.
"We'd handle the distribution network ourselves, but people in other places don't want us to have the technology.  It's like people not wanting Arabs to have the latest computer."
"That’s BS. You A-Arabs can afford anything.  You don't need the black community for that.  Least of all a drug dealer like Big Javon."

Diane listened.  It all made sense now, why Spice Merchant spent a week searching for them and trying to bring them together.  "Why didn't you just send Spice Merchant to come in and ask for help?”

"We were aware that Big Javon had people watching your office.  We want to keep Big Javon from knowing about us using his network for Fusion activities," said the thirty-four-year old Croatian, Vlado Šimunoviæ.  Like illegal arms deals and TTP trade deals, many secret things occur.  Some good, some bad, and some neutral.  Big Javon inherited the transportation network from the previous, deceased cocaine owner.  He knows he's got a good thing."

Mubin stepped in, waving his hand dismissively to Vlado.  "Shall I put it mildly?  Big Javon is not sophisticated to handle a situation like Fusion."  Mubin paused.  "And what we need is someone with the right connections, and sophistication to build a new silk road."



CHAPTER 7



"You want us to use our contacts to build this new Silk Road to Fusion for the Arabs," Diane said, grasping the potential. 
Mubin nodded.  "Yes.  Yes."
Sulaiman, Waddah and Vlado nodded. 
"You can see that Artless Adept Asadel is like Big Javon.  His heart is in the right place, but his," Mubin waved a dismissive wrinkled light-brown hand again, "It is shall we say beyond him."

Calm now and seeing the big picture, Zack said, "You had to kidnap me to assure no one knew of our negotiations."
"In a manner of speaking Detective Zack, yes," Mubin responded.  "I am an old man, sixty-three, but our Arab community is young and Fusion will help us."

Diane asked, "How much of this Fusion deal is about the coming cash crash?"
"Much, as Vlado explained to me, because if one has no cash, only gold, how can they afford energy?  Fusion is big and many countries are rushing to develop it."

"Why asks us to bring ten thousand in gold then?" Diane said angrily.
"Don't be angry.  We needed an excuse to get you here for the private negotiations.  My daughter Spice Merchant thought up the entire scheme."
"So she is the person I should be arresting for kidnapping!" spat Zack.
"Baby."
"No Honey.  I don't like being kidnapped for a week.  I could have dined at that new fish restaurant, the Deep Sea Foundry.  I--I could have bought you some sexy lingerie from the Fearless Lace and Lingerie shop across the street from our office."

Everyone laughed.

"I'm serious!" Zack insisted.  "If you A-Arabs are so big of fidelity, ou know what it's like to be deprived of your wife for an entire week?  No cuddly spooning in bed, watching old black-and-white vintage movies."
"Awwww.  Baby.  Zack.  I understand."
"My daughter, Spice Merchant, collects vintage black-and-white films.  Maybe I can get her to lend you some of her vintage films to make up for your . . . your--loss of romantic time?"
"Forget it, Mubin.  I just want to be untied."
"Will you become violent?" Waddah inquired.


"Do I have to be mentally insistent?"  Zack waggled his head, "You A-arabs gave me a mock execution."
"You wouldn't shut up," hollered Sulaiman.
"Hey! I will become violent if you don't untie me.  Now!"
"You don't have to worry; he will behave," Diane said, turning to Zack as she reached out and touched his hand.

"Untie them," Mubin ordered.
Sulaiman checked his order, "You sure, Mubin?"
"Didn't I order you to untie him?  Untie him and his wife."
"Yes, Mubin."

Sulaiman and Waddah cut the brown duct tape from Zack and Diane's wrists and ankles.

Zack pulled off his blindfold.
Diane pulled off her blindfold.

Diane got untied first and got up and rushed to Zack.  She threw herself into his arms.  "Zack, Baby, I missed you so much."
"I missed you too, Honey."  Together, they sat back down in their high school wooden desk chairs.

Mubin waved his hand to the chairs they were sitting in, taped down to.  "Please sit."
Diane confirmed her appearance of Mubin: Long white beard, white turban on his head, and ruddy, tan and cracked skin.  About sixty-three years old.  Only his eyes seem watery and frail.  He looked patient and moved slow and the respect the Arab boys showed for him as the religions leader impressed her.  Sulaiman and Waddah had dark black hair, deep brown eyes and squat builds.  Both had diamond-shaped faces and seemed like brothers.
"You want to know if you have a deal," said Zack, holding his arm around his wife."
Diane offered.  "You have a deal.  We'll help you on one condition?"

Diane and Zack turned to one another.  "You have to help us put Javon away for good, for life."

Mubin turned to Sulaiman and Waddah Khoury.  "Boys can it be done?"
"Anything can be done, Sir."
"Can it be done with as little disruption to our Fusion plans as possible?"
Sulaiman said first, "I think it can be arranged.  If detectives, Diane and Zack take care of the Police."

Mubin nodded slowly.  "Can you keep the Hopeonia City Police Department looking the other way?"

Diane consulted in whispers with Zack. 
"I don't know about doing this, Honey.  It's probably illegal."
"Baby, what's illegal?  Do you think the Fire Department and Police Departments selling drugs to snitches is illegal?  Do you think the Banking Crises and the bailouts crossed the line of illegality?  Everywhere we look we see official illegality?  What about all the people's cash who can't afford gold?  Is our political system legal, when no matter whom you voted for Republican or Democrats--they all do the same thing once in office?"
"That doesn't mean we should join in and do illegal stuff," Zack whispered back.
"The TransPacific Trade Pack is illegal," Diane argued.  "No one has even seen the thing and it gets a pass in Congress?"
Zack whispered, giving in, "Hopeonia City Police is full of corruptions far worse than this anyway.  Let's do it?"

