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

(4098)

Sitting Twenty-Seven

Karin caught wind of it and told her editor about the planned rally. He didn’t respond—just sprouted a tiny smile.

She was not comforted. She didn’t know what to do. She wanted to press her editor to gain more involvement from him, but it seemed he was more cynical than she was—and she knew that her negativity was beyond salvation.

So Karin decided to go see the boys. She sat down and shared a hamburger with them, asking a few idle questions. When she felt relaxed enough to broach the subject, she inquired, “What are you guys gonna do?”

“About what?” asked Pal.

Karin was perturbed. She was fully aware that they knew much more than they let on. “Do you really think this can go on?” she challenged.

Iz responded. “You mean us staying here in the desert?” He had that pesky little smile on his face, warning of his cunning.

“Yes,” said Karin in exasperation.

Pal spoke up. “We’ve talked about it.” He glanced over at Iz, carefully.

Karin leaned forward. “Well, I figured you had. I mean, you must be aware that people will not allow you to continue to do this.”

Iz objected. “Not allow us?”

Karin tossed her hamburger to the side. “Yes, Iz. To most people this is just foolishness.  You know—silliness? Boys at play?”

Iz stood, throwing his hamburger on the ground. “I see,” he began. “We’re silly. They have fought wars for thousands of years and we’re silly. They hate each other, and we’re silly. They blow up buses—and we’re silly. They try to keep us apart from each other, and we’re silly. They kill over oil and little tiny pieces of desert—and we’re silly.”

Pal leaped to his feet. “I don’t think we’re silly, lady. We may not have a plan, but who does? Are you trying to tell me that the Israelis or the Palestinians or even Americans have some sort of plan? Haven’t they just all run away, and found their own space to pout? Just like us—they’re over there in a corner, playing, hoping everything works out. How, tell me, are they any different from us? We’re just boys. We do boy things. Okay—we do them in a boy way. But they’re supposed to be men, and some of them women. You want us to take the blame for their stupid.”

Iz interrupted. “Yeah, lady newspaper. How are they different from us?”

 

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Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4043)

Sitting Nineteen

Karin was perturbed at herself—“perturbed” being the most civilized word she could come up with after rejecting some more colorful choices.

It seemed she had totally lost perspective. No, that diagnosis was much too clinical. She had just downright screwed up. Plainly, she had let sentiment take over her better judgment.

There was nothing wrong with being sentimental—as long as the work you set out to do gets done, the children are safe in their beds, the fire is lit and all the cows are in the barn. (She had no idea whatsoever why she had chosen such a rural metaphor. She was trying to be completely practical, and nothing seemed more “earthy” than a farm.)

After all the excruciating activity of the day, it turned out that she had not improved the situation whatsoever. Arrogantly, she had tried to solve all the world’s problems. She was aware that this was not her job—her actual job was two-fold: to keep from being a problem to the planet and try to keep all the crazies around her from doing outrageous things.

She considered—if each person with a lick of sense would just try to stay out of trouble and take a few moments to care for friends who couldn’t make things work, well, to quote the old song, “what a lovely world this would be.”

But she had not helped two boys stop their insanity. She had made it worse. After all, before she came on the scene, they were two young dudes out in the desert, chomping on food and giggling. Sure, they had a hand grenade—but they didn’t know how to use it. No, she was the one who provided that information to them. She brought the soldier. She caused the conflict. And she got those two friends spitting mad at each other.

Karin realized that she could work a lifetime and not tally such a disaster again. Yet she had done it in a single afternoon—not to mention losing the respect of her editor.

What perturbed her most of all was that she could not figure out why she had acted so “girlie.” She had been trained better and had certainly learned better. Frankly, she had never bought into the lingo of the day, which claimed that men and women were hopelessly non-communicating misanthropes. If men were from Mars and women were from Venus, why couldn’t they just build spaceships and travel to this good ole’ Earth and live together as humans?

The whole thing was rather ridiculous. But—and a very important “but” it was—she needed to do something. Her soul and conscience refused to stay out of the affair. It was frightening, considering this was how she got into trouble in the first place. Yet Karin Koulyea had a heart to be part of the solution instead of remaining a jagged edge of the problem.

