This is part 4 in a multipart series. You can find Part #1 here, Part #2 here, and Part #3 here

 

Emil Dadurian sat in one of the consulate's black Cadillac sedans, parked on the opposite side of 7th Street, far enough away to be invisible in the deepening gloom of night. Through a small pair of field binoculars he watched the unfolding events with interest.

The mission he'd been given was to follow this courier, observe him, and abduct him at an opportune time. Simple enough. The courier would be taken to a warehouse space on Army Street that was used to store legal and illegal goods – including heroin – imported from Lebanon, sometimes through diplomatic pouches. Managing these imports had been Emil's primary duty – until now.

His Armenian ancestry had been a cannonball tied to his neck. The Lebanese power brokers he worked for had never fully trusted him because, as an Armenian Apostolic, he did not share their Maronite faith. Furthermore, because the Armenians dominated the heroin export industry in Lebanon, it was assumed that Emil would not object to getting his hands dirty.

Indeed he did not mind, at least not loudly. He had no interest in the foul business of narcotics trafficking, but he desired to rise within the ruling party. He hungered for the power to protect his family and his people, and to secure their position in the chaotic factionalism that was Lebanon.

The job paid well with minimal risk. Once a month he met with a representative of a local drug kingpin and exchanged product for cash. Sarkis had grown outrageously rich on heroin profits, and Emil made a tidy sum by skimming off the top. That money supported his entire extended family in Lebanon. So he did not complain.

He was pleased that he had been given this mission, dirty as it was. Perhaps Sarkis was beginning to trust him. Once the courier had been secured in the warehouse he would be interrogated, then killed. It had been left to Emil to determine the time and place of the abduction, as long as it happened before dawn.

Now, watching the bizarre scene in the alley, he saw an opportunity. The courier had demolished two men and let another go, and was busy cleaning up the mess. The man was distracted and the alley was deserted, so there would be no witnesses.

 

***

 

Hassan racked his brain. What would he do? He couldn't call the cops. The alley was crimson with blood, mostly from Blondie's face. It looked like the scene of a massacre or a kidnapping, with one man bound and badly injured, and another unconscious. The police would be as likely to arrest Hassan as anyone else.

“How much pain are you in?” he asked Wolf.

“I'm cool,” the homeless man said. “Handle yo' bizness.”

Wolf was hard boiled. Tough as they came.

Hassan had a thought. He felt in his pocket and found Melanie Carter's business card.  He'd only met her that day, but there was something genuine about her demeanor. And he had saved her life, after all. That should count for something.

Peeling his gloves off, he fished his phone out of his thigh pocket and called her personal line. He wondered if she'd be freaked out to hear from him. No doubt once the flush of his “heroic” rescue had passed, she'd kicked herself (with her good foot) for giving her number to a lowly bike messenger.

“Hello?”

“Melanie, this is Hassan, do you remember me?”

“Hassan! I didn't expect to hear from you so soon. I'm just settling down for dinner and some wine at home. Would you like to join me?”

Wow. Was it that hard to find a straight man in San Francisco?

“Thank you, but no,” he said. “This is actually a business call. I have a situation here and I need an attorney. I want to hire you.”

“Goodness, I hope it's not serious. Do you have a forest you need to protect?” She laughed.

“What do you mean?” Hassan said.

“I'm an environmental attorney,” Melanie said. “I work for the Nature Conservancy.”

Funny, Hassan would have pegged her for a corporate attorney. Mergers and acquisitions, patent violations, that sort of thing. You never could tell about people.

“No, it's potentially a criminal matter, but I need someone I can trust, and I trust you.”

“Hassan, I'm not a criminal attorney. I know an excellent defense attorney – “

“I want you,” he insisted. “I can pay your retainer. And you owe me. Now are you my attorney, and is our conversation privileged?”

There was a long pause. “…Yes,” she said.

Hassan gave her instructions and hung up. As he spoke he kept an eye on Blondie. The hooligan's arms were still tied behind his back, but he'd managed to rise to one knee and was struggling to stand. Some people never learn, Hassan thought.

