Osama's Hair Stylist
You know, it's not often I have a brush w/ greatness. I know that may come as a surprise to many of you, but it's true. I, Rick Eddy, rarely get a chance to pal around w/ the rich and famous nor even those near the rich and famous.
When I was growing up, I remember my dad telling me that every true story he heard while in Vietnam always started with, "No shit. There I was..." He told me that if the story started that way, you could actually count on it to be true. It might not have actually involved the person telling the story, but the story was probably true.
So: No shit. There I was on my way home, and traffic sucked; I mean, it is Atlanta, but tonight it really sucked. So, I was jammed in traffic on College Avenue over in Avondale, and I decided I might as well hit a happy hour as sit in traffic. About that time, I saw James Joyce's coming up on my left, and I put my left blinker on, let it flash a couple of times and pulled across a couple of lanes of traffic. Hell, I'm in an old work van, and these yuppie Atlanta people drive BMWs, Jags, and Lexi (that is the plural of Lexus, isn't it?), so I knew they'd gladly stop rather than hit a dinged up work van. I sure most of the oncoming traffic intuitively knew by the maneuver and the shape of the van, that the van wasn't actually insured.
Enough about that. I got inside, and it was fairly crowded, but I got lucky and grabbed a seat at the bar in front of one of those bar top bandits. I got the Irish bartender's attention; I think his name is Jame's or Pete, or something single syllable, and ordered a Sierra draft. I gotta confess, I'm addicted to Boxxie (yeah, I'm sure it's trade marked, but I don't know how to make the symbol), so I threw a $five in, and started tappin on the screen. I'm pretty good at a couple of the games on these boxes, but I OWN this one. Well, I was doin' pretty well, when the seat next to me goes vacant, and some lady slides in. She stands out in this neighborhood, though Atlanta, as a whole, is startin' to get it's own Arab population. Well, she looked Arabic or something to me, and older. If she wasn't on the far side of at least sixty, then she been road real hard, and put up soaking.
Now, I don't mind bar conversation, but I've learned to wait and let other people initiate. Gives you a chance to make up your mind whether you really want to talk to them based on whatever they start with, and she started by staring at the game and watching me play. I knew she'd ask what I was playin' and what were the rules. It took her a while though. She probably had three or four vodka tonics, and I had dumped another five in the machine before she started. But I was right; it was about the game. That's all right. It's safe.
Well, I wasn't sure if the drinks were hittin her or not, between the accent and the bar noise, I just had a hard time making out what she was sayin for the first while. Eventually though, I caught on to the accent, figured if the drinks were hitting her, it wasn't much. A couple of beers for me later, and at least three more vodka tonics for her, I gave up playin' the games. I'm addicted, but I somehow maintain a limit on what I throw in at one setting.
"So, what's your name?"
She smiled, and said, "You may call me Sarah."
I said, "Hey, not all of us Americans are complete ignoramuses, some of us can pronounce names in other languages."
Now she grins real big, and tells me her name.
I say, "Sarah, it's nice meeting you. I'm Rick. What brings you to Hotlanta?"
"Oh, my Sayyid is over at Emory getting a kidney dialysis done."
"Sorry to hear that. Your boss have to do that often?"
"Oh yes, frequently."
"Does he always go to Emory for it?"
"Oh no. It's almost always a different hospital or center. But for me, it's a chance to get out and travel."
"Oh, where ya'll from?"
"Well we've had to move around a bit, but lately we spend much of our time in Afghanistan."
"Afghanistan?" Well that threw me, "Is your boss some sorta humanitarian worker?"
Well, you've always read about someone having a sparkle in their eyes, but this woman's eyes just started dancing! I hate it when I'm not in on the Joke. So I asked, "Something funny 'bout what I just said?"
"Well, if you knew who my Sharis was, you'd understand." She almost giggled that out, so the drinks must finally have started getting to her, but hell, I'd lost count after nine or ten, and she must have been up somewhere around her 14th or 15th drink. If nothing else, this lady could hold her booze. For a while at least.
"So, who's you boss?"
She leaned in close, and tried to whisper, but with all the noise in the place, wound up just saying, "Osama."
"Osama, who," like it was some knock-knock joke comin'.
"Why bin Laden, of course."
"Yeah, right. You know Osama bin Laden, hell you work for him, and you to just get up and sneak out of Afghanistan, fly all the way to Atlanta for him to get a dialysis treatment; is that what you're sayin'?"
"We do it all the time," she says matter of factly. She starts fumbling around in her purse for something. Finally she finds what she's lookin for, and hands me a fairly old photo, while she goes on to say, "Different places, but very frequenly. Osama will die without regular treatment, and do you have any idea how many dialyisis machines there are in the Afghan-Pakistan region?"
