Fatima bin Laden had just finished signing up for Journalism 101 when Mrs. Young, the attractive Asian woman who would be teaching the course, said "I'm sorry you had to wait in such a long line today. Usually you can register on-line, but that al-Qaeda virus hit our main computer and ... "
In line behind her, Lt. Basel Zakly Faris, USMC, was suddenly grateful (again) to his parents -- natives of Egypt -- for wisely and kindly giving him a Muslim name true to his roots, but one that in America did not shout out "Yo, towelhead here!" No Yusef, Tariq or Mustafa, no al-this or ibn that. Privately, though, he took pride in the Arabic meaning of his name, pure-brave-perspicacious. Friends and fellow Marines just called him Baz -- rhymes with Oz.
"OK then, I'll see you tomorrow, Fatima," Mrs. Young said.
Fatima?! Baz thought. She's named for the favorite daughter of Muhammed! I knew she was Muslim!
"I can hardly wait," she said, and Baz noted her lovely English accent. Another clue that she was Muslim -- part of the legacy of English colonialism.
Gathering her papers, Fatima was anxious to find the young Marine, the one she was betting was Arabic, the one she'd caught a glimpse of last night on TV as Mayor Mufi danced with some Sufis. She turned and almost bumped into him. "Oh!" she gasped.
They briefly made eye contact.
He smiled. "Hello."
She looked down, only then smiled. "Hello."
"See you in class," he said, then addressing Mrs. Young, "if there's still room in Journalism 101, that is."
"One more spot and it's all yours," she replied with a smile, and Fatima hurried away, in her heart praising Allah. Before Uncle Osama sent her off on this death mission against America, they talked about a variety of targets and methods. At the top of the list was recruiting a young Muslim man in the American military, who sooner or later would bring her onto one of the many military bases in Hawaii. There were other targets, of course -- the federal building, the airport, a university, a police station, a court house -- but above all Uncle Osama wanted to strike America's military.
And how ironic, Allah be praised, that the computer virus loosed by her uncle's people had crippled the school's computer, thus making possible her encounter with the handsome young Marine.
Some things were simply meant to be.
Allah wills it, bless his name, Baz was thinking. And while he didn't have great respect for journalists, and took exception to the way the media covered the military and Muslims, among other topics, he rejoiced in signing up for a journalism class. It would be where he got to know his future wife.
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Don Chapman is editor of MidWeek. His serialized novel runs daily in the Star-Bulletin. He can be e-mailed at