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My Kind of Town

by Don Chapman

Tuesday, May 7, 2002


Good with children

>> H-1, ewa-bound

"I'm very proud, my dear, of how well you're learning English," Muhammed Resurreccion said from the front seat of the van. Turning in the passenger seat, he gently patted the shiny dark hair of the little girl sitting behind the driver.

"Thank you, Uncle Muhammed," Elizabeth said.

He turned to Rosalita Resurreccion, the widow of Muhammed's late cousin Jesus. "I'm so pleased that everything seems to be working out for you in America," he said.

"Yes," she nodded. "Miss Lily is even helping me enroll in some college classes."

If you survive today, Muhammed thought. It was up in the air.

At first Rosalita was surprised at how good Muhammed was with Elizabeth. Many men, especially a big businessman like Muhammed who owned five Internet cafes on Mindanao, don't have time or the disposition to converse with a 6-year-old girl. But Rosalita reminded herself that she shouldn't be so surprised. Yes, people in all cultures love their children, but in her mind that was at the heart of the Filipino way.

When Muhammed's Catholic father, an orphan raised by priests, stabbed Muhammed's Muslim mother during the final battle of their personal religious war, and her brothers and father subsequently broke his father out of jail and beat and stabbed him to death, the Muslim side of the family took Muhammed home with them.

As the van driven by Wilhemina Orlando took the Arizona Memorial-Stadium exit, Rosalita wondered on which side of the Catholic-Muslim divide Muhammed stood. Even though she was a devout Catholic, it wasn't a question for Rosalita. Back in Cebu, she had several friends who were Muslim, and to her what's in a person's heart was more important than the name of their god. Still, she was curious about Muhammed. But too polite to ask.

Rosalita was curious about something else. Why did Muhammed keep glancing in the van's rearview mirrors?

>> The silver-blue van took the Arizona Memorial-Stadium exit. And that, thought Commander Chuck Ryan of Navy intelligence, following four cars behind in an Intrepid and letting a Y. Hata truck merge between him and the van, apparently confirmed his worst fears.

Some people think that military warriors don't experience fear, that somehow they're a different breed. Which is totally wrong. Ryan had known combat, in Vietnam, in Latin America, in the Balkans. And he had known fear. But this was different. This fear was not for himself, but for the little girl in the van, and the terrible plan of the man riding with her.




Don Chapman is editor of MidWeek.
His serialized novel runs daily in the Star-Bulletin
with weekly summaries on Sunday.
He can be emailed at dchapman@midweek.com



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