Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4175)

Sitting Thirty-Eight

Before Karin really had a chance to absorb what the editor had said, or even welcome him for that matter, Iz and Pal came running out of the tent, tossing the bullhorn down the hill, and disappeared inside the portable toilet, slamming the door behind them.

The editor quipped to Karin, “I guess that would be the visual representation of getting the crap out of here.”

She smirked and feigned a chuckle. It really wasn’t that funny but the attempt at humor was certainly welcome in the midst of the ongoing farce.

A man possessed, the politician screamed, “Who’s going with me? I’m going up there to get those boys! Who will join me?”

Before anyone could respond to him, attention was diverted toward two huge clouds of dust billowing across the desert in the near distance, heading this way.

The rally-goers just stared, and in less than a minute a pair of stretch limousines, bright yellow, came speeding their way into the camp. The limousines came to a halt and men jumped out of the doors, popping everywhere. Finally, after many had made their exits, one short, portly man in a yellow suit emerged from one vehicle.

He wasted no time. He apparently seemed to know his mission, slowly climbing the hill with a friend and heading toward the Port-a-John.

The politician squinted, staring at the arriver. “Who’s that?” he asked to no one in particular.

Karin looked over at the editor, who grinned. “I told you—I made some calls.”

The large tubby man dressed in yellow arrived at the Port-a-John and politely knocked. For about thirty seconds, there was an inaudible conversation going on through the door. Then all at once it opened, and he went inside, slamming it behind him.

Karin was not quite sure what the occupancy limitation was on a Port-a-John, but considering the girth of the yellow man, they had certainly reached it.

The crowd turned silent, standing like statues, gawking at the scene. The politician was just about to raise his bullhorn when even more clouds of dust appeared in the distance. Rumbling, nearly sounding like they were growling, three humongous truck/vans, looking like huge cracker boxes on wheels, arrived with smoke and heat, backing up the crowd and leaving the surrounding folk encased, choking in dust.

These trucks were bright orange with yellow spheres on the side, with lettering in green: I-E-A. Inscribed beneath the sphere in script were the words, “International Environmental Agency.”

It looked and felt very official. The back door of one of the vehicles slid open and out jumped one—two—three—six—eleven men donned in shimmering orange suits with air hoses and plastic faces in the front, looking like they had landed from outer space. Simultaneously, the other two trucks opened up. More orange-suited creatures leapt to the ground, bustling and hustling, nearly knocking over unsuspecting townspeople.

Karin soon lost count. Thirty? Forty? Maybe even fifty. She had never realized how frightening activity could be—how overwhelming it was just to be surrounded and encompassed by so much orange.

The audience, startled, having not recovered from the first barrage of vehicles, was inundated by the arrival of still more. These were smaller, purple trucks—four in all—with a white sphere on the side, bearing a large A-I—“Armistice International.” These trucks were occupied with people dressed in purple jumpsuits, who unloaded equipment, machines, computers and what appeared to be metal detectors.

Suddenly, the tiny hill in the middle of nowhere was transformed into a beehive of activity. There must have been nearly one hundred technicians, constructing a headquarters and gradually moving up the hillside toward “Camp Iz and Pal.”

Several of the orange-clad invaders took off their headgear. They were women—tall, Nordic and stern. They passed leaflets out to all the people. Karin looked over at the editor. He was wide-eyed with wonder. Breathlessly he exclaimed, “I didn’t make this many calls!”

Then one of the leaflets was thrust into Karin’s hands. She glanced down and read it.

“You must disperse immediately. You are trespassing on private property and interfering with an international investigation. This area is off-limits to the public and has been deemed to be an unsafe locale with a possibility of toxic waste and a location of deadly weapons and war mines. You have ten minutes to vacate or be arrested.”

Karin couldn’t think. Nothing seemed to make sense. What was going on? Then she looked up the hill and saw the stout man in yellow (strongly resembling a walking lemon) emerge from the portable toilet. As soon as he stepped out, he motioned and ten men climbed up, picked up the toilet, carried it down the hill and carefully slid it into the back of one of the orange trucks—apparently Iz and Pal therein.

