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Short Story (+-2700words): Apathetic Adham (Teaser story for The Cure)

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    Abdul Fattah's Avatar Full Member
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    Short Story (+-2700words): Apathetic Adham (Teaser story for The Cure)

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    I decided to write a series of shortstories inshaAllah about the diffrent criminals out of my book The Cure. The idea is that they would work as a sort of teaser, making people curious to actually read the novel. This is one of them. I'm still not sure on wheter or not the characters are realistic/convincing. Let me know what you think inshaAllah.

    Apathetic Adham.

    Adham and Luke were standing behind a small stall, their backs facing the Pulitzer fountain in midtown Manhattan. In front of them was a variety of books in display. The sign said they were free; the catch was that all the books were about Islam. Most people were curious enough to give the stall a second look, slowing down their pace as they got closer. About half of them would speed up again as soon as they read the titles. Almost as if they were ashamed at showing bystanders any sort of interest in such things, and couldn't get out of there fast enough. The other half would be kind and supportive of the initiative these guys took, but still show tons of reservations to actually take one of those books home. And then occasionally, one of those extremist atheists would come by, desperately trying to convince them just how stupid they were for following an organized religion, or believing in any type of God for that matter. That was one of the reasons Adham had invited Luke to tag along. He had been an atheist before he had converted, so he understood their position quite well. And thanks to his PhD in philosophy, he knew exactly which buttons to push to change their mood from condescending atheists to apologetic agnostics.

    A woman walked up to the stand with a hell of a frown. Both greeted her with a simple 'Hello' which she didn't respond to. Instead she just stared at the books, and read the titles one by one. Looking for something, anything that could offend her. She was somewhat disappointed to find only generic and unprovocative titles such as 'A brief illustrated guide of Islam.' Finally she looked up, making eye-contact for the first time. Luke was the lucky one, standing closest to her. For a second she was distracted by his clear blue eyes. Luke repeated his previous 'Hello'. She continued to stare; all the while thinking what to say, where to begin. Anger kept building up inside of her. At a certain point it flooded her sufficiently so that it didn't matter anymore just how she started.
    “I lost my husband at 9/11”
    Immediately Luke's face changed. His blond eye-brows bowed down, making room for a handful of wrinkles. She wasn't quite sure, but she even thought that his clear blue eyes were now slightly moister.
    “I'm so sorry for your loss.”
    His voice carried such emotions. Almost as if he were as sad as she was. Maybe he had lost someone too? This wasn't going as she had anticipated at all. She didn't want sympathy; she wanted a victim to vent all of her anger upon. She stared at Adham now, who didn't seem the least interested.
    “I hope you're not implying we're in any way guilty by association, merely because we are Muslims?”
    The empathic blond one must be a Muslim after all. Another disappointment.
    “They did it in the name of Islam, and here you are-”
    Adham was determined not to allow her to finish a single sentence from now on.
    “Suppose your husband would have been killed by an ex-girlfriend who stalked him?”
    “What does that have-?”
    “Would you blame love, would you seek apologies from each couple you come across, merely because they believe in Love?”
    How dare he compare it to that!
    “That's not the same because-”
    “Because you know a stalker kills out of hate, not love? Maybe you do know the difference between love and hate, but you don't know the first thing about Islam.”
    She didn't feel even close to admitting it, yet logically she understood how right he was. But why be so blunt? Must be hard living in NY, having to have this conversation over and over again. She couldn't say anything else. She turned slightly away from him, ready to walk away. She stayed only long enough to give a kind and gentle smile to Luke, in recognition of their earlier connection. Part of her wanted to stay, but she couldn't. Not unless she was willing to risk losing control of her emotions again.
    “What was that all about?”
    “What's what about?”
    All day long he had been irritated by the things Adham had said. All the inaccurate statements, all the wrong approaches. Clearly he wasn't taking any of this seriously. But this was beyond negligent.
    “How do you expect to invite people to our religion, when you can't even empathize with them?”
    “So she comes here with her obvious attempt to blame us for her loss, and I'm supposed to feel sorry for her?”
    “I didn't say that; it's just-”
    The stall was Adham's initiative. Getting everything organized, getting a permit, and inviting Luke.
    “I dunno Adham. It's just sometimes, it's like you don't care at all, like you're just trying to score points for good behavior with God.”
    “Look Luke, we're only responsible for spreading the message, what they do with it is up to them. Either-way, their hearts are in Gods hand and he's the only one who can turn them as he sees fit.”
    It was only afterwards that Luke noticed a guy looking at them. Immediately he wondered how much he had overheard.
    “Aselam aleykum Adham, still as slippery as an eel, I see.”
    “Oh, Burayd! Long time no see.”
    “So having fun debating the kafirs?”
    His tone of voice was loaded to the brim with sarcasm. Even if it weren't, Luke didn't like the subtext of that word. If this weren't the first time he met this guy he would've said something.
    “Yeah, tell me about it. Worst are the Africans. They just don't get it.”
    Luke could no longer keep his peace.
    “Aren't you African as well Adham?”
    That surely got his attention.
    “What the hell's wrong with you? We're Arabs.”
    “Wait I'm confused, on which continent does one usually find Morocco to be?”
    Revert or not, Americans will never understand us thought Adham.
    “Do I look black to you? We Moroccans emigrated from the Middle-East.”
    “Well we all come from the same place if you go far back enough in time, why draw the line there?”
    At that point Burayd interrupted, speaking in Arabic to Adham, completely ignoring Luke. What he said would translate into English as:
    “When you're done with your poster-boy here, I want to talk to you about business. I assume you're not handing out free books just for the fun of hanging out with Blondie here.”
    How did he always manage to figure out my agenda? As far back as Adham can remember Burayd always seemed able to look right through him. Or maybe it was just that they thought alike. Either way, Burayd was the only person for whom he didn't bother putting up a facade. Not because he knew he wouldn't be judged, rather because he knew he'd look right through it.
    “It's fi sabilllah man. ”
    Burayd took a second to smile before replying, still in Arabic:
    “Yeah dawah is a real booming business, but I got some other activities fi sabillah that will attract bigger fish to pay your rent for you. Give me a call when you're finished. You remember where I live right?”
    “Yeah, what activities do you have in mind?”
    Burayd took his keys out of his pocket. He didn't need them, but he knew it sent the subconscious message of being in a hurry.
    “Tonight man, I'll tell you all about it.”
    He looked at Luke with an emotionless smile on his face. Luke was already talking to another kafir that had walked up to the stand. He gave both Luke and Adham a quick 'Aselam aleykum' and left.


