Innocence Lost

He stares at the mosque. Tears welling in his eyes. One hand griping the bottle, the other

holding up the lighter. The boy flicks the lighter once, twice, and on the third time a long flame

protrudes.

“This is it”, He quietly says to himself and his shaky hands raise to meet flame and

Molotov.

The clothe sticking from the bottle is thick, not accepting the flame right away. Just as he

starts to second guess his actions, the smoldering smoke turns to fire. With moments before the

fluid catches, he reaches back as far as he can, and tosses the bottle at the building.

“Jimmy! No!”, his older brother Craig yells, as he’s running towards him.

Jimmy doesn’t hear his name being called. Fixated on the bottle, as it smashes through one

of the closed window on the first floor. Within moments the dark room is illuminated as if

someone suddenly turned on the light.

Craig reaches his younger brother, Jimmy, grabs him by the shoulders, turning him

towards him. Jimmy, with his body turned towards Craig, refuses to turn his head from the blaze.

“What the hell are you doing?”, Craig asked. Watching Jimmy stare at the flames with

tears now streaming from his eyes. “Jimmy!”, Craig now shouts.

With out looking at Craig, Jimmy responds, “I had to. You know I did.”

Sirens heard in the distance, Craig whips around to gauge how long they have. “We’ve got

to get you out of here”, He says.

“I’m not going anywhere”, Jimmy says sobbing. “I’m tired of running aways from what

needed to be done.”

Craig stands by his little brother, reaches his arms around him, and embraces him as the

cars carrying those sirens arrive.

5 months Earlier.

“Jimmy, if you don’t hurry up, your cereal is going to get soggy”, his Mother said.

Jimmy walked out of the bathroom still trying to comb his cowlick into a smooth

direction. It was a struggle he dealt with every morning. Followed by his breakfast routine of

eating cereal with his mom on the couch, while watching the morning news.

Craig, the older brother, spent his mornings getting in as much programming practice as

he could before a wasted day in junior high. Craig was a wiz when it came to computers. Always

begging his folks to just let him stay home and focus on creating the next big thing.

Jimmy sat down, grabbed his bowl of cereal, and took his place on the couch next to his

mom. She was especially worked up this morning as she watched highlights from the previous

nights presidential election debate.

“We just can’t have Muslimes freely pouring in our country.” Binkens the Republican

nomination proclaimed.

“You just referred to Muslims as Mulsimes?”, Shrill, his Female Democrat opponent

pointed out.

“I said no such thing”, Bikens said. “If I did, IF, it was a slip of tongue. You know I

respect them and their religion, we just can’t risk it at this point.”

“Mom, who are muslims? And why doesn’t he want them coming to our country?”,

Jimmy asked.

“They’re just like you and I, Binkens is just stirring up fear like his party does every four

years.”, she replied.

The debated continued on the TV. “We can’t pretend that every terrorist attack isn’t a

muslim. We can’t!”, Binkens boast.

“Alright, that’s enough bigotry for one day”, Jimmy’s mom says as she turns off the TV.

“Is that true though?”, Jimmy asked. “Are all those bad terrorist, Muslims?”

His mom turns toward Jimmy, placing her hands on his knees, leaning in to show her

seriousness. “We can never allow fear to control our opinions of whole groups of people, Jimmy”,

she said. “Just because a few bad men claim to be Muslims, doesn’t mean the rest of the Muslims

are any different than you or I.”

“Then how can he say we need to keep them all out?”, Jimmy asked.

“Because there’s enough people always looking to blame minorities for our problems in

that party, to elect fools. Now go get your shoes on.”, She answered.

As they arrived to school that morning, it was the first day of the new school year. Craig

was quick to run out of the car and to meet his friends from the previous year. This was a new

school for Jimmy. He anxiously waited in the car, not seeing anyone he recognized.

His mom looking in the rear view mirror, and noticed his uneasiness. “I know it’s hard to

start at a fresh school”, she said. “But in no time you’ll have a whole new group of friends.”

“Doesn’t make it any easier”, Jimmy sighed.

“I know, babe.”, his mom said. “we can wait for a bit to see if any of your friends from

your last school show up, if you’d like”

Jimmy finally cracked a smile, “yes, please”, he said.

As they sat there watching car come and go, Jimmy’s nerves were starting to calm down.

He noticed every one that looked like they were in his grade, looking uncertain as the left their cars

as well.

Just as he was getting the courage to embark from the car himself, he noticed one car in

particular. The boy was dressed just like Jimmy, but his mom was wearing clothing he had never

seen before. A long dress the covered her from her feet to the top of her head. Only her face was

showing. Even her arms were covered with long sleeves.

“What kind of dress is that mom?” Jimmy asked.

“That looks like traditional clothing for a Muslim, dear”, his mom answered.

Jimmy couldn’t help but give a little gasp. He had never met a Muslim. Only hearing of

them for the first time today, being linked to the terrible terrorist attacks of recent.

Jimmy’s mom took notice and interjected immediately. “I bet that poor child will be

getting that reaction a lot, especially with what Binkens has been spewing recently”, she said.

Jimmy felt embarrassed that it was so noticeable. “I didn’t mean to”, he said.

“It’s not your fault, Jimmy”, she said. “but wouldn’t it be wonderful if you two could show

the other children there’s no difference between you two?”

“I guess so”, Jimmy reluctantly said. “but what if the other children don’t want to be my

friend because of it?”

“Then those aren’t the kids you want as friends”, she responded. “Lets go meet them.”

The two of them got out of the car and approached the Muslim family. As the they got

close enough to be noticed, Jimmy’s mom smiled and waved.

The Muslim woman smiled and waved back. “Good morning”, she said.

“Morning! I’m Jane, this is Jimmy”, his mom said. “Is this your first day at this school as

well?” she asked the boy.

“Yeah”, the boy answered as he took a step behind his mom.

“Don’t be shy”, the boys mom said. “This is Malik, and I am Faraqe.”

“Hi Malik”, Jane said waving. “Jimmy is a little nervous himself.”

Jimmy gave a smile at being mentioned. Malik smiled back.

“Who is your teacher this year, malik?”, Jane asked.

Malik looked up at his mom, not sure. “Mrs. Clark”, Faraqe answered for Malik.

“Same as me”, Jimmy finally spoke.

“Wow, that’s great”, Jane said. “You two can go find your class together then.”

“Perfect”, Faraqe said as she gave Malik a playful shove in the direction of the classes.

Jimmy took a step towards Malik, “come on, my brother told me where it is”, he said

leading the way.

The two boys said bye to their moms and headed to Mrs. Clark’s classroom. Suddenly

Jimmy didn’t feel scared at all. Confidence grew, being that he actually knew more about the

school then Malik.

The boys found two open desk next to each other and sat down. There were already small

groups of children who sat next to each other chatting away. When Malik sat down one group in

particular stopped talking so to get a look at him.

Jimmy noticed this, and not wanting there to be any awkward silence, he tried to reach out

to them. “Sup guys?”, he said.

The group of boys ignored his advance, still staring at Malik. Malik noticed this and

decided to stare to the front of the class instead of trying to break the tension himself.

Finally the largest of the boys in that group spoke up. “Hey is your mom a vampire?”, he

asked loud enough for the rest of the children in the room to hear. “Isn’t that why she had to cover

her skin from the sun?”

The boys all started to laugh. “No it’s so she can hide her weapons”, another boy

responded.

“I hope she doesn’t blow up the school”, another boy across the room joked.

“I do”, a girl spoke. “Then I can go back to summer vacation. The rest of the class

laughed at this.

“Not funny”, Jimmy shouted as he could see tears forming in Malik’s eyes. “Forget them”,

Jimmy reassured him.

“What’s not funny?” Mrs. Clark was heard asking as she entered the room. At once, all of

the laughing children stopped.

The rest of the morning was filled with the typical first day of school agenda. The children

were equally bored with the teachers expectations of the year. Just when they all grew reckless

from sitting still for three hours, the bell rang.

“Alright, everyone enjoy break”, Mrs. Clark said.

When Jimmy and Malik got out to the yard for break, they both watched as groups formed

all over. Some at the basketball courts, others picking teams to play touch football.

“What do you want to do?”, Jimmy asked Malik. “Wanna go play kickball?”

“I’m not good at sports”, Malik said. “besides, I’ll just be picked last”

“Yeah, and I’ll just be picked before you”, Jimmy said laughing. “Guilty by association.”

