Taylor was on the last slide down from his all night bender with a modern geisha who had traded in the traditional dress for an alluring little black number with a skirt that was wrapped tight around the thighs but still high enough where it was no problem pulling it over her hips. She hadn’t even woken up when Taylor’s security detail came for him. He was hoping she’d decide to stick around for his last night in the country. The shops and apartments quickly melted away into endless desolation that stretched in all direction, merging with the sullen gray sky in the gloomy horizon. Rain drops began gently tapping on the window. One, two, then 4, then 8 in a few seconds they were driving through a downpour.
“I apologize the wheater isn’t better,” Sharbo said his lips emerged as a smile in his bushy beard.
“It’s alright,” Taylor shrugged.
“You should see in the summer. That’s when it is most beautiful,” the councilor said proudly.
“Yeah I’ll have to see it when I get the chance,” Taylor replied.
“The weather is usually like this around this time,” Sharbo explained. “I remember when I was a boy maybe nine or ten years of age my father used to take us…
Sharbos words were slowly drowned out by the sound of the rain rolling over the roof of the car. A slight haze clouded everything in the Senator's dimming field of vision. His eyes were glassy and unfocused. He struggled to maintain eye contact with his host and nodded every time there was a lull in his anecdote. Taylor’s jaw slackened, and he felt his head slowly falling below his shoulders.
“But that’s usually how it goes isn't it?” Sharbo laughed.
Taylor smiled “Very true,” he said with a nod.
“Ah, here we are,” said Sharbo.
Taylor looked out the window. They were coming up to a cluster of shanties. Taylor was thrown back against the seat by a sudden bump in the road.
“My apologies Senator we haven’t been able to repair all the damage from the shells yet,” Sharbo explained.
He VIPs and their mercenary guard detail surveyed the war torn village from behind tinted glass. The plated vehicles bounced in the rain filled shell crater splashing the stagnated murky mixture splashing up like a geyser. The village was a cluster of dilapidated concrete blocks eroded by years of neglect and war. The echo of the wind as it rushed through barren corridors of the abandoned derelicts carried out into the empty streets.
“The war has devastated our country,” Sharbo said in a solemn tone.
Whether by instinct or training sorrow was an emotion Tayor worked with best. “Your country’s suffering hasn’t gone unnoticed by us,” Taylor assured him.
“We are barely holding on against their relentless attacks. Some nights I’m afraid to sleep because I think when I wake up the capital will be in enemy hands and I will have to leave the home I love. I know this place doesn't look like much to you but we are putting all our strength into defending the democracy we have, and anything in this world that is a force for peace and freedom in this world is worth preserving,” Sharbo said concluding his rousing monologue.
“Your determination and devotion to your people is nothing short of inspiring Gand Counselor,” Taylor declared emotionally, but I have to look out for the well being and best interests of my people as well.” Taylor reminded him.
The car came to a stop. Taylor had been dreading this stop on tour.
“Senator Taylor I can tell you are a just and prudent man and I admire that.”
“Well, thank you, counselor, that means a lot to me,”
“But I think you need to see the faces of those who this war is really hurting,” said Sharbo.
The clinic was a two story cinder block building. According to Sharbo, it was the only full fledged medical facility in the region. Senator Taylor wasn’t too anxious to see the horrific scenes of gore that were sure to be going on within the walls of the war zone's sole triage ward, but he was determined to get it over with as quickly as possible.
His hangover suddenly seemed to vanish, and he swung into action with renewed vigor. He methodically prepared himself for the public spectacle he was about to act out. He rolled up his sleeves, combed his hair back, and put on a downcast but determined expression.
“Alright get one of me out front,” he shouted to the people in his scrambling entourage.
“Right here Senator,” a young assistant said before snapping a picture of Taylor looking both contemplative and mournful.
“Alright write up a caption and tweet it asap,” Taylor ordered as he flashed a smile at the young blonde holding the camera.
