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Chapter 9

 

As David and Reuben settled into their seats aboard the Boeing jet bound for Tel Aviv, they pulled out today's newspapers. Reuben went straight to the financial pages. Emblazoned across the page were several headlines.


ALL BANK DEPOSITS CONTINUE TO BE FROZEN. STOCK EXCHANGE STILL CLOSED.


He read on.

'Anyone in urgent need of basic necessities is requested to contact their nearest social welfare office.'

Reuben thought he had been smart sending his parcel of money direct to an associate before leaving Greece. At least he would have plenty of cash when he arrived in Tel Aviv.
"Have you seen this latest report David?"
"Not yet," replied David, flicking over his pages of the Athenian Cross. He began to read the article.

'People needing food, clothing or shelter are urged to contact government agencies for assistance. A limited supply of goods and money is available. Each person using this service will be issued with a Flash Card. In the future, personal details and finger prints will be incorporated in the card on a microchip. This card will enable the holder to obtain food. Should this cash crisis continue, no supplies will be available unless all details on the card are correct.'

"Sounds ominous, Reuben. I wonder if this will affect production and sales at my plant. Sol and I planned to release our new food product when I returned. Perhaps I should contact the manager of our local food bank to negotiate a fair sales price." "You never know David. You could become rich at last. I heard recently that most of today's plant seeds are hybrids, forcing growers like yourself to return to government controlled seed merchants each year."
"That's true for some, but I always set aside a percentage of my crop each year, to allow for a good planting the following season. Dad taught me to do this, as his father before him had. Each year I hope and pray for a good harvest. If there were to be a drought I would be compelled to buy the next seasons seed from a government seed merchant at an exorbitant price. I always pray for rain at the right time rather than to become rich."


"There's nothing wrong with money David, especially when you can buy your way to luxury, a better life, and freedom."


"Depends on what you think freedom is," mused David.


"I see freedom as being able to use my money as I choose, and help others at the same time."


After a very uneventful flight their plane touched down at Tel Aviv airport. David and Reuben had remained silent for most of the flight. After reading his newspaper Reuben had shut David out by putting headphones on and closing his eyes. David was aware of the ever broadening chasm that separated them. They collected their luggage and after the usual check by customs officers, exchanged polite farewells.


David was met by Sol, who embraced him and helped carry the luggage to his open jeep, an old reliable army vehicle. As they drove off, David caught sight of Reuben getting into a chauffeur driven stretch limousine. In the back seat sat a man dressed in flowing robes. When the car passed Sol's he saw Reuben engrossed in conversation with this man. The man's only reply seemed to be a nod.


"Wasn't that Reuben?" remarked Sol.


"He is mixing in high circles now. That was Abdullah Ishamel, a political leader, banker and Palestinian sympathizer. He controls many industries under false names and is known to have agents buying many businesses around the world. He seems to have an unlimited supply of money."


"Reuben told me he was to meet a business partner at the airport but didn't give me any details. He has just sold his computer business, along with related rights to all new developments, for US$10 million, and was considering investing this money somewhere in Israel. I think he plans to live here permanently now. Perhaps Abdullah Ishamel has plans for Reuben's money too! "
"Money is becoming a scarce commodity here David. When I was in Jerusalem last week, people were lined up at banks withdrawing money as fast as they could. Many are running out of cash."


"The same happened in Athens, Sol. Hard times seem to be ahead for everyone. How did you manage at the plant? Are the new products ready for sale?"


"I was just waiting for you to go over the final details David. Our production has gone well and the warehouse is full. We had a phone call from the prospective manager of the food bank soon to be set up in Jerusalem. He is desperate for our supplies. Who would have thought our people would ever need a Food Bank?"


"Production has certainly changed over the past couple of decades Sol. Years ago many countries exported most of their produce as grain. Today grain foods are their biggest exports. Genetic engineering, assisted by computer technology, has increased crop yields. In Israel, even our wheat and barley yielded their highest crops ever!"


"There's not much point in higher crop yields if people haven't the money to buy the food products David. The new flash card is supposed to be issued this week, so perhaps that will help."


"Not so sure Sol. It sounds too organized. Whatever happened to old fashioned charity?"


"Life just isn't like that anymore David. There have been many food robberies this week as supplies run short."


The jeep bounced to a stop outside David's house, situated alongside the plant. The steady rattle and clunk told him cartons of food were being fed into holding bays. Above the clatter he heard laughter and music, sounds that throbbed with energy. Men and women, working in teams, were dressed in white overalls and shoes, with small white hats covering their heads. David and Sol waved as they walked through the busy plant. Ruth glanced up from her keyboard.


"Welcome back David. I hope you enjoyed the reunion with your old Uni pals."


"It was great to see them again. Reuben returned to Israel with me and is to live here permanently. Ari, Helen and their children are well and have a lovely home outside Athens. I see the plant survived without me."


