I stepped out of my cab, much to the drivers relief. He sped out of the city. I smiled and looked at the dirty stone buildings, filthy children sprinting down the street. A merchant needlessly showed a customer that his AK-47s worked by firing a few rounds into the air. I walked to my right, seeing a dirty hotel. I checked in, ignoring the patrons racist comments directed at me in Somali. The clerk asked in Somali "How long do you wish to stay?"
I whispered "First, I need to know a man that can sell me information."
The clerk sighed and responded "I've heard that Ahamad Salim is a good man to get information from. I don't know where he is though."
I smiled and asked "Is this enough for a weeks stay?" I slapped a thousand shillings on the counter. The clerks eyes went wide, this is easily more then what he makes in a month and this is the high end part of the city.
The clerk broadly smiled and handed me a key. I quickly grabbed the key and walked into my small room. A light hanged on a string above a single bed without any blankets, bugs scurrying on the top. I closed my door and opened my backpack, taking out a large jar of waterproof body paint. I slathered it all over my body evenly and waited two minutes for it to dry. I looked at my wrist, seeing an even black tan. This will definitely get me into the market without being shot.
I opened my door back up and found a back door to the hotel. I walked into the street, a hot African sun rising, casting shadows of the dirty buildings. Nothing in the city even looked higher then three stories, except for a few Muslim towers. Morning prayers echoed throughout the city, even a few people in the street kneeled and prayed to the east. I walked up to the gun merchant and asked "Where is the market?"
The merchant smiled and laughed "Americans don't get far into the market. The government makes sure of it."
I smiled back "Actually, I'm from South Africa. I'm here because my cousin, Ahamad Salim, wants to make a deal with my boss."
The merchants smile vanished, replaced by a knowing stare. He mumbled "Oh, you're one of them. Salim lives in the market, right in the middle. He has a house there, with his name on it. To get to the market, you need to follow the northern minaret."
I asked "A minaret? That's a muslim tower, right?"
The merchant nodded and stated "Mind your tongue in the market. Don't even say Allah or you'll be shot or stoned in the street. However, if you respect the Muslims, they will respect you."
I asked "One more thing, I can't read Somali. Could you write down what it says on his house on this paper?"
The merchant nodded and asked for twelve shillings. I passed them as he slowly wrote on the piece of paper I gave him. Half a minute later, he finished writing the two words and handed the piece of paper back to me. I nodded a thanks and looked for the northern tower. It looked to be the smallest by far, with gold paint on the top. I walked north along a road, the sounds of voices growing louder and louder. A man led a donkey down a road to my left. I followed him left, to see a market with dozens of stalls, men yelling and bartering. A few soldiers dragged a man out of the market, calling him a dirty thief. Hundreds of people walked down the narrow street, making it difficult to get anywheres. Everyone avoided a stall with child soldiers high on cot. Fecis covered the dirt road, making a slick brown surface.
I moved down the street, looking for Salims house. My eyes found a two story house with guards at the front, Salims name painted on the front doors. I walked to the guards and stated "I'm here to see Salim for information. Tell him I have money, some now and some later."
One guard opened the front door and walked inside, leaving the other muscular one to stare at me with hostile eyes, his gun trained on my chest. I smiled and slowly dug out a harmonica, playing Graham Nash. The guard scowled. The front door opened and a small black man walked out, saying in Somali "I am Salim."
Salim crossed his arms and asked "Where are you from?"
I instantly responded "South Africa."
Salim nodded and mumbled "Then come in."
I walked into his house, seeing guards all over the place. He led me to the back of his house into a study. He asked "So, I'm assuming you need to know something?"
I responded "Yeah, I'm looking for Gregory Fishner."
Salim nodded and stated "Fishner, the warlord... that'll cost you five thousand shillings."
I swung my backpack over my shoulder and retrieved a bag filled with bills. I handed it to him and sighed "There's twelve in their. I also need to know what he does every day."
Salim nodded and began "He lives by the Former Somali National Theatre. As for what he does, that's anyones guess. If you were to meet him, however, be sure that you aren't wasting his time. His children will chop you up."
Salim handed me a map of the city and started sorting the money I gave him. He sighed "I wish I could be of more help."
I smiled and thanked him, walking out of is house. I snapped the map open and found the theatre, a kilometre from my hotel. I walked back towards my hotel, trying to ignore the smell of fecis and hundreds of sweaty, unwashed people.