Excerpt for Dudley+Abdul=Save The World by , available in its entirety at Smashwords





The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die for a cause while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humble for one.



Dr. Willhelm Stekel- Psychoanalyst



Abdul is being driven to the service entrance of the convention center along with his cohorts- two men only known to him as “brothers” (probably not related). The “brother” driving is all praise and smiles as he piles-on the last-minute coaching and is full of pride as he drives the rental car to a stop in front of the large, public building.

“This is a great- great day! You are truly heroes this day!” The driver pours his heart out to the two men with the deepest thanks and gratitude as they ready the papers and worker identification cards that authorize their entry into the largest gathering of legal minds in many years.

Judges, both retired and serving, legal experts from the Justice Department, Treasury, Homeland Security, FBI, Legal Scholars from major Universities the world over, just about anyone and everyone in the world of modern law and justice are gathering at this preliminary “mixer” that will eventually lead to other important forums and debates, all to tackle the loftiest goals, regarding all manner of pressing world problems.

Abdul is sick and tired of the “brother” and his words. He wishes he would just shut-up. He wants his “talk” to be over. He has heard it all before, a life time of it. Abdul has made up his mind and he is going to do it. Yes-yes, praise and glory are to be mine already. I get it, thinks Abdul. He considers doing it right now just to shut the driver's yap hole!

The other “brother” doesn’t look too good. He is sweating profusely from his tan face and didn't bother to trim his thick uni-brow in the western style. Also, his work clothes fit badly, barely concealing the deadly garment under the outerwear. The man (boy really) has sweated the top half of his shirt soaking wet. That could affect the detonator! Where did they get this guy? We're supposed to be professionals. Saddled with incompetent boobs till the very end. I shouldn’t be surprised.

Before they even completely stop, Abdul bolts out the door and marches towards the entrance with his paperwork in hand. He does not look back.

***

Dudley is in the wrong place. He reported to the exact place and at the exact time that he was told, but now everything has changed, and he is supposed to be at the opposite end of the campus.

“Get over here soldier, you’re late,” crackled a stern voice from the radio that is clipped to his utility belt.

Everything at this event is supposed to be choreographed down to the slightest detail, and Dudley, in full combat uniform, including custom-fitted carbon-fiber body armor and his long gun draped across his back, probably should have found a less dramatic path across the facility rather than humping his way directly through the heart of the place.

“Fuck it” He thought. “I'm already in trouble.”

He kept his expression hard and his jaw set as he parted the dense crowd of shocked and gasping lawyers like Moses parting the Red Sea. He wanted to laugh until he saw their haughty sneers. One rather attractive, older, lady lawyer, gave him a nasty look of disgust and he tipped his hat in a small-town way saying, “Ma’am,” as if it were a question. “The nerve!” She scolded loudly.

He enters the main hall and instantly his keen and battle tested senses pick a single face out of a thousand. It is the face of a service worker and he walks towards the middle of the Grand Hall with a gait that suggest purpose and determination, even with the slight but noticeable limp.

The hairs on the back of Dudley's neck bristle and he adjusts his bee-line towards the man. They get closer and closer to each other when suddenly there is a ruckus from the entrance that this “worker” has just come from. Panic and screams flood from that direction as a blur of suits and skirts turn tail and head for the exits. One man is moving in the other direction, into the Great Hall, and with an arm motion he says,

“That one was with him!” and he and several others charge towards the “worker”- Abdul.

The crowds fall all over themselves trying to get away and in a second Abdul is nearly alone in the middle of the great hall with the men bearing down on him.

Abdul panics, the plan is ruined! In an act of desperate instinct, he lifts his shirt and displays the explosive vest. The approaching men stop in their tracks and back away. All except Dudley, who has his weapon drawn, inches from Abdul's face. The delay allows for the complete clearing of the hall, even the men pursuing Abdul have left for the safety of the entrance doors.

Just my luck! Thinks Dudley, as he sizes up the “worker” and the man seems suddenly as calm as can be. His calmness is infectious, and Dudley's next thought is, it’s as good a way to die as any and he finds himself surprisingly relaxed with his gun as steady as a statue in a face that is calm and still as a painting. The “workers” hand is grasping an electrical switch that is attached to a length of twisted wires that disappear into his clothing.

Dudley finds himself focused on this detonator as if all his problems will be solved with a flick of that switch. Certain mindsets that have been building in him for some time, allow a strange, welcome to the presence of that switch. He is in awe of its power and he has a fleeting thought of worship regarding its ultimate finality, at least on some deeply buried level. He even feels love for the switch. The answer to all questions. The end of the wonder. Damn, this is going to be a great day!

Abdul looks directly down the barrel of Dudley's gun and his mind wanders, What a great gun. American's have the best guns. It has always baffled him that so many Americans' switch to the archaic AK 47 once in the field. Sure, it has more brute fire power but look at this weapon- it is a master piece of composite materials and the finest steel. It will be an honor to die from this fine weapon. Just destroying this weapon will be a small degree of martyrdom. But it is a far cry from the destruction that had been planned.

As the seconds tick forward, the target victims move further and further away. Abdul tries to look at the bright side, as he always has, and the elimination of this soldier will satisfy his handlers. But he is fooling himself. The operation has failed. The goal was the fear that a mass killing would have had. Fear is the weapon that is used against the West, and a disruption of the infidel’s legal system wouldn't hurt the cause ether.

