Zygmunt Frankel



"All right," Yankele said, "so let's say it wasn't Werner doing something stupid with a moray eel, but Max deliberately spearing a fish to attract a shark. Where do we go from here? Does he leave the speared fish at the end of his bangstick?"
"No; he'd better remove the spearhead with the fish as soon as possible so as to have his bangstick ready for defence when the shark comes."
"Still holding the spearhead with the fish in his other hand? Then the shark would go for his hand instead of Werner's." "Certainly, unless he let go of it at the last moment or, better still, handed it to Werner if Werner were stupid enough to take it."
"In any case, the shark would go for the fish, including the hand of whoever was holding it. If they were close to each other, the danger would be about the same for both?"
"If they were equally exposed, yes. But Max told me something which may be closer to the truth than he would like me to know. He said that on their way up, after the first attack, he was holding Werner from behind, not only because it was the easiest and fastest way to take him up but also because in such a configuration Werner acted as a sort of shield. I told him not to feel any guilt about it and so on. But what if he grabbed Werner from behind right at the start, after spearing the fish, as soon as he saw the shark approach?"
"Seems to call for a lot of guts and cold blood."
"He may have both. If, as you suspect, he came here to kill Werner, those who sent him, whoever they are, would have picked someone with enough guts and cold blood to do the job. As for underwater combat training, there are those missing pages in his logbook; perhaps he had started recording something and then thought better of it. If he did undergo some additional scuba training, we don't know where, with whom, or for what purpose. It may have been in Cuba or Russia or some Arab country for all we know."
"All right, Cobi; we would like to question him again, without the police and the Diving Association present this time, and we'll need your help. "
"Yankele, I have already lost one customer to the sharks and am up to my neck in trouble with the authorities. If your sort of questioning could mean a black eye or a tooth missing, I don't want to have anything to do with it."
"Cobi, you're way behind times; nowadays it's just a little injection - it's called a truth drug and has a Latin name - and then you ask him questions and he answers them without remembering anything afterwards. Your cruise ends, when - in four days' time?"
"Yes, on Saturday. They're going back the same evening: Max on a direct flight to Germany, Frankfurt I think; Pierre and Claude to Paris; Helga and Werner were planning to take a local plane or bus to Jerusalem and spend a few days there and tour the Galilee afterwards before going home, and for all I know she may be going ahead with it on her own. Olaf is taking a bus to Tel Aviv, and from there another one north, to rejoin his unit in Lebanon."
"All right, we'll think of something by then. Could we meet in Eilat as soon as you've anchored there, at some place convenient for you, say the port office? I could be waiting for you there."
"All right."
"In the meantime, please keep an eye on Max without letting him suspect anything, and we'll do the same from the shore."

During our desert trip, we had ample opportunities to discuss and plan the rest of our cruise. I had been hoping that nobody would panic sufficiently to pack up and go, and nobody did. It was Max himself who, on the very night after the hearings, did a lot to tip the scales by declaring that he wanted to make his next dive, in the morning, right there on the Shark Reef where the accident happened, to dispel any remaining doubt that it was only Werner's meddling with the eel that had provoked the attack. Otherwise, he said, he might remain scared for the rest of his life of diving anywhere where a shark might lurk. One by one, the others also expressed such a wish, and the next morning found us twenty metres down, finning slowly along the face of the Shark Reef. Max, Bob, and I were carrying bangsticks, and when the first sharks were sighted one could feel a nasty tension among the divers. But as the dive went on and no shark showed the slightest interest in us, our guests relaxed somewhat and ended the dive with a sigh of relief and much, if not all, of their old confidence restored.

Everyone kept being very kind to Max, doing their best to dispel any guilt or doubts he may still have had. Helga had invited Maria to share her cabin, much more comfortable than Maria's cramped quarters behind the plywood partition; and, after the other guests have fallen asleep, Helga would join me in my cabin, with Maria bringing Max to theirs shortly afterwards. It must have helped a lot to put him more at ease; and, as no further inquiries or investigations seemed to be forthcoming, he almost gave up glancing over his shoulder when he thought nobody was looking.

There were no additional visits or communications from Yankele for the rest of the cruise. I assumed his people were lurking somewhere near and were watching the boat all the time, but if so, it was being done very professionally and inconspicuously, which was not difficult; there were always people on the beach, or in a diving motorboat nearby, or at The Dolphin at night. During our return run to Eilat, a small navy patrol boat was in sight most of the time, but this again was not suspicious because such boats were patrolling the Gulf all the time. I was wondering where and how Yankele was planning to interrogate Max, and what, if anything, was he going to find out.

On Saturday, we docked in Eilat by noon, with plenty of time to spare; the planes for Europe and Jerusalem were not leaving till the evening. We made the long run from the south during the night and the first half of the day, stopping once for a last snorkelling sortie and a picnic on a deserted beach. (One was not supposed to dive during the last twenty-four hours before a flight because the residual nitrogen in one's blood might cause trouble at the low cabin pressure.)

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1997 Zygmunt Frankel - All Rights Reserved.
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