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Despite the fact that he was a member of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, he didn't really mind being called Russian or Jewish. To him, both groups of people were warm, Latin, and real survivors. The younger man in the room swore all the time that all his ancestors had really come from Russia and had made their way through Germany to America. He'd given the older man the nickname of the tall Russian-looking man. The older man loved this nickname.
His age was a bit of an enigma, as was his nationality. Regardless of what his actual age was, he was well-preserved. His skin was nice. He had all his teeth and hair. He looked and was very healthy. He stood up tall and straight. He could be any age from 40 to 50 years. He didn't feel as old as he was.
The tall Russian-looking man looked down at his younger companion staring forlornly at the Miami skyline. He felt sorry for him. In 4 or 5 months, he'd be released. But the younger man had 16 or more years to go. He tried to take the younger man's mind off his problems. "Didn't you tell me that while you were in the Mossad training school outside Tel Aviv on the Haifa Road that you were required to do parachute jumps?"
The younger man sitting below him didn't respond immediately. He didn't turn his head away from the narrow window and look at the older man speaking to him. Finally and grudgingly, he spoke. "Yes, it was a standard part of the program. We had a few jumps with Israeli Army commandos. It could get pretty scary."
The tall Russian-looking man had his attention! He was going to make the best of it. "You know, I walked around for many years wearing a thin, black cotton trench coat that had gone through the Six Day War that Israel fought in 1967 with some of their Arab neighbors." He paused for a second to see if the younger man was listening.
"Yes, I'm quite familiar with that war." The tall Russian-looking man knew Paul was "hooked." He continued to talk. "There's quite a story behind that old coat. It was worn by a foreign correspondent named Lindy Stevens, who worked for The Houston Post, as my father did for 22 years. He was from North Carolina. He was a very goosey and squeamish person. He was literally afraid of everything. Anyway, he was assigned to the paper's London office right before the outbreak of the Six Day War. When things got hot, he was sent to Tel Aviv the day before the war actually started. That night, he ended up on board a Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar transport plane of the Israeli Air Force. The game plan called for him to takeoff and ride to the drop-zone with the paratroopers. He was going to interview them and watch them make their jump. Then he was going to return to base with the plane." The tall Russian-looking man paused briefly.
"Things didn't go down that way. While the C-119 was in flight, Lindy started to interview a particular Israeli Army sergeant. While Lindy was thin and tall, the sergeant was a stocky and muscular fellow. He was literally as wide as he was tall. When the jump light inside the cabin turned green, all of the paratroopers stood up and affixed their safety cables to the metal wires stretched above them. You can imagine all the sweat, fear, and in the cabin at that moment. The stocky sergeant Lindy was interviewing was supposed to be the last man out the door. Before making his jump, the sergeant gave Lindy a long and powerful hug. Lindy assumed that he was being very emotional. But the sergeant didn't let Lindy go. As he fell out of the back ramp of the plane, he literally took Lindy with him. Lindy found himself free-falling from 8,000 feet in the air in the arms of the stocky sergeant. All sorts of questions raced through his mind. Would the Sergeant's arms hold him? Would the parachute open? If the chute opened, would the shock jolt him out of the arms of the sergeant? Would the chute hold the weight of two men? Lindy also that a falling object accelerates at the rate of 32 feet per second. He knew that only God and good luck stood between him and a horrible death." The tall Russian-looking man paused for effect.
"To make a long story short, Lindy and the sergeant made it to the ground in one piece. I'm sure he was shaking and his pants were wet in the front and brown in the back. Later that evening, Lindy helped the Israeli sergeant kill a Soviet-made T-54 tank of the Egyptian Army with a World War II American Bazooka. Later Lindy gave this black cotton trench coat to my father as a souvenir. When dad passed away in 1976, I inherited the coat and wore it for several years until it was stolen in a burglary."
The tall Russian-looking man paused again to let his words have their full impact.
"One thing's for damned sure. As Lindy was free-falling from 8,000 feet to the earth below, you can rest assured that, very quickly, he relived his entire life!"