Disappointment starts to creep in. Not just from this failed mission, but from his life in general. He, like anyone, had great plans, lofty aspirations and solid goals. But one by one, they have been taken away. Starting really when he was nine years old, when he witnessed his entire family perish.

***

To understand this stand-off in any meaningful way, it would be important to understand the two men involved. While Abdul and Dudley are blind to each other’s pasts and personalities at this particular second, much has been learned since these two faced-off. So, we will leave them locked in their dangerous draw for now and have a look at some of what may be the most relevant experiences of these two.

While it is impossible to paint a full picture of an entire life filled with all the ups and downs, joys and sorrows, etcetera, it is not my intent to focus here on the negative only. I hope to treat this important matter fairly, and I plan on standing by my efforts, and my intentions here are only to present the facts. That being said, I will be starting with Abdul and what happened to his family.

It was the best, most stable and happiest time that Abdul had ever known- before that awful day. The family lived in a modern suburb outside of Baghdad. Living under Saddam Hussein, and as members of the Baath Party, helped provide a relatively good life for Abdul's family.

The “annex” of Kuwait several months before, was a cause for great celebration and national pride. Every school boy knew that the imperial occupation of Kuwait was thrust upon them by Britain and the West for the exploitation of oil at favorable prices. There is no dispute that Kuwait is an Iraqi Provence.

Nine-year-old Abdul was surrounded by optimism and swept up in childish patriotism, right up till that horrible night that the “Air Campaign” began.

Abdul had been sleeping soundly when the first explosion woke him and an instant later, after the next explosion, he was wide awake. It was the kind of sleep he would never really know again. From that moment on, never would he know such a sleep of innocence and apathy.

Boom-boom-BOOM! And the power went out. The family went outside and looked up to the sky as streams of bright, almost festive looking tracers were flying up from every angle. More loud explosions including one that lit up the entire sky around their neighborhood like heat lightning. Abdul's father hurries his family to the basement and they spend a sleepless night of constant booming explosions and gun fire.

Abdul believes his father when he says that the explosions are crashing American aircraft. The boy makes plans to find their wreckage and salvage a souvenir after it is all over.

That may have been his last truly innocent thought. Never was it to be “all over.”

The next day, and still without electricity, Mother made tea out in the backyard over an open fire with an old kettle that Abdul had never seen before. His Father and the other men of their block stood in the street engaged in heated discussions with worried expressions in their faces. Abdul wanted to find his friends and look for crashed aircraft, but he didn't get one step out the door before his father turned him around with a crushing,

“You stay in the house!”

Abdul's mother tried to show the children a brave disposition but soon she broke down crying as it all became too much.

Abdul started to get angry. This anger would in time be his new normal. Father returned and announced that Mother and the children were going to his Father's farm, away from the city. He would drive them there and then take the car to report for duty with his unit in the Reserve Guard. Abdul started to protest, he hated it there at the farm, “nothing to do, so boring!” Slap! His father back hands him! It is the first and last time that his father strikes him.

Hurriedly, the car is packed, and the family is heading north when suddenly all the traffic just stopped. They spent the next long hours stuck in hopeless gridlock under the building heat of the early afternoon sun.

They talked with others and the family learned of a bridge out, a couple kilometers ahead but the ferry was said to be running. They would leave the car and get across the river where grandfather would meet them to take the family, and bring Father to his unit.

Packed up with clothes and bedding, they start the long walk under the blazing sun. As they walked, Abdul started forming a new clear and sobering reality in his mind. The sting of his father's slap was still fresh in his mind and pink on his cheek. He would have to be tough now. No more baby games, the world plays for keeps.

They were joined by others also walking beside the highway under the burning sky towards the river. All were soon in too much agony from the heat for any real conversation. Soon they were walking passed a military convoy also stuck in the grid-lock. Young Abdul looked in awe at two gigantic trucks that each carried a large, single rocket. He wanted to ask his father a million questions about the rockets and the stuck military trucks, but his father was in no mood for foolishness and this was certainly not a pleasure trip. That's when more explosions and a strange ripping sound was heard.

First, the sounds were far away, then closer and closer until it was clear that the booms were just down the highway! Then Abdul heard the ripping sound clearly coming from the sky and it would haunt him completely and thoroughly for the rest of his life.

BBBUUURRRRRPPPPP! BURP! BURP! BBBUUUUURRRRRPPPPPPP! What could it be? Everyone looked up with searching confusion. Then, without warning, everything all around Abdul and especially the two rocket carrying trucks just started to melt away in a shower of destruction that reminded Abdul of the spray from a fire hose. How strange he thought for the split second before the ground under him exploded and sent him flying through the air. Now, high above, he saw the spray melt through his family as he flew over them! Surely this is all a dream as he knew he could not fly, and he tried to stretch his arms out like a superhero, but pain shot through him as terror gripped him. As he hit the ground, right next to his father, who only seconds before was leading the family some twenty meters ahead.

The impact released the last vestige of any dream state and as he slid up to his father with the last of the energy from his “flight,” he saw two gray colored, straight wing aircraft flying in formation just overhead.

“Did you see that?” he yells as he spins his head around looking for his family.

In the few precious seconds before a secondary explosion blew him over a bank and into a shallow drainage ditch, Abdul saw his teenage sister's body decapitated. His mother, who had been clutching his infant brother in her arms, is minus her torso. (And baby brother) He shook his father, who turned to his son with the last of his being and tried to say something as Abdul watched the life drain from his eyes.

His father had taken a hit in the hip and his legs were far away.

