KingMidget's Ramblings

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A Song For The Day

A Brilliant Beginning, A Horrible Ending

I’ve written about this before.  I’ll write about it again.

Decades ago, in one of his first collections of short stories, Stephen King published a story called The Gunslinger, or something like that.  I think it was actually a bit of a variation on that.  It turned out that story was a small piece of a larger piece that was released in book form as The Gunslinger.  It turned out that larger piece was the first book in what turned out to be an eight book monstrosity.

I loved The Gunslinger.  It was simple and brutal and intriguing.  It took years for King to finish the entire epic and every time another book came out, I would go back and start from the beginning, reading The Gunslinger and then The Drawing of the Three and then The Waste Lands and on and on.  Until The Dark Tower was released and the series was complete.  So, somewhere in there I read The Gunslinger at least seven times, The Drewing of the Three at least six times.  You get the idea.  (And, yes, the math doesn’t quite add up.  The seventh and “final” book, The Dark Tower, was released in 2004.  Then suddenly, eight years later, King published an eighth book in the series which he described as being placed somewhere between the fourth and fifth book of the series.  I never bothered with that book.)

I spent a lot of time reading these books.  Devouring them.  Years and years waiting for the conclusion and when I got there it was the single most disappointing moment in my reading life.  The ending was a huge, lazy, cop-out. HUGE!  It was the beginning of the end of my fandom of Mr. King.  It is when he officially jumped the shark.

I’m starting to feel the pull again, however.  There is a movie coming out based on the last book, which seems kind of odd to me given that it is the last book in an eight book story.  How do you start at the end?

I was poking around Amazon today, looking at their new Top 20 list of the most read books this week.  The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger is on it.  The pull got a little stronger. Maybe I’ll find my copy and give it a go.  I can stop there and not lose myself in the rest of the books.  I know I don’t want to get to the seventh book and that horrid ending.

I started reading the Amazon review of the book and learned that King has revised the opening book in the series.  According to the reviewer:  “To King, The Gunslinger demanded revision because once the series was complete it became obvious that ‘the beginning was out of sync with the ending.'”

No frickin’ kidding!

The review goes on to explain that the revision only adds 35 pages to the original version of The Gunslinger and both old and new readers will just love the additional detail!!!

I get it.  When dealing with a series that goes on as long as this one did — both in volume and in time — it is likely difficult to be entirely consistent from book to book.  King likes to talk about his “constant reader” and how much he appreciates those who are. But to blow the ending so remarkably shows a complete disdain for storytelling and for the reader, particularly with something as epic as this series was.  That’s just my humble opinion.

Here’s what I think I’m going to do. Dig out my copy of the original The Gunslinger.  Read that and see if I want to continue.  I really don’t want to see how he has revised the opening book more than 30 years later because he finally realized he had screwed the pooch.  Maybe knowing how the entire thing ends will change my perspective as I read it again.  I haven’t gone anywhere near these books since I first read the final book in the series.

(I’m pretty sure I still have all of the books in the series.  I have been reluctant to throw out my King books. But I may have been so disgusted way back when that these went into the trash heap.  We’ll see.)

Thank you for reading, my constant reader.

A Song For The Day

I posted this song about seven months ago, so sorry for the repeat, but it came on my Spotify playlist just now and, well, it’s just so beautiful.

 

Happy Mother’s Day

I was just starting to think about writing a post about my mom on Mother’s Day and then I remembered something.  My mom has absolutely no interest in computers and the internet of things and all of the things people now share with the world because of the interwebs and social media and all of this stuff.

So I will honor her perspective and not share some stories.  I think the world could learn a thing or two from her.

Happy Mother’s Day, mom of mine.  You are the best mom I could have hoped for.

Tears In My Eyes 

“Take him outside,” the interrogator told them.  They led me up a flight of eight or nine concrete steps to a long gravel drive. It was pitch black out, and completely quiet. There was no one around. One of the soldiers grabbed my left arm, and another took my right. And then they started running.

I tried to keep up, but my legs were shackled together. First, my flip-flops fell off, and after a few barefoot strides, my legs fell out from under me. The soldiers didn’t even slow down. They kept a firm grip on my arms while my legs bounced and scraped along the ground, gravel biting into them. When the run finally ended, the soldiers brought me back to the interrogation room, bloody and bedraggled.

The next day was a repeat.

And that’s how things went for the next ten days. In the mornings, the nurses gave me IV fluids to keep me alive, and at night, the soldiers literally ran me into the ground.

