The Legend of Shizad and Barqan - Chapter 2
DescriptionThis is an account of a man, Tyler Kurt, whose lonely life reaches an all time "low", only to evolve into a very exciting life ... perhaps too exciting.
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Chapter 2 - Lost My Tour BusI love the shopping in this place and all the sights and sounds. Unfortunately, I think I have just messed up. I really don't know it yet, but I am about to get separated from my tour bus. If I can't get back on my tour bus, I will be in big trouble. After all my fun shopping and sightseeing here, my thoughts are all about rejoining the other tourists. I don't want any trouble from the local street thugs in this town. I'm not sure how to be inconspicuous, dressed like a "westerner" in a land of people dressed like Balthasar and Ali Baba (biblical wise man and storybook character). I simply have to get back on my bus and reclaim the comfort of their security ... sounds easy. If they catch me away from my tour bus guards, they will kill me! I must fix this quickly. How did I do this? How on earth did I let this happen? I could be sitting at home complaining about crappy TV and the price of gasoline. But no no, I had to have some excitement ... oh for crying out loud. ......................................................................................................... Just arrived at the first market-place: It's an old timeworn bazaar located somewhere near the center of old Kandahar city - a place full of history and culture. An astounding shopping spree mixed with a hint of intrigue and danger perhaps. My tour organizers keep us in a bit of a bubble thus far for security reasons. We can visit any of the shops in the bazaar, but we enjoy this security because of their plain-clothes bodyguards always being close by and inconspicuous. They never make eye contact with us (tourists) but they are on the job. They never make eye contact with us (tourists) but they are on the job They act as eyes and ears for the tour organizers while we are at the bazaar. Since a few are local men, they know most of the shop-keepers. If there is someone they don't know or causing trouble for anyone in our tour group, they deal harshly with it. Aside from that little issue we all enjoy seemingly free movement within the bazaar shops and stands. The noise, color, and smells of the bazaar are remarkable. There is so much to experience here because it feels like the entire country is buzzing within this one block. There is a constant din and bustle within the bazaar area. People move from shop to shop in the market buying, selling, and bartering for the best deals on everything. There is an unending stream of visitors and locals too. There are dozens of cars, carts, scooters and taxis. The farmer's market back home pales in comparison to this hub of activity. I keep my eyes on three women scurrying past me. They are all covered in their bright blue garments. Two are wearing niqabs, the third is all covered under her burqa. I'm in one of the hottest spots in the entire world, and these ladies are totally enshrouded in their garments. Holy smokes, they are going to burst into flames any minute. My first thoughts are that they look like three little "smurf-ettes" dashing by and I guess that makes me Gargamel. They gawk at me through tiny slits in their headgear, but I am quite sure I had better not get caught looking back at them. I can tell by the eyebrows (that I can see), they are curious about this foreigner guy. They look very unfriendly too. People are brushing past me, bumping into me. My personal space, my isolation, my private solitude ... well, I have none in here. Merchants are busy selling their goods out of their small dokkan shops that open to the street. A cute young girl sits off to one side of the fresh fruit market. She watches everyone that goes by. I think she is a daughter of the merchant that's selling almonds in the middle of the street. Many older women are busy baking pulao (rice with raisins and carrots) and shorma (soup), and qorma (fried mix) back in their kitchens. There are cloth merchants, fruit and vegetable vendors, potters, chemists, jewellers, confectioners, tobacconists, leather goods merchants, wine merchants, fruit vendors, gramophone dealers, radio shops. I think I could buy anything here ... anything. I have been taking in all the action and noise of this interesting bazaar; it simply is so amazing just to see this place. I have been taking in all the action and noise of this interesting bazaar; it simply is so amazing just to see this place After trying one of their MREs (Meals