Saturday, September 26, 2009

Training, Part 1

It must have been 2 or 3 in the morning, after a bumpy ride in the back of a small CIA-chartered cargo plane, after hours of pitch black and the roaring sound of overtaxed engines and the howling wind and rain, surrounded by 20 or 30 serious-minded and quiet puppies (well, except for one or two). At regular intervals the cabin door would open for few seconds and allow some light into the plane, revealing a bearded man wearing shorts and a flowery shirt, causing the puppies to sit up at quiet attention and wag their tails as he gave us all a look, all of us sitting on the empty and cold metal floor that had a puddle of water that shifted back and forth with the roll of the plane. Once again I asked myself why Cheryl and I agreed to go along with this.

We landed in what I guessed was somewhere in Central America, possibly the Yucatan, on a open grassy field with no lights except for a bare bulb hanging on the porch of a shack at the edge of the jungle. The wind and rain picked up as we raced across the field, humans with puppies on a leash, and I could only guess that the other humans were as clueless as me, each of us agreeing to come along and to ask no questions.

Obviously this was a training mission of some sort--the puppies seemed to know exactly what to do (except for one or two). In the middle of this open field the wind had nothing to stop it from rushing through the big shack, which had no doors or windows, just big openings on all sides. Up ahead, under a swaying light bulb, the bearded man was speaking, speaking to the puppies, I guess, because we humans certainly couldn't hear a thing over the wind.

Then one of the puppies moved to the front and turned around to face us...

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