Now comes a rapping on my door, the familiar tap-tap-tap of my old friend Mohamed Hashim Laith-Osman. If there was ever a man worthy of his name, this man is one. He fought with me against Rome decades ago. He was fearless and steady at all times. Now, the ravages of time have caught up with him. He leans heavy on his staff and his feet are unsure on the broken stoop at my front door.
“Come in, my friend,” I call out.
The door opens and Mohamed shuffles in. His ruddy complexion has turned gray. His long, hooked nose seems to drape down to his chin and his eyes, once sharp and bright as an eagle’s, are now yellow and shot with blood.
“Allahu Akbar,” he says, as he stumbles across the floor, ever careful not to trip on the clutter that surrounds me.
“Allahu Akbar.” I said it back to him.
This phrase, our not-so-secret code, always is said, always is meant.
The infidels had no such thing, no such strength, no such faith, no god.
I turned on the stovetop to heat water for our tea and Mohamed filled the bowl of my hookah with hashish.
“Do you remember,” he said, “how Ayatullah Durrani said, on September 10, 2010, that Sheikh Obama should offer the prescribed Eid prayers at Ground Zero and to declare himself Caliph?”
“Who can forget?” I said. “Durrani was six years ahead of himself.”
The bubbling hookah made a happy sound and the tea pot whistled.
We were happy and at peace.
And then came the pounding on the door.
“What could that be?” I asked.
“Let us hope it isn’t the Shiite death squad,” said Mohamed Hashim Laith-Osman.
I felt for the pistol that was cinched by a belt under my robe before I went to the door.