Smokey room. Little room off Rue Polonceau. New old country, France and the lights are so bright and I hate them. Do they know what it is like to see your mother in a mud hut washing the dishes with a candle after she has put her children to sleep on a sheep’s blanket in the corner, her believing that Allah or the west will save her? Allah will bless her with all her prayers once I have done his work. I, Mohammed, am a prophet and my brothers are prophets sent to slaughter the west. They come and slaughter us. Drop bombs on us and they do not care. Our lands are rich and we are poor, because the west takes everything and we are the criminals because we want a share. They think we want their way of life. What is wrong with ours? We want to be left alone.
Fadi tells me to take my rifle. His eyes are big and brown and like mine and everyone around this holy room. I take my rifle from him. Fadi and I will be brothers in Paradise. Over the satellite phone on the table our beloved commander encourages all of us with one last prayer. We kneel down with our rifles at our side and heads pointing east towards Mecca. Our prayers with in ourselves: Allah wills it; there is no God but Allah; there is no power and no strength but with Allah; Allah Akbar; Allah Akbar; Allah Akbar.
Then it is quiet and we look at each other. Our task is set. No fear in any eyes: Arabian night fire eyes of our people’s souls. Fadi hands me a cigarette. Nods his head. Everyone smoking in the room. Revenge for our mothers our sisters our brothers our country and our pride. Fadi and I are going to Rue Bichot.
In Le Carillon on Rue Bichot. Match on in the T.V and packed and France and Germany are level. Evra has the ball on the left wing and Lahm pressures. Evra puts his foot on the ball and points in the stands. What is going on? T.V goes blank and Allah Akbar! This is for Syria! Old western showdown and they come in the bar with Ak-47s shooting up the joint like it’s a video game. Two tan men spraying the crowd with Kalashnikov at the hip. Bullets into bodies. Bodies to floor. Alive and dead. Bullet casings pinging off the ground. Clip empty. People screaming. Begging to stop. Reloading. Perrier and Jean Paul are drunk and look at each other and are heroes. They jump up and try to make for the tan men. Perrier gets it twice in the gut, and Jean Paul trips over a dead body and the tan man pops one in. Gunfire. Hand over head on the floor. Marie was out for a drink with coworkers. Don’t don’t don’t don’t shoot. Holy Mary mother of God don’t shoot me. Shoot anyone else but me. Hail Mary and God I swear protect me and I am yours. My little Claude at home. Ma chere, I love you. Ma and Dad I love you and Grandma and Grandpapa and everyone. I love everyone. God, Marie loves everyone please please please don’t let them kill me. Bullets whizzing and glasses breaking and blood and the floor sticky with bar muck and bodies and Marie crying. Why? Why? Why?
Marie felt something burning on the top of her head. The two tan men beat it out into the Parisian night. One attacker blew himself up on the Boulevard Voltaire. The other was killed by police two days later in Belgium.
Marie’s husband sits at home watching the news, little Claude in his arms sucking on a bottle of his mother’s milk. It is the last bottle of his mother’s milk he will ever have.
Muhammed’s mother washes the dishes in the candle light. Thinking about her son, she loses her grip and drops the plate. The plate shatters on the hard packed mud floor. She kneels and picks the fragments up in her apron.
My son in France will buy me golden plates.
Featured photo credit: Photo by Diana Angelo