The Iraqi

from the forthcoming masterpiece Slime Line

The Iraqi named Menter was a refugee from the war. He came from Baghdad to Alaska in the middle of winter through a job placement program for refugees. He came to America already unhinged and his discovery of alcohol, cocaine and loose Alaskan women had only unhinged him further. His English was a barely comprehensible mumbling of words that he ended with a smile. He seemed altogether harmless if you didn't know him better.

The Iraqi enjoyed smashing things. He would push over and kick the 160lb. metal totes while cleaning them, making huge booming crashes along the dock. Down in the ship holds where we pitched black cod and halibut, Menter would overhead slam the fish into the metal totes. Esteban would joke that he was trying to re-kill them.

For many months he had an off-on relationship with the moody, big-boned Russian girl from Alaskan Fish and Game. Her job was to stand on the salmon sorting belt and do some sort of analysis on the brains of red salmon. She would lobotomize the reds by cutting off their foreheads with a knife and then, with a tweezers, pluck out the tiny brain and place it on the back of her hand. She examined the brain for a moment before flicking it away and beginning again on another salmon.

Every few days the Iraqi threatened to kill her. He left hundreds of messages on her cell phone saying, "I kill you. Bitch I kill you." Sometimes he threatened to bomb the cannery and kill everyone.
Menter also liked to take out his aggression on the seagulls. He became very skillful at sneaking up on them and grabbing them when they landed on an un-covered tote of salmon. Menter would crouch down beside the tote and when a seagull landed, he reached up and grabbed it by the legs. Holding the bird out in front of him he repeatedly slapped it in the head, slapping it silly, before slamming it on the pavement. Other times he would get ahold of one around the neck and rip out its feathers before slamming it. I once watched him try to drown one by sticking its head in a barrel of water.
Then one day the Iraqi went missing. A few days later we learned that he was in jail. He had met a girl at a bar and she being too drunk to drive herself home, he had offered to drive her car for her, despite not having a driver's license. A police car had attempted to pull him over and Menter had tried to escape. He was eventually pursued by seven police cruisers, at speeds of over 100mph, in a chase up the Alaskan Highway towards Anchorage. At some point he flipped the car and then was tasered multiple times after crawling out of the wreckage and trying to escape into the woods. The girl from Alaska Fish and Game bailed him out. The Iraqi was a good worker when he wasn't hung over. We were happy to have him back.

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