So she pondered—a rather exhausting task after completing such introspection.

Then she remembered what the editor said. He was going to make some calls. Well, she knew how to use a phone. And God knows she would be safer in her apartment contacting people instead of in the desert, threatening to blow up little boys.

She opened up a book she had never used before:

The local Yellow Pages.

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Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4008)

Sitting Fourteen

Left alone.

Young boys run on energy, not smarts. They are fully capable of performing the duties of an army but are minus the insight to know where to march and when to struggle.

Pal paced around the tiny campsite. He flailed his hands in the air, enraged with everything he saw. “Somebody is gonna know we don’t got nothing!” he screamed.

Iz sat quietly, stilled by the circumstances, in what seemed to be a mountain of resolution, but most probably was just a crumbling hillside of destruction.

Karin stood stunned, staring at the two boys, trying to decide what her duty was going to have to be in this youthful fiasco. She needed to be decisive, yet she didn’t trust her own take on the events.

She realized that she should try to talk the boys into going home.  But then she considered Iz. What causes a twelve-year-old boy to contemplate death? Could any of that responsibility be laid at the doorstep of his family?

Then propriety chased down her musings. They certainly needed to go to their parents. These boys did not belong in the desert. If she left them there, the soldier might return with his buddies, to drive them back into town in disgrace, or even for punishment.

The whole thing was so crude and so nasty. It all could blow up and just promote more smugness in this region already permeated with piety.

But in her heart, Karin was a journalist. Her ethics forbade her to be a party to façade. She couldn’t allow herself to become the third wheel in a doomed game destined to produce nothing.

She considered—who would everybody blame? Of course, her. Here she was, out on a lark, trying to get a story. Some scoop to help her maintain her edge as a lead writer for a dead periodical. But she wasn’t looking for a cause. She didn’t want to become “Mother” to the Middle East version of Leopold and Loeb. All she wanted was a story.

Unfortunately, she had fumbled her way into a tragedy.

Pal finally wearied himself of pacing, leaped upon Iz, and the two boys were rolling in the sand, fighting, growing more angry with each flip and punch. So Karin shook herself awake from her deliberations and ran over to pull the boys apart.

“What are you guys doing?” she screamed. Somehow she managed to squeeze her body in between the wrestling pair.

“He won’t talk to me!” Pal spat.

Iz said nothing, just continuing to thrust at the air with his arms.

Karin lost all patience. She threw both boys to the ground and straddled them. “You’re going to listen to me!” she proclaimed. “I don’t know what you think you’re achieving by beating each other to a pulp. Hell, I don’t know why you’re disappointed that the hand grenade didn’t blow you to smithereens. I don’t know why you’re both so damned nuts. But here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to sit here until everyone is calm and I can sprout some sort of an idea.”

The boys were mad, their chests heaving. They wiggled and squirmed, but Karin’s firm thighs held them in check. They tried a series of insults.

“I hate you.”

“You really are fat, lady.”

“You smell bad.”

Karin laughed at them. At length, the twitching ceased as the young gents lay panting in a pile of exhaustion.

Slowly Karin released, dismounting her captives. “Here’s what we’re gonna do,” she said. “First, let me tell you what I think. There is nothing we can possibly to do determine what that soldier is going to tell or not tell. Secondly, I think the best thing is for me to get a ride back to town—somehow or another—and just talk to my editor and find out if I can get someone else with some brains, or someone maybe willing to share the pain, to become involved in this whole mess. And finally—this is the most important. You guys need to rest and promise me that you won’t claw each other’s eyes out.”

Iz was insulted. “We are friends,” he retorted.

Karin was relieved. He sounded a bit more normal.

Confident that they could no longer kill each other with a grenade and might be too worn out to box each other to death, she headed down the hill toward the nearest path that resembled a road, hoping to find some vagabond with wheels, who might be willing to pick up a disheveled female.

It could be a wait.

But she knew the next stop was her editor.

 

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