Some time after the end of the Iraq War, an Iraqi soldier fighting alongside American troops found a torn and tattered diary in an abandoned bunker.
Unable to read the English, he passed it on to his American counterparts, who delivered it to an Associate Press reporter.
The surviving contents are reproduced here, unedited.
August 29th, 2002
I’ve gotten an acting job! Only 3 weeks out of drama school, I meet this guy today and he hired me on the SPOT!. I knew that acting would work out for me… everyone said I shouldn’t have quit the bathroom fixture thing and go to London. They said I was too old, they said acting is too hard and it’s only for attractive twenty-somethings…well HA! Here I am, just finished my first summer intensive and I have a real job!
It looks great…I’ll be living away from home for a while, but that’s the life of an actor, isn’t it? I’m really lucky to find such a great gig in the summer too. The downside is I’m going to have to go to Iraq, but the contract is open-ended! Everybody says I shouldn’t do it – they all said something about Iraq being dangerous and there might be a war or something – but I can’t let that hold me back. I mean, what’s more dangerous than being an actor?
And besides, this is perfect for me – an easy job in a beautiful quiet place. If it goes well, I might just keep it going as long as I can and work on my play. Imagine, I’ll finally be able to write and produce my magnum opus! A year with this gig, tops – and I’ll be able to get my piece in a theater and maybe even produce it on Broadway.
I started writing the first page today. It was such a magical moment: I turned this computer on, hit “create file” and typed in the title of the work that will make people KNOW the horrible things that a bathroom fixture broker has to go through. I can’t wait. Fuck the Fuckers isn’t going to be just another short off-Broadway piece of garbage. No – this is going to CHANGE things. I just know it.
All I have to do is get through this gig – and I’m set! I’m really looking forward to it. They seemed very nice and we leave in 10 days! Can’t wait! Talk to you soon!
September 5th, 2002
I just landed in Iraq – it took quite a while to get here, because of something called “sanctions.” Something having to do with the United States not being nice to Iraq or something. God – governments suck, you know? Also, I didn’t realize it was just a desert here. I’m not too fond of deserts, to be honest – my hair does horrible things with no moisture. It’s one of the reasons I never really moved to LA, along with the fact that they’re all a bunch of fake fakers! This desert thing kind of worried me. I talked to Farook about it, and he said that I’ll be traveling all over the country and that some of it isn’t desert. I asked him if I could stick with those places and he said he’ll see what he can do. He’s very nice.
But my first real job is about to start! I can’t wait to show them what I can do. I asked them what exactly the role is, and they said it was more of an impersonation-type thing. I was a bit disappointed, because impersonation is so drama school. They kinda got upset when I mentioned that I was a trained actor and don’t really do impersonations, but I reassured them. I mean, come on – give me five minutes with somebody and you won’t be able to tell us two apart! I didn’t come away from the Shakespeare Intensive at The Kilburn High Road Academy of Performing Arts (KHRAPA) in London with NOTHING!
But I’m still excited about this. The people around me look very nice, although there’s this one guy who never takes off his sunglasses and always looks quite stern. He makes me a little nervous, but then there are people like Farook who is just lovely. And he has this INCREDIBLE coffee. It’s just the best I’ve ever had! I told him if he keeps making it for me I’m never going to want to leave! He just laughed. Tomorrow’s my first day! Can’t wait!
Oh – the play! Fuckers is going well. I wrote a bit more today. I’m starting with a scene in which my protaganist gets his first job, as shop assistant at some local mom&pop bathroom fixture shop in South Carolina. Some guy comes in and starts busting up the joint because his wife left him for the plumber, and Richard (my part) tells him that it’s not worth it and talks him into calming down so his new boss is really impressed and gives him a promotion. Isn’t that great? I was hoping to get Larry to play Jaded Guy, cause he really has the physicality that’s needed.
Tomorrow’s the first day! I’ll tell you ALL about it. Bye!
