I walked into an Arab-owned market, purchased a few shall we say-"yet to be released" CDs-and then stood and chatted a few minutes with the owner, Saleem Farhquar. The store is just a block from my home and over the years Saleem and I have become close; so much so that he has allowed me a line of credit up to ten dollars.
On my way out Saleem called out to me. I turned and saw him look around the store and when he was sure no one was within earshot said, ‘Ey buddy, I have been reading a lot of your work on the internet. You seem like quite the fair minded individual."
"Thank you. I'm glad you like the articles."
"I didn't say I liked the articles, only the tenor." He came closer and lowered his voice. "My friends could use a fair-minded spokesman such as you."
I waved him off. "Sorry Saleem, but I don't want Cheney's boys hassling me. I don't look forward to making my prison debut as a disabled, middle aged man."
"I would never ask you to betray your fellow infidels," he said. "I am asking that perhaps you could see your way to doing a piece on Osama; kind of present his viewpoint to the American people."
"How would I manage that?"
"What if I told you I could get you a face-to-face interview with Osama?"
"I'd say you're jivin' me. And just how would you pull it off?"
"Are you interested?"
I shrugged. "I guess."
"Then leave the details to me my friend." He clapped me on my shoulder. "I will be in contact with you within the week."
One week later I was on a plane headed to Pakistan where I was net at the airport by a man with an obviously fake beard, wearing Ray-Bans and a turban that was a bit too big for his head, as it kept sliding onto his forehead. He led me to a black sedan, handed me a half-gallon of Thunderbird wine and insisted I finish it within three hours.
He drove recklessly through the dark, mountainous terrain. He smiled and assured me, "Don't fret-I know these roads like I know the back of my hand." Later I found that was a literally expression, as he was a former thief and one of his hands had been severed. By that time I had finished the wine I was good and drunk, which had been the plan. In this way, I would not be able to go back and alert American authorities to Osama's whereabouts.
When I came to I was on a queen-size bed (a psychological maneuver to emasculate me, so I would pose no challenge to their insecure leader). I was inside what can only be described in oxymoronic terms: A lavishly furnished cave with chandeliers, computers, modern furniture and a big screen television. Several men were seated on one of the sofas watching a Jenna Jameson video. When they saw that I had wakened, they hurriedly put on a Three Stooges DVD--a hilarious episode called Hu-la-la that featured Shemp as a dance instructor on an uncharted Island. Some of the DVDs original dialogue had been replaced with Arabic propaganda.
The Chieftain was now delivering lines such as, "You are typical American imperialists! How dare you inundate our people with your debauchery!" and "You lads remind me of Cheney, Rumsfeld and Bush-only smarter." The onlookers chuckled at the insults. I sighed and shook my head.
I was offered dinner, but in a fashion that I found most offensive. One of the men began rapping and hitting poses, chanting in a mocking tone, "I hope you slept well/O infidel/ America is going to straight to hell/Yeahhhhhh boy!"
After the song and dance dinner was served: Rabbit, brown rice, a bowl of couscous and a carafe of goat's milk. While eating, several of the men inquired about life in America, then peppered their responses with comments like, "You infidels are rapping yourselves right to self destruction," "Someday soon your scantily clad, docile, teenage whores will be our serving wenches," etc.
Finally Osama arrived and with little fanfare. Nonetheless, as he approached, I stood. He motioned for me to sit and then he joined the lot of us.
He asked me, "Enjoying your dinner, Infidel?"
"With all due respect Mr. bin-Ladin…"
"Call me, 'O'."
"Okay, O, I have a name. It's-"
"I know who you are, Mr. Stelly. I find your articles insightful and that is why I am allowing this little chat." He smiled and continued. "Do not be offended by my referring to you as 'infidel.' It is a force of habit."
Osama bit into a piece of rabbit and nodded his approval to the chef, who had joined us. "Good job, Haqnod."
O then returned his attention to me. "Let me introduce my-as you infidels are wont to say-'posse'. I suppose it stems from your cowboy/John Wayne mentality. To my head of security, Hassan bin-Laid, my chef-Haqnod, my minister of information Yakub Sirius, and my cousin Lefty."
"Let me get to the point," I began. "You come from a wealthy family and could have the home of your dreams. Don't you hate having to live in a cave?"
"Typical American materialism. Living in the earth-one your people are hell-bent on destroying-brings me closer to nature."
"If George Bush has his way, you'll be lose to the earth, all right; you'll be buried under six feet of it."
"Bush does not frighten me. His weapons are useless against the spirit of my people. They drop hundreds of bomb that cost millions of dollars and are lucky if they kill fifty of my men. My men go to the hardware store, purchase three hundred dollars worth of supplies, set a booby trap or send a suicide bomber out and we kill fifty of your troops. So who would you say is really winning the war, friend?"
