The rules were different over there. The CIA gave orders: kill this
one; let this one live with no discernable reason for the distinction.
The objective was to meet the objective, to live to meet the next
assignment, and not to ask the hard questions if you weren’t
sure you wanted the hard answers.
His father had approved of him joining the army—told him it
would be good preparation for the law: on the surface all precise order
and specifics, on the inside a complete SNAFU that comes down to who
you know. His father's connections with Bush had kept him out of Korea
and landed him here, in Iran, instead.
Everything was different here: the plants, the birds, even the air
smelled different. It brought to mind exotic visions of flying carpets,
magic genies, 1001 Arabian nights, Scheherazade, and belly
dancers—voluptuous women who knew how to please a man. Women
who had trained for years in nothing but that art, women who lived for
it, wanted it, felt good through making men feel good.
The rules were different there, wild and free, but some things would
never change. Like a twenty-one year-old boy pumped up on guns and
testosterone and too much sitting around and waiting with not near
enough combat in between going half crazy with unspent energy.
The troops selected for Operation Ajax were sworn to secrecy. They were
good at keeping secrets—both those of others and their own.
Don't ask; don't tell is hardly a new thing. It was just like Clinton
to steal credit for ideas and policies crafted by better men before
him. He had to go and make it all about homos, though.
Denny supposed that was how you got the votes in blue states these days.
The Arab came to them after sundown, leading her behind him on a chain.
Though the man knew no English, the offer was clear enough. Denny had
never been one for the mixing of the races, but this secret could be
kept too. And at twenty-one, seven weeks with no female companionship
but Rosy Palm and her five limber daughters seemed like the trial of a
The rag-heads were good at keeping secrets, if nothing else. Besides,
did it matter? Who would they tell in Iranian? A few weeks of gossip
around Tehran about some particularly well-dressed US serviceman wasn't
going to affect his life.
Denny looked her over and fell under the sway of Scheherazade's sensual
land and customs.
She was soft and brown with doe-like eyes, and she bowed her head and
knelt before him as if this were her appointed place. Up close, in the
glow of lantern light, he could see that she was no longer young and
her life had not been easy. It made him desire her all the more.
Her owner looked over the fistful of rials that Denny offered, picked
out a few but pushed most of them back. That bothered Denny more than
anything else. While he had paid for it many times before, he had
always paid the women. It was they who did the work, and fair was fair.
But this was not his land, and everything was different here. The man
barked a command at her, and she dropped low on all fours. He tugged a
reminder on the choke around her neck, but she gave no complaint. In
fact, she seemed content to stay and be used.
Denny undid his trousers and thrust.
He supposed she couldn't understand him, but he muttered soft words to
her regardless: soothing words of false praise that mattered even less
than they had any time before.
She reeked of sweat and sex--all the men that had gone and come before
him--possibly she was still warm from them. That thought should have
disgusted him, but it turned him on all the more. He thrust harder and
deeper, yet still she didn't respond.
He wasn't her first--probably not even her first tonight. He certainly
wasn't her largest. He supposed that to her he was nothing special,
nothing but the price of her next meal, but still, he was Denny Crane,
and that should mean something even here.
If only she would react to him. Pulling her hips to him, he pounded her
faster, slapping her ass with each lunge, determined to make her feel
him, acknowledge his manhood in her. Her indifference spurred him on
with the need to be felt.
Then, finally, mercifully, she groaned and shifted her ass against him.
The victory sent him over, and his eyes rolled back as he choked on his
tongue and emptied his body into her. In a moment, he gathered himself
and zipped his uniform back up.
The owner jerked her chain, and the camel rose obediently and trotted
off behind him without complaint. Denny wished he'd gotten her name,
not that that made any sense.
But what sense did any of it make?
Fifty years later it made even less sense. Mossadeq was bad and had to
go; the Shah was good; the Shah was in. The Shah was bad and had to go;
Khomeini was in; Khomeini was bad and had to go-the only constant being
Oh, there was the turmoil and the fighting as well, but it wasn't
Americans dying, so that had nothing to do with us. Even though we made
damn sure we had a hand in all of it. Where did five minutes of a young
man's harmless pleasure fall on a cock-eyed scale like that?
He remembers her now not proudly, but with neither regret nor shame.
Sex is like snowflakes, each orgasm at first blush the same, but up
close each distinctive and unique. That one stands out as an elegant
ice crystal to a young boy that first stung but then melted deliciously
on the tongue.
And he would never
look at a camel hair coat the
same way again.