October 26th, 2002
Sorry I haven’t been able to write lately – things have been SO busy. We’re in a screening room all day, watching videos and hearing lectures about this guy we’re supposed to all be impersonating. I was kind of upset to find out that I wasn’t really the only one doing this. There are 4 of us, but I’m sure that they are going to approach the character in a different way, so it shouldn’t be too bad. There’s this one guy Nester who looks JUST like the man. Oh, this guy’s name is Sadam Hoossayn, by the way. Apparently he’s a very popular government figure in this country, and people just love for him to visit, so they’re hiring us to wander the country pretending to be him and making the people happy. Well, that’s right up my alley! Farook told us on the first day that this job brings so much happiness to people who are otherwise very sad and I raised my hand and told him I was honored to be a part of such a wonderful project. You know, I am always amazed by the power an actor has – we are such a special group. Who else can touch so many people’s hearts the way we do?
So anyway, there’s Nester who I’m not very impressed with – he plainly got in just because he looks so much like Mr. Hoosayn. He is SO arrogant and narcissistic . It’s people like him that are the reason everyone thinks actors are self-centered drama queens! There’s Mohamed – who isn’t a spitting image, but what he lacks in authenticity he makes up for in passion for the job. I’ve never seen anyone so eager to learn and please! And then Yossi, who is kind of shady…he’s just weird, always quiet and intense. He doesn’t seem to care too much about the people we’re doing this for. I say, if you’re not loving what you do then you shouldn’t be in this world. No room for the non-passionate here!
But it’s been very interesting, and I’m really working hard. Mr. Hoosayn has a very quiet demeanor to him. There’s not much going on in the facial area and he rarely gets very excited. My mustache is slow – it’s only just started to come in. Nester keeps bragging about how thick and perfect his mustache is going to be…just because he was born with a hairy lip he thinks he’s like G-d’s gift or something. Jesus..
But I’m slowly getting the gist of this guy Hoosayn, and I think I’m going to be confident enough when we go out in two weeks for a practice run with some of Mr. Hoosayn’s family. They apparently have the final say about who goes where and whether or not we all get to stay. I hope Nester screws up. Talk to ya soon!
November 4th, 2002
BOY have I been busy. Man, I had no idea just doing an impersonation would be so much work. They have me up every day at DAWN and they whisk me away in this huge limousine to some PLACE where I am greeted by THOUSANDS of people just cheering for Sadam. They all think I’m him, you see…it’s actually kinda funny. I keep wanting to tell somebody, but we were kind of warned against that during training. Apparently, the last guy who told somebody was shot! Scary…
But I’m bringing so much happiness to these people. I’ve seen a few people who haven’t seemed to be enjoying themselves, but the guys who travel with our group – they’re like really big guys and they all wear sunglasses ALL the time – they just go up to the people who aren’t having fun and tell them to leave. I guess that this show isn’t for everybody, but it’s nice to see they’re not forced to watch if they don’t want.
I just realized I didn’t tell you what happened at the end of training! It was really funny…I went in for my final exam with Sadam’s brother – his name was Ooday, which I thought was kinda cool – and he was like, blown away by my performance. Apparently, he told Farook that even though I don’t look EXACTLY like his brother, he’d never seen one of us impersonators do his mannerisms as well as I did. Isn’t that great? It’s such a compliment for an actor to be able to convince family. I mean, nobody knows us better than our family and to be told that by his own brother…wow. I felt like I had just won an Oscar. “AND the Oscar for Best Impersonation of an Iraqian Government Official goes to….JEFF MALONE!!” Ha! Someday….
I have been working on Fuckers though, it’s been g
November 5th, 2002
Sorry about that weird ending yesterday…Farook came in like a crazed madman and just PULLED me away! I just barely grabbed this diary – and the notebook with my magnum opus, no WAY was I gonna leave that. Then Farook RAN me outside into the car, where we screeched away! I had no clue what was going on, but everybody told me to shut up when I started to ask! It was really rude, and kind of scary. I STILL don’t know what the excitement was about. I thought I heard some party poppers going off while we were running to the car, but I didn’t see what the hurry was!