“Sorry”, Malik said.

“Whatever, bro”, Jimmy said patting Malik on the back.

“I know what we can do”, Maik said as he pulled a cellphone from his pocket.

“Whoa, you have your own cellphone?” Jimmy asked in amazement.

“My dad works for Apple”, Malik said. “Ever play Pokemon Go?”

“No way”, Jimmy replied. “My folks never let me play with their phones. Is it fun?”

Malik was already spinning around holding his phone up, looking for new Pokemon,

“Heck yeah!”, he said as he started trotting away. “Found one!”

They spent the rest of break running back and forth on the yard searching every corner for

new Pokemon. Malik even gave Jimmy a chance at catching a few. Even though he failed both

times, they were lost in their own world. Away from the other children, on an adventure, Jimmy

found his best friend.

The rest of the day went as good as it could, being spent in school. When it was time to go

home, Jimmy couldn’t help but fill his mom in with every detail he could about his hunting

experiences around school. She was so proud of Jimmy, making friends with Malik despite the

attitude from the other kids that morning. Though she still wouldn’t let Jimmy use her phone to

catch anything once they got home.

The next morning Jimmy couldn’t wait to get back to school, and hunt Pokemon with his

best friend. As he ran to the kitchen to grab his cereal before it got soggy, he heard the morning

news. “Over 100 casualties, and another 100 injured”, the reporter said.

Jimmy stopped dead in his track to look at the TV. They didn’t show the bodies, but blood

was everywhere. He couldn’t tell where it was, but it looked like a concert stage.

“what happened?” He asked his mom.

Finally noticing Jimmy was up, Jane turned of the TV. “Nothing a 10 year old needs to

worry about”, Said said.

“100 people were killed?”, He asked. “by terrorist?”

His mom nodded, “But you don’t have to worry about that here. These bad people are a

million miles away.”, She said to comfort him.

“But why do they do it?, Jimmy asked.

“I don’t know son”, she said. “Some people are just really bad people.”

“Aren’t there bad people here?”, he asked. “Couldn’t that happen here?”

“It won’t happen here”, she assured him. “our government won’t let it happen.”

“So Benkins is right? We need to keep them from coming over here.”, Jimmy said.

“Jimmy. We can’t just keep people out of this country do to their religious beliefs”, she

said.

“Why not?”, he asked.

“Because this is America, where everyone is free to believe what they want”, she

answered.

“But what if they believe in killing us?”, he asked.

“Those are only the bad ones”, she said. “Our government isn’t allowing them in.”

“How can we tell whose the bad ones”, Jimmy asked.

“They just can, okay?” she said. “Now eat your breakfast so you can go hunt little

animals.”

“They’re Pokemon”, Jimmy corrected her as he started eating.

As soon as the break bell rang, Jimmy and Malik were the first ones out of the class and

on the hunt. They couldn’t find any new ones this morning, so they decided to get some water and

just sit under a tree in the shade to look at their catches from the previous day.

As they chose their favorite ones, Jimmy couldn’t help but remember what he saw with his

mom this morning.

“Did you see what happened in Europe last night?”, Jimmy asked Malik.

“Yeah, it was so horrible”, Malik said.

Not sure to how Malik would respond, this put Jimmy at ease.

“I know! Who could kill 100 people like that?”, Jimmy said.

“Did you see the photos of all the blood?”, Malik asked.

“Barely, my mom turned it off as soon as I asked about it”, Jimmy said.

“I hate being a Muslim every time this happens”, Malik said.

“You can’t help what some people do. I know that’s not you or your family”, Jimmy

assured Malik.

“But the rest of the world looks at my family like were are terrorist”, Malik said.

“The world can be a crummy place”, Jimmy said.

“You could say that again”, Malik said smiling. “If only Pokemon were real.”

“I’d use Chaizard to burn those terrorist away last night.”, Jimmy said.

“No way! You’d set off their bombs Squirtle is definitely the one to use against them”,

Malik replied laughing. They both started to laugh about it.

As the school day was coming to a close, Malik and Jimmy met up with Craig to wait for

their parents to pick them up in the parking lot.

“I know a hack to get all of the Pokemon, you know?”, Craig said as Malik and Jimmy

were focused on the phone.

“really?”, Malik asked.

“Sure, you just have to…”, Craig started to say.

“Nope!”, Jimmy interjected. “We want to hunt them fair and square. Craig always ruins a

good game with hacks.”

“I just play games the smart way”, Craig said with a smirk.

“You know I bet there are different Pokemon at your house”, Malik said.

“Too bad I don’t have a phone to catch them”, Jimmy said.

“Take mine home with you tonight”, Malik said as he handed Jimmy his phone.

“Really?”, Jimmy asked as he grabbed the phone.

“Yeah”, Malik said. “Scope them out, and maybe I can come over this weekend and hunt

them with you.”

“That would be awesome!”, Jimmy proclaimed.

“there’s mom”, Craig said as he took off towards the car. “Shotgun!”

“Dang it”, Jimmy said as he followed.

That night Jimmy ran all over his neighborhood before dinner to see what type of

Pokemon he could find. He drew a map and marked where each one was. That way this weekend

he and Malik would already know where they were to catch them all.

His mom shouted for Jimmy to come back in for dinner. As the whole family sat down to

eat, he decided to ask if Malik could come over.

“Hey mom and dad, would it be okay if Malik came over this weekend?” Jimmy asked his

parents.

“Malik?”, his dad asked, looking at his mom.

“Just a boy in his class, dear”, Jane said.

“What kind of name is Malik”, the sad asked. “Muslim?”

“What would it matter?”, she responded. “He’s still Jimmy’s friend.”

“I don’t know”, the dad said.

“Of course its a good idea”, his mom said.

“But Jane. Is this really a good time?”, his dad started to ask.

“And what time is that Roger?”, Jane asked.

Roger looked at the children before responding. “You know with what’s been going on.”

“Jesus, you too?” She said.

“What?”, roger asked looking indigent

Jimmy could tell there was tension brewing from somewhere. He didn’t want to be the

cause of making dinner uncomfortable.

“Its okay. Maybe another time”, Jimmy said.

“Absolutely not”, Jane said. “He’s more than welcome to spend the weekend with us.”

“Right”, Roger said looking a bit embarrassed.

“Sweet!”, Jimmy said.

That ended up being one of the best weekends in Jimmy’s memory. The woke up extra

early to scourer the neighborhood. Only breaking to eat. Their bond as friends grew as their

collection did in numbers. His dad even got involved after seeing their excitement after dinner on

Saturday night. He grabbed a flashlight and took them hunting till late into the night.

When they got back to the house, Roger even let Malik download the game to his phone

so Jimmy and him could hunt when Malik wasn’t there.

“Even with your head start, I’ll have them all before you”, Roger challenged the boys.

“I could help with that”, Craig said as he walked into the living room to see what they had

been doing so late.

“No!”, Jimmy yelled. “no cheating dad.”

“I’d never think about it”, He said as he winked at Craig.

All the boys laughed at that. Jimmy and Malik grabbed a snack and headed to bed. Yes it

was the perfect weekend, with his best friend.

As the weeks went on, Jimmy and Malik’s friendship grew. It was to the point that Malik

was a guest a Jimmy’s almost every weekend. While their love of Pokemon faded, they always

found something else to chase on their adventures.

“When do I get to go to your house?”, Jimmy asked as they were walking around the

school yard.

“What?”, Malik said, seeming startled from a deep thought.

“Your house?”, Jimmy said. “we’re always at my house.”

“That’s because your house is better”, Malik said.

“How’s that?”, Jimmy asked.

“It just is, you know?”, Malik said.

“I don’t know”, Jimmy said. He stopped walking.

“It’s just different at my house”, Malik said.

“Different how?”, Jimmy asked.

“Why does it matter?”, Malik asked.

“I just want to know”, Jimmy replied.

“My dad is just a lot different than your parents”, Malik said.

“Well your mom seems cool”, Jimmy said.

“She’s fine”, Malik said. “but at home, my dad controls everything.”

“Like what?”, Jimmy asked.

“Everything”, Malik said. “trust me, it’s a vacation being at your place.”

“It can’t be that bad”, Jimmy said with a chuckle.

“Imagine being forced to do nothing but read the bible and clean”, Malik responded.

“Your dad makes you read the bible?”, Jimmy asked.

“Worse. The Quran”, Malik said.

