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Authors: Robert K. Tanenbaum

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Escape

BOOK: Escape
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ESCAPE

 

ROBERT K. TANENBAUM

 

Vanguard Press

 

A Member of the Perseus Books Group Copyright 2008 by Robert K. Tanenbaum

Published by Vanguard Press A Member of the Perseus Books Group

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher. Printed in the United States of America. For information and inquiries, address Vanguard Press, 387 Park Avenue South,

12th Floor, New York, NY 10016, or call (800) 343-4499.

Designed by Trish Wilkinson Set in 11 point Goudy

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Tanenbaum, Robert.

Escape / Robert K. Tanenbaum. p. cm.

ISBN-13: 978-1-59315-474-5 (alk. paper)

ISBN-10:1-59315-474-7 (alk. paper)

1. Karp, Butch (Fictitious character)—Fiction. 2. Ciampi, Marlene (Fictitious character)—Fiction. 3. Terrorists—Fiction. 4. New York (N.Y.)—Fiction.

I. Title.

PS3570.A52E73 2008 813'.54—dc22 2007049190

Vanguard Press books are available at special discounts for bulk purchases in the U.S. by corporations, institutions, and other organizations.

For more information, please contact the Special Markets Department at the Perseus Books Group, 2300 Chestnut Street, Suite 200, Philadelphia, PA 19103, or call (800) 255-1514, or e-mail
[email protected]
.

10 987654321To those blessings in my life: Patti, Rachael, Roger and Billy

 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

 

To my legendary mentors, District Attorney Frank S. Hogan and Henry Robbins, both of whom were larger in life than in legend, everlasting gratitude and respect; to my special friends and brilliant tutors at the Manhattan DAO, Bob Lehner, Mel Glass, and John Keenan, three of the best who ever served and whose passion for justice was unequaled and uncompromising, my heartfelt appreciation, respect, and gratitude; to Steve Jackson, an extraordinarily talented and gifted scrivener whose genius flows throughout the manuscript and whose contribution to it cannot be overstated, a dear friend for whom I have the utmost respect; to Roger Cooper and Georgina Levitt, many thanks for your enthusiasm and support; and to my agents, Mike Hamilburg and Bob DiForio who in exemplary fashion have always represented my best interests.

PROLOGUE

 

Roger "Butch" Karp sat on the desk, which protested briefly before accepting its burden, and looked out at his audience. He was a big man—big enough to have played pro basketball, if a knee injury in college hadn't derailed that dream.
Instead,
he'd pursued a different course and worked for the New York District Attorney's Office most of his life.

Now, thirty-plus years after law school, he was the elected DA of New York County, essentially the island of Manhattan. And he was sitting on a desk at the front of a classroom in a synagogue, getting ready to speak to bar mitzvah and bat mitzvah candidates as a "role model" from the Jewish community.

He marveled at the resilience of youth. Considering what had happened at the synagogue just a month and a half earlier, it was amazing that these kids were smiling, flirting, and laughing, seemingly undaunted by a sometimes-insane world that paralyzed many adults with fear.
Yes,
they had been afraid. No, they had
not
been defeated.

Two of the students were Karp's twin sons, Isaac and Giancarlo, and it was because of them that he had agreed to teach the class. That his children were interested in religion at all was something of a surprise. The twins, as well as their older sister, Lucy, had been exposed to a smattering of their mother's Roman Catholic upbringing—Marlene Ciampi had been raised in an Italian American family in Queens, and it was this heritage, more than any devotion on her part, that had predestined the children to learn the tenets of the faith.

Of the three, Lucy had been the
most
spiritual, having shown an inclination toward Catholic mysticism that included "visitations" from
—or
hallucinations of

the fifteenth-century saint Teresa of Avila during times of stress and danger. Of late her spirituality had been undergoing a transformation due to her acquaintance with John Jojola, the police chief of the Taos Indian Pueblo in New Mexico, who had become something of a Native American spiritual guide for both Lucy and Marlene. But none of the kids had ever shown much interest in the spiritual side of Judaism.

