The following is an essay I wrote recently on society and conditions in the Middle East. — Kim Hester
The Abqaiq-Dammam Road
by Kim Hester
Beware all ye innocent ones who venture onto the Abqaiq-Damman road, for on it roam demons and devils who seek to gratify their appetite for blood and human misery. A wide, four-lane expanse of concrete, this road leads from the petroleum processing center of Abqaiq, a town stuck in the middle of the Arabian Peninsula and rumored to be the site where Judas Iscariot wandered to after betraying Jesus for 30 pieces of silver and where Judas committed suicide in remorse by hanging himself from a desert tree. Demons devoured the soul of Judas, devils danced on his grave, and these demons and devils and their descendants linger on in the desert from Abqaiq to Dammam. They speed along the Abqaiq-Dammam road at ungodly speeds in Fords, Chevrolets, BMWs, Lexus, and Mercedes sideswiping innocents and regularly slamming into them leaving innocent travelers bloodied, maimed for life, or, worse yet, destined for an eternal existence in the sandy graveyards nearby.
Innocents on the road cannot escape their fate, for inhabiting the vast stretches of grey-tan sandy desert on both sides are scorpions the size of a man’s foot, slithering cobras and vipers, stealthy wolves constantly seeking their daily flesh, and the huge desert lizard called a “Dhaub,” which is akin to Gila Monsters. There have been known to be lions in the desert, and while it is said they are probably all killed off, an innocent one in the desert may to his sudden chagrin find this claim to be unfounded. And, of course, there also beats down the unrelenting and unbearable scorching sun and heat that can bake an innocent to death. So, whether the innocent ones venture off the roads to escape the demons and devils or whether they brave the road, they, and possibly their souls, are in mortal danger.
In addition to the demons and devils, an innocent one must avoid the many huge tanker trucks on the road that have emblazoned on their sides such warnings as “30 Tons — Danger,” “Flammable,” “Quick Fire,” “Molten Sulfur,” “No Smoking,” “Flammable Gas,” and “Keep Away.” Occasionally, wandering camels have been known to stray onto these desert roads, and an unwary traveler may slam into them at high speeds, causing hundreds of pounds of camel to come crashing through the windshield and crushing the life of the innocents inside the vehicle.
This is not to say that there are no indications of hope in the desert, for occasionally one can see a string of electrical poles and wires taking modern power into the desert, and there are some red and white relay towers with relay dishes high up them to hasten communications to the few desert gasoline stations on the wayside. But the service at such hangouts of the demons and devils is brusque and unfriendly, and one finds little respite there from the dangers of the road.
Long before the eras of the demons and devils, the desert may not have been such a dangerous and inhospitable place. Even now, if one dares to venture into the more remote parts of the desert where there are no demons and devils, nor any signs of human life, one can discover a profoundly deep, quiet silence and peace that is hard to find anywhere on the planet. At night one can wonder at the vast expanse of the heavens and stars overhead, and gaze into God’s glorious infinity. One can hope that man may be destined for the infinite, for the finite back on the Abqaiq-Dammam road is much too harsh and dangerous. Can the innocent one never escape the terrible realities of the Abqaiq-Dammam road, or can he, when gazing up into the heavens deep in the desert, find meaning in life and the infinite that may comfort him someday in his soul? Perhaps there also is some hope at Dammam, the end of the road, for there lays a seaport on the Persian Gulf where vessels can take a lucky innocent away from the land of the demons and devils. Good luck, innocent ones. May God guide you some day to the safety of the infinite.
Copyright by Kim Hester 2012