Journalist tries to get a story from Somali pirates
|They drag me out of the cell at sunrise, and march me in irons into the courtyard. There's a damp chill in the early morning air, but within a few hours it will be unbearably hot. I'm not sure I'll be around to feel it...
As a semi-idealistic journalism major fresh out of college, Somalia seemed like the perfect place to go. I joined the Red Cross as a way to get in. I figured once I was there I could jump ship and get to know the locals, interview them, take some pictures and notes about how poverty and the breakdown of society had led them to their actions.
I could write a book about their plight and make enough money to pay off my school loans, and maybe make a name for myself as a writer in the process. I could see the cover of the book already, a grainy photo of a couple of skinny black kids standing on the bow of a speedboat, holding their AK-47's, the title "Pirates!" in jagged red type above the picture. I thought my fortune would be made.
I thought wrong...
Within a week I was "arrested" as an American spy and thrown into a cell, presumably by the man who hired the local kids to hijack the ships. I try to talk to my captors: "I'm not a spy! Don't you realize he's taking advantage of you? He's keeping most of the ransom money while your people take all the risks!"
"Mister Arale said you are an American spy, and you will try to say things to turn us against him. And even if your words are true, what does it matter? There are no jobs here, no way other than the ships to make money. He pays us enough to put food on the table for our families, what more can we expect in these times?"
In the courtyard, my leg irons are fastened to a post in front of a blood stained wall pock marked with bullet holes. I know I'm screwed, but in a perverse kinda way I gotta admire Arale's traditional approach to dealing with people like me.
"Do you have a last request?" the guard asks.
"Yeah, how about forgetting this whole thing and letting me go?"
"You are a funny man, Mister American; I have not heard that one before. But no, you cannot go. Would you like a cigarette?" he asks, offering me a lighted Benson.
"Sure, why not?" I say.
I quit senior year of college, but I guess it doesn't matter now. I take a deep drag off the smoke, cough a little as the nicotine buzz hits me.
"Would you like a blindfold?"
"No thanks, I want to see it coming," I say with false bravado, as I try to keep my legs from shaking.
"As you wish."
The guard steps to the side and calls out to the riflemen: "READY!... AIM!...”
Written as a chapter in "Pass the Write-Baton"