They started to walk back towards class as the bell rang.

“I’m sure its just as boring as the bible”, Jimmy joked.

“Trust me”, Malik said. “There’s a difference between how my family treats the Quran

than your family and the Bible.”

“It’s just a book”, Jimmy said as he held the door open for Malik.

“Not to my dad”, Malik said as he walked in.

That night when Jimmy was home. He couldn’t stop thinking about the Quran and how it

was different than his parents Bible. He decided he could go to Craig without being told some

mom filled life lesson on how all religions were the same, or equal. He didn’t want a life lesson,

just some facts.

When he walked into Craig’s room, it was the typical scene. Lights off, only the blue glow

from his computer screen lighting Craig’s silhouette. Without turning around, Craig spoke in a

mysterious voice.

“And why has a commoner like yourself, entered my complex?”, Craig said.

“Because I don’t have my own computer”, Jimmy said.

Craig spun around in his office chair to face Jimmy. “And you think you get to use

mine?”, Craig said as he let out a deep chuckle. “Unlikely peasant.”

“Come on man”, Jimmy pleaded. “It’s something important.”

“I’m curious then”, Craig replied. “What do you need information on?”

“The Quran”, Jimmy said.

“The Quran?”, Craig asked. “What do you need to know about that for?”

“Cause, Malik told me his dad took it a lot more serious than our dad does about the

bible”, Jimmy said.

“Probably actually believes it”, Craig said.

“What do you mean by that?”, Jimmy asked. “Dad believes in the bible.”

“How often do we go to church”, Craig asked.

“I don’t know”, Jimmy answered. “At least a few times a year.”

“Right, mostly because its a holiday.”, Craig said. “Muslims have to pray five times a

day.”

“Jesus”, Jimmy responded.

“Muhammad”, Craig corrected.

“Whatever”, Jimmy said. “Print me out some stuff on it, would you?”

“Are you sure you want to know what they believe?”, Craig asked.

“Of course”, Jimmy said. “why wouldn’t I?”

“I’d hate to break up your little love-fest with Malik”, Craig sneered.

“Oh shut it”, Jimmy said as he motioned a fist as if he would strike Craig over that

comment.

“Easy tiger”, Craig said laughing. “I’ll print you out what you need. But then you must

agree to vanquish my kingdom of your presence thereafter.”

“Whatever, you dork”, Jimmy said.

“You mean, my lord”, Craig said.

“What?”, Jimmy asked getting impatient.

“Do you want it or not?”, Craig said with a smirk.

“Fine”, Jimmy gave in. “My lord.”

“Easy enough”, Craig said. “There’s a million sites with quotes from their crazy book.

Will only take a second.

Craig printed out a dozen pages of the top searched quotes from the Quran and their

meanings. Handed the stack to Jimmy as he showed him the door.

Jimmy ran to his room, laid down on the bed, and began reading through the pages. The

first few pages bored him with details on diet and women dressing modestly. There were plenty of

girls in his class he wish would cover up their faces in the name of anything. He skipped the next

few pages hoping to find something more exciting. Then a page hit him right in the gut.

“And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned

you out.”

Hoping it was out of context, he flipped to the next page. One after another the quote was

about violence against non-believers of Islam. Was this why Malik didn’t want Jimmy to meet his

father? Would he want to kill him for not being a Muslim?

“There’s no way his dad believes this”, Jimmy said to himself. “His mom is so nice,

though.”

He tossed the stack of papers into his trash trying to put them out of his mind. Finally

telling himself that these were just really old words in a book of a different life. Nothing like this is

believed in 2016 he told himself.

Besides, the bible was filled with strange violent stories. Even America used to have

slaves. He decided it was just a historical record kept, to show how Muslims used to see others. No

way an American Muslim thought that today.

He rolled over on his bed, content in his reasoning, and laughed to himself as he

continued to picture the ugly girls having to wear a burqa. His uneasiness faded as he feel asleep.

That night his dreams were no match for his subconscious imagination. He was standing

outside of an old clay building. Looking like a scene out of the cartoon movie Aladdin. Out of no

where he hears Malik’s voice.

“Come on Jimmy its time for dinner”, Malik says. Though no where to be seen.

The front door of the large clay building opens. Jimmy can see nothing but a long dark

hallway. “Malik?”, Jimmy cries out.

“Come on in Jimmy”, Malik calls back.

“Where are you?”, Jimmy ask.

“I’m in here”, Malik replies. “Hurry, we can’t be late for dinner.”

Jimmy walks up to the open door, now standing on the front steps to get a better look.

Darkness as far as he can see. Jimmy gets scared and turns around to walk away from the door.

When he turns, the path behind him is now replaced with a large canyon. The front steps

suspended above the pit. Startled he falls backwards into the doorway and land on his butt sitting

just inside. The large door starts to close with Jimmy still in sitting in the way. He scoots as quick

as he can to not be smashed by the large closing door.

Jimmy grabs his knees in close to his chest and closes his eyes not wanting to see what

happens next.

“What are you doing on the floor Jimmy?”, Malik ask.

Jimmy slowly opens his eyes. He’s sitting in the middle of Malik’s living room clenching

his knees still. The room now well lit and looking like any average living room. He looks up at

Malik standing above him with his hand reaching to help him get up. Jimmy takes Malik’s hand

and gets up.

“Are you ok?”, Malik ask.

“I’m fine”, Jimmy says.

“Great lets go”, Malik says as he leads Jimmy by the hand to the next room.

In the next room Malik’s parents are already sitting at the dinner table. Its a long wooden

table covered in dishes of different meals. In a high chair to the right side is Malik’s baby brother.

To the left of the table, Malik’s mom. Though Jimmy couldn’t see her face. Now wearing a barqa

that only let her eyes show. Though some how he recognized her.

Opposite of Jimmy at the head of the table sat a large grinning man. “Sit down boys”, the

man says. “Malik has told me all about you and your family.”

Realizing this must be Malik’s dad now. “Hello Mr. Marteen”, Jimmy says.

“Please, call me Ahmed”, Malik’s dad says with a smile. “It’s such a joy to finally meet

the boy that has become such good friends with my son.”

Malik and Jimmy sit down in the empty seats. Jimmy looks down at his empty plate. He

looks at all of the covered dishes on the table. Takes in the exotic smells, of foods he’s sure he’s

never tried at his house.

“Who’s going to pray before we eat?”, Ahmed ask.

“Oh let Jimmy!”, Malik cheers. “He’s our guest.”

Ahmed leans in towards the table, “Would you like to pray?”

Jimmy tries to think back to the last time he’s even heard his parents pray before dinner.

Not sure he even knows what he’d say. “But I’m not a Muslim”, Just pops out of his mouth before

he can stop himself.

Ahmed and Malik burst out with laughter. “Just give thanks to Jesus for this food”,

Ahmed says with a smile.

“You believe in Jesus?”, Jimmy ask.

“Of course we do”, Malik says.

“Its all the same things, when you think about it”, Ahmed says. “Go on boy, we wouldn’t

want our food to get cold.”

“Okay”, Jimmy says straining for the words to say. “Dear Jesus, thank you for the food

we are about to eat.”

“And for friends and family”, Malik interjected.

“Friends and family”, Ahmed repeats.

Jimmy not knowing what to add, “Amen.”

“Amen”, Ahmed says eyes now fixed on Jimmy as he licks his lips.

As they finish the meal, Faraqe stands from the table and walks around the table to stand

behind Jimmy. Ahmed reaches across the table and grabs a large knife and sharpening rod and

begins to sharpen the blade.

Jimmy not wanting to look as if he’s uncomfortable with Malik’s mom standing right

behind him ask Ahmed, “So what’s for dinner?”

“Our favorite”, Malik says as he reaches towards Jimmy’s hand. “Unbeliever.”

Jimmy pulls his hand quickly aways from Malik, though Faraqe reaches around his arms

holding him down to his seat. The more Jimmy struggles against her grip, the stronger she gets.

Ahmed stands up from his chair and slowly walks around the table towards Jimmy.

“Since you brought him, I believe you’re old enough for you first kill”, Ahmed says to

Malik.

“Really?”, Malik ask.

Ahmed hands the knife to Malik.

“What the hell man?”, Jimmy pleads with Malik. “You can’t be serious.”

“Feisty one with that harsh tongue”, Ahmed says as he grabs the back of Jimmy’s hair

with one hand.

