I'm sorry that I've been absent from my blog this past week. I've been busy learning about surfing the web with a mobile device. My wife and I just got one, a smart phone. It was a strange coincidence that it came within hours of receiving an offer from iPage for a goMobi Site Builder. (Did I ever mention how much I love iPage? You may take this as an unsolicited endorsement.)
GoMobi Site Builder - Click to enlarge
GoMobi is extremely easy to use (says the man who once was an internet website architect). Well, I still think it's usable by anyone who can operate a computer word processing program. I had my mobile website on line within 20 minutes from the first time I saw this interface. Of course, I spent the next week fixing it, transforming it into a marketing tool. After all, what's the point of all this if it doesn't help us sell books (or whatever we're in the business of selling).
Why bother? Depending upon whose report you trust, somewhere between 17% and 28% of all web traffic consists of users with mobile devices (smart phones and the like). If the pundits are to be believed, this percentage will grow exponentially. Now that I've acquired and played with a smart phone, I can easily believe them.
Surely you've seen QR Codes on products and storefronts. They're popping up everywhere. Just turn on your QR Scanner App and point your smart phone at one and you'll be directed automatically to a webpage with marketing information.
Click to enlarge
I'm experimenting with a marketing campaign to distribute cards with my mobile website QR Code (illustrated above) to places where people wait: Where they wait while their car is washed, while the barrista prepares their Caramel Brulée Latte, while their tires are rotated and balanced, while they wait for their doctors to catch up on their appointments... You get the idea.
I also provide a PDF document with multiple copies of this wallet-size card so that people can carry the QR Code with them. You can access it by clicking the image of my QR Code on my website Home Page and my blog. The PDF document displays eight copies of the card. The extras are for their friends and family.
My mobile website features quick access to three pieces of Flash Fiction as well as samples of my books. Of course, there are links to the sites where they can be purchased.
Now, if you'll excuse me, it's time to hit the streets and find some places where people wait so I can leave my card. Please feel free to download and print the PDF document for yourself. If you drop them off at places where you wait, I'll be happy to return the favor when you develop your own mobile website.
I have prayed for the safety of President Obama ever since the day he was nominated despite the fact that I have disagreed with everything he has done or attempted to do. The repercussions of his assassination would tear the nation apart. Fortunately, it seems that the vast majority of his detractors, like me, also limit their attacks to words and ideas.
John Kennedy never engendered the same level of dislike among his opponents. Although they differed ideologically, Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives in those days all wanted the same thing, a strong and safe Republic.
Who then could have wanted President Kennedy dead, even more so than President Obama? Unfortunately, there were many candidates. The mafia was not happy that Kennedy didn't follow through on the invasion of Cuba. They had lost a gold mine when Castro came to power and threw them out of their casinos and hotels in Havana, and the mafia had reason to believe that Kennedy owed them the favor. Castro himself was another likely candidate if for no other reason than to seek revenge for the countless assassinations attempts on his life. There were others.
However, it seems that a lone gunman did the deed, inspired by ideas that were planted in him by America's enemies. No, Oswald didn't just wake up that morning and fire his rifle at the President on an impulse. Someone else incited him. That is why some jurisdictions have begun prosecuting those who utter hate speech.
Professor/Senator Hayakawa famously wrote that "there is no magic in words". He was wrong. There is. People who utter hate speech cast spells on the mentally feeble and impressionable youth, and trouble ensues. Look at the recent outbreak of teenagers playing Knockout, aka Hunting Polar Bears.
For decades, race baiters have grown rich sermonizing about the depredations of slavery even though that institution was ended nearly a century and a half ago and no one who either practiced it or suffered from it remains alive today. Likewise, they daily vilify whites as racial bigots even though the government dominated by whites legislated the end of that practice nearly five decades ago. Certainly, racial bigots still exist, but they no longer have legal sanction to inflict their prejudice on members of any race and are reviled by the majority of whites. Interestingly, these race baiters cling to the politics of the party that fought to retain slaver, who fought against legislative attempts to end racial discrimination, while castigating the party that fought for both. No one outside their confidants, certainly not me, can explain it.
