Chapter 26 Wednesday, 1645 hours (4:45 PM)
On the way to talk to Joshua, Jack became aware he no longer knew what was right anymore. It had been easy before, when he believed his every act and every feeling was hard-wired by God. Now Jack didn't believe in that God anymore. That was his father's vengeful God. "What do I believe in now?" Jack wondered. He had to acknowledge that at the moment, he didn't believe in any god anymore. He was troubled by that lack of belief. If he were now a new and reformed individual, was he supposed to believe in God? Jack paused in front of Joshua's door. "And more to the point," thought Jack, "do I still believe in Joshua?" He knocked and the door opened.
"Just the very person," said Joshua. He guided Jack to a chair.
"Sit down Jack," said Joshua warmly, "and take off that thing. What is it anyway?"
Jack unbuckled the heavy pack and let it thud heavily to the floor.
"a backpack. Oh you mean this?" said Jack pointing to the yellow and blue rubberized roll tied over the top. "Its a one man inflatable raft. Its probably the way that scout leader got back into the zoo."
Jack pulled up the chair and sat facing Joshua. Joshua leaned forward and said in a conspiratorial voice,
"Jack, I know you want to hold the zoo until the bitter end, but what would you say if I said I wanted to end Operation Zoo."
Jack was taken aback. "End it? Yeah, I think weve probably proven our point," he said.
"My thinking too," said Joshua. "I want to release another hostage, one who will tell our point of view. Id like to start pulling back from our no compromise stance. No sense getting everyone killed. What would that prove?"
Jack looked on with amazement. He was going to try to make the very same argument to Joshua; to wind down Operation Zoo, but here Joshua had already come to the decision himself. Joshua was looking at him now, waiting for him to say something.
"Why dont we just release all the hostages now and be done with it," said Jack. "It might be hard under the circumstances to find a hostage sympathetic to us."
"I know. But what about one of the kids?" asked Joshua. "Kids like animals. Id like to talk to one of them, tell him about us, make friends. Then well send him out. Itll be a nice gesture. Then in the morning, well release everyone else."
Jack was dazzled by the turn of events.
Joshua went on enthusiastically. "Well get good press from the boy. It will make it easier and less dangerous for us when we hand back the zoo."
Jack nodded and waited for Joshua, obviously excited, to finish.
"We need a boy who can do this, someone who would not be afraid to talk to the police," said Joshua.
"I think I know the kid. He leads the pack. Kit, I think his name is," said Jack
"Great," said Joshua. "Bring him here after the broadcast, about 6:30. OK?"
Joshua stood up, signaling an end to the conversation.
"OK," said Jack rising to leave. "Can I leave this here?" he asked pointing to the backpack.
Jack had planned to free Rom and give him his pack. It meant he'd have to go against Joshua, but now he didn't have to. Everything was going to be OK.
"Of course. Leave it here," answered Joshua. "Wait a second," he went on, going over to his desk and rummaging through a side drawer.
"Here. The keys to the leopard enclosure. Catch," said Joshua. "And by the way, there'll be no broadcast tonight; only a negotiation. They're jamming our transmitter. But it doesn't matter anymore."
Joshua remained standing after Jack left. He was very impressed with himself, with his way with people. He had moved Jack from being absolutely ready to hold the zoo to the death, and had him at the end ready to hand over the zoo and send out the hostages. In fact it was amazing how easy it was to turn Jack around. "I couldn't have told it any better," thought Joshua, "even if it were true."