Then the rest of the army of orange and purple beavers busied themselves pulling down the tent, picking up garbage, digging holes, placing unknown specimens into plastic bags, while running other pieces of garbage under detectors.

The teams of purple and orange were a professional whirlwind, and within five minutes’ time it was as if the boys had never been there, in the solitude of the sand.

Holes were placed in the ground, encircling the entire region with orange tape, warning “TOXIC WASTE.”

Meanwhile, people stumbled to leave—at first slowly, and then at a frantic clip, as if running from monsters.

Karin stood and stared at the scene before her. She had to do something.

Then the truck containing the “Iz and Pal Port-a-John” slammed its door shut, the mysterious man in yellow climbed into his limousine, and the vehicles headed off toward the city.

Karin tried to scream her objection, but everything was so loud that her voice made no sound.

 

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Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4168)

Sitting Thirty-Seven

Thursday insisted on following Wednesday.

The rally was set to begin at 1:00 P. M. Karin decided to arrive half an hour early. There was already quite a crowd gathering—milling around, glancing at one another to see if anyone had an idea on what was going on. She had tried to call her editor to see what his intentions were about attending the event but there was no answer. She sure could have used his grouchy kindness at this point.

Ever increasingly, a stream of people in cars, jeeps and even some with bicycles, paraded into the desert scene. They toted signs:

“Boys go home!”

“Honor your father!”

“Jews are Jews and Arabs are Arabs!”

“Spare the rod and spoil the child!”

And one particularly nasty one proclaimed, “Ishmael was a bastard.” Fortunately, a couple of fervent Muslims came and tore it up before too much display time was possible.

At 1:00 P. M. sharp, with about two hundred folks gathered, the politician stepped lively to the forefront, carrying a bullhorn. Karin could tell he was a politician because he was smiling too much, shook everyone’s hand and had a huge button on his lapel with a picture of himself. He addressed the crowd through the bullhorn.

“My dear citizens, we are gathered here today to right a wrong. It is not often that we are able to have such a power, such a privilege. Today, we can restore these boys back to their divine, loving position. Today, we can bring together God’s greatest gift, and God’s amazing unit—the family. For these two boys have gone on errant ways, hearing the deceiving voice of rebellion, and have abandoned both their senses, their cultures and their homes. We are here to see an end to foolishness. We are here to see the restitution of what is right. Yes, the rejoining of what has been broken.”

The politician pulled down the bullhorn and lifted his right arm into the air, as if inviting a smattering of applause in the desert heat. He then made a dramatic turn toward the encampment of the boys. Karin and the entire assembly, en masse, as if on cue, pivoted to view.

The region around where the boys had settled was a disaster area. After many weeks, garbage was everywhere, along with construction cones, Port-a-johns, fast food wrappers and magazines blowing in the wind—a landscape of disarray.

“Jubal and Amir!” bellowed the politician through the bullhorn, “Come out and be restored to your families.” An anemic cheer came from the observers in response to the beckoning.

But the boys were nowhere in sight.

After about thirty seconds, the politician repeated his plea. Then, a very faint sound. A tiny voice, almost inaudible, came from inside the tent. The people turned to each other, trying to figure out what had been spoken, so the politician lifted his bullhorn and said, “What? We can’t hear you.”

Karin, exasperated, shouted. “That’s because they don’t have a bullhorn.” She shocked herself. Everyone turned to peer at her with mingled expressions—part in agreement, but mostly disapproving.

Quickly, a second bullhorn was located, and a young boy was summoned to run it up the hill as far as he could, watching for danger, and throw it near the tent opening. Completing the mission, he returned, to a few cheers from the crowd. And then, an arm reached out to pull the bullhorn into the tent.

The politician summoned, “Now you can speak, and we can hear you.”

All at once there was a screech from the enclosure followed by a phony, basso profundo voice. “I am the Lord your God.”

There was a little giggle at the end, which came through the bullhorn loud and clear.

Some chuckles trickled through the gathered horde, quickly terminated by the politician holding up his hand. “Jubal and Amir, we want you to come out and be restored to your families.”

A delay.

Then Iz spoke through the bullhorn—much more basso profundo. “Man with the loud voice, I am the Lord your God. I want you to leave the boys alone.”

