Chapter 1


CHAPTER 1 - 1974 - MIAMI

    Maggie and Lee were married on August 22, 1974, survivors of unhappy marriages that had gone on the rocks. They had vowed to love, honor and keep each other, until death did them part. Their lives together were to be a symphony of love and accomplishment in modern America.

    Their bliss lasted thirteen days. The length of the honeymoon. Joe was a vengeful person and he still wanted Maggie as his wife. He gave them a wedding present that almost blew them apart. It was a terrible gift that aged them, scarred them, and in the end, caused them all to blunder about.

    As the wedding preparations and pre-ceremony activities were finalizing, Joe became more aggressive. He declared that he still loved Maggie and he wanted her back.

    While the new furniture was being moved into their house and as they learned the intricacies of the swimming pool plumbing, dishwasher and so forth, Joe began to badger Maggie with menacing telephone calls.

    “You know that you love me. Why are you marrying him? Because I wasn’t nice to Jackie? I’ll be good to her this time. No man is going to raise my daughter.” Meaning Ali of course. “I’ll put out a contract on Lee. They’ll cut him up before they stick a gun in his mouth and pull the trigger.” Joe was not showing his nice side.

    “Tell me you don’t love me. You are sacrificing yourself for Jackie and your parents.” He couldn’t tolerate Maggie’s parents, friends or relatives.

    “Maggie please I’m asking you on my knees. I’ll make it all up to you.” He had been living with another man’s wife in the house that Maggie had tried to turn into a home for him until she was forced to leave him. “We’ll take a grand tour of Europe. Paris, Rome. The Riviera! Wherever you want to go. First class all the way.” He had been somewhat parsimonious during their marriage.

    “That bastard. He bought you with that house. Didn’t he?” Joe refused to believe that Maggie could have a relationship with another man which was not based on money.

    “I’ll buy you a better house. You name it and I’ll make a twenty-five thousand dollar deposit on it tomorrow.” He named several houses which he had heard Maggie admire.

    “You tell Lee that I know where his sons live.” His nasal voice gravely and evil on the telephone. He gave Lee’s former wife’s address. “Tell him that they’ll never walk again when I get done with them. Then I’ll have Lee killed.”

    Maggie recorded the conversation and played it for Lee. “My God Lee. What can we do?”

    Lee said. “Maggie. Don’t worry. He’s just trying to scare you. He’s a bully and he is used to getting his way.

    “Look. If he seems serious I’ll get a gun and take care of him.”

     Lee tended to be introspective. A little nerdy, reading fiction about far away places and adventure. He was always the most peaceful guy in any gathering. Lee was six foot four inches tall and a fit two hundred and twenty pounds. Never a violent man, he was scared enough by the recorded threat to threaten murder.

    “I’m an expert shot and I even have medals to prove it.” He showed Maggie his collection of army medals and awards. Sharpshooter. Marksman. Expert. He was a lieutenant in his reserve unit.

    Joe’s threats and Lee’s talk about shooting guns shook Maggie. If their wedding arrangements hadn’t been so advanced, she might have delayed until Joe cooled off. They could have waited until her fears and misgivings, so cruelly raked to the surface, had quieted. Have you ever known a bride, or groom, without misgivings?

    Lee took action. The baseball bat he kept near his bed wasn’t enough anymore. He bought a Titan Tiger 32-caliber revolver for $95.00 and planned to defend himself. Trouble was, the threat was today and there was a one-week waiting period before he could actually get the gun.

    Lee tried to borrow a gun from their boss, Dr. Arnold. “Lee. I can’t let you have it. I’m afraid you’ll do something foolish - something you’ll regret.”

    A friend, lawyer Stan Schulman was in the room. He said, “Lee. I have a gun in the car. You can have it as long as you need.” So Lee now had a fine semiautomatic pistol and pondered. What to do?

    Early mornings, weekends and after work he went to the river front neighborhood of Joe’s marine hydraulic business and learned the layout of the neighborhood. He sat in his car a half block away and had a pretty good view of Joe’s comings and goings. “What if I just go in at a quiet time and kill him? How can I get away with it. Even if I’m not seen, I’ll be a suspect. I’ll spend years in jail. What good would that do for the kids and Maggie?”

