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Into the Flames

By Khaled Alnobani (Jordan)

 

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He appeared out of nowhere. Walking with the most mysterious way, it was no doubt that he was trying to make certain martial arts moves. He was ragged, tattered with a shabby look. His clothes were worn dowdy but nothing more than that. They were shoddy with the most instinctive smell that could happen.

He was sometimes tottering to the ground with no apparent reason except that he was forced to do that. He was no more than the remains of a man who once was there. Coagulated blood scattered over his face. He was hitting his face when swinging his arms very high, which explains the source of the blood all over his face. Nobody was there to help him or give a hand because he was not within the usual scene and he had the sharpest putrid smell from his pants.

He set off from Almahata bus station in Amman to nowhere. He aimed nowhere. Despite the fact that there was a body walking, it was nothing at all. Even its movements were reflexive responses of a supposed person found there, not more. He was feeling the danger when he was striking it. His vision was too poor to see anything.

Sometimes he tried to wave but that was never a completed move as it needed some understanding which he never gathered. Sometime he was about to fall but swayed at last moment.

There were no pedestrians on the sides of the road. The place was not a market or a place for a passing road. He was the only person to cross that road at that morning. He attracted all attention that could happen in such a place. He was heard to say some words but nothing that could be understood. One thing to be sure about, he never stopped talking.
Passengers in some bypassing cars were giving ugly comments.

That view was repeated for several days until the time came up.

A man appeared at the traffic light, screaming of something not understood.
He ran in the direction of the screaming but he did not comprehend what it was or for what. The attention of one of the boys selling newspaper began at that place when the traffic light was red. He hardly grasped what the story was about and ran away with all what he could. Without knowing why, the rest of the boys ran too. The drivers of cars on the traffic light did not know what the situation was about, so they kept looking around, afraid of leaving their cars alone.

The running man approached the crossing. At the end he diverted. Some drivers comprehended what was going on and some others did not. There were more than thirty cars stopping at the traffic light. One of the cars went out of an exit way.

"Gasoline tank... gasoline  ...run…run…" the running man was shouting. At this stage people’s understanding worked no longer.
It was too late for some persons because the screaming man himself got away and ran for himself without looking behind. He had done his role; the tank was delivered, but to the wrong destination. In a moment the gasoline leaking from the out of control tank took into flames and a huge deadly fire spread all over the place. As the burning gasoline swept under the cars they were exploding one at a time. Screams went into the air like a bloody nightmare. Nothing more horrific than that could happen in a lifetime.

"Alive they went into the flames," one of the witnesses said to a local TV channel.
The crazy man saw the fire and ran into it but he couldn't go much forward.
The fire cached in him and he went into a deadly fire, ten minutes of burning alive. He went into ashes; nothing left behind except some meat mixed with blood under several inches of carbon.
"It was a usual morning in the capital of Jordan but nobody dreamed of the consequences of a small tiny error.
"Changing direction with poor maintenance, weak brakes. If there was the lowest degree of caring about anything that could happen this could never happen. The wrong driver was there at the wrong day, at the wrong place, at the wrong drive," one of the columnists wrote.
"The smell of dead burnt meat fell all over the place," another columnist wrote.

For whoever saw the event will never forget it.

A team from the truck company reached the dead victims at one of the hospitals. One of them described their mission to the receptionist:

"We are here to make a preliminary check on the accident victims. It is important for us to evaluate the losses," the team leader said as he approached. The team entered a room and walked between the dead bodies:

"They were carbon remains," one of the team members said.

They took notes for several minutes and went out.

