Sergeant Bronstein stopped chewing and swallowed his gum.  He caught the eye of the gunner covering their backs and then nodded the order to the others.  Lucky kicked the door in.  It splintered and flew open.

Bronstein burst in first, shouting, flanked by Rivera and Lucky, each grasping his weapon, ready for action. 

"Nobody move!  Security forces!  Stay - where - you - are!" 

Bronstein could hear the cry from outside, "La ilaha illa-llah."  There is no lord except God.  Then there was silence: silence and stillness. 

When Bronstein was training, the first time he engaged in a mock forced entry, he glanced at the right doorframe, heeding the impulse to touch the mezuzah he would have found at home.  The sergeant had mocked him.  He interpreted the foul language as, 'He who hesitates is lost.'  Since then, Bronstein had experience under his belt and stripes on his arm.  He pointed at the floor between his feet.  Rivera and Lucky knew the routine: this was to be the point at which they would rendezvous.  He gestured towards the stairs at ten o'clock.  Lucky bounded up them, two at a time, counting in fours.  That was where the women would be. 

The sergeant nodded towards the rear entrance at twelve o'clock.  Rivera spat on the floor, crossed himself and ran straight ahead, as at bayonet practice, crying in full voice.  "Aeiii!"  Fear instilling fear. 

Bronstein waited and listened. 

There was no sound from upstairs: this time, no female voices in protest and no Lucky yelling, panic evident in the high pitch of his voice. 

Bronstein heard no sound from the rear of the building where Rivera had charged. 

He waited.

_____

 

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