In fact, the twins' previous religiosity had centered on holiday avarice. Giancarlo, the youngest by several minutes and the more artistically inclined, especially as a musician, had demonstrated an appreciation for the art, music, and historical significance of his parents' heritage. However, they both were more interested in the present count at Christmas, with a little Chanukah thrown in for the food and family togetherness, than in the stories or scriptures behind the celebrations.

Then, nearly two years ago, they had suddenly announced that they wanted to go through the bar mitzvah ceremony that celebrated a Jewish boy's passage into manhood. As that meant studying Hebrew, as well as the Torah, Karp suspected that they'd heard about the monetary gains common to bar mitzvah graduates. When he'd leveled that charge, they'd howled their protests and sulked in aggrieved innocence.

When they'd actually signed up for classes, he'd had to admit that maybe they were serious. Marlene had suggested that Lucy's continuing quest for spiritual growth and the twins' new interest could be a reaction to having been individually, and
as
a family, subjected to a host of violent attacks

bombings, kidnappings, shootings, stabbings, and run-ins with a variety of sociopaths and terrorists—some attributable to their father's employment as the chief law-enforcement official in Manhattan. The family seemed to attract trouble like bread crumbs attract ants, with a regularity that made Karp's head hurt when he considered the implausibilities.

When the rabbi responsible for teenage education had asked Karp if he'd take part in the "role model" classes that were part of the bar mitzvah instruction, Karp had protested that his own bar mitzvah was only a hazy memory, and his knowledge of Hebrew abysmal. But Rabbi Greg Romberg had laughed and said, "Leave the Hebrew and Torah to me. The purpose of these classes is to talk to them about what it means to be productive, responsible, and thinking members of the community."

Karp had felt his involvement would give him more time with the boys in a setting where they could discuss moral choices without the discomfort typical of arranged father-son talks. However, he had found that he enjoyed teaching the classes and the challenge of coming up with lessons that would make the boys in the class—as well as the girls who were studying for their bat mitzvah—think in terms of how decisions made by the individual affect society.

It was a good thing he enjoyed it, because the twins' bar mitzvah preparation was taking longer than anticipated. The boys had started behind their classmates, most of whom came from more traditional Jewish families and therefore had at least some background. And then there had been the interruptions in life's usual pattern that were par for the course with the Karp-Ciampi clan. If they weren't being shot at by murderous hillbillies—in fact, Giancarlo had only recently recovered from surgery to restore his eyesight after being struck by a shotgun pellet

then it was nearly being incinerated along with the rest of the New Year's Eve crowd at Times Square, or being targeted for execution by the sociopath Andrew Kane. So Isaac, better known as Zak, and Giancarlo were now repeating the classes with a new group, most of them a year younger, and the boys and girls they'd started with were now officially Jewish men and women. It was Karp's second time through as a teacher as well.

"It feels like we're dummies who got held back in school," Zak had complained. Larger, stronger, plenty smart, and streetwise, he'd been the bigger surprise when the boys announced that they wanted to take the classes in the first place. Even now, in with the "little kids," he stayed with it.

Allowed free rein by Rabbi Romberg, Karp had led the class through a wide range of discussions, including the historical implications of Jesus as a rabbi and whether Jews at the time had conspired to murder him. Such topics had shocked the more orthodox children and engendered a few alarmed telephone calls from their parents to the rabbi, though to Romberg's credit he'd insisted that exposing the kids to different viewpoints on controversial subjects was important to their growth.

Karp often drew his
lessons from
modem ethical and legal dilemmas he saw in his role as the district attorney. Such as this evening's topic, which stemmed from a recent murder trial he'd prosecuted, as well as a terrorist attack months earlier on that very synagogue.

When he had their attention, Karp took a moment to look over the faces of these sons and daughters of some of New York City's most influential Jewish
families.
He wondered how this generation would meet the challenges of the future. "I'm sure we all know the story about
God commanding
Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac," he began.

"I do. I do. I was named after the dude," shouted Zak, who had a tendency to get loud when excited.

"Actually, you were named after a relative who was named after a relative who was named after a few hundred generations of relatives who were named after this particular Isaac."

"Same difference," Zak shrugged.