Now the race baiters decry me and others like me who criticize President Obama as racial bigots. They refuse to acknowledge that our disagreements can be based on anything other than racial animus. It seems that they are so heavily invested in the election of the first black President that all reason escapes them. I understand. I cheered for them when they assembled in record numbers on the Mall in Washington, DC to celebrate his inauguration. Although I saw little hope for his success, based on his lack of qualifications and experience, I still hoped for his success just as I hoped for John Kennedy's and every other President regardless of their political affiliation, race, or religion. After all, to do otherwise is to hope for the failure of America.
Click to visit DefendMichael.com
To the thousands of Michael supporters,
A retired Army colonel recently told us that there are three things that will change a person’s soul: war, prison, and the desert. These are all things that Michael has experienced in the past five years. As for the state of Michael’s soul we would say emphatically that it is at peace. In fact that is what Michael told the reviewers at his first Parole Hearing at the US Disciplinary Barracks (USDB) in Leavenworth on October 22nd. Without qualification he has no bitterness or enmity towards anyone for the unimaginable path he has traveled. Instead he continues to read, study, and improve himself as he looks forward to a future beyond prison walls. The USDB Board Michael met with will make a recommendation to the full Army Clemency and Parole Board in Washington DC. Hopefully, we will be scheduled to represent Michael before the full Parole Board some time in December. We will know two weeks after the full Board Hearing as to whether Michael will receive Parole.
The holidays are fast approaching. For most of us that means the hustle and bustle of busy malls, Christmas music, and time with family and friends. But for those like Michael who ‘celebrate’ the holidays behind iron bars there is a dark and heavy cloud of loneliness that is difficult to fathom. Amid the smiles and laughter inside the packed visitation room at Leavenworth there remains an unspoken sadness; the cruel knowledge that when the clock strikes 4pm families will exit out one door into the fresh air of freedom and the inmates will exit out another door that takes them back to an unnatural place, devoid of so much of what we consider human. One door represents life, the other door represents death.
Like life and death, grief and gratitude are blood brothers. One cannot have one without the other. It is almost always the experience of grieving what has been lost that makes us aware of how much we have to be grateful for. So on this coming Thanksgiving day, as our family sits between those two doors in the crowded visitation room at Leavenworth, our hearts will be filled with gratitude for the blessing of sharing time with those we love most on this earth. We will know that our time is short, but it is that very knowledge that will help us appreciate it even more.
Our gratitude extends to all of you who have supported our son and our family on this journey. May you each have a wonderful Thanksgiving that is filled with a grateful heart and time spent with those you love.
Peace be with you all,
Scott & Vicki Behenna
P.S. Please consider sending Michael a card, a letter, or even a money order (for snacks and phone calls) during this upcoming holiday season. We promise you it will make Michael’s day! Michael’s address is:
Michael Behenna 87503
1300 N. Warehouse Road
Ft. Leavenworth, KS 66027-2304
It seems that my friend, Bill Husztek, a self-proclaimed conservative curmudgeon, has discovered the miracle of Obamacare. It has awakened the American press corps from a fifty-year coma...
-- Jack Durish
"For tis the sport to have the engineer Hoist with his own petard" – Hamlet
Reading this morning’s Washington Post Editorial page, I had to rub my eyes and check the heading on the paper. Surely I thought someone was playing a joke upon me because there in bold print were two of the page’s three editorials in total opposition to every thing I know of the current Liberal programs.
First, came "Ethanol takes a Hit – EPA policy change helps right an environmental and economic mistake."
It opened with this,"ONCE TOUTED as a climate friendly renewable alternative to foreign oil, the corn-based liquid ethanol has been exposed as an environmental and economic mistake."
Then,"Lured by federal subsidies, Mid-western farmers have devoted millions of acres to corn that might have otherwise been devoted to soil conservation or feed-grain production. Meanwhile, a `dead zone’ fed by fertilizer runoff spreads at the mouth of the Mississippi and production costs throughout the grain dependent U.S. food industry rise."