He forces Jimmy’s head down onto the table.

Struggling to get free, Jimmy cries out, “I thought we were friends!”

“I’m sorry Jimmy”, Malik says, raising the knife blade. “But we’ve got to catch them all.”

Just as Jimmy can feel the blade hit the back of his neck he’s awaken by the screams of his

mom. He jumps out of bed not realizing its now morning time, and runs for the living room.

He reaches the room, his mom embracing his dad as they kiss.

“What’s wrong”, Jimmy yells.

His parents stop kissing. His mom laughing now, “Oh I’m sorry dear, did I wake you?”,

his mom ask.

“With a blood curling scream, yes”, Jimmy responds.

“Sorry there Jimmy”, his dad says. “Your mom just couldn’t control herself.”

“Well your father just surprised me with these tickets”, She said handing Jimmy an

envelope.

Inside were two round trip tickets to France.

“France?”, Jimmy asked.

“For our 10 year anniversary”, his dad said.

“Oh I’ve wanted to go to France since I was a little girl”, his mom added.

“Isn’t that where the terrorist attack happened?”, Jimmy asked.

“I told you not to let him watch the news with you”, his dad said to his mom.

“I turned it off when he came in”, his mom said.

“Don’t worry little man”, his dad said. “We’re going to a completely different area of

France, terrorist free.”

“Who’s going to watch Craig and I?”, Jimmy asked.

“Well Craig will probably stay at his friend Kirk’s house”, his dad said.

“What if we ask Malik’s mom if you can stay with them for the week?”, his Mom asked.

“No”, Jimmy spurted out.

“uh oh, something wrong between you two?”, Roger asked his son.

“No, just don’t think his dad would want me to”, Jimmy responded.

“Can’t hurt to ask”, his mom said. “Now go get showered and dressed. I want to buy a

new dress after I drop you two off.”

The entire drive to school , Jimmy dreaded his mother asking Malik’s mom to watch him.

Malki had made it seem rediculas for him to go over. He could only imagine how awkward it was

going to be when she asked. What would his mom say as an excuse? What if his mom insisted?

What if it started an argument that cause him and Malik to have to stop seeing each other. Theres

no telling what can happen with parents.

They pulled into their usual spot. Jimmy was hoping Malik was already waiting with his

mother long gone. Instead, there was his mother waiting with Malik.

“Perfect”, Jane said as they all got out of the car and headed over to Malik and his mom.

“It’s so great to see you, Jane”, Faraqe greeted Jimmy’s mom.

The two boys met eyes. Malik looking embarrassed.

“I’m so glad you’re here”, Jane said. “I needed to ask you a huge favor.”

“Well Malik has been spending so much time with your family, I wanted the chance to

host Jimmy”, Faraqe said.

“Me?”, Jimmy asked sounding puzzled.

“Of course”, Faraqe exclaimed.

“Wow, this is what I wanted to ask you about”, Jane said. “Now I know this is a huge

favor, but Roger booked us an anniversary trip to France…”

“Oh France would be so lovely”, Faraqe said.

“Right?”, Jane askd. “and well why we’d love to bring the kids”

“On an anniversary trip?”, Faraqe said qith a smirk. “not likely.”

“Well you see my dilima”, Jane said with a laugh.

“Say no more”, Faraqe said. “Jimmy shall stay with us.”

“Are you sure?”, Jane asked.

“He’s always welcomed in our home”, She said.

Jimmy stared at Malik in disbelief. Malik shrugged off the look just as the bell rang for

the start of class. “Lets go Jimmy”, he said.

The two boys said goodbye to their moms and ran to their class. Jimmy was just happy

that it wasn’t an awkward encounter, that he didn’t even care to as why Malik was hessitant in the

first place. It was going to an entire week filled with new adventures.

The next few weeks went by with no real excitement. The conversation of Malik’s dad

never came back up. Jimmy’s parents were so excited about their trip, it dominated all

conversations at dinner. Every night Roger would bring home a new pamplet he had printed out at

work with something else they could see or do on their trip.

Jimmy’s family rarely took vacations. It had been his entire life since his folks were able

to take one with out Craig and himself. He knew this was a big event for them. So he didn’t mind it

being the subject of discussion around the dinner table. Anything that made his mom that happy,

seemed to make his life better as well.

Every morning as he watched the news, everything seemed calm across the globe. After

seeing that one attack, he feared it would become the new typical morning routine. Mother hiding

the news with tearful eyes, breakfast eaten in silence. Nothing could be further from the truth.

France seemed in full recovery. His mom didn’t even seem to care about the election or the debates

anymore. Which was a welcomed calm while Jimmy ate his cereal.

The night before his parents trip, his mom cooked the boys favorite. Jimmy’s dad called it

Shepard’s pie on crack. While Jimmy had no idea what Crack was, he certainly understood how

addictive it must be, since his dad finished everyones leftovers each time.

“Should we pray before we eat this time”, Jane asked.

The boy looked at their dad who looked at their mom to question this request.

“Come on”, she said. “Its going to be some time before we get to eat with each other

again. Besides, with how long this flight it, couldn’t hurt to pray over it.”

Jimmy’s mom hated flying. She had an experience as a little girl where he plane hit a bird,

shutting down one of the four engines. Even though they landed perfectly safe and sound, she

never forgot her mothers panic as the pilot announced his intentions.

“Sure”, Roger said. “Jimmy, how bout you pray for us.”

“me”, Jimmy asked. His dream came back like a flash of lightning. He hadn’t thought of it

since the night he had it. The feeling of his head being held against the table.

All of a sudden his fears of Malik’s dad came storming in, taking over his consciousness.

Without notice, he began to cry uncontrollably.

“What in the world”, his dad said.

His mom got up quickly and rushed to her child’s aid. “Jimmy, what’s wrong?”, she said.

“I don’t want you to leave me”, Jimmy said as he embraced his mom.

His parents looked at each other and Jane held her sobbing son. All she could do was pat

him on the back and assure him everything would be alright.

Jimmy knew this wouldn’t change the plans, and caught his breath. “Sorry”, He said

wiping his face clean with his pulled up shirt.

“Well if I wasn’t dreading the flight enough already”, Jane said.

They all got a laugh from this. Jimmy calmed down. They skipped the prayer, and dug in.

It was a great night for the family.

Unexpected beginnings

Jimmy and Craig were packed up and ready to head to their friends house. Craig was in a

sour mood, his friend got strep throat and had to cancel on watching him. Luckily for Jane and

Roger, Faraqe’s invitation extended to Craig as well.

Jimmy got a sense of relief that he’d never admit to his older brother. If anything weird

were to happen, at least it would be happening to Craig as well. He even chuckled at the thought of

eating his unbeliever brother, first.

It had been several weeks since his nightmare. He even begun to feel childish ever have

fearing Malik’s dad. Though in the back of his mind somewhere, he was cautious.

“Let’s go boys”, Jane shouted from the front door.

“How much did you need?”, Roger said while struggling to carry their luggage out to the

car.

“Enough to look good for you at night”, Jane said with a seductive glance.

“Bags should be empty then”, Roger said with a chuckle.

The parents didn’t notice the children were standing behind them, awkwardly listening in

silence.

“Sorry boys”, Roger said.

“Let’s go”, Craig said ignoring them as he pushed past the two and out to the car.

The entire drive to Malik’s house was spent planning out brunch ideas for every morning

in France. Jimmy’s parents were already in the clouds heading to their dream vacation. He had

never seen them so excited. Which he also realized coincided with them being without Craig and

himself. Though his parents would proclaim how much they’d miss their kids while away. Just not

enough to take them with them.

Craig didn’t say one word during the drive. Jimmy didn’t mind. Craig had nothing positive

to add to the experience when he was in one of his funk moods.

When they arrived at Malik’s house, Malik and his mother were waiting outside to

welcome the them. Jane covered Jimmy in kisses and insisted Craig look after his little brother.

Their dad was busy using his phone to check into their flight, but told the boys to mind Malik’s

folks and to not embarrass them.

“Thank you again”, Jane told Faraqe.

“It is my pleasure”, Faraqe replied. “enjoy this wonderful time in France.”

“Alright boys. We’ll call you two when we land”, Jane said.

“Bye mom, love you”, Jimmy said.

Craig just nodded and turned towards Malik, “Where’s an outlet I can use”, He asked. “I’m

almost out of juice.”

“Why don’t you take them to your room”, Faraqe told Malik.