Hassan put away the phone and slipped the gloves back on, returning his attention to the matter at hand. He shoved Blondie to the ground again, pinned him with a knee, and unlaced the man's boots. He used one lace to tie the thug's beefy ankles together securely, looping the lace multiple times. Then he used the other to tie Blondie's ankles to his wrists. The thug was now hogtied, which suited him perfectly, Hassan thought. Hassan dragged him next to a dumpster that stood near the alley wall.

Wiry Guy was still unconscious, but Hassan repeated the process with him, hog-tying him and dumping him next to Blondie, out of view of any pedestrians or vehicular traffic on 7th street. He turned to check on Wolf, and heard the sudden sound of a car engine and tires on wet pavement. He peered up the alley and was dismayed to see the black sedan approaching rapidly with its headlights off.

There was nothing he could do. He could not run and leave Wolf here, injured. He had no weapon – Wiry Guy's discarded knife lay a good twenty feet away against the wall, where Hassan had kicked it. He stood straight and waited to see what the driver would do.

 

***

 

The black sedan came to a skidding halt and a short man in a dark suit stepped out. His wavy black hair, large nose and cashew-colored skin marked him as a native of the highlands of western Asia. Persian, Armenian, Azerbaijani… Armenian was a good bet, since they made up almost five percent of Lebanon's population. He appeared to be fit and muscular beneath the suit. Most notably, he held an automatic pistol pointed over the front of the car, aimed directly at Hassan's chest. A large silencer was screwed into the end of the gun like a parasite living off the weapon's evil energy.

Hassan decided to continue the act he'd put on for Sarkis earlier. He raised his hands in surrender and said, “Dude, chill. I got some dinero in my wallet, you can have it all.”

The man smiled without parting his lips. He surveyed the scene, noting the two thugs hogtied against the wall.

“That's good work,” he said in perfect, London-accented English. “Did you learn that in Lebanon?”

“Leba-who?” Hassan said. “Man, these dudes was whalin' on my homey, so I jumped in. I got lucky is all.”

“Lift your shirt,” the gunman said.

“Bro, I don't swing that way. Nothin' personal.”

Hassan saw the gunman flick the safety off the gun and take aim at his heart.

“Lift your shirt,” the gunman repeated, “or I shoot.”

Hassan sighed mentally. It had been worth a try. He lifted his shirt. The gunman smiled widely this time, his teeth showing white in the somber alley.

“So it is you,” he said. With one hand he pulled a white zip-tie from his coat pocket and threw it at Hassan. It landed near Hassan's feet in a puddle of blood-clouded water.

“Bind your wrists,” the gunman said. “I am sure you know how.”

Indeed. Zip-ties were commonly used by soldiers in the field to restrain prisoners. They were lighter and cheaper than handcuffs, and virtually unbreakable. They'd once been as indispensable a part of Hassan's kit as his gun or knife.

Hassan was aware that among the cardinal rules of resisting a kidnapping were, “never allow yourself to be restrained,” and, “never allow yourself to be transported to another location.” In the movies the good guy surrendered when he was cornered, allowing himself to be bound and taken to some distant warehouse. He'd be chained and hung from the ceiling, electrocuted and beaten, and would still somehow manage to free himself and overcome the kidnappers.

In real life it didn't work that way. The instant you were restrained, your ability to resist fell dramatically. If you allowed yourself to be taken to a place where the kidnappers had full control, the odds were high that you would never see daylight again.

Hassan would make his stand here. Live or die. It didn't matter. He had no one in this world anyway. No wife would mourn him, and no child would pray for his soul. It didn't matter what happened to him.

Then he remembered Jamilah saying, “It would matter to me!” The memory caused his face to flush, and steeled his resolve. There was an ayah from Surat an-Nahl, the Chapter of the Bee in the Qur'an, that had been running through his head lately: “Afaghayrullahi-tattaqun?” Is it other than Allah that you fear?