Ready to Eat - yuk), there is nothing better than the taste of a fresh mango. After the mango, I am looking for something to drink that would be cold and wet and tall ... and wash this taste down. I find the nicest man and his daughter serving cold drinks: with several lemons and oranges; blended by hand, and strained. This drink is served in a tall glass with cracked ice and a thin lemon slice in each glass. I am so ready to quench my thirst with this awesome drink. I am so ready to quench my thirst with this awesome drink The bazaar attracts people from the entire region, particularly on market day, which is today. Kuchi nomads bring sheep and goats and some camels from the desert. They are quite intriguing to barter with. Many children are made to work in the bazaar washing the animals. A couple of shops offer beautiful Baluchi rugs. The rugs are made by the nomadic Baloch people in the southern part of the country. The stunning rugs are smaller due to the nomadic lifestyle of the tribal weavers. In the "livestock" section of the bazaar, the smell is dreadful. Some animals are being slaughtered right in front of us. Good heavens, there're some guys drinking the blood of the newly killed animals. The smell is enough to make me choke. A guy gestures for me to try a taste. I turn my head and keep on walking. Do not make eye contact with him ... and don't throw up here. Other men there are quartering the carcasses and getting ready to butcher them into fresh cuts for sale at their counter. While wandering through the bazaar, it suddenly feels like I'm being watched. I just happen to notice my bloody bus leaving the market area early. I can barely read the "Biscuit Coach Tours" sign on the back of my bus as it finishes loading the other tourists. It is just two blocks away from me but it may as well be ten miles. There is literally a sea of bodies, creatures and vehicles in my way. There is literally a sea of bodies, creatures and vehicles in my way I hurry and get to the market entrance and ultimately the bus stop. I notice two Afghani militia-men in one of the shops watching me. I don't want to raise any suspicions. I simply must get to my bus. If I try to run after it, they will flip out on me; I just know it. If I move too quickly, they might even try to shoot me. I make my legs run a few steps and then check on the two guys. One is looking at me and he seems a bit concerned, the other is eating something. I can take a few steps and break the sight-lines to the soldiers. I try to run some more. Then I find the strength to sprint towards the bus. I get a bit closer and I hear the doors squeak closed and I am, along with a hundred other people, covered in a thick cloud of dust and diesel exhaust. Looks like the entire tour group has left without me. I am so screwed now. Here I am, in a jump-back-in-time moment, hundreds - or perhaps thousands of years in the past. This bazaar and the people in it really haven't changed over all this time. The shops, the goods, the traders, the dangers are unchanged over thousands of years. If I were here a thousand years ago, my situation would not be much different than it is right now. On a vacation like this, there is one thing you just do not want to see ... the back end of your tour bus pulling away without you. And all my luggage is on that bus. As I step around a corner in the market to get another glimpse of my fleeing bus, I run right into an enormous man blocking an arched passage-way. He is wearing a large dark green turban with one end hanging loose over his shoulder and long flowing beige robes. His face is wrinkled and his clothing is grubby. He looks menacing as he glares aggressively at me. He looks menacing as he glares aggressively at me I plead apologetically, "I am so sorry to bump into you sir. Bakhena ghwaarum." (Excuse me.) His eyes burn with the purest hate. In a thundering voice he bellows, " Khwdey de pa tandar owaha ameraka!" (May lightning strike you dead American!) I gingerly say, "Tashnab cherta di?" ... then I rethink what I just said ... and I'm sure I just asked him "where is the toilet". Wish I could take that back ... good grief. I am completely boxed-in here. If I could just squeeze by him and get onto the walkway right behind him, I might have a chance to catch my bus. I hear something behind me and look back. Several threatening looking goons approach. One guy steps off to the left, another darts to the right, then one pounds his fist against the wall and asks, "Where are you going in such a hurry, American dog?" Now, martial arts have been in my family for three generations and I think have inherited