"Only just," smiled Ruth.


She admired David. He had qualities that attracted her. Words expressing how she felt about David meandered through her mind. Reliable..... honest ......sympathetic ....and hard working. In her heart she felt much more.


"What do you think we should do about the food bank offer David?" questioned Sol.


"That seems to be the most pressing item. What we decide now could be crucial to the welfare of our people locally and on a wider scale. I think it would be best if we both met with the food bank manager. Perhaps Ruth can set up an appointment for tomorrow."
As the two left the plant Ruth dialled the yet unlisted food bank number.


"Granright calling. Would Mr. Weisman be free tomorrow morning to meet with Mr. Izzard and Mr. Jacobs?"


"Hold the line please while I check," came the reply. Music from a local radio station wafted through the telephone as Ruth waited.
"He will be available at 10 A.M. and is looking forward to meeting them," drawled the disinterested secretary.


Prior to keeping their 10 A.M. appointment David and Sol discussed a possible structure for an agreement with the food bank. Later, sitting in the comfortable waiting room, they were surprised by the decor. It seemed out of place. Sculptures and other expensive artworks decorated the room, giving the impression of opulence.
The door to the office opened to reveal a short man with fat sausage like fingers. His round red face suggested he enjoyed much food and wine. On his elaborate desk sat a large silver tray holding crystal decanters of wine and brandy. Three balloon shaped crystal glasses stood in readiness. As the man laboured his way back to his desk he began to speak.


"Good morning David, Sol. What will you have to drink?"


"Nothing for me thanks," replied Sol.


"Just a small wine for me please Daniel."


The full blooded red wine trickled smoothly into the two glasses embossed with grape vines. Daniel Weisman raised the glass to his lips, savouring both its contents and the prospect of another profitable business agreement.


"Now to business. I have been instructed to buy all the products you can supply. I think you will find the price very generous. The only condition to the contract, is that we alone purchase your entire stock. As we must control the entire distribution of all food products, you will be unable to sell to anyone else. This is for the benefit and welfare of all people. When our plans are introduced, no one will be in need." He paused for breath.


"The new Flash Card system must be introduced to control supplies of all food."


David shifted uneasily in his seat.


"Are you saying we will be unable to sell to our local people? Many of them are employed by Granright and have worked at our plant for some years."


"That needs to be the case David."


David felt as if a cloud passed over him. He suddenly felt cold and wanted to be out of this place. The head-like sculptures stared at him from across the room, reminding him of something seen at Reuben's computer plant in Greece. Shivering, he rose, and out of politeness offered his hand to Daniel.


"I'll let you know of our decision after we have discussed some important issues."


"Don't take too long. This is your golden opportunity." Sol followed David out of the office with Daniel shuffling closely behind. His short squat frame filled the doorway as he saw them off the premises.


"What did you think of that?" asked David.


"In a word, sinister!"


"That's what I thought too. His plan could well be a way of controlling more than just the food supply. Without cash or card it is possible people will not be able to survive."


"I think it would be disastrous if we signed all our products over to his government food bank. As far as I am concerned it is not an option. I think we should say no David!"

Daniel slammed the phone down. His eyes narrowed and his face puffed redder than usual.

"Insolent peasant!.. Who does he think he is? We will stamp out little pawns like him! We will get his plant regardless! Snatching up the phone, again he pressed the programmed number for Macro.
"Daniel here. Those fools from Granright refused my offer."


The viciousness of Macro's reply sent a shudder through Daniel's perspiring body.


"I will destroy both them and their precious business," came the vindictive reply.


"Peter settled the deal with the computer firm and I expected you to get this business too! Immediately arrange a series of unfortunate accidents at the grain plant. It will close down - just as I have closed down the financial world."


After Sol left the plant, David checked all security lights before taking his usual pre-dinner stroll. With hands thrust deep into his pockets, he walked to the edge of the Sea of Galilee. He sat with head bent in humility and began to pray aloud.


"Dear Father, thank you for this day and the way you guided us. We need You to show us Your will each day, particularly concerning the plant. I pray that Your Holy Spirit will continue to go before us in all things."


The Lord's prayer came into David's mind. He repeated the words with a fervour and passion kindled by the power of his God's mighty love.(1) The spoken words brought calm and peace amidst the reality of the day.

The NovelNotes Feature.

These are a helpful feature of this novel. Their use is optional. They may be used if you want to understand more of the underlying Biblical aspects of the story, or the historical and factual material. However, you do not have to use these to follow the story line of the novel.

Chapter 9 NovelNotes

1. Prayer is a supernatural undertaking used by all true believers to talk to their living God - for any purpose at all. In response, God undertakes to meet whatever requests are according to His will. The Lord's prayer is found in Matthew Chapter 6, verses 9 to 13.

Continue to Chapter 10