Then Pal came on with his own God-impersonation. “Don’t listen to him. I am the Lord your God.” More stifled laughter.

The politician dropped the bullhorn to his side in disgust. He turned to the audience and pleaded, “This is not funny. We’ll just have to go up and get them.”

A lady raised her hand and spoke from the midst. “I’ve heard they have weapons.”

“A grenade,” quickly confirmed a man.

“Does anyone know this for sure?” asked the politician, scanning the gathering.

An unseen man in the back piped in. “No. But I’m not willing to find out.” A few more chuckles.

Suddenly, another screech came from the tent—Iz, singing.

“I’m gonna rock and roll…all night. And party every day!”

He sang it again, this time with Pal joining him.

The politician was furious, finished with any negotiations. “They’re just mocking us!”

Karin felt a light tap on her shoulder. She turned, and there was her editor. He whispered, “Hold on. I think it’s about to get really interesting…”

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Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4161)

Sitting Thirty-Six

Most people knew him as the editor of the newspaper but were unaware of his name nor anything about his background.

He liked it that way.

It had been his experience that the more people know about you, the less they are truly concerned and the more interfering they become.

He knew who he was. His name was Alexander Omar Percea. He was a confirmed bachelor and he was old enough that it was wise to forget the exact number.

He had been raised by an Egyptian diplomat who had made it his mission to set in motion peace talks between the Arabs and the Israelis. His father was a gentle man, who became more irritated and agonized over the years as there was no progress toward understanding. Yet he taught his son one very important rule: once you have done what is available to be done by you, don’t do any more. He explained to his young offspring that lamenting the opportunity to change the world only leaves one hating the people in it.

Alexander considered many occupations where he could pursue his aspirations and finally landed on journalism.

But now that the printed word was becoming less and less appreciated and effective, he took his father’s advice. He continued to do what he knew how to do and let it play out however it wanted to play out.

Alexander had the guideline of never getting involved in the type of adventure which had left his father dead of a stroke at age fifty-six. He loved his father very much, but as a young man, he stood back watching the soul of his dad being eaten by the wolves of indifference.

Not for him. Matter of fact, he verbalized his feelings while standing over the coffin of his daddy. “Father, I love you. But I won’t be you. The world can have my time. The world can have my interest. But they shall not have my spirit.”

Alexander had settled into his role as an editor, behaving like an old chicken, pecking at words and sentence structure, putting out the very best newspaper he could. Confident that he had done so, he was able to sleep at night without having his internal being tugged from all directions.

That is, until Miss Karin (as he called her) lured him into the story of the two boys in the desert. Even while hating himself for allowing his mind to be fluttered away with concern for the lads, he acknowledged that he was entrapped—hoping that just this one time, there could be a merciful happy ending to a story in his homeland instead of death and destruction.

He couldn’t sleep. He couldn’t think. He found himself worrying, much the way his father had over his two “children”—Israel and Palestine.

But as promised, Editor Alexander Omar Percea sat down and did what he could for the cause and was finally able to convince himself that it was enough—because it was all he had.

He prayed. Not just to one God; Allah, Jehovah, Jesus, Buddha–to every religious icon he could think of. There was no need to leave any deity ignored when Iz and Pal could use all the help that heaven and Earth could muster.

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Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4154)

Sitting Thirty-Five

Karin found it difficult to discover what to do with herself on the Wednesday before the rally. An uneasy sense of doom and gloom had settled in her soul and was gnawing at the corners of her mind.

She could not shake it.

She resorted to one of her favorite solutions. She purchased a pint of Mackie’s Cherries Fairies ice cream and ate it in one sitting. It had been known to soothe many an aching need. But on this day, even the delicious confection couldn’t aid her in dispelling the sensation that something very idiotic might happen on Thursday.

Karin was not given to depression, but optimism was certainly not one of her strong suits. Her faith in humanity had been shaken early and hard. She found it difficult to believe there were people who could muster either the mercy or the wisdom to bring about a happy ending to any tale, especially one involving two young men in the desert who were defying the structure of their rickety culture.

She actually considered praying for rain. But she always felt funny when she prayed—she could never figure out which parts of faith were childish dreams and what portions might be linked to some divine order. It was difficult for her to imagine why the God of the Universe would take time commiserating with bitching mortals.

