Chapter 7

 

Running along the riverbank at a pace nobody could keep up with, a clean get away.  The sparse landscape has suddenly changed.  The swaying Palm groves dotting the skyline along the bank of the turquoise Euphrates informs him the destination is near.  How far exactly he had traveled was hard too tell.   Steadily for two days he has been running upriver.  He just keeps pushing himself forward.  He stops abruptly; the greenery has been freshly cut here. Is this the right clearing, he wonders?   He bends halfway over placing each hand atop each knee breathing finally able to catch his breath.  His white Levi Jeans are rolled up leaving his calves exposed.  The water rushes over and around covering most of his calves. His countenance is enhanced, only briefly, and then subdues as it flashes in his mind wondering if Becka is still waiting after all this time, he somehow has to reach her.  Enticing is the sweet allure and dampness of the air which he is too quickly becoming accustomed to.  It has been a long time since he has seen the light of day.  He is hesitant to leave the flow of the river to take cover for the night.  If they are still tracking him this will give his location away, yet he must.  Before he does so, he surrenders to his thirst; he lies down in the water, close to the bank.   Drinking his fill and feeling the rush of the cool water drench his body. He pulls himself out of his nightmare, lying upon the clay of the waters edge.  He sees an eagle circling overhead.  He leans back into the water for another fill.  He looks at his reflection; slowly he touches his face as he touches his skin blood oozes out of his pores.  His reflection is hard to recognize even by him.  He had been so badly whipped and brutalized; his body is still aching with pain.  The bloodied water slowly floats along top and washes away downriver.  They must have thought I was dead.  Maybe I am.  I am sure feeling that way.  If I am dead then this would be an extension of hell because that is where I just escaped from. He looks around, and then says, “Ah it’s too beautiful here and I just quenched my thirst.”  He laughs out loud; as he does his laughter is caught by the breeze that takes it skipping across the river then echoing through the trees. 

McClouds thoughts begin racing again wondering if this was the right plan.  He looks at the darkening sky and determines he should find a place to take cover.  As he stands the cool breeze that had blown in makes a shiver pass like ice through his chest.   Through the clearing he sees an orchard of pomegranate trees yonder in the distance.  His leg starts to ache he knows he has to take a look when he finds a place where he can rest.  By this time he is hungry as well.  He cautiously heads through the clearing.  Perhaps if it rains it will take care of his footprints. The wound on his calf so deep keeps breaking open as he is walking; so instead of waiting, he quickly unrolls his pants knowing it will hinder the wound from splitting apart, some.  As he nears the pomegranate orchard, the fragrance of the tress blossoming surrounds him. He walks until he reaches the trees on the outskirt of the orchard, just as the lingering light of day begins to ebb.  Stomping down the stubble near the trees, he lays down.  His heart is still pounding in his throat.   He used to like the outdoors now all he can think of is being somewhere else.  He starts drifting off into an unsettled rest.

What must have been hours passed by before the howling of a dog breaks the silence arousing him.  Perhaps they had picked up his scent he wonders.  It is very early morning and still darkened; the clouds had broken into islands overhead.  He hears the crackle of fallen twigs and dried foliage not far from him.  Picking up a few stones, he quickly arises to his feet and peers out into the depth.  The glowing eyes of a dog gleam as it howls and hurls itself forward.  Without hesitation aiming precisely he throws; no arm wrestling with any animals today.  The yelps inform him, he didn’t miss.  With two or three more stones in hand he starts toward the dog now silent.  Hints of moonlight stream down between the islands lighting his path.

As he approaches the dog, a young woman’s voice loudly demands, “Drop it Mister.”  A ray of moonlight bounces off the rifle that is by far too big for her she is trying to keep in hand.  She suddenly drops to huddle over her dog lying on the ground.  McCloud recognizes Becka and her dog, hastily he moves toward them but had not thought to throw away the stones. 

“Don’t you come any closer, you hear me,” she shouts with resolve, staring ahead, though not completely taking her eyes off her dog.  He stops.  She turns her attention back to the silent dog.  She is trying to get the dog to come to. 