Flanked by his security detailed and followed by a swarm of assistants, advisors, interns, and photographers. They stormed the entrance of the clinic and jammed up the doors. Taylor’s feet went cold when he saw the rows of beds filled with mutilated patients. A doctor with a neatly trimmed beard and dark brown eyes and a nurse with her hair tied up and covered in surgical hair net were waiting to greet him.
“Mr. Senator I’m doctor Tahari. It is an honor to meet you. The doctor said extending his hand.
Taylor quickly glanced at the doctor’s hand to make sure it was clean enough to shake.
“It’s good to meet you doctor Tahari,” The senator said gripping his hand and stepping in next to him and turning towards the crowd.
“Look at the camera,” said the senator.
Caught off guard Tahair awkwardly smiled before being blinded by a flash.
“How long have you been here?” Taylor asked before stepping over to take the nurse’s hand for a similar photo.
“3 years,” replied Tahari.
“You must have seen a lot of terrible suffering,” said Taylor.
“Yes, that’s true,” said Tahari. “But I have also seen plenty of hope emerging from the misery as well,”
“Yes, you coming here has renewed people’s hope that this violence can be ended soon,” the nurse declared.
“Well I was taught growing up to never turn your back on someone in need,” said Taylor continuing to pose for the circle of cameras.
“That’s not all,” Tahari interjected. “With your help, we can start working to restore the livelihood of our patients. We can make help them overcome what has happened to them and hopefully one day soon-
“I’m sorry doctor, but I’ve got to get going. Please brief my staff, and they’ll make sure I receive the relevant information. It was nice meeting both of you good luck, and God bless.” said Taylor as he turned to leave.
“Wait for Mr. Seantor!” The nurse shouted, and the whole room suddenly went quiet.
“There is someone who would really like to meet you.” she said.
Taylor was ready with an excuse “Well I-
“Here he comes,” said the nurse before he could finish.
The crowd parted, and there was a little boy, maybe of preschool age with short black hair and doughy brown eyes. His left leg was amputated just below the knee, and his pant leg was sewn up into a pouch around the stump. His face on the same side was blemished by a burn that had caused the flesh to bubble and char. Everyone watched adoringly as he crutched his way over to the senator.
“This is Kameel,” said the nurse. “He just started walking again.”
“I wanted to be able to meet the hero who wants to make sure what happened to me never happens to any other children ever again,” said the boy in a tiny voice.
There was a collective awe. Taylor swallowed hard, and his eyes started to gleam with moisture. He took a knee and put his hand on the Kameel’s shoulder and waited for the sequence of camera flashes to finish. “Kameel you’re a brave little boy, and I’m going to do my best to make sure nothing like this ever happens to any other little boys and girls.” He took a deep breath and hugged the burned child to his chest but still kept his cheek from making any contact with the scorched tissue.”
Once the moment felt like it had been thoroughly documented the Senator stood up and said his goodbyes. He walked briskly back to his vehicle with Sharbo at his side.
“Councilor Sharbo after what happened in there I’m gonna be able to do a whole lot better on an aid package than 75 million,”
After the Senator’s caravan had sped away, everyone in the hospital sighed with relief.
“Alright everyone he’s gone! Great work!” The nurse said. There was a round of applause. The patients started getting out of bed and washing off their artificial wounds. Kameel unfolded his leg and stretched it out.
“That money is as good as ours,” the phony doctor said triumphantly.
“Damn right!” concurred the fake nurse. “Although I wonder if we even had to try as hard as we did?” she asked aloud.
That night Senator Taylor delivered a skype interview from his private jet.
“Their country may not be as developed as the US, but they are a force and freedom and democracy in this world. To me, that's always something worth fighting for,” were the words he signed off with and on that trite, millions of dollars in cash and military hardware became earmarked for a little country no one up until a few weeks ago had ever even heard of. The country and its people were a mirage. It existed only as a few social media accounts and as a set made out of the remnants of a remote and long abandoned mining town.