Osama sat on the long edge of a four-inch thick dusty and sheetless mattress that was supported by an aluminum cot. A hyperdermic needle was taped to his left arm, another to his right. The tubes that led from these needles ran to a dialysis machine that was powered by a small Honda gasoline generator. The generator clanked and hummed, the sound echoing off the cinderblock walls of the room. A doctor in a white headress stood beside the machine, monitoring its levels and timing the procedure. There was no one else in the room, at the insistence of Osama, who believed that dialysis was a private procedure, much like sex, and that only the doctor, a male doctor, could be present for the act. Osama rarely spoke with the doctor, but the earthquake a few weeks ago had killed one of his daughters, one of his most precious possessions, and he was feeling blue. So he spoke.
"Where is he today?"
The doctor was startled. Other than scheduling the next dialysis session, Osama had never engaged in any talk. The doctor's first thought is that this must be a medical question.
"Doctor Mummas? He is in Kabul," the doctor said.
"No. No. Bush. Where is Bush today?" Osama was looking down at the dirt floor of the room, his bare feet gently kicking the dust up.
"You mean the American Bush?" The words came out before the doctor's brain registered the obvious nature of Osama's question.
"Where is Bush today? He is on a trip, yes?"
"Trip? Well, I think I saw on the television feed that he is in South America." Lucky for the doctor that he is a television junkie. Not for the news, really, but for the American reality shows. He does not understand a word of English, but the reality shows do not require a facility with language.
"Yes. Yes. Bush has his kidneys, you know. They are two organs of his that work." Osama said this without a hint of sarcasm. He was serious.
"I have no knowledge of his medical condition." The doctor thought this was the appropriately professional response.
"His kidneys clean his blood of urine, but his blood remains yellow."
OK, thought the doctor. Maybe the dialysis machine was not working properly. It had been fussy lately, and he was expecting a new one to be delivered from Karachi. Osama must be experiencing some level of blood poisoning that was affecting his thinking.
"Bush the Son is losing, and Bush the Father must feel shame. The Hebrews say that brains skip a generation. Bush got kidneys, but the favor of no brain." Osama started to laugh. His laugh caused him to cough, which he quelled by raising his arm to his mouth, a movement which concerned the doctor because it might disrupt the flow of blood through the tubes.
"Please calm yourself," the Doctor said.
"You know why I laugh? You know why I laugh? I'll tell you why. If the Hebrews are right, then Bush's brain skipped over him to his children, but Bush has no sons. No one to receive the Bush brain. There ends the Bush legacy, with a failed son. This is why I laugh. This is why I laugh. Is the machine finished? I feel the urine is out of me. I feel revived." Osama turned to look at the Doctor.
The machine was not finished, but the doctor was not about to refute the good feelings of Osama.
"Yes. The machine is finished." The doctor powered down the dialysis machine and turned off the Honda generator. The room grew quiet, broken only by the sounds of Osama's sons playing soccer in the yard outside. Osama listened to his sons, and wondered whether the Hebrews were right.