J.Su Set Me Free
Dream | October 14, 2008
As early as I remember I had crashed this small catamaran on a desert beach where the old seawall crumbled to weatherworn boulders. While lying groggy in the shorebreak someone dragged me into a low canvas tent. Through the flaps I could see guards with rifles hovering nearby. At some point I leapt out and sprinted along the seawall about 100 yards before they shot me in the calf. Then I must have blacked out and time skipped forward. The bullet had been removed and the hole roughly stitched up. As punishment for my brief escape they had used no anasthesia for the operation. Now they were to severely beat me.
The long room was mostly dark and lit by only one harsh bulb at each end. I was chained to a chair which was bolted to the floor in one corner. In the far corner a man in a similar chair was being savagely thrashed by an officer. The victim's face was bleeding from various lacerations and several feet of duct tape had been wound around his head to hold a gag in his mouth. Both his eyes were puffy and blue. The officer circled and delivered blows calculated for maximum surprise and damage. My turn was next.
A door opened in the wall and a dim light shone in. In strode two guards flanking another prisoner shackled hand to foot. They sat him down and locked him to a chair near mine. He was very still and had a strange peace about him, like he was having tea with an old friend. As he sat down our eyes met and he grinned a friendly, benign smile showing two rows of perfect teeth, much like you'd imagine the Dalai Lama would smile.
One guard left and the other stood over his ward and watched him like a hawk, rifle across his chest.
Something familiar about this man's face. A dozen blurry or grainy surveillance photos came to mind. A dossier somewhere. It dawned on me slowly. His name was Robert Morrison but I knew him better by his code name J.Su. He was about as Irish as kim chee. Free agent. This Asian was supposed to be very, very quick. But looking at him sitting perfectly still I never would've guessed. In fact, despite the severe beating occurring just a few yards away, he seemed to be meditating, with one hand cupped over the other in his lap, and eyes fixed on a point on the wall.
The man being beaten was screaming into his gag now, a muffled, grinding howl of pain. The guard was distracted momentarily and a most amazing thing happened.
J.Su stood up very suddenly. One second he was sitting still and exactly one second later he was face to face with his guard. I saw the lap shackle fall away in a dreamy slow motion. A sparkle of metal flicked from his fingers. He had been picking the lock with a piece of a paper clip lodged under his index fingernail. From under his shirt cuffs he drew out the broken end of a plastic knife. His hands thrust up and grasped the guard's neck firmly with one hand and swiped the serrated edge of the blade under his chin with the other. The guard seemed to be paralyzed, unable to breathe, writhing slightly but not crying out or fighting as one might expect. In fact his body seemed to have gone limp and was only being supported by the iron grip on his neck. The blood ran down between J.Su's fingers. As he dropped the guard he seized the weapon from his rubbery hands.
It all happened in a few seconds. The distinct visual and heavy thud of the dying guard's body hitting the cement floor caught the attention of the officer beating the other prisoner. Before he could pull a pistol from his holster, J.Su turned and fired the rifle from the hip. The officer's head exploded and his body was thrown violently backward to the floor.
J.Su turned and smiled at me again. A pleasant grin for old friends. More tea?
Then he was moving swiftly. Keys from the dead guards unlocked our shackles. He did it with a strict precision, wasting neither step nor stance. Can you tell I was in awe? Sure, he was setting me free, but with such elegance and efficiency!
The beaten man sagged with fatigue. But once freed and standing over the body of his tormentor, a new vigor possessed him. He gave the dead officer a single hard kick in the head which sent blood and brains splattering against the wall. Then we were moving.
Instead of leaving by the door through which we had come, we climbed an iron ladder bolted to the wall behind us, opening a thick manhole with a heavy wheel lock. J.Su went first, poking the rifle up through the hole as it opened. A shot was fired before I even got to the top.
We were standing on a tower, with the spectacular panoramic view one might associate with sudden freedom. The sky was blazing reds and oranges. Into the ocean the desert sun melted, casting everything in a warm, golden glow. The beach and a high wall topped with gun turrets and razor wire stretched off into the distance. Except for the dead guard on the round platform we stood upon, the landscape was empty and desolate.
J.Su had slung the rifle over his shoulder and was climbing over the edge onto a narrow ladder running down the side of the tower. It would be a long, tiring descent. My injured leg ached in anticipation. But I was gonna run again and this time they wouldn't catch me.
I peered over the side. J.Su grinned up at me as he climbed down. Just like the Dalai Lama.