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Expat Chapter 22, 23, 24, 25 - 2,903 words

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Old 08-01-2006, 06:39 AM
gary_wagner
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Default Expat Chapter 22, 23, 24, 25 - 2,903 words


The Expat master thread which contains all of Expat posted to date can be found at: http://www.writersbeat.com/expat-master-thread-t4997.html

Chapter 22


August 13, 1990 - Expat House

Jeffery pushed the journal aside and lay on the bed again. About a half hour had passed by when he heard a knock on the door. He didn't feel like getting up so he just called "The door's not locked."

Carletta came in carrying a tray. She said timidly, "Mr. Jeffery? I brought you some coffee and sandwiches. Should I put it on your table?" Jeffery's stare never left the ceiling.

"I'm not hungry."

"Do you want me to leave the coffee?"

"No, I don't want any coffee."

"I could get you something else. Maybe you want a coke? Lemonade?"

"No, nothing."

"It's no problem. I'll get whatever you want."

"What I want is to be left alone right now."

Carletta said, "I'm sorry" and left the room, closing the door behind her.

Jeffery looked over at the door as it closed and said, "Oh shit, what an asshole I am." He jumped up and rushed over to the door. He swung it open and looked down the hall and saw Carletta going into the kitchen with the tray in her hands. He called, "Carletta?"

He heard her put the tray down and look out the kitchen door down the hall at him. He said, "I changed my mind. I think I could use a little company right now, if you don't mind coming down here."

She walked down the hall toward him but she wouldn't look him in the eye. He said, "Come on in and sit on the couch a while."

He followed her into the room and sat down on the couch beside her. He cleared his throat and said, "First of all I owe you an apology. I acted like a jerk. I was upset but that's no excuse to take it out on you. Thank you for making me coffee and sandwiches. You didn't have to do that. It was very thoughtful of you."

Carletta said, "I'm not very good at making anyone not sad. When you came home early very sad I thought that maybe you tried to quit today. Everyone who tries gets very sad."

Jeffery said, "Well, you thought right. There's no way out of here. What am I going to do?"

"You're a smart man. You'll get out of here."

"Here I am feeling sorry about myself and I didn't even stop to think that you've already been trapped here for six years. I made you a promise and now I've let you down."

"You didn't let me down. I never thought we would get out of here in a week or two. But you'll do it eventually."

"How can you have so much confidence in me? I don't feel very confident right now."

"You looked me in the eyes and you saw me. You didn't see a house girl. You didn't see a cook. You didn't see the expats whore. You saw me. And after you saw me you promised that you would help me get out of here. When I looked back in your eyes I saw that you would keep your promise. You doubt yourself but I do not."

"Carletta, you've only known me for a couple of weeks now. How can you know anything about me? How can you trust me?"

"I know that you have a very good heart. You can look at a person and see who they are, not what they are. You are lonely and need a friend but you are afraid of friendship. You are very strong inside but you treat me gently. Because I know these things, I also know that I can trust you."

"You are an incredible woman. I just hope I can live up to your expectations."

"I just hope I can be your friend."

"You already are, Carletta. If you hadn't come down here, I probably would have lain on that bed all day feeling sorry for myself. A friend is someone who helps you when you're down. Thanks for thinking about me."

"I like to think about you. If I do that, I don't have to think about other things."

"Could I ask you to do me a favor?"

"Yes."

"Would you hold me?"

Carletta put her hands around his neck and brought his head down onto her shoulder. She whispered into his ear, "This is not a favor. This is because I want to."


Chapter 23


August 31, 1990 - Expat House

Heinrich stepped out of the shower. After drying himself with a towel, he folded it neatly in three sections, draped it over the center of the towel bar, and pulled it down so that the ends were even. He took down his underwear, stacked neatly on top of his starched, daily pressed pajamas, from the shelf over his sink and slipped them on. After carefully unfolding his pajamas, he put them on. When he strapped his watch on his wrist, he was disappointed to see that he had spent two minutes longer in the shower than usual. He combed his small fringe of hair into place, removed two hairs from the comb, and put it back into the medicine cabinet, beside, but not touching, his toothbrush. He dropped the two hairs that had dared to abandon his already bald head, into the toilet and flushed it. He watched to make sure they went down the drain so that they wouldn't embarrass him when Carletta cleaned his room and found it filthy.