But she decided to go ahead and pursue a prayer life one more time—just maybe for an earthquake to come along. A tiny one. Not to hurt anyone. Just strong enough to knock over some file cabinets at City Hall and overturn a few chairs in people’s homes. A convenient earthquake—something to distract the hysterical masses.

The prayer actually made her feel better. For about an hour she grew content with the notion that things might just work out. But for Karin, praying was like Chinese food. It got inside, but an hour later she was fretting all over again.

Scouring her brain for anything resembling an idea that might contribute to sanity, she decided to go and meet the families of the two boys. After all, she had heard Iz and Pal’s side of the story but had never given their fathers a chance to clarify their position or make their case.

Her mind was eased simply by pursuing the research which she so loved chasing down. Today it took her to the hall of records, where she discovered that Amir’s (Pal) mother had died three years earlier from breast cancer. Amir had only one brother, older—Talsan, who attended the university with aspirations of becoming a doctor.

A fascinating piece of information turned up when she perused data on Iz’s parents. There were two parents, but with separate addresses. Karin could find no evidence of a divorce decree or any other children.

It gave her a place to start. She set out into the city on a quest to uncover some truth. Yet a short two hours later, she returned to her apartment, deflated and even more perplexed. The plan, the visit and the result turned out to be a wasteland.

Amir’s father refused to see her, speaking through the door, “I am in prayer. I cannot view a woman at this time.”

Pada was not at home and Talsan was unavailable, attending class. The only person she was able to meet face-to-face was Shelah, Iz’s mother, who lived in a small apartment just down the street and around the corner from where Iz and his father dwelled.

Shelah explained to Karin that although there was no divorce, she and Iz’s father had separated over financial disagreements and contentious arguments concerning raising the boy. She didn’t even know that Jubal was gone. Pada hadn’t told her.

Karin did not know what to do with Shelah. She possessed that Middle Eastern woman surface submission, masking a dark cloud of rage. Karin invited the mother to the rally but Shelah declined, saying she feared a confrontation of great magnitude would occur if she made an appearance. At no time did Shelah ask about Jubal’s well-being. She did not inquire as to his status, his health or his heart.

Karin was desolate. No one really cared for these two boys, just as people. They were viewed as either burdens or bedlam—bothersome or brats. But certainly forsaken and forgotten.

She was exhausted. Sitting down on her bed, slipping off her sandals and swinging her legs around, she lay down flat on her back—but her mind was actively trying to save the world.

She closed her eyes, hoping for relief. Rest was needed—for it would be necessary for her to be alive, sharp and prepared for tomorrow’s foolishness.

 

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Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4147)

Sitting Thirty-Four

Wishing the silence could continue, yet nervous over nothing being said, at length Pal spoke. “Your throw-up really smells bad. Extra bad. I think it was that fish and mustard.”

Iz took a deep breath, as if preparing for a long speil. “Yours smelled worse,” he enunciated. “It just all stunk really, really bad.”

For some reason, both Iz and Pal found this statement to be the funniest thing they’d ever heard. They laughed as much as their sore ribs would permit. After a few minutes, the giggling calmed, gradually allowing them to settle in on a refreshing still.

But determinedly, Pal once again broke the silence. “Is it really the end?”

“Well, it’s sure not the beginning,” said Iz.

A pause.

“Holy peace,” said Pal quietly.

Iz jerked his head in his friend’s direction. “What?”

“I was just remembering,” Pal’s voice sounded sleepy, almost dreamy. He continued. “When I was nine years old, Father took me to Jerusalem, and there was this man with a long beard and gray hair down his back, carrying a small sign. It read, Holy Peace. What do you think of that?”

Iz didn’t have much interest. “I don’t know.”

Pal turned toward his friend. “What is holy peace?”

“I don’t know,” Iz repeated. “Maybe just that old man’s dream.” Iz was not comfortable with the discussion, the change in emotion and the sudden solemnity.

