I have a gift for ending up at the wrong place at the wrong time. For example, think of the day Obama broke our beautiful lake in half by blowing up a huge bomb under it. I was in Saint-Tryphon, the lovely town at the end of the lake, and watched as the water ran out of it through the crack, as swimmers tried to reach the shore, and as the first rows of buildings in Saint-Tryphon toppled over in slow motion under the afternoon sun to come and lie down in the receding water.
We spent the rest of the afternoon checking out our boats, which were moored in mid-air, lowering them so that they would be back in the water again.
At some point I fled. I ran through Saint-Tryphon, watching the wobbly buildings by the shore and praying that the people would get out before they fell. I climbed into the mountains, found an abandoned village, and spread the word. “The lake is draining itself!” Nobody really believed me.
Obama had smilingly assured me that the lake would stop bleeding out sometime in the evening, and that everything would be back to normal in a few days. He didn’t seem to think there was anything wrong with what he had done. I was just horrified.
Or another time, shortly after that, I had taken a trip to some middle-eastern country just in time to witness the explosion of a nuclear device under the sea near the coast. I saw birds fall out of the sky as they feebly tried to fly away. Why I was alive, I just couldn’t understand. A car with two military stopped and picked me up. We went to the command centre where for some reason, most of my luggage was waiting for me. There were some nice people there, but it was out of question to let me go back home.
I swallowed an iodine pill, and wondered why on earth we all had to be exposed to so much radiation. My life doesn’t always make sense to me, as you can see.
I was relieved to meet Cecil in the command centre. He was a friend of mine, and we plotted our escape together. Julie, one of the assistants, would come with us — she was a nice girl and also felt that she had nothing to do there, that her life was supposed to take another path. The trouble was packing (we had many belongings) and finding a way out of the country (that was Cecil’s job, being in a position of authority).
Amongst my most precious belongings was some jewellery, and a set of teeth (I know this sounds funny, but they were ivory and polished, and worth quite a lot in those days), as well as some pearls. Trying to get everything to fit in bags and boxes was a nightmare, especially as we couldn’t afford to have the other people in the command centre figuring out that we were going to make a run for it. They must have, because we even got comments on the size of our boxes, but they pretended nothing was wrong. Maybe they hoped it would go away if they didn’t confront it.
So we packed, and repacked, and repacked, and as days went by I became more and more anxious about leaving. We almost managed, once. Robert took us out to his helicopter. There were four of us, but Cecil was nowhere to be found. I was a bit worried, because Robert was completely loyal to those in charge, and I really wondered what the deal was with him taking us away. Maybe he was actually going to take us to a reeducation camp or a prison, and all our precious belongings would be taken away from us.
We never knew, because as he was fuelling up, he never passed the DUI test — and the helicopter was not up to standards either. I heaved a sigh of relief as we returned to the base, but went to bed certain that we had been found out and absolutely had to leave the very next day.
It didn’t happen the next day, or the one after that. It was agonizing. Cecil disappeared, after a long phone call to his family where I heard him tell his son he loved him very much. The day after that, Simon came up to me and gruffly told me that I was leaving, that Cecil had left instructions, and that he was my driver. Simon was not happy about it, but followed orders. I initially expressed surprise but decided to go along with it.
He scowled at me while I put my big box and bag in the boot of his tiny car. I climbed in, and we drove off. I didn’t need a Geiger counter to tell me how radioactive we were, and I hoped that we would not set off any alarms at the airport. I already had too much luggage and getting on board without attracting attention was going to be a tight squeeze.
As you can see, I made it out in one piece. I had to leave some of my things behind, but the precious teeth and pearls travelled in my jeans pocket (you know how TSA are with precious items in checked-in luggage: they just tend to disappear). I went through long and painful anti-radiation treatment, and thankfully today’s medical technology is keeping at bay all the cancers I should have developed as a result of such important exposure.
What was going through the minds of those people at the time, it really beats me.