Limbaugh in Afghanistan – A Fantasia (with Apologies to Paul Bowles):
(Note: The Rude Pundit knows that Paul Bowles wrote about North Africa, not Afghanistan.)
Rush Limbaugh knew he shouldn’t have trusted Ahmed, the local jirga member who told him to follow him outside the compound in Kandahar to see the endless poppy fields. Limbaugh wanted to confront his temptations, demonstrate he was a stronger man. Now he’s lost in the ruins of an ancient mosque, alone, hungry, pissed off because he’s due to be live on the radio in a couple of hours, bringing his faithful listeners tales of the good news of the Afghani people. How they admired him, how the soldiers even asked him if he was going to run for office. God, he felt somehow right and at home here, praising the good works of America.
He hears the clatter of distant hoofsteps, across the rocky terrain. Finally, he thinks, some local to help him. They ride up to him, three men with scraggly beards and Chitrali hats. “Can you help me? I’m an American. American. I need to get back to Kandahar Air Base,” he declares as the men on horses circle him slowly, speaking in a dialect that Limbaugh not only can’t understand, but he hasn’t heard yet. They are surveying him. “I’m on the radio. You know the radio?” He makes some futile hand gesture of a microphone in front of his mouth, of holding a mike with his mouth open, pointing at it with his other hand, nodding and winking.
The horse-borne men look at each other and nod. Limbaugh smiles. The power of Excellence in Broadcasting, no doubt. Americans have saved them from the Taliban and now he will receive their thanks. One of them say something to Limbaugh, and as the radio host turns towards that horse, another man clubs Limbaugh in the back of his head. Limbaugh hits the ground with all the grace of an oversized turd being shat out of a constipated elephant.
The Pashtun men pick up the porcine pundit and stuff him into a large bag, carrying him between two horses back into the mountains. When they get back to their village, a small compound really, of men only and a few younger boys, they spill Limbaugh out and leave him to regain consciousness, one of the boys watching over him.
Limbaugh comes out of his haze and bellows, "I’ll call the fuckin’ embassy." The boys run off as Limbaugh continues to yell, "There’s gonna be hell to pay when the Americans hear of this." A couple of the men enter the shack and walk over to him. He thrashes and screams, "We’re gonna bomb you back beyond the stone age, you raghead-" But one of the men has grabbed Limbaugh’s tongue and, with one swift cut of a dagger, cuts off the radio personality’s tongue. Stunned and tasting his own metallic blood, Limbaugh falls back on his thin mattress of rugs and another man tears his sleeve and shoots him up with the purest heroin anyone can get. Limbaugh fades to black.
He comes in and out, occasionally gargling a word or two, occasionally feeling the fever of infection that’s come over him, occasionally feeling the warm sting of the needle. Once he feels an incredible pain between his legs, seeing men above him, but he passes out again. Finally, a ragged, shit-stained Limbaugh staggers out of the shack one day as the sun shines around him. He unzips his pants to take a piss. He reaches in and notices an absence below his tiny penis. He’s been castrated. He screams in outrage.
Quickly, several men rush up to him and wrap tin bands around his arms, his legs, his waist. Limbaugh is confused until he realizes that each band contains several bells and as he moves around he makes a clattering, ringing sound that seems to please the Pashtun men watching him. He forgets about his lost balls for a second and finds this curious. He takes a couple of steps, ringing the bells as he moves, and the men clap and ululate in approval. Limbaugh smiles and nods. Even Pashtun nutcutters recognize talent when they see it.
Limbaugh becomes popular in the villages around Zaranj, a favorite of the women and children, who watch in separate audience, as Limbaugh dances, horribly, for them, ringing his bells. He learns to do handstands and high kicks and twirls. Oh, what a happy clown, the children think. Limbaugh learns how to scare the women by growling and barking. And then, when he performs for the men, they drum and play instruments, and he becomes just another member of the band. If you’re going to be the plaything of the tribe of some warlord, at least the food’s regular (if tasteless) and the audiences appreciative.
Limbaugh doesn’t even mind the fact that every night he’s locked up in a room with no window. He doesn’t even mind the regular sodomizings by the Pashtun men, the ones who hadn’t earned a boy yet. Limbaugh misses his voice, though, and some nights he cries in remembrance of his silver-tipped tongue, his quick wit now inward only. He thinks he’s even forgotten how to write. But then he gets his nightly dose of smack and he’s in bliss until the sun rises again.
One day his keepers bring him to a village on the edge of a poppy field, and there it is: that sea of red flowers, the pin prick bloodlets growing from the earth. Against the setting sun, it looks like a fire that would finally consume him. The last anyone sees of Rush Limbaugh is a silhouetted figure, bells ringing, running into the field of flames, grunting happily, leaping madly.