    Adham was sitting in Burayd's sofa, looking around. The living room was rather minimalistic, especially so for a married man. There was a bookcase with Arabic books. Two sofas and a small coffee table. Not a single decorative ornament nor a frame on the wall. Burayd entered the room carrying a tray with two glasses of tea, which he placed on the coffee table.
    “So, you wanted to talk business?”
    Burayd threw his trademark smile on again.
    “Well aren't you in a hurry?”
    Adham took one of the two glasses. Knowing there was probably already sugar in it, he only added two extra cubes.
    “No, it's nice seeing you, just got me curious that's all.”
    As soon as the words had come out of his mouth, he wondered why he had reacted that way. He wished he could take it back and try again. Burayd noticed the hesitation.
    “Yeah remember the days after school, hanging out, talking about what to do with this here kafir-country.”
    On cue Adham was seventeen years old again, both of them sitting in that musty basement playing counter-strike. Watching television shows and being angry with practically everything around them.
    “Good times.”
    “How's your father?”
    “Still bitter.”
    Burayd knew immediately what he meant. When Adham was twelve his mother had left them. She had moved to Texas to live with that Christian cowboy. Burayd was one of the few people that knew this and didn't look down on him because of it.
    “Well if one person is ever allowed to be bitter.”
    “I guess.”
    Again doubt, this was a bad sign. Burayd pushed his interrogation a bit further nevertheless.
    “So he's still reading all the papers with resentment? The only good kafir is a dead kafir and all? ”
    The question was neutral, but he still smiled. At least he's not judging me.
    “Yeah, he's been hurt one to many times.”
    “Hey, he's a fine man, don't you ever let anyone convince you otherwise!”
    He was pleased. As long as Adham was afraid of being judged himself, he wouldn't think of judging Burayd. Adham seemed somewhat relieved as well. This was the opening he had been looking for.
    “You know, seeing you argue with that woman today, I was afraid we had lost you to those modernists. Thought the next thing you would be telling her that Islam is a religion of peace and what-not.”
    “Oh come on, you know it's too complex, they wouldn't understand. They never understand us.”
    “Yeah that's what I thought. But that's exactly why I need you Adham. You do understand. It's so hard to find volunteers these days.”
    Adham shook his head. He knew exactly what Burayd meant. Of course until now he was never sure what business Burayd was in exactly. They had grown apart the last few years. He had a pretty good guess though, a guess which seemed to be confirmed now by all the secrecy.
    “Not my style Burayd.”
    “Yes, you're more interested in running your little scam. Getting 10 different sponsors to pay for the same bookstall, right?”
    Again, how did he know? No, I need to act outraged. .
    Burayd showed him no more, no less than his standard smile. Did he really know?
    “Don't look so surprised Adham. It's me, you know you can't hide anything from me, and you don't have to for that matter. Did you tell them you get the books for free by the way?”
    “Look there's nothing haram with taking my share from the sponsorship. I'm doing most the work aren't I?”
    “I don't care Adham, I didn't bring you here to judge you. But what about helping me out with my project?”
    Is this blackmail? It was impossible to look beyond this poker face. Always that same smile. No, he has got nothing on me. I'm being paranoid.
    “You do know it's allot easier to find sheiks that’re willing to sponsor my kind of projects. And they have no idea how little it actually costs.”
    Again he felt pressured into apologizing.
    “You know, allot of young people want to help out with my dawah, but most of them aren't that good with words. Maybe I can talk to some of them and send them your way?”
    This wasn't what Burayd had hoped for; he didn't actually need a recruitment center. What he needed was a second independent cell. He settled for the offer nonetheless. I'll have to sweet-talk him into it later.


