Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Mike's Story Part 9 - Limbo

By Jenna Orkin

   Despite his growing recognition of what he'd lost by burning his bridges, Mike's spirits must have risen when a reporter from an influential US newspaper flew down with the idea of doing a feature on him.  But emotionally, the conversation itself seems to have been a precursor of the movie, Collapse:

"  [S]even hours with the [newspaper] reporter yesterday. I´m writing a seperate [sic] email which you´ll get. It was in detail and he was serious. [Mike had been burned by mainstream features before, as a colleague was reminding him] but it went back through all the most painful parts of my life. At the end it was like someone had stuck a vacuum cleaner in my ear and all the tastes and smells got tasted and smelled all over again.

   Not only that, but he'd gleaned that some of his colleagues weren't handling the press the way he would have liked.

   "Could people please stop saying, 'Mike can be a real asshole but...?'" he pleaded.  "Because otherwise, that'll be the lead of the story."

    On the political asylum front, too, his needs were meeting with obstacles followed by false hopes and setbacks.  And then there was the barren solitude of his living arrangement.  Advised to keep a low profile while his case was pending, (hard to do when, with his Germanic coloring, he stood out in a Venezuelan crowd) he remained virtually confined to his hotel room.

 9-24-2006 ...Life is very unhappy. Three days ago two drug dealers staying at the same hotel I am were gunned down on the street a block away. I´m in an upscale neighborhood where stuff like this never happens.Funny thing is, I pìcked them out for drug dealers the moment I laid eyes on them three days before that.   I don´t have time to elaborate but I am getting indications that [an American pundit] may be actually trying to prevent me from getting asylum.  That´s not for publication. 

   In a phone call, he named two other men (activists I'd met and had never taken seriously) who, he said, should be investigated if anything dire happened to him in Venezuela. 

               Every day I long for death because I just don´t see how this current limbo is ever going to end. I just keep waking up and going through motions. I wrote a new article today and start another tomorrow. I do miss the US and especially my loved ones but I know I can´t ever go home. That would betray my moral decision and put my life at greater risk than I feel it is here.   I may wind up being the writer that no country wants. Then what?   Sigh. I´ve been doing the anger thing, especially at those close to me who betrayed me so deeply. That´s what´s really taken the heart out of me.
   He signed off with a forlorn, perfunctory, “Love you”

   An email of 9-4-2006 reinforces this sense of alienation on both the cosmic and comic levels:.

   "This seemingly endless limbo vis a vis the gov´t is a real drag and the tiny beds in my little fleabag suck big time."
La Hojilla, a popular TV show that is Chavez' favorite, invited Mike on but when the appointed day arrived, the show was postponed.
The next day on which he was scheduled to appear, he was pre-empted by a baseball star. Or so he was told. Two friends who watched the show said the baseball star didn't appear either.

   Finally, he reached the conclusion he'd never get in to see anyone who could arrange for asylum.  "I'm a bargaining chip," he sighed.  At the end of the day, Mike was a gringo from a CIA family whom Chavez would have had a hard time justifying to his people, regardless of Mike's street cred.

1 comment:

Cheri Roberts said...

What did he feel he was a bargaining chip for specifically? Did her ever say?