Jane waved one last time as Roger drove away.

Jimmy walked slowly up to the house. Not sure how a Muslim’s house would be different

than his. When Malik opened the door for them, he was surprised to see it was just like his

families. He had no idea what he thought would be different, but he expected something.

Especially after how much Craig hyped how the experience would be for Jimmy while being there.

Jimmy now noticing Craig had no concerns himself as he plugged in his laptop. Of course

he must have be being a typical older brother. Anything to see his younger bro squirm. Craig’s

favorite past time. He’d still reserve judgment though, until he got to meet Ahmed, Malik’s father.

He still remembered Malik had reason to warn him before about wanting to meet him.

The boys spent the day finally being able to beat the games that had been to hard for them

before. With Craig’s help suddenly unlimited ammo and armor made the task medial, though

keeping the boys busy the remainder of the day.

Airport

Roger and Jane had just parked their car in long term parking as they made their way to

check in.

“I’ve never gone to the international terminals”, Jane said with glee. “Oh Roger, thanks so

much.” she said stopping to give him a kiss.

“Should have gone ten years earlier if I new it turned you into happy wife”, Roger said.

“Oh stop it”, Jane said as she playfully slapped his arm. “You know I’m always happy.”

Roger gave her a stare of intent.

“Well, contempt”, she admitted as they both laughed.

Their excitement was stalled as soon as the sliding doors revealed a security line that

snaked around enough ropes to put a line at Disneyland to shame.

“Jesus Christ”, Roger said as they stepped in.

“Why in the world is the line so long?”, Jane asked.

“Heightened security I guess”, Roger answered.

“Well nothing to do but get in a line I guess”, Jane said. They both step to the back of the

long line. “At least it will keep us safe.”

“Should just let the non terrorist looking ones of us through”, Roger said sounding

annoyed.

“Oh really?”, Jane said. “And what exactly does a terrorist look like?”

“Not like us”, Roger answered.

“Here I was teaching the boys not to be like Binkens, when hey, lets all be biggots.” Jane

said.

“Calm down”, Roger said giving Jane a guilty smile. “You know what I mean. Just would

be nice if they used a little common sense.”

Jane refused to justify his statement with a response.

“I’m just saying. No terrorist attacks have been from white parents in their 40's”, Roger

continued.

“So we give every middle eastern man a hard time?”, Jane asked. “Why not give them

their own lines, strip them naked, who gives a shit about their rights.”

“That’s not what I’m saying”, Roger said. “But look at that.” He pointed to a separate

screen area. It was full of white passengers standing with their bags open. TSA agents patting them

down.

“It’s become about being so politically correct, that they won’t even stop an Arab”, Roger

said.

“Just shut up already”, Jane said. “You’re spoiling the vacation already.”

Roger stopped dead in his tracks. He wanted his happy wife to return. So he figured this

was only possible if he kept his thoughts to himself.

“How about a coffee?”, Roger asked pointing to Starbucks. “You keep our place in line,

and I’ll go get us our first brunch.”

“Well its not France”, Jane said smiling again. “but it’s a start.”

As Roger got out of line and headed towards the coffee shop, he bumped into a man who

seemed to be in a rush. They were walking so fast with their heads down that they never saw

Roger, he was almost knocked completely on his side.

Roger caught himself before falling. Out of instinct he already started to apologize,

turning to see if the man he hit was alright. As he was turning towards the man he ran into, the

other man with him shoved Roger away.

“Whoa, my bad”, Roger said while being shoved. “No need to be a dick, though.”

The man he hit had dropped his bag. While Roger was focused on the other man now

shoving him, he never noticed the spilled contents of the bag. He was now yelling at Roger in a

language he never heard. While the man was on his hands and knees pick up whatever had spilled

all over the floor.

“Leave my husband alone”, Jane shouted. She had ran over after seeing Roger get shoved.

As the guy yelling at Roger turned his attention on Jane, giving Roger enough space to

breath finally he noticed. What sounded like coins hitting the tile floor were actually bullets. Jane

was standing right next the two men and the spilled bag now. Fear paralyzing Roger.

The situation was too surreal for Rogers brain to make sense of, despite the obvious. And

airport was no place for bullets. Just as his tunnel vision on those bullets was starting to fade,

boom. He looked up, snapped out of his paralysis. The man who had shoved him, now standing

with a pistol drawn at Jane.

Jane stood in shock. Her white blouse, being dyed in crimson from a single gun shot. She

dropped back and fell onto the floor. The entire line of people waiting to make it through security

ran in every direction. No one seeming to know where the shot came from, not wanting to wait

around and find out.

Rogers fear, replaced with rage. He struck the man with the gun as hard as he could in the

back of the head, knocking the man down seeming to knock him out cold. The other man gathering

the bullets stood up. Roger noticed the gun laying next to the man he just hit. He slide to his knees

to grab it. Never having shot a gun before, he was hoping all he had to do was pull the trigger.

Just as he had the gun in his hand, the pressure of the other man’s gun was felt on the back

of his head. Click. Accepting he was dead for a moment, before realizing the gun never went off.

He spun towards the man with the jammed gun, and fired his gun into that mans torso. 15 shots in

the matter of seconds.

Roger dropped the gun, and ran over to Jane. Armed police arrived at the scene trying to

figure out who did what. Roger ripped off his jacket, holding it hard against Jane’s chest.

“Help”, He shouted to the police. “She’s dying.”

Jane was already unconscious. Roger looked up expecting to see the police officers

rushing to his wife’s aid. They were standing 10 feet away guns drawn.

“What the fuck is the matter with you?”, Roger screamed as they stood hesitant to help. “I

need your help!”

“Allah Akbar”, was the only response he heard. The man he though he had knocked out,

had rolled over onto his side. His hand holding onto the trigger to a suicide vest. Roger never had

time to turn towards the words whispered. A blast carried throughout the airport terminal.

The boys are washing their hands, getting ready for dinner. Jimmy was excited. Faraqe

was making lamb stew, a meat he had never tried before. Craig had told him before the trip that he

wasn’t eating any meat they gave them. Joked that it could be Dog for all he knew. Jimmy thought

secretly to himself, for how good it smelled, he’d eat the dog.

As they sat around the dinner table waiting, the front door opened. It was Ahmed, Malik’s

father.

Jimmy having never met Ahmed, still assumed he would look like the stern man from his

dream, what he saw was entirely different. More of a nerd, then dictator. Thick glasses, a balding

head, no facial hair, and a huge smile.

“Boys, its so great to see you”, Ahmed said. “I’ve even got a surprise for you.”

Ahmed placed his briefcase on the dinning room table, and pulled out a small box with the

apple logo on the side.

“No way”, Craig blurted out. “The new apple watch?” He got out of his chair to get a

closer look.

“Someone knows their Apple products”, Ahmed said with a chuckle.

“This isn’t supposed to come out until Christmas”, Craig said, eyes fixated on the box.

“Perks to working there”, Ahmed said. “Would you like to try it on?”

“Would I”, Craig said shooting his arm out wrist exposed.

“Finally a boy with better interest than that silly game”, Ahmed said looking towards

Jimmy and Malik.

Malik refused to look up at his dad.

Besides his father not liking Pokemon, Jimmy couldn’t see why Malik didn’t want him to

meet Ahmed. He seemed nice enough.

Faraqe walking into the dinning room holding a large covered pot. Placed it down on the

center of the table, and gave Ahmed a kiss on the cheek.

“So glad to have you home, husband”, She said.

“Thank you my dear”, Ahmed said. “It smells amazing.”

Craig and Jimmy returned to their chairs. Craig completely occupied with the watch.

Jimmy hoping it was time to eat.

“Shall we go pray first?” Ahmed said looking at Faraqe and Malik. “Of course we

should.”

Jimmy bowed his head thinking they were going to pray together at the table, but trying to

avoid eye contact not wanting to live out his dream being requested to pray. Instead Malik stood

up from his seat.

“We’ll be right back”, Malik told Jimmy. “it shouldn’t take long.”

Jimmy nodded to Malik and was content in just waiting silently.

“Where are you going?”, Craig said looking up from the watch. He hadn’t been paying

attention.

“We must pray times a day towards Mecca”, Ahmed said.

Craig now blushing, wishing he hadn’t opened his mouth.

“I’d invite you two to share this with us”, Ahmed said. “But its better to let your parents

lead you in such things.”