combat insight and dexterity in my DNA. I mutter, "Please don't fail me now. Because I am dressed like a 'westerner' I must die? The western world has brought a lot of grief to these people ... and this is 'payback' I suppose." I look to my left and another arrives. Do not think otherwise, they are not here to rob me. They think they have me cornered; an easy mark. The old guy barks, "Hegheh a da" (he is American). Then he mutters, "Mehrabani" (go ahead) to the thugs and gestures with his hand to begin. The first guy leaps at me and sends a haymaker toward the side of my head. I try to slip it by me and grab his arm, but he's too strong. I hear the echo of the punch around the room and it knocks me flying. I fall against the wall and slump to the floor. My near blackout lasts barely a second I think and I am back on my feet. My brain has rebooted and my total awareness is re-calibrating. These hooligans are on all sides of me now, totally intent on me never leaving this room alive. I must shake my wooziness off and ready myself for the beating that is about to come. Blink, blink. I try to get my eyes to focus before the other bewildered bandits can move another muscle. Except, these jokers seem frozen stiff as they watch. These guys think old Ali-Baba here is winning. These guys aren't going away any time soon... Where's my nearest bonehead threat? Do I have room for a couple of steps to maneuver? I must quickly terminate this fool somehow. I holler at him "Taase tsa ghwaarai? (What do you want?) He yells back at me, "Hayts!" (Nothing!) Then brandishes his knife toward my face to try and intimidate me. The knife is little more than a big rusty blade set in a block of wood. The handle was warped and held together by pieces of wire twisted together. I ready myself to move out of the way of his attack and I stay still to bring him in closer. I'll see if he knows anything if he comes any closer. His arm is back maliciously concealing his knife. I plan to dive away from his attack and punch him. He lunges at me. I sidestep. I punch him on the way by. I step on through. I want to cut him in half with my next strike. If I had a weapon, maybe I would have a chance. He crouches, hiding his knife behind him, readying for another crazy stabbing attack. He seems to regard himself as a great knife fighter. His nostrils quiver as he readies himself. He is so totally committed to his attack as he ploughs forward, certain of an instant kill. It's a stunning lunge, fast, strong, and in a vicious "going-to-gut-you-like-a-goat" kind of way. The only problem is he does this as if he is in front of a mirror and wants to watch his own classical movements ... classical but "flaky". In his confidence of his assured success, he misses the right moment to attack. I step off before he can react and he misses ... I think he hurt his back ... like a baseball batter that tries to 'kill' the ball and knock it out of the park ... a swing and a miss ... ouch! The other morons applaud his efforts, but their babble fades when I dodge his next swing and chop him like a clothesline to the gullet. I say, "This is going to sting a bit." ... and his windpipe collapses. He staggers backward, emitting an eerie hissing sound while he desperately tries to breath. He lowers his head to help get his breath and I punch him. My fist disappears into his flab. He tries to grab me but I push him off into the corner. I let him suffer in the rubble while I look over the remaining attackers. The other dudes back up in stunned silence, then they cautiously try to circle me and still not get too close. He's up and bellows in a rage. Now his anger has made him reckless. He charges at me like a bull in a china-shop. I stand my ground this time without even trying to block or dodge. He smells victory as I have not moved. He expects me to run away but here I am. His buddies cheer more. Without any excess motion, right there in the middle of the floor, I turn and thrust a kick into his belly. His forward motion is halted instantly, stuck on the end of my leg like a wiener on a stick. He looks down in agony and surprise at my leg sprouting from his gut. He gasps as air billows from his lungs. His liver just got mashed into an exquisite paté, I think. He is so muddled now that he folds up with a shriek and a moan. I won't have any problem from him for a while. I scan the room quickly for the next two-three-four goons ... they are all coming now. I crack my knuckles in anticipation and try and look confident. The second guy is rushing over with a long Jim Bowie style knife. His face has such deep wrinkles and lots of scars from