I look down at the photo, look up, and signal whatever his name is for another beer, and this time a Glenlivet, neat, 'cause, I mean, it's HIM, man. Well, she's damn well the center of my world now, and I want to keep her talking, so I order her another vodka tonic. I mean in the photo, it's him. And, her. But, he looks a lot younger, like back in the days when he was fighting the Soviet occupation. And Sarah? She don't look a day younger than she does now. I don't have a clue now, as to how old she is.
"Well, sure, I get that, but you guys can't just sneak out! The whole US military and the CIA are after him."
"Oh, no. Just the military. The CIA provides the flights."
"The hell you say. Osama is the most wanted man in the world today."
"Well yes, of course, but if the Americans truly wanted to cpature my Sayyid, wouldn't you think they would be able to find HIm? All that they would have to do, is monitor the few kidney dialysis machines in the region? My Sayyid is wealthy, but do not see how impossible it would be to set up a hidden, hygenic, sanitary kidney dialysis machine in a cave? And of course, there would be many medical supplies needed, as well as a dependable power source. No, sir, business is business."
"Business? What business?"
"Well, opium is certainly a profitable venture. That is part of the reason why the US removed the Taliban government. They were making things very difficult on everyone, and they stopped all opium cultivation. That is one of the reasons. The other is that the Taliban refused to negotiate reasonalbly on the oil pipe line rights through Afghanistan. And, with out that pipe line, the UNOCAL and the other companies would have been forced to go through Iran to get to the see. Well of course, that would have been far to expensive with so many people to have to bribe at higher rates than the poorer Afghans. Hamid Karzai tried in good faith for years to reach an agreement with the Taliban, all to no avail. But everything was made so much easier when they selected Bush as your president."
"What you mean? Oh, yeah, he didn't actually win an election that's true, but that still doesn't explain Osama."
"Sir, you are aware the bin Laden family and the Bush family have been close for years, correct," she asked, and pulled a cigarette from her purse?
Did I mention she was smoking like a chimney? Well, she I was. I was too, but than I always smoke more when I'm drinking. Anyway, when 'whose it' brought the round over, he finally emptied the mountain of butts that were in both our ash trays. So, I lit her smoke, and said, "Well, sure, anyone whose anyone knows that. Anyone who gets there information from somewhere besides the TV , at least."
Well, she started rummaging around in her purse again, and pulls out another old picture, and hands it to me, "Oh, and the Bush' are such a nice family. Besides, Barbara, I mean. Oh, she is such a troll, but, all the boys are just such sweet, fun loving partiers. They used to visit a much more frequently before it was decided that my Sharis should lead the fight against the Russians. It was most convenient that the father was than head of your CIA; it allowed the CIA provide a great deal of the support. It worked very well. Your CIA would bring in the Stingers and Red Eyes to Afghanistan, and would load their planes w/ Opium for the return trip. Surely you are aware that the CIA could not afford to do everything they do, if they were forced to rely only on the money your government provides? Ah, business was good in those days." She's handin' me the picture, and says, "Those were good days for my Sayyid."
I look down at the picture, and it's like the whole bin Laden clan is sittin' around some hotel room(could be Houston), with like, the entire Bush family! I mean, there's George H., and Jeb, and Neil, and Ws laid out on the couch with a beer can layin' sideways across his lap, and Laura's in the background with this real pissed look on her face. Barbara's doin' something with wax figures and needles off to the right side. "But, hey," I says, "We're at war now, man, those days are over."
She gives me that look. You know, the kind you can't help making, when you're dealin' with somebody who just ain't grokkin' the obvious. Yeah, the, like, 'geez, just how dumb are you, and okay, I'll explain it one more time' look. And, says, "Oh, that. That was planned of course. Business was getting bad for all the families since the Soviets decided that crime paid so much better than actually trying to run a government. And they were so inept at it anyway that their corruption was not paying nearly enough in comparison to virtually anyone, but maybe China. However in defense of China, they have to spread their bribes so much further, so it is not really a fair comparison. Now peace did not come to the globe, but all the wars following the fall of the USSR were just too small for anyone to make any real money by supplying both sides arms. To really profit in the global arms market, it really is necessary to have major western economies involved. Besides selling a few replenishment rockets to Israel there was little market for the high profit items. I mean, no one would give Millosovich, or anyone in the Balkans any credit, so they weren't going to be a profitable market, and the drug cartels had already bought the best available, so something had to be done."
The Vodka effect was finally becoming obvious. Her eyes were glazing over, and she started waving her vodka tonic around when she talked, occassionally spilling alittle. And, yeah, maybe intuitively it seemed like what she was talkin' made a lot of sense, but..."So, what you're saying, is that this whole war is a sham (like how could a war be a sham??!!)?"