Malik and his parents left the dinning room and into their prayer room. Jimmy looked at

his brother, who gave him a shrug and focused once again on the Apple watch.

Jimmy decided his curiosity and fear of covered dishes from his dreams got to be to much

to wait. He leaned over the table, and started to uncover the lid to the large pot, to see what was

hidden in there.

“Holy crap”, Craig said suddenly.

Jimmy dropped the lid and fell back into his seat thinking he was just caught snooping. He

quickly realized it was something to do with Craig and the watch.

“What is it?”, Jimmy asked.

Craig wouldn’t look up or answer Jimmy’s question. He just stared at his watch looking

like he had seen a ghost.

“Craig”, Jimmy said with more force. Still no response. “I’m not falling for your pranks.”

Usually Craig would give in and laugh by now. His eyes stayed fixed on the watch. What

really scared Jimmy was the fact that a single tear was now trickling down Craig’s cheek.

Jimmy stood up and walked next to Craig, giving his a shove. “Craig, what is it?”, Jimmy

asked.

Snapping out of his trance, Craig slowly removed the watch and dropped it on the table.

Only able to say one word, “Dad”, he whispered.

Jimmy looked with confusion at the watch on the table. Picked it up, he touched the

screen to wake it back up. It was on a news link. A still frame from what looked like a black and

white security camera, showed their dad kneeling with a gun drawn on the attacker. Th headline

reading, “Brave man fights back before blast kills 53.”

Looking back at Craig, Jimmy was certain this was an elaborate prank loaded onto the

phone. It had to be. This was America. These things don’t happen in America to Americans.

Terrorism was an issue abroad. No, his parents were flying to France, alive and well. None of this

confirmed by the look on Craig’s face.

Shock took over Jimmy’s body. Cold swept from the top of his head down to his feet.

Craig was now sobbing into his arms head down on the table. Jimmy though, no emotions to be

found. Just stood there, confused at his brothers tears. Confused at the entire situation. He felt like

he wanted to comfort Craig, but couldn’t take the first step. Weighed down by the thought of being

truly alone.

As Craigs cries got louder, Malik and his family returned to the dinning room. A

concerned look on all of their faces.

“What happened child?”, Faraqe asked Craig. “What did you do to him?”, she asked

Jimmy who was standing over his sobbing brother.

With his emotions tumbling uncontrolled, Jimmy went from shock to anger at the

accusation of causing Craig this pain.

“I didn’t kill them”, was all Jimmy could muster, pointing to the watch.

Ahmed picked up the watch and read the screen. “Allah”, Ahmed said as he showed

Faraqe what the boys were so upset by.

Faraqe cried out, and embraced Craig as he sobbed. “My dear boys”, she said. She

motioned for Jimmy to join them in grieving.

Jimmy took a step away from her and his brother. Ahmed noticed and tried at least to

place a hand on his shoulder to comfort him. Jimmy shrugged it off taking another step back.

“You stay away from me”, Jimmy said as he started walking towards the front door.

“Jimmy wait”, Malik called out after Jimmy. He still didn’t know what was going on, but

didn’t want to let Jimmy run off alone. He was his best friend, after all.

Jimmy opened the front door, slamming it behind him as he took off in a fast trot. Ahmed

followed him out the door and down the street. Jimmy had no idea where he actually was, or where

he wanted to go, just that he couldn’t stay in that house. With those people.

“Jimmy wait up”, Malik shouted as he kept up just behind him. “Where are you running?

What happened?”

“Leave me alone”, Jimmy shouted as he started to run faster. Turning down a strange

street towards a park.

“I won’t leave you alone”, Malik called out as he too picked up the pace. “We’re best

friends.”

Jimmy stopped dead in his tracks. Malik ran into the back of him, knocking Jimmy down.

Jimmy jumped up and spun towards Malik.

“How can we be friends?”, Jimmy asked. “You’re just like them.”

“Just like who?”, Malik asked. “Damn it Jimmy. Tell me what’s going on!”

“Muslim terrorist just killed my parents”, Jimmy shouted.

Definitely not the response Malik ever expected to come out of Jimmy’s mouth. “What?”,

Malik said stunned.

“At the airport today”, Jimmy said. “We saw it on the watch.”

“It was Muslims?” Malik asked.

Jimmy shoved Malik at this question. “Of course it was”, Jimmy said. “I’ve seen this on

the news, my mom defended you guys!”

“You guys?”, Malik said. “Jimmy these are the same as me or my family. You’re like a

brother to me.”

At this, Jimmy remembered his brother sitting in the arms of a Muslim woman. He pushed

past Malik back to the house. He didn’t need Malik to be like a brother. Jimmy had a brother, and

they needed each other.

When Jimmy returned to Malik’s house, everyone was still in the dinning room. His

brother was being embraced by Faraqe, as Ahmed was reading his quran at the head of the table.

The entire scene disgusted Jimmy.

“Craig”, Jimmy said. He took a few steps towards his older brother.

Craig was unable to hear Jimmy through his sobs. Faraqe motioned for Jimmy to come

closer. Opening her arms to invite him into an embrace along with Craig. Jimmy stood his ground.

Still feeling concerned for his brother while starting to feel angry at the situation.

“Craig”, Jimmy shouted.

This time Craig heard his brother and looked up.

“Come here”, Jimmy said.

Craig sat for a moment, not sure what he wanted to do.

“I need you”, Jimmy pleaded.

At this Faraqe let her embrace on Craig soften, allowing him to stand up and head towards

Jimmy.

The two brothers embraced, Jimmy whispered in Craig’s ear, “I want to get out of here.”

“What?”, Craig said as he took a step back, “And go where?”

“Anywhere but here”, Jimmy answered. His family wasn’t close to any other members of

his parents extended family. They had a falling out before he was born, causing them to move

away from the rest. There was no where else to go.

Faraqe overe heard the conversation, and noticing that Jimmy looked lost trying to find

his answer added, “You can stay here as long as you need, until we figure that out.”

Without having a rebuttal, Jimmy could do nothing but agree.

The next week was a circus for the brothers. Not even knowing where to begin, they took

to Facebook to try and find some family members. While remaining civil, Jimmy kept his

emotional distances from Malik and his family. Their relationship was never the same from that

horrible day.

While Jimmy tried to find their way out of that house, Craig bounded more each day with

the Muslim family. Jimmy noticed this happening but never wanted to bring it up in fear of

alienating himself from the only family he had left.

One afternoon while Jimmy was talking to a distant cousin to his mother on Facebook,

Malik and Craig were sitting at the same table talking.

“He absolutely has a plan for everything that happens”, Malik said.

They were discussing Islam. When Jimmy heard this he was curious to how Craig would

respond.

“Even for someone that wasn’t born a Muslim?” Craig asked.

Malik laughed at this. “No one is born a Muslim, we are taught how to be one”, Malik

said. “Just like Christians are taught.”

Jimmy couldn’t stand hearing the two religions compared to each other in the saem

sentence.

“And was it Allah’s plan for my parents to be killed by a Muslim?”, Jimmy blurted to

Malik with annoyance in his voice.

Faraqe was bringing lunch in for the boys, as Jimmy had asked this question.

“That is such a delicate question, my son”, Faraqe said.

“Well?”, Jimmy asked. “was it.”

“Certainly Allah did not wish to hurt a child’s heart”, She said as she placed a tray of food

on the table. “But in your pain, he wishes to offer healing and hope.”

“Hope for what?”, Craig asked.

“Hope in a future, that you can be at peace”, Faraqe anwered.

“Peace?”, Jimmy asked. “Peace that my parents were murdered? I’m supposed to find

peace in this?”

“It’s tragic that they died”, Faraqe said. “but what if life were to come from their death?”

“What?”, Jimmy shouted as he stood up from the table.

“Their death could lead you to being saved by Allah”, Faraqe said.

The anger in Jimmy had risen to a new level. “Saved? SAVED?”, He screamed. “It’s

because of that filth, I don’t have a mother. It’s because of people like you!”

“Jimmy”, Craig said.

“NO!”, Jimmy interrupted. “How can you sit there and listen to this?” He closed the

laptop and motioned for Craig to get up and follow him.

“Where would we go?”, Craig asked.

“One of mom’s cousins said she’ll pick us up”, Jimmy answered. “I have her number, I

just need to call and tell her when.”

“But we don’t even know her”, Craig said.

“What does that matter?”, Jimmy asked. “She’s family.

