TRUTH AND LIES

Excerpt from Truth And Lies

As long as they didn’t strip-search me at the airport, I knew I’d be OK. Not that I was trying to bring in anything suspicious, never mind illegal. The government security forces were jumpy enough without giving them more of an excuse to imprison or expel yet another foreigner.

But I was attempting to enter the country as a harmless civilian, and I knew if I was forced to undress there was no way anyone could misinterpret my scars. Old knife and bullet wounds are hard to disguise, especially from people who are experts at inflicting them. To me they were a physical reminder of past mistakes—lessons painfully learned and not forgotten.

Three of us had set off from New York twenty-four hours earlier. A rush job—emergency evac. Some news team who’d got in deeper and stayed in longer than was good for them and suddenly needed out. Now. Probably a month after common sense should have told them to leave.

I’d seen it happen before to those exposed to long-term danger. A gradual dulling of the natural flight response until a fifty-fifty chance of living or dying on the job seemed like workable odds.
I had some sympathy with that. Before the evac team left, we’d been briefed by experts on the current political situation here. When they’d told us our chances of survival were not much better, we’d shrugged and carried on packing.

We travelled separately, via half a dozen different neutral countries. I’d dressed with authority rather than intimidation in mind, safely dowdy, and careful to avoid any kind of contact—eye or otherwise—that might have aroused attention. I’d also reverted to my British passport—the one without the Israeli stamps. But in the end I think the success of my infiltration was down to good old-fashioned chauvinism.

The soldiers who’d taken over the immigration process, with casually slung AKs and obligatory dark glasses, simply did not believe that a woman travelling alone posed any significant threat.

Maybe they were right.