"King David Hotel's Smudge" by Hussein Husseini, June 2012

Disclaimer: All characters presented here are product of fiction. Any resemblances to real characters are of a pure coincidence. No intention was made to insult anyone for any reason.

AN: This story is an act of fiction. No one should attempt to act in the same manner as described.

AN2: None.

Summary: Please notice that a preferential certificate of origin is necessary for you to enjoy the preferential tariff.

King David Hotel's Smudge

Businessman Rafael Bermengudy was chatting with his colleague, Edward G. Stevenson about standardization in European Union.

"Are you kiddin' me?" Rafael paused. "If you want American definition, then go to America!" He chuckled. "Standardization is the voluntary process of developing technical specifications based on consensus among all interested parties, … not something that you must do …"

"I don't think there's anything voluntary anymore in EU …"

"Oh, c'mon now … don't be so … gloomy …"

"Is your … definition … including or excluding those small and medium-sized enterprises, … consumers …", Rafael could hear a dog barking in the background, "… trade unions, environmental Non Governmental Organizations …"

"Now that's a dubious one …"

"Sorry, what was that?" Rafael realized someone was claming a dog down behind Stevenson.

"Never mind …" He realized it was half past eight in the evening already.

"Or … public authorities?"

"Yes, my dear Edward … they are all included." Rafael cleared his throat, feeling as if an invisible fairy threw a handful of dust into his throat. "It is carried out by independent standards bodies, acting at national, European and international level."

"That sounds optimistic!" Dog in the background produced some wailing sounds.

"It is!" Rafael did not let his enthusiasm be suffocated by the sudden dust attack. "While the use of standards remains voluntary …", suddenly both of them could hear another conversation of two males and paused, each grinning at its end. Voices belonged to Gilad Atzmon and Marvin Kurz. Marvin was explaining to Gilad how to heat up milk in a "safe way" …

"To heat milk for a recipe or for child, or even adult consumption, … use a small stove top pot." Sound of a wall-mounted clock ticking or some other mechanical device was audible. Edward chuckled low, realizing both men were probably retired or close to being seniors. "There are proper milk saucepans which you can purchase if you wish." But Rafael did not wish to wait and continued.

"The European Union has, since the mid-1980s, made an increasing use of standards in support of its policies and legislation."

"Gilad? Gilad?" Came a croaking voice. "Are you there?"

"Yes. What was that?"

"I don't know!"

"Doesn't matter … continue, please …"

"Heat slow. Exercise patience." Rafael covered his phone and coughed, smiling as well. "Definitely ignore the temptation to raise the heat to cook it faster. Stir it continuously to avoid solids sticking to the bottom and burning." Rafael cleared his throat and then continued trying to over-voice intruders.

"Standardization is actually an excellent tool to facilitate international trade, competition and the acceptance of innovations by markets." Gilad produced some murmurs. "A key challenge for European standardization is to strengthen its contribution to the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises." Rafael's heart was thumping faster.

"Hey! Who is this?"

Rafael could hear Edward laugh his head off, probably covering the phone and twisting and explaining something to his wife.

"Is there any'ne there?" Marvin asked. "Whatever … Test the temperature. Make sure it's warm, but not so hot it will burn your mouth."

"Do you think there are spies listening to our conversation?"

"Spies?" Marvin paused. "Don't be ridiculous Gilad! Who would spy on some milk heating advices?" Rafael heard Edward's phone drop and his wife picking it up, her low chuckle filling up the telecommunication signal.

Marvin paused and then continued.

"Use a teaspoon to collect some milk from the pot, hold your wrist over the spoon to check the temperature, and if it isn't ridiculously hot, give it a taste."

Rafael felt irritated for paying telephone bills and then continued obtrusively like some teenager.

"Did you know that one of the vilest acts of terrorism committed by Israel was the assassination on 22nd of March 2004. of the 67-year old spiritual head of Hamas …" Rafael paused, noticing that the uninvited guests were now becoming silent, "… an organization which, as well as resisting Israel's illegal occupation of the West Bank …", he could still hear Edward's receding chuckle, "… attempted to provide educational, medical, etc., services to the Palestinian people …", Rafael could almost bet that one of those two swore something on some foreign language, "… whose social infrastructure has been practically destroyed by Israel."

"Gilad?"

"Yes?"

"Who … who was saying that?"

"Saying … what?" It was obvious that Gilad was scared.

"About … never mind. "Marvin exhaled. Rafael was listening tentatively, Edward ordering his dog to behave. "To heat milk for infant consumption …", Marvin could now hear some dog barking, "… put the milk in a sterile bottle."

"Sterile … hat?"

"Bottle, Gilad, bottle for Lode's sake!" Rafael watched outside at those crimson colored clouds on the west. "Heat the bottle in a pot of water, the microwave …", sound of pencil scratching on paper, "... if the bottle is microwave safe of course …", Rafael imagined Edward covering his phone and probably twisting in yet another laughter attack, "… or in a bottle warmer."

"Bottle … warmer?"

"Yes!"

"What is it? …"

Rafael began to tap with his foot watching a small airplane fly lo over the city.

"Terrorism has been the hallmark of Israeli leaders, including Meacham Beginus, Yitzhak Shmirky …", Rafael paused, wishing those tow off the line, "… Yhudius Baraki, Benjamino Netanyahui … and Arielus Sharonini, … amongst others." Rafael's heart was thumping faster again and he wondered how wise that was. Since neither of those two spoke, he continued, almost as if reciting an already prepared text. "The massacres, including Deir Yassin, Doueima, Safsaf, Tantura, amongst scores of others, … and war crimes that they have orchestrated would take volumes to relate."

"Gilad?"

"What?"

"I …" Dog barked again and Edward covered his phone. "I'll call you later."

"All right."

Rafael was glad they were alone again. But he still was not 100% convinced that it was not intentional, so continued in the same manner.

"Did you know that most second-generation, or 2G, cell phones use a combination of time division and frequency division."

"Oh? …" Edward dared to speak out.

"Yes. In time division, you're sharing a frequency channel with other phones, but the reason your conversation stays exclusive is that your call gets assigned a specific timeslot on that channel at the start of your call."

"And what was that all about? …"

Rafael exhaled, smelling burnt milk.

"I still don't see why can't we have automatic regulator for furnaces and stoves installed in home appliances as well? I hate hen my milk burns!"

"I know, I know … patience my dear Mr. Bermengudy …"

Rafael exhaled soundly, hearing his wife enter the apartment behind him.

"What?" Edward's front door opened and closed, his dog barking outside.

"Nothing …" Rafael kissed his wife. "I'll call you tomorrow …"

"All right. It's your call …"

"Good night then."

"Good night."

Sound of uninterrupted monotone signal filled Rafael's phone after a "click" sound. His hazy stare wasn't focused on anything in particular and he could hear his wife's crisp voice complaining about the smell.