As my loyal readers know, I am in Baghdad covering the second of the three Gulf Wars.
The bombs are raining down and blowing appendages about but, to be honest, I am more concerned about the shabby manner that I am being treated in the Mohammed Motel in downtown Baghdad.
The owner is Mohammed Mohammed, Jr. His two bellhops are also known as Mohammed and the desk clerk is one of Mohammed Mohammed’s seven sons.
All of the sons of Mohammed Mohammed are called Mohammed. The only person not named Mohammed is Mohammed Mohammed’s wife. She answers to Mrs. M.
(Locals call the owner of the Mohammed Mohammed Motel, Mohammed Jr., although his father, Mohammed Mohammed, was originally referred to as Mohammed, the 27th or M&M — 3-cubed when he spent several years in New York as a rapper.)
Following is an exchange between Mohammed Jr. and me.
Mohammed Jr.: Blessings be upon you, Jaron. You called about your bill?
Jaron: Yes, the deal was for a bedroom with a bathroom, sitting room, and patio. Today, there is no patio. Just a hundred foot crater.
Mohammed Jr.: Blame it on the American precision bombing.
Jaron: I can’t step out of my patio door without breaking my neck. I should have a reduction to my bill.
Mohammed Jr.: The Americans attacked us! Not my fault.
Jaron: You had two SCUD missiles stored on my patio.
Mohammed Jr.: You saw the camouflaged crates when you arrived. If you had asked me I would have told you that President Saddam left them there.
Jaron: You had a legal duty to warn me of such dangers.
Mohammed Jr.: We would have no guests if we warned everyone about every little thing that might go wrong in the Fertile Crescent. I will deduct five percent from your bill even though you are an infidel.
Jaron: What about the kitchen?
Mohammed Jr.: It was not my fault that the British blew it up. I am a peace loving man.
Jaron: You had an anthrax lab set up in the fridge. Someone could have made enough anthrax to kill the population of London. No wonder the British used precision bombing on it.
Mohammed Jr.: As far as the Mohammed Motel is concerned, the customer is always right. I will take another five percent off your bill. And I will see that either Mohammed Mohammed or Mohammed Mohammed leaves a fruit basket on your doorstep. We have nice fresh figs.
Jaron: There is no doorstep. The Australian commandos removed it with precision explosives when they found plutonium under it.
Mohammed Jr: So we’ll leave the figs in your sitting room.
Jaron: All right. But tell those guys who have been sleeping there to move out.
Mohammed Jr: What are you talking about?
Jaron: The seven suiciders named Mohammed, all in President Saddam’s fedayeen special guard. If Bush or Blair finds out about them, they’ll vaporize my sitting room with a surgical strike from a cruise missile.
Mohammed Jr: Seven extra people here? I’m going to have to adjust the bill upward to reflect that you’ve had all those guests.
Before we could continue, an Apache helicopter roared over and with a burst of automatic fire turned my bathroom to Swiss cheese.
No other area of my suite was harmed. Another perfect coalition surgical strike.
A CIA satellite had detected a “Saddam clone,” complete with pot belly and moustache, in my shower.
Afterwards I asked Mohammed Jr. for a further reduction on my bill since I could no longer shower. “No dice,” he said, “war is a dirty business, get used to it.”
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