“I want to stay here”, Craig said.

Jimmy couldn’t believe his ears. His brother, the one who put the doubt of trusting

Muslims in his head, now wanting to stay with a family of them. It was apparent to Jimmy the day

he lost his parents, that all Muslims were guilty and capable of terrorism.

“At least meet her”, Jimmy pleaded. “Please Craig, for me.”

Craig agreed to meet their mom’s cousin before making a decision. Jimmy felt like he had

won with this. Surely the adults wouldn’t let a child decided to stay behind. Surely there was

enough decency in Malik’s parents to deny Craig his stay to keep the boys together.

The next morning, Their mom’s cousin, Sherl arrived. She was around the same age at

their mom, having two children as well. Two daughters both older than Jimmy or Craig. Sherl was

young when giving birth.

Jimmy had already packed his bags in anticipation of leaving. Craig was hesitant. Craig

had found comfort in their Muslim host. Jimmy’s anger didn’t make him feel better. Faraqe and

Ahmed’s welcome did. He was even looking forward to go to a service at their mosque this

weekend.

When the door bell rang, Jimmy rushed to answer it.

“You must”, Sherl paused before guessing.

“Jimmy”, Jimmy impatiently responded before running into her for a hug.

Sherl embraced Jimmy. Even though they had never met, she was at one time close to

their mother. She couldn’t imagine the pain the two boy must be feeling, though she hoped to ease

it with her love.

“Where’s Craig?”, She asked.

Jimmy let go of Sherl and turned towards the house, “Craig!”, he shouted.

Craig slowly walked in, being escorted by Malik and Faraqe.

“You must be Mrs. Teegan”, Faraqe said as she walked over to greet Sherl.

“Sherl”, She said and she shook Faraqe’s hand. Jimmy could tell she has the same opinion

of the barqa clad Faraqe as himself, cautious.

“It’s so kind of you to come and take the boys into your home”, Faraqe said.

“Right”, Sherl said.

“Allah blessed them with family”, Faraqe continued.

This comment was unsettling for Sherl to hear. Instead of ackowledging it, she turned to

the boys. “Ready to go?”, she asked.

“Go?”, Craig asked.

“It’s a long drive”, Sherl said. “We should get going to beat the traffic.”

“I thought we were just meeting her today”, Craig said. “Then deciding if we wanted to

go.”

“Wanted to go?”, Jimmy asked. “Craig, this is our family, of course we’re going.”

“You lied to me”, Craig said as he took a step towards his host. “I’m not ready to go.”

“I know this must be hard for you”, Sherl started to say.

“You don’t know me”, Craig snapped.

Faraqe put her arm around Craig, “It’s okay son, its not like we are leaving your life.”

Craig turned and embraced Faraqe, “But I’m not ready to go. I don’t want to forget my life

and start over.”

“I know, dear”, Faraqe said comforting Craig.

“It’s because of them we have to”, Jimmy said to stop their little love fest.

“You can’t believe that”, Malik said.

“Shut your mouth”, Jimmy said to Malik.

“Jimmy”, Sherl said trying to calm him down.

“No”, Jimmy said. “Craig, we’re getting out of here.”

“I don’t want to leave”, Craig said looking apologetic at his brother.

Jimmy looked to Sherl for confirmation before turning back to Craig, “There’s no way he

can stay here. Is there?”

“I can’t force him to leave”, Sherl said.

“What?”, Jimmy said. “How can you let him stay?”

“I’m not his legal guardian yet”, Sherl answered. “you’re mother trusted this family in

watching you. I’m sure he’ll be fine.”

“She trusted Muslims as well, and that got her killed.”, Jimmy said.

“We can visit next weekend”, Sherl said. “Maybe things will change by then.”

“We lost mom and dad”, Jimmy cried to his brother. “please don’t take away my brother,

too” He said to Faraqe.

“You are welcome to stay as well, dear”, Faraqe said.

They all stood silently looking at one of each other for moments. Sherl patted Jimmy on

the back. “Let’s go, hun”, she told him. “We’ll come back in a week.”

Jimmy walked over to Craig and hugged him, “Are you sure you won’t come with me.”

“She’s a stranger”, Craig answered. “I feel like our place is here.”

Jimmy let go of Craig and stepped back, “What about me?”, he asked.

“Stay with me”, Craig said.

Jimmy took a moment to think about it. After thinking, he couldn’t stand the thought of

being surrounded by the people who thought it was Allah’s will that his parents would be killed.

He walked over to his bag, picked it up, and took Sherl by the hand. “Let’s go”, he said.

The two of them said goodbye and left. Jimmy stared at Malik’s house, his mind full of

mixed emotions. He couldn’t believe Craig chose to stay. He was sad, alone, angry. Without

having a plan, he’d make get his brother to see how dangerous Muslims were, while making them

pay for his parents death.

Sherl looked in the rearview mirror and noticed how silent Jimmy was just staring out his

window.

“It’s a confusing time for everyone”, She said. “give him some time. I’m sure he’ll come

around.”

“Oh, I know he will”, Jimmy responded.

They drove in silence from there on out.

Sherl’s family welcomed Jimmy with open arms. Even though he had never met any of

them, they were his only family, besides his brother. He felt quickly at home in their large country

side house.

A couple days passed before Craig called his brother.

“Hey man”, Craig said. “Hows it going out there.”

“I miss you”, Jimmy said.

“I miss you too”, Craig said.

“I wish you’d come out here”, Jimmy said.

“so you like it out there?”, Craig asked.

“Its nice”, Jimmy said. “Way better than over there.”

“Faraqe said I’ll see you in two days. Maybe I’ll go back with you for a bit”, Craig said.

“Really?”, Jimmy asked.

“I just needed time to let things calm down before picking up my life and moving”, Craig

answered.

“I’d really like that”, Jimmy said.

“So I was thinking”, Craig started. “I’m going to go to their mosque with them this sat

whenyou get here. Maybe you can come with us.”

Jimmy couldn’t believe his ears. Here he had thought his brother realized the mistake he

had made.

Craig continued, “What if it was fate?”

“For mom and dad to die?”, Jimmy asked with disbelief.

“I didn’t want them to die as much as you”, Craig said quickly. “But what if this was to

get us to draw closer to Malik’s family?”

“Are you kidding me?”, Jimmy asked. “What have they done to you?”

“Nothing”, Craig said. “They have been nothing but nice and love me.”

Jimmy couldn’t find a respond that would convey his disgust enough. He couldn’t believe

what Craig was saying. What could that family have said to make him think their parents deserved

to die. He had to do something drastic to change his brothers course this weekend, but what?

“Let’s face it”, Craig continued. “It’s not like our country has treated Muslims fairly.”

“Fuck Muslims”, Jimmy shouted. “Fuck Allah, and everything they stand for.”

“You know mom would agree that we should respect them”, Craig said. “she hated

Benkins for his bigotry.”

“If Benkins had his way mom and dad would still be alive”, Jimmy responded.

“but at what cost?”, Craig asked. “At the cost of judging all Muslims? That’s not

American.”

“You don’t mean any of this”, Jimmy said.

“Maybe we can show the world that despite the few bad, despite all that we have gone

through, that we can still love.”, Craig said.

“I’ve got to go”, Jimmy said not wanting to hear anymore.

“I’m not trying to hurt your feelings”, Craig said.

“I don’t want to hear this”, Jimmy responded.

“Imagine the healing for both cultures, if we forgave.”, Craig said.

“I’ll die killing them, before I forgive”, Jimmy said.

“You don’t mean that”, Craig. “You can’t answer hate with hate.”

“Watch me”, Jimmy said as he hung up on Craig.

Jimmy was more determined to do something drastic to save his brother. He was

convinced that Malik’s family was brainwashing his brother. How else could he be saying what he

was. To defend the actions of such horrible people. The people that killed their parents. It had to be

brainwashing.

Jimmy spent the next two days on his great cousin’s computer looking up ideas on what he

could do. Hate filled every tap of letters on the keyboard. He researched the wars in the middle

east. The thousands of Christians being crucified and butchered by ISIS. He found a story showing

an entire army of children no older then him set up to protect their schools from the terrorist that

had killed their family.

Jimmy had it set in his mind, he would be no different than those children. His situation

had dropped him dead in the middle of a holy war. Even with never being raised religious, he had

now chosen a side. Maybe it was fate, but it certainly wasn’t to drive him and his brother towards

Allah. Allah and his followers had to pay, and Jimmy was determined to settle the debt.