***

"We'll handle it," Diane said to Mubin after another minute of negotiations with Zack.
Zack added, "First you put away Big Javon."
Mubin said, "Give us one weeks’ time."



CHAPTER 8



Diane looked at her cell phone.  "I must do something right away Mubin."  Diane called in to her computer program using the notification app. to Naja Kruse.  "There all is well."
Mubin rose slowly and held out his wrinkled brown hand.  "To Fusion."
"To Fusion," Diane said, shaking his hand first.
"To Fusion," Zack said, shaking Mubin's hand.  "Now let sit down and have a proper lunch and discuss the finer details."
Diane shook Valado's hand.
Zack shook Valdo's hand.
Zack shook Sulaiman and Waddah hand.  "No hard feeling boys," Zack said.
"No hard feelings,” Sulaiman and Waddah offered with a laugh.

Everyone clapped.


***

One week later, a big drug bust occurred that left Asadel, the Artless Adept holding a car load of cocaine meant for the black streets of Hopeonia City and Asadel pointed the finger to Big Javon.  The deal put Asadel behind bars safely away from Spice Merchant and where he could keep an eye of Big Javon. 

Diane and Zack got their ten-thousand gold bullions back.  They received a discreet paid undisclosed amount by the Arab Fusion Consortium for their help.

Big Javon never found out who sold him out.  The Fusion deal when forward without a hitch, with Diane and Zack quiet guidance. 

Spice Merchant married the man she always wanted Sulaiman Baz.  She invited Diane and Zack to a big Arab wedding at Mubin Hadad's mansion on the Saker Keep beachside. 


Four weeks later, Police Department Head Naja Kruse finished securing all the fine details to make sure Big Javon stayed behind bars for life.  She met Zack and Diane at the Tranquility Nightclub over drinks.

"It’s like I always said, people won't to see the truth that crime doesn't pay; so we have to make them believe."  Naja waved a slender hand upward as she changed the subject.  "I can't believe your app. almost triggered me," Naja jested.  "I was so swamped with work.  I'd be climbing up a major mountain trying to save you two.  Getting a search warrant for Mubin Hadad's residence would have been a paperwork and community nightmare."
"Well it's good we got ourselves out of that spot," Zack said, smartly.
"Did he do it, or was it all you Diane?" 

The two women laughed.

"Naja you know it--all me.  I'm all for him wanting to settle down to a life of teaching the children at the Blue Grats' Reform School.  He wanted some space from me.  I was getting to emotional and touching-feely, clingy to him."

All three laughed.

Zack replied, "I still sometimes get the urge to go out and knock a few heads of the criminal elements.  Then I sit back at my desk in the Blue Grats', remind myself.  I'm doing something better.  I'm stopping future criminal for forming, from starting down the long dreary road to prison."
"I can't think of a better solution to crime than prevention, Zack."  Naja Kruse held up her wineglass for a toast.  "To men settling down and rearing the children, seeing how tough it is and liking it."
Diane laughed.  "And it is tough, I bet."  She looked to Zack. 
"Oh heck, yeah.  I had to sit one-child down and tell him what a woman's body really was for the other day."
Naja asked, "What is a woman's body for Zack?"


"I don't know what I said to that kid, fourteen years old and him wanted to make babies.  Not directly, though."  Zack showed a so-so motion using his right hand.  "I asked him was he ready to change diapers?  Was he ready to listen to his wife talk about her job?  Was he ready to read stories to his babies and make sure they got off to school on time?"  A big smile shone on Zack's face.  "That kid was like no way."  I said, "Be a man find a job and work. It's a lot easier.  Work until you’re ready to find one wife and make a baby."
"That's what you told him about a woman's body?" Naja said, incredulously.
Diane laughed.  "Zack and I haven't had that puberty talk yet.  But I reckon after twelve years of practice he'll be ready."
"I understand puberty.  I went through it, remember!"
"Zack I think, Diane is saying she's pregnant?"

Zack turned to Diane.  He stood up and looked at her belly.  "Damn fashion secrets.  Now even leather can hide a woman's fertile condition.  Why didn't you tell me, Honey?"
"Baby, I--I thought you noticed last time we took a bath together."
"How could I?"
"Oooooooooo.  I don't think this is a conversation for the public to hear."
"You're really pregnant?" Zack asked softly.
"It's a girl so you're going to have to be on your toes.  Not disappear like most African American dads."
Naja scoffed.  "You mean dads, all races included."
"Yes, and Zack you'll need to be there for every break up and date union she has."
"Wait!  Wait!" Zack said scoffing.  "She's not dating anyone until either age eighteen or I'm in the grave."
"ZACK!" Naja said, picking up her wallet and her police badge.   "I think I've heard enough puberty talk from men for one day.  I can't believe you didn't let those A-arabs keep him, Diane," she said in a whisper, to them both, in the crowded Tranquility Nightclub.
"He said, he'd behave and wanted to settle down."
"I meant to the Blue Grats' Reform School."
Diane's amber eyes fired.  Her nose flared.  "I'm hurt," Diane said, and pouted.
"Hardly, I married the toughest woman detective in Hopeonia City.  I'm right proud of it.  We're going to stay together through children, their puberty and seeing their college graduations."
"I agree with all that."  Diane gave Zack a kiss.
Zack kissed Diane back.
Naja said, "This is getting a little R rated for me.  I'll see you two later."


Diane continued her detective work after delivering Spice Cooperfield, a bounding eight-pound baby girl.  Zack continued limited hours at the reform school while he baby sit and raise Spice.  They lived happily and enjoyed a good life in Hopeonia City and good relations with the Arab Community.


--THE END--





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