cuts he has endured from fighting. All I know is that I am not going to let this hooligan kill me. He stabs repeatedly at me. I sweep. I punch and whirl. I even laugh ... a crazy laugh ... I kind of scared myself. Some dudes fight with glee, some with resolve, and some are nasty. But his first attack burst was meaningless. He is having trouble controlling that enormous knife. "Not sure you're really ready to wield such a big knife there, buddy. Maybe you should go home and get a smaller one? While you're there, maybe pick up a few more guys. Just to be fair." I yell at him, "Daa tor makh de wrak sha!" (Get your ugly face out of here!) He hesitates, then lunges forward. I quickly circle to keep him between me and the guy behind him. I quickly circle to keep him between me and the guy behind him I yell again, "Allah has left the building. Prepare to die." His first attack is a wild slash at me. I jump back and hollow-out so he misses. I dodge the nasty slice. If he does that again, I will take his head off. As he slashes again, I hollow out, but this one finds its mark and cuts deep into my belly and his knife gets jammed in me. With my adrenaline pumping freely, I did not realize that I'd been cut. He loses his grip on the blood-covered handle and it falls to the floor. I grab his arm and spin him around ... then let him fly right into the old guy. They both roll onto the floor and wind up in the far corner. I am so frustrated because when I hit these guys, they don't stop. They just seem to get back up and carry on the fight. The next reprobate comes at me with maniacal relentless prodding and poking. I meet the first stab with a smack on his hand. It isn't elegant but it knocks the blade away. Before he can thrust it again, I bitch-slap his face. I crush his nose (I heard it crunch) ... and bloody his mouth. That changes his whole outlook. His eyes fill with water, his mouth with blood ... he steps back. He tries to stab me again, but he is in panic-mode now. His knife goes up wildly through the air and misses everything. I kick him in the "plums". The tip of my boot just buried in his crotch, "Ha!" He drops to the floor, the knife falls from his hand and skitters into the darkness, and he hugs the floor moaning and sobbing ... done. He looks like ten pounds of shit in a five-pound bag. As I maneuver across the floor, I step on something ... it's a knife. I quickly snatch it up and survey the remaining hostiles. I look across the room. Over by the doorway I see the old guy on his hands and knees. He is scrambling toward the dimly lit exit to get outside and escape. His turban has fallen off and he is in full 'retreat'. There's another guy! "Oh crap! Another one!" There is always one more jackass than you expected. I completely missed this guy. He hits me on my back with a piece of timber and I spin back. Fiery agony sprouts from my rib-cage. The stabbing dude is back on his feet as he thrusts wildly toward my belly. I slap his hand away again and smash him hard. His eyes roll up and he is on his knees, shuffling away. Fourth guy's swings are wild and out of control. He tries to slash across my chest but I dip back and nick his arm with the knife I picked up. I thrust it into his ribs right to the hilt. He winds-up again and I dive forward to close the distance and scare the crap out of him. He can't function this close. His swing partially hits my arm and glances off weakly. I try and save my head from any more damage. Lots of blood is dripping from his open wounds. Lots of blood is dripping from his open wounds He comes back with his other fist and hits me again in spite of my best efforts. "Holy humpin' mountain goat!" I grab him and drag him in close. He tries to knee me in the groin and misses. Then I knee him... bull's-eye. He is completely stupefied. He takes a step back, steadies himself, blinking his eyes and staring at me. Comatose and still standing. I declare, "You may neither win nor live moron. You can quit when I say." Then I punch him and push him away. He flops into the wall. Blood is oozing down the wall from his side. He tries to lunge at me. I jump in, grab his head and twist. The twisting spins him to the floor. He goes down and I follow his energy to the floor. He goes down hard with me right on top of him. I think his neck may be broken. "Winners drip, losers gush. You sir, are gushing." With the impact of me falling onto him, and him hitting the floor so hard, he wheezes a desperate gasp of air. He is on the floor and not moving; inert, neutralized, deactivated. I shift to the side as I try to make distance between me and the next guy steadily shuffling