Along the Tracks

Monday, April 07, 2003

Saddam, in the (putrified) flesh

I agree with Mark Steyn (surprise there): Either Saddam is dead, or he might as well be. The bloated animatronic Saddam Iraqi television showed Friday was less convincing than the Santa Claus appearance on “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.” In fact, I wrote the below column for the Bryan Times on Thursday for Saturday’s publication - and didn’t bother to pull it, because I felt it still applied. Here it is:

A ‘rigor’-ous war meeting in Baghdad

Things were looking grim in Presidential Bunker #372, 80 feet below south central Baghdad.

“Fellow ministers,” began Tariq Aziz, trying to sound confident while peering over first his left, then his right shoulder. “I want you all to know that everything is under control. I am in charge here now.”

A loud CRACK! sent Tariq diving to the floor, but as he crawled under the conference table, he realized it was just the sound of a door, slightly jammed in the cracked and shifting bunker, being sprung open.

“Heroes of the party, I present our Glorious Saddam!” announced the head bodyguard as he entered the room.

The ministers darted shocked glances toward each other. Tariq clambered out from under the table and hopped from the head around the corner to the spot in front of his customary first seat, shoving the hapless defense minister down a spot, and initiating a round of musical chairs in which the loser was certain to be executed. When the deputy minister for public beatings found himself without a spot, he dejectedly grabbed a fork, walked to the corner of the room, and stuck the utensil into an electrical outlet. He slumped to the floor.

Now all eyes turned to the door. Two more guards entered then stood crisply at each side. Then, seated in a wheelchair, Saddam was rolled to the head of the table.

The ministers saluted sharply, awaiting their illustrious leader’s hand. And awaiting. And awaiting.

Finally, the chief bodyguard lifted Saddam’s right hand to his brow, then gently set it back down. The war council members relaxed, and took their seats.

“Oh Blessed Saddam, your ministers are ready to report on the war,” said the chief of staff. “Shall they proceed?”

After a short pause, the chief of staff reached across the table, grabbed Saddam’s nose and shook the president’s head up and down.
“Very well. Prime minister?”

Tariq, still shaken, began with a bit of a catch in his voice.

“Your Most Glorious Eminence, the infidel invaders are on the path to utter defeat. The rivers run with their blood, and our people gladly die at your command.”

The ministers thought they heard an “Hmmm ...” from Saddam, but it may have been gas. Tariq continued.

“The world is united with us, oh Great One, and the Satanic Americans and British and their Zionist allies are doomed to death and shame.”
Tariq was unsure if Saddam was listening - the wonderful leader’s stare seemed 1,000 yards away.

“Oh Mighty Captain, I turn the briefing over to your defense minister,” Tariq finally croaked - literally, as the stress of speaking into Saddam’s cold eyes had caused an aneurysm. A bodyguard dragged Tariq’s lifeless body to the corner and tossed it on the dead deputy minister.

The pressure in the room was clearly mounting. Now, the defense minister spoke.

“Superb Commander, while we are approaching absolute victory, there have been some small difficulties,” he stated carefully.

The room was suddenly so silent everyone could have heard a pin drop. In fact, everyone did hear a pin drop - the one holding open Saddam’s left eye. The Exalted Conqueror winked at his minions, easing the tension.

“Our martyrs have been very successful,” the relieved defense minister (literally - his Revolutionary Guard green trousers turned dark in front) continued. “Some have raised their hands and kneeled in the path of the infidels, forcing the dirty Americans to take them in and feed them. Some have helped women and children make the decision to martyr themselves by shooting them. And some have dropped their weapons and run away, so that the evil invaders might accidentally shoot themselves when they pick up the guns to destroy them.”

The other ministers smiled uncomfortably and nodded, seeking to look approving of the report - without looking too approving.

Suddenly, a horrible tearing sound broke the momentary silence - the tearing of duct tape, which kept Saddam looking up. The president’s head dropped forward, his chin on his chest. The body language was unmistakable.

“Dearest Leader, do not fear, your genius plan will carry us to absolute victory,” cried the defense minister, and the other advisers chimed in agreement. There was not a dry eye in the room - except Saddam’s right eye, which had been open the entire meeting.

A bodyguard rushed behind Saddam, grabbed his ears, and lifted his head back up. Unfortunately, the right ear tore off, leaving Saddam in a pointed one-eyed stare at the Ba’ath Party chairman. The chairman lost all control, and ran toward the exit, where he was shot dead by one of the guards.

Meanwhile, the head bodyguard realized his terrible faux pas, pulled out his sword, and cut off the hand holding the disjointed ear of the Brave Warrior. He put away the sword and grabbed Saddam’s hair, lifting the Supreme Chairman’s head proudly once again.

“Well,” said the defense minister, “it’s clear our situation is well in hand.

“Great Saddam, we again pledge loyalty to the death - and beyond.”

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