Read The Moving Prison Online

Authors: William Mirza,Thom Lemmons

Tags: #Christian, #Islam, #Political, #Fiction, #Suspense, #Historical, #War & Military, #Judaism, #Iranian Revolution, #Cultural Heritage, #Religious Persecution

The Moving Prison (26 page)

BOOK: The Moving Prison
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Nader Hafizi smiled as the small child dipped his hand in the pond beside the front walk. The toddler was fascinated by the goldfish and had inched closer and closer to the water, his chubby hands twitching, as if they longed to touch the shining ornamental fish that swam gracefully in the blue-tiled pond.

He managed to brush one of the fish with his fingertips, and it wriggled away with a sudden burst of speed. The child gave a little yip of alarm and yanked his hand back, losing his balance and sitting down hard on the herringboned walkway. Hafizi laughed aloud.

Hafizi, the midday meal is prepared. Will you come and offer the blessing?”

The mullah looked over at the shy young woman who had spoken. “Yes, Maryam
, I will come.” He gestured toward her son, who still sat dazed on the sidewalk. “If young Akbar has his way, we will eat fish for supper.” Hafizi winked at the child as he rose from his seat on the front steps.

The young mother shook her head as she hurried to gather her son. Together they went into the dining room.

The boarders were already gathered about the large table, Akram standing in her habitual place beside the kitchen door. Hafizi beamed at her as he sat down.

Their guests were the dispossessed, the downtrodden, those with no place to go. He found them in the streets and alleys of Tehran, and brought them here to Solaiman House—the refuge he had created on this spacious, beautiful site. It was a place of peace, a place of healing. A place of hope reborn.

There had been suspicions, at first. From time to time, officials and mullahs came poking about the premises, looking for any sign of double dealing or suspicious goings-on. Hafizi endured these visits good-naturedly, knowing he had nothing to hide. It was, as he told Akram, as if a thief returned from a long journey, to find that one of his cronies had become a holy man. He would be bound to search diligently for some evidence of an ulterior motive for his former colleague’s inexplicable behavior. To the hypocrite, Hafizi well knew, nothing is so baffling as sincerity.

He raised a morsel of bread in his hand. “In the name of Allah the Merciful,” he intoned, “may He bless this house and its occupants. “And may He also,” the mullah continued, as was his habit, “bless the house of Ezra Solaiman, the generous and gracious man whose goodwill made this place and its mission possible.”



As Ezra turned the key in the lock, the door to his apartment swung open. He went inside, tossing the package from the drugstore on the table of the kitchenette and tugging open the drapes. He sat down on the couch and looked out the front window.

The view led across the blacktop road into a cornfield, framed in the distance by stands of hickory and ash. The idyllic setting pleased Ezra; it was the main thing that had drawn him to this semirural community south of the loud tangle of New York City. Sometimes the quiet, the sibilant rustle of the wind through the corn leaves, could almost make him forget….

He looked over at the package on the table—Demerol, described by his doctor for the raging headaches that had tormented him of late. Sometimes the pain was so fierce he woke in the middle of the night, writhing and squeezing his temples in a futile effort at relief. But the headaches paled beside the nightmares.

He rose, walking over to the kitchenette. Almost offhandedly, he picked up the cylindrical brown plastic bottle of Demerol. How well he knew what too many Demerol could do.

Esther and Sepi lived nearby, in an apartment much like his own. Esther called him sometimes, and they made small talk around the shouting silences between their words. He was lonely, and he often thought she was too. But he couldn’t blame her.

Shaking the pills in the bottle like a child shakes a rattle, he drifted again toward the couch. He looked down, his eye lighting on a book he had recently purchased.

An Iranian community was growing in these parts as many others followed Ezra’s path out of turmoil. Businesses were springing up to cater to the refugees’ needs. One of these, half a mile from Ezra’s apartment, was an Iranian bookstore.

As he had browsed through the meager offerings, he had noticed the book that now claimed his view. A New Testament translated into Farsi.

Telling himself he was motivated by mere curiosity, he had bought the book. When he came in that day, he had flung it on the coffee table, where it had lain undisturbed. Until now.

He picked up the thin volume, thumbing through the pages. “Nothing remarkable here,” he told himself aloud. “Just a book. A waste of money.”

And then he was back in Evin Prison, among the emaciated, stinking bodies of the breathing dead. Reuben Ibrahim was beside him, weeping and praying. “
Yeshua … protect them.

The book fell open and his eyes lit halfway down the page: “Anyone who loves his son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me…. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”

A harsh grace, that of this Jesus. And yet …

To find a life … wasn’t that his goal? Hadn’t it been for that very purpose he had fled Iran? And had he succeeded? Was he now living—what was the American phrase—the good life? He had left Iran a millionaire. Had it made any difference?

In one hand he held the Demerol, in the other the book. His eyes flickered between them.

Whoever loses his life for My sake …”

Or sleep and nothingness. Which? How to know?

The phone rang. He set the book and the pills on the table as he rose to pick up the receiver. “Hello?”

“Ezra.” Esther’s voice. For ten, twelve heartbeats there was silence on the line. Then she said, “I … I have been thinking. Perhaps …”

loses his life for My sake will find it.
” The phrase rugged at him like a lodestone.

“Perhaps we should talk,” Esther was saying.

Yeshua … He will protect …

Ezra cleared his throat. “Yes. Perhaps we should.”


Published by David C Cook

4050 Lee Vance View

Colorado Springs, CO 80918 U.S.A.

David C Cook Distribution Canada

55 Woodslee Avenue, Paris, Ontario, Canada N3L 3E5

David C Cook U.K., Kingsway Communications

Eastbourne, East Sussex BN23 6NT, England

The graphic circle C logo is a registered trademark of David C Cook.

All rights reserved. No part of this ebook may be reproduced, scanned, resold, or distributed by or through any print or electronic medium without written permission from the publisher. This ebook is licensed solely for the personal and noncommercial use of the original authorized purchaser, subject to the terms of use under which it was purchased. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

This story is a work of fiction. All characters and events are the product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to any person, living or dead, is coincidental.

LCCN 94033034

ISBN 978-1-56476-390-7

eISBN 978-0-7814-1003-8

© 1995, 2012 William Mirza and Thom Lemmons

First print edition published as
by David C Cook in 1995.

The Team: Carole Streeter and Barbara Williams

Cover Design: Amy Konyndyk

Cover Photo: iStockPhoto

First Digital Edition 2012

William Mirza
was born in northwestern Iran in 1904 and emigrated to the United States in 1958. Inspired by the literary style of Charles Dickens, William decided as a young man that someday he would be a writer. Twenty-six years after emigrating to the United States, at age eighty and with only 20 percent of his vision left, he decided to write a novel. After thirty-nine rejections,
The Moving Prison
(formerly titled
) was published with the help of Thom Lemmons five months before William died at age ninety. He is survived by two sons and a daughter who live in California and Colorado.

Thom Lemmons
is the author of twelve works of fiction, including the Christy Award–winning
King’s Ransom
(with Jan Beazley) and, most recently,
, a modern-day retelling of the Job story. Thom is the managing editor at Texas A&M University Press in College Station.

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What people are saying about …

The Moving Prison

“A fine novel of both the triumph and defeat of the human spirit, giving us yet another parallel to the Holocaust story and to all tales of religious persecution.”

American Library Association

BOOK: The Moving Prison
2.95Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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