No, Ya Allah, he thought. Only You.

He studied the gunman, noting his thick eyebrows and swarthy complexion. “Are you Armenian?” he asked.

“Put the zip-tie on,” the man said.

The gunman stood on the other side of the parked car's front end. It would be extremely difficult to get to him without being shot. Hassan needed an edge.

“Do you know what Sarkis used to say about Armenians in Lebanon?” he said. “That they were foreign trash who were good only for being prostitutes and moving dope. I once had to physically restrain him from raping an Armenian teenage girl at a checkpoint. That's the scum you work for.”

The words were true enough, though Hassan was not concerned with the gunman's response. All he wanted to do was disrupt the man's thinking and slow his reflexes. Hassan was gathering his energy, focusing it into his legs. He was the sharpest blade ever made. He was the whistle of steel as it cut the air. No emotion, only movement.

His words had a greater effect than he anticipated. The Armenian rocked back on his heels and lowered the gun halfway to the ground.

“What girl?” the Armenian said.

“It was a long time ago,” Hassan said.

“Tell me – “ the gunman began, but Hassan did not hear the rest. He burst into motion, sprinting forward and ducking to keep the front of the car between himself and the gunman. He heard a sound like a loud burp and felt a sting on his forearm. He reached the car and without a pause dived forward, rolling over the front of the car and directly at the Armenian. He came out of the roll and felt a searing pain on his cheek. At the same moment his extended foot struck the Armenian square in the face and the man dropped to the ground with a cry. The gun clattered to the ground. Hassan stepped over the fallen gunman, picked up the weapon and turned just in time to see the man charging, his arms outstretched. Hassan ducked and weaved outside the charge, then whipped the hard steel of the silencer across the attacker's temple. The Armenian dropped like a cadaver, unconscious.

Hassan stood still, breathing hard, the gun hanging at his side. That was close. He willed himself to move again, and retrieved the zip-tie the man had tossed.

“You alright, brotha?” Wolf said. “Where you learn to move like that?”

“I'm okay,” Hassan said. “Hang in there.” He returned to the Armenian and zip-tied the man's wrists behind his back. The driver's side door of the black sedan stood open. Hassan pulled the lever to pop the trunk, which he found to be empty and clean. He returned to the unconscious Armenian, bent down and with a grunt of exertion lifted the man onto his shoulders. He carried the man to the car and dumped him in the trunk like a sack of dirty laundry. The man groaned but did not awaken.

Hassan grasped the Armenian's chin and tilted his head back, opening his airway wider. With his other hand he gripped the man's ear and pinched hard. The man's eyes flew open and he shook his head from side to side. Hassan released him and spoke in a soothing tone.

“You're alright. You're okay. Look at me.”

The Armenian's eyes darted left and right, then focused on Hassan's face. He struggled for a moment, trying to free his hands, then stopped.

“Do you know where you are?” Hassan said. “Do you know what's happening?”

The man relaxed and nodded his head, saying nothing. Not exactly a conversationalist.

“I have a message for your boss,” Hassan said. “Tell him that I came to the consulate by coincidence. I was making a delivery, nothing more. I'm not looking for revenge. I have no interest in Lebanon or anything happening there. Your secrets are your own. Leave me alone and I'll leave you alone. It's that simple.”

The Armenian snorted and shook his head as if he'd been told a bad joke.

“Will you pass on the message?” Hassan demanded. “If not then I might as well kill you now.” He lifted the gun and pressed the barrel of the silencer against the Armenian's chest. It was a bluff, but the Armenian could not know that.

“It wouldn't matter,” the Armenian said, breaking his stony silence. “They're sending the Partridge. You're a walking corpse.”

“The Partridge? Who's that?”

“Tell me about the girl,” the man said.

Hassan was confounded. What was he talking about? Jamilah? Did they know about Jamilah? He felt the blood rush to his face as a sense of panic almost overtook him.

“You said,” the Armenian continued, “that you stopped Sarkis from raping an Armenian girl.”

