This is Part II of a novella called “The Dewey Connection” that’s divided into six parts. (Part I listed as “Fiction – 2933 Words”)
Part I introduced Dr. Lawrence Benson & his Alzheimer research; as well as Safia, her brother Abd-al-hakim and Abia Safia’s friend – all members of the Dearborn Muslim community. How is Homeland Security a part of the story?
1725 HOURS WEDNESDAY APRIL 27, 201 1
A look of consternation came upon her face as her brown eyes focused intently on her notebook and she tapped her pencil but to no avail. Safia knew that she ought to know the poet’s name who wrote about good fences and good neighbors, but it just wasn’t coming to her. “Safia…just google it!” pleaded Abia. Raising her head up looking at her best friend and in a slightly exasperated voice, “You know I can’t do that! … Don’t you have some English Lit questions you’re supposed to be working on?” “Done!” As she looked at some pictures on her cell phone she said, “Oh, here’s one. It’s a picture of you in that cute outfit you were trying on in the mall the other day.” Safia looked at the picture and smiled. She was about to make a comment about the outfit, when Abd-al-hakim and Ahamad entered the kitchen where the girls were studying. They’re engaged in a very animated conversation. Safia’s brother was saying, “But there is no contradiction of ‘religious freedom’ and carrying out Sharia. The Inman says that the true understanding of ‘religious freedom’ means free of unbelievers in Sharia.” “So, you would have Islamic law enforced to the full?” asked Ahamad. “Yes!” “Even all the laws on women?” As Abd-al-hakim was about to respond, they both became aware of the girls and interrupted their conversation. Ahamad self-consciously said, “Hi, Safia and …Abia, isn’t it?” Abia replied with a smile, “Yes. Hi, Ahamad.” The guys made a hasty exit and Abia smiled at Safia and her eyes said, “Well?” Then Abia reached out and touched Safia’s hand as she said, “What was all that about Islamic law and women?” Safia just shrugged her shoulders.
1743 HOURS WedneSDAY may 4, 201 1
“Please! Please, let’s give Mr. Walid a chance to state his concerns. Mr. Walid?” Dawud Walid, head of the Michigan branch of the Council of American-Islamic Relations stepped up to the microphone positioned in the middle aisle of the auditorium, “Since the death of Osama bin Laden there's a concern that the fear of retaliation could lead to increased profiling.” “Thank you for expressing a concern I know is common among many of you.” Margo Schlanger, national head of the office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties in the Department of Homeland Security responded. Her tasks at this meeting which had been scheduled as a Building Respect in Diverse Groups to Enhance Sensitivity program was to assure the Muslim community of Dearborn Heights and equally throughout the country that they would not be profiled in the aftermath of Osama bin Laden's death. She added, “The federal terror alert is at the same level now as it was before bin Laden's death.” As the meeting concluded, Abd-al-hakim and Ahamad overheardImad Hamad, who co-founded BRIDGES as regional director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee say, “We're on the same page when it comes to safety and security." As they left the meeting Ahamad said to Abd-al-hakim, “What do you think? Are we on the same page with the feds? What do you think about a guy like Imad Hamad?” “I don’t think this is the place to discuss it.” He curtly replied. “I’ll see you tomorrow.” They left going their separate ways.
0333 HOURS ThurSDAY may 5, 201 1
As John Morris rode the elevator up to the Intensive Care Unit he mentally reviewed the facts of the incident that had brought him here to Oakwood’s Midwest Medical Center, in Dearborn’s Town Center. He had flown in as soon as he could arrange a flight from DC. What he knew so far was a deep cover agent using the name Ahamad ibn Karim had been shot leaving a meeting of a group to build respect in diverse communities. This particular meeting featured Margo Schlanger of Homeland Security’s Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Department. He was in critical condition. Morris was to be met by Omar Washington of the Detroit FBI field office. The elevator bell announced the arrival at the chosen floor and brought him back to the moment. The doors had open and he saw a sign with an arrow indicating that the ICU was to the left. As he walked down the hall towards the nurse’s station he saw a man there, obviously an FBI agent. He also took note of a uniform policeman standing by a door to a patient’s room.
