Today in Tel Aviv
By Cleveland W. Gibson
The door was locked.
I struggled, yet instincts said nothing changed. The door stayed shut like a steel rat-trap, right there in my mind. The shutter tampered with my sanity, blocked off an escape route I needed to follow.
One major stroke had slammed that door shut forever; it caused my lack of speech, my loss of movement. ‘If only’ covered such a massive area. Yet all I wanted was a clear road to my mind.
Dumb, still as a statue I sat, a scared weak-livered chicken, in the darkened room. Becky, my helper, lay curled up at my feet. I heard the shot, her brief scream as the two men killed her. I rolled my eyes in shock and horror. I showed my displeasure.
The men laughed. One stuck a pair of sunglasses on me.
Death meant no new danger to me. I'm Max. Max the Big Guy, the Israeli of French Foreign Legion campaigns, then the Belgian Congo. I laughed at myself. I’m Max the military expert living here in Tel Aviv, but now it’s Max in a wheelchair, Max the cripple unable to move anything but his eyes. I'm damn Max looking at poor Becky, dead at my feet.
After the stroke, I managed to survive but my active days ended. Months, years later my condition worsened. Each day Becky took me to Jimmy’s, next to Lord Wingate’s statue. Then when I sat there watching the world pivot around me, she’d go across the cafe to talk to her boyfriend.
I always wore a twisted look on my face. People hated the look. I couldn’t help it. Now Becky can’t help her looks either. She is dead. Her beautiful face uncovered. She’s silent too.
The two men took out bomb-making materials. One fiddled with my chair. They boasted about their clever plans. The men wanted to kill my friends, in fact any Israeli in the same cafe I visited each day with Becky.
Their plan sounded simple enough. Using a few tools, a mobile phone, and explosives, they hoped to turn my electric chair into a lethal bomb.
Ring. Ring. Ring.
I knew the outcome and cried to myself.
The Arab girl with long, black hair dressed in Becky’s clothes. Once the men finished talking, she set off with me. I still wore sunglasses, but underneath my eyes started to roll. Faster and faster. Round and round. As each minute passed, I became more petrified.
The girl tucked the mobile phone into my useless hands. Everybody saw it, but they never knew what it represented.
Once in the cafe, the Arab girl found me a spot right in the center where people chatted. Loud voices, mixed with the cacophony of street sounds, started to frighten. I trembled. I shook. I rolled my eyes. More visitors flooded the cafe, laughing and joking, perhaps from a coach. The Arab girl left. As I waited, sweat sprouted on my face and hands.
My mobile rang persistently. I got the whiff of expensive perfume.
“Shall I get that for you?” A gentle voice asked. I wept.
Death beckoned, a click away.
I failed to answer as the door in my mind stayed shut.
My friend, the Major, raced forward, grabbing the woman's hand. He also removed my sunglasses. I rolled my eyes.
Nobody said a word.
They stared in horror at my rolling blood-shot eyes.
Then they saw the thin red and yellow wire connected to my phone.
The Major shouted.
In the now-empty cafe, I knew.
Others knew too. We stayed listening to that phone ringing in Tel Aviv.
Cleveland Gibson has published many short stories, poetry, flash fiction, and anthologies. He has an exciting work in progress, a middle-grade novel, the House of the Skull Drum. He can hardly wait to finish and send it off to an agent.