Hassan stared at the man. The feeling of panic ebbed. He couldn't understand why the man wanted to hear this story, but if it would get him to talk it was worth it.

“During the war,” Hassan said. “A brother and sister. Like I said, Sarkis hated Armenians. He often robbed them at checkpoints. He told his men to restrain the boy – a curly headed kid, that's all I remember – and he dragged the girl into a bombed out building. I was naive. I thought he was going to steal her money then release her. One of the men, an older corporal I respected, nodded for me to follow Sarkis. Much later I understood why. I was the only one in a position to exercise any authority over Sarkis. I found him on top of the girl, slapping her and trying to get her pants down. I pulled him off, we fought, and I bloodied his nose. Why are you asking about this?”

The Armenian did not reply. After a moment he said, “The Partridge is an assassin. A killer of men, women and children. A monster.”

“What's his real name? What does he look like?”

The Armenian shook his head. “No one knows his identity.”

Frustrated by this fruitless line of questioning, Hassan held the gun to the Armenian's ear.  He put as much intensity as he could muster into his voice, trying to frighten the man. “You're playing games. When is the Partridge coming? Give me something useful or die.”

The Armenian was motionless. His face was lost in darkness, impossible to read. “There are things worse than death,” he said finally. “If you oppose him, he will kill everyone you love to get to you. He will commit abominations. They say he plucks his victims' eyes out and forces them to eat their own eyes before they die. That is all I know.”

What garbage! The man was feeding him fairy tales. Was he expected to believe this nonsense about evil uber-assassins? Fed up, he reached for the trunk lid to slam it shut.

“Wait!” the Armenian exclaimed. “Let me go. I give you my word I won't harm you. There is one more thing I remember. They say the Partridge cannot be shot. He dodges bullets.”

Hassan stared at the Armenian. He dodges bullets. The words brought back a memory of another man from another time. An assassin who could dodge bullets. Was it possible?

No. That man would be almost sixty years old by now, if he was even alive. And he had never plucked out anyone's eyes, at least not that Hassan had heard of.  But was it possible that these men belonged to the same organization, or had the same training?

He reached up and slammed the trunk lid shut. The smart move would be to drive the sedan to the waterfront and dump it and the Armenian in the Bay.

He dropped the gun on the driver's seat and went to check on Wolf.

“You a mess, brotha,” Wolf said.

Hassan felt his way up Wolf's leg, squeezing gently until his friend groaned in pain. He rolled the pants leg up gently and observed. There was no bruising or swelling, and the skin was not broken. A fracture, most likely. He went to Wolf's shopping cart, tipped on its side a few feet away. Various plastic bags and used clothing items had spilled out and lay like litter on the wet ground.

“Wolf, you can't take all this to the hospital. The clothes are soaked.”

“Just gimme the plastic Old Navy bag,” Wolf said. “That's got my papers. Rest is just clothes. I can get new stuff from the mission folks.”

Hassan found the bag and brought it to Wolf. “So what do you tell the cops?” Hassan said. “What happened here?”

“Ain't nothin' happen here, brotha,” Wolf said. “I tripped and fell.”

Hassan nodded. “Stick with that.”

He heard the sound of a car engine purring and glanced up the alley. A beautiful white Jaguar convertible approached slowly, edged past the black sedan, and stopped. Melanie. Hassan stood and waved.

Melanie exited the car and gaped at the sight of the two bound and bloody men laid like trash next to the dumpster. When she walked around the front of the car Hassan saw that she was still limping. She was impeccably dressed as usual, and looked as out of place in this alley as a gazelle on the moon.

“Are they dead?” Melanie exclaimed. “Oh my God, I can't be part of this!” Her blue eyes were wide as saucers.

“Relax, Melanie. They're alive, and it was self-defense. They tried to kill this man here and I intervened.” Hassan nodded at Wolf, who waved cheerfully.

“So you just cruise all around the City saving lives? Who are you?”

