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Doubt has four divisions: disputation, distrust, vacillation, and surrender.

~Imam Ali

        I am Harb.  My name means “War” but I am nothing.  I am twenty years old and I am nothing.  My city Kabul is over 3,500 years old but I am nothing.  Can you understand me?  My path has ended.  My family has suffered beneath American bombs.  I no longer stand up for a funeral procession.  The Holy Prophet only stood up once and this was when the bier of a Jew was being carried and the place was narrow, so the Prophet stood up because he disliked that the bier should pass over his head.

        I have nothing, I am nothing.  I am not desirable to girls.  My knowledge is of no value.  My commander told me I suffer a plague of knowledge.  I am nothing.  He showed me that it is Allah who has led me through my illusions to His purpose.  I have asked my commander for a suicide mission.  I am ready to die now.


        Three Marines, Corporal Wesley Ferguson, Corporal Gustavo Acosta, and Lance Corporal Devante Hart are stationed in the barricade corridor at the entry control point of the Wazir Akbar Khan diplomatic district of Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan.  They are protecting the one entrance to the Thanksgiving Day reception for Marines and Afghan police and the officials of several nations.

Corporal Gustavo Acosta says, “That was really good food, hey, guys?”

Lance Corporal Devante Hart says, “I didn’t eat.”

Corporal Wesley Ferguson says, “What?  It’s Thanksgiving, man.  When are you going to eat like that again?”

Lance Corporal Devante Hart scoffs, “I don’t have anything to be fucking thankful for.  Fuck Pilgrims.”

Corporal Gustavo Acosta says, “Oh, come on, man.  What the fuck?”

Corporal Wesley Ferguson says, “It’s about giving thanks to God, not just eating.  And what is wrong with Pilgrims?”

Lance Corporal Devante Hart says, “Who cares about those old white motherfuckers.  My mother gives enough thanks to God for both of us.”

Corporal Gustavo Acosta asks, “What happened to you, man?”

Corporal Wesley Ferguson asks, “Yeah, Devante, don’t you believe in God?  And the Pilgrims were as tough as soldiers to survive that first winter.”

Lance Corporal Devante Hart says, “Well, God is white so why wouldn’t they survive?”

Corporal Wesley Ferguson asks, “What the fuck is that supposed to mean?”

Corporal Gustavo Acosta intercedes, saying, “Devante, what happened, man?”

Lance Corporal Devante Hart looks at Corporal Wesley Ferguson and says calmly, “My little sister was killed by a crazy white kid who shot up her Christian school lunchroom.  Why do you fuckers always go crazy?”

Corporal Wesley Ferguson bristles and says without consideration, “Maybe because trying to please you people never ends.  You won’t be happy until there are no more white people.”

Lance Corporal Devante Hart laughs, “From your lips to God’s ear.”

Corporal Wesley Ferguson says, “Hey, man, I don’t have any slaves!”

Lance Corporal Devante Hart sneers, “Yeah?  What about Mexicans?”

Corporal Wesley Ferguson retorts, “Fuck you.  When all the whites are gone just see how much the Mexicans, and the Indians, and the Chinese care about blacks.  They don’t have ‘white-guilt’, believe me.  They don’t care about blacks.”

Lance Corporal Devante Hart scoffs, “Thanks for caring.”

Corporal Gustavo Acosta says, “Shit, come on, guys.  The security camera…” and he points to the security camera affixed to the building adjacent to their position.

Lance Corporal Devante Hall waves at the camera and says, “It doesn’t record sound.  For all it knows we’re arguing about the price of your sister.”

Corporal Gustavo Acosta growls, “You fucker.  And you say you lost your sister.  What is wrong with you?  And no Mexican is a slave to fucking whites anymore.  The President gave amnesty.”

Corporal Wesley Ferguson grumbles, “Yeah, I guess it’s OK to break and enter as long as you clean the toilet…”

Corporal Gustavo Acosta shudders with anger.

Corporal Wesley Ferguson finishes, “…and I guess if you squat in the house long enough the owner has to adopt you.”

Corporal Gustavo Acosta points at Corporal Wesley Ferguson accusingly, “You took land from Mexico!”

Corporal Wesley Ferguson says, “Yeah?  So it’s about reconquista, not immigration, isn’t it?  Besides, every fucking nation on God’s Green Earth took their land from native people!  Even Mexico!”

Lance Corporal Devante Hart laughs, “Even Pilgrims!  Praise God!”

The three bickering Marines are suddenly alerted back to their duty by noticing a man and a woman talking and gesturing to an Afghan policeman beyond the barricade.  The policeman motions for the man and woman to be calm and then he approaches the three Marines who now stand vigilant.

The Afghan policeman says, “That man and woman say that their son has joined terrorists and they are afraid he will be made a suicide bomber.  They have given me this photograph.”

Lance Corporal Devante Hall looks at the photograph of a young man appearing the same as hundreds of other young Afghanis and he replies, “Yeah, well, tell them we’ll let them know if we see him,” and then he smiles and glances down the sights of his automatic rifle at the photograph.

The Afghan policeman looks perplexed and adds, “They say his name is Harb.”

Lance Corporal Devante Hall says, “We’ll be sure to ask him if his name is ‘Harb’ before we shoot.

Corporal Wesley Ferguson says, “Maybe we should keep the photograph for intelligence.”

Lance Corporal Devante Hall smiles and holds the photograph up toward the security camera and says, “There.  Now here’s your photo back.”

The Afghan policeman narrows his eyes at the three Marines and glances up at the security camera and then he shrugs and walks back to the man and the woman and returns to them their photograph.  The man puts his arms around the woman and the father and mother leave holding the photograph of their son between them.


        The big truck rounds the corner of the security corridor like a charging rhinoceros roaring and pounding dust.

The three Marines present their weapons, take quick aim, and open fire.

The Afghan police run past the three Marines.

The big truck is gaining speed as its windshield explodes under the torrent of bullets.

The three Marines are leaning forward, their feet firm beneath their shoulders.

The big truck ceases to accelerate and it rolls and shudders right up in front of the unwavering Marine trio.

Lance Corporal Devante Hart dashes to the driver’s side and yanks the door and fires a fast burst into the cab.

Corporal Wesley Ferguson yanks open the passenger-side door and thrusts his weapon into the cab.

Corporal Gustavo Acosta clambers onto the hood of the big truck and aims his weapon into the blasted windshield.

The driver is slumped toward the passenger seat covered in broken glass and bloody gashes.

Corporal Gustavo Acosta hollers, “Fuck.  He has a detonator taped to his palm!”

Corporal Wesley Ferguson shouts, “His thumb is shot off.  Thank God!”

Lance Corporal Devante Hart says, “We should be dead.  Hey!  You know who the fuck I think this guy is…?”


I am nothing but the will of Allah.  It is so beautiful.  My hand is the hand of Allah.  The blood of Allah flows where my thumb was.  It is so beautiful.  The blood of Allah flows into my palm.  The blood of Allah enters the detonator.


The big truck vaporizes in the stupendous explosion.

Corporal Gustavo Acosta, Corporal Wesley Ferguson, and Lance Corporal Devante Hart surrender into light.

The truck engine is flung into the building hosting the Thanksgiving Day gathering of Marines, Afghan police, and officials of several nations and there it smashes the Thanksgiving buffet tables, injuring many.

The blast causes the father and the mother to drop their picture of Harb, their son, into the dust beneath their feet.

The security camera that witnessed it all now dangles; the eye of God plucked out.

Dislike in yourself what you dislike in others.

~Imam Ali


Inspired by a true story


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