On his way into the main room, he stopped to fix a piece of tape holding up a poster that had started to curl away from the wall. He stopped at his dresser, removed a cigar box, and took it to the table. He sat at the table and from the cigar box removed a bottle of Elmer's glue, an Exacto knife, a small piece of sandpaper, a ruler, and a protractor. When the items were arranged on the table so that he could pick them up without looking down, he continued his work on the thirty-sixth floor of the Empire State Building.

The building in front of him was an accurate scale model, painstakingly constructed from hundreds of thousands of toothpicks. At least it was as accurate as he could make it from the limited information he had available. He had brought a book with him on landmark buildings and monuments of the world. The book had pictures and general dimensions, but much had to be deduced from calculations and drawings Heinrich always made before starting a project.

Heinrich had decided to scale this model so that when completed, with the radio mast in place, it would stand just over six feet tall. When he finished this project, he would set it beside the already completed Eiffel Tower and move onto his most ambitious attempt yet - the London House of Parliament.

He spent a minimum of three hours per night and six hours on Fridays planning and constructing his buildings. His first three years in Saudi Arabia were dedicated to the Eiffel Tower and his last year on the Empire State Building. At his current rate of effort, he estimated completion of this building in another 13 months. That was providing that the upcoming war did nothing to interrupt his supply of toothpicks, which he hoped desperately would not happen. He had a two-month supply stashed away in his closet. The thought of the war concerned him very little unless it disrupted his building materials and forced him to adjust his meticulously planned construction schedule. Now, that would be something that would really get him riled. He could possibly lose his temper and say, "Mein Gott" then be sorry about it for weeks. He might even become so flustered that he could leave a wrinkle in his bedspread and Carletta would see him living like a schwein in a mud pen. No, he couldn't allow those things to happen. Come hell or high water, come war or peace, his toothpicks had to get through.

Chapter 24


September 26, 1990 - The Northern Saudi Desert

Private Robertson headed toward the Captainís tent at a run. He knocked on the wood frame and went inside when the Captain called "In."

"Captain, we've got vehicle activity about three clicks down the road."

"North or south, Robertson?"

"South sir. Appears to be civilian vehicles, sir."

"Alert the officer of the watch and tell him I want the .50 caliber nest on full alert. Dismissed, Private."

"Yes, sir."

Captain Joe Dalholovich strapped his .45 caliber service revolver around his waist and put his flack jacket on. He donned his Kevlar helmet and stepped out of the tent. He could see the cloud of dust from the approaching vehicles as he walked to the road. As the vehicles got closer he could see three four wheel drive sports vehicles, two Nissan Patrols and one Mitsubishi Pajero. Each truck had three to four men inside. The lead truck stopped beside the captain and the driver got out. The man came around the front of the truck and approached the captain. He was wearing a Texas A&M T shirt and a Dallas Cowboys baseball cap.

The captain didn't know what to expect and was wary. He said, "Yes, sir? What can I do for you?"

The man smiled and put out his hand. The captain shook it. The man said, "How do you do. I'm Jerry Gorlick. We're all American expats, except for one Canadian, but we don't hold that against him. We work down the road a piece, in Jubail. We've organized a program we call Operation Desert Thirst. We've got about ten cases of cold sodas in coolers in the trucks and we'd like to give some of them to your men, if that's all right with you."

Captain Dalholovich was astonished, "You drove two hours through the desert in those trucks to bring us cold pop?"

"We've also got a couple of gas grills and a case of hamburgers we can grill up for you if you're tired of MRE's."

Captain Dalholovich grimaced at the thought a forcing another MRE down. The MRE's, Meals Ready to Eat, were a quantum leap from the K-rations of the old days, but after almost seven weeks of them as an exclusive three meal a day diet, the enlisted men had taken to calling them Meals Rejected by Ethiopians. The meals were nutritionally balanced, neatly packaged, but had become extremely monotonous. The thought of biting into a hot grilled hamburger made the captain's mouth water.

Jerry continued, "We've been doing this for three weeks now. Feel free to search our trucks or us if you need to. We've been through this before. We wanted to do what we can to help you guys out and the Colonel in charge down in Jubail said that you don't have any cold drinks or hot food here yet. So, we've been going out on our days off and delivering them."

"I don't know what to say. This is a surprise to me. I will have to have my men search your vehicles. Can you have the other men step out?"

Jerry called to the other men in the trucks, "O.K. Everybody out and let them search the trucks."

The other men got out of the trucks joking and laughing. Captain Dalholovich had a couple of marines do a vehicle search and when they confirmed that there were no weapons or bombs on board allowed the men to unload the coolers and gas grills. He called his men over who gratefully accepted the first cold can of pop since they arrived in the hot, dusty desert seven weeks earlier.

