Entry 2 – When in Dubai...
Ah, Dubai – the shining jewel of the Arabian Peninsula, the City of a Thousand Lights and Tales... and the place where my life had taken a turn that led me where I am now. What’s there to write about Dubai...
Dubai is pretty. You know, the way a gold-digger chick is. You admire it from afar; you’re even smitten by it when you first enter its gates. Everything seems to somehow glitter, all that luxury, just for you – providing you can afford it. Only when it has you firmly in its grasp you start noticing the ugliness beneath its surface. Its skyscrapers of marble and chrome full of servants too terrified to even look at you when you pass by. The sense of hopelessness and the squalor of the outer slumps surrounding the radiant core of the metropolis. Even the bones of those long gone and forgotten, buried deep in the foundations of this would-be paradise. They all tell tales, alright – of tyranny, oppression and murder.
At first it seemed like Maddox came through for all of us. We flew there first class as befitted those on their way to the big leagues. On our way, we were even doing our best to learn of local customs. There are many rigid strata to the society – from the royalty over more or less powerful sheiks, advisors and businessmen all the way down to the slave class who are barely treated as human.
As a merc, you don’t get to speak to, or even see, anyone above a certain level but that’s alright – the “middle class” has its own set of problems and things they need dealing with.
For example, take a certain elderly businessman, his equally powerful wife coming for a visit and a young mistress she’s definitely not supposed to meet. The thing with mistresses is, they always do things with certain expectations. Sometimes it’s money. Sometimes it’s status – and sometimes, the poor girls actually want marriage and happiness. Those usually end up the worst.
Ours was such a case. The task seemed simple. Get in for a few days, convince the girl to leave with us, get out. A small flat stateside, that’s all she gets, no more and no less. A generous offer by all accounts. But what if she’s just not going for it? What if she’s with a child whom she considers a rightful heir to her lover’s empire since his cold, calculating wife would give up any semblance of family life for a career? What if she’s given a night to pack but instead of her ready to go, you run into her, her brother and a whole bunch of boys with no idea what they are getting themselves into?
They say the desert under Dubai is soaked in blood, that it longs for it as a bizarre form of payment for all that oil it’s giving up. Her thirst would be quenched that night – at least that’s what I suspected. By the time the shooting started, I was long gone. I am a lot of things but a murderer is not one of them. My reward? A hotel bill, a cheap ticket home and my phone number blocked by just about everyone I’ve learned to respect through my adult life. Nobody would work with me again and the only actual question on my mind was... how good was I at digging or stacking shelves?