If that’s true, something’s wrong. Let’s write the story over. Iran is supplying arms and drones to Iraq in the open. Everyone knows. But the Times says it’s secret. What silly people those Times people are. Marquel had to go to the Times building and see what this is all about.
Is this secret or isn’t it? ” I asked.
“We were told it was secret,” said the Times man.
“And that’s how you wrote it.” I remarked.
“That was the story.” He insisted.
“Maybe it’s secret in Iran?” I questioned.
“Well yes and no. Everything is secret in Iran so it wouldn’t be news to point out a secret.” He asserted.
“But now that it’s in the Times it can’t be a secret, even in Iran can it?” I wondered.
“Well, in theory it might still be a secret there. Do they read the Times there?” He asked.
“I can’t really say,” I remarked, “but I know they read ThePothole. We have several readers there, ha!” I told him. And it’s true.
“Still,” he insisted, “it could be a secret there.”
“But you said that wouldn’t be news.” I noted.
“You got me.”
That’s when I left him. I went to the Iranian mission to the UN.
They were very gracious. They don’t get many visitors.
“Tell me,” I asked, “Is it a secret that you are sending drones and arms to Iraq?”
“I read about it in the Times this morning,” he said.
“Is it true?” I asked.
“Well it was in the Times,” he answered, shrugging.
“Okay so maybe it’s true. But is it secret?” I wondered.
“The Times says it’s secret. It probably is.”
“But how can it be a secret if it’s in the Times?” I asked.
“It could be,” he said. “If it’s secret, people will whisper about it in the streets. That would be a secret. I haven’t been home in a while so I don’t know what’s secret and what isn’t. But the odds are this is a secret and it’s being whispered, Not spoken.”
“So that’s what secret means in Iran, when something is whispered but not spoken.” I surmised.
“I know you don’t mean to be, Mr Marquel, but you’re being a bit patronizing.” He said.
“Well I certainly didn’t mean to be,” I said. “I’m terribly sorry. What did I say?”
“It’s not what you said but your attitude that things in Iran are somehow different than other human societies.”
“Meaning?” I coaxed him.
“It is the same here. Your secrets are in all the papers too. But they’re still secrets. I’ve been around your diplomats. They will whisper things that everyone knows, sometimes even after it’s been in the Times, because it’s secret. You know we have our contacts in Washington. They tell us about all the whispers.”
“So there are no secrets?” I asked.
“No, not any important ones.” He said.
“And you can tell when they’re whispered…” I said.
“Certainly,” he insisted, “all over the world.”
“That’s sort of nice isn’t it?” I wondered.
“How?” He asked.
“It’s like we’re all one family even with our differences. We all have secrets but everyone knows them so when they mention them, they whisper.” He nodded, stroking his beard. “Kind of like,” I continued, “a form of courtesy or good manners.”
I left Ali, which his name turned out to be, and went home. I was late and tried to sneak in. Everyone ignored me but someone whispered, “he’s home.”
BY MARQUEL: Top Secret