Pal either didn’t notice or didn’t care. “I was only nine, but for some reason, those two words stuck in my mind. ‘Holy peace.’ I’ve never been able to shake them.” He glanced over at Iz to see if he was listening, then continued. “To me, holy peace is being able to do what you need to do, without hurting anyone else.”

Iz was angered by this. “How can you do that? Because if they want what you want, then there has to be a battle.”

“Does there?” challenged Pal. “I mean, if there are two of something, can’t you share one? And even if there’s one, can’t it be broken to make two? Why isn’t that possible? Is it just stupid?”

“No,” said Iz. “It’s not stupid. But it’s just the way boys think. By the time they become men, they have to have it all.”

Pal looked to the heavens and then over to his friend. There were tears in his eyes. “Here’s to staying boys.”

Iz smiled but turned away. “Holy peace,” he mused. “I guess to me, holy peace is just living in a world without being afraid that the little bit you’ve got is going to be taken away.”

“Who will take it?” asked Pal.

Iz promptly replied. “Always the ones who don’t really need it—who just want to see if they can get more.”

“Are you talking about your Pada?” questioned Pal.

“No,” spat Iz. Then he thought. “Well, maybe. He’s just a tiny version of all the craziness that lives around him. Tries to pretend to be strong because that’s what everyone tells him he should do. But he’s only strong with me, and weak with himself. He wants me to be afraid of him. I can’t do that to me…or him. I can’t live with that fear.”

“So you love your Pada?” asked Pal tenderly.

“Who knows?” replied Iz, trying to escape too much feeling. “I try. But I’m too young to know. Do you love yours?”

Pal looked down at his hands, then straight ahead. “Sometimes I wonder what his face looked like the first time he saw me—I mean, after I was born. I would love to see that face. I would love to know that for one moment, I pleased him. Iz—I want to think he loves me, but only because that’s what I’m supposed to think. Do you know what I mean?”

Iz quietly nodded his head. “Yes, I’m afraid I do. That’s why we’re here. We both got tired of guessing. Is it ever to early to start doing?”

Pal rolled over on his side. “Iz? Holy peace.”

“Yeah, what about it?” asked Iz.

“Holy peace is being with you,” said Pal sweetly.

“Same here, Pal.”

It was the last thing they remembered that Wednesday evening. The desert night stole their minds, generously providing sleep for their depleted souls.

 

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Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4140)

Sitting Thirty-Three

Wednesday night in the desert, although the unforgiving wasteland knows no season or hour.

Iz and Pal sat and watched as the sun set behind the hill. A burgeoning, chilly breeze whizzed its way past their ears, tingling their spines, causing them to draw closer to one another. It was the night before the day when everything…

Well, it seemed that everything would happen.

Wednesday had been a glorious day, chock-full of soccer, food and laughter, wrestling with each other, and questions designed to “stump your friend.” It was an ongoing Olympian marathon, trying to outdo the other fellow—gleefully making fun of each other—short of humiliation.

They had come to terms with one realization. This would be their last night in the desert, one way or another. Tomorrow they would either be overtaken by the brute force of the interfering mob, forced to return to their homes, or they would select their final option of dying together in the sand.

Emotions were colliding—joy desperately trying to keep its head up as sadness was tugging away.

Iz suggested they take this last night to eat up all the remaining food. He posed a provocative question. “Is it possible to eat until you puke?” he asked Pal, sporting a grin, but trying to maintain a certain decorum of scientific intrigue.

Pal did not know.

So the two boys were on a mission. They ate and they ate. It was not long until they were full, stuffed to the top of their eyebrows. Further eating was becoming painful. Actually, the sight of food began to make them sick. But still—they pressed on.

They devoured.

At length their throats were reluctant to swallow so they drank until their bodies sloshed. Managing some huge burps, they tried to eat some more. There were cramps, and attempts at laughter, which quickly turned into moans of pain from stomachs that were bloated from overuse.

Food supplies were lessening, and they were down to cans of provisions which were unidentifiable or deemed distasteful. At this point, Iz dug into the pile, pulled out a can of sardines, peeled back the tin lid and held up one of the yellow, drippy fishies. Reading the can, Iz proclaimed, “This one is in mustard sauce!”