“Just have a few stones and am getting rid of them,” he states as he slowly drops them.  She jumps a little at the sound of the stones hitting the earth,” then their eyes meet as he moves closer.  Her brittleness turns into a sullen question, “McCloud.”  Another ray of moonlight bounces off of the rifle as she throws it on the ground toward the backside of the dog.  The gun goes off, Becka races to make sure the safety is on and then carefully removes it to a safer distance away, speaking as she does this, “I am so thankful that missed us all.”

“That was a close one, you know how to ruin a party,” McCloud chuckles. 

“Oh Yonas,” he says as he moves next to them.  He bends down as they both pat and speak to the wounded dog. 

The dog had briefly come to as the gun went off, and then had closed his eyes again.  Becka starts explaining, “He would not let me sleep last night he almost dragged me out here, after awhile even I could not wait until it was daylight, I just had to come and see what was out here.  He knew it was you McCloud.  How did you get here,” she questions.  Her attention leaves Yonas as she holds her lantern towards McCloud then gasps with horror because of his condition, his swollen face, then Becka looks over the rest of him, her mouth drops, not sure what she should do. She starts to weep and to kiss his hands a hundred times then as she sees the bloody and torn skin she tenderly let go.  She wipes away the tears of joy and anguish that roll together down her cheeks.  Moving back as she does not want the salt from her tears to brutalize his ripped skin.  She starts to see clearer his beaten body, she can only cry and wail, and at the same time is more than thankful to see what remains of him alive his soul still shining through.

 “I can help,” McCloud speaks.   She moves slightly to the side as he comes forward to pick up Yonas.  But Becka, frantically says, “Oh please don’t McCloud, we can wait here for a bit and if he doesn’t come to, I’ll come back tomorrow and bury him.  I would rather do that than have you carry him, in your condition, which you would.” 

The sweet smell of the air brisked by then together they feel a droplet or two of rain starting.   Yonases eyes open, as the rain hits upon his furry coat and face. Looking around first then he gets up shaking the rain off.  Yonas soon overjoyed as he gets close to McCloud, as if telling Becka, “I told you so,” becomes playful as a pup then takes off ahead of them then back to them then ahead, this continues all the way home. Becka and McCloud relieved Yonas would be fine.  Especially McCloud he knows how much Becka loves Yonas and yes he must admit he loves Yonas as well.

Their walk through the orchard is accompanied by a light drizzle of rain.  By the time they reach the back fence the first light of day has changed the dark clouds into grey.  The thunder roars in the distance.  Becka stops apprehensively as they walk through the gate. McCloud has made his way through the yard, waiting for her he turns around to see what was taking her and waits.  She could not believe it was him then hurries to hold the door for him.  He steps inside and looks around a bit.  Yonas has waited his turn then scampers in after them.  Becka closes the door, props her rifle to the side of the sofa and sets her lantern in front of it.  Then she leaves the room. 

McCloud couldn’t help but notice the elegance of the place with exquisite antique furnishings.

“It is one of the places my Grandparent’s own and they never have been able to sell, they come here sometimes when it is winter back home,” Becka explains while coming into the room catching him with his thoughts.  Becka’s carrying a box filled with scissors, needle, tape, medicines, a shot needle, soap, thermometer, other miscellaneous items and towels then lays them all out on the sitting table.  Noticing he is a little surprised by her cache she explains, out here one has to be prepared for man and beast.  She then slips into the kitchen to boil water.  She paces back and forth between both rooms chatting cheerfully until the water begins boiling.  She brings the water along with two glasses of wine both for him. “One for each hand, for medicinal purposes,” she states.  As he raises his arm and opens his hand to take one Becka nearly drops the glasses when she sees McClouds hands are in no condition to hold onto even one.  So she holds them but he will only take just one sip.  “Please don’t think of going anywhere until you are better,” Becka begs.  She remembers something; she runs over to her purse and brings out a bottle of anointing oil.  They say a prayer together.  Then she pours it onto his wounds.  He says another prayer. They could both hear the rain bouncing off the window panes.   Becka still confounded by the extent of his infliction, “They must have wanted you dead,” she says as her eyes examine him. There was a loud burst of thunder, which makes them both stop and wait for a moment before they continue speaking.

 “No doubt that was the general idea,” he said as the storm continues to rumble outside.

“They are terrible monsters,” Becka exasperatingly states.

