Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (The Taliban Shuffle MTI)

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (The Taliban Shuffle MTI) by Kim Barker

Book: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (The Taliban Shuffle MTI) by Kim Barker Read Free Book Online
Authors: Kim Barker
boa, waved their hands in the air and started to cheer. A toga party two months earlier was cut short by a power outage and generator failure. At that party, most people dressed in white sheets, looking regal and even arranging leaves in their hair. Mindful of how it would look to be killed at a toga party in Kabul, I had opted for compromise—I went, but wore jeans and a pink Puma T-shirt, the Afghan equivalent of wearing clean underwear in case you’re run over by a bus. My friend, who worked for Human Rights Watch, had declined his invitation. “Human Rights Watch does not do toga parties in Kabul,” he said, and he had a point.
    The brothels and over-the-top parties were only a symptom of the absurdity that this war had turned into by the fall of 2005. Foreign aid levels were at record lows compared to the money given per capita to the relatively advanced countries of Bosnia and East Timor, but still, billions of new dollars had poured in, which should have accomplished something significant. Yet no one seemed to be coordinating which money went where. There was duplication, repetition. The capital still had little electrical power, maybe a few hours a day, and many roads that were more pothole than pavement. The country still had relatively few international troops, and of those, some, like the Germans, weren’t allowed to patrol after dark. (During the day, they traveled around with an ambulance.) The Afghan government seemed about as effective as a student council, and no one in the international community seemed to pay much attention to what was happening across the border in Pakistan.
    But newly single and tempted by the excitement, I jumped into the abyss, throwing myself into going out at night, eagerly enrolling in Kabul High. One night, as I sat with security guys at the Gandamack, a new friend called, insisting on dragging me out. The car was full—I hopped in the back, the only woman with four men who seemed like longtime pals because we spoke the same language and that alone bred a sense of familiarity in a country as foreignas Afghanistan. A media consultant, a former U.S. Marine, a carpet expert, a married guy I didn’t really know, and me. We drove around, looking for the telltale neon sign, which meant only one thing in Kabul: a brothel. Finally a tiny two-story house had one, a rainbow of neon lights spelling out THE DELICIOUS BARBECUE in cursive neon script. When we knocked on the door, I almost hoped that the women would not answer.
    “Wake up, whores!” announced the former marine, who liked to live up to his reputation for being an obnoxious jerk, as he pounded on the screen door.
    Eventually the lights inside The Delicious Barbecue flickered on. Three sleepy Chinese women opened the door, and we walked into the narrow two-story building. The furniture in the front room was minimal, a few plastic chairs, a small wooden bar, all bathed in fluorescent lights that flattered no one. Everything here was hard: the concrete floors and walls, the women, even us. I brushed away the hand of a woman who evidently thought I looked like a better deal for the night than my friends. I smiled through my rejection. She shrugged.
    We were here to sing. The women started setting up the karaoke machine and handed us some Heinekens, the beer that had somehow cornered the black market in Afghanistan. And then my social life, as usual, was interrupted by a work call.
    It was the Taliban. They always called at the worst times.
    I tried to postpone the translation with Farouq, but it was no use. He kept talking over me like the steamroller he was, flattening my useless protests and insistence that I did not have a notebook. No matter, Farouq plowed on. I put down my Heineken and stepped outside into the cool evening.
    Earlier that day, Taliban leader Mullah Omar, the famously elusive one-eyed cleric who seemed about as likely to be photographed as cold fusion and was often described as “shy” with foreigners, had

Similar Books

Winterlong

Elizabeth Hand

Intercepting Daisy

Julie Brannagh

Trouble at the Zoo

Bindi Irwin

For Everly

Raine Thomas

The Murder House

Simon Beaufort

The Life

Martina Cole

Colonel Butler's Wolf

Anthony Price