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Dispatch Wizard | Part 4 – Starship Hassan

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Alice was too nervous to eat, but she made a cheese sandwich with tomato and lettuce for Mr. Saleh and watched him wolf it down. She wondered how long it had been since he’d eaten.

Five minutes later they entered a multi-level underground parking structure on Mission.

“Dude, this is the Palisade,” Muhammad said. “You seriously live here?”

“Yes.”

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“I thought you were messing with me.”

In the lobby, Hassan introduced Muhammad and his father to the concierge.

“They’ll be staying with me for a while,” Hassan said. “Please afford them every courtesy.”

“Yes, Mr. Amir,” the concierge said.

Riding up in the elevator, Muhammad grinned. “Mr. Amir, huh?” he said. He felt some of the heaviness and stress of the last day lifting from his shoulders. Hassan wasn’t a liar after all. And Muhammad had a place for his dad to stay.

“You want to see a joke?” he said.

See a joke?” said Hassan.

“Yeah. This is a visual joke. Hold on.”

Muhammad waited. The elevator stopped at the tenth floor and a family with three kids got on. Muhammad swung his messenger bag around to the front, opened the top flap, peered into the bag and whispered, “Got enough air in there?”

The smallest child, a boy in swimming trunks and a tank top, said, “Can I see? What is it?”

“Oh, I’d better not say,” Muhammad said. “Might cause a panic. They’d evacuate the building.”

The child’s eyes grew large and round, and he took his mother’s hand, his eyes fixed on Muhammad’s bag. The mother gave Muhammad a disapproving look

Hassan snorted and shook his head, and Muhammad’s father said, “You always liked to tell jokes. You wrote a joke book once, do you remember?”

“I did?”

Ah. In third or fourth grade. You printed many copies on our home printer, then folded and stapled them into books. All your own jokes. I think you sold them at school.”

“Oh, yeah! I forgot all about that.” Muhammad gazed at his father. He was astounded that the man would remember such a thing. He’d always thought his dad was oblivious to his interests and activities. On the other hand, the reason he sold the books was to buy food, since there was never anything in the fridge. He felt a twinge of the old anger. He would do what he could to help his father, but he wasn’t simply going to forget years of abuse.

When the family exited the elevator, Muhammad said, “Those kids were wet.”

“There’s a pool, fitness center and spa on ten,” Hassan said.

“Zoinks! So this is how the one percent lives.”

In the apartment, Hassan showed them around. Muhammad admired the beautiful hardwood floors and the huge window that covered an entire wall. The curtains were drawn, but he imagined the view would be stunning.

Against one wall of the living room, Hassan’s beautiful Argon 18 Krypton bicycle hung from hooks in the ceiling. Riding it was like flying a glider. It practically floated. It wouldn’t win any road races with that extra equipment, and a purist would have a heart attack over the changes, but for a courier it was the perfect blend of high performance and functionality.

Muhammad knew it was an expensive machine. He’d always figured that Hassan had saved up for it.

Now he laughed, because it wasn’t one Krypton hanging from the ceiling, but two, one stacked behind the other, and both identical in every detail.

“There are two Kryptons? Really? Isn’t that like the Matrix with two Neos? Neo is an anagram of ‘One’. You can’t have two by definition.”

Hassan shrugged. “I’m not a good bike mechanic. Bike breaks down, I take it to the shop and ride the spare.”

“But they’re identical. Same mods and everything.”

“Why mess with perfection? And by the way, there’s only one ‘One’, and that’s Allah.”

A gleaming marble countertop ran the perimeter of the kitchen, while the master bathroom was fitted with a whirlpool tub and a walk-in closet. Aside from these luxurious fittings, however, the apartment was strikingly empty. The kitchen contained only a small table and two folding chairs, and the countertop was bare except for a toaster, a set of knives in a wooden block, and a tea kettle.

The only furniture In the living room was a brown leather sofa and a thick, round rug on the floor.

On the wall above the sofa hung a plaque with Arabic calligraphy in the center. Muhammad could speak colloquial Arabic, but his reading and writing skills were weak. He studied at the plaque and managed to decipher the opening verses of Surat Ad-Duhaa from the Quran:

By the morning brightness,
And the night when it covers with darkness:
Your Lord has not forsaken you,
Nor is He displeased.

He read it twice, letting the words sink in. He admitted to himself that there were times when he had doubted Allah. Well, maybe doubt was too strong a word… Times when he’d not been sure that Allah cared about him, and would help. He wondered if the Prophet, sal-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, had felt the same way before these ayahs were revealed. “Your Lord has not forsaken you…”

Muhammad had the idea now that Allah was helping him in His own time and way. Whatever problems he faced with his father, he would overcome them, with Allah’s help.

Looking around the apartment, he found that one bedroom contained only a sleeping mat and sleeping bag, while the other was outfitted as a martial arts studio.

Muhammad wondered if the building was earthquake-proof. What would it be like to be so high in the sky when a quake hit? Would the building topple and send him plummeting 40 stories through the air? Like the World Trade Center victims, leaping and falling so far to their deaths, seeing the ground approaching, knowing it was the end… He shuddered. God have mercy on their souls.