    Lee was able to take possession of his new gun after the week was over and he returned Stan’s gun with thanks.

    Lee stalked Joe but couldn’t figure a way to kill him that made any sense. And what about killing him? That would sit heavily on his soul. He was just not cut out to be an assassin. He never told anyone about his thoughts of murder.

    Despite their difficulties with Joe, Maggie and Lee plunged ahead becoming obligated for thousands of dollars for a leased house and new furniture. Their wedding reception was all arranged and, of course, of supreme importance, driving them onward, was their love for each other. They wanted to be united! Maggie and Lee were married on a brilliant August day.

    When their determination became clear, the threats ceased and a smoother and calmer Joe emerged.

    Joe wanted to take Ali to visit her grandparents in Lebanon for three weeks during the honeymoon. He indicated, at last, that he was resigned to her marriage. He said that he would wait and that when she came to her senses he would be ready to take her back.

    Joe begged Maggie, “Please let me take Ali to Lebanon to meet her grandmother. Mami is getting old and she’s dying to see Ali. Please?”

    Maggie couldn’t say no and that’s how things were while the newlyweds honeymooned in Mexico. Joe and Ali went to Lebanon.

    At first Maggie voiced many objections to the proposed trip. School began in early September. She told him she was afraid that he would try to take Ali away from her. He assured her that he would never do anything to harm his own daughter. He promised to return Ali in time for her to begin kindergarten school; without fail. He swore on the grave of his sainted older brother - David, who had been killed in an Israeli border clash. So Maggie consented and Ali went to Lebanon to see the grandmother, aunts and uncles that she had not met before.

    The wedding was the most exhilarating celebration they’d ever experienced. The ceremony took place in a tropical garden. It was remembered through a pink and blue cloud. A beautiful and dear friend performed a ceremony full of tender and meaningful sentiments before relations and close friends. Lee’s father was the best man.

    That night became a champagne whirl of dining and dancing.

    They honeymooned in Mexico City and Acapulco. They had a glorious time. The extent of their downfall was almost classical in scope. Those who fly too high, too fast, have a long way to fall. They returned to Miami on September second and eagerly awaited Ali.

    Joe did not bring Ali back. After two days of anxious waiting, Maggie began a series of frantic telephone calls to Lebanon. She could not locate Joe. Known relatives in Lebanon refused to accept her calls or were conveniently out.

    Joe was being too cruel. Given Maggie’s history of already losing one child, losing another was the worst thing that could ever happen to her - a new disaster piled on the old disaster.

    Joe’s mother Adele was called “Mami.” She lived in a mountain village near Beirut. She reacted very emotionally when, after many attempts, Maggie finally managed to get her on the phone. The woman carried on unintelligibly. Clearly, Joe was back to his evil ways.

    Lee and Maggie contacted the Welfare and Whereabouts Section of the U.S. Department of State in Washington and asked for help in locating Ali.

    They got a prompt telephone response and, later, copies of wire traffic between the state Department and the Embassy in Lebanon. This led nowhere.

E.O. 11652:N/A
TAGS: CASC (ZAYYAT, ALLISON ADELE) SUBJECT: W/S ABOVE MENTIONED

SUBJECT DPOB AUGUST 9, 1969 MIAMI PASSPORT NO, E029704

TRAVELED WITH FATHER JOSEPH ZAYYAT AUGUST AND WAS DUE RETURN US SEPTEMBER 4. MRS ELRES, SUBJECT’S MOTHER RECEIVED TELEGRAM SEPTEMBER 9 FROM FATHER STATING SHE HAD CONTRACTED EAR INFECTION AND RESTRICTED FROM FLYING. HE WAS, THEREFORE, OBLIGATED TO RETURN TO U.S. WITHOUT SUBJECT. Mr. ZAYYAT HAS NOT YET RETURNED NOR CAN HE BE CONTACTED AT BEIRUT. MRS ELRES STATES SHE HAS CALLED FORMER HUSBAND’S FAMILY MANY TIMES, HOWEVER, THEY HAVE BEEN UNCOOPERATIVE IN PROVIDING INFO. REQUEST POST ATTEMPT CONTACT Mr. ZAYYAT C/O BROTHER, W ADI ZA YY A T O.G.D.R.O. P .O. BOX 1226 BEIRUT TEL: 581022/115314/170059 OR MOTHER AT BKASSINE (TEL 46) AND ATTEMPT OBTAIN INFO RE SUBJ’S HEALTH AND PLANS FOR RET. US. INTERESTED PARTY. UNCLASSIFIED SCS94

