From Jester To King LXVI
By Simon Barget
Try and get into Gaza and you’re going to get fired on. Palestinian, Pakistani, Parsi or Jew. Try and get out, well I imagine the same. I was only hoping to see what happens, and every time you walk up that gravel path, it’s initially open and visible until it turns a corner round to the left, and you know it’s right behind there, the prow of the hill, that they’re all going to be hiding, every time you get to a certain point you’re going to get struck by mortar. And I was sidling up, waiting, getting closer, waiting, I was getting pretty damn close, but it was inevitable that at some point the soldiers were going to start firing, there was no chance I was actually going to make it to the border, and I had no intention of doing so, all I was going to do was turn back at the first hint of gunfire. But they didn’t fire and so I was really confused, really really confused, and it was then that I cottoned on to the real danger, the one I hadn’t accounted for: BEARS. Out to my right was a ferocious black bear and it was approaching, not at breakneck speed, but it appeared to have an interest, and I can’t say I was petrified as I believe I am supposed to have been, but I did try to make my way backwards away from the bear, back to the safety of our border post where I knew some of the lads were busy cleaning their guns. And every time I moved, the bear moved, if I stood still, it came to a halt too. So I was completely at a loss as to what I should do, if I move, then I have to endure all the fear that rushes in as soon as he decides to move, if I stay still , I have that lingering feeling that I might have to be here for ever. So though I had long since forgotten about being shelled, the situation was perversely almost the same. Except that moving at all engenders the bear’s movement. I bet the bear was having a bloody good laugh about it as well.
The thing is that the way it came up to me it was almost like in a dream. It was as if I knew it couldn’t really hurt me, and try as it might to take a nice bite, I wasn’t that scared and I managed to evade it. It came up close with its sniffling jaw, that huge twitching ursine nose, so ungainly and lumbering, almost laughable, and the stupid thing was so slow that all I had to do was make a fairly deft movement and its plan would be thwarted. And there was something about it that wasn’t fierce at all, like it was a bit lackadaisical, as if not really a real bear, only a facsimile, something sent to haunt me to remind me, but certainly not to tear me apart. And after about three minutes of cat and mouse with this bear, I get back to the hut, and there they are our motley crew of shambolic pretend soldiers, playing at gunfire, him bragging to him about such and such thing whilst none of them so much as dares going out, they’re all stuck safe in the refuge of the hut and I’m the only one that dares venture outwards, and I don’t even mention the bear, that would probably really put the wind up them.