I happened to look in my rear view mirror to see a black Mercedes sedan zoom up behind me then pass. It shot around me at an extremely high rate of speed and was soon out of sight. “Wow, where’s the fire?” I though. A few minutes later as I was about to make my final right turn off the main highway, the same black Mercedes shot out of the intersection I was about to turn into. It turned left and roared past me, heading west toward Tehran.
I took my foot off the accelerator, my stomach feeling queasy with deep apprehension. I had caught a glimpse of the driver’s face with dark glasses and thick mustache. It seemed vaguely and ominously familiar. I slowed the car and idled toward the vacant lot where I was to meet Junior, afraid of what I might find. I could see Junior’s old Peykan in the distance, the driver’s door open. I was sure I saw him move and at first I thought he was about to get out of the car, but as I got closer I could see Junior’s body suddenly fall forward against the steering wheel, sounding the car’s horn.
“Oh no! Please God! Oh no! This can’t be!” I said over and over. “Oh Jesus, no!”
I pulled my car alongside his. My knees were shaking as I got out of the car, and walked toward Junior. As I approached, I could see the back of his head was covered with blood. He had been shot, execution style. I pulled his torso off of the steering wheel to stop the horn from sounding, and then I lifted his left arm to feel his wrist. I thought I detected a faint pulse, but then a few seconds later, it stopped.
The only pulse I could feel now was my pounding heart, ready to burst through my chest. Flooded with a mixture of fear and sadness, I tried to ponder what to do next.
“We’ll need to notify his wife,” I remember thinking. I started searching his pants for a wallet with an ID, but I found nothing. The only thing I found was a large roll of bills in the left pocket of the old tweed jacket that Junior always wore. My hands were shaking.
“My god, this is a lot of money! His wife is going to need this,” I thought as I crammed it into the pocket of my fatigue jacket. I looked across the vacant lot to see an old man who was walking with a shuffled gate toward me from one of the distant houses. I waited for him as he approached. When he came up to the car, he was shaking his head.
He looked at me, quizzically. “SAVAK?” he asked.
I nodded. “Bali Agah. SAVAK.”
The old man started shaking his head again. “Shah very bad. Very bad man.”
I nodded. The old man and I stood together in silence appraising the ghastly scene.
“You want me call police?” he asked.
“Yes, you call the police. Don’t tell them I was here,” I said in my best Farsi.
“I no tell. We see nothing.”
At that moment we heard a siren somewhere in the distance growing louder.
“I need to leave now,” I said.
“You go! Boro! Boro! Zud bash!” (Go! Go! Hurry!) exclaimed the old man waving me away vigorously with his hands.
I stepped away from the old man and got into my car, knees and hands still shaking. I turned the key in the ignition and headed out to the main highway by first going around the block. I waited until I heard the siren stop and then proceeded. As I drove, I kept checking the rear view mirror, side streets, and intersections for any sign of a black Mercedes. But it had done its dirty work and was long gone. When I got back to the Teamhouse, I unloaded my car and took the goods up to my room. The boxes seemed incredibly heavy and my shaking knees complained at the load as I came up the stairs the last time. When I had finished, I collapsed into my bed and started sobbing again. “Junior, I am so sorry man,” kept repeating as though he could hear me.
I looked at the huge roll of cash, and was suddenly struck with an irrational fear that Lou might think I was trying to cheat him. I counted out what I felt Junior would have paid him that day and put it in an envelope, then slipped it my desk drawer. I took out a sheet of paper, and scrawled simply, “Lou, bad news. Junior’s dead. SAVAK shot him.” I placed the note on the desk where he could find it then walked downstairs to my car.
I dreaded having to tell Fari what happened, but forced myself to the car. When I walked into the house minutes later, Fari emerged from her room to meet me and immediately stepped back. “Oh my god, Doug! What happened? Your eyes are all red!”
“Fari, Junior’s dead. SAVAK shot him in the…in the…back of the head,” I said with my voice breaking.
Fari put her arms around me and held my while I continued to weep. “Doug, this is awful.”
I put my face down onto Fari’s shoulder. “Junior was a good person,” I said through my tears. “He didn’t deserve to die.”
Published June 2011