Saturday, February 11, 2017

Kabul: Sometimes It's the Little Things... (part 9)

Taking advantage of the Embassy cinema, Eitan and I caught a screening of Doctor Strange one Friday afternoon.  Eitan had some difficulty seeing over the head of the tall guy in front of him, but all in all, we enjoyed the show.

As we were walking out of the theater, though, I was scratching my head.

“So why do they call him Dr. Strangelove?” I asked Eitan.

“They don’t,” he replied.  “That’s a James Bond movie.”

This wasn’t correct either, of course, but it jogged my memory.

“Actually,” I responded, “I think it’s a Stanley Kubrick film.”

Sometimes you reach your answer by the scenic route.


Not long after I wrote about the post office and stamps, the theme came up again.

I was in the Embassy mail room collecting a package when my colleague Reese approached me at the service window.

“Check this out,” he told me.

In his hand he had a letter addressed to somewhere mundane like Wells Fargo Financial Services, and in the corner there were several old stamps pasted on.

“Aren’t these cool?!?” he asked me.  “They’re all from 1910!”

“And the best part is that the post office has to accept them,” he continued.  “All stamps, no matter how old, are considered legal postage.”

It was a fetching envelope to be sure.

“Nice!” I replied, “but isn’t a collection of hundred-year-old stamps worth more than the 49 cents required to mail a letter?”

“Nah,” Reese answered.  “I got a whole stack of ‘em at a yard sale.  The back of my car was completely filled with all kinds of stamps in glass frames.”

To me it seemed equivalent to using some rare coin like the 1913 Liberty Head nickel to buy a peppermint candy at a gas station counter.  Sure it works, but there are plenty of other, less historic monetary instruments that could be used.

Whether or not Reese’s stamps were worth anything, one thing was certain: an expired philatelist from Sheboygan was no doubt spinning in his grave.


There are always things that go bump in the night.  Occasionally, from the comfort of my bed, I hear drunks talking in the courtyard, a dish shifting in the dish rack, high-heels clicking in the hallway.

One night, however, there was something more dramatic.

I was fast asleep at 2:15 AM when the television turned on.  And not only did it turn on seemingly unprovoked, the volume was also kicked way up.  It switched on to CNN, which can be unsettling at times, but thankfully it isn’t nearly as creepy as say a baby laughing in the darkness.

Bolting upright in the bed, half in a fog, I wondered, “Is someone here?”

Now, I’m no fool.  Having seen both The Conjuring I and II, I knew it was a bad idea to confront a TV with a mind of its own, much like it’s best to ignore a music box playing independently in the attic.  At the same time, though, I knew I couldn’t let it continue.

I made my way out to the living room, and much to my surprise, there was a decomposing corpse in the easy chair with bugs crawling out of his mouth.

As if!  Actually there was nothing untoward.

I turned off the TV and went back to bed, but the nagging question remained: What happened?

Perhaps, I thought, my neighbors were watching TV and the wall separating our units was thin enough that the signal from their remote reached my TV.

Or maybe there was a timer feature on our TV that we had inadvertently activated.

The more I thought about it, however, the more far-fetched these theories seemed.  Obviously we were dealing with a ghost, and there was no need to dress it up in so-called logic.

Now where to find an exorcist in Kabul…

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