Trumpets Fade | Kyrill al-Makedoni


There must be some kind of way out of here,” said the Trumpet to the Thief, “There’s too much confusion, I can’t get no relief” –Bob Dylan

The empire I thought we were building turns out to be nothing but sand. In the Forum, they filled my impressionable head with talk of conquest and fresh lands to carve into lush estates. I received a choice appointment to the Legion. I dreamed of laurel leaves, trumpets, flourishes, and adoring crowds.

Now I find myself in a dusty, barren land between the Oxus and the Indus, beset by treachery and villainy. My quiver is thin (an old Berretta, three mags and 45 bullets). My resources few, the Legion despondent, and the Empire retreats like an out-going tide, leaving me to make my own way.

I hear the native tribes in the hills at night. I feel their eyes upon me from the shadows during the day. I know they are waiting, waxing as we wane. Biding their time. Sharpening their spears, filling their quivers.

In Kabul town one does not know friend from foe. I see schemes and plots and schemes within schemes and plots. Factions rise and then dissipate like almond blossoms in the spring breeze. Talk of coups and counter-coups and brief rain showers. Rumors race through the bazaars and tea houses like rats through the kitchen.

The snow melts in the high passes and I hear muffled drumbeats in the far valleys. Soon I shall see the enemy battle streamers and as the prophet said, wheat shall be separated from chaff.

There is still time. There is always time until suddenly it is gone like quicksilver down the drain. But not time to dither, nor to draw complicated plans and ponder Queen 7 to Bishop 6. All I can do is attend to my gaggle, my motley charges, and trust my liege to bring us through. The trumpet blast faded, and now is but an echo, twelve years on. Oh for the time I was a young Centurion and Reagan was Pro-Consul and Thatcher Vice-Consul!!

Trust not in CNN, put your faith neither in Fox News. Truly, I say, both are wrong.

I am putting my blistered shoulder to the wheel.

Kyrill is a pseudonym for an American who is a lawyer by training and diplomat by profession. Kryill has served in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Russia, El Salvador, Iraq, Jordan, Mexico, New Zealand, and Nepal. His stories focus on the risks and absurdity of Foreign Service and expatriate life abroad. This is his first contribution for Outside In.

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