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A beach being washed up now and then by waves. Children splashing about and noisy. Adults in pairs or more merry making. Several Life guards watching over swimmers. Armed soldiers at strategic positions keeping guard. A little distance from the shore sat a large pleasure boat between two small gun boats waiting. Mendel Kobe surveyed the scene before him in amusement. Who could guess that the President, the Chief of Army, the Chief of Police, and many other top government officials and their families were now in this remote island having a picnic? Nobody. Mendel was the Captain of the pleasure boat which was owned by a first class holiday resort. The resort owned many private islands and pleasure boats exclusively for customers rich enough not to share public beaches and vessels. It was a weekend of fun for these public officials and he had dutifully conveyed them through many islands and it was about time they headed back to the resort.

Now sailing leisurely back to the resort with his passengers who were as rowdy as earlier on the beach, Mendel touched his life jacket lovingly. The jacket was unusual; instead of air it was filled with a high-grade explosive, strong enough to sink a submarine! He checked the detonator then went up the deck (after giving an assistant the helm) to await the time to depress the little button that will wipe out the entire government of his dear country.

On deck, the noise was unbearable; children were running around, men were arguing in groups, women were pointing at fishes and shouting in excitement like teenage girls. Mendel had no hatred for the people he was about to blow up. Not the children despite their unbearable noise. Not the women though they seemed to see through him. Not the soldiers though they took over his ship. Not even the government officials despite their corrupt nature. He did not hate life either. No. Blowing up the boat was only a duty he would diligently carry out. He was paid to work so he would work to avoid a breach of contract and thus the court of law. He smiled at this joke and checked his watch.

Mendel was an old man now. He used to be in the navy until jailed for suspected link to a failed coup attempt. He was incarcerated for almost twenty years. After his release seven years ago he took up his present job at the resort sailing wealthy people around. Almost three months ago it was, when some men accosted him with the job of assassinating the president for a certain amount of money. They knew he had cancer and had less than a year to live (according to the doctors). What better way is there to die than going out with a bang and earning some money in the process? He needed the money and it wasn't a bad idea so he agreed. They provided the plan and the date. He provided the brain to sneak in the explosive undetected and the body to be blown to pieces with it. He knew they were from the military and this was another bloody coup. He knew he was a dead man since their first meeting. They wouldn't want him alive to leak their secret. He collected the money and his hand was now around the detonator. He was about to keep his side of the bargain. He was an honourable man. To him a deal was always a deal.

'Sir, please have some orange.' Mendel, forced back from his thoughts, looked down at the little girl offering him orange. He took it and said thank you. The girl sat down by him and said: 'Are you sad because you miss your family?' 'Sad? Who said I was sad?' He asked in surprise. 'I am sad because I miss my mummy. Daddy says she is in heaven. Is that true?' Said the girl. Mendel looked at the girl in silence. He didn't know much about religion. 'Does everyone go to heaven when they die?' She said again. 'Only good people go to heaven.' He answered. 'Are you a good man?' Mendel was dumbfounded by the innocence of this child. After a while he said: 'No. I am not good my child.' 'Are you going to satan when you die?' She asked. Mendel had enough. He jumped to his feet and called a nurse who promptly came and yanked the child off. The girl was squirming and shouting: 'I want to stay with him! He's my friend...!

Mendel checked his watch then a compass. The right time and place to blow things up. He brought out a stop watch and set a countdown of two minutes. All was in place. Time to get closer to the president. Just then the little girl broke away from the others and headed his way in a happy prance. She had a smile that lit up her entire face. Mendel froze as their eyes locked. He could feel the joy and innocence of this child. Could he bring himself to take her life? He could hear more clearly now the happy voice of the children playing around the deck. No need taking them with him. Decision made, he fell backward into the ocean just as the girl arrived. He sank down quickly. When he resurfaced the boat was a long way off but the girl was there wailing and waving. He was still waving back when he pressed the detonator.


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