“What is this police checkpoint?” the man asked, scrutinizing Walid with a look of
disdain as he handed over his ID.
Walid looked at the man, surprised that he had obeyed him so easily. “Us?” he
looked back at his group and felt more powerful. “We ask the questions here, where are
you from?” Walid asked; the ID checked out.
“Hurriya, azizi, you?”
Walid smiled. One of their own. “We are only looking for Sunnis, drive on.”
The driver hesitated, looking at Walid, Haji and their entourage, before swallowing
his words, and driving on.
Walid pointed his gun at the next car driving by.
“Walid, they’re getting close,” Haji said.
Walid tried to slow his breathing down.
The car squeaked to a halt.
“Identification please. Where are you coming from; where are you going?” asked
“Where are your uniforms?” the driver asked back.
Walid pointed the gun at the driver’s asymmetrical, beady eyes, and large nose. “No
questions, just answer.”
“Azamiya. I’m going to the market.”
Walid’s heart jumped. This was his moment to act, to prove Mahmud wrong. Walid
felt queasy. He was not certain if this was right. He turned to Haji and the rest of his
group and they came at the car.
“You are Sunni, n’am?”
The man’s eyes darted to the other men, and he nodded uncertainly. “But I am a
good man, I work with Shiites, azizi you must not…”
Walid opened the car door, and pulled the man by his shirt.
“No please, I have a family, what are you doing?”
Haji opened his trunk, and they stuffed the man in. When the man gave Walid
another look, Walid felt like crying.
They all jumped in their vehicle, and drove away. Walid looked behind to see an
American Humvee slow down near the man's car. Two soldiers nervously approached it,
guns out, like it was a car bomb.
“They think it’s a seeyara mufakhakha!” Walid forced out a laugh. The rest of them
laughed with him.
They drove a little ways until they got to Salaam’s place. They pulled the man out of
the trunk, and dragged him into the house. On the living room floor, the man got on his
feet, and started to beg. Walid tried to stand as tall and steady as he could. He could feel
the eyes of his group on him. He fought the urge to shit. He hated the man for not making
“Please, why are you doing this?”