Friday, August 12, 2011

Fear and Loathing in Astana

Editor’s note: This recently discovered manuscript sufficiently closely paralleled our experience in Astana that it is reprinted here in full. 

The edge was coming off the mescaline and my mind cleared just enough that I could see the jack-booted thug waving us down. Gripping the steering wheel I inhaled and glanced over at my lawyer. He lay sleeping off a tequila and ether high, small spit bubbles forming and then bursting on his lips with every rasping breath - I knew he wasn’t going to be of much use. The window cracked with the sound of a baton and I opened my door, stood up and palmed a black bird - I was going to need to focus. 

Indicating that I should follow him into the checkpoint, his Gestapo cohort, sporting a burl handled AK-47, made me understand there was no choice. Gaining equilibrium as the speed finally starting taking effect I followed, reaching into my back pocket for a cigarette. Standing a full head taller than everyone else in the room gave me a view of these petty larcenists I didn’t want to see. The timing and rhythm of their demands, passport, visa, car documents, was practiced to the point of atavistic perfection. Dammit, I needed my lawyer or a belt of scotch, preferably both. 

Reaching into my shirt for another black, I was startled to hear my name, Duke, you Mr. Duke? Twisting around I found myself facing the archvillain, a weasel eyed senior officer, with more coffee stains on his shirt than bars on his shoulders. Sweat broke out on my forehead when he told me to follow him into his office. What did this sick sadistic pervert want with me behind closed doors? My sphincters clenched involuntarily as I slipped the pill under my tongue and dried my palms on my shorts. 

The stench of his greed, the rank odor of dirty money, permeated everything. You not have Kazakhstan insurance, that is very bad. His smoothly broken English lulling me briefly as the walls started closing in. In his left hand he held my license and with his right he reached over and pulled open the top drawer of his desk. Suddenly the room was full of spiders, pouring out of the desk and climbing the walls. Shuddering in horror I jabbered insanely, begging for my life and terrified at his obliviousness to the emergency in hand. We were both about to be consumed by flesh eating arachnids and he only wanted cash. Shaking uncontrollably I scattered roubles on his desk only to see his smile splay into grimace as a giant tarantula savagely tore at his cheeks. 

Somehow the racket of the melee outside broke through my consciousness. The door suddenly blew open. My lawyer, all 6’ 6” and 350 lbs of him drew a bead on me and bellowed, I’m your attorney dammit! How dare you enter into a negotiation without me? We’re leaving. NOW! Staggering to my feet I could only marvel at the carnage. Give me the keys! commanded my lawyer. Raising a choking pall of burning rubber he finally released the handbrake and took off, the gearstick in one hand and a half empty bottle of tequila in the other. 

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