“I don’t have a bed,” Hassan said. “One of you can take the sleeping mat and one can have the sofa. Muhammad, could I talk to you over here for a minute?” He gestured to the martial arts room.

3 of 4

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Wael Abdelgawad's novels can be purchased at his author page at Amazon.com: Wael is an Egyptian-American living in California. He is the founder of several Islamic websites, including, Zawaj.com, IslamicAnswers.com and IslamicSunrays.com. He teaches martial arts, and loves Islamic books, science fiction, and ice cream. Learn more about him at WaelAbdelgawad.com. For a guide to all of Wael's online stories in chronological order, check out this handy Story Index.

20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. BintB

    April 9, 2014 at 3:39 AM

    Always a pleasure reading this story…MashaAllah.
    Just wanted to point out the sentence in 15th paragraph, 3rd page: “to buy money for food” => A typo?

    • Wael Abdelgawad

      April 9, 2014 at 11:48 AM

      Yes, that was an error, thanks. By the time I saw your comment the error had already been corrected. Thank you Editor!

  2. iffat sharif

    April 9, 2014 at 5:45 AM

    A Cliffhanger ?? AGAIN!! it is so tormenting to wait for this story evvery week!! I am hooked on to it…we all are :) well,i just wanted to know how old is hassan?? he has a past,was married and all and jamilah is pretty young?? isn’t it ??

    • Wael Abdelgawad

      April 9, 2014 at 11:50 AM

      iffat, Hassan’s age will be mentioned in part 3 of Hassan’s Tale – the next story – but I guess there’s no harm in telling you he’s 34. Yes, Jamilah is young. She’s 22.

      On the cliffhanger issue, in my defense, let me point that the main question of this story – will Muhammad forgive his father and help him? – has been resolved.

      Of course the question of Hassan’s survival remains open.

      • iffat

        April 15, 2014 at 3:02 PM

        please update the next part….waiting for so long !!

  3. Safa

    April 9, 2014 at 8:46 AM

    Jazakah Allahu khairan. A pleasure to read as always!

    Poor Alice,she should’ve at least txted the guys to let them know! Having a mentally unstable person in a lone apt is never a good idea

    Feel equally bad for Hassan. He is preoccupied w an assassin yet selflessly finds time for his friend. Loyalty indeed. Though he’s running into a trap, Dr Bassem is prob being held hostage by the Partridge! But hes insightful and his survival instincts will come into play no doubt

    Mo is admirable in helping his dad out. I cannot imagine what its like to be in his shoes. A magnanimous individual that deserves good after abandonment, neglect, abuse and a terrible past. Glad he has amazing friends that will sacrifice their selves and give their all for him

    • Wael Abdelgawad

      April 14, 2014 at 7:25 PM

      Yes, it was a foolish choice on Alice’s part. I think she was so intent on impressing Muhammad and helping him, that she didn’t think it through.

  4. J K

    April 9, 2014 at 9:51 AM

    Masha’Allah, another great piece! Looking forward to next week. If you had an entire book written, I’d prob devour like a hungry lion.

    • Wael Abdelgawad

      April 14, 2014 at 7:27 PM

      JK, in that case, I’ll write a book called, “Wildebeest.” Good meal for a lion.

  5. Samreen

    April 9, 2014 at 11:54 AM

    Started reading your stories a while ago. All the parts are amazing, mashallah. The characters are so interesting and different. Waiting eagerly for the next part :)

  6. Grey Crayon

    April 9, 2014 at 6:07 PM

    Jazak Allahu Khair Brother, really looking forward to part 5…

  7. Sarah B.

    April 10, 2014 at 2:32 PM

    Oh these cliff hangers! I’m really hoping Alice will be okay! She gets her life back on track and tries to do something good then gets stabbed in the back, literally. Insha’Allah things will turn out okay for each character!

  8. ahmed

    April 10, 2014 at 3:44 PM

    i just realized this is a multipage article :)

    • Ihsan

      April 11, 2014 at 8:13 AM

      Thanks,i just noticed!

  9. Mahvish M

    April 10, 2014 at 11:30 PM

    Very interesting storyline, keep up the great work! Just curious, When will you write a novel?

  10. Mahvish M

    April 13, 2014 at 1:30 AM

    I mean a novel I can purchase from a bookstore instead of reading online :)

    • Wael Abdelgawad

      April 13, 2014 at 1:20 PM

      Ah, right :-) When it’s complete I will see what can be done Insha’Allah.

  11. Areefah

    May 26, 2018 at 1:44 PM

    Assalam Alaikum! May Allah reward you with goodness. Honestly I cannot thank you enough. These stories, they are irresistibly beautiful and they help me everyday. May Allah give you success in this life and the next, Ameen.

    • Wael Abdelgawad

      May 27, 2018 at 2:14 AM

      Areefah, wa alaykum as-salam. You’re very welcome sister. I’m glad you’re enjoying the stories. Ameen do your dua’, and for you as well.

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