The world on opium is a strange and wonderful place. Now Nancy Reagan told me to just say no but she never quite got around to explaining how to say no to the large Iranian security agent with a big black gun. Now personally I think Nancy had an entire episode of Different Strokes just ready to go, devoted to this specific problem. Well that or The Jeffersons. The blueprint for the way out of my predicament was gathering dust somewhere in the grim depths of Hollywood depraved depth of depravity.
The duck didn’t know what to do either.
I have spent the last day with a SAVAK strike team. When they were not morphing into the creatures of the black lagoon in the middle of the sentence they were an interesting bunch of stone-cold sociopaths. By the time we disembarked in Thailand, I learned most of their names twice, discovered a whole new galaxy just left of Bombey, saw a flying penguin and also apparently converted to Islam.
So when we landed I was coming off a serious high, has a splitting headache and facing an impending circumcision.
It was a grim scene there in Bangkok.
On the other hand I was alive after a day with a SAVAK strike team.
Upon some thought I decided to count it as win for me, the Free World and the Laker Girls.
Thailand, seen through the lens of an impromptu drug binge is a phantasmagoric and wondrous place full of miracles, surprises, grabby taxi drivers, hookers, Thai criminals and Iranian spies. A lot like Grad Student Union back in U of Toronto, really. I got all teary and nostalgic.
Scared the crap out of Navid who punted me into the car that looked like a very beat up pinto that had its good years long behind it and was currently trying desperately to make it through the next hour without having a very messy incident. Turned out there was a very good reason for it. See the car we got into was a very beat up pinto that had its good years long behind it and was currently trying desperately to make it through the next hour without having a very messy incident. Funny how that works out, huh? So we got in, all four of us and sped off into the bright and spectacular future. Well, if by bright and spectacular you mean dark, depressing, smog filled and indicative of a slow and messy death in a back alley within the next 12 hoursy.
Which I do.
See, when you are trapped into an easily combustible vehicle with several large Persians and their aggressive facial hair you have to find those little victories whenever you can.
The rest of our comrades followed. THEY got a nice Volvo, voted safest car in Katmandu three years running. That would upset me normally, but by this point I left normal at least three mental breakdowns and two continents ago.
We stopped in front of a building that was trying its hardest to work up to being a hovel.
This promised to be a grand adventure. Privately I held on to a desperate hope that most of my new friends would die in the inevitable and brutal firefight with the Cockroach Liberation Army.
Obviously the things were beginning to look up. (I had a boring childhood so any sort of excitement fills me with a childlike glee.)
So we file into this construction and are greeted by the owner and spiritual compatriot, or at the very least the guy who is on SAVAK’s payroll. Plump, slimy and very, very American.
Jim made Thailand his home ten years ago and never looked back. I could see why really. Not a whole lot in Newark to compete with the exciting life of Bangkok pimp.
So yeah, ‘entertainment’ was there waiting, exciting the SAVAK guys to no end. I mean it was kinda beautiful really, seeing two cultures meeting and melding. Ghodrat was especially enthusiastic. I looked at him, getting down with his bad self and thought about pointing out that his new friend had a prominent Adam’s apple and a a voice slightly deeper than James Earl Jones.
Than I shrugged and went to bed. Love is a beautiful thing, man. Who am I to stand in its way.
I didn’t get to sleep a whole lot unfortunately. Half an hour or so in a horrible dream of me being chased through Budapest by Navid in a dress, I get woken up and there’s Navid and Jim looming over me.
So yeah. It’s true. I screamed like a little girl. What would you do?
Anyway. I get shuttled off to the kitchen, where we rather inconsiderately interrupted the war council of the Cockroach Liberation Front.
“So.” Navid tells me. “Let’s go over this again.”
“Dude!” I look at him. “I got it, I mean c’mon…”
So when I picked myself off of the floor and Jim handed me a vat of toilet paper to stop the bleeding, I sat down and indicated that I was all ears.
So he goes on and explain it all to me like I was a four year old. And then he stops and asses me.
“You understand?’ he looked at me dubiously. To help out the guy and to forestall another physical assault on my face, that was already beginning to resemble a post-birthday piñata, I nodded again. “Yes. I understand. I point. You grab. Got it.”
He smiled and visibly relaxed.
“But, “ I inquired plaintively. “why is the opium gone?!”
He didn’t get it.
Androgynous pirate movies are not big in Iran it turns out.
Only in America! Don King knew what he was talking about.
It was actually somewhat characteristic of a shocking development. Turns out my sense of humor doesn’t play well east of Dardanelles. I am very big in Romania though. Very Big. Chevy Chase big.
Anyway. At this point the day began to take tentative steps out of surreality and into nightmarish.
We’re all on our way out, Ghodrat is in the corner exploring his sexuality and Navid is checking his gun compulsively when Jim grabs me by the shoulder and leans in.
The world swims under the olfactory assault of the badly digested garlic and through a haze I dimly hear. “Don’t worry, kid. I’m with the institute.”
Then we’re off into a Pinto and away.
Jim stayed behind so I was not able to ask him for clarification.
I am sitting there trying to figure out since when does MIT have a counter-intelligence operation. Until it hits me and I feel my stomach depart in the general direction of away.
The Institute for Intelligence and Special Tasks
ha-Mossad le-Modiin ule-Tafkidim Meyuhadim
In what universe the addition of Mossad to my life was supposed to make me feel safe, I am not sure.
So we spend the next half an hour weaving through the streets of Bangkok, because apparently directional sense is in way a prerequisite for being the Defender of Allah and Shite faith.
I am trapped in a backseat, trying to come to terms with the fact that being poked in the side by a holstered gun of a SAVAK agent is now a minor inconvenience in my life.
It didn’t go well.
Then we park in this underground garage and wait. I am sweating like a pig trying to come up with a plausible explanation that will prevent Navid from putting a bullet in my face when it turns out that Marat doesn’t have the laptop.
There was a lot of waiting.
Habib tells really good and really dirty jokes.
Habib is now dead and so is the rest of my Iranian posse.
I did my part, man. Marat comes into the garage, I point at him and scream “that’s him!” Somewhat disconcertingly he point right back at me and screams “that’s him!”
A bunch of guns come out as Iranians spill out of the cars and surge for my good friend Marat. I close my eyes and dive into the depths of the Pinto.
Long story short, Marat and I are now both working for the Chinese. Well, Marat is working for the Chinese, I am subcontracted labor with life expectancy of a depressed lemming.
My only hope at this point is the intelligence agency of the only people geeky enough to name it after a goddamn university.
So. This is probably the last time I post before I give Dex up to the Communists and we’re both given one trip to the Gobi camps. Its been fun. And I don’t want you to think of us every time you put on your sneakers. Y’know? Just because your leather jacket is the result of my back-breaking labor is some Manchurian sweatshop is no reason for you to stop enjoying life, you scum sucking sons of biTCHES GET ME THE HELL OUT OF HERE!
I’M TOO GORGEOUS TO DIE!
I WANNA GO HOME!