towards me. I kick his knee in and hear the ligaments snap. "That's going to leave a mark." Just as he attempts a weak punch to my face, I jump back and lose my footing as the floor just dropped away. I fall into a dark room on my back and into a thick built-up layer of dry moon-dust. Maybe I'm done. The pain muddles my mind. Back of my head ... my back, killing me. I'm afraid to move as I don't want to find out what parts of me are broken. It takes me a few seconds to sit up, I think ...not sure. My eyes are closed. I'm sure I don't want to open them as I'm so covered with this dust. I had better check where these arse-holes are now. Gotta get my eyes open as these guys are getting back to their feet. One of these clowns is shining a flashlight on me. I can sense the glow through my closed eyelids. I think that my sweaty head is completely covered with this weird powder. I open my eyes and all I can see is the bright beam of light. "Oh crap! This is not good." Chunks of caked crud fall from my lashes. I glance up and see wisps of a mystifying haze floating above me, heading toward the ceiling. I'm sure the pixie-dust of a thousand storms has gathered in this room over the last hundred years. I'm sure I haven't broken anything and I know I have to move now. "It's now or never." Just as I cough, a large wave of dust billows out of my mouth and nose ... it feels like some went out each of my ears too. The cough is so strong, it even makes my eyes water. Dust particles shoot across the room from my cough, glowing from the beam of the guy's flashlight. I get to my feet and ready myself for more attacks from these creeps. All I can do is take frantic gasps of air to try and regain some oxygen for my body. Again, another cough forces its way up my windpipe and more white powder blows across the room. I yell as loud as I can, "Come on muffuzz. 'Kus modar!' (evil ones) You want some more? Bring it, pussies! 'Kose!' (sissies) You are a few beads short of a misbah." (string of prayer-beads) They all shriek one word like "Djinn ... jinni". Another one wails, "Shaytan". Another one screams, "Cin cin". There it is again, the weirdest wail, weirdest squawk, "Jinni ... Allahu Akbar". I strain trying to hear past all the other racket of the room. One guy is sobbing. I think his nads are now like a bow-tie ... under his chin. Another one clutches onto his dislocated knee and tries to hobble out the door. Another one clutches onto his dislocated knee and tries to hobble out the door The old guy unravels a long piece of rolled-up paper and feverishly prays aloud, reading, "Waqul rabbi a-aoothu bika minhamazati al-shayateen". (My Lord, I seek refuge in You from the whispers of satan) One of the others raises both his hands to the sky in despair and recites, "Wa-aoothu bika rabbi an yah-durooni". (And I seek refuge in You, my Lord, lest they come near me) One last thing I hear from them, "Subhan Allah!" (Glory to God) And the guy bolts away down a dark alley. I answer, "Whaaat? Did you say 'Genie'? A genie out of a bottle? A genie out of a lamp? What's wrong with you clowns? Spuck Shay! Spuck Shay!" (You are stupid! You are stupid!) These guys are as ghastly pale as ghosts and are truly terrified. They help each other get up and stumble away from the fight room. One shouts hysterically, "No hurt me! No curse me!" I inquire, "Whaaaat? You are so spooked. I just don't get it. And I thought you tough-guys were to be feared, huh? You Mussie Qur'an thumping haji jackasses! Sah ye ta weredal de? (What are you afraid of?)" This is my first chance to escape from this dump. I must run like the wind ... get out of here ... get away, right now. I shout again, "You call yourself mujahedeen? Hah! You should be called as 'muja-had-a-brain'." "You are the dumbest pack of tongue-tied, brain-dead, elbow-scraping, knuckle-dragging, rodent-shagging, arse-breathing, poppy-sniffing, camel-toed goat-humpers I have ever seen." Well I had better shut my mouth and get away. I stumble out the only exit in this mind-numbing hovel, my feet slip and slide through the dry grit on the floor. The morons have managed to waddle through the doorway and are leaning up against an old shed consoling each other. I can hear a couple of these dudes mumbling to each other. The guy with the knee I destroyed says, "Daa tsook day?" (Who was that?) The rest of the crew glances over at him and they just shrug their shoulders and look away. "Phew." I make it through the broken-down doorway. I notice another alley that leads away from here. That looks pretty good to me right now. I take a few steps then turn and get a last-look at this