One of the sites that caught his attention, was from an American preacher demanding that

other American Christians take back their neighborhoods by destroying local mosque. It even had

videos on how to construct bottle fire bombs called Molotov cocktails. This was how Jimmy

would wage his war.

The next day he called his brother Craig to discuss his trip to visit the next day.

“Feeling better?”, Craig asked.

“I’m doing alright”, Jimmy answered.

“I can’t wait to see you tomorrow”, Craig said.

“Me either”, Jimmy responded. “I was also thinking, I’ll go to the mosque with you.”

“You will?”, Craig asked.

“You’re right”, Jimmy said. “Maybe fate did bring us to this moment.”

“I’m so glad to hear this”, Craig said.

Jimmy knew the real reason why he wanted to visit the mosque, but had to keep it to

himself. With time running out, he needed to look for the materials needed to rescue his brother

from those people.

“Well I need to go pack”, Jimmy said.

“Ok, bro”, Craig said. “I can’t wait to see you.”

“Me either”, Jimmy said. “see you.”

Jimmy hung up and made his way to the kitchen. He had watched Sherl and her husband

make drinks for themselves after dinner. Like his parents, they kept their alcohol above the stove

in the highest cabinet.

He dragged a chair from the dinning room to the stove, climbed on top of it, and opened

the cabinet. There were five bottle in the cabinet. He started looking through them, knowing from

the video that it had to be 100 proof alcohol or higher. Only one bottle in the very back met his

needs. It was a large brown bottle of Bacardi 151. He opened the bottle and took a sniff, the

alcohol felt like it burned his sinuses with one whiff.

“Good lord”, Jimmy said to himself. “This will do the trick.”

He quietly tucked the bottle into his shorts under his shirt, dragged the chair back, and

made his way to his room. On the way to his room, he stopped at the bathroom, grabbed two hand

towels. Once to his room, he placed his fire bomb in his bag wrapped in two shirts so there was no

chance of the bottle breaking.

That night he tossed and turned, not being able to fall asleep. He never imagined being in

a situation where he was preparing for war at his age. His last thought before finally falling asleep

was the hope that Malik’s parents would be caught in the blaze. To feel the loss of a parent in this

war, Malik would finally understand.

The morning of his planned visit, Jimmy packed the bottle in his bag. He told Sherl he

might stay the night if it were ok with Faraqe. Along with his supplies, he packed what he thought

would be needed to survive on his own for a bit including spare food he saved from the night

before.

Jimmy couldn’t think of a plan for after his attack. At the moment, his anger convinced

him that he hadn’t needed to worry about that yet. He had no idea how Craig would react, though

he hoped it would shake whatever hold Malik had over him, off.

The plan was for Jimmy to be dropped off at the mosque to meet his brother. Sherl was

uneasy with this, though Jimmy convinced her that he didn’t mind.

The drive was a quiet one. Sherl focused on driving, while Jimmy sat in silence. He felt

numb with a tingling sinsation running across his face.

“How much longer?”, Jimmy asked.

“15 minutes, hun”, Sherl answered.

Jimmy took a noticeably deep breath with the news that he had to get in the zone.

“Are you sure you’re okay?”, Sherl asked looking at Jimmy through the rear view mirror.

“If it’s too much, I can wait with you until they’re done and drop you off at their house.”

Jimmy shook his head no. He knew if he didn’t follow through, that his better judgment

would stop him from attempting this later on. He didn’t even know if he’d be able to work up the

gumption to carry it out this time.

Suddenly fear struck Jimmy. What if they searched his bag? What if he was arrested

before every paying the Muslims back for his folks. All of the punishment, without the revenge.

“five minutes, Jimmy”, Sherl said.

Doubt crept into Jimmy’s mind. Wouldn’t this make Jimmy as bad as the terrorist? Didn’t

they believe they were justified in their attacks as well. He shook his head to himself to put those

concerns behind him. His parents weren’t responsible for what happened to those people in the

Middle East. They just happen to be born American. No, he had justification. They brought this

upon themselves.

They pulled into the parking lot of the Mosque. Families were congregated in front

greeting each other before going in for service. As Sherl and Jimmy drove up, the rest turned to

stare of these strangers.

“There they are”, Jimmy said, seeing both Faraqe and Ahmed standing outside of their

SUV.

It wasn’t until he saw his brother step out of the vehicle that Jimmy solidified his decision

to retaliate. Craig was dressed in full Muslim garments. A small white hat on top of his head. He

saw Jimmy, waved with excitement.

“I’ll pick you up tomorrow, okay kiddo”, Sherl told Jimmy.

“Thanks”, Jimmy said as he stepped out of her car.

Jimmy walked up to Craig as Sherl turned the car around, leaving the lot and heading

back home. When Jimmy reached Craig, they hugged.

“What are you wearing”, Jimmy asked.

“We’ve all gotta wear this to enter”, Craig said.

“But I don’t have”, Jimmy stated to say.

“Oh right, Here”, Craig said as he turned back to the car and removed an outfit similar to

his held together in a dry cleaning bag.

Jimmy stood there looking at his brother in disbelief.

“I hope it fits”, Faraqe said. “It’s Malik’s but you two are about the same size.”

Malik walked around from the other side of the SUV timidly. The last time Malik and

Jimmy had seen each other, wasn’t pleasant for either of them.

“Hey Malik”, Jimmy said breaking the tension.

Jimmy knew he had to pretend that nothing was wrong in his world. He didn’t want to tip

anyone off to his intentions. Knowing what would soon happen to these people made it easier to

pretend.

“I’ll take your bag, you can go change”, Faraqe said to Jimmy. She pointed to a bathroom

located to the side of the Mosque. “We’ll wait for you before going in.”

Jimmy hesitated hoping she wouldn’t notice the bottle full of furry in his bag. He handed

it to her and waited for her curious expression requesting to see whats inside. Nothing happened

besides her placing it in the back seat.

Jimmy walked to the bathroom, hand shaking as he reached for the door knob. Luckily it

was a single person bathroom with a lock. He took his time changing, trying to calm his nerves. As

he pulled on the long shirt and placing the hat on his head. His eyes watered as his met his own

eyes in the mirror. To be forced to wear the uniform of his enemies.

“Are you almost finished”, Craig shouted through the door startling Jimmy. “Service is

about to start.”

“I’ll be right out.” Jimmy answered.

This was it, Jimmy had to pull the trigger or back out, now. He took a deep breath and

opened the door. Craig standing on the other side, smiling as he looked at his little brother dressed

in garb.

“You look good, bro”, Craig told Jimmy.

“Thanks”, Jimmy said.

The two brothers met Malik and his family at the front steps. As the family started to enter

the mosque, Jimmy stopped.

“Mind if I go put my clothes away?’, Jimmy asked Ahmed. “you guys can go ahead I’ll be

right behind you. Just save me a seat”

Ahmed agreed, handing Jimmy the keys to their car.

The rest of the family found their places. Faraqe had to sit on the other side of the room,

women and men being separated. Craig stood in the back for his little brother.

After several moments he started to worry if Jimmy chickened out of joining them. Craig

decided to walk out to the parking lot to check it out.

As Craig made it to the parking lot, he noticed the SUV completely closed with no Jimmy

in sight. He started to walk around the outside of the Mosque looking for his brother. When he

turned around the corner and walked down the ally between the Mosque and the neighboring

building, he saw Jimmy.

Jimmy was crying, holding his Molotov, lighting the rag sticking from the bottle. He took

off at a sprint trying to reach his brother before anything bad happen.

“Jimmy, no!” Craig yelled running to stop his brother.

Jimmy, seeing this, tossed the bottle.

“Luckily everyone made it out of the Mosque without injury”, the news caster said.

“Though extensive damage occurred to the building before the firemen could put out the blaze.”

Film of the smoldering Mosque played on the TV.

“A child was taken into custody for the attack”, the caster said. “the son of two victims in

the airport attack, Roger and Jane. Possibly motivated as revenge. This will obviously add to the

tension between Muslims and non Muslim Americans. The Muslim community demanding this

child be charged as an adult to face charges of terrorism. The DA has made no statement so far.

While Presidential candidate Benkins had this to say.”

Film of Benkins latest speech played on the TV.

“See what we have done. This poor child.” Benkins said to his crowd of supporters.

“Forced to take action, when our government failed to. Sad!”

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