Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The gift I

Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven, that’s what I say.
Baghdad’s my home, I was born here, I lived here all my life, my first crime was here, my first jailing, first murder, first gang, and I will probably die here.
Until then, I will rule this city; Tyrants and invaders come and go, but what never leaves Iraq is us, the criminals, the gangs, and the gang leaders: me…

Even from this Café, drinking my tea and watching the passers by in the centre of Baghdad City, I know I have control over all of west Baghdad.

I worked hard to get to where I am today, had to sacrifice friends and family, millions of dollars and dinars to governments and informants, and those damn Americans, but in the end, I rule Baghdad though drugs, prostitution, racketeering, you name it.
No civilian in Baghdad can sit where I’m sitting and have a gun like my Desert Eagle on his table without getting shot or arrested by any of the chaotic police of army forces roaming around in Baghdad. People know me, people fear me, respect me.

The streets are not very busy at this high noon hour, it’s too hot and dusty, but still there are people walking around to things to do. A man in an old suit walks past me, there are shoe cleaners and books sellers lining the sidewalk, two girls walk by, too young to catch my interest, my eyes are always analysing the scene in front of me, my enemies are everywhere, I didn’t get to where I am today by overlooking my surroundings.

Which is why I was taken by surprise when the man suddenly stood over my table, he was a non descript man, not too tall or short, nor is he thin or fat, his hair is not long or short, the sort you’d would see every day, all was normal except for his grave look.
It wasn’t his features that troubled me however, oh no, it was something –though simple- very disturbing to me, and anyone who knows Baghdad.

He had a long white Bedouin dress, it wasn’t originally white and dusted, it was brilliant white, the sort that makes you squint if it was under the sun, which I did.

The weather in Iraq, and especially Baghdad, has been very dry and dusty for years now, nothing white will remain such for a long time. This guy must have been wearing a jacket over it.

Where did he come from though ? did I sleep ? was I looking at something too closely ?

You have 24 hours to meet your master.

And he was gone. I couldn’t see him go, all of a sudden he had gone, ran away, picked up by a car, I don’t know.

I looked around, there were not many people in this coffeehouse, two old men playing chess, and an informant looking man in a leather jacket reading the newspaper.

In a rage of panic and rage, I jumped from my chair, my half empty tea glass fell and shattered on the floor, by the time the informant looked up I was over him with my gun against his nose.

“WHO WAS THAT ?” I yelled at him, no one talks to be like that.

“What are you talking about ?” He knew I meant business, from the barrel pressed against his face, and from his bewildered face, I knew he wasn’t lying.
“Did you see that guy in the white thawb talking to me ?”

“ No ! I swear to you ! I was reading my paper I didn’t notice anything”

Shit, someone wants me dead in 24 hours, I have to know who, “ Do you know anyone wanting to take me out”

“Take out Abu Sami ? No ! no one is that crazy !”

I pulled my gun away from his face, I must find out who. “here is 500 000 dinars, find out who’s rocking the boat, I want an answer by tonight”

“I can’t get news by tonight, Baghdad’s too big, and I need to…”

I threw another 500 000 dinars on his table, “By tonight !”, and walked out. The two old men continued their chess game, in the hell that is Baghdad, devils are common.

Who could have it in for me ? who would be crazy enough to send me a messenger ? I was very angry now, and deep inside I was still troubled by that messenger’s visit.

Talking to myself “have to get him before he gets me”, and with a lot of screeching and smoke, I roared off in my car, looking for my next victim.

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