There’s a box with a manuscript in it sitting on my desk. It’s the manuscript where each neatly printed page has been marred by The Fogel’s harsh scrawls. In a sense, I have already opened it, because The Fogel sent me her notes on Chapter one by e-mail, and her comments strike like a hammer, over and over again.
My day job has been busy over the last few weeks, which is good because I needed time to decide what to do about the novel, one that has taken up so much of my life.
Go to my website, www.michaelmcpherson.ca and you’ll see my smiling face and the photos I took of the men I traveled with in Afghanistan. Back then Reagan was president and the mujahideen were still described in the press as “freedom fighters.”
How things have changed. I watched on TV as the twin towers went down, and as word came out that the terrorists were trained in Afghanistan and called themselves mujahideen, I knew the media would never again refer to them as freedom fighters.
Yet that is how I still feel about the men I traveled with, and I wonder how many of them are alive today. They were generous to me. I trusted them with my life. They had hopes and fears, children and wives and grooming advice. The commander said I should shave my wispy beard because I couldn’t grow a proper beard. He was clean shaven himself. We’re not talking Taliban fanatics here, at least not back then.
I can’t let them go. I want the world to see them as human beings. I want the world to understand what the Soviets did to that country. It was the one thing I promised myself I could do for them, although the commander’s son would have preferred that I’d bought him new boots. I missed the opportunity to do that, and it haunts me.
So Monday I have some time off from my day job, and I will open that box. I will endure all of The Fogel’s comments. I will rethink plot and story, characters and events. I will struggle and rewrite. Somehow, I will finish what I started.
It’s the least I can do.