Based on recent history "half Ghan" dives into the deceptive foreign policies of the United States of America and the multiple wars they've engaged in and lost due to double-dealing.
A half-caste Australian aboriginal boy grows up to become the soldier to prepare the way for the U.S. invasions into Iraq and the resultant Regime change and the disaster which followed. Although historical, the author discusses human rights and how religion has effected the nations of the world.
First Two Chapters
Chapter One: 20th of March, 2003, Baghdad, Iraq
The woman paused at the entrance to the alley, took a few quick steps backwards and peered cautiously around the corner of the bank building into the darkness beyond. She could see nothing. There was a sudden movement in the shadows. When the figure of a man illuminated by the dim moonlight, stepped away from the wall her heart skipped a beat then pounded violently behind her breast. “Ghan,” she gasped with relief. Her face flushed and her head throbbing as though it might burst, she gulped air, choked back a sob of fear and on rubbery legs willed herself forward.
Hands extended in front of her as though they might help to negotiate through the darkness, she walked as swiftly as she could towards him almost tripping in her unsteady haste. When her outstretched hands touched his, then, concealed within the darkness of the pre-dawn gloom, deep within the alley between the bank and the restaurant, the couple embraced hungrily. He pulled her to him and with a throaty sigh she thrust her groin against his thigh. Locked in his arms, with her face cradled against his neck, she felt weak and powerless, completely overcome by the excitement of the moment. Her throat felt tight; her lips were parched but her eyes began to water.
For a fleeting instant, seemingly suspended from an invisible thread, the silver moon broke through the clouds and hung directly above them. But just as suddenly, it disappeared, as those clouds, portentous of long-promised yet unrealized rain, swirled angrily around it. In the gloom, at the prospective lovers’ feet, ruffled by the gentle pre-dawn breeze, layers of sticky plastic bags and discarded newspapers seemed to be pacing, impatiently awaiting the arrival of the morning street cleaners. A large, open dumpster further along the alley reeked of decaying restaurant garbage.
And while such a location may have lacked any atmosphere of romance, under the circumstances it had seemed to be the safest place for their first clandestine rendezvous.
In anticipation of their first kiss Zabiba tilted her face upwards and opened her full, newly moistened lips ever so slightly. She closed her eyes slowly, her body aquiver in eager anticipation. Before their lips could touch there was the blinding flash of a rocket slamming into the top floor of the bank. As it exploded, completely demolishing the bank’s upper level, a hail of debris showered the potential lovers directly below. Broken bricks, shards of glass, confetti of wood-splinters and a cloud of concrete dust rained down upon them. The concussion from the blast threw them both to the ground where Zabiba lay stunned and bleeding from her ears. Only Ghan’s legs protruded from under the heavy pile of rubble that covered him. The acrid aroma of burnt explosive hung heavily in the air and filled the alley with its heavy grey mist.
As he gradually regained consciousness Ghan coughed and gagged, choking on the foul dust that covered his face. He gasped for air but inhaled only pungent smoke. He retched; kicking and pushing he struggled free of the loose bricks and pieces of fractured lumber that had confined him, shook his head, wiped the dust from his eyes and peered into the gloom for any trace of what was to have been his prey, Zabiba. There were explosions all around but even through the intermittent flashes of brilliance as rockets and artillery shells smashed into the surrounding buildings he could see nothing – the clouds above had stolen the moonlight.
His body was still numb from that first blast but he could feel a warm wetness on his face – a slight ooze of blood from the superficial head wounds caused by the shattered flying bricks; maybe he was bleeding elsewhere; he felt his abdomen and chest for wetness. Nothing. He moved his legs – no pain. Kneeling now, he scanned the alley. No movement. Then, a loud groan followed by gentle sobbing. Zabiba! Following her soft moaning, Ghan, on all fours, picked his way through the wreckage as he sought to locate her. His senses were dulled from the concussion of the rocket blast so, amid the swirling dust and smoke which obscured everything in the alley he crawled over the rubble towards where he thought she might be but the soft sobbing, mixed with the ringing in his ears, seemed to emanate and echo from different directions. He’d pause, shake his head, listen, wait for a momentary silence between explosions and crawl a little further.
