"The trust of the innocent is the liar's most useful tool."
-- Stephen King
It was early, and Jenna was still half asleep. Struggling to pack whatever she could.
Mumbling to herself, trying to remember how long she would be there, her flight number, the name of the guy she spoke to last night.
It felt like a dream. All of it a blur. But the alarm was proof that it all happened.
Jenna packed a single backpack with clothes and a business handbag with supplies and her new journal that was yet to be, filled with all sorts of information.
Jenna made her way to her van, started the engine, and made her way to the airport.
Inside the airport at last. Past security. Now, Jenna was peacefully awaiting her flight. Jenna had been on a few before but, never before did everything run so smoothly.
Jenna sat in a chair with an iced coffee, a breakfast burger, listening to a podcast on her earbuds. Still, Jenna was relaxed.
The burger was delicious, considering she hadn't eaten dinner or lunch the day before.
"Passengers for flight DL254 to Jerusalem, please go to Gate 74."
A man announced on the speaker.
Jenna stood up, sipping the last of her drink and tossing it away.
She stood in line for her flight and began to board the plane.
Onboard the plane, Jenna took notice of a mother and a sleeping baby.
"Hopefully, that baby doesn't wake up and start crying."
She overheard a man whisper to his wife.
Jenna instantly remembered her first flight.
It was a quiet and serene overnight flight to England. But when a baby began to whimper, and Jenna knew not why everyone became tense, the baby let out a terrifying screech.
Jenna did not sleep that night.
Jenna took a seat towards the middle of the plane. She stared out the window on her left side and watched as other planes were being loaded with luggage.
Jenna's backpack was up in the compartment above her and her handbag under her legs. Jenna leaned her head back in the head-rest and closed her eyes.
"Do you mind if I sit here?" A young voice spoke.
Jenna quickly opened her eyes and jerked her head up.
"Uh-no. It's fine. I don't mind." Jenna answered quickly.
The scruffy-looking man sat down comfortably next to Jenna.
Jenna proceeded to put her earbuds in until the man inquired of her.
"So, why are you going to Israel?"
Jenna answered him without revealing too much.
"My boss has me going down there for a job."
The man stared into Jenna's eyes.
"Is it your first time?"
"Yes, it is."
The man continued to stare curiously.
"Israel is my home. You will love Israel."
The man spoke with an accent of some sort. Jenna couldn't make it out. She gave a weary smile. It was awkward.
Jenna reached for her earbuds, only to be interrupted again.
"So, what kind of job?" The man said.
Jenna wasn't going to do this the whole flight. She was tired as it was. Jenna responded.
"I'm a journalist. My manager's friend said he had a story for me so I'm going to cover it."
The young man looked down and smiled, then lifted his head back up and his eyes to hers.
"What's your name? So I can find your article later."
Jenna felt warm. No longer alarmed by the man's presence. It was pleasant to know that someone cared.
"Jenna. My name is Jenna Rivera."
"It's nice to meet you, Jenna. I am Jozef."
Three hours passed like nothing. The more Jenna thought about it, the more she realized he looked more American or European than what he claimed to be.
Jenna glanced at Jozef, who returned the look and smirked.
"I don't look Israeli, do I?"
"Sorry, I just couldn't help but notice. I didn't mean to-"
"You don't offend me. I know I don't. You see," The young man resumed.
"My father is of the States and my mother of Israel. I just look more like my father." Jozef chuckled and closed the book he had been reading.
"And you live in Israel?" Jenna had to know.
"I do, though, my mother is long gone and my father lives very far away from me now."
Jenna's eyes widened. She felt bad for asking.
"You, you are from Minnesota?"
Jenna focused on Jozef again.
"Oh, no, I'm from Texas."
"Wow! Cowgirl? Guns? That's so cool." The man smiled so brightly now.
"I have never been to Texas," he continued.
"I would love to visit. Maybe I can visit you some time, yeah?"
Jenna thought he was hilarious, though he was probably serious.
"It's probably just different culture." Jenna thought. Jenna didn't know much about Israeli culture.
"Jenna," The young man said softly.
"What story are you covering in Israel?"
Jozef's smile had faded, and all that was left was an earnest glare.
Jenna felt strange all of a sudden. The short tower of trust that was built with this man had been destroyed. All confidence left Jenna.
"I'm not sure," Jenna answered directly.
The man lifted his book, leaned into Jenna, and covered the right side of his face. Jenna leaned back with modesty.
"Jenna," He said.
"There are bad people everywhere. When we get to Jerusalem, be very careful."
Jenna grew very uncomfortable.
"I have friends. Don't worry." Jenna said confidently, trying to intimidate Jozef.
"Listen, Jenna," He continued to whisper as he drifted in closer.
"Be mindful of who you call friends."
Jenna looked him in the eyes boldly. This was too much for her. She asked a flight attendant to be seated elsewhere.
The young man watched her attentively as she grabbed her bags and walk out of the aisle.
Jenna, now towards the back end of the plane, considered everything he said. An old lady seated next to her touched her shoulder.
"Is everything alright, dear?"
Jenna swiftly turned to see her.
"Yes, everything is fine, thank you."
The elderly woman nodded and rested again in her seat.
But to Jenna, nothing was fine. Not after those disturbing words from the stranger.