I have small feet, 136,000 of them to be exact. The first time feet came up in conversation was during the Lockerbie crisis. An international investigator, who wasn’t working for me yet, wanted to know if the Libyans had feet.
“I was in Libya only two or three times, back when I was putting together a defense team for the two guys in London. But I couldn’t help notice that the Libyans had feet.
“On average, let’s say two for every man, woman, and child.
“Big feet or small feet?
“I want to say medium-size, but I’m out of my depth here.
“Where do they keep them?
“They drag them along everywhere. Libyans are quite attached to their feet.
I didn’t know I was betraying the Libyans at the time, but two weeks later Tripoli was bombed and the international community slammed no-fly restrictions on Libya, halting all sorts of supplies to the country, including footwear. A decade or so later, the Libyans caved in, gave the West detailed information about their weaponry, and began dismantling their arms and feet.
Yuri sensed the opportunity. He flew in from Kyrgyzstan, talked to a few people in Tripoli, then called me for a business meeting.
It was early in the morning in a tiny commercial harbor in western Africa. We were at a seaside café popular among fishermen, smugglers, and customs officials; some of them knew Yuri well. “You remember Djamal bin Jadou? That’s his boat over there. He’s just bought a farm on the outskirts of town. And listen to this: his cousin is now the local chief of police.
Yuri couldn’t hide his fascination with this part of the world. “You can get anything done so long as you know the chief of police. If you ask nicely, preferably from the back of a Toyota mounted with an RPG launcher, they even let you name the next chief of police.
“Lovely place, I wish I spoke Swahili.
Yuri was visibly excited, like a little boy in an amusement park with a real pistol for the first time. With a glint in his eyes, he took something out of his pocket and laid it delicately on the table. “Look at this beauty. It was a tiny foot.
My heart almost stopped. I’d never seen anything so exquisite before. Here we were, in a lawless land with a sea view, smugglers’ boats rocking idly on the shore, the air scented with sectarian strife, and between us, on a rickety wooden table, lay two unfinished cups of coffee and the ultimate dream of modern warfare.
“How many have you got? I whispered.
Yuri put the foot back in his pocket. “How many do you need?
By the time I left, Yuri had a check that could buy him enough police chiefs to last a lifetime, plus a house on a fashionable Mediterranean island. That house has since been converted into a restaurant now, but in the basement, there are certain crates marked Bolivian sausages, and they’re worth more than the entire island. I dined in that restaurant recently with the police chief, a nice fellow who doesn’t know what’s in the crates and told me his wife loved the Kashmir shawl.
What do you do with a small foot? I hear you ask. You aim and you fire, just as you do with a small arm. The difference is mostly in range and recoil. Arms in general are unstable and weak, like the human arms from which they derive their name. Feet are incredibly stable and have a tremendous kick, hence the name of that particular type of weaponry. Feet are also more fun to play with, as any toddler would tell you. That’s why feet are perfect for warfare involving young fighters.
Small arms are suitable only for people aged 11 and above. Small feet are convenient for combatants aged seven and below. Such is the power of feet. The new generation of weaponry could reverse the balance of power in today’s world. Using small feet, a country with a young population would have a definite advantage over a country with an aging population. This is why major countries, whose population is generally old, don’t want to develop feet. In fact, they don’t even want to admit their existence.
The world’s entire stock of small feet is in my possession right now, stored safely in secret locations around the world. The crates will remain sealed as long as things on the international scene are to my liking. Otherwise, Africa, with half the population under seven and battle-hardened, may end up ruling the world.
Nabil Shawkat, co-founder of Writers for Sectarian Strife, a rightwing group banned in three European countries, is wanted by the Interpol for arms trafficking, money laundering and jaywalking.