Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Sure it's not legal...

But it’s fun. This little tale is about my first foray into...drumroll please... “The Black Market”. This is not to be confused with “The Gray Market” where you can buy foakleys and 10$ Rolex’s on your way to see the Statue of Liberty. No, this is the real deal. I’m practically a gangsta now (I have been given the honorary title of “wigger”).

I live on the border between two countries. One side, Al Ain, is affluent and beautiful. Gardens cover the city. For the most part it is a pretty ‘good’ city. Meet Buraimi, Al Ain’s “darker half”. Need a place to sell those stolen camels? Go to Buraimi. Need a hit-man service? Talk to the clerk at the entrance to the Buraimi Hotel. I however came for something much more insidious, much more evil. Something that companies like Microsoft would be willing to kill for (probably using the aforementioned service): pirated softwarez (notice the ‘z’ that makes me sound like an uberhacker [not to be confused with my wunderkind persona])

Driving through the city’s ‘green light’ district (hey, it’s a foreign country... they do things differently here) my brother and I spot a seedy little shop, its half-darkened fluorescent tube-lit sign reading: “Computerz, softwarez, gamez, har”(n.b. ‘z’s mine. The last word was unlit but I assume that it has something to do with the secret password of computer h@ck3rz [notice the L337?])

We try the door of the shop, it is locked. I peer through the dirty glass trying to see if anyone is inside. I knock. I see movement within. The door opens. Darkness seeps out onto the sidewalk, dimming all the lights. I try to look behind the looming figure in the doorway. All I can make out are shelves and shelves full of what I can only assume to be some kind of kontraband. I look the man in his glowing red eyes and gathering up my courage I whisper, “Do you have software, copied software?” He looks a bit puzzled at my use of italics. I ask him again, this time in bold, he still doesn’t get it. Finally I ask him in unformatted 12 pt Arial font. A smile creeps across his face and the fire in his eyes flares up. He nods.

He exits the store and locks it, the streetlights brightening slightly. He gives them a withering look and they darken again. He takes us around to the back of the store and we begin walking through the alley. The only light comes from the glow of his eyes. We walk. And walk. I begin to fear for our safety. Shadows gather behind us, following. Some slither across the ground in front of us. Suddenly the man stops. He knocks on a brick wall twice, waits and then knocks again. The outline of a door appears. The door tries to look like it was there all along, but I was watching. I know what happened. It can’t fool me.

The door opens and an eerie greenish light washes over us. The gaunt man who led us here leaves, the shadows following him. A jolly looking man stands in the doorway. Jolly that is, except for his beady eyes that look like little wells of darkness. “Come in,” he rasps, “I know what you are here for.” My brother and I enter.

Strange carnival music plays in the background. The room is small and is empty but for a cheap card-table with one chair. A folder lies on the table. Jolly gestures towards the chair. I sit. Fear grips my soul. The man rubs his hands together as if anticipating what is to happen next. My little brother reaches towards the folder. “Wait,” I tell him, “wait.”

I steel myself and reach for the folder. Upon opening darkness begins to fill my being. I look as the names of the pirated softwarez. Windows XP, Halo, The Sims 2... It’s all there. A netherworldly force guides my hand as I point at different softwarez. Jolly grins and leaves, the door disappearing with him. We are trapped. And so we wait. And wait. Beads of sweat form on my forehead, dripping down one at a time, landing on the pages in the folder, turning instantly into steam when they hit. We wait.

The outline of the door appears once again and Jolly enters, smiling his fiendish smile. He proffers the gamez I asked for. The bargaining commences. “Our souls are too high a price to pay,” I argue, but the man shakes his head. I offer him money. Anger spreads across his face and the black holes of his eyes begin to suck me in. The room begins to fade. “Wait!” I shout. Our souls it would be. We take our gamez and leave. And so we find that the price of piracy has nothing to do with money.

Ok, this might be a slight exaggeration. Not everything here is true. Fine, I admit it. The truth is if you want to sell stolen camels you have to go to Muscat, Oman. There. Happy now? I just didn’t want to compromise my supplier. That’s right, I got a problem. I deal camels. Ain’t nothing wrong with that. You ain’t so perfect either. I can quit any time I want.


Blogger Tim said...

True or not, good story. I'll link your blog so the small handfull of people who read me can check you out as well. Interesting stuff.

9:55 AM  
Blogger Sam_b said...

Well, the premise is true... but the details of the event are a little fuzzy so I had to reconstruct them.

10:05 AM  
Anonymous jen said...

Sam, you're GREAT! i can't wait to read more.....

4:06 AM  

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