A loud cough from Zabiba allowed him to pinpoint her position and he scrambled quickly to her side. She was lying on her back in an area relatively clear of debris. He pulled her into his lap cradling her head in his arms. As he gently stroked her face and cleared the dust from around her eyes he became aware of the trickle of blood from her ears, slowly congealing.
Ghan coughed and whispered hoarsely, “Zabiba! Zabiba, can you hear me?” He grabbed her shoulders and shook her gently.
She moaned, “What happened. Ooh, my ears! My ears are pounding and whirring. Where are we? What happened?”
“Rocket attack. Took out the top floor of the bank building. We’re lucky to be alive. The Americans will be here soon. We have to leave quickly and find a safe place.”
“Americans? What Americans?” Zabiba was incredulous.
“The whole damned American Army’s moving into position right now to place Baghdad under siege. Do you hurt anywhere?” Ghan gently ran his hands over her arms and legs then softly probed her stomach and chest searching for signs of bleeding or breakage. Nothing untoward.
His own body was beginning to tingle as it recovered from the concussive effects of the rocket-blast. As his senses returned and his mind cleared he realized it might be too late for his hastily-laid plan to succeed. Baghdad was under attack and the Americans would soon occupy the city.
“Siege? What do you mean?” Zabiba was genuinely alarmed. “How could you know this? The news reports have said consistently there are no American forces north of our border with Kuwait and anyway the Russian Ambassador has provided our Illustrious President Hussein with America’s battle plan. The G.R.U., the Russian Intelligence Service, says the Americans cannot attack for another month, at least! Our engineers have no plans to demolish the bridges until then!”
“Ah, I think the proof is in the pudding, My Dear.” He bent forward and whispered in her ear, “Boom!” He leaned back. “Fair enough?” Ghan’s tone of voice dripped with irony. “Stone the crows! What do you think is happening right now? Poof!” He clapped his hands and separated them upwards to signify a cloud of explosive smoke but his antics were lost in the eerie hallucinogenic lighting effects of explosive flashes amid the solid darkness.
“But . . . but, I thought they were still in Kuwait. Posturing. Just inside the border. Saddam says they’re no threat. The Americans. Saddam has determined that they are only bluffing to prove something to the United Nations with their demands for more sanctions. The news, the Government news broadcasts say it’s nothing . . . and anyway, Saddam is nothing short of a military genius. We will be ready for them . . . Our Illustrious Leader will repel the invaders!”
Ghan cut her off, “Maybe, maybe not, but we have to get out of here. Do you hurt anywhere?” He eased her into a sitting position, rose to his feet and pulled her up to his side. “Can you stand?”
Her knees buckled and as she started to slide downwards she gasped an almost breathless, “Oh!” and clutched at Ghan’s arm.
“Easy! There. Take it easy now.” And Ghan steadied her until she regained her balance.
* * * * *
Ghan Maddieson, an Australian geologist attached to the University of Baghdad in Iraq had spent the past few months attempting to seduce the young University Liaison Officer into this forbidden meeting. If she, Zabiba Badel, had even the slightest inkling of Ghan’s intentions she would never have ventured out into the night. But, both curiosity and the exciting prospect of a secret love had completely aroused and disarmed her, blinding her to the potential consequences.
Ghan was considerably older than Zabiba, the woman he had planned to seduce if necessary and then kidnap. He had no desire to resort to force so it was imperative that she trust him and be prepared to do his bidding. He’d spent months since his arrival in Iraq, slowly fostering a friendship which had turned into a mutual attraction until finally she’d agreed to this secret assignation. Since his arrival in Iraq a few months earlier he’d lived a life of deceit and lies and his devious plan had almost come to fruition. However, this premature American attack on Baghdad could ruin everything. Why wasn’t he warned?
What Zabiba had expected of Ghan wasn’t clear, even to her. She was well aware of the difference in their ages, but then, she’d never enjoyed younger lovers – “boys” – she’d always been in the company of older, more powerful men. In all her previous but discreet relationships she’d been the one in control. Smart, sophisticated and well-connected, she knew she wanted to be wined and dined and dizzily seduced − against her better judgment of course − and this alley hardly seemed to be the appropriate venue to initiate such a romantic pursuit of perpetual love and happiness, but she’d hoped that, just maybe, it could lead to better things. In any case, it would have been impossible for her to publicly have a relationship with another university faculty member considering her position and all the restrictions they were expected to live and work under. So, this pre-dawn tryst with Ghan had certainly seemed to present an exhilarating diversion.