 “I’ll have to give you that one,” McCloud states.   He said he would eat a little so walking over to the little brown radio she flips it on as she states, “A little relaxing music sure wouldn’t hurt.” McCloud raises his eyebrows.

Music from the radio fills the room.  Before she leaves the room she walks over to Yonas pats his furry coat, humming along with the radio, then walks into the kitchen.  The sound of pots, pans and blender are long forgotten sounds of home for McCloud.   Becka comes back a short time later with a tray of food setting it over by McCloud.  “Here try this,” Becka says as she gives him a taste of the sweet concoction.  Then she elaborates, “It is what my Grandmother used to make me when I was young and came for a visit.  The main ingredient is frozen Pomegranate juice, she calls it Pomegranate Milk.  McCloud likes it and he did eat a bit.  While he does Becka goes down the hall she brings back some clothes then offers McCloud, “There’s a shower down the hall, a bedroom to the left now yours, I’ll just set these on the bed or I’ll just set these here and you can choose where to lay down.”

McCloud’s sees an ivory statue; he immediately stands up to examine it, he picks up the statue. Becka becomes puzzled why he is so interested, as he runs his fingers across the markings on the bottom.  He then questions Becka, “Where did you get this from?”  “My Father brought it, several days ago,” she hesitantly answers him still puzzled.  “Where is he now,” he asks. He hands it to her, and then walks back to the couch as she follows him and sits by him. 

She aloofly answers, “Not far from here, Father went to speak with some friends yesterday they must have talked him into staying or he needed to.”  She wonders about the ivory statue but mostly what happened after she left Afghanistan four years ago and why he sent her here to Haditha, finally she could not contain and burst, “Please tell me what happened after I left.”

“The trouble is I have more questions myself than you do, so I guess we’re even.  To set the record straight first tell me where the man is those clothes belong to,” McCloud questions. 

 “I hope you know who they belong to.  And you are asking me too many questions after all this time before I know what you intend to do,” Becka says prolonging her reply. 

“My destiny is already spoken for Becka, I believe you’re in it,” he quietly adds, “I haven’t had that great of luck with those I’ve happened to run across, you know,” his tone diminishes as he explains. 

Then she answers his question, “They belong to you do you remember,” Becka asks, then a slow remembering nod comes forth from him.  Then Becka says, “I’ve had them boxed up since,” then she stops. 

“Since what,” McCloud spoke persuading her to finish.  “Since, you sent me here, instead of continuing on, ok,” she said with a stiff upper lip, still difficult for her to accept.

“Really, well, I am glad you didn’t shoot me out there earlier,” he responds, trying to humor her, partly taken back by her recollection, for he remembered it differently. He takes hold of her hand then says, “It’s about time we get this settled between us….

“We’ve just had another update,” blared from the radio to steal the moment.  “An escaped prisoner is on the loose and considered dangerous. A news reporter suspected of knowing the whereabouts of Usama Bin Laden.  Again, has escaped.”  Both were listening.  It is Becka that coolly interjects, “As you can see, they do not know what they are talking of, so things have become what they are.”  They both listen to the wind blowing the storm in, rustling through the trees hitting against the roof.

“Well it’s a long story and I’m not sure I should take the time needed to detail it for you besides, I’ve got some things that I need to figure out,” he finishes. 

Becka adamantly begs, “I have time and I want to hear the details, so,” she reasons, “Please tell me what you can.”  McCloud not to anxious to believe her trustworthy with all his secrets ponders what to tell her.

 The loud burst of thunder and streak of lightening brings Becka to her feet. 

“He forced you to help him,” Becka asks, trying to fit all the pieces together, as she sits back down next to him, wondering if they were speaking of the same man.  They both are watching the raindrops run down the window panes. 

“I could not help them,” McCloud remarks.  He looks at the wedding ring she is wearing. She looks at his and has wondered if he would ever return.

Then she remarks, “Allah would.”

 McCloud agrees, “Yes, and he must have.  They took me up to that death enchanted place under lock and key, I was supposed to be a visitor.”   In trying to leave the painful memories behind, the more they flooded forward.  And now with fresh new ones he only had one goal to achieve. 

“They think they can set up the future,” Becka states.