Two weeks later Abdul woke up in hospital. When he first lifted his eyelids, the bright lights sear his eyes and they water in discomfort, but this is quickly forgotten as his first deep breath brings a racking of pain from head to toe. His I.V. drip is devoid of pain reducing drugs due to chronic and lasting war time shortages and he is lucky he got the plasma that kept him alive.

He grows frustrated as it takes him hours to even find out where he is.

The overwhelmed staff is dashing in and out of the crowded corridor that is lined with temporary beds, the result of overflow conditions. Eventually he is told that he was brought in with several bones of his feet broken, his hip dislocated, and his forearm compound fractured (both reset while in his coma) and he had extensive tissue damage mostly in the groin and buttocks. This last two conditions were the most obvious to Abdul.

The next few weeks were a blur of intense pain. So much so that he really couldn't think or worry. In the short breaks from the agony, he added to his depression with the memories of his slaughtered family and that terrible sound from the sky.

The “BBBUUUURRRRRPPPPP!” is the sound of a weapon that remains one of the most freighting and feared of any ever used in war. But you won't hear the sound if its Gatling cannon is used on you. The depleted uranium rounds arrive well before the sound waves. In Arabic it is called something that translates roughly into “ghost dragon” (it is very quiet in flight) and the “BBUURRPP” sound is the “dragon's fire.” In the West it is known as the A-10 Warthog. It is a low speed, ground attack aircraft built around a high-speed rotary canon that rips out large caliber ordinance at over three thousand rounds per minute, giving it a unique barking moan of a sound that would be hard to forget even if it's destruction is far away. It was designed to knock out Russian tanks, that is if the cold war were to get hot.

Early in the first Gulf war, they were used to knock out mobile SCUD missile launchers after Saddam tried to break up the allied coalition by launching them at Israel. Two launchers stuck in traffic was just too juicy of a target, even with civilians in the area.

Abdul would learn all about A-10's and all other manner of war just as all Iraqis would; from the receiving end.

He would end up learning much more about these realities as his situation deteriorated. His “rehabilitation” was hampered greatly as the Baath Party struggled and he was shuffled from place to place. No one wanted or had resources to deal with him and he almost starved several times. By the second gulf war and consequent occupation, he had recovered greatly but he would always have pain in his feet and maybe worse than that, the injuries to his genitalia would leave him virtually a eunuch.

Filled with hatred, tortured with debilitating pain, with no prospects of starting a family and squeezed out economically due to the fall of the Baath party, it should be no surprise that he finds himself in the Brotherhood fighting for jihad. But he is still too messed up to be much good on the battle field, so he works well behind the scenes, teaching children in the improvised schools of the training camps.

He is with the Taliban in Afghanistan when 9-11 happened, and make no mistake, it brought joy to his heart and pride like he hadn’t felt since those heady days when Saddam took Kuwait. But like that attack, the aggressors underestimated the response from the West.

Soon Abdul was on the run as the U.S. backed Northern Alliance swept and scattered the Taliban nearly off the map. It was tough times and the attacks of 9-11 generally came to be seen as a miscalculation, an attack without demands became nothing but pure vengeance and revenge. Sweet as that may have been, the new and all-encompassing world-wide security measures proved devastating and was a step backward for the goal of global jihad. But eventually things change, and opportunities arise. This time it is in the form of a new sympathetic American President, and when something began that in the West was called the Arab Spring.

Infused with the hope and optimism of the news, people in the Middle East hit the streets with a vengeance. Sure, it was all sparked by the fiery protest suicide of a troubled person, but it was fueled by the President in the West that proclaimed that there would be “no boots on the ground.” The West was giving up! The proof was when he submitted a time line for troop withdrawals, it was over! Things began to move at a dizzying pace for Abdul and many others all across the Middle East and Northern Africa.

By this time Abdul finds himself back in Iraq, west of Mosul, near the Syrian border. He was here to attend a speech, which was going on in similar forms all over the region. It began with the raising of the black battle flag over the makeshift stage. A black robed man, a nameless leader, (even here, details are given out only on a need-to-know basis for security reasons) stepped out to speak.

“My brothers, this is the moment, and this is the time. We are done with the positioning and pandering of the caste system of the infidel. No man will live in another man's shadow. The concept of submitting to ones “better” is an affront to God and WE WILL NOT HAVE IT!” The speaker lets that soak in among approving faces and continues. “We are weary of war, it must stop. And we, my brothers, we will end it. Not in some far-off time, but now, in this time, in our time. And we will end it with something so old that it may seem new. We will pour our hearts and our souls, our brains and our brawn, our very existence and being into- winning! Winning a nation! No more running. No more pity “refugee” camps. This is a place where a man can stand tall and proud. Already we control vast territory and productive oil facilities. American trained and equipped 'defense forces' have joined us and continue to be resupplied!” Laughter erupts among the crowd.

The presentation went on to make nearly endless points regarding the West's lack of commitment using mostly accurate examples from the U.S. press and first-hand evidence from those who had been there. Official policy examples such as the American President's “red line” in Syria over chemical weapons, proved that he was all bluster. How far out of touch average citizens in America are, was emphasized by the Secretary of State telling the American people that the attack on the Consulate, and the death of the American ambassador in Libya, on the anniversary of 9-11 was the result of a homemade hate video.

“Who has their heart in it, us or them?”

So, this is the situation, as they advance under the flag of the Islamic State, the choices are stark. You can flee (If you can) join or die. They have not the means for taking and holding prisoners.