After years of incarceration and inhumane treatment at the hand of U.S. soldiers at Guantanamo, Lakhdar Boumedienne had enough.  He went on a hunger strike and remained completely silent when interrogated.  The description above is what happened as a result.

They opened the slot in my cell door and immediately started pepper spraying me. I turned my head, but another soldier was waiting just outside the window, where I could not see him. He opened the window and started spraying my eyes from that direction.

They sprayed and sprayed me. They must have used two full bottles of that awful stuff. They kept spraying from both directions and I collapsed on the floor, my eyes burning. It was an ambush, not a precaution. I had not threatened them, or behaved menacingly. I had acquiesced to their search and was sitting peacefully on the bed when they attacked.

One of the soldiers ordered me to lie down and remain prone on the floor while they entered the cell. Even though I did exactly as he said, the first soldier through the door jumped into the air and landed on my back with his knees, nearly breaking my back. The pain was intense. The rest of the IRF team followed after him, piling on top of me. They they used plastic wire to tie my hands and feet.

The soldiers dragged me out of my cell across the cellblock, and onto the gravel driveway outside the cellblock. They threw me down onto the sharp gravel, and then they proceeded to beat me, punching and kicking with all their might. Someone without my years of karate training could easily have died from such an assault. Praise God, I knew how to take a punch. I knew how to move so that my attackers would do as little damage as possible. I knew my body’s most vulnerable spots and how to protect them.

While the soldiers were laying into me, an officer approached. For a moment, I was hopeful. Surely, the officer would be upset to see soldiers beating a defenseless man. Instead, though, she was only upset about the soldiers’ lack of creativity. She took a high-pressure firehose off the wall nearby and forced the nozzle into my mouth. As the soldiers held my head in place, one of them turned on the water. The pressure was so strong that water started spilling from my nose.

Finally, they were done with the hose. But not with me. One of the soldiers grabbed hold of my fractured finger and started twisting. I cried out that it was broken, but they did not care. They just kept shouting curse words and torturing me.

The soldiers forced my face down against the gravel and held me there. One of the soldiers leapt into the air and slammed down onto me, knees first, with all the force he could muster. For the second time that afternoon, my back was almost broken.

In desperation, I tried a ruse. I pretended to faint, hoping that even these brutes would draw the line at hitting an unconscious man. They dragged my limp body, still bound hand and foot, back indoors and into a cell, where they threw me to the floor. I was hopeful that my ruse had worked.

They began kicking me again. One of the soldiers grabbed me by the hair and repeatedly slammed my head against the bottom edge of the toilet until I lost consciousness.

This is just one incident of torture and brutality inflicted by U.S. soldiers at Guantanamo on Mustafa Ait Idir.  There were others.

Witnesses of the Unseen is Lakhdar and Mustafa’s story.  Two men picked up in the post-9/11 hysteria, accused of a plot to bomb the U.S. embassy in Sarajevo.  A three-month investigation by Bosnian authorities established there was no evidence that either man was involved in any terrorist plot, any terrorist group, anything — other than being peaceful, family men.  That wasn’t good enough for the American government, however. Instead of Lakhdar and Mustafa going free at the conclusion of the Bosnian investigation, they were turned over to the American military as enemy combatants and spent the next seven years in Guantanamo.

What is stunning to me, even beyond the torture, about Guantanamo and the black sites and all of this is that our government argued that these individuals had no legal rights. No rights to know what the charges were against them. No rights to a hearing. Nothing. No rights. Individuals held by our government were essentially disappeared and treated as less than human and our government fought tooth and nail to avoid ever having to answer to them in the most basic way.

Eventually, their cases came before the U.S. Supreme Court and thankfully, the court concluded otherwise.

What’s interesting is that, while they were incarcerated at Guantanamo based on allegations of plotting to bomb the U.S. embassy in Sarajevo, when these men finally had their day in court, the government discarded those grounds and instead claimed that they had sought to travel to Afghanistan to join the fight there against the U.S.  With absolutely no evidence.

The men, along with several others who made up the Algerian Six, were freed.

As I posted last night, I consider this to be one of America’s Greatest Shames.  One that continues to this day as Guantanamo continues to grind away at humanity and what is right. It disgusts me every day to know that my government tortured and incarcerated these men in the name of my security.

Personally, I think every American citizen of voting age should read Witnesses of the Unseen.  It is only when we confront this evil and darkness that is amongst us that we will regain our humanity as a nation.

 

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