Hassan smiled ruefully. “I'm a guy with either good timing or bad, depending on how you look at it.”

He became aware of the sensation of warm liquid running down his face and neck and touched his cheek. His hand came away crimson with blood. His motion drew Melanie's attention and she exclaimed, “Oh, you're hurt!”

“Just a bullet graze. I'll be alright.”

“Oh my God!” Melanie's eyes grew wider, if that was possible. She looked ready to bolt.

I'd better not tell her about the man in the trunk, Hassan thought wryly. He could feel his forearm beginning to throb with pain and he remembered the sting he'd felt when rolling over the car. He realized he'd been shot twice. He was very, very lucky. Not lucky, he corrected himself. alhamdulillah.

He would inspect his wounds later. Someone could come along at any moment.

“I'm going to call an ambulance,” he said. He fished in Blondie's pockets until he found a cell phone. He didn't want the call being traced to him. With his gloves still on, he dialed 911.

“911, what's your emergency?” a female voice said. Hassan could hear popping sounds as the operator snapped her gum.

“Stevenson alley, halfway between 7th and 8th,” Hassan said. “Two injured men beside a dumpster.” He hung up and turned to Melanie, speaking to her in a soothing tone, wanting her to stay calm. “All you have to do is take my friend here to the hospital and drop him off. Keep my name out of it please.”

“I ain't neva been in no Jag-yu-ah befo',” Wolf said.

Melanie looked at the homeless man. “You're not crazy or anything, are you?”

“Crazy like a fox,” Wolf grinned.

“He's fine, Melanie. Just a guy down on his luck.”

“Alright,” she said, “But we're square now, even if you did save my life.”

Hassan gave her a thumbs up. “I'll drop by your office soon and pay your fee, alright? Now let's split before the cops arrive.”

He looped an arm around Wolf's back and helped him to one foot, then steadied him as he hopped to the Jaguar. The homeless man's body smelled of sweat and cigarette smoke, but there was no offensive odor. He kept himself clean somehow, even living on the streets as he did. That was impressive. Hassan opened the door and helped him into the passenger seat. The beaten man winced again as Hassan eased his broken leg into the car. He looked so out of place in the gleaming Jaguar that Hassan had to smile.

“You in some major trouble, seems to me,” Wolf said. “But you saved my sorry ass fo' sho'. Let me get my leg fixed and I'ma roll witchu, no matta what.”

“I know it, man. Don't you worry, I'm alright.”

“I gotta tell you,” Wolf said, “I ain't neva, neva seen nobody move like you did.”

“And you still haven't. Nothing happened, remember? Hey hold on. Melanie, do you have a pen and paper?”

Melanie rummaged in the small storage compartment beneath the dashboard and came up with a gold plated pen and small notebook. Hassan scribbled his phone number, tore the sheet from the notebook and stuffed it in Wolf's pocket.

“Call me if you need anything,” he said. “Billing problems at the hospital, a ride, whatever.” He shut the car door and Melanie took off up the alley, exiting the scene quite a bit faster than she had entered. Hassan went to Blondie and felt in his pockets until he found a wallet. The bound thug glared through a face covered in blood, and mouthed muffled curses through the sock in his mouth. Still wearing the gloves, Hassan removed the man's driver's license.

“Bryan Blackburn,” he read. “Funny name for a white supremacist, yeah? 2939 Ulloa Street, San Francisco. What? Not enough homeless people to beat on in your own neighborhood? Listen, Bryan. I know your name now, but you don't know mine. I know where you live and where you sleep. This is a wash, you understand? You could get twenty years for attempted murder based on what you did here. Instead you get your face stitched up and you go home with a bad-ass scar to show your Nazi friends. You come looking for me or my friend, I will hurt you so bad it will make tonight seem like a birthday party. I'll break both your arms and both your legs and you'll never walk right again.”

Hassan meant it this time. He'd never had any patience for bullies. Sarkis too had been a vicious bully who used war as an excuse to hurt others. It enraged Hassan, and he let Blondie see the fury in his eyes, until the thug's muffled curses ceased and the man looked away.