PAGE 01BEIRUT 11451 53
ACTION SCSEAPP INFO OCT-01 /001 W

1435Z

P 1230Z SEP74
FM AMEMBASSY BEIRUT
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 402 UNCLAS BEIRUT 11451

EO 11652: NA
TAGW: CASC: (ZAYYAT, Allison ADELE) SUBJ: W/W Allison ADELE ZAYYAT REFERENCE STATE 6310

SUBJECT’S GRANDMOTHER CONTACTED AND REPORTS THAT SUBJ LEFT LEBANON WITH FATHER AUG 18 ON 9 AM FLIGHT FOR U S. GRANDMOTHER DOES NOT KNOW FUTURE ADDRESS IN U S AND EMBASSY UNABLE TO CONTACT OTHER RELATIVES. SUBJ IS REPORTED IN GOOD CONDITION AND RECOVERED FROM INFECTION. EMB WILL ATTEMPT TO VERIFY DEPARTURE AND FLIGHT INFO FROM LOCAL AUTHORITIES. INTERESTED PARTY.

GODLEY . UNCLASSIFIED

–- 089689

    When Maggie heard the contents of the wires she knew immediately that Joe’s mother told the investigator that Ali was fine and had departed with her father. Neither Maggie or Lee realized that she had lied until much later. A sharp reader will notice discrepancies in the dates but Lee and Maggie could not tell, and did not care much, afterwards, to know if this was a result of typos or deception.

    Maggie made a desperate telephone call to her cousin Vincent's ex-wife, Chloe, who had handled the sale of their townhouse. Maggie had learned in the months since she’d left Joe, that Chloe had been having an affair with him but Maggie figured that Chloe was probably pissed off at him by this time.

    “Chloe. Its me Maggie. How are things?”

    “Good.” Chloe was a little reserved, not knowing what was coming or if Maggie was mad at her.

    “Good.”
    "How are you Maggie?”
    “Not good Chloe...” Maggie burst into tears and couldn’t talk for a bit. Lee handed her a tissue.

    “Oh god! What’s wrong honey?” Chloe’s heart went out to her friend.

    “That shit head stole Ali, Chloe.” Maggie groaned. Her breathing was so heavy that she could hardly talk. “He has her in Lebanon and isn’t bringing her back...” More weeping.

    “Maggie. That’s awful! How could Joe do such a thing? What can I do to help?”

    “I don’t know Chloe. I just had a thought about the settlement on the townhouse. I’m going to go to court and maybe the judge can hold it up to give us some leverage.”

    “Maggie.” Chloe’s voice was conspirital. “Don’t ever tell anyone what I’m about to tell you. I’ll get in trouble and could lose my job or even my license, but, Joe hasn’t been paid yet. The money will be his on the 15th.” She gave Maggie a lot of information. The name of the bank Joe used and his account number. The name of the lawyer handling the sale and his bank information too.

    “Thank you Chloe. I swear I’ll never, never tell. I love you!”

    A glimmer of hope arose.

    “Lee. We have got to go to court now. Maybe we can hold up his money.” Maggie and Lee went right to work.

    They’d sought legal help on the thirteenth of September. The situation deeply depressed Maggie.

    Their attorney and friend, Stan, recommended Maurice Gelb as the best lawyer in the state when it came to family matters.

    Maggie and Lee called Mr. Gelb, got an appointment to meet with him immediately.

    They learned that things happened fast around Mr. Gelb. He was the soul of efficiency and very smart. His practice was located in a expensive suite of offices in a Brickell Avenue tower with long views of Biscayne Bay.

    A dapper man with short steel-gray hair, he wore custom- made, boldly striped shirts under his beautiful suits. His imported silk ties seemed worth a week’s paycheck for the average guy.