The baddest of the bad have been pushed into a corner of the world and it is make-or-break time. They will show the world what nation building really is! Eventually they will be recognized and accepted by the rest of the world, just as Iran and Cuba are being today. Slowly they will build and expand their oil wealth to Saudi Arabia levels. In just a few generations, all will be forgotten, just as it always is.

But after those first few frantic years, things have come to an impasse. While the situation with the Kurds in the north simmers, the West's use of cruise missiles and drone strikes to “degrade and diminish” has become bothersome. A call was put out for a “special operation” that included the need for martyrs. Abdul has heeded that call.

“America and their allies will cease intrusion of our sovereignty or suffer our just and deserved retaliation” was the simple message for the West.

After the first few attacks, someone coined the expression, “fear weapon,” and it stuck. A drone would launch a missile at ISIS, and someone charges a crowd in America and explodes. It only took a couple of times before Americans were hitting the streets asking “why the fuck are we shooting missiles over there? Let them fight their own wars!”

The missiles stopped and then the suicide attacks stopped. It worked so well that as ISIS is now being attacked financially and legally, the tactic was expanded, and that is what has brought Abdul and Dudley together this day.

***

Dudley (First name Douglas) lives in the land of wealth and white privilege where, by all rights, he should be thriving and content. But, as so often happens, the “wholesome family life” consisted of a drunk, dead-beat Dad (Last time he saw him he wanted to comb Dudley’s car floor for spare change, so Dudley gave him a twenty and told him he was disgusted and to “get lost”) and/or binge drinking, meth-head Mom who's only interaction is the guilt trip used between screaming fits of rage. No wonder he never found a decent woman to be his wife with an upbringing like that.

Western values should be the shining star and beacon for the World, right? We lead the world in the environment, conservation, civic progressiveness, innovative technology, medical advancement and so much more, but yet, so many are faltering, being left behind, cast aside and miserable.

Social norms of the West are so vague and ever-changing that they may not even exist at all. So complex and challenging is even the most basic social interaction that more and more people are starting to avoid it all together. For people that don't get the breaks (Like Dudley) the West can be cold and cruel, or at least seem that way.

The secret is to find a niche, and soldiering is that niche for Dudley, and he is very good at it. But it does not, cannot, for its very nature prevents it from bringing him happiness. There are happy times between him and his mates but that doesn’t have anything to do with the actual work. That is just the result of people being thrown together no matter what the job is. There is the praise from the good guys after the bad guys are eliminated, and that is real, but look at what you just did to achieve that. Does it make you feel good? HELL NO! It's gut wrenching and it tears you apart!

What do you see when you close your eyes?

The Doctor that saves a child, the detective that solves the case, even the mechanic that fixes your car can enjoy real satisfaction knowing that they have helped, not hurt the world. Can you say that you give the veteran that level of respect? Really? Really? Maybe I'm laying it on a little thick, but these are the thoughts that dominate Dudley the soldier and he has been giving some thought to ending his cold, miserable, retched life, so for now, as we revisit Dudley and Abdul in their mortal stand-off, Dudley is at peace with the “worker” and his electrical switch.

Abdul has already pushed the button and when it is released, the bomb wrapped around his body will explode. Soon his finger will grow weary. Dudley knows that there is a good chance that when he shoots Abdul in the head, his hand will clench, preventing the button's release. Or his fingers may extend violently if the right synapse is severed as the bullets pass through Abdul's skull, but it is his experience that a clenching is most likely.

Oh, the things a soldier keeps under his helmet!

Dudley gives the “worker” a friendly smile and lowers his weapon. He takes in a big breath of air and approaches the bomber with his chest out to receive the maximum destructive effect as he says in perfect Arabic,

“Go ahead, do it! I'm ready”

Abdul is shocked. What could be his game? Big healthy strong American, why would he want to die?

“You want to die?” Asks Abdul flatly.

“Oh, hell yes! I hate everything and everybody! Go right ahead!” Answers Dudley in a voice of growing gleefulness and then he resumes a hard expression as if it will mask any pain. It almost makes Abdul laugh as his finger grows more fatigued.

“It will be on camera” says Dudley as he motions up with his thumb to the plastic domes in the ceiling. Abdul's eyes glance up and Dudley uses the diversion to grasp one hand over Abdul's hand and the detonator switch while punching him in the throat with the other.

In a second, he has Abdul's hand free from the button and without letting it release, he has replaced it with his own. While Dudley may be ready to leave the cold, miserable, retched life behind, he is not quite ready just yet to leave the drunken, fighting, fucking life behind.

But in that blur of activity, Dudley also noticed the exploding vest's battery pack and yanked the wire out of it. It happened so fast that not Abdul nor anyone watching the security cameras could had noticed.

Dudley now holds the button as Abdul gasps for air. He is quickly recovering because Dudley, really, barely hit him.

He takes Abdul's hand and forces it back over the button, carefully, so it remains pushed. Abdul finally gathers enough of a breath to ask:

“What are you doing? Why did you do that?”

Abdul is now firmly holding the button again.

“You don't want to die, or you would have done it already” Dudley says as he starts to wander around the room noticing several purses laying around from the mass exodus only minutes ago. He picks one up and dumps its content on a table as he continues speaking.

“And why would you want to miss the great birth of your nation? You know that when the drone strikes stopped, it was over. You won! This new terror phase you guys are trying, it is just to rush things. Even this failed attempt is a complete success because the fact that you targeted the legal profession, means they have felt the 'fear'. The lack of deaths will mean quicker action because no retaliation is required. It is win-win.”

