Blue Desert Dreams: Part Three

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I once read a story about a man who said survival skills could be learned quickly under intense periods of stress. Like being left alone in the wilderness and trying to survive. You would learn how to catch and cook birds faster than your Average Joe.

I wondered if this applied to my situation, lingually.

In order to survive, I was going to need to find out what the men ahead of me were saying. I needed to know what they were planning for me. I needed to know if I was safe.

The little boy in charge of keeping an eye on  me tugged at the leg of my pants again. There was no point in tying me up: we were too far from anything for me to run.

I didn’t know this place, I couldn’t run back the way we had come. I didn’t know which way that was. The wind was covering our tracks as we made them, our feet sinking in the sand.

We couldn’t be too far from where we needed to be, because we were going on foot.

I thought about running, again, but I knew it was a useless thought. I didn’t know where I was going, or how I would survive if I were on our own.

At least if I mimed drinking out of a cup to to the little boy he would pass me a canteen and let me drink bitter, harsh water.

I thought about O’Dwyer, but I was too tired to hate him. I hoped he would come back for me after he saved his dig site. I hoped he would find out what happened. I thought about his fists, and hoped he would show up in time to use them. The way his cheekbones carved the rest of his face out.

I wondered if he would leave me.

I hoped he wouldn’t.

I thought about my poor mother, waiting for a phone call.

How long would it be before she started to realize something had gone wrong? I could only hope that it was sooner, rather than later.

The little boy tugged at my pants again, and when I looked down, he smiled at me. A big, wide grin. At least one of us was happy I was here.

How much money had I even cost? Surely it had to be some giant, abstract amount. I was American. Didn’t Americans cost a lot of money?

Maybe that meant my captor was rich…maybe he really just needed a new maid…

My legs, aching and hot under the sun, trembled. I tried not to let on: what would he do if I fell down? In all the movies, the punishments for falling down were severe.

“Come on, O’Dwyer.” I whispered to myself. I looked up at the sky, trying to ask God to intervene on my behalf. To send O’Dwyer. To send anyone.

 

….to be continued…

Blue Desert Dreams: Part Two

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“I can’t believe you sold that girl.” Marks laughed as they rode on, just a bit ahead of O’Dwyer.

“I’m going right back for her.” O’Dwyer responded. They were making good time across the desert, pushing the animals. O’Dwyer shrugged, but fluttered his fingers at his side.

He couldn’t believe he had sold the girl, either.

“What do you mean, you’re going right back for her?” Marks turned around to stare at him. “You’ll never find her.” His eyebrows drew down over his eyes, and he tugged at the collar of his shirt. There was a stray thread loose that was itchier than all the others; just how it always went.

“Of course I’ll find her. She’ll be helping out with housework or drawing water, something.” O’Dwyer urged his camel a bit faster. It grunted but didn’t speed up. Blasted things.

“No, I mean that guy probably sold her to some off tribe.”

O’Dwyer urged the camel faster, ignoring its protests, and caught up to his friend.

Marks laughed when he saw the confusion on O’Dwyer’s face.

“What do you mean?” O’Dwyer asked.

Marks laughed again and mimicked, “‘What do you mean’? Classic, man.”

O’Dwyer reached over deftly, his rough fingers hooking over the same collar that Marks had been scratching at moments before, and dragged him off of his horse.

He tumbled into the sand; O’Dwyer hovered over him, his shadow long and dangerous. Marks’ horse stopped a ways from them and began to make it’s way back uncertainly.

While Marks sat, stunned, in the sand, O’Dwyer jumped down from the camel and landed at his face. “Speak quickly.”

Marks groaned and said, “You’re the most violent man I know.”

“Tell me what I want to know, Marks.”

Marks protested, reminding O’Dwyer of the men at the dig site, of the treasures being taken. He rolled onto his stomach and coughed.

“Faster, Marks.” O’Dwyer said, voice low.

“What did you expect?!” Marks groaned again, clutching at his ribs. “She’s an American girl, man. If that camel guy sells her he’ll get three times as much as he bought her for. I think you broke my ribs, man!”

O’Dwyer sighed and climbed back onto the camel.

“Where. Are. You. Going?” Marks gritted his teeth as he stood, hand over his side, and watched O’Dwyer turn the camel back around.

“To rescue an American.”

 

to be continued….

Blue Desert Dreams

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You see, the thing about being sold for a camel in Egypt is that it never quite happens the way you think it will.

For example, I didn’t think it would happen at all.

And I certainly didn’t think that my tour guide would be the one who sold me.

Popmpous jerk, that Knox O’Dwyer. We really only called him O’Dwyer. And by ‘we’ I mean ‘me’, because I was the only person in the tour group.

He had started out gentlemanly. If a little rough. Not prone to talking when we traveled between the sights, but prone to explanation at the sights. He didn’t like personal talk, didn’t want me to know anything about his past besides what was relevant to the tour, his business, and his knowledge of Ancient Egypt.

He was a roughneck.

A rough everything.

So it should have come as no surprise when he sold me for a camel.

We had camped late that night, eating out of tin cans, when someone came riding into camp on a horse shouting O’Dwyer’s name.