    His fees were high but he gave them confidence that he could get any job done.

    The very next day there was an emergency hearing in front of the Judge Silverman who’d granted Maggie’s divorce. She was awarded an Arrest Warrant, and an “Order of Sequester” which froze the twenty thousand dollars due to Joe from the sale of their home. They also got a court order demanding the return of Allison to her mother.

    Maurice Gelb seemed like Superman in a silk suit.

    Judge Silverman was clearly outraged by the situation. He demanded of Joe’s attorney that he return immediately with Ali.

    At the time of the divorce Joe had closed his business and supposedly moved to Louisiana to work for an oil company. Maggie had abandoned her share of the home proceeds in an effort to placate Joe in his rage over the divorce. Obviously it had not worked. Ali was still lost in Lebanon.

    Joe sat on the shady front porch of his mother’s house watching Ali play with her cousins. Allison was learning Arabic. She was singing songs with the neighborhood kids and she refused to speak Spanish which was her primary language when they left Miami.

    He couldn’t believe how dumb Maggie was. She’d believed him when he said he would bring Ali back. Maggie said she wanted Ali to have a relationship with him. Well, the relationship was going to be there all right because he was not going to take Allison back to the States, no matter how much Maggie begged.

    Adele, Joe’s mother, came out to sit with Joe. She spoke in Arabic with a liberal Italian vocabulary mixed in. It was almost a private family language.

    She looked at him closer and asked, “Why did Maggie give up her daughter?” She had been asking the same question for the last week. Joe’s answer was the same each time.

    “Mami,” that’s what the children called Adele, “When Maggie got married again, Ali was in her way. All she wanted was her new husband. I couldn’t let Allison live under those circumstances, anyway Ali wanted to come and live with me.”

    “But Joe, you’re traveling all the time, how are you going to take care of Ali by yourself?”

    “Don’t worry Mami I’ve already made arrangements to put her in a boarding school, I’ll be with her on holidays and vacations.” “How is a life in a boarding school going to be better for the child? Allison needs her mother.” Mami looked at her son with tearful eyes.

    “I’ve told Ali that Maggie doesn’t want her anymore and she’s ok with that,” Joe muttered.

    Joe turned to Adele with rage in his eyes and said. “No other man is going to raise my child, you are not to talk to Maggie when she calls or tell her where Allison is. Is that clear?”

    “My son, I see such hatred in your eyes, that part of you is not a part Ali should see.” “I will do what you ask, but my heart breaks for Maggie every time I hear her crying on the phone when she calls. She doesn’t sound like she doesn’t want Allison.”

    Mother and son sat in glum silence for a long time watching the children play.

    The telephone rang early in the morning in Joe’s mother’s Bkassine house. Adele didn’t want to answer it in case it was Maggie again, so Joelle, Joe’s sister answered the call.

    It was a man’s voice asking for Mr. Zayyat in English. Joelle went to Joe’s room to wake him.

    “Hello.”
    “Hello Joe, it’s Mark.” Mark Goodman was Joe’s attorney in 
Miami.

    “What’s wrong Mark, why are you calling?”
    “I’ve got bad news and you’re not going to like it.”
    “What is it man, spill it out.”
    “Well it seems your ex has sequestered the twenty thousand dollars from the sale of the house and you’ve got to appear in court ASAP to answer the charges she’s brought against you.”

    “What charges?”

    “Kidnapping. You are to bring Allison back to the states immediately and there’s an arrest warrant for you. If you do not appear in court at the appointed time, Maggie will get the money from the sale of the house.”

    “How can she get away with this Mark? She signed the house over to me, I’m the sole owner now.”

    “She’s done it Joe, you took Allison out of the country and didn’t bring her back on the date you agreed with Maggie.”

    “I’m not bringing Ali back Mark.”

    “If you don’t bring her back, Maggie will get the money and they’ll be an arrest warrant for you as soon as you touch American soil.”

    “What is my time line for this?”

    “ASAP buddy, tell me when you can get here and I’ll call the judge and set up a court date.”

    “I’m not bringing Ali back, besides she’s sick and can’t travel.”

    “You’d better have a Doctor to verify this. I’m sure the judge will ask for verification.”