He dumps a second and then a third purse and finds what he is looking for, a hand rolled doobie and by the look of his wrenching as he lit it up, it is the “kind”.

Abdul carefully switches fingers on the button. He has started sweating, some from the tension but also because the layers of work clothes and his bomb vest has proven too hot for comfort.

Dudley's radio suddenly squawks to life:

“Ranger six, Ranger six, do you read? Over.”

“That's for me” Dudley says as he reaches for the mic.

“Roger base I have a delicate situation here as I am facing a live explosive and there is a list of demands, over.”

After a pause, the voice on the radio continues:

“Go ahead with the demands, over.”

“First is a warning, a heads-up that in two minutes both security camera stations will be eliminated by gun fire, please clear any personal, repeat, clear any personal within the zones of the security cameras, do you copy? Over.”

Abdul is stunned and has trouble believing his ears. After a pause, the radio crackles back:

“We copy, and those areas are clear, over.”

Dudley, with a big grin, picks his weapon up and says to Abdul;

“Things are going to get loud!”

He blasts the plastic domes in the ceiling into Swiss cheese, first one then the other.

Shells rain down on to the expensive carpet and transparent, vapor-like smoke fills the air. Dudley turns back to the radio as Abdul watches as if he is at the movies and he keeps his finger on that button harder than ever- he wants to see what will happen next.

“Base this is Ranger six, the bomber will make his own demands, I am handing the radio to him, stand by.”

Dudley looks like he is going to laugh, and he gives the stunned Abdul a wink and after clearing his throat, he says in the most ridiculous fake broken English and impossibly thick middle eastern accent:

“I am Blado! I have many bombs throughout city under my remote control, as well as this American soldier as my hostage. Within two hours there will be ten million dollars in cash in a fueled-up helicopter on da roof-top helipad.”

Dudley snickers as he fumbles with the radio for a bit then starts to transmit in his regular voice:

“Base, this is Ranger six, the bomber wishes to change locations now, we are moving in the direction of the roof helipad, over.”

Dudley motions to Abdul,

“We our expected on the roof my good man, if you keep that button pushed, you could end up a very rich.”

Stunned and silent, Abdul plays along.

“Don't be afraid to push me around and threaten me with the button when were in front of the cameras in the hallways” Dudley suggests as they make for the roof up the stairwells.

***

The destination of Dudley's radio transmissions is a communication trailer out in the parking lot designated “Base Command” and in the seven minutes since the young sweaty bomber was confronted at the entrance and his explosive device failed, it has been a complete disaster and a major cluster-fuck. They weren’t even patched into the building security cameras yet when Dudley’s shooting started in the main hall. With the building evacuated because of the bomb threat, there are no personnel between the bomber, the hostage, and the path to the roof.

“Horse shit!” is the Duty Officers initial assessment of the situation.

Emergency responders have flooded the area around the Convention Center complex to the point of gridlock from the hundreds of frantic lawyer's cell phone calls as they ran in fear.

The terrorist's demands have been forwarded to the proper channels and the money is being prepared. A chopper with a pilot that is a special agent is ready. Even with the poor start, the authorities should have firm control of the situation especially by the next two hours as demanded.

Dudley and Abdul make it quick to the last door before the roof helipad. Here they stop, and satisfied that there are no cameras in this area, Dudley begins dressing down. He removes all his gear and empties his pack. Next, he removes his body armor and all his other clothes as well. Out of the pack come some running shoes, knee length shorts and a baggy long sports shirt. Baseball cap, long gold chain for around his neck, sunglasses and instantly he is just another urban douche-bag. He looks at Abdul and shakes his head.

“It is time for you to remove the bomb,” he announces.

The jig is up! Abdul has known that he has been beaten for a while. His fingers ache from holding the button, but his death grip proves his weakness. He doesn’t want to die, he never did. This martyrdom was thrust upon him from the start, mostly because of his genital injuries. Now is the time to admit it. He was prepared to die certainly, but what the soldier said earlier about what they have already won, makes sense. Taking his life and that of this crazy soldier wouldn't help a thing. He will relent. Besides, hanging with this unpredictable soldier has been so far, and in a strange way- fun!

“I will need your help, around the back is a battery,” Abdul says as he turns and lifts his overcoat.

“Remove the wire from the battery pack.”

It's already hanging loose, but Dudley pretends to do it anyway and says, “OK it's done, now let’s...”

“Wait, now we have to discharge the capacitor.”

“Wait, what?”

“Take that wire and bring it over here and ground it to the switch's metal housing.”

He does it and it makes a faint blue spark.

“Now it is disarmed,”

Dudley gapes at Abdul and the button- it was live the whole time!

Dudley snaps out of his stupor and has Abdul trade his button-down dress shirt for one of his extra tee shirts and stretches a stocking cap over his terrible haircut. They leave everything else, all the military gear, radio, GPS cell phone and the suicide vest right there, in what appears to be a service hallway. Next, they take the back stairway down to the basement parking garage.

Still in lock down and under evacuation, they meet no one and soon are at a parking space that contains Dudley's motorcycle. They push the little enduro out a sidewalk pedestrian exit and through the gardens and walking paths all the way to a police road block.

“Hey, you can't be in there!” hollers the cop at two idiots trying to cut through a potential disaster area with their broken motorcycle.

