When last we visited this incident, Isaac Jacobs, an elderly gunman has taken the individuals in a downtown bank hostage. We haven’t discovered what motivates him to carry out such an act, except for one small fact: one hostage will die. Mr. Jacobs had stripped two elderly men down to their “whites” and was inspecting their tattoos while they knelt on the floor. We are now negotiating the terms of the first hostage exchange.
He left them kneeling and picked up the phone, dialing Chief Gray. “This is Isaac Jacobs. Here is our situation; I want you to allow one representative of the various media groups to accompany you or your designated officer. If possible, please select a representative from Fox News, as they are the most reputable of those that are available. I might not be a conservative, but I respect integrity in reporting. I want them ready to record our negotiations and document everything that happens. In exchange, I will release half of my hostages. If you or anyone enters this bank with a weapon, I will randomly kill a hostage and the person holding the weapon…. Yes, I will release them as your party approaches the entryway.”
True to his word, Isaac released eleven hostages as the entourage approached the bank. As they exited the building, Chief Gray excitedly motioned for them to run to safety, as if the hostages had no clue what they were supposed to do. The chief stared musingly at the security guard running past him. His pistol had been replaced into his holster. After determining that the former hostages where safe, Chief Gray resumed his march to meet with Isaac Jacobs. When he entered the lobby, he was shocked to see his life long friends, David and Adolph Heinz, nearly naked and kneeling on the floor.
“Please come in, my name is Isaac Jacobs, and these are my hostages. I assume that you are Chief Gray.” He smiled warmly at them and motioned them to stand along the wall with the other hostages. “You gentlemen may set up your equipment over there. Mr. Cato, would you please find some chairs for the rest of our guests?” He watched carefully as Mr. Cato collected chairs from the lobby.
While watching Cato moving the chairs, Chief Gray spoke. “Mr. Jacobs, you have placed us all in a very irregular situation…”
“Chief, please!” Isaac interrupted, exasperation etched on his words. “If you would wait for a moment, I will explain everything once we are all settled.” They waited until everyone was seated, except for Isaac, who paced in front of them as if contemplating his next move. As soon as the news crew was in place, Isaac prepared to continue, but Chief Gray burst out, “Mr. Jacobs, I insist that you surrender immediately. You can’t possibly expect to live through this if you…”
“Chief, please! Are you going to force me to gag you in order for you to maintain your silence?” The hostages glared at the chief in disapproval of his outburst. Isaac had behaved properly and had shown no aggressive tendencies. He had managed to gain their cautious trust for the moment.
He sighed deeply as if troubled to answer the charges put forth by Chief Gray. “For your information, shortly after I committed to my present course of action, I discovered, much to my chagrin, that I have cancer in my lymph nodes. I am afraid that I will die shortly, regardless of our outcome today.
“Now, where was I? Oh yes, at the beginning. What a proper start. I was born in Germany in 1913, shortly before the Great War. My father was killed in action along the Marne River while combating American infantrymen…”
“Surely you can’t hold us personally responsible for actions that took place before the majority of us were born.”
Isaac glanced over at Cato, who nodded and pulled a bandana out of his vest pocket. “Sorry, Chief, but I am afraid that you’re going to get us all killed because you can’t seem to shut up and listen. Now, I don’t intend to tie your hands, but I’m going to gag you. Do us all a favor and listen for a while.” The chief swallowed hard, but submitted to the cowboy. The hostages nodded in approval.
Isaac continued, “No, chief, I do not hold you responsible for my father’s death. My father died protecting his country’s right to be sovereign, however misguided it might have been.” He glanced at the ceiling as he refocused his thoughts. “I married at an early age and had my first child, a girl, in 1930. My wife, Hilda, named her Hydrant. She was the joy of my life and we loved to fly kites together in the park, along with her brothers and sisters. In all, we had five children, Wolfgang, Manfred, William, and Gretchen, in that order. Gretchen was born in 1935, shortly before the 3rd Reich rose to power in Germany.” As he spoke, he glanced over at the Heinz brothers, who were staring at the floor.
