Hala, the mole

02Sep08

I was in my underwear, writing an Op Ed piece for The Washington Post about rising tensions between Hezbollah and Israel, when Hala knocked on my door. I had been living alone atop an eight-floor walk up in West Beirut, a crumbling bullet hole-ridden concrete building with no air conditioning that would embarrass the term “shithole.”

“Um,” I said, “can I help you?” I was confused to see this petite Shiite Muslim girl at my doorstep. I was reminded of a time when a hummingbird flew through my open window to drink from flowers in a vase.

“Yea Allah—this thing is so fucking hot!” she said, removing her burka. “You got any beers in this place?”

I put it together that she had seen me on the street and became intrigued. And of course I wasn’t hard to find. She just had to ask anyone where the young American lived. The Lebanese keep tabs.

We split a case of Almaza, smoked some hash, talked about her favorite Occidental things (like Baywatch, Guns N Roses. spaghetti westerns, etc…), and made love, a routine we continued for the next few months.

She was with me the night of the invasion. Hezbollah had kidnapped an Israeli soldier and Israel’s Air Force answered in kind—100 fold. As the earth shook and the fighter jets ripped through the air just above our heads we screwed like sailors dancing to the beat of a sinking ship.

A few hours later I was somewhere in South Beirut, naked, bruised and bleeding. As it turned out, Hala was a Hezbollah spy and I was under suspicion of working for the CIA. Failing that, I was an agent of the Western Zionist Media and not worth the air I was breathing. It was Hala’s job to get information out of me, but I had no information. Her superiors grew weary of her repeatedly coming up with nothing, so they figured they’d use the stick instead of the carrot. They beat and tortured me for six days.

I managed to escape on the seventh day, by strangling the man who brought my daily meal. Running from the building I used his service weapon to neutralize those in my way. I was able to bribe a Maronite fisherman to charter me to Cyprus and I spent several days in a hospital.

Still, if I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t hesitate. All told, six days of torture for three months with Hala was a small price to pay.



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