“Sorry Sir!” yells back Dudley in a dumb, punk voice.

They then turn into the city and blend right in, pushing until well out of sight before Dudley fires it up and with Abdul on the back, they race down back streets through worse and worse neighborhoods.

No one pays any attention to a punk on a beat motorbike with a dark-skinned man on the back in this area, and in just minutes, they skid up to a junky automotive shop with a Mexican man in a poncho sitting in a folding chair out front.

In a frantic hurry, Dudley converses with the man in Spanish and then the man in the poncho dashes inside the dilapidated building and emerges in seconds with two armed men.

“Take him to the pit and don't let him out of your sight for even a second!” Yells Dudley as he fires his bike back up, and blasts away throwing gravel from the knobby tire. Abdul and the men watch him leave and then he is muscled into the seat of a battered pick-up truck and now he is surrounded by these dangerous looking men as they climb in around him. With the man in the poncho driving, they leave for the “pit.”

Dudley races his motorcycle back to his crappy apartment. Here he changes again, this time to his spandex bicycle outfit, complete with helmet. He hops on his Cannondale bicycle and soon he is back at the Convention Center complex.

Less than half an hour total has passed.

Now the tricky part. Dudley cases the walking path entrance, the one they had so easily pushed the motorbike right out of. Only two city cops here, and they look bored.

He is lined up perfect and up-hill from their yellow tape and sign board “blockade.” He estimates the time it would take to get up to speed and shoot the gap through the fluttering tape and be at the pedestrian entrance back at the parking garage. A large round bushy tree blocks most of the cop's view as he will be building speed down the hill. At top clip, when he pops out from under the tree, he should be through the tape blocking the path in less than two seconds. If only something would divert their attention, thinks Dudley

All of the sudden, the hand of God himself, reaches down and flicks the rear of a vehicle and “smash!” a work van rear-ends a Mom and her kids in a well-worn sedan. Sure enough, the woman is throwing a fit and demanding the two cops standing there come to her aid and defense.

“Did you see that? I know you saw that!” The woman is yelling as Dudley silently shot the gap with the cops turned the wrong way and none the wiser.

Seconds later he is at the garage and bounding up the stairs like a mad man.

Dudley didn't really see the hand of God, but the diversion was so timely, that this is how he will remember it.

He slips back to the gear in the service hallway and it is just as he left it.

He changes his clothes once again, back to his full battle dress. Spandex, helmet and bike shoes go into his pack. He drapes the explosive vest over his uniform. He holds his cell phone in his lap and tries to catch some sleep. That's right, he is that cool under pressure.

His radio repeats about once every ten seconds “Ranger six this is base, come in, over” Dudley ignores it. The bike ride and the stair climb have done a number on him, and a good soldier knows to get some shut-eye anytime he can. You never know when you might have the opportunity again.

Dudley has indeed fallen sound asleep when the radio message changes.

“We have a man on your floor Ranger six, he has a visual, will attempt contact, over.”

Dudley switches from rest mode to awake instantly (Soldier reflex) and swings his head this way and that and sees the soldier at the end of the corridor.

“Stay back!” he yells, “They have me wired for remote detonation!”

The soldier holds up his radio as if it is a question.

“No-way man! They told me to use the radio only when I hear the chopper landing!”

The soldier backs away and makes his report back to Base Command on a different radio channel.

Base Command receives the report including video from the soldier’s body camera.

“Where's the terrorist?” is the question from the Duty Officer who is now surrounded by higher ranking staff and other “experts”.

The Duty Officer has been exemplary in his procedures and methods so far (as reviews in the future prove) and has performed all the steps and followed the check-lists perfectly and that has been the undoing.

Dudley had removed Abdul from the scene and returned so quick, that he had just plain beat the soldiers as they moved into forward position literally seconds too late. The “by the book” last minute equipment checks, and the personal briefings have made the difference.

But what is Dudley's game? He really didn't even know. But as a soldier, he is trained and has learned to exploit a situation, no matter what the situation might be. And there is a plan hatching and forming in his mind that he acted on even before it was anywhere near complete.

Balls of steel baby!

***

Abdul is trapped between two dirty, stinking men. They hold pistols at the ready but not jammed into his guts or anything. With the poncho wearing driver, they are four abreast in a bench seat made for three, it is a tight fit. They listen to a Spanish language radio station that has an excited sounding news reporter frantically reporting on what Abdul has deduced to be a live report from the Convention Center. What exactly is being said, he doesn’t know.

The interior of the decrepit old work truck is adorned with all sorts of velvets and silks in what was once a grand restoration of some sort that was preformed decades ago and now is in need of replacement again. Dirty miniature pom-poms adorn nearly every edge and jump and jiggle at every bump as they drive. On the center of the dash is a dancing statue of a Hawaiian “Hula-Girl” holding a guitar. Abdul watches the girl move and sway and drifts into a dreamy funk and wants to put all the blame of the world on the decadents and perversion of this dancing image. He wants to see this sex-symbol in a way that will solidify his beliefs and mock the West, but he can't. The girl is too damn sexy!

Oh, the curse of his physical injuries. Not to have tasted the fruits of a woman. It is really what drove him to take this job. Now, even the promise of satisfaction in the afterlife evades him as he has failed in his martyrdom. Depressing thoughts swim in his confused mind.

The truck turns off the highway and has soon left the pavement. After bouncing down dirt roads, they stop at a large, dusty excavation. The place is littered in abandon vehicles, rusty washers and dryers, and a refrigerator with a torn off door as well as lots of just plain garbage.

