Escape from Baghdad!

Escape from Baghdad! by Saad Hossain Read Free Book Online

Book: Escape from Baghdad! by Saad Hossain Read Free Book Online
Authors: Saad Hossain
    â€œJumblatt?” Hamid said. “Jumblatt…Jumblatt, I’ve heard this name before.”
    â€œThe name’s Lebanese,” Dagr said. “Wasn’t he some kind of politician or something? Look, here’s a book on him. He was the governor of the Chouf district in Lebanon.”
    â€œI remember now,” Hamid said. “Fouad Jumblatt was the grandfather of Walid Jumblatt, the guy who runs some Lebanese political party. He is long dead. He cannot be the Lion of Akkad.”
    â€œSo why does this guy have Fouad Jumblatt’s watch?” Kinza asked.
    â€œJumblatt was Lebanese,” Hamid said. “This is some kind of Lebanese conspiracy.”
    â€œThat’s ludicrous.”
    â€œBack in the day, we had some run ins with the Lebanese secret service,” Hamid said. “When this was a real country. They must be crawling around here again. The Lebanese are probably thinking about invading us too.”
    â€œNo, no, I don’t think so,” Dagr said. He began to flip through one of the books. “Not Lebanese. Druze. Druze . Look here. The star is the star of Druze. The writing is gibberish because they have some kind of secret language. Ninety percent of their own tribe don’t know their sacred texts. Fouad Jumblatt was one of their luminaries. This watch was either given or worn by Fouad Jumblatt. It would be considered an heirloom. This man is not Mahdi Army. He’s not even Shi’a… He’s Druze.”
    â€œThis makes no sense,” Hamid said. “Druze? There are no Druze in Iraq. Maybe he just stole it from someone.”
    â€œHe had it hidden away,” Dagr said. “He made drawings of it. It must have meant something to him. Otherwise it’s just a broken watch. He must have forgotten to take it with him in the rush. Think about it. The Druze are known for keeping hidden. They must have a secret community here.”
    â€œThere is nothing else here. We need to go back,” Kinza said. “Tell the others that he is gone, probably for good. Take whatever you can.”
    They found Amal waiting up in his store with a small knot of people.
    â€œDid you get him?” The old man asked, shuffling forward. “Is he dead?”
    â€œHe fled,” Kinza said. He looked around. The shop was full of armed men, cigarettes and nerves. “What the fuck are you all doing here?”
    â€œYou brought this trouble on us,” Amal pointed his finger accusingly. “This is on your own head. You let the Lion get away, and now the JAM want you.”
    Kinza drew his gun and pointed it at Amal’s forehead. Weapons clicked into place all around them. “JAM? Why bring up those fuckers. You sold us to the Mahdi Army, you fucking traitor? After sharing salt with us? After begging us for help? I will put you down like a dog right now, I swear, I will kill every man in this room.”
    It stopped them cold. There was a murmur of uncertainty. Some of the men lowered their heads, shamed, but the guns stayed up, circling the three of them, barrels shaking, small circles of pitiless dark hovering like angry wasps. In the street, Dagr heard the rumble of jeeps, the cackle of rifle fire popping in the air. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Yakin edging toward them, gun out, a gloating look in his eye.
    Kinza swiveled his gun smoothly, the barrel locking onto Yakin’s face. “Step back, and lower your weapon.”
    Yakin faltered, sweat beading his forehead, transformed suddenly into a panicky shop boy caught with his hand in the till, facing a certain beating.
    â€œThey were coming. We had no choice. They would kill us anyway,” Amal wailed. “They’re coming. They’re here. What could we do? You never found the Lion.”
    â€œWe’re leaving, now,” Kinza backed toward the door. “I’ll take my chances against the Mahdi fuckers. Any of you step out of this shop,

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