5/24/2004

The closest thing to crazy I have ever been

I’d like to take a moment to talk about a crazy time in my life. Days full of crazy dreaming, a crazy passion, a crazy girl, and I in the middle.

I was never crazy on my own. But now I know that there is a link between the two. Being close to crazy, and being close to you.

K. Melua (2003)

I held her in my arms, and I looked into her eyes. She did the same, and we knew we were crazily in love. A passion that would never end, a feeling so strong that nothing would ever affect it.

But if the camera would zoom out, it would see walls, a lot of them, a barbed wire fence would appear, soldiers wth guns would wander into the picture. It would show a prison, and you would notice that the crazy girl wore a uniform, and that I was in a brown prison garb. The writings on the walls would scream for cars to stop moving, and they would be written in hebrew.

She fell in love with a prisoner, and I’m not sure I fell in love with her. But maybe I did, because I still feel a bit of that crazyness when I think of her. I remember that musty smell of the thick uniform, still feel her body straining beneath the heavy garment, remember the softness of her palm as it brushed across mine, and the coldness of the metal between us.

I was thin back then. I had hardly eaten in my run across the desert, and when the helicopter had appeared behind me, I had only lain down and looked at it. I remember the sand forcing itself down my throat. I remember being dragged across the floor, and being dropped into the ungiving floor of the machine. I remember groaning as I was rolled into the prison, and I remember opening my eyes, and looking into soft brown eyes. I remember smiling, and saying in yiddish that I would smile on the day I died. And then I remember her smiling.

She came to give me a meal a few days later. She asked me if I could still smile. I proceeded to demonstrate a smile, and threw in a few jokes. She laughed, and went off.

She came back often, and it seemed to me that we flirted. I joked and laughed with her, and I looked forward to her visits. It was crazy, and though it felt like my body and soul had died on many days, I never doubted that my heart would continue to beat. And to feel.

One day, she reached into my cell, and took my hand. She said I had hard hands. I smiled, not because it was funny, but because I could only smile when she was around.

We talked one day for several hours. The next day we talked again. On the next day, I was taken out for exercises. She sat on the watch bench, an assault rifle in her arms. She smiled and looked away. I walked about, feeling the sun burn across my tanned face. I smelt the desert air, felt sand in my lungs.

Then I felt a hand touch my back, and turned around to see her looking up at me. I felt something crazy in me, and I saw something crazy in her eyes. Then she walked away, and another guard took her place.

That night, she came into my cell. The next night also. She did not have shift the next few days, but in 3 days she came back, and came into my cell again. It was unexplainable, but I was mad at the time, and so was she.

After 7 days of our crazy love, men came and told me to leave my cell. I was taken to the entrance, and I had to sign a paper. She sat at the counter, and she looked up into my eyes. Then she looked down, filled out the paper, and then slid it to me. I signed the paper, then was dragged away. She didn’t look at me again.

But I saw that a corner of the paper was wet. With a teardrop, her signing off of our crazy love.

5/06/2004

Assasination

We drove the last 100 kilometers in dirty workmen clothes. Underneath our torn coats, we had army camouflage, pistols and grenades. We were hired to go out and murder a few people, but we followed the moral obligation to only do so in a uniform.

Our old Peugeot sputtered along, whining everytime we tried to exceed 120km/h. It would have been a bad idea to drive faster anyways, the potholes in the road had left more than a few burnt out wrecks on the sides of the roads. One or two still had the brown stains of drying blood around them.

20 KM from our target, the road became wide and perfect. This was were oil money started, this was were westerners were to drive on. The roadside became swampy, dead hulks of trees dotted the landscape. The water had once been fresh, and the trees had carried birds and the forest had sang. But one day, brown muck from deep in the earth had been spilt, accidentaly, of course, and the trees had struggled to breath. But they got less and less air, their food was covered in grime, and they died. Their souls moved on, but their bodies still stood in the swamp, dead branches pointing upwards in to the sky as if they were calling out to the heavens to come rescue them from the crude oil.

