Monday, 30th March 2020 - 0:12:23 am
"No," Steve Kincaid said with a big grin, "I'm not shitting you."
Ahmed was grinning too. "Vulgar bloke," he said, as if to himself, "I've half a mind to throw him back. Too small to keep anyway. I'm sure he's under the limit."
"We're not out yet," Kincaid said. "What do we call you?"
"Mohammed Parsee will do."
"You're going to have to trust me," Kincaid told him. "I need to know who you are."
The little man in the army fatigues looked suspicious. "They pulled a lot of crap on me back there to find out who I was. This couldn't be another trick, could it?"
Kincaid handed him the M-16 with the grenade launcher attached. "You know how to use one of these?"
"Does a chicken have lips?" He reached for the weapon eagerly, as if greeting a long-lost love. He quickly checked to see if it was loaded.
"The grenades are in the box next to you."
The Ayatollah started stirring.
"Actually, old boy," Ahmed said, "I don't think a chicken does have lips."
"Now what more will make you trust us?" Kincaid asked. "You want to blow the Ayatollah away" Go ahead?"
Ahmed was about to protest but changed his mind.
The little man considered it. "Nah. Let me fire one round out of this thing. If you gave me a weapon that fires live ammo then you're either for real or crazy."
He spotted a roadside sign coming up on his side of the Jeep. He leaned out a bit and fired when he got close. A hole appeared on the edge of the sign. They heard the round ping into the metal. "Damn near missed," he said.
"Satisfied?" Kincaid asked.
"What do you want to know?"
"Who the hell are you? What are you doing here?"
The man they knew as Mohammed Parsee took a long time before answering. Finally he said, "My name is Warren Stevenson. I'm from Cincinnati, Ohio."
Warren Stevenson had been an enlisted man it the US Marines. He had served more than two tours of duty at the US Embassy in Tehran. He always had a facility for languages. During his tours he learned Farsi, Kurdish, Turkish and a smattering of Russian.
On his free time he enjoyed dressing in Iranian clothes and blending into the environment.
"You ever get submerged completely into a foreign culture?" he asked. "I got kicks out of that. There's nothing to compare to that."
He became expert at impersonating a citizen of Iran. Word of his ability reached sensitive ears in Tehran. Before long he was recruited by the CIA for innocent seeming, simple, field trips.
The trips got more and more complex until his identity had been completely submerged into that of an Iranian citizen, Mohammed Parsee. He got a job renovating the offices of the district chief in Hamadan. Kincaid knew the rest of the story. But something still was wrong with it.
Kincaid asked him, "You ever hear of Edward Camacho?"
The agent thought about it. "I don't think so. Should I?"
"Maybe not. That's who they told me you were."
Mohammed Parsee poked a thumb at the Ayatollah. "What are you going to do with his holiness here?"
"That's up to Ahmed," Kincaid said. "My orders were to get you out. Ahmed picked him up on the way."
Mohammed Parsee looked at the driver curiously. "Ahmed who?"
Kincaid said, "Ahmed Kurtsan. He's been doing most of the work. He and his men."
"Ahmed Kurtsan the Khan? Khan Ahmed Kurtsan?"
Ahmed chuckled and glanced sideways at Kincaid. "You see, old boy, I'm bloody famous."
"You mean you risked your ass in Kermanshah to get me out? Did you know he has a price on his head?" he asked Kincaid. "A quarter million American dollars the last I heard." He indicated the reviving Ayatollah Rashad Hassim. "This is the bastard that put it there."
"I'm worth far more," Ahmed said humbly.
"So then the Khan here, turned around and put a price on the Ayatollah's head," the agent continued. "In American money it amounted to five dollars and fifty three cents. Everyone is still laughing about that."
The Ayatollah Rashad Hassim sat up and blinked his eyes in the wind. Ahmed watched him in the windshield mirror. The Ayatollah said something in Farsi as he tried to figure out where he was. Mohammed Parsee sat and watched him, a small smile on his lips. Rashad Hassim gave a start when he saw Mohammed Parsee. He said something else in Farsi.
Mohammed Parsee poked him, none too gently, with the muzzle of the M-16. "Speak English, bastard. I know you can."
The Ayatollah switched to Kurdish and spoke to the men in front.
Ahmed laughed. "He says, old boy, that he is our leader, the leader of all the Kurds, and that the man alongside him is an American spy. Does he look American to you?"
Kincaid grinned and shook his head. "Could have fooled me," he said.
"So," the Ayatollah said in English, "it is the criminal Ahmed Kurtsan and another American spy. I knew that you were in league with the Americans."
Ahmed shook his head. "He always talks that way, old boy. A terrible bore. You'd think he walked right off the pages of a bad novel."
"And you," the Ayatollah turned to Mohammed Parsee, "I knew all the time that you were an American."
"Like shit you did," Mohammed Parsee replied. "If you knew that, I'd be dead and you'd be free right now. It was your curiosity that made you come down and delay the firing squad so these guys had time to rescue me. But you were wasting your time anyway. I'd never have given you the satisfaction of knowing that you had shot the right man."
Kincaid smiled. He liked this Mohammed Parsee or Warren Stevenson or whatever his name was.
"Trouble ahead," Ahmed said.