"The forensic laboratory will come tomorrow to identify bodies but we can see that some chances were very weak, it was only possible by identifying the cars which they were in."
"It was a real problem. Even this was a very difficult approach because some victims were not in cars."
"Lengthy identifying procedures must be taken."
"There were no references of the places the bodies were taken from."
"How many victims were there?"
"With these in this hospital they were eleven."
After this discussion the team left the room and left dead silence behind.
One of the team members came back and put something in a dead body. It was the body of the crazy man.
At a remote location the following discussion happened that night.
"Nobody should know where you are going or what you intend to do, as usual."
"I will keep it to myself. You know me."
"It was less than a one hour job. This was enough. You will deposit the money in your account. I will make several internal transactions between nominal accounts, at the end the money will be mine."
"You have my visa card and you can do all what you want."
"No errors permitted. I brought you because you were the correct persons for this situation. If the police suspect anything you were alone, but do not worry; it will not go that far. After you register your information I will manage to get your check very quickly. It is a one step process. They are busy closing this file/"
“What will happen?”
"The police will call you to ask about the metallic card found in one of the dead bodies. You will tell them on phone that it was for your brother who has a mental illness. And he has been lost for some time now."
"Then you will go and identify the body as your brother."
"I put your phone number on a card with the dead body."
"You do not need more than that; you will take one hundred Dinnars for your role. The woman with you will take fifty Dinnars. Play it well and smart. Nobody will ask more questions. If you ask for more money I will make you take the dead body with you."
"And what was that?" the dirty clothes man asked.
"You can bury yourself, but not it." the important man said.
After one day at the hospital the team of the forensic study arrived.
“It was a very tedious situation. The samples were difficult to be taken out of all the remains. A lot of comparisons should be made because most of the identifying materials were burst."
“They want the results fast."
“We cannot control the duration of the tests. What about our alternatives?"
“We should take shorter alternatives whenever it was possible."
“I think one of the bodies had a metallic card with a telephone number on it. It was a unique situation. That body was a straight forward case."
“We are not always so lucky."
The next day two persons, a man and a woman, entered the hospital crying silently, and they told the guard that they had been called to identify   a relative in yesterday’s accident and they came for that.
The important man took five hundred out of the ATM machine and went to the nearest making love station. He knocked on the door with a tone as a usual customer. He was known there, treated special because he pays special. He was directed to the place of special customers where there was no noise.
“You will be given what you came for. Do you have the pills or you want one of us."
He went with a Viagra pill of his own. After a time he went into the usual symptoms. The prostitutes opened his wallet and took every penny in it.
“Even if he complains, he will not take anything." One of the prostitutes said.
After two hours he awoke and collected his clothes. Without knowing what was going on, he was pushed nearly naked into the street. He managed to wear his pants. But before he was done a police patrol recognized him and it seemed that they knew who and where he was, so they put him into their car.
“You will find a shelter until morning," one of the police men said.
He found himself in the prison of the police station. It was full of suspects, so he managed to comprehend what was going on. Yet he couldn't do or understand anything for hours. At last he began to grasp what was going around and he asked to call a lawyer. Actually the lawyer was a friend and he was used to this situation.
One of the suspects in the prison tried to talk with the naked man.
“Do you need anything?"
“A cigarette."
“What will you pay for it?"
“You," the important man said.
“Do not you see that you are in need for something more urgent, something like clothes for example...? That will cost you Twenty Dinnars."
He did not understand what the conversation was about so he remained for seconds with a stupid look.
He opened his wallet and discovered that nothing was left in it.
“Oh no, this is totally not fair. Where they will go for God’s punishment? This was unethical."
“This is always the case with wealthy people like you," the prisoner said.
“I want you …" he was interrupted.
“No money no fun."
“What happened to you? It seems that you have gotten to a big thing. What was it this time?" The lawyer said with a meaningless tone.
“Shut up and get me out of here." The drunken man said.
“You should be rotten here."
“Nice joke." They were talking while going home in the important man’s car.
“I do not have any money. Stop by the closest ATM.  I will draw some money. We will complete the evening some place," the important man said.
“It is not night. You are at the morning and you are lucky for me to be here for you," The lawyer said.
“With my money it is anytime I want. I think I can use another pill," he continued.
“A prostitute and a drink; this was your whole life," The lawyer said.
“You know, they were the valuables," he added:
“When they invent something more convincing, I will buy it."
“Convincing, it appears that your vocabulary is very stringent."
The mobile phone of the important man rang. A short conversation was followed by his apparently extreme relief.
“Who was on the phone?" the lawyer asked.
“He was an important person."
“What was so important to make your color turn like this?"
“He was the kind of a person who makes me feel that I am not alone in this life. A live finally," he added:
“I am a candidate in the coming parliament elections. My role was carefully drawn."
“What for?" The lawyer asked.
“I will not be clever if I can answer this question. After all it was expenses plus."
“What you mean by expenses plus?"
“I will take the expenses plus what good I can do," The important man said.
“Then he was one of the millionaires in the next elections and he wants you to make some noise."
“Actually some voters division."
“What you up to?"
“I know when a real opportunity comes and this was one. It was the one."
“You will pay the expenses. What were the guarantees?"
“I am the guarantee. I will make it real, totally real campaign."
He looked to the lawyer in front of him and said:
“You will be the manager of my campaign."
"I will tell you what you should do."
"For now go to this address and try to know the environment which we were targeting. Solving troubles was our way to the houses and people; try to find any trouble associated with a big tribe member. I want something real and very noisy to ride over it to our goals."
“You were very lucky. This was the job of success."
“Money not luck, which works in this community. I will offer a lot of money to solve important problems."
The next week the lawyer came with all preparations in advance:
“I think I came up with what you want. It was somehow strange. This Yahya from a very big tribe and he was now in prison for raping a boy and no means succeeded to get him out."
“I think you began to know the kind of things we can use," The important man said.
“Collect all information about the boy's father. I want this problem to be solved over one night. You know that there is always a way. Find it for more money."
“I think I know the solution," The lawyer replied promptly.
After hearing the plan the important man said:
“But this is a three part solution. In essence it was possible but it will cost much. But do what ever necessary. When you were done tell me, to get into the picture. I want every person in the region to know that I have done it."
“I advise you to spread a rumor that you were supported by important official figures in the government," The lawyer said.
“It seems that you do not want anybody to elect me."
“Why ?"
“Because whoever is supported does not need any body to elect him. He is winning anyway, and this claim was so dangerous that it could put me at risk. Forget relating me to anything in your mind."
“I want to distribute my photo in this campaign and I want a special appearance."
“What do you mean by special appearance?"
“The eyes of Hitler."
“What was that?" the lawyer asked
“This was a great idea but how?" the important man said
“Very simple. Get the photo of Hitler, take his eyes out of his head and put it in place of my eyes," the important man added.
“This is magic," the lawyer said.
“Do not forget to put someone in the nearby hospitals to till me who entered there. He must know their numbers and call me to call them and ask about their health."
“It seems that the hospitals will be very crowded those days, but not with patients."
“Wrong, again," the important man remarked.
“What you mean?"
“The same person will report for all candidates about hospital entries. You were not familiar with these campaigns?"
“Why not a different person? For us"
“Do you think that this kind of a person who knows every body and their phone numbers could be found often or anywhere?"
“You need someone to reach the families in the region."
“This is easy, they will come to us and offer their services and we will choose the best"

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