Hu­man­ity in De­spair

Mus­ings are thoughts, the thought­ful kind. For the pur­pose of th­ese ar­ti­cles, a-mus­ings are thoughts that might amuse, en­ter­tain and even en­lighten.

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Michael Walker

Well, there I was again, trot­ting around the world, for­get­ful of my years, and just en­joy­ing life, do­ing what I enjoy do­ing best, or so I thought. Ad­mit­tedly, spend­ing nights on planes and watch­ing day turn to evening, evening turn to night and night turn to dawn fol­lowed by an all too pre­sump­tu­ous day in what seems to be an un­seemly haste is not ev­ery­body's cup of tea. But there I was, any­way. The flight had gone as badly as ex­pected. Tell me, why is it im­pos­si­ble to stay awake on day flights and yet find sleep im­pos­si­ble on night flights? Well, of course I know – don't we all - that it's due to the sneaky lit­tle pineal gland that syn­the­sizes and se­cretes the struc­turally sim­ple hor­mone mela­tonin that com­mu­ni­cates in­for­ma­tion about en­vi­ron­men­tal light­ing to var­i­ous parts of the body, lead­ing some to call it the "third eye". I mean, “Duh!”

So there I was, fresh off one plane and air­ports to change be­fore yet an­other night flight in 16 hours' time. I de­cided to take a coach to the next air­port be­fore crash­ing on to a pre-ar­ranged ho­tel bed for maybe 9 hours be­fore the next lift off. It turned out not to be . . . Oh, the coach trip went well. The weather was hor­ri­ble, cold, blus­tery, a touch of ice and snow in the rain. The short walk from the bus ter­mi­nal to the air­port ho­tel was in­vig­o­rat­ing even though it was un­der a par­tially pro­tect­ing roofed walk­way. I kept the ho­tel in my sights. And then I saw him!

No, it wasn't a vi­sion, just a man wrapped in a very ex­pen­sive over­coat, trav­el­ling bag by his feet, hold­ing on to the walk­way rail­ing, sway­ing and stag­ger­ing, un­able to pick up his bag, clearly in great dis­tress. I glanced over my shoul­ders, both sides, to check if there were oth­ers nearby. My trav­els have taken me to so many odd spots all over the world, and the Good Sa­mar­i­tan Trap to lure un­sus­pect­ing vic­tims into mug­gings is al­ways on my mind. We were alone, just the two of us. “You OK?” I ven­tured, as the man turned a well-known face to­wards me. You would have known him, Dear Reader; you see him ev­ery week on the in­ter­na­tional news chan­nel – I'll not say which – re­port­ing from one atroc­ity to an­other.

“Are you OK?” I re­peated. “Bloody drunk,” he replied and grabbed my bag, which I had placed at my feet. I spun round in a flash to make sure we were still alone, ready to de­fend my­self. He grinned at me as he tried to walk. “Just for the bal­ance, just for the bal­ance, one in each hand. I'd be spooked too!” He lurched off.

“Are you head­ing for the ho­tel?” I asked un­nec­es­sar­ily. He dropped my bag and placed his free hand on my shoul­der. We stag­gered along to­gether, I with my three bags, he with his one, like two drunken bud­dies af­ter a night on the tiles. I was stone cold sober, watch­ful, care­ful. You can never be too sure. We stopped sev­eral times to rest in the freez­ing wind; my Caribbean cloth­ing has never felt so thin. He had just re­turned from a mis­sion in Syria and Iraq, was clearly drunk out of his mind – and aware of it – the loneli­est man in the world with his head full of atroc­i­ties. He'd started drink­ing the mo­ment his plane had left the runway.

We fi­nally made it to the ho­tel. The lobby was empty of guests, just a re­cep­tion­ist be­hind the desk. I reg­is­tered first, no prob­lems, all sorted out in ad­vance as al­ways, just a sig­na­ture. I in­di­cated to my new friend by rais­ing my eye­brow and in­clin­ing my head. “My friend is not well,” I mur­mured. “He might need some as­sis­tance.” The re­cep­tion­ist smiled over my shoul­der, “Wel­come back, Mr. . . . ,” she said, “I'll be with you just as soon as we're through.” “So much for fame,” I thought wryly and, af­ter making sure my new friend made it to the front desk, headed for the el­e­va­tor and the safety of my room.

I opened my cases, took out the clothes for the next leg of the trip, stripped off and was un­der the shower in the well-prac­tised se­quence of a sea­soned trav­eller, well be­fore the phone rang; it was my friend, the last per­son in the world I wanted to hear from, but what could I do? He wanted me to come over to “his place” for a meal. Talk about alarm bells ring­ing in my ears! But what to do? He was clearly in dis­tress. I agreed and went to his room.

At din­ner he was in­cred­i­bly sober and we talked for maybe three hours about the things he had seen in his re­port­ing life; but noth­ing, noth­ing had pre­pared him for the sadis­tic bru­tal­ity, the in­hu­man­ity of mankind, the mu­ti­la­tions and mur­ders be­ing car­ried out by the Is­lamic thugs and their for­eign con­verts to bar­barism. The things he had wit­nessed, he could never re­port on air. Even news sta­tions seek­ing the truth were afraid to tell the Truth, the Whole Truth and Noth­ing But The Truth be­cause no­body wanted to risk be­ing the next tar­get.

We later ex­changed emails and promised to keep in touch, but I doubt we will. I was merely the friend he needed when all he felt was de­spair and des­o­la­tion, when his head was full of scream­ing chil­dren as they watched their moth­ers be­ing raped and dis­mem­bered in front of their fa­thers, who were then be­headed.

As Louis Arm­strong sang it – What a Won­der­ful World!

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