John In Tehran

“There’s a walk I used to take in spring, up a mountain track b’side the river running full with the melt from the mountains. Donkeys were available if you were unable, or too lazy, to walk.” John Conway looked over at this companion who showed no reaction but continued to stare into the square filled with pedestrians and cycling traders. John followed his gaze and continued, “I only went so’s I could sit at the café in the river. That was very nice after you’d walked a bit in the heat. You could take off your shoes and sit at a table actually on the riverbed with the water streaming past.”

“Jamshidieh,” his companion, an Iranian of around forty in western dress with an open neck shirt under a grey suit jacket, spoke without turning.

“That’s it. Jamshidieh Park. Nice walk, and nicer wine and salads after. Good food.”

“They found your people.”

John looked up.

“In Qasr-e-qand near Nikshahr in the south. Bad place to be. There are research plants there. They check all around all the time. Bad idea to go there.”

“Where are they now.”

“They took them to the Central Barracks. Don’t know where they are now.”

The Commander thought for a while before asking, “Anyone hurt?”

“No. Happened in the early hours – caught everyone sleeping.”

“Who’s holding them?”



John returned to his hotel, placed some calls, then went out to walk through the souk in search of copper nails for his boat. He found them more quickly than he expected, bought a kilo, then sat at a small table by a coffee stall. He sipped from the tiny cup until a man wearing a turban and a long, brown, coat stopped, sat, waved to the owner of the coffee stall.

“You have a problem Commander?” As he spoke he smiled as if he held some inner secret.

“Who’s got my people?”

The man turned – looked genuinely confused.

“Guards came to my camp in Qasr. Took my people.”

“Ah. That would be Khorasani. Before you ask more I can only tell you Korasani gets his orders from the Ministry of the Interior.”

“Who get their orders from?” John raised an eyebrow and stared hard into the eyes of the messenger. “From?” he pushed.

“From the top.”

“From Sayed Mandana Kavoosi?”

“Maybe not him – but someone under him.”

“I want a meeting with Kavoosi.”

“I don’t know how to . . . ”

John cut him off. “Fix it Nasrin Farrokhzad.”

Nasrin’s eyes widened. “How did you . . .?”

“I know everything about anybody I do business with. That’s how I stay alive. You want to stay alive Nasrin–pour Farrkhzad? Fix it.”

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