Sudan: A Novel

Read Sudan: A Novel for Free Online

Book: Read Sudan: A Novel for Free Online
Authors: Ninie Hammon
hippie in Uganda taught me. You add a little tap water to every bottle of bottled water you drink, like one part tap, 10 parts bottled. And you gradually increase the percentage of tap water. I got a little sick a couple of times—actually, I got very sick once—but eventually I could drink whatever the locals drank.”
    “If I tried something like that, I’m sure I should be dead within the week.” Olford shuddered.
    Ron reached into his travel bag and took out something wrapped in muslin. He stood for a moment and just looked at the package. “You won’t believe what’s going on here.”
    “We never do, do we?” The Brit shook his head. “Until it’s too late.”
    Ron turned and looked at Olford with the hint of a quizzical expression on his face. Even now, it was still hard to believe. “Do you realize there’s been more genocide in Sudan than in all of Rwanda, Bosnia, Liberia and Kosovo combined? Two million people are dead. Six hundred thousand have fled the country. Another four hundred thousand are in refugee camps here.”
    “I didn’t know it was that bad,” Olford sat down on the bed across from Ron with a thump, as if his legs might have collapsed out from under him.
    Ron placed the muslin-covered object on the bed beside the bag and carefully unwrapped it. Clearly, what lay inside was precious. Beneath the final layer of cloth lay a three-inch-thick stack of photographs.
    Olford still was amazed that Ron used “film” and produced “photographs,” and carried nothing in his camera bag but half a dozen old metal lenses and an equally old, no-bells-and-whistles Nikon that didn’t even have auto-focus. Every other photojournalist he knew had long since gone digital.
    Of course, Olford had asked why. Everybody always asked why, eventually. One late night when the two worked in South Africa—and Ron had been well on his way to becoming a legend in Olford’s mind even then—the Englishman had peered at the American over the foam on his beer and suggested that perhaps Ron might want to consider coming in out of the hot sun someday long enough to participate in the technological revolution.
    “I don’t do technology,” Ron had replied simply.
    Olford had pressed the point, made all the arguments for advanced equipment and instantaneous transfer of images.
    Ron had only smiled. “Gadgets” were temperamental—get a little sand in them, and they were useless, he said. He’d stick with what he knew. Just a few moving parts. Nothing to break down. He didn’t need a camera that was smarter than he was.
    It was probably equal parts superstition and stubbornness, Olford thought. Professional baseball players had their special bats, pro golfers their custom-made putters—and Ron Wolfson still used the first camera he ever bought.
    But there was certainly no arguing with the quality of his work. Ron was an absolute magician with a camera. His photos were stunning. Some of them packed such emotional wallop they almost took Olford’s breath away. Though many of Ron’s photos were black-and-white, the quality of light he captured, the contrasts, the shadows--it looked like each picture had been individually hand-painted. Ron was far and away the best photographer Olford had ever met.
    “Where do you want to start?” Ron asked as he straightened up and held out the stack of pictures. “It’s a photo tour through hell.”
    “I want the full monty. Everything. I’ll filter out later what to send on to the newsroom. The problem we have is that every time we get a solid, verified report of atrocities, a government official—sometimes, it’s even a U.N. correspondent—releases a report that says just the opposite.”
    Ron’s gaze was unyielding. “The dead are piling up in southern Sudan like Budweiser bottles at a frat party.”
    The analogy blew right by the Englishman. Guinness had been the beer of choice in the Wheat Sheaf Tavern in the little village south of Coventry in Buckinghamshire

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