“In Sirte” by Joshua Furst

The dictator stays vile and vindictive to the end

Topics: Gadhafi's Final Days, Books,

The rats are rising out of their sewers. They’re crawling all over each other now, racing toward me in their pickup trucks. The foam drips from their mouths. Their daggers are out. But when they try to look through their bloodshot eyes, they see nothing. They are blind …

Just there, behind them, is the great desert … and the valley of sand where our tents once sat … If I could take the rats back there with me now. Sit them down in the shade of my father’s tent and feed them tea and lamb … remind them of what life was like under the Italians, how we starved, how we bled, how our women were treated … and the lies and deceit of Idris — their hero, they know nothing of the man — after we finally won our independence … the Americans … the British … the dogs he let loose on our land.

But why would they listen? What do they care for Nassar and the Arab ideal? … What do they even remember?

They’ve forgotten who they are and who they could be … Ungrateful rats. They’ve forgotten the slaves they would have been without me … I offered them Arabia. I offered them Africa. I promised to crush those who sought to enslave them …

They have forgotten, I am more than a man … I’m their father, their creator, their brother, their leader. I’m the idea out of which they were all born. I’m the lonely Bedouin picking through the desert, mapping the path for them, slaying their enemies … They think I hate them. They confuse my love for hate …

The rats …

Listen to them. They want freedom, they say now. They want democracy. By freedom, they mean bondage to the imperialist dogs. By democracy, they mean they want to sell their dignity — the dignity I gave them — back to the vultures hovering across the sea … They already have democracy. An Arab democracy. I gave them independence. I told them, I am you, you are me. Look at all the riches we have created together. We built a river through the desert. A people where once there were only slaves …

When they see me, when they see my sons, with the Western whores on our arms, they cry out over the injustice of our actions. They forget, we act not only for ourselves, but for them. When I take a whore, when I bend her to my will and parade her through our enemies’ capitals, I am telling the world we will not be dominated. We, the Libyan people, we will be the dominant. But the rats, they think the whores are something to desire. They don’t understand that the whore is to be despised …

They have betrayed themselves. The hands they cut off with their slashing knives are their own …

And without me, they’ll learn. Rats are eaten by dogs.

Joshua Furst is the author of the novel "The Sabotage Cafe" and the story collection "Short People."

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