I felt all my Conservative corpuscles swell in pleasure with this, "on Friday the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) delivered another policy defeat for ethanol - which is to say, a victory for common sense."
Finally, I feasted on these closing statements: “In the case of ethanol subsidies the benefits do not outweigh the costs." And,"Indeed, the only flaw we can see in the EPA's announcement is that it doesn't go far enough."
The second Editorial Title that caught my attention was this: "Liberalism gone awry".
It was a delicious morning of reading these editorials in the Washington Post of all places. Is it possible that those people down there at that paper aren't in fact socialist wanna bees, but rather really Patriotic Americans with whom I tend to disagree? I shudder to think that, and yet... ? Please don’t let me wake up and find out it was all an April fools joke.
You can read more of Bill's thoughts at Loomings of an Intemperate Mind
Robert sat on the seat in the corner of the fitting room. His wife waited outside. Sweat beaded his forehead as he rested before making another attempt to raise the sweat pants above the middle of his thighs.
A scowl warped his features as his eyes rose towards the locked door.
Robert hooked his fingers around the elastic waistband and stood to relaunch his efforts
“What's taking so long?”
Robert answered with a “harrumph” and gave it one more go.
Minutes passed and the door opened just as his wife called out once more, “Robert?”
Robert strode past his wife without looking at her. “Let's go,” he muttered and headed for the store exit.
“But...” his wife protested trotting behind.
“I told you that I didn't like the color,” he called over his shoulder.
She frowned. “No, you didn't...”
Robert stopped and turned to look at his wife. “Well, I did.”
“No,” she repeated with a finger resting near the corner of her mouth and her eyes attempting to peer into her memory.
“Well, I didn't.”
“You didn't say it.”
“I didn't like the color.”
“There were others.”
“I don't need new sweat pants.”
“But the old ones are torn in the seat.”
“Sew 'em up.”
Later, belted into their seats, Robert turned and wrapped his right arm over the back of the passenger side seat. He could see his wife out of the corner of his eye, pondering what had happened in the store.
“Were they too small?”
“They were labeled 'one-size-fits-all'.”
Robert glanced at his wife and the color rose from the back of his neck until it filled his cheeks. “One size never fits all,” he shot back.
Robert interrupted his wife's thought by backing out quickly into the path of an oncoming car. The driver honked his annoyance and Robert answered with a curse.
“Please be careful.”
“I thought he was signaling that he wanted our parking space.”
“Oh. I guess he didn't.”
Robert glanced at her.
“He's right behind us.”
Robert checked the rear view mirror in time to catch the one-finger salute the other driver waved. Robert answered in kind.
Robert's wife pouted without speaking until they pulled into the driveway at home. She held her silence until they were inside.
“You shouldn't be so sensitive,” she said as he followed her through the front door.
“I'm not sensitive.”
The smile that crossed her lips in response wasn't humorous. “Don't you see the irony?”
“You've been arguing with the rest of the school board to implement Common Core all month,” she began. “It's the same thing.”
“What does that have to do with anything?”
“You want our school district to adopt Common Core.”
“Isn't that a one-size-fits-all system for education?”
“Common Core is the program we have to adopt if we want to receive any federal funding.”
“But, it's a ridiculous idea...”
“Not you, too!” Robert cut her off.
Robert's wife ignored his outburst. “You can't teach all children in any one school the same way. How do they expect teachers to implement the same program for all children in every school in the nation?”
“They're the experts,” Robert demurred. “Who are we to argue with them.”
“We're the parents. Aren't we supposed to know what's best for our children?”
“Of course, we do...” Robert responded without ending his sentence.
“We know what's best for our kids,” Robert answered, “but not every parent does.”
“You're beginning to sound like those experts in Washington.”
“You know what's best for other people's children?”
Robert paused and looked away as though searching for an escape.
“Maybe I... they do.”
“I'll believe that...” she began and opened the refrigerator to retrieve a bottle of spring water.
Robert waited for the challenge while his wife removed the bottle cap and took a drink.
“...when you can get into 'one-size-fits-all sweatpants.”
