Previously on The Arab Night series: The Golden Nut
8:15 P.M. – TOSA Headquarters, North Virginia
“Colonel, we have positive identification of our target, but there is a problem, Sir.” A drone operator spoke into his headset as he stared at his computer screen.
“What’s the problem Sargent?” the colonel’s voice crackled through.
“Sir, the target appears to be riding a camel.”
“They have camels in Canadian prisons?! Are you sure about this Sargent?”
“Yes, Sir; the target has been circling the empty prison yard on a camel for the last 30 minutes.”
“Proceed with the strike Sargent.”
“But Sir, nothing in the WWDYWWFY protocols allows us to target animals; killing the camel might spark an international incident.”
“Fair enough. Let me consult with the chain of command and get back to you. In the meantime, if the target separates himself from the camel, strike him immediately.”
“Yes Sir! Copy!”
8:15 P.M. – Millhaven Prison Yard
“The world looks so different when you’re sitting on top of a camel”, I thought to myself as I meditatively swayed from side to side, staring into the distance, feeling utterly intoxicated by the sheer beauty of our universe.
Coming out at night and seeing my camel waiting for me was my favorite part of the day. Once I mounted him, he would suddenly rise and I would feel as if I’m being catapulted up to the heavens, leaving behind all my worries and troubles, feeling the heavy yoke of prison slide off me like water. The experience was mystical.
His name was Hump… Donald Hump.
I got him a few months ago after winning a lawsuit against the government for illegally placing me in solidary confinement for years. I’ve always been a reasonable man, so when the judge ruled in my favour and asked me what I wanted for compensation, I stood up, and without hesitation, reasonably asked for either a trillion dollars or a camel. Reasonable men always provide options.
The judge immediately applauded me for my reasonableness and turned towards the Crown for his response, but before he could fully turn, the Crown had already stood up and almost tripped over his words as he quickly said: “We’llGiveHimTheCamelYourHonour!TheCamel!HeCanHaveTheCamel!”
Everyone was happy with this outcome, except, of course, for Corrections Canada, which had to airlift a camel from the deserts of Arabia and house it in a maximum-security prison. In the days before the arrival of Donald, I was so ecstatic that I could hardly sleep. (Even when I did catch a nap, all I dreamt about was camels). Finally, one day as I was pacing in my cell with anxious anticipation, … clinkclinkclinkclinkDUFF!
My cell door opened as I simultaneously heard these heavenly words get announced over the P.A. system: “Mr Amara. Head to the yard, please. Your camel is here. Your camel is here.”
I quickly put on my clothes and practically ran to the yard.
When I first locked eyes with Donald, I felt an instant connection. I could sense that he felt relieved to see a fellow desert dweller. Standing beside Donald was a camel expert wearing a Safari hat. He was there to teach me how to take care of him, but to both my surprise and his, I needed no training! Everything came to me naturally! The expert mused that I was genetically predisposed to handling camels, and with sincere sadness, said that I missed my calling in life.
At first, I wanted to call my camel Al Jamal Al Kabeer, “The Great Camel”, but I feared that such a name would hamper his assimilation into Canadian society. I didn’t want him to be one of those guys who always had to introduce himself by saying, “My name is Al Jamal Al Kabeer, but you can call me Al”, so I just called him “Donald”. The “Hump” part came later, when I told my friend Herb what his name was, and he instantly blurted out: “Donald Hump!”. When the other prisoners standing nearby heard this, they all began chanting, “Donald Hump! Donald Hump!”
Instantly, Donald became the center of our attention, the number one reason why we went outside. In fact, some men who never used to come out before began doing so when Donald arrived. One thing that struck me was the instant calming effect that being with Donald had on them. They all seemed to turn into innocent children when he was around.
Donald had many skills and talents, the most surprising of which was his ability to run towards a football and kick it. Sometimes he would kick it so far and high, that it would go beyond the fence. Soon after discovering this talent, prisoners began to place bets on where the ball would land. This betting game usually started with the customary: “Donald Hump! Donald Hump!”
Which would soon be followed by,
“Kick that ball! Kick that ball!”
Upon hearing this, Donald’s ears would perk up and he would begin to strut with pride towards the center of the yard where the ball was waiting for him.
Whenever a new prisoner arrived, Donald had a funny habit of groaning with surprise upon seeing them; he would then quickly walk over to the nearest fence and look up at the razor wire, look back at me, and then look back up at the wire again. You see, in his mind, Donald thought that the fence was there to prevent people from coming in, yet in they came each day. This absolutely baffled him!
Tonight was a good night.
It was time for me to pray, so I softly tapped Donald on his side and he gracefully kneeled down as I dismounted him. While gently patting him on the head, I smiled as I watched him eat dates from my hand. I then walked over to a grassy patch and began to pray.
As I prostrated my face on the ground, I asked God to take care of my beautiful daughter and to forgive me for my shortcomings, especially the mess I left behind as a younger man.
The world can be a painful place to live in. It’s only here, between the hands of my Maker, that I have ever felt most accepted, most loved. A serene feeling overcame me and my tears began to flow, as did my buried pain. Suddenly, my vision was filled with light that enveloped everything. Time seemed to pause and move swiftly all at once: I saw flowers of all kinds bursting forth in slow and fast motion; blue, yellow, and crimson red…
8:20 P.M. – TOSA Headquarters, North Virginia
“Colonel, the target has been hit.”
“Is that animal still alive?”
“Uh, are you referring to the camel Sir?”
“The camel is unharmed, Sir?”
“Good work! Fly the drone back to home base and prepare for debriefing.”
“Yes, Sir. Copy.”