He turned and studied the black sedan. The Armenian was silent in the trunk, awaiting his fate like a warrior. From a purely tactical perspective, Hassan knew he should kill the diplomat/gunman, rather than allow him to report his findings to Sarkis. If he let him go, he might have to face him in battle again tomorrow.

Man laa yarham laa yurham, the Prophet had said. Whoever shows no mercy will be shown no mercy (by God). And Hassan needed mercy, that was for sure.

He walked away. Let the cops find the Armenian. It's not like the diplomat would tell them anything. If there was a contract out on Hassan, the consulate would want no connection to themselves.

He was not worried about the police. He'd left no fingerprints. As for blood, it wouldn't matter. It was unlikely that the SFPD would collect DNA samples. No one was dead here, so why bother? These were not television CSI detectives. They were real-world cops with copious caseloads, limited staffs and budgets, and aging lab equipment.

The chubby boy in the watchcap – the one Hassan had let go – would be frightened enough to keep his mouth shut. The Chinese busboys would likewise stay mum. Most of these restaurant workers were recent immigrants from police states. They avoided cops like the plague. As for Melanie, she was bound by attorney-client privilege.

He retrieved his messenger bag, relieved that it was still there. Hopping onto the bike, blood running down his injured face and arm, he rode away, riding with one hand only and tucking the injured arm against his chest.

What would be Sarkis' next move? Would he back off? And what about this Partridge? Was that genuine, or a ploy on the Armenian's part? A killer of women and children, the Armenian had said. A monster and mutilator. He will kill everyone you love. It sounded like fantasy, Hassan had heard rumors of such gruesome and soulless men in Lebanon, once upon a time. He dodges bullets, the man had said. That would sound impossible to most, but Hassan had seen it.

Maybe Sarkis would heed his warning and let this entire matter drop.

Hassan had not forgotten what Sarkis did to Lena – he would never forget, not if he lived the life span of Noah – but as the years passed with Sarkis on the other side of the world and Hassan himself struggling to survive, the wound in his heart had begun to scab over. Now that he had seen Sarkis' nauseating visage again, the wound was reopened.

Still, Hassan was willing to stifle the hatred and walk away. He would do that for the sake of the people he loved. If he could do that, then Sarkis should be willing as well. The consul had seen Hassan in action on the battlefield. If he had any intelligence he would walk away from this fight.

Somehow, however, Hassan did not think he would. There was more blood on the way, of that he was sure.


Next: Part 5 – Is it Other Than Allah That You Fear?

For a guide to all of Wael's stories in chronological order, check out this handy Story Index.

29 Responses

  1. Mushtaq

    Subhana Allah … What an amazing piece of writing.

    The writing is captivating and fast paced, the story grows deeper and darker with each passing part, can’t wait for the next part.

    I serisouly think that you should write a suspense novel with an Islamic backdrop, to inspire a new genre of novel writing.

    I think you have charted a new path here for others to follow my dear brother: Suspense, Action and Islam what a mix.

    *Name has been changed to comply to our Comments Policy*

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    • wael77

      Thank you for your comment, Jazak Allah khayr. I was actually thinking about writing a “Muslim detective” novel next. A Muslim P.I., solving cases. Just a thought.

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      • Mushtaq

        Wow, wouldn’t that be a treat. I think everyone would love a novel in about a Muslim P.I, like I said new waters for others to charter.

        You are a special talent bro, May Allah give you the wisdom to write fiction that muslims can narrate to which would help us build ideals on a Islamic backdrop rather than from a non-realistic, highly romanticized, un-Islamic stories.

        Can’t wait for the next part, Hassan actions in sticky situations reminds me of a certain Jason Bourne. Big Fan!!! :-P

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  2. umme Ibrahim

    awesome story! much needed sort of fiction in the current times for muslims! and lets not limit the readers to only a particular religion, for the plot and the story line are superb to grab and hold the attention of any one who loves to read! the ONLY regret I have, is having to wait another week for the next part!! I already visited muslim matters multiple times since early morning to see if this part had been put up!! please keep writing! all the best for all your future endeavors!