While two of the American civilians started grilling hamburgers, the other men distributed the cold pop, candy bars, magazines, books, and box games to the marines. To the young marines, it was like Christmas come early. They had left home with ten minutes notice. They hadn't brought any reading material or anything else to help pass the time. The entire camp of thirty men's entertainment supplies consisted of three decks of playing cards they obtained on the Northwest Airline flight to Hong Kong.

Two hours later the trucks were packed up and the civilians were ready to leave. The marines wanted to do something in gratitude in return for what the American expats had done for them. After many polite refusals, the expats finally, and gratefully, accepted a stack of the MRE's. The soldiers had trouble believing that the expats would actually want the MRE's. These were not just any MRE's, though. These were all a number eleven MRE.

A case of twenty-four MRE's came in twelve different varieties, each with varying entrees and side items, and each labeled with a number identifying its contents. The marines wouldn't ask for an MRE by its contents, they would simply say, "Give me a number eleven". The number eleven contained an eight ounce ham steak - strictly forbidden in Saudi Arabia because of Islamic laws, almost impossible to obtain on the black market and much sought after by the expats.

The expats didn't want to take advantage of the American military, but also wanted to allow the marines to feel like they could do something for their fellow Americans in return, so accepted only as many MRE's as would have been eaten for lunch instead of the hamburgers. The marines were amazed that someone would actually eat one of these meals voluntarily, but what they didn't understand that most American expats in Saudi Arabia would drive two hours across the blazing sand for a single slice of ham. A whole stack of them was a real bonanza.

The marines were all gathered around the trucks. Jerry opened all four doors on his truck and called out, "One last thing before we go." He put a tape in the cassette player and turned the stereo up to full volume. Out of the speakers mounted in the doors came the Lee Greenwood song "God Bless the U.S.A.".

When the song finished the Marines let out a rousing cheer. The trucks turned around and drove back down the road. Captain Dalholovich stood in the middle of the road until they were out of sight. When he could see nothing but a cloud of dust he took his helmet off, scratched his head, and said, "Expats, huh? Well, I'll be damned!"

Chapter 25


September 26, 1990 - The southern border of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia

Yousef poured himself some tea from a blackened brass pot sitting on the glowing embers of a campfire. A truck had brought a load of scrap lumber earlier that day and Yousef was grateful for the first hot tea in almost a week. He wished that the truck had contained more food. He quickly devoured the flat loaf of bread that was rationed to him, but his stomach growled for more.

The supply of food had gotten more and more erratic as time went by and the U.N. embargo started to take hold. They ate a meal most days, but there had been periods of as long as four days with no food at all. He was one of the five men on a truck sent into Kuwait city in search of food two weeks earlier. The stores and warehouses had already been stripped completely clean. In desperation, they drove to the city zoo and killed four antelope. The meat was consumed back at the border camp within two days. Another group made a trip back to the zoo, but the other soldiers in the city had killed and eaten all of the remaining animals by that time.

They were told daily by their officers that the supply problems were temporary and would soon be eliminated. The grumbling about the conditions was kept at a minimum because they now understood their situation better. Saddam Hussein had declared this conflict a jihad - a holy war. It was up to them to protect Islam from the onslaught of the Jews and American infidels. According to the 'Voice of Baghdad' radio broadcasts, America had invaded and taken over Saudi Arabia. There were reports of Israeli jets parked on runways of the Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina.

To die in this conflict would guarantee passage directly into heaven. The men were honored to have that opportunity. They were on the side of Allah and he would see them successfully through it. Their present hunger and living conditions would be soon forgotten when they were victorious in this war. If they were killed, they would be in heaven rewarded by Allah with 72 virgins and none of this will have mattered anyway.

Yousef's nightmares came less frequently now. His mother no longer sat in the chair, her role in the dream being replaced by Saddam Hussein. The monster's identity was usually vague and obscure. At times they were American soldiers and occasionally they were all clones of his company commander.

Yousef's fellow soldiers had grown accustomed to him waking in terror, but Yousef felt that he never would. He was praying for the time that he could go home, see his family, eat his fill, and sleep in peace once more.


Last edited by gary_wagner; 08-04-2006 at 10:02 AM..
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Old 08-04-2006, 03:13 AM
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lucyj (Offline)
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Hi, I tried to reply to this earlier, but the computer was busy downloading stuff for its real owner...

