Tierney listened from the back of the standing-room-only auditorium. A short man with stooped shoulders stood nearby, dressed in gray sweat pants with a navy blue sweatshirt. He was a computer technician in a flight simulator who made the best beer on the compound. The man took a few steps in one direction, stopped, pirouetted, and marched in the other direction, mumbling to himself. He walked by Tierney with deranged eyes, no longer simulating sanity. He paced and babbled.
"If we get the word, we can get everyone out of here in forty-eight hours on a transport," Colonel Weatherspoon yelled to the crowd that didn't salute him like they did the underpaid Pakistani at the security gate.
The meeting was on the verge of going hopscotch and Kurdish.
"We could all be dead in forty eight minutes," one man yelled back.
Colonel Weatherspoon had no answer and stood in front of the crowd like a wooden Indian taxidermed in a Connecticut Yankee blackjack reservation. Finally, he deferred to a weapons specialist in the audience.
"Carl, what do we know about their chances of hitting us here?" Colonel Weatherspoon asked.
Carl stood up. Everyone quieted. The brewmaster sipped the babble and foam hanging his lip.
"The most up-to-date information is they don't have anything that can reach us here in the Hijaz," Carl said.
"Are you a hundred percent certain?" the forty-eight minute man asked. "I've got my family here. I want to know."
"That's the only thing that I can tell you. That's the intelligence we've received. We've been over all the photos," Carl said.
"That's not good enough. If we're not safe here, then the company should get us out of here NOW.”.
Weatherspoon and Barry were speechless. The man battered their meek response.
The meeting resolved nothing. The company’s plan to fly them out of Saudi Arabia was androgynous, neither here nor there with jogging suits and garbage bags. The plan was bound in a black, three-ring binder entitled “Operation Cloudburst.” Edward Barry blustered and waved the binder in front of the crowd, but the loud, C-5 grumbling of people meant it was worthless. Non-alcoholic. From their pale enthusiasm it was obvious that Colonel Weatherspoon and Edward Barry hoped the plan would never burst.
After all, there were high-ranking officers on the compound to protect. Villas were guarded by four-legged Germans with sharp teeth and automatic weapons from the Office of Security and Intelligence. They had triple garbage bags for their jogging suits.
Carl, the weapons expert with U2 family portraits of Saddam and his country of simulators adoring their dictator, stormed out of the auditorium. "Fuck off!" he yelled, flinging a crumpled piece of top secret security against the wall. He passed in front of Tierney.
The brewmaster picked up the paper and uncrumpled a new recipe for Kurdish beer. He turned the paper into saliva before anyone from the Office of Security and Intelligence sharked it from him.
Tierney went outside the auditorium where the downtown Filipinos set up a donut shop every week to catch churchgoers in an Islamic country before they converted to glaze or chocolate. He bought old-fashioned cake donuts with sprinkles of Joseph's many-colored-coat, all in remembrance of Operation Cloudburst. When he got back to the villa, Wellman, dressed in chemical warfare drag, exchanged an egg salad sandwich for a donut.