I’m a journalist in Uganda and I need to write the story of the country.
I am in an office. It belongs to an important man from the government. It is a stuffy room with leather chesterfield chairs and high bookcases filled with dusty pages. It reminds me of an old study, the only thing missing is a drinks cabinet disguised as a globe.
There’s something out of place in the room. A marker board behind the large wooden desk has maps and diagrams pinned to it by magnets. There are marks and drawings around the pinned papers joining one to another, following connections that I don’t understand but I know are sinister.
The important man sits behind the desk beneath the marker board. He has white hair in short curls which drops down to a long but well kempt beard.
He sits back in his chair but leaves his hands latticed together on the desk.
When he speaks his voice his rich and practiced
‘The world think of our country as war torn and starving, ridden with famine and crime. This is not true. Uganda is the safest place in the world. It is the most beautiful place in the world. You have seen this, no?’
A memory comes to me. It is of the flight into the country. II am looking through the window of a small plane and I see lush green land beneath me. It gives way to a lagoon with served by an extraordinary waterfall that spans several kilometres across.
It’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen.
The important man smiles. It is almost smug.
He gets up and leaves.
There is a phone on a side table beside me. It is an old style rotary phone. I dial a number cursing the time it is taking to get through. I know the important man could come back any minute.
Someone answers. It is the people I work for. They want the story. I am not to believe the important man’s lies. There is danger here. I try to argue with them. Uganda is beautiful, if only they could see for themselves. I will write the story I find. I will not write lies.
I have to go. I hear them shouting in alarm at me as I put the phone down.
The important man returns.
He has a dog.
It is a golden retriever but it has eyes of death and its jaw is broken. The lower jaw hangs too low to be natural. Black ichor oozes from its mouth. It snarls and growls and pants hungrily. The dog has been driven mad by something. By someone. There is killing in its face. A golden retriever that kills. I wonder what this dog has been through for such a breed to have turned rabid.
THe important man tells me this dog will know the truth of me. It will know why I have come to his country.
He leaves me alone with the mad dog.
It spits at me and prowls back and forth.
I am frozen. Are my hands strapped to the arms of the chair? I am terrified.
The dog roars at me and leaps at my face.
It licks and licks rubs its face in mine and it is just a golden retriever again. A stupid, beautiful golden retriever.