The language of the men I was with was crude. They were trained killers, men who lived off death. They did not care why we were here to kill, they only cared about the money they would make of these deaths.

Our car squealed as it entered the smooth road. It screamed as the driver spurred it on. We sat inside, silent, our clothes smelling of grease.

Then the car slowed down and rolled to a stop by the side of the road, shortly before a small bridge. The bride was in the middle of deep valley, the road sunk for about a kilometer down to the river we stood before, and rose up for another kilometer after it.

We removed everything we came with, our driver started the car with the door open, revved it up, driving towrds the swamp, wrenched the steering, and jumped out of the car. It shrieked one last time, and fell into the swamp. The men cheered, and the car spluttered, moaning softly as it sank in. The roof stayed visible, shortly below the water level.

I felt abandoned.

The men shouted out cheerily, and parted the swamp grass, sank into the muddy waters, and disappeared. I was the only one left, and I heard a low hoot of some day owl. I walked up the road, and positioned a small camera by the side of the road. I calibarated the camera, tested that the up-link to the satellites was okay, and then switched it on. There was a short blinking of some lights, and then it became silent.

I walked silently up to the road, gathered together the palm-tree heads we had brought, and sat down beside them. I could imagine the scene as one would see it from the road – a poor farmer waiting for the next bus that would take him and his fruit to the next town, hundreds of kilometers away, where he would sell the fruit for enough money to live for a week. I sunk my head, and watched drops of sweat fall from my forehead to the tar.

The road up ahead was blurry with the heat. And I saw the first bus come. I picked up my small binoculars and tried to make out what the car was. I saw the green-yellow markings, and a sign saying “God is great” on the front of the car. That was not our target. It was just local people moving between the towns.

5 cars and 3 hours later, my binoculars picked up a large white bus. It was moving fast. I saw the yellow and red shell blazoned across the front. A few seconds later, I could make out the words written on the front: “SHELL”.

I spoke, and the other men heard me: “Prepare, 1 minute ETA.” This swamp was old and silent. I was able to clearly hear bullets being pumped into breeches, hear the men preparing to kill.

“30 Seconds”

“20 Seconds”

“10 Seconds”

“Incapacitate in 5. Implement original plan”

And I waited five long seconds. The sweat that fell from my face was no longer just a reflex to the heat. It was also fear. Terror.

The first shot hit the tire. A voice screamed from within the car:

“Driver, DRIVE. Driver, DRIVE. Driver, move the motor! They are attacking us!”

The next 3 shots hit another tire, and the car swerved off into the grass by the side of the road, staggering wildly. The naked wheel hit the edge of the road, and the car bucked and stopped.

The door flew open, and the driver jumped out, running, with his slippers in his palms. The men, who had not yet left the bushes shot him. He ran two more steps, then fell, shouting in some local language.

From the back window, a pale white face peered out, and a shot rang out. I didn’t quite see what happened, but I saw the hole in the glass at the position where his head had been, and the blood marks on the window.

There were at least 3 other people in the bus, I estimated.

Then I saw feet on the other side of the truck. I grabbed my gun from behind the palm head mount, and proceeded to fire towards the feet. He fell, and I saw him lying on the other side of the bus. I shot a few more times at his feet, and hit them a few times.

Two more were in the car.

The other men had made their way out of the bushes, and were gathering on this side of the road. We fanned out, and slowly approached the car, guns held at ready.

Barry, the smiling man, signaled us to move back. He had seen bullet holes in the car. The car was not bullet proof.

We pulled to the other side of the road, and started shooting into the car. The car rocked and swayed. A man screamed inside, then stopped abruptly. It was an execution. I felt sick.

When we were done, we turned away. A car was up on the hill, stopped, and looking at us with fear. It turned and scuttled away.

We blew up our 3 dinghys, and dropped them in the swamp. We paddled away, the GPS device telling us which way to paddle. In 5 hours we would reach a large river, and with the strong current, we would be on a beach in 10 hours.

The night fell, and the sun burnt red. We paddled amongst the dead trees, and their raised up arms made them look like they were wailing. That more living beings had had to die because of that crude and brown oil.