Anyway, we drove all night and ended up in the middle of nowhere where we found this house. The guy was really nice, and Farook asked if we could crash for the night. I saw him when we pulled up to the door, but I haven’t really seen him since, for some reason. That’s kind of weird because he just gave me his bed and everything. The hospitality in this country is really something. But we’ve been here all day, just kind of lounging around while various sunglassed people have come and gone. It’s kinda nice, actually, cause I’ve been able to work really hard on Fuckers.
Farook came in a bit earlier and apologized for last night. He said that sort of thing might happen from time to time because there are some people who don’t like Mr. Hoosayn and they try to kill him. I must have gone white as a sheet because he said that I shouldn’t worry – they have very good security, and last night wasn’t even close. They just were being overly cautious. I got really upset – I mean, I had never signed on for anyone to try to kill me! I can’t believe they didn’t mention that at the beginning…that’s really dishonest! I mean, I’m the one who’s in danger! Farook spent a lot of time calming me down, but eventually I agreed with his point: there are always crazies out there who don’t appreciate art. I can’t just run when faced with an unbeliever who may wish my death for completely irrational reasons. I need to be brave and fight the Philistines!
I felt better after our chat, but I’m still a bit nervous. We’ll see what happens though – this job is still nice and I’m really enjoying the food they give us.
Nervous Nellie (aka Jeffrey)
December 12th 2002
As each day goes by, I realize more and more that this is why I was placed on this earth. The excitement that I see in each child’s eyes when I shake his hand and the adoration I hear about from Farook when we go into someone else’s house…that is a beautiful thing. I can’t believe how lucky I am to have been hired for something so noble. It’s the essence of acting! I truly am an artist now, and I feel so confident about the future. This is it: THIS is why I was put here. I can’t wait to finish my play.
March 15th, 2003
The play is coming along well. I showed a bit of it to Farook, but he didn’t really get it. He reads English fine, and he knows I know this, but when he read it he just said something in Iraqi to his buddy and they both laughed! Can you believe how rude some people are? But I guess I should go easy on him – he did save my life last week.
This is true: I’d be dead if it wasn’t for Farook. We were walking together…they had me disguised in a big Arab getup with the head covering and everything, and we were heading to get some tea when this crazy driver ran UP ON THE SIDEWALK and came right at us! I didn’t know what to do, but Farook didn’t hesitate. He grabbed me and, almost lifting me up, just pushed me out of the way of the car. He yelled at some of the other guards around us, and they dragged me away into another building while he stayed to deal with the scene – the driver must have been drunk or something. I heard this loud bang, which must have been the car backfiring or something from being driven into a fruit stand, and Farook came back. I thanked him so much for saving my life and he gave me a weird look, but I know he was glad I wasn’t hurt.
Anyway, the play is really cool. I finally finished the scene in which my protagonist’s partner tries to squeeze him out of the business, and he decides to leave and open up his own business. I wrote this wonderful monologue in which he says, “I only wish that I could trust these guys. Isn’t it better to work with people and have it succeed instead of being forced to work against? This world is a funny place…” Amen to that – I love when one of my characters says something profound like that. I feel they’re really speaking for me in those moments.
So I hear tomorrow we’re off north finally, where there are more mountains and the air is a bit less dry. I’m looking forward to it…I haven’t been able to get the hair crème I asked for, and the stuff they gave me is no match for this air. Hopefully that’ll get better soon.
March 18th, 2002
So we’re in a big city – I think it’s called Bag-dad. That’s kind of a funny name. We’re in some bunker or something – Farook and all of them took me down here a couple days ago, and we haven’t moved. But I’ve had plenty of time to work on Fuckers. I don’t know how much longer I’m going to be here, but they mentioned something about “time being short” and “the ultimatum” or some stuff like that… who knows what these people are talking about?
I guess we’ll see – gotta run!