The old man sat on a park bench slightly apart from the crowd surrounding the veiled statue. He absorbed snatches of conversations that drifted on the warm summer breeze.
“Mommy, what's that?”
“It's a statue, dear.”
Other voices intruded.
“Do you think he'll be here?”
The little girl asked a new question.
“Why's it all covered up?”
A tall man looking around gained the crowd's attention.
“Look, a limo just arrived.”
The old man's head turned in unison with those on the outer fringes who had heard the announcement. They saw a large woman emerge.
“Oh my God! It's his wife.”
“And her new husband.”
“Mommy, who's that?”
“Her name is Michelle.... Michelle something. She was the wife of the man whose statue is going to be unveiled. I can't remember who she's married to now.”
A deeper voice rose to dominate the child's questions.
“What's she doing here?”
“Doesn't she know that this monument mocks his Administration?”
“Mommy, is she somebody important?”
“She was the First Lady then.”
“Should I get her autograph.”
“No, dear. She's not important anymore.”
The crowd reshaped itself like an amoeba crawling under the lens of a microscope and new voices, different ones reached the old man.
“I can't wait to see this.”
A pause. A snicker.
“Doesn't she know?”
“I guess not.”
Another shift, another voice.
“You know that he wasn't responsible for everything.”
“Of course not.”
“Hell, he didn't have the courage to push any agenda. He always went into hiding at the first hint of resistance.”
“A real coward.”
"Some say that."
"What do you say?"
"I don't know. Unprincipled maybe."
“Yes. It was the progressives in Congress that passed the bills. He just signed them.”
“What a mess.”
A new pseudopod extended from the amoeba-like crowd and a new voice joined the conversation.
“I don't get it.”
“Why did they build a monument to him?”
“It's not about him.”
“Although he probably thinks it is.”
“No, it's a celebration.”
“Yes, a celebration of the restoration of the Republic.”
“Progressivism almost killed it.”
The old man smiled at this conversation. He remembered. Hopefully the monument would help others remember, especially those who hadn't lived through it.
The old man's thoughts were interrupted by another stirring of the crowd. Another limo had arrived and everyone looked towards it. A darkly tinted window in the rear door slid down just far enough to expose an observer's eyes, but not far enough to reveal his identity.
“Do you think it's him?”
“Naw, he wouldn't show his face here.”
“But he's at the center of the monument.”
A speaker came to life and complained with a brief burst of feedback. Someone tapped the microphone and announced, “Ladies and gentlemen, we're about to begin.”
The man at the microphone waited until the crowd settled before beginning the introductions. Dignitaries were named and applauded, and a minister was introduced.
The old man stood for the invocation, Pledge of Allegiance, and playing of the national anthem. He smiled as he noted that everyone stood, even those in the reserved seating sections. Too many public ceremonies, he reflected, had occurred in prior years without these shows of respect. Several times he glanced towards the parked limo and the anonymous observer at the rear window.
Speeches were made. The monument was unveiled. The crowd cheered. Everyone felt good. Prosperity had returned to the land and citizens basked in freedom. Only the eyes in the limo reflected remorse.
The old man remained to the end. Michelle hadn't. She left as soon as she heard the reading of the inscription at the base.
The proceedings were suspended until her limo left and a new cheer rose from the crowd.
Workmen arrived to stack the folding chairs and load them onto a flatbed truck. Next they loaded the “Barrycades” that had been used to create a temporary fence around the new memorial. The old man waited until they were finished and gone. Only then did he approach the monument and touch it. In time the surface would weather, but now it felt grainy. He liked the image of men and women at work, children at play, and the symbols of a vibrant nation rising from ashes stirred by a tall, jug-headed man with large ears. He especially liked the feel of each letter of the inscription, the one that had offended Michelle and caused her to flee.
“We the People built this.”
A cool breeze ruffled the surface of the bay, but it failed to stir the Stars 'n Stripes as they were lowered into the waiting hands of the sailors who stood at attention on the fantail of the aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy. A lone bugler played taps as it descended.
Another group of sailors from the Peoples Republic of China stood by holding their own flag, folded in readiness. Their band stood ready to play their national anthem when it was raised.