Abdul is strangely at peace as he can guess his fate. He thinks that it was cruel of the soldier to say he would end up rich. He didn't believe it for a second, but it is insulting for him to believe the soldier thought he had to say it.

What is clear now is that the infidel soldier is trying to turn his righteous martyrdom into his own personal gain.

What a fool I've been! He thinks as the men push him out the door.

Now, beside the truck, the man in the poncho motions Abdul to sit down. He goes to his knees, closes his eyes and prepares for the shot.

The men look among themselves and after some initial confusion, then bust out laughing. Abdul opens one eye, and this brings the men to complete hysterics!

Abdul realizes this may well by the beginning of some sort of sadistic torture and torment from these infidel devils for which he shouldn't be surprised and feels he probably deserves.

He thinks of making a run for it but, as usual, his feet hurt. No, it's what they want. A chase would justify their brutality. He will make the shame blatant by complete submission. There will be no honor in their memories of this.

Finally, the laughing dies down and one of the men brings a five-gallon plastic bucket from the bed of the truck and after placing it upside down behind Abdul, he pats it invitingly with his big scarred hand and says “sit”. Abdul obeys, and even finds himself comfortable. The man in the poncho leans in close to Abdul and asks,

“What da hell is this all about?”

Abdul has a functioning grasp of the English language, but he must be misunderstanding. He certainly is the last to have any idea of what this is all about. They must believe he has information they could use against their partner, the soldier. Abdul decides there is no harm in telling the story. He would kind of like to review it himself, before he is killed. He has virtually no information regarding his handlers here in America, even if that's what they were after. No, they wanted to know about the soldier and this crazy plan he formed after his failure at martyrdom. Telling the story would be more pleasant than being tortured so he began at the Convention Center and went step-by-step until the present.

They did not ask about the reason for his suicide mission in the slightest.

The man in the poncho (his name is not important) served with Dudley years ago in situations and events most foul and crushingly unpleasant, to say the least. They share the bond of a band of brothers as strong as any in Abdul's world.

When Dudley brings a stranger to him and insist he bring him to the pit and keep him under wraps for a couple of hours, that is what he will do. How far he will go to achieve this end is totally up to his desecration. Would he kill this man if he tries to run? Probably not, but he will keep that fact hidden as long as he can. All this man knows is what Dudley has told him. He is to keep an eye out for a helicopter that will bring Dudley or wait for a call on his cell phone from him with further instructions. Most important, they are to be ready to move out instantly when he returns or if Dudley calls an “Irene” (Army radio code for “Emergency! Get out of there fast!) situation.

But this man in the poncho, knows Dudley well, and even though from what his detainee, Abdul, has told him, it seems that Dudley is turning a terrible situation into an opportunity for wild personal gain. This not in the typical mind-set of the Dudley-Do-Right, all-American apple pie soldier that he has long known, but he realizes that there is probably much more to the story, so he will follow his orders to the very end. A soldier will do or die and never wonder the reason why, is a thought that passes through his mind. For all he knows he and Dudley are holding an international terrorist and if they play their cards right, they could end up heroes with a big reward.

He keeps Abdul talking, they delve deep into his terrorist past. Not in an interrogation way, he is not interested in making Abdul expose any operatives or confess to any crimes, there will be plenty of others capable of that sort of thing, he wants to understand his personal motivations. Abdul complies, he is almost glad to do it. He starts with the A-10 attack on his family. He holds nothing back, including his hatred of the West. He doesn’t sugar-coat a thing. The men listen politely and even ask clarifying questions when required.

***

Dudley hears the approaching helicopter. He keys his radio's mic.

“Chopper One,” he made-up the call sign,

“This is Ranger Six, do you copy?” There is a short pause, then Dudley's radio crackles back:

“...Aw yes, this is 'Chopper one,' I read you loud and clear.” Dudley returns with the message,

“Roger Chopper One, instructions are as follows, land on the roof helipad, have the 'package' ready for inspection, and prepare for egress of one passenger, further instructions after take-off, over.” Again, after a pause the pilot answers;

“Copy that Ranger Six, E.T.A. two minutes, over.”

The whine of the turbine and the familiar “whup-whup-whup” of the rotor blades grow louder and louder as Dudley strips his gear and weapon and yells over to the cops of the swat team at the end of the corridor,

“I want this stuff back! If I live!”

He keeps the cell phone.

Wearing the explosive vest, he gets up and pushes open the doors to the wind and noise of the landing helicopter.

A dozen snipers, airborne drones, other helicopters, both civilian and military, and even satellites in space watch Dudley's every move as he strolls to the chopper's open door where the pilot shows him the duffel bag filled with bundled U.S. legal tender. He digs around in it as if it is nothing more to him but a bag of dirty laundry. He climbs in, shouting to the pilot,

“Let's go!”

They lift off, while Dudley stares at his phone, he directs the pilot with a point of his arm yelling,

“This way, keep it on the deck!”

The pilot, who is none too happy about Dudley's explosive apparel, complies and they fly over the city at roof top level. Within seconds, they are approaching the “pit.”

“Set it down, right here!” Shouts Dudley and the chopper touches down at the far end of the most open area, out of sight but not far from Abdul and the others.

He grabs the grip full of cash and throws his cell phone to the pilot as he jumps out yelling;

“If I live, I want that back!”

