Escape from Baghdad!

Escape from Baghdad! by Saad Hossain Read Free Book Online Page A

Book: Escape from Baghdad! by Saad Hossain Read Free Book Online
Authors: Saad Hossain
you’ll get a bullet in the eye. Hamid get the door.”
    The rumble of gunfire was incessant now. The street was bathed in fire and headlights, Koranic verses rapping out in between, the midnight calling card of the Mahdi. Dagr could hear the chants of soldiers, the roar of engines. Terror made him slow.
    â€œAmal, he’s Druze,” Dagr said, waving the broken watch, as Kinza pulled him back toward the door. “Do you understand? The Lion of Akkad is Druze. We found his watch! He has Fouad Jumblatt’s watch! He can’t have a brother in the Mahdi Army. He’s not Shi’a at all. There won’t be any retribution, Amal! He’s not JAM, Amal. He’s Druze!”
    â€œDagr!” Kinza shouted, shoving him aside. “Run.”

    â€œNo, Hoff.”
    â€œThis is a list of stuff I need you to get.” Hoffman was lounging in the passenger seat of his newly requisitioned Humvee, smoking a garuda clove cigarette that he had caged from his friend Marconas, the only Indonesian resident of Baghdad.
    â€œTen gallons of detergent?” Tommy was a slow reader. “Fifteen cases of shotgun shells? Two-dozen barbeque skewers? Ten cases of Skittles?”
    â€œYes, yes, and yes, my dear lieutenant, all of that and more.”
    â€œI’m just a private, sir.”
    â€œIt’s a figure of speech, Tommy. I am the president; you are my vice president. I am the captain; you are the first mate. I am the hero; you are the sidekick. I am the NATO Supreme Allied Commander, and you are the, er, Supreme Allied vice commander,” Hoffman said. “You get the picture? Now get your ass to the commissary and get our stuff.”
    â€œHoff,” Tommy said. “What should I tell him you want this stuff for?”
    â€œBargaining power, Tommy,” Hoffman said. “Bartering. See, I believe in the soft power of mutually beneficial trade over the brute force that has become, all too sadly, our only currency in this cluster-fucked region.”
    â€œYou want me to say all that?”
    â€œTell them it’s for the secret mission, Tommy. Tell them it’s for Col Bradley.”
    â€œAre we leaving finally, then, Hoff?”
    â€œYes we are,” Hoffman said. “Were you getting impatient?”
    â€œNot me, Hoff,” Tommy said. “It’s just that Captain Fowler told me to report everything you do to him. And he’s been getting testy.”
    â€œI see,” Hoffman said. “And have you been reporting away?”
    â€œI write things down in this notebook,” Tommy patted his right breast pocket. “He told me to write down stuff so I don’t forget.”
    â€œAnd I’m supposed to call him from my sat phone every night on the down low.”
    â€œI see,” Hoffman said. “That’s a tough job, Tommy. All this remembering and writing and reporting.”
    â€œRight, Hoff,” Tommy said, miserable. “And we ain’t even left yet. I got nothing so far. The captain’s getting kinda testy.”
    â€œWriter’s block is a terrible thing,” Hoffman said. “I’ll get you started. Why don’t you write down that you found me sitting in the jeep smoking a garuda?”
    â€œCan you spell garuda for me?”
    â€œYou want a hit, Tommy?”
    â€œIs it that clove stuff you got from that Chinese guy?”
    â€œIndonesian, underling,” Hoffman said.
    â€œI hate that stuff, Hoff.”
    â€œYou will find, however, that it serves very admirably to mask the smell of pot,” Hoffman said. “Allowing me, in fact, to smoke in public in broad daylight without incurring the wrath of, say, any preachy military-type officials.”
    â€œDoes that Chinese cigarette have pot in it?” Tommy asked.
    â€œYes, Tommy. Have a hit. Don’t slobber all over the

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