As the agent approached he extended his hand and asked, “John Morris?” John nodded affirmatively. “I’m Omar Washington out of the Detroit office.” “OK, where do we stand?” John asked in a voice that says let’s get down to business! Omar retrieved his PDA from his pocket and tapped the screen several times to get where he wanted to be and started reciting “Last evening about 11:00 pm Ahamad was leaving a meeting attended by Margo Schlanger of your department to discuss the Muslim community’s concerns about profiling. He apparently walked away from the meeting by himself and as he was walking along by the street a dark colored van pulled up along side of him, shot three times and then sped away. The Dearborn police are considering it a random drive-by shooting.” “But we believe he had information on a creditable imminent threat“ interjected John. “What information has gone out to the news media?” Omar confirmed from his ePad “That he was shot in a random drive-by shooting and is in critical condition.” “Good! Now leak to the news media that he has died.” Then nodded towards the policeman standing guard on Ahamad’s door, John continued directing, “Pull the policeman off the door and get one of our agents into scrubs and have him work in the area to keep an eye on the room.” After a pause he continued, “Why was the policeman put there in the first place?” “When the chief of the police found out the FBI had interest in the incident, he thought it prudent to put the guard there.” “Hmm, … I guess we better bring the Chief into the loop, but impress upon him that this is a tight-lip situation and only he needs to know. Let them bury it as a routine drive-by shooting. We want those involved to think they have succeeded in removing the threat. Now, let’s go and check up on Ahamad.”
0643 HOURS ThurSDAY may 5, 2011
Safia was just getting a piece of samoon bread to go with her Bastrama wa Beuddbefore getting dressed for school when her cell phone rang. Putting the bread back down she answered the phone. It was Abia. In a very agitated voice she told Safia to turn on the local news. Safia picked up the TV remote turned on a small set kept in the kitchen. The coverage of a shooting had just concluded an interview with the police and the field reporter wrapped up the report, “So, last evening a young man that they have identified as Ahamad ibn Karim was shot twice by an apparent drive-by shooting. The doctors at Oakwood’s Midwest Medical Center were unable to revive him and he was pronounced dead. Back to you in the studios.” “Safia… isn’t that the cute guy we’ve seen with your brother?” As Safia was about to respond she heard Hakima in a hushed but very excited voice in the other room, “Abia, I’ve got to go. I’ll see you at school.” Safia hung up and picked up her piece of samoon bread and went to the door to the other room and struck a casual pose. She overheard him saying on his cell phone, “All I said was he seemed to be asking a lot of questions …I know but…” he became aware of Safia. Gave her a threatening look as he left the room.
0646 HOURS ThurSDAY may 5, 2011
John and Omar had seen Ahamad and spoken to the attending doctor and had made their way to a small cafeteria on the same floor as the ICU. John was on his third cup of coffee, black, since he had arrived at the hospital. John, set his coffee down, leaned forward to Omar and said, “So he was hit by two of the three shots. One shot hit him in the right shoulder and is not critical. But the second shot entered the left side of his head at the cheekbone and exited after passing through a portion of his brain.” He paused for another sip of coffee and then continued, “The doctors have him in an induced coma while the swelling in the brain is reduced.” He had another sip. “Ok, what do we have on Ahamad’s work so far?” Omar retrieved his PDA, “According to his handler Ahamad felt he was very close to having enough info to proceed with counter actions, but he needed to verify a couple of more things. He was to meet with his handler later that day.” “Do we have any leads… any names?” “The handler has a couple of names that Ahamad has given him, but Ahamad could not tell yet if and what their involvement might be.” John gulped down the remaining coffee in the cup and to emphasize the need for action slammed it down on the table. “OK! I’ve work for you to do Omar. First, I want follow-up on the names we have and any other intel the handler may have. Go through the Chief and get Dearborn’s best Muslim affairs man. Do it from outside the police offices. I want to keep a tight lid on this. Second, as soon as Ahamad is able to be transported, I want him taken out of here in a body bag and transported in a Corner’s van to the airport. We need to get him to a secure medical facility in Virginia. We may have to lean on the doctors a little. If indeed, this is a critical and imminent threat time is of the essence. The attention on this threat goes all the way to the top. So, we’ll get whatever we need.”
1006 HOURS ThurSDAY may 5, 201 1
Dr. Benson studied the elderly man who sat before him. His head bowed and eyes closed. He appeared to be sleeping. Lawrence looked back at some documents he was holding. It was information on the man. His name was Henry Schyler, age eighty-three and was in an advanced stage of Alzheimer. His attention was drawn back to the man because he had raised his head and opened his eyes. However, he had that familiar vacant stare out the window. Lawrence looked back to the documents, found a list of subjects that would not only be familiar to the patient but also hold a feeling of fondness. Henry’s wife and daughter had provided the list of subjects. Lawrence looked down the list and focused his attention on a subject on which he had made some notes. They had made some progress on this subject in getting Henry to remember the event and life had come back into his eyes if only for a moment. After having gotten this initial breakthrough with Henry, they had asked his wife and daughter to give them more information on the subject so that they could start attempting to take Henry down that memory path to related but different subjects. Lawrence found the additional page that Henry’s daughter had just provided them. He looked back to Henry, who had returned to his bowed head and eyes closed position, Lawrence said, “Henry? … Henry, remember Playful your beloved dog?” Henry’s head raised and a smile came to his face and light returned to his eyes. “Playful, oh yes. He was a good friend. He was always there for me.” Lawrence kept the conversation going, “Remember how he would always be at the door when you came home from work?” “Yes, even if I had had a hard day, Playful would always bring a smile to my face.” Lawrence attemptd to branch to a new related subject. “Remember, one time when he brought a dead rat that he had caught and proudly placed it at your feet?” Henry laughed softly and said, “He was so proud of his conquest. He was such a hunter! … I’m feeling a little tired now.” Henry’s head went down and his eyes closed. Lawrence looked over to Jan at the console as she raised her eyes and gave him a “thumbs up!”
