March 30, 2009

Oh, for the love of all that is holy...

Well, kids, here it is. You knew it was coming.

Well, call me old-fashioned if you will, but I have always taken the view that swastika symbols exist for one purpose only—to be defaced. Telling my two companions to hold on for a second, I flourish my trusty felt-tip and begin to write some offensive words on the offending poster. I say “begin” because I have barely gotten to the letter k in a well-known transitive verb when I am grabbed by my shirt collar by a venomous little thug, his face glittering with hysterical malice. With his other hand, he is speed-dialing for backup on his cell phone. As always with episodes of violence, things seem to slow down and quicken up at the same time: the eruption of mayhem in broad daylight happening with the speed of lightning yet somehow held in freeze-frame. It becomes evident, as the backup arrives, that this gang wants to take me away.

I am as determined as I can be that I am not going to be stuffed into the trunk of some car and borne off to a private dungeon (as has happened to friends of mine in Beirut in the past). With my two staunch comrades I approach a policeman whose indifference seems well-nigh perfect. We hail a cab and start to get in, but one of our assailants gets in also, and the driver seems to know intimidation only too well when he sees it. We retreat to a stretch of sidewalk outside a Costa café, and suddenly I am sprawled on the ground, having been hit from behind, and someone is putting the leather into my legs and flanks. At this point the crowd in the café begins to shout at the hoodlums, which unnerves them long enough for us to stop another cab and pull away. My shirt is spattered with blood, but I’m in no pain yet: the nastiest moment is just ahead of me. As the taxi accelerates, a face looms at the open window and a fist crashes through and connects with my cheekbone. The blow isn’t so hard, but the contorted, glaring, fanatical face is a horror show, a vision from hell. It’s like looking down a wobbling gun barrel, or into the eyes of a torturer. I can see it still.

I still think Totten should have kicked his ass out of principle once they had returned to the hotel. (Thanks, SNLII)