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    • Umm K

      MashaAllahu la quwata illa billa!!
      Brother, this story is getting better and better EVERY week.

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  3. Rabya

    Noooooooooooooo! A whole week to go!!! :-(
    As usual, it was amazing! I’m actually happy that Hassan walked away somewhat in one piece. Now he just needs to drop off the radar and go on the offensive looking the Partridge…why do I feel like the Armenian may be related to the girl Sarkis almost raped.

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  4. J K

    Masha Allah, what a beautiful piece. Eagerly waiting for the next part as other fans of your story.

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  5. SZH

    SubhanAllah!
    Story line is going best!
    Now, if you don’t upload the whole whole series, I will have to wait for another week (which I don’t want).

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  6. Humaira Khan

    Did I ever tell you before that you write better than a lot of (formally) published writers? This story is kind of dark for me; nevertheless it has a very compelling and gripping plot. Love the Quranic and Prophetic reminders especially. Also, Hasan is a very likeable protagonist.
    Have you heard of or used JukePop? – if not, you should use it. It won’t be hard for a writer of your ability to build a large following through it.

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      • Humaira Khan

        Thank you! That was just an image in my head that I never built a story around. Perhaps someday.
        I’m working on another story at the moment though. How can I get your critique on it without publishing the story on the web? I’d like it to be read with a critical eye when it’s done.

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  7. umm hasna

    Sabr sabr sabr. The author is teaching us that as a bonus..

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  8. Sarah B.

    Masha’Allah! This story just gets more intense with each part! The writing truly is wonderful, masha’Allah you have been blessed with a great talent. I do love how even when things get really intense for Hassan he never forgets Allah, he takes a step back and thinks about what he’s about to do and what Allah would have to say about it. Stories like this are real gems! Next Wednesday can’t come soon enough!

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  9. Abu Asiyah

    Masha’Allah, this is really gripping. You really have the Hassan character down – feels like it’s coming from something personal. I didn’t fully buy your dialogue in the other stories, but Hassan’s voice is very realistic. You were also able to weave in his being Muslim without it being corny and/or sidelined. My favorite story so far our of you works – can’t wait for next week insha’Allah!

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  10. kamarulaz6

    Superb stuff. But there’ room for more improvements, as with everything the insan creates. But still ‘up there’. More please.

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  11. The Salafi Feminist

    I’m waiting for all your fiction to be compiled as a novel proper so that I can purchase it and enjoy the full paper-and-ink experience instead of straining my eyes on the computer screen :)

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  12. dr farah

    again a remarkable piece that just makes you long for the next part mashallah

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  13. Sarah

    Salam! Quick comment – try making the Armenian’s speech more everyday, instead of the ‘film noir’ sort of movie line of “I have no more to say.” I think that if the Armenian spoke about the Partridge more ‘casually’ it would come off as more realistic. It’s good that these issues of real torture and abuse and undercover horrors of war are being shown up as they are – not things in movies, said in deep British voices by the narrator, but ugly, ugly doings by other humans.

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  14. Heather

    Got here accidently, but grateful to have discovered it. The pacing is perfect and it’s exciting, gripping. I like hearing the references to various parts of the city as well. I agree with Sarah about toning down the hard-boiled vernacular a little as it seems less sincere. Everything else about it feels so intimate. I’m not Muslim, practically the opposite, but it’s totally appealing to me. Hope you stick with it.

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    • Wael Abdelgawad

      Heather, I’m so glad to hear it! It’s been my hope that non-Muslim readers would read and enjoy the stories as well. And thanks for your input on the dialogue.

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  15. Mahvish

    Amazing story brother Wael. Can’t wait until you publish a novel soon Insh’Allah :)

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  16. salma

    salaams would like to know when the next episode will be out patiently waiting

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