She had wondered what it was about him that attracted her so. Why did she feel so different in his presence? The first time she saw him when he arrived at the admissions office of the University she’d experienced an electricity surge through her body and for a fleeting moment her legs had grown weak. She was sure she’d concealed her reaction well enough but felt almost clumsy and awkward when he spoke to her. He was quiet but witty and smart, yet there was something else, an intangible something that drew her to him, something that made her feel powerless and gave him control over her. She’d managed to ward off his early flirtations even though they frustrated her and drove her mad with lust. She was emotionally confused.
But then, for no apparent reason he drew back and disappeared for days at a time. But now, all at once his attitude had changed again – it seemed as though there was some dramatic urgency, some burgeoning desire that drove him to pursue her relentlessly; an animal need to be with her. It was then she felt in control again and that whet her appetite even more! His invitation to a clandestine rendezvous had excited her, but now, with this battle going on all around them . . .
Ghan had arranged for an accomplice to be waiting with a car to rush them to the border but it was highly unlikely that the man would show up now or ever. It would be impossible to use the roads south or west of Baghdad; they couldn’t move towards the American lines – much too dangerous – and to remain in the city would be tantamount to suicide.
“We’ve got to get out of this place,” Ghan yelled above the noise of the shelling. “Follow me!” and tugged at her hand.
“No!” Zabiba was adamant as she shouted back. “We must go to the University! There’s a bomb shelter below the cafeteria with a secure phone line and a radio. We have a Republican Guard security detachment stationed there. They’ll surround the university and repel the Americans. I need to contact Saddam. He’ll need to know where I am.” Zabiba stumbled on the loose debris and again clutched at Ghan for support.
“Like Bloody Hell! It’s too dangerous to go that way,” he shouted. “The shelling seems to be focused on the Presidential Palace in the compound between Haifa Street and the Tigris River. That’s too close to the University. The American Infantry will come in from the south and the east. We’ll have to go north, away from the center of the city.” Then he added his lie, “We can come back when the barrage lifts. Come on.”
He had no intention of returning to Baghdad. Nor Iraq. Ever. He grabbed Zabiba’s hand again and half-dragged, half-led her out into the street at the far end of the alley where they quickly melted into the intermittent darkness and psychedelic brilliance of the explosions as the bombing tormented the night.
* * * * *
The sun still hadn’t emerged from its eastern refuge to herald the new dawn yet now the sky glowed brighter than day as buildings burned and flares fell from on high. Phosphorescent machine-gun tracer rounds cut their paths into the city and smacked dully against any solid structure, tearing up everything else. Even as the American artillery’s continued pounding levelled sections of the city the low rumble of approaching bombers and the higher pitched scream of fighter jets could be clearly heard. So, the aerial bombing and strafing was imminent and would be followed swiftly by the coalition occupation forces.
“Ghan! Why can’t we try to get to the bomb shelter at the University?” Zabiba begged, her face now distraught with fear. She repeated her previous assurance, “We have a detachment of Saddam’s Republican Guard there. With them we’ll be safe from attack.”
Determined now, Ghan looked down at her and firmly proclaimed, “Zabiba, the Americans will need to take the airport as quickly as possible and that’s too close to the University and the Palace. You wouldn’t be safe there if the Americans enter the city and I won’t be safe if they don’t. Remember, I’m not Iraqi. I’m a foreigner and all infidels will pay for what happens here today. For decades, if not centuries into the future. Trust me.”
Chapter Two - Coober Pedy, Australia, Circa 1965
For more than half a century the little South Australian Outback town of Coober Pedy had engaged in the deep mining of opals; the widely-scattered surface deposits had been exhausted many decades ago, or so it had been thought, until the young half-caste boy walked into the assay office and plonked his find on the counter touching off the latest opal rush.
But for him, there was no urgency; he was barely fourteen years of age with a thousand-dollar windfall tucked bulkily into the back pocket of his ragged, oversized shorts. And so, as he dawdled along aimlessly, he scrabbled in the dirt with his feet, teasing rocks to the surface, enjoying the whole-body sensations created by the warm grit passing lazily between his toes, all the while wondering what pleasures the money might bring.