“By the time the ethnic cleansings began to take place, it was too late for the Jews to escape to South America, as so many had done in the earlier years. Many of my family members fled Germany just ahead of the Nazis and settled in Argentina, in the mountains near Cordoba. However, I waited, trying to sell my business interests and…” His voice cracked and he wiped a tear from his eyes. “And it cost me everything.”
“Our neighbors, who were Austrians, hid our family for many months, just like the story of Anne Frank. The Nazis conducted a house-to-house search and discovered my family in the basement, hidden among the wines in the cellar. For their efforts at humanity, our neighbors were shot in their own driveway and we were drug away in chains.
“As the storm troopers were dragging my children to a truck waiting nearby, my wife screamed out and grabbed for little Gretchen, who was so…small.” He stopped and blew his nose into a handkerchief. “I’m sorry, some wounds even time can’t heal. Let’s see, where was I? They shot my wife and little Gretchen. My children witnessed their death. Hydrant was so upset that she never spoke again. She would stare into the sky and she refused to eat. Not that they offered to feed her enough to stay alive. She was too small to survive life in the camp; all of them were. After a few months, I…” He stopped and gasped for air, as if he had run a marathon to get here. “I began to pray that God would allow my children to die, so that they might be spared such misery.” He glanced over at the hostages, the women were each clutching tissues. “I was separated from my children, but I could see them across the compound every morning as I reported for work. We could all hear our children as they cried out for us daily. Most of the older girls were to become sex slaves, while the older boys were simply shot or made to work. The younger were used for experiments and as…” his voice drifted and he never finished his thought.
“They made us do meaningless work. We were made to move a mountain of dirt from one side of the compound to the other. The next day, we moved that same pile of dirt to its original site. The next day we repeated the cycle. This went on for months. After a few weeks, Alan Schmidt, an old rabbi, began to cry as he picked up his shovel. He couldn’t stand the de-humanizing task that he was forced to perform daily. He revolted and a guard shot him in the head. A few days latter, several men screamed out and made a mad, hopeless dash for the perimeter fence. They were also gunned down. This went on until the German scientists had observed our reactions enough to try a new experiment.” He stopped talking and looked deep into the camera. “Are you recording?”
The reporter nodded solemnly and replied, “We are live. Every house in America is watching you and listening to your story.”
“Excellent. Allow me to take a moment and reveal that I am working alone; no one is helping me orchestrate this event. Mr. Cato has chosen to help me keep the peace within our prison, but he is acting under my behest. In my custody, along with the chief and our news crew, I have eleven hostages, one of whom is pregnant. She will be released soon enough, along with most of those remaining.” He was silent for a moment as his hopeless eyes revealed that he was reliving a hell from many years past. “I watched my friends die every day. We were shot for eating breakfast. We were shot for not eating breakfast. Nothing could be done to ensure our survival. We were Jews, so they killed us. We were at their mercy.
“Do you remember Schindler’s List? That was a very sad movie for me to watch. I am so glad that those few were spared, but I am sorry that they had to live with the horror that they endured. The movie was accurate, but it was not graphic enough. You couldn’t smell the death that we smelt daily. We had no sanitation. We had no place for garbage. Sometimes, we would watch the scientists performing experiments on the dead before we were allowed to put them in the ovens for burning.
“My children died one by one, slowly starving to death. Those sweet, innocent…” he broke down and wept openly, wailing and mourning with pain unspeakable. “My children never had a chance to live. They were never given a chance to find out who they are. They might have been art lovers, or musicians. They might have been brilliant world leaders. They might have had families all their own and could have held their own children in their arms. Or sing to them as they fell asleep in the evening. Or to make a steaming mug of hot chocolate on a snowy morning…” he stopped to blow his nose. “But they were struck down before they ever had a chance to live. What kind of monster would destroy an innocent life, just for convenience?”
Rose lifted her hand and asked, “Excuse me, Isaac.”
Isaac, who had been speaking as if oblivious to the crowd at hand, seemed to return to the present with her question. “Yes, my dear?”
Rose rubbed her belly apologetically. “I really need to find a bathroom. This little one is keeping me busy.” As she spoke, she rubbed her hand along her belly and seemed to be caressing her baby.
“Of course. Miss Kincaid, could you escort Rose to the lady’s room?”