VAN THE SMUGGLER (Novel Excerpt)
In this scene the smuggler finds the Kurtsan brothers who are in hiding in the mountains of northwest Iran. They have been driven there by the Iranian Army and are in desperate need of arms.
Then the brothers were approached by Van, the Iranian smuggler. Van was tolerated because he was sometimes useful for smuggling small arms and ammunition, but Ahmed didn’t trust him. It had been said he had spied for the Iranians. It had been said he spied for the CIA. Ahmed didn’t doubt that both were true. The little smuggler also spied for Ahmed.
“The Americans have asked me to seek your help, oh great Khan,” Van said.
“My help?” Ahmed said, immediately on his guard. “How could I help the Americans?” He looked impassively at his brother who was at his side in the tent.
Yasin was equally impassive.
“They wish to know the location of a man the Iranians have arrested. His name is Mohammed Parsee. They think he is being held in Kurdistan. The Americans will pay a great deal for this information.”
“We have no need for money,” Ahmed told him.
“You can ask for whatever you want. It doesn’t have to be money.”
“If he is in Kurdistan we can find him. Don’t you think so, Yasin?”
“We can find him, my brother. That is certain. But I can’t think of anything that we might need,” Yasin said, playing the game.
“My thought exactly, Yasin. The Americans have nothing we could use.”
Van started to sweat. “Surely there is something. The Americans have many types of weapons. Perhaps some weapons?”
“We have all the weapons we can use,” Ahmed told him. “What would we do with more?”
“Yes,” Yasin said. “We have no need for any more weapons.”
“Perhaps a newer type.” Van was wringing his hands as he pleaded. “They have many new types.”
“We have all the newest types,” Ahmed told him.
“Then there is nothing?” he said despairingly. The little man looked ready to give up.
“Nothing,” Ahmed said.
Van reluctantly prepared to leave.
“Are they going to pay you also for this information?” Yasin asked him.
Van settled back down. “A trifle,” he said. “What I do has little value and they pay me accordingly.”
Ahmed noted the little man’s slip. It confirmed that he had worked for the Americans before. He filed it away for future reference.
“It would be too bad,” Yasin said to Ahmed, “if our good friend were to lose a commission on our account.”
“You are always a step ahead of me, my brother, and always thinking of others. We cannot let a friend lose a commission, even if there is nothing of value for us in the transaction.” He waved a hand airily. “The Americans are rich, after all. It would be well if they made our friends rich also.”
“I know there is nothing you need,” Van said. “But perhaps there is something that might amuse you. Something for sport or just a curiosity.”
“I don’t think so,” Ahmed said.
“Wait, my brother,” Yasin said, “didn’t you mention in passing some days ago, something about a conflict between American weapons that might be amusing to investigate?”
“I don’t recall.”
“When we were riding, north of the village.”
“Oh yes,” Ahmed said. “I may have mentioned something about the M-47 Dragon Missile Launcher. I understand it has been improved. It needed improvement.”
“Yes,” Yasin said. “That is the one.”
“The M-47 Dragon Missile Launcher,” Van repeated. “I think I could get you one.”
Ahmed pretended he had misheard. “Yes, I think one hundred of those will do. Don’t you, Yasin?”
“That might be enough to satisfy our curiosity,” Yasin said.
“It will be interesting to compare it to the M-72 rocket launcher. That is newer and might be better. It will be interesting to get a hundred of those also.”
Van could barely keep seated. “A hundred of each!?”
“To compare them with our Israeli made anti-tank weapons,” Ahmed invented.
“A hundred of each!?”
“Do you have a problem with that?” Yasin asked.
“A hundred is a paltry amount,” Ahmed said to his brother, ignoring Van.
“Each,” Yasin emphasized, staring at Van.
“Of course each,” Ahmed said matter-of-factly.
“It will be enough to amuse us,” Yasin said.
“Yes,” Ahmed said, “a hundred each will be enough to amuse us.”
“Then it is done,” Yasin told Van. “When can you bring them?”
“I return now to Iraq,” Van said. “I will be back in four days. Can you have the information
“Will you have the weapons then?” Ahmed asked.
“Yes. Of course.” Van knew he couldn’t.
“Then we will try.”
“An American will be with me. His name is Colonel Steven Kincaid. The information is for him.”
“We will have it,” Ahmed told him. “You have the weapons.” Ahmed knew he couldn’t.