1643 HOURS ThurSDAY may 5, 201 1
Safia and Abia were at the door to Safia’s home having just returned from School. Abd-al-hakim approached them with his head slightly down deep in a disturbed internal struggle. Abia interrupted his thoughts asking, “Hakima, what happened with Ahamad?” Startled, he looked at them and a look of anger came upon his face. “How should I know!” He pushed by them going into the house. Abia and Safia looked at each other and said without speaking, “What was that all about?” Safia slowly collapsed to the steps and hugged her school books. Abia looked at her and then joined her on the steps. “What is it, Safia?” She looked at Abia through a gaze of distress. After a moment she looked back down and hugged her books almost in a fetal position. After a moment in a soft, barely audible voice, “I’m worried about my brother.” Abia attempted to comfort her said, “That was just probably his way of handling grief.” “No,… there was a sense of guilt in his reaction. I know Hakima.” They looked at each other and then both looked down and were lost in thought.
0912 HOURS SATURDAY may 7, 2011
John showed his identification to Security as he entered the secured medical facility deep in the woods of Virginia. Omar had already arrived and was waiting for him in Dr. Schoenfeld’s office. Dr. Schoenfeld was the trauma specialist in charge of Ahamad’s care. Omar had traveled in the Coroner’s van dressed as an assistant to the Examiner. Once at the airport and after seeing that Ahamad had been securely boarded on the department’s jet, he changed back to his agent attire. The trip to the secured medical facility had been uneventful and Ahamad had been accommodated in the ICU and stabilized. John found Dr. Schoenfeld’s office and stuck his head in Omar jumped up from his seat and introduced him to the doctor. Introductions and handshakes having been taken care of, John sat across the desk from the doctor and got to business, “Ok, bring me up to speed.” “We’re quite satisfied with the patient’s progress since he arrived” began ,Dr. Schoenfeld. “Yesterday afternoon we felt the swelling in the brain had been reduced sufficiently to start a slow reduction of the coma inducing medication. As of this morning we stopped completely the medication.” John waited a moment for more info which didn’t come as quickly as he wanted, “And …” but nothing followed. “Doctor, what is his status now?” Having sensed John’s impatient he said, “He’s still unconscious … we can’t force him to regain consciousness.” “I understand that doctor, but I don’t think you fully understand the situation here. Ahamad, the patient, has valuable information locked up in that unconscious brain that we need to avert a major terrorist act that we feel is very imminent. We don’t have the luxury of time!” Dr. Schoenfeld stuttered, “Yes….yes, of course. I’ll go check on him right now.” “That would be a good idea. Perhaps you might want to keep close observation of him. Like ‘bedside’ close.” John called firmly to the fleeing doctor.” Omar nervously looked up at John. John looked back at Omar with the intensity he had spoken to Dr. Schoefeld. Then after a moment, a smile came on his face and he grabbed Omar by the elbow and said, “Come on, let’s go find some coffee, I’ve got work for you to do.”
1009 HOURS SATURDAY may 7, 2011
As John was just finishing his fourth cup of coffee for the morning, Dr. Schoenfeld rushed into the cafeteria. “Mr. Morris, sir! The patient, …Ahamad, has regained consciousness.” John and Omar jumped up immediately and rushed out of the cafeteria racing Dr. Schoenfeld down the hall. After too much time John felt, they arrived at Ahamad’s room. John had won the race and was the first to enter into the room. What he saw was definitely disturbing. Ahamad was conscious but still under lingering effects of the sedation. But even more he seemed very disoriented. John moved calmly to Ahamad’s bed side and asked, “How are you feeling, Ahamad?” A look of confusion came to his face and after a moment Ahamad seemed to attempt to say something but was unable to utter a word. John kept it calm, “Ahamad, that’s your name.” Ahamad again attempted to speak but was not able. He looked away in frustration. John threw an intimidating look at Dr. Schoenfeld, who timidly responded, “I was about to tell you he doesn’t seem to have any recollection … not even who he is.” Hesitantly Dr. Schoenfeld added, “Also he has apparently lost his ability to speak.”