    Osman was leaning in against one of the walls in a small alley panting, Adham and Burayd walked up to him.
    “What are you doing here; Munafiq!”
    Osman looked up, and almost forgot he needed to catch his breath. He repeated Adham's words in shock:
    Hmm, maybe he didn't just chicken out? Adham put his hand in the pocket of his jacket, looking for the grip of his gun.
    “Where's your backpack?”
    “I threw it in the Hudson.”
    “Idiot, you have any idea how much-”
    Burayd put his hand on Adhams shoulder.
    “Osman, if you're not a munafiq, then why didn't you go through with it?”
    His breathing had settled down by now, he looked Burayd straight in the eyes.
    “There was this guy there that I knew from school. He had always been nice to me. Been over to his house a couple of-”
    There was a loud bang. Osman was the only one looking surprised. So he wasn’t the only one. He looked at Burayd who was waiting for the rest of his explanation.
    “His mother always made me stay for dinner, went out of her way to make their food halal, even though they weren't Muslim.”
    Another loud bang in the distance. Osman looked away into the distance, wondering what the other targets could have been. Searching for any clues; smoke in the air, people running. Adham used the opportunity to pull his gun out of his pocket and hid it behind his back. Having satisfied his curiosity, Osman turned back to Burayd and continued explaining again.
    “I just couldn't go through with it, the idea that I would be responsible for his death. The thought that his parents would find out that-”
    Adham couldn't stand it, he cut in;
    “This is war Osman. It's us against them, you know how it is. If your friend was truly innocent, Allah would have taken care of him.”
    Osman turned to Adham.
    “You know, I used to think that was the right path in Islam. Us against them, no excuses. Even if they're nice, they're not Muslims. Until today, when I saw him in that crowd. It felt so wrong; I just couldn't do it no matter how much I tried to justify it. My heart wouldn't let me, that’s when I realized it's wrong. What’s the point of being a Muslim if your heart is as black as yo-”
    Another bang. Adham saw Osman falling down into a pile of meat. Wait I didn’t fire yet, did I? He looked at Burayd and saw him pointing a towards Osman’s body.
    “He should have hated that kafir-friend for the sake of Allah and loved his mission for the sake of Islam. He's just another munafiq.”
    Adham nodded his head;
    “And he probably would have turned us in.”

    Luke was sitting in his bathrobe, lifelessly staring at his television.
    “Two more suspects have been arrested yesterday night for the bombings in lower Manhattan last Saturday. Adham Hakimi and Burayd Shadid. Both born and raised here in the states are suspected of organizing the attacks that so far has cost the life of 32 people and has left many more injured of which some are still in critical condition.-”
    Freaking sociopath, I should have known you were-. His thoughts were interrupted. The small clock standing next to him on the table shouted the adhaan in a crackling voice. Ever since it had fallen last week, the voice had become barely understandable. He picked up the small device and threw it to the ground in anger.
    “How about cleaning up your own act before telling me to go pray, you stupid clock.”
    He thought about how silly he must have looked. And with that thought, the dark cloud which had been following him since Saturday cleared away. He stood up and went to go wash up for prayer, leaving the clock shouting on the floor.
    Last edited by Abdul Fattah; 01-29-2013 at 06:56 PM.
    Short Story (+-2700words): Apathetic Adham (Teaser story for The Cure)

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