Arnon Grunberg


Souvenir shop

I’m still on the military base in the country, which I cannot mention by name.
Tonight at 0300 there was supposed to be a roll call for a flight to Baghdad (called BIAP, pronounced as Bye-ah) via Basra. The roll call took place at 0430 and unfortunately I was bumped off the flight because they didn’t hear me say “here”.
I shouted as loud as I could “here” but apparently it was not loud enough.
And when the U.S. Airforce can’t hear you, they consider you a no-show.
I have to accept that I brought this predicament upon myself.
Most flights today are full. There is a small chance that I will leave in the evening but it might as well be tomorrow morning.
Somehow I think that I will never leave this base. Not for Baghdad nor for Venice.
Years from now a soldier will ask: “What’s this guy actually doing on this base?"
And another soldier will answer: "Oh he? He was a journalist but somehow he never made it to Baghdad and now he is running a souvenir shop here. He has some nice carpets on sale.”