“What are you doing here?” O’Dwyer didn’t look up from his can. I watched the firelight paint his lashes, darker, longer than they were. Or were they already long and dark? I tried not to look at him. He had a way of catching me right when I did; right when I was thinking about the way his cheekbones carved out his face, right when I was wondering about how I would describe the color and the shape of his lips…

“Kazminsky! He took over the camp!” The man shouted at us.

This caught O’Dwyer’s attention. He snapped his head up. “What?”

“He took all the men hostage! He’s taking all of the artifacts!”

“Artifacts?” I asked, but O’Dwyer didn’t respond.

I soon learned that O’Dwyer was only a part time tour guide. He was the main man for a dig site, years of research, years of his life searching for some lost treasure; he couldn’t find the funding, so he acted as a tour guide.

This is what I reflected on as I watched O’Dwyer ride away.

“I’ll come back!” He shouted, trotting off on his stupid camel.

I kicked at the sand, my arm still cuffed in the hand of the camel-seller.

“Just housework?” O’Dwyer asked. I was hoisted over his shoulders, and I pounded at his back. “You don’t want her for anything else?’

The man responded in a different language.

“It’s just a loan. I’m coming right back, and I expect to trade back for her.”

The camel herder made some sort of conciliatory nose, and O’Dwyer threw me at him.

He locked eyes with the man. “I’m coming back for her.” He pointed at me.

The man nodded. 

“You come back here and I’ll kick your sorry ass!” I shouted after him, but he couldn’t hear me.

I stared at the camel herder.

He grinned back.

“Your friend come back?” He said brokenly.

I didn’t answer.

“You not be here.” He grinned.

“What?”I wrenched my arms, but he didn’t let go.

“You not be here. American girl, very high price.”

“What do you mean, ‘i not be here’? You heard O’Dwyer! He’s coming back!”

He laughed.

“What do you think O’Dwyer’s going to do to you when I’m not here?!”

He laughed again. “O’Dwyer never find you…sell to the Nomads…travel too far!” He cackled and repeated, travel too far, travel too far, travel too far

He whipped me around and I stood face to face with a man in a long, black dress. He had his face covered by a navy scarf.

I watched them exchange money, and then he passed me off to the strange new man.

The camel herder grinned.

I stared hopelessly at the horizon, imagining that I could see O’Dwyer.

But I couldn’t.

“Come.” The scarf-man said. “We have long way to travel.”

I shouted. “O’Dwyer!”

But there was no one.

 

 

to be continued…

 

Snippets from Birmingham

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I grew up loved, in Birmingham. I got adopted by the most violent men there. My discovery, once I was part of the family, was that though they were the most violent men, they were also the most elegant. The most generous, the most gentle….but always they were covered someone else’s blood.

“We’re in here, Abigail!” Knox shouted when he heard me shut the front door. I liked the way his accent played with my name. Abby-gail.

He would, I knew, be laboring over the desk; staring at all the the paperwork. It would all make sense to him, every figure, every long sum.

I threw my coat onto the chair with force as I walked past his desk and then threw myself face down onto the fainting sofa.

I could practically hear the realization in the room grow. First he would glance at me, and then look back down at his papers.

Except, for Knox, human emotions were a palpable thing. Soon he would feel it and look at me again, noticing the oddness of my behavior.  He would put his pen down, audibly.

He would ask if i was okay.

When I didn’t answer, he would think about where I had been.

“Abigail?”

I didn’t answer.

“Abigail, is everything all right?”

I didn’t answer; moved my head to fit more comfortably on the couch.

I heard his sigh, familiar, and then his chair was pushed back. His footsteps drew closer to the couch, until they were right next to me.

I didn’t have to be looking at him to know exactly what he was doing.

His hands, strong hands, were both in his pockets. His lips loosely held the tenth cigarette that day. His shoes were pointed directly at me.

Another sigh when I didn’t answer; he elegantly drew another breath through his cigarette, removed his hands from his pockets and said, “Well, move over then.”

I rolled onto my side and pressed myself against the back of the couch.

He laid down, sliding an arm around me.

I nestled my cheek on his chest and looked at his suit buttons. They had anchors on them, with  metallic rope wound around the rim.

He used the arm I was laying on to draw the cigarette from his mouth; i watched him blow smoke over our heads. He held it to my lips as he said, “What happened?”

I sucked in and blew out as he placed the cigarette between his lips again.

“Do you promise to react aggressively?”

His whole body stilled, and he tried to relax it. I watched his jaw clench and un-clench before he turned his head, slowly, to look at me. “I thought you didn’t’ approve of our violence?”

I thought that, too, Knox. I didn’t say it out loud.

His eyes were steel, hard, waiting for me to tell him what happened.

“James Garrison.”

He waited, but i didn’t say anything else.

When I didn’t, he passed the cigarette back to me and turned his head to the ceiling. “James Garrison.” His accent twisted it to Jay-mes Garry-son.

I took the cigarette and placed it between his lips. “Don’t kill him.” I said.

He closed his eyes. “I won’t kill him.” He said without inflection.

“I won’t kill him.”