The ship's name and number had already been replaced. Within hours, it would depart San Francisco as The People's Revolution. It would be accompanied the same task force that had sailed with it since its launching, all similarly re-flagged, renamed, and crewed by Chinese sailors.
Admiral McHenry ignored the Consulate General of Great Britain buzzing in his ear until taps ended and he lowered his salute. “I'm sorry, Counselor,” he said over his shoulder, “you were saying?”
“This is deplorable,” the counselor repeated. “You're delivering weapons into the hands of our enemy.”
The admiral shrugged in response. “They're bought and paid for,” he replied.
“But...” the counselor began, but was interrupted by the marshal music accompanying the raising of the flag of the Peoples Republic of China and the admiral resumed the position of attention without saluting.
Later, they stood side-by-side on the dock watching the great ship taking its position in the task force under the command of the Chinese admiral. A detachment of U.S. Marines held the press at bay. The Japanese and South Korean ambassadors stood slightly ahead of the admiral locked in uncharacteristic sympathy. “Poor devils,” the British diplomat observed. “China now has the tools to project power into the oceans around them.”
The admiral merely nodded as though lost in his own thoughts of foreboding. This was the third aircraft carrier task force sold to the Chinese. Even the Iranians now had one. The world was now at their mercy.
The Chinese Ambassador approached with a smile. “Why look so glum, Admiral?” he asked. “You now have a partner that's capable of sharing the burden of maintaining world peace.”
The British diplomat bit his tongue as he had been trained as the admiral returned the Ambassador's smile. “Yes, we look forward to working with you,” he replied as he had been trained. All three accepted the lie without reaction.
The sales had been sanctioned when the U.S. defaulted on its debt. Many still argued that it hadn't been necessary. Tax revenues were more than adequate to service the debt, principal and interest, but the President had insisted that his health care program was more essential than maintaining a world class fleet. Besides, he had argued, drone technology had negated any advantage that surface ships could provide.
Still, since the armaments had been turned over to the Chinese and Iranians, Europe and the United States had been obliged to accept widening Chinese and Iranian territorial claims. Many nations in Africa and Asia were now submitting to their demands for special trade concessions and the NATO alliance was on its last legs.
All this raced through the admiral's mind as he contemplated the bottle of fine bourbon and the handgun that awaited him in his office at the Pentagon.
We used to get upset with government when pot holes weren't repaired. Guest blogger Bill Husztek sees little things like that as trivialized by government's failures these days.
On March 30, 1981 President Reagan was shot down by John Hinkley, a lust driven nutcase. At that time newspapers noted that the Secret Service and Metropolitan police couldn’t communicate with one another because their radio systems were not compatible. The Congress decided to act on it and sent out federal monies to correct the problem. Since I lived in Hawaii, it made no difference to my safety.
Let’s assume for a moment that I believed that Government, bigger and better has all the answers to my fears and the troubles of our society. Let us further assume that on September 11, 2001, this Nation had an epiphany. We realized that we were in a crisis which only Government could deliver us from.
That date then became our new starting point for a safer society. I could relax. The Government would handle keeping me safe and secure.
From the unique perspective of one of 100 million citizens who, has been through this all before, I would point out to my Liberal, or Progressive friends a simple fact of reality. Make no mistake in this. My personal safety is paramount. Whatever Government wants to do is okay by me as long as I am safe to live my life left alone!
If something is broken and, Government as my Liberal friends assure me is the way to fix all problems, then I say to them. Fix it, leave me alone to live my life in peace. But keep me safe! Then I will abandon my Conservative skepticism and follow you anywhere.
In 2011 on 9-11, the Pentagon was brought to its knees by a jetliner come missile in the hands of three terrorists. Sitting here at this desk that morning I may well have heard the plane as it flew overhead toward the Capital. It is certain, I felt the shock wave of that impact as it rattled the windows of this office.
From that 9-11 attack there came a hew and cry about the Metropolitan Washington land of all the Populist Press asking one question.
After the event. Why didn’t the emergency services respond better?