I think the first bit is really well done, up to 'He followed her into the room and sat down on the couch beside her.', where it starts to revert a bit. For instance '"You looked me in the eyes and you saw me. You didn't see a house girl. You didn't see a cook. You didn't see the expats whore. You saw me.' sounds a bit like it should be filmed in soft-focus...

However, I thought the last few lines, from '"Could I ask you to do me a favor?"', fell just on the right side of the line. I guess everyone will have a different view on what sounds mushy and what doesn't.

'After drying himself with a towel, he folded it neatly in three sections, draped it over the exact center of the towel bar, and pulled it down so that the ends were completely even.' - it's a tricky thing to start trying to dictate, but I think the details speak for themselves without including too many words like the ones I've underlined. Leaving them in makes the description of Heinrich sound unnecessarily mocking and sarcastic - if that's the point I think the reader is going to laugh at him anyway - 'center' and 'even' show sufficient exactness, I think.

"South sir. Appears to civilian vehicles, sir." - 'to be'


'I'm an American expat that works for a company a few hours down the road from here. All the other men in the trucks are Americans that work there too, except for one Canadian,' - would he say that? - he must sound American, and then the next sentence ('too') implies that he is American. But I'm not sure.

'four antelopes' - is it 'antelopes' or 'antelope'? Not 100% sure myself...

'To die in this conflict would guarantee passage directly into heaven. The men felt that they were honored to have this opportunity.' - in my opinion, leaving out the 'felt..' bit makes for a stronger sentence.

I liked Chapter 24 best - nice scene!

'Bye for now.
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Old 08-04-2006, 10:00 AM
gary_wagner
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Originally Posted by lucyj
Hi, I tried to reply to this earlier, but the computer was busy downloading stuff for its real owner...

I think the first bit is really well done, up to 'He followed her into the room and sat down on the couch beside her.', where it starts to revert a bit. For instance '"You looked me in the eyes and you saw me. You didn't see a house girl. You didn't see a cook. You didn't see the expats whore. You saw me.' sounds a bit like it should be filmed in soft-focus...
I'll keep that in mind when I start adapting it for the screenplay. How about Christian Bale as Jeffery? After his DUI arrest maybe we could cast Mel Gibson as Clive. Seriously, I will look over all the mush lines and make sure they don't overwhelm the story. I'm going to leave it for now until I start in on the mush eradication project.

However, I thought the last few lines, from '"Could I ask you to do me a favor?"', fell just on the right side of the line. I guess everyone will have a different view on what sounds mushy and what doesn't.
Surprising. I almost took those lines out just before I posted this because I thought they might be too cliche and mushy.

'After drying himself with a towel, he folded it neatly in three sections, draped it over the exact center of the towel bar, and pulled it down so that the ends were completely even.' - it's a tricky thing to start trying to dictate, but I think the details speak for themselves without including too many words like the ones I've underlined. Leaving them in makes the description of Heinrich sound unnecessarily mocking and sarcastic - if that's the point I think the reader is going to laugh at him anyway - 'center' and 'even' show sufficient exactness, I think.
I see your point and I can take out the extra qualifiers. Subtlety is not always my fine suit.

"South sir. Appears to civilian vehicles, sir." - 'to be'
...or not to be. Sorry, I'm in a silly mood this afternoon. I'll fix this.


'I'm an American expat that works for a company a few hours down the road from here. All the other men in the trucks are Americans that work there too, except for one Canadian,' - would he say that? - he must sound American, and then the next sentence ('too') implies that he is American. But I'm not sure.
It was important in reality because the soldiers were still a little wary and jumpy and we had to properly identify ourselves and our nationalities. It might not be important to the story though. In case you didn't catch it, this chapter, except for the names of the characters, describes a real event and I was one of those Americans sitting in one of the trucks. That may be why I nit-picked the details even though they don't necessarily add anything to the story itself - other than accuracy.

'four antelopes' - is it 'antelopes' or 'antelope'? Not 100% sure myself...
According to the dictionary, the 's' is optional, but acceptable. I've heard it both ways and now I don't know which one sounds better.

'To die in this conflict would guarantee passage directly into heaven. The men felt that they were honored to have this opportunity.' - in my opinion, leaving out the 'felt..' bit
makes for a stronger sentence.
Point taken. I agree.

I liked Chapter 24 best - nice scene!
Yay! That was the real one.

'Bye for now.
Thanks again for another helpful review.
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