Hellanback stood on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, in the demilitarized zone of the Sinai desert, a mile or two northwest of Romani. The players called it a "restricted military zone." He reckoned his position from a line of barbed wire and tank traps drawn by the Egyptian military over the desert sands, which he'd crossed a couple of miles back, and a map he had seen at the American University in Cairo. On the other side of the DMZ was a similar line, drawn by the Israelis. Lines drawn with the artistry of dogs pissing off their territorial limits.

It was September and thousands of miles to the west, in Washington, D.C., Egyptian president Anwar el?Sadat was speaking at the opening festivities of the first Israeli/Egyptian policy parlays in Camp David. Mr. Sadat's keynote address expressed Egypt's commitment to the principle that "every individual, regardless of race, religion, or national origin, be allowed to visit the sacred places in the city of Jerusalem."

Despite Mr. Sadat's Camp David pretensions, on the every day, perhaps at that very moment he was making his Camp David pitch, an Egyptian was shooting at Hellanback, en route to visit the sacred places in the City of Jerusalem.

Nearly four thousand years before, so the story goes, there occurred a Hebraic flight from pharaonic oppression. Hardly a Jew, Moslem, or Christian does not revere the Mosaic legends. Hellanback had been drawn through the "restricted military area" and into the "demilitarized zone" in the hope that, by following the path taken 4,000 years earlier by the Children of Israel, he might discover a clearer understanding of reality, God's will, and humanity's relation to its Creator.

Idealistic, eccentric, insane? Maybe, but how can one be certain before "reality" has been defined?

In Camp David heads of states discussed peaceful co?existence in idealistic speeches. In fact, the leaders' words might have expressed only the popular notion of Imaginary Reality: "reality is what one perceives to be true." Proceeding from that same popular notion might lead to the conclusions that the Earth is flat, the Sun revolves about it, and that "truth" is whatever nonsense an individual can imagine. Alternatively, the notion of Imaginary Reality would not foreclose the possibility that looking for God in the Sinai is perfectly rational.

*** ***

Hellanback had begun his trek to the Promised Land by swimming around the promontory at Port Fuad, floating across the pools of a salt farm, walking, crawling to avoid Egyptian patrols in a restricted military area in the northern Sinai.

Like the surface of an arid sea, irregular plates of sun?baked dirt had stretched across his path. At first, moving over the plates and lapping cracks which separated them, Hellanback could have been walking on water. After he'd gone some distance the crusted mud began to crack as he walked. With each step his feet sank deeper into the clutching black muck lurking beneath the sun-baked crust. Every step became more difficult than the step before. Hoping the crust would begin to harden up he pressed on. Some hundred and fifty yards into the mud field he was thigh deep and each step became closer to being an insurmountable task. The sun was intense, his strength spent. It was impossible to walk further in the mud, he saw no way out. Hopelessly stuck in the mud, baking in the desert sun, he began to think his quest might be over.

He thought. With great effort he managed to squirm his legs out of the clutching mud. He lay flat on the hard dirt crust. With his weight spread out he found that the crust of the mud would support him. He rolled carefully back off the mud field to solid ground. Saved by an idea.

The DMZ was only a few miles away. He was in danger of discovery at any minute. He headed east toward Romani.

*** ***

Moving constantly without food or drink for forty hours, Hellanback had reached the end of his endurance. With the DMZ line well behind him, he thought it safe to risk a nap. He lay down about twenty?five feet from the sea. He had barely fallen asleep when he heard voices and opened his eyes to find several men with rifles approaching him. Sprinting for the sea, Hellanback dove into the surf. He swam under water until the need for oxygen drove him to the surface. He broke the water gently, facing toward the shore. One of the men on the beach swung his rifle to his shoulder and jerked off a shot. Hellanback hurriedly submerged and continued swimming out to sea. The current was strong and his lungs ached. He surfaced again to discover that the strong current had held him close to the beach, and that one of the marksmen was drawing a quick bead. He ducked without taking a deep breath. Almost immediately he ran out of air. The men on shore were aiming in his direction. Back under water, he realized that, if he wasn't going to get shot, he would have to drown.

Next time he broke the surface Hellanback put his hands in the air. The men on the beach held their fire. He made his way back to shore, and into Egyptian custody.

Despite his protestations to the UN personnel at the DMZ line, he was driven back to Cairo in an Egyptian jeep.

INCARCERATED =============>>