In 2001, it was discovered that local metropolitan Washington emergency services were ham-strung by the fact that each jurisdiction had communication systems which couldn’t communicate with their neighboring jurisdictions or the Federal Agencies or the Military. The quick and simple solution was for them to come together and establish a common communications system over which they could all work and share for my safety.
My Congress and President flung billions of dollars into bringing My Safety up to a level where I could relax and go about my business without further fear.
As they worked to keep me safe, they found they had to take my shoes off to fly on jetliners. I had to dump my toiletries in airports. They built walls and moats and hired multitudes of people all to keep me safe in my daily life. I could no longer enter any public building except my church without facing a personal search, and a metal detector.
If I set my briefcase or a lunch bag on the public sidewalk in Washington for a minute I could instantly become the center of a blitz of police action. If I were to take pictures of public buildings I became a person of suspicion if the guards didn’t like my look.
With the billions of dollars to spend on improving my safety, local jurisdictions made going to the National Mall for a 4th of July celebration an impossibility for me. No longer could I take my cooler with its assorted foods and drinks, my umbrella and blanket, to any out door venue in the area. My wife’s purse had to become a gallon or less sized transparent baggie. I was now safe from those nefarious evil-doers.
Then last week, while I was fortunately out of town, an un-armed mad woman with her 1-year old child strapped into the back seat drove wildly up and down Washington streets, crashing barriers down at the White House and then the Capital building. Nothing was impervious to her little Japanese built sedan as she wreaked mayhem on the Nation’s Capital. She was finally shot in her back and killed, as she drove away from police by a fusillade of pistol fire! Theoretically those bullets passed close to her co-conspirator 1-year old daughter in the back seat.
How asked the local Populist Press, could this have occurred? After all she was chased down Pennsylvania Avenue from White House to the Capital all the while pursued by a whole herd of Secret Service Government Motors black Suburbans. All with their lights and guns blazing. She evaded them. How? Asked the Press. How I wondered?
Why didn’t n the Secret Service phone ahead to the Metropolitan Police, the Park Police, the Capital Police and all the other Police who thrive in the city of Washington. Why didn’t they get on their state of the art communications, i.e. radios, and warn the others that they were in pursuit of an unarmed mad terroristic mother of a one year old?
The police chief of the D.C. cops coldly informed the Press that her officers were so used to seeing the stately massive SUV Suburban GMC vehicles traveling with their lights flashing at outrageous speeds that they believed they were engaged in business as usual.
When the perky little Populist Press reporter asked, “Why didn’t the Secret Service use their radios to communicate the danger to the Metropolitan police forces? She was answered imperiously.
Our communications systems aren’t compatible. We can’t talk to each other. We will need more money to fix it.
So, to my Liberal friends I pose this question. Do you think that they ever will?
Did Harry Reid have to drive himself to the office? Did Al Qaeda receive their rockets? Were assault rifles sent to the Mexican drug cartels? Would the laws of physics prevail? Would water boil? These are a few of the things that troubled my sleep last night. Well, the government shut down and amazingly the sun still rose in the sky this morning. Looking towards the sky, I saw birds on the wing and all seemed right with the world.
Imagine my surprise when I turned on the television and it worked. Every part of the system from the broadcast studies to my receiver at home via the cable network worked. Even more amazingly, there were no reports of mass hysteria and riots. Then, after firing up my computer, I discovered that the Internet was working and I was able to post this message of joy.
Of course, as soon as I checked my email, there was a message from the White House. “The government was shut down.” I was beginning to doubt it since the world hadn't yet spun off its axis. Furthermore, the White House staff proclaimed, “It's the fault of the Republicans.” Now I knew. All was right in the world.
My wife was concerned about our Social Security checks. Those comprise a significant portion of our monthly income. Joyfully she announced that benefits would be paid despite the government shutdown. Also, the Post Office would still be in operation to deliver them. How? Aren't they operating at a loss? How can they continue without the government borrowing more money to keep their doors open and the mail trucks rolling?
So, what does it mean that the government is shut down? I guess we'll have to wait and see. It better be something really bad or people may discover that they're just as happy without it.