"That's another thing, these suicide bombers. You're asking young men to sacrifice themselves while you live lavishly. Why not lead by example?"
"Is not Heaven more beautiful and joyful than earth? I am helping them. On top of entry into Heaven, they will receive-tell them what they receive Don Pardollah!"
A Don Pardo-like voice (broadcast over a speaker system and originating from one of the back rooms of the cave) blared the following announcement:
"Upon their arrival in Heaven, our soldiers receive-a new body, one free from sickness." The bodyguards clapped and nodded, like members of a studio audience. "And they will spend your time in Heaven in a blissful, euphoric, all-knowing state, served by 72 virgins who will obey your every whim. This prize package is priceless and is brought to you by Allah! Back to you, Osama!"
"So essentially these men are blowing themselves up for sex?"
"In your twisted American view, that is so," Osama replied.
"And they do so willingly?"
"Mot all of them. I once had a wisecracking soldier, Qris Raque was his name. I told him about the seventy-two virgins and he said, 'What if I just throw a stone at someone, and settled for a low-rent apartment with three women of ill repute?' While his levity went over big-heck, I also thought it was funny-I had him stoned nonetheless. As you see, my sense of sarcasm is alive and well."
"What is it about America specifically that chafes your loins?"
Osama nodded, "Nice imagery. There are many things. But most important is your hedonistic style of living, that you spread across the world, corrupting all and now trying to corrupt the children of Islam."
"Not every nation aspires to become a theocracy. What about free will?"
"Free will is what made your country The Great Satan. Here the Imams know what is best. Life can be fun without pornography, excessive imbibing and other such tomfoolery."
"You should tell that to your men."
A pie-eyed Haqnod shook his head rapidly. I knew he was afraid Osama would learn about their porno viewing, so I switched subjects. "Your philosophy is rooted in hypocrisy. On the one hand, you espouse Islam; on the other hand, you want to kill everyone who doesn't agree with you, in this case Americans."
"Not just Americans, but all westerners. And that is not hypocrisy. Allah has always encouraged his soldiers to love the enemy. But when the enemy spits in your eye, you must slay him."
"But Allah is forgiving and even blesses the ignorant. He loves the Christian and the Buddhist as much as he does the Muslim."
"But not the ones who read girlie magazines, possess nuclear weapons and seek to rule the world."
"Okay, where in the Qu'ran does it say to blow up buildings, kill innocent people and whatnot?"
"You must read between the lines, my friend. Religious books are full of symbolism and hidden meaning. And alter your blasphemous tone, or I will give you one of those Stooges eye pokes, then behead you and play soccer with your skull."
"All I'm saying is that with the world trade center attacks you took many innocent lives."
"How many innocent lives have Americans taken in Afghanistan and Iraq?"
"You triggered this entire series of events, then went on Al-jazeera and boasted about it."
Osama shrugged. "Touche, infidel. But what about before then? Your country has always had the dream of owning the earth, monopolizing it's resources and forcing capitalism and Christianity on all. The truth is, your President George Bush is the devil incarnate. I should have whacked his father when I had the chance!"
"I thought it was Saddam who tried to kill his father?"
"It was MY plan!" Osama said, slamming his fist onto the table. "Saddam just wanted the credit. Talk about a megalomaniac! That guy told his soldiers to call him 'Red", then went around telling the ladies that the Red Sea was named after him."
Osama shook his head. "Saddam is nothing more than the bastard son of a thousand retarded goats. Living in a hole in a wall-like a rat!"
"Colin Powell said that Middle Eastern countries fail to build business-oriented economies and that your countrymen suffer for it. Your response?"
"As long as we have oil, we will always be players in the game of global economics. Our goal is to keep our resources out of the hands of the Great Satan."
"So what is it you want to say to the American people?"
"I'd love for us to be allies, but your leaders have made this impossible. So I warn you, we will attack again. We will attack your buildings and monuments-being that you seem more concerned about them than your homeless and downtrodden."
"Even after we wiped you out in Afghanistan? And by the way, American forces did in six weeks what the Soviets failed to do in ten YEARS."
"The Soviets were always overrated. Their military strategy is like their attempts at foreplay: Clumsy, brutal, poorly-executed and rooted in ignorance."
"But you can't win a battle with America. You might have a few symbolic victories, but your joy will be short-lived."
"Poppycock! You had better start printing your school books in Arabic," he said pointing his fork in my direction. "There will be no more of your George Washington cherry tree stories, or lies about Honest Abe. You will be forced to learn the ways of Islam and study the lives of Mohammed, and of course, yours truly. You will accept our ways, otherwise you will perish!"
"The Qu'ran, Surah 60:7,states, 'It may be that Allah will bring about friendship between you and those of them whom you hold as enemies. And Allah is powerful; and Allah is forgiving, merciful.' So why aren't you?"
"The answer to that is simple. I am not Allah."