    “Ok, I’ll take the first flight out tomorrow, but Ali stays here. She’ s sick.”

    “Call me as soon as you get in.”
    “Will do.”
    Joe slammed the phone down. Ali was standing right next to him.

    Daddy I’m not sick, why did you tell that man I was sick?”

    “Daddy where are you going? I want to go home to mommy.”               

    “I’ve already told you Ali, your mother doesn’t want you anymore. She married that man and now she doesn’t want you anymore.”

    “But Daddy Lee loves me. He tells me all the time and plays with me and we swim in the pool all the time. Tell mommy I’ll be a good girl, I’ll pick up my toys and eat my vegetables.”

    Joe scowled.
    “Allison! Go to your room, I don’t want to talk about this any more.”

    “But Daddy...”

    “I said go to your room, right now.”
    Ali ran to her room sobbing.
    “And stop that crying, it won’t do you any good.”

    Joe picked up the telephone and said “Operator, I’d like to send a telegram to the states...”

    The consequences of freezing Joe’s funds was almost magical to Maggie and Lee. On the fourteenth of September a telegram came: Allison is ill and cannot travel. I am obliged to return without her. Joe

    A few days later there was a phone message at the office. Joe left a local number to call back. He was back in the U.S. But where was Ali?

    Lee and Maggie did some sleuthing. They got the street boundaries for the three-digit exchange from the phone company. Maggie and Lee immediately set out to drive the neighborhood together, trying to locate any apartment building that might be suitable for Joe.

    There were very few apartment buildings in the industrial area. Most of them were shabby. There proved to be only one that might be suitable. It was a large complex surrounded by a wrought iron fence. The cars in the parking area were clean models of recent vintage. Coincidentally a friend of theirs once lived in the same building complex following his divorce.

    They knocked on a door near the parking area and hit pay dirt. The man who came to the door said he knew Joe and described his car. He said that Joe had been living there for about a year. He gave them the apartment number.

    Joe’s car was not there and there was no response to the knock on his door. It seemed to them that Joe was still living and working in Miami. Maggie drove to the apartment building again early the next day before work, but she had a fender bender on the drive over and was unable to complete her mission. Frustration, confusion and anger mounted.

    Joe was back and appeared in court as Judge Silverman had instructed. This had mixed results. Joe claimed that Ali had an ear infection and was too ill to fly. The judge directed Joe to tell his family, in writing, to release Ali to Maggie.

    Joe looked contrite and said, “Your Honor. I want to bring her back to her mother but she’s been sick and her physician has advised me to not let her fly.” His story was not believable.

    At a second hearing in Judge Silverman’s chambers Joe arranged for Lee’s and Maggie’s employer Doctor Burt Arnold to talk to Ali’s physician in Lebanon on the speaker phone from Miami - a Dr. Karim Massaad at the Military Hospital in Beirut. He found out that she was taking penicillin and valium. Judge Silverman listened with his hands interlaced under his chin. Joe was stoney faced and grim.

    They were gathered around a boat-shaped wooden conference table. Tension filled in the air. Maggie listened in tears and Lee was still, his face pale, his right leg jumpy. Joe wore a face of stone. The lawyers listened intently and made notes on their yellow legal pads.

    The connection was made by Mr. Gelb’s secretary. Dr Massed came on the line.

Massaad: “This is Doctor Massaad.” His English was accented.

Arnold: “Why are you giving a five-year-old child Valium?” said Dr. Arnold.

Massaad: With a heavy accent. “Well. Because she’s been very agitated.”

Arnold: “Why has she been agitated?”
Massaad: “Well it seems the mother abandoned her and the father had to go back to the states for court hearing.”

Arnold: “The mother did not abandon her. That’s what this hearing is all about. Can we talk to Allison?” He always called her by her full name.

Massaad: “No. she’s sedated right now and can’t come to the telephone.”

    A loud dial tone ended the call abruptly. Every one was surprised. It seemed that Dr. Massaad was done talking.

    Joe presented a handwritten letter from Dr. Massaad in French. There was an English translation attached. It was on the doctor’s hospital stationery with little documentary stamps and a Arabic inscription apparently attesting to its authenticity.