That’s all Pal required. The thought of a fish swimming around in mustard was enough to cause him to unleash the burden lurking in his entrails. He threw up, laughed, coughed, threw up again, giggled—and went for a third round as Iz dangled the nasty little fish in front of his nose.

Yet it was when Iz actually ate the sardine that Pal exploded with what would be his final deluge of urping. This prompted Iz—overcome by both the scene and the smell of the fish—to join in the party, uncapping his own barrage of bellowing bounty from below.

It was a sight that would cause a mother to weep, a priest to fast and pray, and anyone feeling the least little bit queasy to join up and join in.

But to Iz and Pal, the brothers in the desert, it was the greatest fun in the world.

Regaining their composure, they shoveled sand over the remains and lay down on the desert, trying to recover from the ache of regurgitation. Breathing heavily, staring at the night sky, they still managed an occasional giggle.

This was their moment. They were desperately grasping onto it with all their might.

 

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Published in: on August 18, 2019 at 7:43 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4126)

Sitting Thirty-One

And then all at once, an interruption came to rob the attention from the cause. The priest sank to his knees, seemingly overcome by the desert heat. He grabbed his head as the perspiration poured off his face. The gathered horde of critics moved to his side, deeply concerned for his well-being.

“You see what you’ve done, boys? I’m very tired of your disrespect,” said the suit.

The robe stepped forward threateningly. “You must learn to hold your tongue, young man.”

And the priest, still on his knees breathing heavily, voiced his objection. “My collar does not pinch me.”

He turned to those holding him up, finishing. “I will be fine, my brothers. Just a little too much heat.”

All the adults turned with one disapproving gaze in the direction of the pair of renegade escapees.

Pal stepped forward. “Listen, you should not be here. He’s sick. Just leave us alone. If you are truly men of God, as you say, you need to realize that there’s nothing wrong with love between two friends.”

“Honor your father and mother,” replied the suit.

All the men vigorously nodded their heads in agreement. They had finally found a common axiom which they could all agree upon.

Iz and Pal looked at the four men and then back at each other. Trying to talk to these immovable statues was a fruitless task. It seemed they were speaking different languages.

“Understand this,” said blue jeans. “We were sent to resolve this peacefully. We mean you no harm. We’re not trying to overtake you. But when they come with the rally, they will not be as nice as we have been to you.”

“Why can’t you just leave us alone?” demanded Pal.

“Because you are children,” responded the collar.

“Weren’t you a child once?” queried Iz.

Now standing solidly on his feet, he replied, “Yes. But I’ve put away childish things.” His face was still flushed with crimson.

Iz stopped and held his hands up in the air, requiring a reprieve. Several times the collar, the robe, the blue jeans and the suit tried to speak, but he covered his ears.

When Iz saw that their lips didn’t move any more and silence had settled in, he said, “I guess we’re just not ready to put away childish things—because you grown-ups pack away all of their dreams along with those childish things. We are not ready to be dreamless.”

The robe screamed at the top of his voice, “Is it true there’s a hand grenade?”

Pal was very nervous, but somehow or another managed to remain cool. He glanced over at Iz, who displayed an unsettling, icy stare. “Would you like to see it?” he asked. “Or would you like to hear it?”

The men were not willing to overwhelm the two boys—not at the risk of their own lives. The meeting was over. The committee stared at the unflinching features of the young men. One by one, the invaders turned and walked slowly down the hill.

Collar spoke as he left. “May it never be said that we didn’t try to warn you.”

Pal yelled after them as they trudged along. “How about Joseph and his brothers? They lived in Egypt and lived in peace—Jew and Arab. Did anyone hold a rally and try to stop them? Were they wrong, Mullah?”

There was no more response.

After all, the mission was not about discovering the truth or even discussing the facts. It wasn’t even about redeeming the time. The whole goal had been to get the little boys to do what little boys were supposed to do.

Yet what do you do when you’re old and the young will not listen? What is your recourse when boys grow into men without your permission?

Iz and Pal stood and watched as the men finished their walk and disappeared.

The rally would be in two days. That meant there were forty-eight hours of freedom left—guaranteed space for Iz and Pal.

They decided not to waste a second of it thinking about religious figures who frowned and never smiled…and also resembled melting snow that had no place in the desert.

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