Thursdays are the days I babysit my grandchildren while their mother is in school studying to be a respiratory therapist, so those are usually writing dearths, until after they leave. Sometimes, they wear me out, and I vegetate before the television. Today, they were very good and sweet, which they are most of the time, so I was pretty energized after they left with Mommy. (BTW, that’s the best part of being a grandparent–giving them back.)
No new chapters today; just additional scenes for Chapter 9, Last Stand. Let me set up this excerpt: Mai Fisher is interrogating Taliban prisoners at a makeshift prison in a fortress named Qala e Jangi. Her technique is to offer them medical attention in exchange for answers to her questions, and she is tending to a young Egyptian man sent to fight with the Taliban because his father, a prominent lawyer in Cairo, decided one of his sons needed to fight in a holy war. Another CIA operative has blurted to the prisoner that he could lose his wounded leg.
Mai knelt again by the Egyptian. “Sorry for the interruption,” she said.
“Is he right about my leg?” he asked her.
“I don’t know. I’m not a doctor, just a passable medic. I’ll finish cleaning it, dress it, and give you a super dose of antibiotics.” She waited.
“Ah, yes, the fee for services part of the deal,” the boy said.
“Perceptive lad. Let me make it easier for you. I could give you to them,” she said, jabbing a thumb toward the knot of American soldiers. “They’ll take their time getting you to one of their mobile medical units, and once you arrive any wounded Americans or allies will have precedence over you. It could be a day or two or more before anyone pays any attention to that leg. Talk to me, and I tell them you know nothing. That way I can refer you to Medicines sans Frontieres, and treatment for you leg begins right away.”
“And the fee?” he asked.
“Your name, your father’s name, the name of the Muslim charity he used to funnel money to bin Laden, where you went to training camp, the names of others who were there with you. The more the merrier.”
“Isn’t that the same thing the American Army wants to know?”
“Oh, what you tell me will go into a report for the intell community, but your leg will already have had proper treatment,” Mai said, “which could start today.”
He closed his eyes and pursed his lips in thought. “He is my father,” he said.
“That’s your leg,” Mai replied. “It takes two of them to be an airline pilot. Tell me what I want to know or take your chances with a U.S. Army surgeon days from now.”
She watched the inner debate still rage. All right, then, she thought, time for the clincher.
“Besides, it was your father who put you here,” she said.
He talked for ten straight minutes without interruption, Salim scribbling frantically as he talked. Mai barely tuned him in; all she’d really been interested in was his information about Mir Saradi.