“You can choke on all the manure for all I care!” blurted Sabir as The Russian held him in a choke-hold.
“Say what?” he laughed as his grip tightened.
“…manure!” Sabir’s face was bright red, ready to pop.
“Say what again?” The Russian was indeed mad.
“Let him go you idiot!” shouted Trauer. “Things are bad as they are.”
“I didn’t sign up for this, I can’t believe I am doing this.” Rakh symbolically pinched his nose.
“Don’t pretend you’ve never seen manure? A man from the New Republic country side who does not know of manure? How naïve do you think we are.” Trauer bludgeoned Rakh.
“You seem to be in some sort of a mood. Is every thing OK.” Trauers’s troubles obviously got Amir’s sympathy.
“Everything is fine.” was the only answer.
Apparently it wasn’t. We were 6 men sitting in a truck loaded with organic fertilizer, apparently hiding from the probable vigilante “search” at the check post (organic fertilizer is after all a polite euphemism for processed shit). As the people of FarAwayDowns were busy in overthrowing the upper class in their city, many had taken to the opportunity of looting the high ways; it was the Renaissance all over again. Trauer was suffering the most, even if it was his idea. The road was brutal, leaf spring shocks of the old Ford truck weren’t helping any one either.
The constructions was beginning to thin as we moved out of the city, we would hit the checkpoint any minute. The only things on us were a few ATM cards, passports and a cellphone. I objected to the idea. If we had gotten stopped in our car that was something else but getting caught being smuggled on a truck of fertilizer wouldn’t end up half as good.
The truck stopped and I unwittingly held my breath. The rest of the crew sat silently. The Russian began to poke Aamir, the third of the triplets. He wasn’t much amused, I on the other hand was terrified. The Russian was becoming a liability. The truck began to roll out of the checkpoint and I exhaled for the first time in minutes.
“See no problem.” laughed the Russian.
“Yet.” I said.
“What does that mean?” he asked me.
I declined to answer.
“He means to say, cut the crap!” The joke was appropriately timed, every one laughed. I think it was Sabir. I couldn’t how he could live with this beast of a man. The situation had been diffused all thanks to good old humor. Other wise The Russian would’ve ended up with a few scratches, I on the other hand would’ve gotten nothing short of a black eye.
“Where are we heading.” Aamir asked.
“Let that be a secret for a while.” Trauer replied. This didn’t bother anyone at all, except for me perhaps. “I want to tell you guys a story.” Trauer announced as he plucked a piece of straw from his hair.
“It started a few years ago. I had lost my wife in a car accident. It couldn’t have been this bad, you might say, but it took us years to get together. Our parents weren’t for the relation. It took me 5 long years to convince my parents and hers. We’ve known each other for 10. Ten years and a life time of commitment ended with a small mistake. It happened six years after we got married. I went berserk.
“I don’t remember what I did for the next year. That part of my memory is still hazy. That is when I met Amirov, stuck in a trench in Dagistan.” The Russian objected, “That my friend is lie. Do you want to know how we really met?”
“Now is not the time.” Amir waved at him, without looking at him.
“So I was saying, I am sorry, Amirov, like I said I don’t quite remember what happened that year or what I did. I ran away from Germany and I ran like crazy. I had read a lot of Herman Hesse. I set out on my journey towards east. I was disgruntled and angry. I was in the New Republic at the time and by chance in FarAwayDowns to meet someone in the German consulate. I was planning to go to Tibet and I wasn’t sure if the Chinese would let me in. I was sitting in the café, where I had an epiphany. The sky was always smoggy, the sunlight was punishing and had that unhealthy tinge of yellow. Jubilation avenue was different from the rest of the city, it was neat and clean but it was frequently visited by the sad middle and lower class. Throngs of the poor populated the shanty towns in the periphery. Their eyes were dreamy and shone with hope. Only I knew there was no real hope for them. The mood was always dark, no one understood anything I said. No one knew my name. No one who knew my name knew how to pronounce it.
“Night time was different. A foreigner couldn’t walk on the streets at night without fear. Anarchy was rampant. I loved the place back then, it matched my mood. It was dark and gloomy. I could recite the vices about the city in my sleep. I knew that my landlord was always scheming to steal my Volkswagen. I knew that the shopkeeper down the street was always shortchanging me. He was naïve enough to that I didn’t notice.
“There was another side to the story, the café! People sat there, snuffed and wasted with what the system had done to them but they loved their city. Some had stories that were worst than mine. I was in some sort of nirvana in Tibet but I found a freakish sort of peace at the café of FarAwayDowns. I hated the city but I love living there. Nothing could change the fact that it was and is one of the most disturbed places on earth.”
The only sound in the truck for the next few minutes was the squeaking of the shocks.
“It must be the Doctor.” laughed Amir, so did every one else.
“Why do you people think it’s me.” I squeaked.
“Because all of us know the story. With exception of Rakh Bihari, we got acquainted to him just a month ago.” The Russian said as he roughed up Rakh’s hair. There was some envy involved, The Russian had bald spots at his vertex.
“Where is this truck going to stop.” someone asked.
“Soon.” replied our ‘leader’.