by Norris R. Peery (Writer's Showcase Press, December 2001).
* From the foreword
This slowly evolving tale purposefully weaves through both the physical and psychological landscape of Iran and its people. The story takes form during a period of time, when all too soon hell itself seeped its way into the most hopeful of dreams, and brought to a people not unlike you, a future of turmoil, fear and uncertainty. What unfolds here is a fictionalized version of a period of Iran's recent history.
* From Chapter 3
Jerry needed a Christmas tree.
“This one looks sick. Don't you have something nicer?”
“Yes Mister. We have the Russian ones. Right over there.” The salesman pointed.
“Wow. This is a nice tree. It's beautiful. How much is it?
“One hundred thousand Rials or in dollars, just for you my friend, I make it an even eight hundred dollars.”
“What you mean? Kidding? Is that boy play?”
“It means your price is ridiculous.”
“No. It is very good price. This tree was once a Russian Prince.”
“What are you talking about?”
“All of our trees from Russia were once Russian Princes. We have written guarantee.” The salesman waved a tattered paper in the air. “We buy them special for the foreingies. We could not find any frogs that were once princes, but we have guarantee for every tree.”
“Are they fresh?”
“Yes, and they water themselves.”
“Yes. They are self-watering and you get the guarantee.”
“Let me look at the guarantee.”
The salesman held the paper up in front of Jerry's face.
“I can't read it. I think it's in Russian. What does it say?”
“I don't read Russian.”
“Then how do you know what it says, or even if it's a guarantee?”
“It's our guarantee. It comes with every tree. They are guaranteed.”
“Couldn't you drop the price a bit? It's a nice tree, but not worth eight hundred dollars.”
“How much you want to pay? I make you a special price, seven hundred dollars.”
“Seven hundred dollars! I'm not paying seven hundred dollars, that's too much.”
“How much you pay then?”
“I have a wife and many children, you would take the food from their mouths? Five hundred dollars, my last price.”
“Twenty five dollars.”
“Oh, my friend. My family has many needs, food, shoes, rent, and medicine for my sick children. Two hundred fifty dollars my last price, and you still get the guarantee.”
“No, no. Thirty dollars and I don't need the guarantee, you can keep it.”
“OK. Just for you. Give me the money in US dollars.”
Jerry gave the salesman the money.
Very carefully, the salesman counted the money, and then with a pair of snipers, he cut about one foot off from the top of the beautiful tree, and handed it to Jerry.
“What did you do? What is this?”
“It is your thirty dollar tree. No guarantee. No self watering, and just the hair of a Russian prince.”
“But, now you've ruined the whole tree. No one will buy a tree with the top removed.”
“It is no problem, now it is many thirty dollar trees.”
Jerry hung the tree over his shoulder and stated for home.
* From Chapter 19
“It's so good to see you two.”
“We come to tell you some very good news.” Mohgi said.
“Come in. Come in. I have some good and some bad news for you too.”
“Mohgi getting passport.” Hassan smiled.
“Really Mohgi, what happened?”
“My father, my mother and me and my brother went to Tehran. They had sent us a letter saying that they had a passport for my brother and me. My brother received his passport, but there was some delay about mine, but they said, in a few weeks it would be ready for me.”
“That's such good news. I'm really happy for you. When will your family leave the country?”
“They have gone. They are already in Pakistan.”
“Why did they leave without you?”
“In Tehran the passport office said my passport had been approved. They said it was sure that I would have it soon.”
“So when you get it, which way are you going to leave?”
“By a bus to Pakistan.”
“OK, here is my bad news first. The company in three days is going to evacuated all of us from the housing compound to Tehran, and then as soon as possible, they will put us on a flight to the United States.”
“Ooooh, sad day.” Hassan said.
“Maybe not Hassan. They have said that if there is an extra seat on the bus, that you can go with me.”
* From Chapter 20
Three Islamic Guards stood by the outer-wall's gate.
“Open the Gate! Open this Gate!” One guard shouted as he pounded on the gate. “We have an arrest warrant. Open this Gate!” The Guard shouted and continued pounding on the gate. Two of the Islamic Guards had a rifle in their hands, the third Guard was the one who was angrily pounding on the gate and shouting that it be opened.
A petite woman wearing a gray chador slowly opened the gate. “What do you want here?” She asked.
“You have a son, Jamsheed?”
“Yes my son is named Jamsheed. What do you want with him?”
“Is your son at home?”
“Yes, my son is here. Why do you asked?”
“I have a warrant to arrest him, and to take him in for questioning.”
“That can't be. My son has done nothing wrong.”
“Just tell him to come here or we will come in and get him.”
“But he is a good boy. He has done nothing to be arrested for.”
“Tell him to come here now, or we will come in and take him.”
“Jamsheed, Jamsheed,” His mother called out and then placed her hand over her mouth, as if the words had come out of her by mistake.
“Yes, what do you want?” Jamsheed called out to his mother.
The Islamic Guard replied, “Jamsheede come to the gate. I need to talk with you.”
As Jamsheed came to the gate, he saw that his mother was crying and she was saying, “He is a good boy. He is a good boy.”
“Jamsheed you must come with us for questioning by the Authority.”
“By what Authority? For what? I've done nothing wrong.”
“I have a warrant to arrest you for questioning.” The Guard held out the piece of paper. “Don't delay any longer. Come with us now. If you have done nothing wrong, you will soon be back home. Come now.”
The Guard motioned with his hand for Jamshede to come.
Jamsheed turned to his mother who was sobbing. “I won't be gone long. It's all right.” He touched his mother's shoulder, “I'll be right back. Please don't worry for me.”
Jamsheed's mother reached out for him, but the two Guards with rifles all ready had Jamsheed between them, and they had started to march him down the street. Jamseed's mother stood at the gate and watch as her son was taken away. She bent her head and cried and sobbed to herself “He is a good boy. He is a good boy.” She watched as they put her son into a car and it drove away.