McCloud responds, “Remember that,” then continues telling Becka, “No judicial oversight, renditions, such abhorrent hypocrisies of human decency took place at Abu Ghraib.  And I have pictures; he opens his shirt and pulls off the tape that was securely holding the small digital camera Major had purchased for him.  It was securely wrapped in a small plastic covering. With one picture deemed worth a thousand words, I am certain once the pictures circulate throughout the world it will bring in a new era. Some justice finally or there will be a humanitarian outcry for democracy. As we claim to be a civilized society, a religious nation under God. Then he exclaimed further, “There has to be an onslaught of people that care about the Lord’s laws, treaties, Geneva Conventions, laws our forefathers taught, right? Then one day it happened, I knew I could escape.    

Major storms in the door; he is unnerved, apparently had heard every bit of the news and knew he would be here.  “My boy,” he says the excitement built in his voice carries vividly; he had not waited to reach McCloud before speaking.  Then when he can clearly see McCloud he stops abruptly, his face turns ghastly pale, and he starts to weep.  He sits down on the other side of McCloud unable to speak.  They all began to weep.  And things would never be the same again.

It took a very long time before anyone could speak.  It was Becka who first spoke her voice ever so soft one could barley hear her, “We were just filling in the blanks for one another.” 

“They condoned outright human abuse.  They justified and horrified and justified again.  There were renditions, black site atrocities, and executions by the push of a button as a drone in the sky executed the forbidden punishment,” McCloud confided.

Accepted without the least bit of remorse

Revelations 13:13

And he doeth great wonders, so

That he maketh fire come down from

Heaven on earth in the sight of

Men,

14 And deceiveth them that dwell

On the earth by the means of those

Miracles which he had power to do

In the sight of the beast; saying to

Them that dwell on the earth, that

They should make an image to the

Beast, which had the wound by a

Sword, and did live.

15 And he had power to give life

Unto the image of the beast, that the

Image of the beast should both

Speak, and cause that as many as

Would not worship the image of the

Beast should be killed.

 

“Someone tried to stop them.  I know, we all watched in horror as Usama Bin Laden with precision timing took out revenge on 911. He used their cache of Islamic fighters back against the Globalists.  He knew all their dirty tricks and used every one,” Major states.  Then he continues, “They finally received their Northwood’s every aspect of it.  The kind of country the Fourth Reich wanted to turn America in to, close at hand, a banana republic.  They prepared ahead to take full reign quickly, expeditiously. They finally achieved their Nadir as the Fourth Reich knew everything and they let his men, even helped as they slipped through the portal; they knew every one.   

Is it crystal?  Personal sacrifice of freedom is a small price to pay in return for protection became their motto and they quickly enhanced their power step by step from their articulated positions.

Usama Bin Laden did he know of the scheduled military training that went off without a hitch on 911?  No he didn’t. 

Is it a mere coincidence September 11th was the 60th anniversary of the Pentagon’s original groundbreaking?

The real incriminating evidence to speak of, buried after all these years, so they think.

Then right on the heels of 911 another story altogether was the anthrax case.  When it comes to handling cases, you really have to hand it to somebody, on how to destroy crucial evidence used for US military research as it was on October 10-11, 2001.  The original Ames spores expeditiously destroyed the crucial evidence that would have more than likely pinpointed who-dun-it.  Was it Usama Bin Laden who possessed enough overwhelming control of the US government to be able to tell the FBI to do such a thing? That question I know, an absurdity to even consider, who did then?  The destruction of condemning evidence by government officials took place before the last two mailings even surfaced.  The real truth never told.”

 “So many more truths to discover,” McCloud said interested.

We’ll have more on another day

Becka extremely thankful for the Lord’s precious love, gracious non-stop help and sublime patience, humbly says, “We should all worship Heavenly Father and his son Jesus Christ to which I give them all the divine credit for everything they have accomplished, all they have helped me with, helped those that want help, all that is good, for justice, for mercy, for truth, for hope.    It is because of their most divine sacrifices we even exist today brought about from their desire and perseverance to save us all.  Their truths are holy and forthright of which no others are even minutely worthy because Heavenly Father and his Son are worthy and we are not; pray for world peace.  May they light the way out of this dreary lifestyle.