"Oh no, the war is real. Just the idea that Bush and the CIA are on one side, and my Sayyid is on the other. That's where the game is. Just like your famous 'big mouth, said, "follow the money.'" Baby Bush (okay, I used my term here. I just can't stand the guy.) had to find a way to get the military out of Afghanistan. It would not seem real the US kept had a 100,000 soldiers on the ground in Afghanistan, and they were unable to catch my Sayyid. YOu saw what happened to Saddam. No, that was in the plan from the beginning. My Sharis starts the war so that everyone can make a lot of money, and Baby Bush (yeah, still me) moved the war out of Afghanistan so that your president could keep using terrorism and al Quiada when anyone questioed his actions. You know, TERRORISM." She actually held her hands up and wiggled the pointer and bird fingers in that quote gesture when she said TERRORISM. Oh, and it was just dripping with sarcasm. "You Americans are so easily led."
"You know, I was born at night, but it wasn't last night," throwing in my own sarcasm, and raising the ante with Southern colloquialisms, "Just what do you do for your boss, Osama?"
"I have been with bin Laden family since I was very young," she said, "I was the head Shaghalla for years until it was decided I should follow my Sayyid on his travels.
I aint sure if it was now just the booze talking or what, but she got this huge smile on her face, and laughed a little and added: "I am also his hair dresser. Whenever my Sayyid makes one of those tapes, well, he has pride deal of pride in his appearance. He wants to look nice. I make sure his hair and beard are trimmed, and I even make sure that the camouflage, robes and the AK-47 work well as a complete ensemble."
Hell, I knew she was lit, and after 7 or 8 Sierras and a Glenlivet, I had a little buzz going and it was time to go to the little boys' room. Just then, as I swung my bar stool around, I caught some action in the parking lot, through the windows on the far side of the dining area. I mean, I saw three of those all black, big ass SUVs, with no markings pull into the lot. They didn't even bother to find a parking space before I saw four or five guys start heading to the door.
This didn't look good. Somebody'd found her, and she was going down. And I knew, I didn't even want to be part of that scene. So, I just kept headin' for the head, and walked straight out the side/back door to the place. Now, I did want to watch the action, I just didn't want to be part of it. So, I dropped down the seven feet to James Joyce's back parking lot, wandered over to an old oak or something, growing in the lot and climbed up. [quick note: If you hang out at a place regularly, you really should know the lay out for those days when you need to get out quick.] Anyway, because the tree started in the lower lot, I was amongst the branches and leaves (luckily, spring comes early to Atlanta), looking across the upper lot at the three black SUVs.
And then, I got a couple of surprises. First thing was, that just when I got up into the tree, three of those guys in black suits who'd come out of the SUVs came out the side door of Joyce's looking around for something or somebody. Why? I mean Sarah was still sitting at the bar. They had her. Why were they looking for someone else? Well, maybe I can guess, but I sure didn't want to tangle w/ these guys. About then, I saw four of these guys bringing Sarah out into the parking lot. Only, she wasn't in 'cuffs. In fact, they looked like limo drivers taking a drunk patron to his car to drive him home. Hell, they put her in the back of the middle SUV and handed her a phone. Well, I might not be the brightest bulb on the tree, but the electrons are still flowin': Somethings f'd up. When the interior lights came on as they were putting Sarah in to that SUV, I caught a glimpe of the passenger in the front SUV. Man, I swear it looked like Ashcroft! You know, a skull on a stick figure body, sitting on one of U-shaped blow up cushions? And, when I looked a little closer the front of the SUV, I could tell it had one of those air-brushed vanity plates you buy at gas stations and tourist shops along the Red Neck Riviera. This one read, "God saves only who I say", well that conviced me it was him.
Anyway, it meant at least two things. First, it meant I didn't get a good count on the number of these guys back when I was looking through the window. And they weren't arresting her, as much as sequestering her. And, I needed to get out of there ASAP.
Well, what's his name got stiffed on the tab for eight Sierras, a Glenlivet and a vodka tonic until the next time I go back. And since I didn't have a good count of the MIB, and I wasn't at all sure if all of them were accounted for when that little convey left the lot, About then, I heard a helicopter, so climbed down, took off my top shirt and threw it in the back of somebody's pick-up, and headed down the road to the Avondale MARTA station. I figured I was out the $750 for the van, but I wasn't about to go back for it. If anyone traced prints back to me, I'd just tell 'em, 'Yeah, I bought it from an old friend in Tennessee for about $750 (true), but someone had come by and offered me a even $k for it, so I sold it to 'em a couple odd days ago(false).' And since the van was over twenty years old, all I did was give the guy a bill of sales. Sorry. I knew what's his name didn't know me any better than I knew him. And, hell, Sarah wasn't likely to remember shit come morning. I figured I was pretty safe.
So, I just dropped a couple hits I had with me, and figured I'd spend the time 'till dark peaking on MARTA.
Oh yeah. Ah, by the way, I never gave Sarah that last photo back. I'm putting it up on eBay. So if any of you people want a photo of the bin Ladens and the Bushies, with W passed out in the background, come bid for it. I figure I need a grand quick, so I can make my bank balance match my story. 'Sides, it might be worth real money someday.
No shit. There I was...
[edited for content and grammer - 04/11 12:42]