A sparrow fluttered along the subway concourse. A cricket skittered along the juncture of the tiled wall and floor. One pixel in a mural-sized advertising display flickered. Motes of dust shifted in the vagaries of air currents stirred by a thousand passing feet, and Muhammad saw every detail.
He was alive only by virtue of the fact that the subway car that had fallen from the tracks and now pinned him against the platform was keeping his guts from slipping out. The paramedic assured him with compassion that he would die as soon as the emergency workers jacked the car back onto the tracks. Nothing could be done for him.
The jacks were in position but the operators delayed. They were hoping to raise Muhammad's wife on the phone so that he could speak to her one last time, but she appeared to be lost somewhere between cell towers, and he heard only her request that he leave a message.
Two men held Muhammad's hands. They had been holding them ever since he became trapped. Muhammad had refused to let go even when the paramedics arrived. “No,” he insisted and gripped even more tightly while one of the paramedics had crawled under the edge of the platform.
The death sentence was confirmed when the paramedic returned to the platform and took his partner aside. After consulting with doctors via radio, their glance towards Muhammad told the story and they walked back to deliver it.
Again, they asked Muhammad to release his two accidental companions and again he refused. They nodded their assent and listened with Muhammad as the situation was explained.
Both men used their cell phones with their free hands to make the call to Muhammad's wife. Both left their numbers and explained that it was an emergency involving her husband. Both failed.
The firemen loitered, pacing without looking at Muhammad. The jacks were set. The air compressors that would fill them and release Muhammad from the subway car's life-grip sat silently on the platform. Commuters passed with furtive glances, enthralled by the life and death tableau and repulsed by it, and Muhammad was aware of every detail.
Slowly, everyone reached the same realization that they would have to allow Muhammad to die without speaking to his wife. The needs of the citizens of the modern metropolis could not be deferred by the needs of just one for very long. Muhammad interrupted the paramedic, “I know,” he said. “Give me just a minute more.”
The paramedic nodded and backed away leaving Muhammad in the hands of the two commuters who had the misfortune of witnessing the tragedy.
“Tell me about yourselves,” Muhammad asked.
“Why?” asked the man on his right wearing a yarmulke.
“I have a message that must be delivered to my wife.”
“Here,” the man on the left offered, pulling out his phone. “I'll dial her and you can leave a message if she still doesn't answer.”
“No,” Muhammad replied turning away from the cell phone. “It must be delivered in person.”
Both men glanced at each other and paused. It seemed that a conversation flashed between pleading eyes as Muhammad waited.
“I'll do it,” both responded in unison.
Muhammad smiled. “Thank you,” he responded, “but I can only trust this message to one.”
Both men waited with the same question in their eyes.
“I have an account that I've kept secret from my wife,” Muhammad explained. “I need you to take her the information. The bank, the account, and the password.”
“I have paper and pen in my pocket,” the man on the right, the Jew said, as he reached with his free hand.
“No,” Muhammad responded. “I don't think I can let go to write.” Seeing the confusion in their faces, Muhammad added, “I'm afraid I'll die as soon as I let go of you both. No, I must choose the man I can trust. I'll let go of only the other and he must walk away.”
The Jew began to release Muhammad's hand saying, “I understand.”
Muhammad gripped his hand more tightly. “No, please stay,” he said, and released the other man's hand.
The other man looked at his hand and then at Muhammad. “Why?” he asked. “Aren't you enemies.”
Muhammad shrugged. “Maybe, but he is a man of belief and he can be trusted.”
The man sat back on his heels and looked offended. “I can be trusted,” he protested.
Muhammad smiled. “I didn't say that I couldn't trust you. However, I don't know what you believe. You may believe in something but I don't see any sign of it. This man,” he said nodding toward the Jew, “wears his belief for all to see, and I can't trust a nonbeliever as much as I can trust a believer even if his beliefs are different from my own.”
Muhammad delivered his message to the Jew after the other man walked away and repeated it until he was satisfied that he had memorized it correctly. Moments later, he released the Jew's hand and the jacks began filling with air...