Martiya was silent for a minute. She looked around the room. I havent seen Uncle Otto since I was nine years old, she said. He knew how to ride a horse. He was a wonderful horseman. He promised hed buy me a horse when I was twelve. I guess he just did.
Martiya sat quietly for a long while. She picked idly at the string tied around her right wrist. Then she spoke. The vast bulk of the moneynot much by occidental standards, a small fortune in a Thai prisonwas to be given to a charity which aided the hill tribes, the rest deposited in her prison bank account. Then, with all the authority of a corporate executive late for a tee time, rather than a prisoner condemned to life, Martiya rose from her seat and extended her hand. The appointment was over.
Josh had one last thought. Would you like me to call your lawyer? he asked. Money can change a lot of things here. Maybe he can . . .
Martiya smiled at Josh. I cant leave now. Im only beginning to understand how it really works around here. And where would I go?
She thanked Josh for his time and walked back through the metal door into the dark prison hallway.
Excerpted from Fieldwork by Mischa Berlinski. Copyright © 2007 by Mischa Berlinski. Published in February 2007 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. All rights reserved.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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