Friday, February 19, 2010

#fridayflash

Small Victories


I recall the day with the same clarity I remember other significant events in my life. My wedding day, the birth of my child, the death of my father.

We crossed into Turkey early that morning. The traffic was heavy driving into Istanbul and a poisonous brown cloud hung over the metropolis of 7 million.

We, the travelers in the back of the Bedford truck, were hung over this morning and any conversation was forced and brief.

Drinking alcohol on the truck was now banned due to an unfortunate incident the evening before when Englishmen, Robert and George, tried to pitch Aussie Tim off the back of the truck. I doubt there was intentional malevolence, just a shortness of patience and lack of better judgment due to the excessive ouzo consumed that evening. And that afternoon…and perhaps in the morning.

Our guide expressed his concern about this behaviour in a monologue of expletives. “We’re in a Muslim country, you wankers!” he shouted. “That sort of bloody behaviour could land me, the person in charge, in jail cell full of thugs and fucking sodomites!” Nobody needed reminding about the treatment of foreign prisoners in the movie “Midnight Express.”

I was lost in my thoughts of this new society. Hypnotized by the barren landscape dotted with squalid, little shacks. I hardly noticed the blue, armoured van slowly cruising up the left side of our truck. The rusty vehicle had wobbly wheels and darkened, barred windows. The van’s roof had a small hatch that was popped open, I presumed, for ventilation.

A dark, hairy fist suddenly protruded from the opening. A shiny, steel handcuff was fastened to the thin wrist and a chain hanging from it fell into the depths of the vehicle. The fingers of the hand slowly splayed out, attempting to catch some of the cooler exterior air.

The fist suddenly flashed a ‘Vee’ for victory sign. The gesture, perhaps a final display of defiance, lasted only a few seconds. A leather-gloved hand grabbed the chain, near the manacle, and yanked it into the depths of the vehicle.

Often, when the day is endless and I’m trapped in a long, boring meeting I will remember that day. It was a small victory in the man’s life, but the grand gesture has stuck with me for years.

20 comments:

Cathy Olliffe said...

Reading this, with my first cup of coffee in the morning, is why I got out of bed this morning.
Your grand gesture will linger with me for the rest of the day, I am sure.

Debbie said...

Thanks Alan. That was awesome.

Anton Gully said...

Nice work Alan!

Laurita said...

This will stay with me for quite some time. Very thought provoking. Well done, Alan.

Aaron Polson said...

Cheers, Alan. *holds hand up in a 'V'*

This one's going to get me through my day.

katey said...

Yeah, I'm going to carry this one with me. Well done, sir!

DEZMOND said...

The story is very gripping, although I must say I don't like when writers (and everyone else for that matter) use some superficial prejudices that exist about some countries (especially the poorer ones) to set their plot and create the atmosphere. In that way they are just spreading the prejudices even more.

Natalie L. Sin said...

That was gorgeous.

Alan W. Davidson said...

Cathy, Thanks. I'm glad you liked it.

Debbie, No. Thank you! I'd still like to get a critique group together one of these days (if there are enough folks that can fit it into their busy schedules...)

Anton, Thank you, sir!

Laurita, Thanks for the kind words.

Aaron & Katey, You're both very kind. I appreciate the support.

Dez, The point of the story was not to point out conditions in prisons in certain countries. I should point out that other movies set in prisons have taken place in countries that are not poor. For example "The Shawshanke Redemption" set in the USA and "Fortune and Men's Eyes" set in Canada both depict brutal conditions in prison.

The only reason I selected Turkey is because that is where the 'real life' event this story is based on took place. My apologies to you, my friend, if I have offended you in any way.

Natalie, Thanks a lot!

Laura Eno said...

Sometimes it's the little things that make the most impact.

CJ Hodges MacFarlane said...

This is one of those stories you see, not read. Excellent!

DEZMOND said...

Off course you haven't offended me, Alan.
It's just that whenever you read some story or hear some news about Turkey, Iraq, Russian countries, Balkan countries etc... it's always set in some dark atmosphere. And when people hear or read for million times how Turkey, for example, is a despotic country in which people have no human rights, those people will create prejudices in their minds about the given country. That's how western media leads propaganda wars - by releasing false stories, delusive images and subjective comments they paint the picture they need for their political purposes.
When USA and NATO were bombing my country in 1999. in order to justify that atrocity, all of the western news channels were portraying my country as poor, undeveloped one somewhere in the middle of nowhere, while the truth is that Serbia is a modern country, with modern towns and cities just like in any American state. But when people saw the false images of my country on those news channels, it was easier for them to accept the bombing and killings of innocent people because they thought the bombs were falling over some dessert, over some small villages, over some tribal, medieval people.....
That's why I hate propaganda and prejudices.

Akasha Savage. said...

I enjoyed that. Well Done on another good bit of Friday Fiction.

mazzz_in_Leeds said...

When I was growing up in Greece and visiting the islands, you could always tell wchich tourists had been on the ouzo - they were the ones with their faces nearest the gutter...

That was a good slice, I am left wondering abut the owner of the hand

thebokchoy said...

Strong, powerful stuff. Awesome story.

Alan W. Davidson said...

Laura, Words to live by...

CJ, Thanks for those kind words.

Dez, I am glad that you're not offended. I completely understand what you're saying about propoganda and it's negative effects. I was in the former Yugoslavia in 1990 and agree that Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro, etc. are beautiful, modern countries with many cultural differences. I hope that peace always remains.

Akasha, Many thanks to you! Will you be jumping into the fray one of these days?

Mazz, I witnessed those with their faces in the gutter. Ouzo should only be consumed in small doses...I'm glad that you liked the story. I often wonder about him too.

Jared, Thanks for your kind words.

Linda said...

Fabulous Alan. Got this great big feel-good feeling in my heart. Thank you so much for visiting my blog, cuz now I've found yours. peace, Linda

pegjet said...

Every small gesture has huge impact. Thanks for the reminder. I enjoyed this.

Alan W. Davidson said...

Linda, Thanks very much.

Peggy, I'm glad that you liked it. Very true about the 'small gestures.'

Eric J. Krause said...

Excellent story. The description throughout was great, and the message at the end was terrific. Very well done!