* * * * *
Ghan had been born on the outskirts of Kalgoorlie, the far distant gold-mining mecca in Western Australia. His mother, Maddie, was a mixed-breed aboriginal prostitute, the second-generation product of a momentary coupling between a drunken Afghan camel driver, name unknown – or at least forgotten – and a Maduwongga outcast slut, equally high but on the local version of “White Lightning” – a concoction of Kiwi shoe polish and methylated spirits. Their unlikely union resulted in the conception of Maddie’s mother who followed in her outcast mother’s whoring footsteps, hanging around bars having sex with any man, black, white or brindle, who’d share a bottle of plonk with her.
From the day she was born, Maddie had no knowledge of a father at all but did learn during her childhood that her grandfather was an itinerant Afghan cameleer. Before her thirteenth birthday she also learned from her alcoholic mother that drunken white men paid better for sexual favours than did the abos and were considerably less abusive as well.
Ghan’s conception and birth were no more startling than that of his mother’s. His father could have been any of the many local or transient miners who had used the woman’s body on a daily basis except that Ghan’s father was certainly “white”. And because one of his progenitors was definitely Caucasian, Ghan was a “half-caste” whereas his mother, who had no positive “white” blood, was a mixed-breed aboriginal.
Even so, Maddie was popular because she didn’t look “abo”, was lighter-skinned, had a youthful, shapely, athletic figure, an innocent, pretty face, and was much cheaper than the pale-skinned trollops in the moll-shops on Hay Street. Subsequently, because of the infusion of “white” blood, Ghan’s complexion was considerably lighter than that of his mother which, in those days, made him completely unacceptable in either of the societies inhabiting the old gold-mining town and its fringes.
The white’s lived in town and Ghan was too black to be white; the blacks lived in the Maduwongga boongs’ camp five miles north of town and Ghan was too white to be black. With a long, thin nose and almost almond-shaped eyes, the Afghan Cameleer’s Central-Asian genetics ruled the appearance of his unknown great-grandson. His frame was light, almost scrawny, creating an awkward gawkiness that his mother was sure he’d grow out of soon enough. As a child though, while it couldn’t be said that the boy was “ugly”, just because his facial features didn’t fit the mould of what was generally considered to be either “English” or “Aboriginal”, he fell into the category of “the ugly duckling”, which meant that along with his “colour” his presence was unacceptable in either of the two Australian communities.
So, the boy and his whore mother slept in the burnt-out shell of an abandoned 1950 Ford Consul sedan which had been dumped many years before in the wiry scrub almost half-way between the two contrary and sometimes confrontational civilizations.
Around mid-morning each day, the woman would walk into town to ply her trade, returning late each afternoon with food, water and a bottle of cheap wine bought or bartered from one of the local pubs. As she walked, her firm, high breasts, unsupported by modern, designer-engineered underwear, swayed and bounced ever so slightly to the rhythm of her gait; their nipples, stimulated by the friction of her loose-fitting, button-front dress that hung open just above the knee, were prominently accented.
She had a barefoot, cat-walk “strut” that many women world-wide strive in vain to emulate; a bearing that stimulates male lust. For Maddie it was natural; her tight, round buttocks, strongly developed from years of barefoot walking over rough terrain, rolled smoothly from side-to-side while her hips pivoted front-to-back with each long stride. The base of her pelvis tilted forward and up, her free-flowing, brightly coloured, cotton house-dress clung to and outlined the surrounds of her pubic bone, almost as an invitation, probably more effectively than any illuminated vacancy sign ever could.
Each day as she strolled casually through town to her place of business, unaccompanied males would wolf-whistle or coo-ee and proffer, “See you after lunch, Maddie!” while men with their wives or children self-consciously turned away. Gossiping women in groups, eyes green with envy, would avert their gaze, grimace at each other and hiss such admonitions as, “Bloody boong trollop! Slut! Disgusting! How dare she! What’s the world coming to? Something should be done about her! Abo whore!”
And then there was Pom. Pom was the Village Idiot. His standard daily attire consisted of brown, baggy, elastic-waisted shorts and an unbuttoned beach shirt which exposed his hairless chest and steadily developing paunch.
Only in small towns does the village idiot seem to exist.