The pilot wastes no time lifting off and away from the explosives draped soldier. Dudley hot-foots it towards Abdul and the other men. After removing the vest, he throws it on the top of a junk car, leaving it in plain sight and shouts, while running towards them with the heavy bag of cash:

“Fire up that truck! We got to move!”

He reaches the truck and throws the duffel bag in the bed and then himself shouting,

“To the underpass! Hurry!”

Dust and dirt fly as they bounce back to the highway on-ramp and join thousands of other cars and trucks back on the interstate.

Dudley knows very well that all matter of surveillance is following their every move, assisted, no doubt, by a G.P.S. transponders sewn into the lining of the duffel bag. His only chance of success is brute speed. The chances of multi-jurisdictional agencies being deployed in the right places and at the right time are slim.

In less than two minutes they exit the highway and enter an area of seedy, high crime, homeless infested places, all covered over with miles of the concrete and steel overpasses of a section of our great highway system. They stop at Dudley's insistence in an area of dirt and brush that is home to the campsites of some half-dozen camped-out drug-addicts and drunks.

They step out of the truck and Dudley, in a frantic and infectious hurry says;

“Give me your poncho!”

The driver does that, and Dudley spreads it out in the back of the truck and dumps the cash from the duffel bag on it.

“Quick! Like this, tear off all the banding and toss it back into the bag. Then file through the stacks and remove any cards, paper, anything that isn't cash.”

He is doing just that as he explains and instantly all, including Abdul are performing this at hyper speed. In less than five minutes, the poncho is heaped with bills and the bag is full of paper.

Dudley looks around, then jumping up he sprints a short distance into the homeless camp with the bag and throws it into a small mountain of filth and returns with a ratty shopping cart. He wraps up the money in the poncho and throws it in. He scans the truck bed and helps himself to various items such as firewood, muddy rubber boots, a dirty tarp and even a half full bag of garbage and tosses it all in the cart as well. Now, it is time for Dudley and Abdul to bid their accomplices farewell.

“What if we are pulled over? What will we tell the police?”

“Tell them the truth, I asked you to meet me at the pit and give me a ride to the underpass. No big deal, right?”

The truck pulls away and joins a thousand other vehicles, leaving Abdul and Dudley alone once again and standing next to a crap filled, rusty shopping cart in a foul smelling, piss stained, graffiti covered dark corner of the most powerful Nation the world has ever known.

Some of the urgency is gone. Several thousand cubic yards of concrete and steel still cover the duffel bag from airborne detection and only a vehicle equipped with the proper tracking devise, cruising these urban badlands could eventually find the bag. That's not going to happen right away. There is time to get down to business.

Dudley motions for Abdul to take a seat. They park it on some construction debris and both take a moment to sit and stare off into space, reflecting on a hell of a day. Dudley has been thinking in the back of his mind since right after this scheme popped into his head at what he would say right now but still the words prove difficult. He faces Abdul, who clearly needs to understand and seems receptive as he looks back at Dudley with an expression of a thousand questions. Dudley ceremoniously clears his throat, and begins his speech:

“There are times when men must act. This is one of those times. It is time that your side…”

Dudley taps Abdul on the chest with his finger,

“And my side…” he takes that same finger and taps his own chest,

“Must end one reality and begin another. Your side has had complete success using the weapon of fear to stop the airstrikes and the progression to use the same strategy to secure legal rights is natural, but it will soon reach a tipping point. These people you target now are not reasonable, they control the money, and the world, and you and me. They will grow weary and before long a major invasion and occupation will be ordered and executed. And why not? They will not join in the fight personally and neither will their children. They have people such as you and me to fight and to die. The cycle will repeat endlessly for me and for you and for our children, and for their children, and on and on and forever.”

Abdul is listening with great interest. Dudley continues,

“I want to offer you and your 'brothers' an offer of tribute, for an agreement securing a peace and a trust. Not between diplomats and nations all under the stage of the world press, but between men, men like you and me. Men who will do the fighting and the dying. It is reasonable right? What do ya think?”

Abdul looks like he may laugh and after some thought he says,

“What do I think? I think you are crazy!”

Dudley begins to laugh, and it grows and grows until his laughter is so hard that there are tears in his eyes and snot is coming from his nose. It certainly seems to be the laugh of a crazy person and Abdul just gapes at the soldier in slack-jawed confusion. After that, Dudley regains his composure and asks Abdul in his friendliest manner,

“Hey, remember when I was 'Blado' remember that? Was that funny or what?”

Abdul is stupefied with this comment and when Dudley starts doing that comical voice again,

“I am Blado! I have many bombs throughout city!”

It is the last straw. Abdul starts to laugh. His laughter builds and grows until he his laughing harder than he has in years, maybe ever! They laugh and laugh and when it starts to subside, Dudley has more,

“I am Blado!”

And it begins again and again until Abdul is begging him;

“Yes-yes, it is funny! Stop, please stop!”

Finally, they do stop and just as things become serious there is just one more,

“I am Blado!”

***

Police cars and helicopters zoom around everywhere as Abdul pushes the cart. He is still laughing as he thinks about the crazy soldier and his, “I am Blado!” He thinks of phrases that translate into something like What a nut job! But also, he thinks of the offer. What rubbish! To think that he would have any power to influence anyone or the musings of an insane grunt would be some kind of treaty. But he sees the point, as a tribute, there are certain levels of honor involved, if accepted. It is a long shot, but he has decided to present the offer to his handlers as if the deal came straight from the President himself. Abdul actually likes the deal.


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