    Dr. Karim MASSAAD MEDECIN A L’HOSPITAL MILITARE DOMICILE CLINIQUE

    (The printed parts of the stationery with the name, addresses and telephone numbers were in both french and arabic)

    (The english translation read)

I the undersigned Karim Massaad hereby certify that I examined Miss Allison Adéle Zayyat who is suffering of a general anemia and an intermediate socket with head-noises.

Her health condition does not allow her to fly. She still is under my control. Her Health condition requires a treatment of at list six months as from 2.9.74.

In virtue of I delivered this certificate.

Seal and Signature

the Physician
Dated :September 2 1974

    Dr. Arnold told Judge Silverman that he felt that the diagnosis and letter were suspect. He used the word “Bullshit” several times.

    The judge and the attorneys went into the judge’s private office to decide what to do.

    The judge sternly told Joe that he was ordered to stay in Miami and that the money would not be released until Maggie and Ali were back in Miami together.

    Joe turned to his attorney in disbelief. His evidence was being disdainfully ignored. The attorney whispered something in his ear. An admonishment to be quiet no doubt. He turned to glare at Maggie with his face screwed up in hate. Maggie almost looked away but then forced herself to glare back at him.

    She thought, “Not this time you bastard. You’ve gone too far. This is my daughter you’re hurting!” She kept her eyes on him. Lee took her hand and squeezed it.

    Judge Silverman told Maggie to go to Lebanon and to return with Ali as soon as she ascertained that Ali’s health would permit travel. A legal writ was produced with relevant orders. Joe was to remain in Miami and provide Maggie with round-trip plane tickets. Joe presented the following letter, with his signature on his attornney's letterhead:

September 22, 1974

Mr. Wadi Zayyat Lebanon

Dear Wadi,
You remember that the last thing I said was that no on was to touch my daughter without me being present. I must change
 these instructions NOW.

This letter is being given to you by Maggie and she believes that I do not want Ali to return to the U.S.A. Please help me convince Maggie that I want Ali back home as soon as medically possible.

Help Maggie make her independent choice of a doctor to examine Ali and confirm whether our daughter should travel. It would help for Maggie’s doctor to be in consultation with Dr. Massaad. Under no circumstances should you decide the doctor for Maggie as her choice must be her own.

Love to all Joseph Zayyet

    Attached to the letter was a notarized Authorization for Ali to travel with Maggie.

    The events that followed were nightmarish. Lee learned the real story much later. Maggie left for Lebanon on Wednesday, September 25th. There followed a gloomy period in his life and a low point in the lives of all concerned.

    Joe called his brother Wadi in Lebanon.

    “Wadi, we went to court today and the judge said my money will be held until Maggie goes to Lebanon and picks up Allison and brings her back to the states.”

    “Joe, Ali is crying all the time. She wants her mother.”

    “Just make sure you keep on telling her that her mother doesn’t want her, and keep talking to her in Arabic. I want her to forget her Spanish. That should really get to Maggie.”

    “Ok Joe, I’ll do what you want.”

    “Good! I’ll give you the information about Maggie’s flight when I have it. Goodbye brother.”

    The first step in going to Lebanon is to apply for a visa at a Lebanese consulate. Maggie wanted to go to N.Y.C. to get her visa quickly. She just could not wait for the mail. The tickets were waiting for her at the Miami airport for her journey to Lebanon via New York City.

    Maggie flew to New York intending to proceed to Beirut directly from New York. She was refused a visa because the consulate had had reports that she was a “Zionist and in league with the Jews.” Untrue, of course. Not that Maggie or Lee were against Israel – it is just not their cause.

    Maggie called Joe in Florida and he smirked, “I told you so!” She could see no other solution so she promised him anything if he returned her precious four-year-old girl.

    He immediately flew to New York, disobeying the court’s orders, and cleared the way for her visa. He was parading his pull with the Lebanese government. He had demonstrated his invincibility and her inability to fight him. She was sick with dread.

    At the airport. Joe walked her to the departure gate. She stiffly let him kiss her cheek as he said good bye.

    “I’ll see you when you get back. We’ll have time to talk then.”

   

Copyright © Bill Serle 2011