“When I move, you move- Just like that…”
It was a cold and snowy morning in December, location Downtown Detroit. The light snow was covering the ice, setting many dangerous traps for the illegal immigrants. I stood outside a Government building, next to an aged man, awaiting entry. I blew the warmth from my body as if nicotine smoke, because the staff was opening late.
The procrastinating city caused us both to feel violated. I expected a punctual staff to greet me, just as rapidly as my taxes are withdrawn. I stood in the cold, attempting to decode the confusing language on a form sent from an automated intercessor. I soon found out many others were there for the same reasons.
The police provided a heavy presence, so I was uncomfortable wearing a black hooded coat. The man next to me was wearing a red overcoat, which I didn’t think was appropriate coloring in this gang territory. Gang graffiti spray painted on the wall nearby, threatened repercussions. Yet, I assumed any gun toting operatives wouldn’t think the senior citizen was a rival.
I noticed that the man had similar attributes to my father. His winter hat encompassed friendly features, which caused the encounter to seem surreal. I sighed then huffed, feeling neglected again by the Mayor and City Council. Our body language affirmed that we were in the same boat. Thus, we turned down our noses, unbaled our faces and greeted each other. I soon discovered that the man was from the Middle East, Jordan. Ahmed warmed himself up by telling me how it was to live near the desert. He also told me about having seen a beautiful mirage.
We shared a laugh, but hesitated. We were venturing off the grid, unto our first minds. This kind of peaceful behavior seemed forbidden. However, I made sure that he knew I was a working man, not a criminal. He likewise smirked, informing that he didn’t have any terrorist affiliation. So, we talked between the freezing winds, as we awaited entry.
“The thoughts of misplacement quickly caused me to look within. I wasn’t trying to relate the African Americans struggle. However, the result is the same- a lifeless body due to violence. “
The conversation soon froze upon the embassy in Jerusalem. “More violence around Gaza and Lebanon,” Ahmed yelled, removing his gloves. “Rockets will be shot at Israel!” Rapidly, we became warm discussing how many angry people there are worldwide. “Many Countries have warned, and revoked the move of the embassy,” I griped.
We discussed in detail how the U.S President should let them negotiate peace, in their own way. We recognized how the U.S. allies, articulated disparagement toward an affront to the already-frozen U.S.-led Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Yet, the U.S is threatening to cut-off aid to certain countries. Outrageously announcing to cut 290 million of funding to the U.N.
I felt compelled to ask Ahmed, “Do you think those angry about the move will perform more terrorist attacks in America?”
“No,” he replied, replacing his gloves. “…there will certainly be more Rockets and unrest in the Middle East.”
Subconsciously, I thought about the Embassy move being delayed by prior Presidents. Trump was only doing as he promised during his campaign. I started to highlight how all U.S Embassies are in other Capitol cities. America hasn’t determined whether it’ll be moved to West or East Jerusalem. I Pondered the proposed railway station to be built near the Western Wall and named after Trump. Ironically, it is one of the holiest places for Jews to pray. Yet, I remained silent. I knew that the only real issues are foretold unrest and bloodshed.
Ahmed looked for the line to move, while hugging himself. He turned toward me saying, “Er-the important thing is that now all Muslims, Christians and Jews have a place to worship. Soon, it will become a place of only one religion!”
We paused for a minute, looking to see if the building was open- It wasn’t.
Consequently, the conversation continued. The cold winds shivered us quickly to the issue of how the crisis is only a way for the bankers and others to make money. Repeatedly, our winter hats nodded in unison. I felt as if I’d known Ahmed for years. It was a solemn moment, experiencing a fellow human wanting the best for others.
We were both disgusted that such violence and hate manifest, when it comes to worshiping God. We acknowledged that there is always a culprit, slithering as a Cobra snake. The Corporate greed which camouflages its clothes, deterring the focus from God. Throughout history there are a heartless few, who pride themselves on the ability to drive a violent, money-making deception.
Though I had never met Ahmed before, I assumed that he had experienced a lot of pain. Whether it being troubles of the Middle East or trauma in America. I could hear weariness in his voice. Sounds of sufferings from the same vicious narrative.
I realized Ahmed’s situation involved the Holy land and many other important factors. The thoughts of misplacement quickly caused me to look within. I wasn’t trying to relate the African Americans struggle. However, the result is the same- a lifeless body due to violence. All the while, far away from the danger is a manipulative profiteer.
I saw Ahmed look up at the sun which provided some warmth. The heavenly body was punctual in granting nature and humans a dependable source of energy. I was grateful. I felt compelled to tell Ahmed my feelings about crime in the black community, which is also in a state of emergency. Ahmed uttered a few words of encouragement. Rare silence then ensued.
