Saturday, August 27, 2005


AHMED VOWED EARLY in his life, before he'd taken a wife and had a son, there was one thing he must to do to fulfill the will of Allah, to prove his dedication to Islam. One word said it best: Jihad!

His wife knew what he must do, but she wished it was not true. She feared the day he'd kiss her and their son good-bye and he would die, a belt of exploded dynamite strapped to his chest. When that day came, she would pray, "Please God. No more Jihad."

Ahmed was not a stupid man. He was well schooled in Western ways. He knew about the U. S. A., its praise for Israel, its hatred of Islam. He said in English, which he once spurned, then realized he must learn, "I don't give a damn what Americans say. I'm a soldier of Islam."

Sheba prayed to the Western God who loved both the Arab and the Jew, "Bring my husband back to me." Ahmed knew his wife's loyalty was true even though he heard her pray aloud one night when she thought him fast asleep, On the will of Allah they disagreed. He forgave her for he knew her devotion to him was greater than for the creator of their ancestry.

TONIGHT AHMED WAS in the land his people hated but he could understand. They loved their family just as he and sought to be free of religious hypocrisy. Americans would not die for such a cause. They said, "We have laws. We will change if things get out of hand."

He thought of Sheba and their son and tried to blot this from his memory. He prayed: "Allah, understand my doubt. Help me out." But Allah did not reply.

AHMED LAY AWAKE till morning light. Got up, got dressed, checked his belt and strapped it tight beneath his garment and went to Yankee Stadium. He took his seat behind first base and waited patiently. It was the last inning, last game of the series. The visitors were winning by one run. Soon it would be done. Yanks at bat. One out. A single, Then out two. The Yankee slugger came up to the plate. Strike one! Strike two! Ahmed knew what he must do. When the crowd stood up to cheer or rushed to go he would press the button and cry: "Yankee Die! Jihad! Jihad!" and send the infidels to their God.

The crowd grew tense. Ahmed sensed his time had come. With a crack of the bat it did. The crowd roared. The ball soared. Headed high above the center field wall. It would all over now. A homer to live in baseball history.
Suddenly, a bird passed by. The ball and bird met in the sky. The ball fell. It landed on the border between foul and fair territory. But not to worry. It's a homer, absolutely. Umpires all agree. Yanks two. Visitors one. The Yankees won. But the opposition cried Foul! They said: "We protest. We'll test the ruling in the courts."

AMID THE FURORE OF the crowd, Ahmed cried out loud. "Yankee die! Jihad! Jihad!" He pushed the button, heard a click, nothing more. His cry could not be heard above the roar. Yet, one man heard Ahmed. "You said, 'Yankee drop dead'? He swung, struck Ahmed who fell and hit his head. "Is he dead?" someone said. "Drunk or on some kind of junk. Who cares! We won!"

Ahmed groggily awoke. His head was spinning. "Just one more inning?" he cried. He pressed the button. Click! Someone tore open his shirt and saw the belt and dynamite, cried out in fright, then called the cops. Ahmed feared he would be caught. He ripped off the belt and shoved it beneath his seat. And Ahmed fled.

THE HOMERUN dispute went to court. What would it be? A hit. a foul? It must be ruled legally. "Our decision is based on a Section Two of a ruling in 1892, blah, blah., blah, the court droned on..." What did it say? In short, the court found in favor of neither team. That play must be replayed.

The date was set. That momentous moment came. The two sides took the field just as they were when the outcome was appealed. Both teams steeled for the pitch. A crack of the bat Again the ball seemed headed over the wall. It soared high above the crowd. Both sides held their breath. This was a matter of life and death.

The outfielder saw the ball in flight, kept it in sight. It was high enough to clear the wall. He leaped, his gloved-hand reached beyond belief. There was a thud. He caught the ball. A shudder spread throughout the crowd. It was the most sensational catch there ever was. A silent pause. Then pandemonium and mad applause.

Who made the pitch? Who hit the ball? Who made the catch? It's no mystery. You won't find it in history. Because this tale is pure fantasy.

LEGEND IS AHMED defected to the West, confessed. Charges were dropped as courts are prone to do. But this much may be true. Ahmed became an American. And a rabid Yankee fan.


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