, the legendary Israeli master spy, would find this almost laughable, though Shamron
often disagreed with Lev simply as a matter of sport.
, the twice former director-general of the Israeli secret service, now special adviser to the prime minister on all matters dealing with security and intelligence, took the call in his
listened in silence for a moment, his
eyes closed tightly in anger."I'm on my way," he
said, and hung up the phone.
Turning around, he
saw Gilah standing in the doorway of the study.She
was holding his
leather bomber jacket in her
hand, and her
eyes were damp with tears.
had been awakened by the first crack of thunder, which he
had mistaken for a gunshot, and had lain awake for the rest of the night.For Shamron
, sleep was like contraband.It came to him rarely and, once interrupted, never twice in the same night.Usually he
found himself wandering the secure file rooms of his
memory, reliving old cases, walking old battlefields and confronting enemies vanquished long ago.Last night had been different.He'd had a premonition of imminent disaster, an image so clear that he'd actually placed a call to the night desk of his
old service to see if anything had happened."Go back to sleep, Boss," the youthful duty officer had said."Everything's fine." His
black Peugeot, armored and bulletproof, waited at the top of the drive.Rami, the dark-haired head of his
security detachment, stood next to the open rear door.Shamron
had made many enemies over the years, and because of the tangled demographics of Israel, many lived uncomfortably close to Tiberias.Rami, quiet as a lone wolf and far more lethal, rarely left his
master's side. Shamron
paused for a moment to light a cigarette, a vile Turkish brand he'd been smoking since the Mandate days, then stepped off the veranda.He
was short of stature, yet even in old age, powerful in build.His
hands were leathery and liver-spotted and seemed to have been borrowed from a man twice his
face, full of cracks and fissures, looked like an aerial view of the Negev Desert.His
remaining fringe of steel-gray hair was cropped so short as to be nearly invisible.Infamously hard on his
had resigned himself to ugly frames of indestructible plastic.The thick lenses magnified blue eyes that were no longer clear.He
walked as though anticipating an assault from behind, with his
head down and his
elbows out defensively.Within the corridors of King Saul Boulevard, the headquarters of his
old service, the walk was known as "the Shamron shuffle."He
knew of the epithet and he
ducked into the backseat of the Peugeot.
But it had occurred in Italy, not Israel, and Shamron
was at the mercy of the Italian police.It had been a long time since the Italians had dealt with a major act of terrorism.What's more, Israel's link to the Italian government-its embassy-was in ruins.So, too, Shamron
suspected, was a very important station of the Israeli secret service.Rome was the regional headquarters for southern Europe.It was led by a katsa named Shimon Pazner, a man whom Shamron
had personally recruited and trained.
Three times, Shamron
anxiously reached for his
secure cellular phone and three times he
snapped it back into its cradle without dialing a number.Leave them to it, he
...Shamron, master manipulator and puppeteer, had learned that he could exercise nearly as much power from the prime minister's office as he could from the executive suite of King Saul Boulevard.
Experience had taught him to be patient.Eventually it would end up in his
lap.It always seemed to.
They began the ascent toward Jerusalem.Shamron
could not make this remarkable drive without thinking of old battles.The premonition came to him again.Was it Rome he
had seen the night before or something else?Something bigger than even Rome?An old enemy, he
was sure of it.A dead man, risen from his
THE OFFICE OF the Israeli prime minister is located at 3 Kaplan Street, in the Kiryat
Ben-Gurion section of West Jerusalem.Shamron
entered the building through the underground parking garage, then went up to his
, by charter and reputation, had a permanent seat at the table.
sat down at his
desk and, remote in hand, spent the next five minutes scanning the world's television media for as many overt details as he
picked up the telephone and made three calls, one to an old contact at the Italian Embassy
named Tommaso Naldi; the second to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, located a short distance away on Yitzhak Rabin Boulevard; and the third to Office headquarters on King Saul Boulevard.
can't talk to you now," said Lev's secretary.Shamron
had anticipated her
reaction.It was easier to get through an army checkpoint than Lev's secretary.
"Put him on the phone," Shamron
said, "or the next call will be from the prime minister."
Lev kept Shamron
waiting five minutes.
"I'll see you at five o'clock," Shamron
said to Lev, and rang off.
slipped past and went inside.
The shades were drawn, the room cool and in semidarkness.
had been in this room many times, yet it never failed to quicken his
this chamber represented the end of a remarkable journey, the reconstitution of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel.Birth and death, war and Holocaust-Shamron, like the prime minister, had played a leading role in the entire epic.Privately, they regarded it as their State, their creation, and they guarded it jealously against all those-Arab, Jewish, or Gentile-who sought to weaken or destroy it.
The prime minister, without a word, nodded for Shamron
to sit.Small at the head and very wide at the waist, he
looked rather like a formation of volcanic rock.His
stubby hands lay folded on the desktop; his
heavy jowls hung over his
"How bad, Ari?"
"By the end of the day, we'll have a clearer picture," Shamron
nodded."And their deputies."
repeated what he'd just learned from Lev.
"Hard to say," Shamron
"You know about loss, Ari
would later boast that the Office computer geniuses cracked the code in the span of an average Italian coffee break.
, of course, was at his
mine.I'll bring him home."He
looked up and saw that the prime minister's eyes were on him.
"He'll have to stay here until this blows over," the prime minister said.
will," agreed Shamron
"Perhaps we should find something for him to do to help pass the time." Shamron
nodded once, and it was done.