Ahmed and I again looked at each other, as if relaying a strong message that we are not victims, but God’s chosen. “The brown people are killing each other because of a lack of empathy and greed,” Ahmed whispered. I looked up beyond the sun, envisioning what a thriving community would look like. I was motivated to the reality of cities such as Black Wall Street.
Suddenly, I could see the long line inching forward in the distance. I prepared for the warmth of the building. Ahmed continued looking at me, as if happy to meet a young man who is aware. It seemed as if he witnessed promise in me. The last of a dying breed. A brown man not willing to give in to the mindset destroying the community.
I turned fully towards him, as if preparing to hear the departing wisdom of my father. However, Ahmed didn’t say a word. In silence his piercing eyes spoke volumes of the many times he could’ve joined with the oppressors. He quickly turned away. Then he inched towards the doors, humbly motioning for me to enter first- displaying patience.
While being searched by security, we acknowledged other, but did not speak. After a few questions, Ahmed was cleared to proceed. I extended my arm to give him a fist pump, but he opened to properly shake hands.
As the mysterious man vanished into the hallways, I thought of the firm handshake. I envisioned the many world leaders similarly shaking hands, to prevent those in Palestine and Israel from causing blood shed. I pictured a diplomat capable of protecting the future. I fancied the UN signing and shaking hands in negotiations, creating an atmosphere that displays fairness.
My concern soon shifted locally, towards the Governor and the city servicemen. I imagined a City Council of thoughtful enforcers. Men and women void of prideful egos, but concerned with city growth. I foresee their meetings ending with firm handshakes, instead of fist bumps, and under the table contracts.
I could feel myself being enraptured in the utopia of truth. Still there was a reality block needing attention. ‘There will never be peace, until justice is served.’ I lowered my head humbly in reverence to the thought. I took a seat in a quiet hallway. I used my phone to look up some statistics. First researching the Middle East death totals. Sadly, “13,000 Israelis and Palestinians were killed in conflict with each other between 1948 and 1997. Other estimations give 14,500 killed between 1948–2009.” This data is according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute- Wikipedia.
Opening another window in my browser, then searching African American deaths to violence, I was bombarded with horrific numbers. ‘Detroit logged 316 murders and non-negligent manslaughters last year…’ According to FBI uniform crime reporting, Huffington Post. I eventually scrolled upon the saddest thing I’ve seen all day.
“Homicide is the leading killer of children over age 1 and under 18 in Detroit.” According to data analyzed by the Detroit News, Huffington Post.
Becoming dizzy, I quickly closed the browser. Processing that many dead bodies and grave sites was overwhelming. My reasoning moved into a numeric grid, overflowing in generational wealth for an evil profiteer. I sighed, walking towards the elevator, to take care of my business filing.
After validating a bureaucratic step that I had already taken, I was introduced to a new artificial intelligence. I conceded then left the building.
I was infuriated, that I had to take off work and stand in the cold, due to their tardiness. Then to be told to listen to an automated response and enter a numeric code, to hear information that I should’ve received a month ago. I was angry!
I felt as if some organizers should protest or cause the people to suffer, for not respecting my time and tax dollars. I see it all around the city with bad roads, fragmented school systems, and decaying infrastructure. ‘I didn’t think they should have any peace, until I receive justice!’
I stormed into my home and plummeted on the couch. I pulled out my phone to look up people from internal affairs or any other controversial media outlet. I fired up my phone, to immediately see images of yellow tape, securing the crime scene, of another life taken senselessly.
My revengeful feelings were stopped in their tracks. All the time and effort I was ready to devote to causing some hell, for the troubles I received, were halted. My breathing slowed. I moved my thumb slowly over the page. I was taken back to the caring feelings that I had while alone in the city building hallway.
I felt a sense of unity amongst men that will one-day manifest. It made me happy to recall the beautiful rays of the sun, warming us while standing outside. Indeed, we are all one, enjoying the greatest grace, of the sun in Detroit. The same sun that shines over the Israelis and Palestinians.
Novel Excerpt: Beginning of the End
Author- Ken Overman
“Robert felt good. He smiled for several reasons. It was a short workday. He is married to the sexiest woman, in the company.
Lastly, luck provided a great parking spot, in the usually dreadfully crowded parking structure.
Robert had endured a six-day war against his male coworkers, who tried to entice Denise into romance. Robert had succeeded using strategic showmanship, such as sudden appearances out of thin air, and lavish gifts. The former patriot had allies, who would inform him of any type of infidelity.”