I’m a covert intelligence operative working on a mission in the Afghanistan theater. I’ve been sent to collect some information from a contact of ours that lives and operates out of this particular neighborhood outside of one of the major cities. The neighborhood resembles the one that I grew up in – – except that these townhouses are a little shorter and a little wider and arranged along avenues that radiate out from a central town square. I meet up with the contact along the outskirts of the town and we walk inward. He’s wearing a black leather jacket and a green checked shirt. He’s got good looks and charm that feel as though they’ve echoed out of 70s cinema. He’s maybe a little more conspicuous than the agency would like for him to be but that’s a conversation for another day.
When we reach his house, we stop off in the back yard so he can show me something. He works the combination lock on an out-house-sized shed and shoulders the stuck door open. Inside is a dense Cannabis plant with manure packed all around it. He explains that this is a local custom and he pulls a branch out for me to observe. He wipes it off with a damp cloth and shows me the dime-sized leaves. He tells me a little bit about the local medicinal uses and then locks it up again. He gestures to the other yards and I see similarly-sized sheds.
We go inside and navigate the packed house. It smells of hashish and a heavy smelling sauce that I see poured over bowls of rice. Most of the main area in the downstairs part of the house is filled with older men conversing in hushed tones. He leads me upstairs so that we can have our scheduled discussion. No sooner do we get upstairs though then he gets an alarmed call on his mobile phone. The Pope has come to town! Frantic and worried that I’d be seen here, he scrambled around the room to find a place for me to hide. The only place we could come up with was under the bed. And just to be sure, I had to cling to the bed’s undercarriage. I clung there for a while – – and lucky for me too because I could hear the Pope pay them a visit.