"Mr. Karp!
Mr.
Karp!" the equally excited and loud voice of Elisa Robyn interjected. "Wasn't it the 'Angel of the Lord' who told Abraham that God wanted him to sacrifice Isaac?"

Zak crossed his eyes. Elisa sat directly behind him and, as he said after nearly every class, she drove him crazy. "She's such a know-it-all, a female Giancarlo," he once said. He swore he hated her and wished she'd leave for someplace far away ... "like California, where they like know-it-alls." However, Karp suspected that some of Zak's disdain
was
due to the fact that Elisa, with her budding figure, wild mane of curly dark hair, and flashing brown eyes, seemed to prefer his brother.

"According to some accounts," Karp agreed. "However, I believe that it's generally accepted that 'Angel of the Lord' and God are one and the same."

"Maybe angels are an extension of God," Giancarlo volunteered.

"Perhaps," Karp conceded. "But for the purposes of this story, I guess we could agree that if the 'Angel of the Lord' was not God personified, then the Angel was acting on behalf of God. A co-conspirator, you might say."

The last comment brought wary looks to the faces of the more conservative students. He could see it in their eyes.

"An accessory anyway," young Miss Robyn agreed. She was not one of the conservatives and easily mixed the secular with the divine. More than once, he'd told himself to keep an eye on her; in ten years or so—if he
was
still in office

she'd make a hell of a good assistant district attorney for the New York DAO.

"If the evidence supports the charge," Karp responded with a nod that he noticed bothered Zak. "Anyway, the premise of the story is that Abraham believed that God had instructed him to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. So first Abraham planned how to do it. Then he procured a sharp knife and some rope to bind his son. He led Isaac out into the desert, away from prying eyes, where he'd prepared an altar ahead of time.
"

Karp looked around the room to see if they were paying attention, or if he'd
lost
them already. He didn't have to worry; he'd had the boys at the mention of a sacrifice involving a knife, and the girls with the idea that a father could kill his
son,
who, according to every story they'd ever heard, was about their age at the time of this big event, a guy who could carry a pile of firewood up a mountainside—to them, no doubt, a hottie.

"Abraham tied up his son and placed him on the altar," Karp continued. "He was just about to slit Isaac's throat when suddenly God called his name. 'Abraham! ' So Abraham stopped and answered,
'Hineini!'"

"What's that?" someone asked from the back of the classroom.

"It means, 'Here I am!' in Hebrew," Giancarlo answered. "It's how the old prophets and Jewish patriarchs answered whenever God called to them ... usually for something they'd done wrong, or some tough job He wanted them to do."

Elisa raised her hand. "Sometimes it was God who answered them by saying,
'Hineini,'"
she noted. "Like when God appeared to Moses in a burning bush, He spoke Hebrew,
'Hineini!'
Here I am." She looked at Giancarlo and sighed. Giancarlo smiled at Elisa, who smiled back. Zak pretended to gag.

Karp
was not
surprised that Elisa would be attracted to Giancarlo. There was something about the boy, with his porcelain skin, his fine, delicate features, and the dark, gentle curls framing his face, that seemed to draw women of any age, bringing out motherly instincts
in
the grown-ups and flirtatious behavior in his peers. There was something about him that made him look like one of the angels in a Renaissance painting. It wasn't that he was better looking than the macho, tough-talking Zak. But Zak, with his rugged demeanor, looked more like a soldier than an angel.

Karp thought it was time to move on. "Right on both counts," he said.
"'Hineini!
Here I am!' Abraham replied. He stopped with the knife poised above Isaac's neck. Good thing, too, as God granted a stay of execution. Instead, he now told Abraham, 'Do not lay your hand on the boy, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.'"

The boys in the class looked somewhat disappointed. They'd all probably heard the story at some point, but there was always the hope for a new, surprise ending ... something with a twist and preferably violence.

"Now the question I wanted to ask you is," Karp continued, "if you had been the district attorney back then and God had not intervened to save Isaac, would you have charged Abraham with a homicide?"

Karp smiled as a dozen mouths dropped open in astonishment. "Well, no," Zak replied first. "God told him to do it. You have to do what God says!"

"Really?" Karp replied, raising an eyebrow. "Even commit murder?"

BOOK: Escape
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