05 July 2007

Ranger – The Pit


Boleh merokok? The wretch asks me. I am waiting to leave Jakarta at last. I long for clean air.

I was ambushed at our arranged meeting place. I have no idea of how long they waited or how many were there, but they were smart enough to only reveal themselves at the last possible moment. I was only able to make contact with their first emissary, hearing the satisfying thunk as my walking stick cleared through where his windpipe had been. Eskrima. I knew I was cornered and for some reason as they began speaking to me I could not take my eyes off the man. Watching him clutch at his throat, the look in his eyes, the attempt to move air into and out of his lungs. I suppose I should have been paying more attention, but it was doubtful I would have remembered anything anyway. My shoulder felt warm and about that time I think the but end of a rifle found a home in the back of my skull.

I give my accommodations only two stars. At first, I got to hear a lot of talk about how Sarge had betrayed us, about how you were dead and about how Nwargo had finished you. They examined the letter you sent, invalidating their story, and the trinket contained within the envelope thinking it contained microfiche or a chip or some nonsense. They did not share my sense of humour about the whole thing. It was good at least to see the maple leaf again. Though the questioning was painful enough, it was the cuisine that really got to me (minus one star). The water was sewage quality and the food not much better. I craved poutine and in my delirium I let myself believe. After a few weeks the gendarme who had been questioning me disappeared. I was left with his underlings. They took great pleasure out of extracting the lead from my shoulder with their hunting knives.

I can only imagine my remaining captors were mercenaries rather than attached to some government. I heard far too many complaints about money and they each carried some different and clearly scavenged armament. They also kept debating whether they could pass me off as an American. Apparently, Americans have some value here.

I was surprised to find out I was still in the city when it was time for me to be moved. In my first effort to escape, I helped my captors hail a bajaj which I had noticed held only two lug nuts on one of its rear wheels. There was little time to create a diversion to check on the other two nuts, which I hoped had started to counter-rotate. No luck that day.

June was more of the same. Though one of the men who tried to befriend me in order to get more information was kind enough to tell me that “Gorman Brown was at 10 Dowling Station.” No doubt that information came at a price. Damn infection in my shoulder.

It must have been late June when I woke up one morning in the jungle alone. I can only assume a payment was missed. The next week was a test of endurance, but the wilderness again provided for me. Though it is not the rainy season here, I got to spend at least one night under the stars listening to a passing rainstorm and its million echoes on the canopy above. Again, I let it remind me of home.
The last few days of the month were spent in a Jakarta hospital. Cammy arrived from the embassy, and she has not changed. She sends her love.

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