place where all this insanity just went down. The grumpy old guy has his turban on now and mutters to me, "Kafir makha de khah ameraka" (infidel I'll see you again American). The grumpy old guy has his turban on now and mutters to me, "Kafir makha de khah ameraka" (infidel I'll see you again American) I bolt down the alley to get away. After a few minutes I slow down to catch my breath and notice my left fist still white-knuckle-clenched shut. I try to relax my fist and ease it open. To my surprise, I still have a fistful of someone's hair. "Yuck! Not sure what's growing on that. Ewww! Gotta keep goin'." I shake that stuff off and wipe my hand on my pants. Twilight has fallen and the nearly full moon is shining brightly. There is a peculiar breathlessness in the hot dry air. There must be a million people living right around here, but now it seems so quiet. There are a few people in the street; most are making their way home from their daily activities; a few others look like they just came out of their home to take an evening stroll. You don't live longer over here; it just seems that way. There's a smell of smoke, dust and dirty stale water like a kettle boiled dry. My hurried footsteps echo in the deserted alley. A tall old man opens his door and stands for some time studying me, then he steps softly back into his house shaking his head. I run for what seems like hours, as the sun disappears beyond the tops of the buildings around me. Whenever I pause to look around, I notice the many scattered remains of burned out vehicles and abandoned cars and trucks. What a waste. The edge of the city and suburbs are not far now. I wipe the sweat out of my eyes and try to keep going. My back is killing me. I keep running anyway. I am totally filthy and dirty and disgusting. I have cuts and dried blood and scrapes everywhere. What chaos! No matter who I run into, they will not help me. Since getting away from the knuckle-heads, I have luckily avoided all other locals too. I don't want to bump into any militarized groups here either. I don't want to bump into any militarized groups here either I have been beat up by what I think was just a neighbourhood gang of thugs and I got away. I did, however, get a couple of ugly slashes across my stomach and on my back. I hope they heal up quickly and don't develop into something more. I have lost a lot of blood too. I have a nasty bump on my head that hopefully is just that, a bump; and nothing more. My spirits are better as I get closer to the edge of the city. The outskirts of the city never seem to end. I leave one district only to enter another. "Will this urban squalor ever end?" As I walk around a high walled corner, I get glimpses of a small courtyard surrounding an antiquated and dilapidated house and a few small out-buildings. Just above the outer wall I can see a flag going up. The way it is flipping around I think someone is just hoisting it up right now. "This looks like a Taliban white flag. This area is likely crawling with Taliban clansmen. This would be a good time to quietly slip a few blocks away from here." "And I should continue on my quest but take a different bearing. These guys will not take kindly to a 'westerner' walking through their turf." "Thank goodness it is quite dark now and no one has noticed me." "I need a good plan. Crap, I need 'any' plan." "I feel like a porcupine in a nudist colony. I am definitely out-of-step with the whole world here. I'm moving as fast as I can and I really don't know where I'm going. One wrong move and I am done for." "I am shaking like a leaf ... I'm so scared. My stomach is churning. I might actually wet my pants if I wasn't so up-tight. Gotta keep moving." "Left to themselves, things here tend to go from bad to worse. That's it." "These streets are something else here. If I didn't have a reference to follow, I'd just go in circles in this urban sprawl out here." "It seems to me a few of these streets are well organized and nicely laid out. But others ... well, it's like folks just started building their houses on each side of a goat path ... and now it's a street." "If I can just keep my eyes trained on that bright 'star', I can keep heading west and out of here. It's a blessing that the 'evening-star' (Venus) is out this evening and is very bright." "Oh man, all I want is to find my bus and put my life back together. But unless I get lucky on the road west, I'll never catch that bus." "But will destiny allow it? Some mistakes seem irreversible, you know." "I'm going to try and press onward for another couple of hours. Maybe I can find a place to lie down and get a little sleep."