“By the way,” said Liora, “I have the key.”
“To what?” I asked, my voice sleepy.
“You know,” she replied, “the question we’ve been asking ourselves, what Moron is doing here.”
“You mean Eli Miran?” I asked. “Don’t be nasty.”
“Geez, Rona,” she said with a sigh, “sometime you’re such a goody two-shoes.” She sucked on her cigarette, and rushing rings of smoke into the air added, “Anyways, I’ve got it.”
“Okay,” I said, distracted by the sunrays dancing on my face, and shut my eyes to maximise the effect.
It was a summer evening, the squadron was finally quiet, the pilots wouldn’t swarm in until tomorrow morning, and I was indulging in my favourite activity: worshipping the sun I missed while slaving away in the operations room all day.
I could feel the air beyond the squadron shifting into relaxation mode. Airbase 27, a large and clumsy creature, had its offices locked up for the day, the mass of soldiers done with their daily toil, showered, changed into T-shirts and jeans, smoking and drinking soda in the cafeteria. At least I hoped there was a cafeteria somewhere on that goddamn base.
Tucked at the corner of the Airbase’s maddening crowd, the four squadrons bordered with the Ben-Gurion International Airport, with Squadron 122, in which I was stationed, bridging the bustling base and the other three squadrons.
Slumped on the wide ledge that hung about a meter aboveground, wrapping around the inner flanks of our pi-shaped squadron, I relished the remains of the day, savouring the last rays as if they were a lover’s tender fingers.
“So,” I said, “what is it, genius?”
“You mean where is it,” she spoke slowly as if to a daft child. “Right here!”
I cracked opened my eyes to a silver key swinging in the air between us.
“Oh,” I said. “You meant a real key.”
She looked at me perplexed. “What else?”
“And what does it open?”
“A drawer? A special one,” she said with a sly grin, her eyebrows dancing up and down. “Con-fi-dential.”
“I … I don’t know,” I mumbled. “We’ll get in trouble.”
“Nonsense!” she said, squashing her cigarette on the floor, then flicked it a few yards crossways into the murk under the ledge. She was an expert cig-butt flicker. “Nobody will ever know. Besides, I was never told not to use this key, so it’s perfectly fine.”
“Hmm …” I emitted.
She sprang to her feet, her jade eyes sparkling like a child on her birthday. “Come on!”