The nightclub was decked out in Carribean decor. Artificial palm trees swayed in the air conditioned breeze. The crowd on the dance floor moved in synch with the tropical techno beat. Over in the artificial shadows, created by the faux palm plants that hung from the club's art deco ceiling, sat a lone figure. With his dark hair swept back and wearing a black Armani suit, Sam Jarrah was the club's owner. He had inherited his father's business and clientele and most of his dealings were less than legal. 'Such is the life that was thrust upon me,' Sam would think in an effort to live with himself for one more day. His father had died in prison. His sister had disappeared years ago somewhere in the New Mexico desert. His mother had disowned him. And his favorite uncle, Sayid, had died in mysterious circumstances many, many years ago. Yes. Such is the life. He watched one of his new hires, a girl named Charlotte, serve drinks and dance on the stage. 'She was about her age, when it happened,' Sam thought. Then the memories came flooding back into his mind. Those that would jolt him awake in the middle of the night. Leaving him gasping for air. Those that made his soul die a little more each day. Like his uncle, Sam had joined the military right out of school. Not the Iraqi Republican Guard. That was another era. Sam was a Lieutenant in the new Army of Free Iraq. The AFI worked with the Americans to root out terrorists. He had met a girl while on patrol. Her name was Alisha. Beautiful. Intelligent. They would meet for lunch. Go for walks. Etc. Etc. Alisha was a student at the university and was very interested in politics. She would ask Sam to come to one of her campus political group meetings. "Please Sam," she would beg,"come and see for yourself. It will open your eyes as to what is really going on here in Iraq!" Sam was apolitical. "What happens. Happens," he would say, "In my line of work, you just try to stay alive for one more day." But over the months, even though they continued to date, Sam noticed Alisha becoming more distant. Her mind pre-occupied with something. Then one day, Sam was escorting a group of American Infantry as a translator. They were riding north in a Humvee, when a report over the radio indicated someone was spotted in a marketplace wearing an explosive device. Sam's group was the first to arrive. They saw a young woman. She was yelling and holding a switch in her hand. As Sam approached he knew. Alisha. "What the hell are you doing, Alisha?" he asked. She looked at him but Sam knew by the look in her eyes, she was no longer Alisha. She had become infected by the politics. "Stay back, Sam! All of you murderous pigs!" she screamed. The crowd in the marketplace scattered. The American soldiers kept their distance. Only Sam approached. "Put the detonator away, Alisha. You don't want to do this!" He begged her. But it was too late. What happened. Happened fast. Alisha started to push the detonator. Sam drew his pistol and fired one shot. One bullet. Through Alisha's head. She went down. The bomb didn't detonate. Sam received a commendation that day for saving the lives of his fellow citizens and his military unit. He saved everyone except the one he really cared about. But that was another time. Another life. So Sam continued to watch the new girl. Suddenly, his line of sight was blocked. "Hey, punks," Sam yelled, 'you're in my way. Now get outta here!" Sam reached into his coat pocket to touch the .767 caliber handgun he always carried, when one of the thugs beat him to the punch and grabbed his arm, while the other punk put his own gun to Sam's head. "Easy, Mr. Jarrah," the punk holding the gun said, "we only want to deliver a message. "And why would I listen to you?" Sam asked. The punk smiled. "A former associate of yours. A man who has done you many "favors" in the past, wants you to contact him. He wants you to do something for him." The punk then hands Sam a note. Sam reads it, then nods. The punks retreat into the crowd. Sam becomes queasy and heads to his back office to make the call. When Thomas Werner Mittelwerk asks you to contact him, you don't delay. To do so would mean death. Usually your own. To be Continued: Next Chap. 5 "Wheel"

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