The beginning draft of the start of one of my new novels--
To the People of Palestine and Israel--
that they may share in peace
An Eye for the Beheading
By Daniel Wilcox
Give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.”…Immediately the king sent an executioner with orders to bring John's head. He went and beheaded him in the prison.
Mark 6:25b, 27 New Testament of Bible
Beheading enemies is a very ancient custom. The Hebrew Bible describes David cutting off the head of Goliath and carrying it to Saul. It also mentions that the Philistines cut off the head of Saul.
1 Samuel 17:51, 1 Samuel 31:9-10
And pursued Midian, and brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon on the other side Jordan.
Led away from the presence of [Caesar] Nero…[the Apostle] Paul was beheaded on the Ostesian road.
The Acts of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul
When you encounter the unbelievers on the battlefield, strike off their heads.
Holy Quran, Sura 47
“Your Lord inspired the angels with the message: ‘I will terrorize the unbelievers. Therefore smite them on their necks and every joint and incapacitate them. Strike off their heads and cut off each of their fingers and toes.”
Behead: to cut off the head: decapitate
Webster’s 9th New Collegiate Dictionary
Heads up: used as a warning to look out for danger…
An eye for an eye: “…eye for eye, tooth for tooth. Just as he inflicted an injury upon a person, so shall it be inflicted upon him.” Leviticus 24:19-21
Violate/Violence: late 13c., "physical force used to inflict injury or damage," from Anglo-French and Old French violence, from Latin violentia "vehemence, impetuosity," from violentus "vehement, forcible," probably related to violare
Online Etymological Dictionary
Chapter 1: Sea-Dog
Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja Mexico, June, 2017
Smoking debris filled the horizon as the smudged sun set on another aeronautical disaster. Pawing through swirling water and small waves, a Labrador retriever didn't know anything of plane dynamics or Islamic terrorism, only that it was very thirsty and hungry. And Few-Leg who loved it was missing.
Momentarily, the dog raised its head and barked roughly, but got salty water in its jowls and lapped--odd tasting. Barked. And paddled on. No sounds and no smells, except acrid ones.
The yellow retriever swam around a large cabin section, past more burning objects, past broken flight chairs, discolored suitcases, and charred bodies, but didn't find his owner. He paddled and paddled in amongst the hundreds of yards of abandoned things. Finally, tiring, the dog spotted a large chunk of meshed baggage that floated up ahead, swaying on the waves.
He swam toward the bunched plateau and on his 3rd try succeeded in climbing out of the oily water up on to it. The large dog’s nose sensed eatables and, hurriedly, he chewed through black webbing and a synthetic cover, until he got a plastic packet in its teeth, bit through that, and ate dried salmon, scarfing up delicious morsels.
Then the retriever lay down by the empty packet, put his jowls onto his fore-paws and slept. In the night it rained and rained. He woke in the heavy shower, and lapped shallow water which had accumulated in broken food containers and dips in the baggage.
Suddenly, the dog spotted movement over to the right on a large odd-shaped orange float. As yet no scent had come to him of anything living, but now a wet-man smell filled his nostrils, a little like his owner’s when they played in the surf at home in Maryland. But this wasn't his owner’s smell.
Getting up, the retriever growled and then barked. Repeatedly. And paced back and forth, with defensive hostility but yet interested to meet this other life. He hesitated whether to swim over to this human on the orange object as it floated closer on low waves, indistinct in the soft rain. Or stay at this safe place where plenty of food lay beneath his paws.
His keen ears picked up sounds coming from the man’s mouth.
“Here boy, come over here and help me.”
The human sounded friendly. But there was something wrong. The man’s right leg looked twisted, and discolored. The dog smelt blood. So it still hesitated.
Then suddenly a rogue wave shoved through acres of debris, and the storm began to harshen, lightening spiked down, and then thunderclaps ached in the retriever’s ears, followed by drenching, torrential rain. Wreckage on the high sea shuffled back and forth, various objects jostling and smashing into each other, and the orange float rolled closer toward the dog’s baggage-island.
The survivor tied his open Swiss-army can-opener to long length of rope, and then anxiously swung it through the downpour, and pulled back trying to catch the hook on any ridge or strap of the baggage. But it slipped across the webbing of the bunched suitcases and whipped into the heaving waves.
Trying over 30 times, but failing, failing…. Exhausted and weak from blood loss, the man wrapped rope around his torso, tying himself to the large orange float, then lay down and slept through incessant lashing rain.
Across churning waves, the wet dog on the other island, hungry again, pawed deeper into its life raft, dug deep into luggage until it found a sack of strange tasting meat and wolfed it down, filling the emptiness within. Then the dog bit and pawed further until he could squirm into the cavity, escaping the chill wind and torrent.
Later when the retriever woke from a short nap, he saw the human, again; it was up and swinging its long rope. Images of play came to the Lab; he barked excitedly, dove into the shoving waves and caught the rope as it rolled back away. Maybe this man, like his owner, wanted to play keep away. So the sea-dog swam back to its island, scrambled up on to the baggage, turned toward the slumped man’s float, and gritting its teeth pulled back on the taut rope, and backed up across the flat area behind him, uttering a friendly growl.
Just after a thunderclap, the animal heard the man yelling, “Yes! Good dog!” whatever that meant, not what his owner always said, but the voice sounded positive; and seemed excited, maybe liked to play. So the retriever continued pulling backwards, while the man pulled back.
Gradually, the two floating islands moved closer, though at times the rope almost ripped from the dog’s mouth, as counter waves crashed them away from each other. The man also had his end knotted around his waist.
When the rope slackened due to the downward swoop of a wave, the dog chewed on the wet cording; not like his rawhide bone, but enjoyable.
Soon the storm sea grew even more violent, rising waves becoming 7 footers, then 11, rocking and rolling the two life rafts. The rope got yanked back and forth, and the dog pulled back, and the man held on till his hands bled.
Despite wind and wave, the two life-rafts came within about 3 feet of each other on a downs-wing of a huge wave. Ignoring stabs from his broken leg, the survivor shouted, “Now or never!” and, desperately, did a one-legged jump toward the dog’s island. But it wasn’t enough.
Throwing out his arms, he clawed at the side of the dog’s baggage clump, but fell into the raging sea. He caught one hand on mesh, and finally managed to pull himself up, and squirmed onto the top, just as another large wave swept over them. He rolled dangerously close to being heaved back over the side of the baggage island, but managed to hold on. And the large yellow Lab pulled back again.
Then the rope fell slack as the baggage-clump slumped down into a dark canyon of water. And the man lay, almost unconscious from pain, too groggy to do anything. Blood seeped from his compound fracture. And he didn’t care.
The retriever backed up and growled. This wasn’t his owner. Lying down, he chewed on the rope end, jawing at the knife’s plastic sides.
Suddenly, a 15-footer crashed, almost washed both man and dog overboard. The cascade of water gouged through the human’s mental fog, and he opened his eye and pulled on the rope, “Let go, boy. I’ve gotta secure us.”
At first the dog wouldn’t but then lost interest in their contest and sat on its haunches watching this stranger.
The human untied the knife and slipped it into his jacket pocket, then took the loose rope end and began threading it through handles of suitcases. The dog watched, but growled whenever the man pushed the rope his way.
“There, there, boy, no offense. Just securing our two habitats.” But then a sharp pain ripped up from his broken leg and he moaned again. “Now then, what if I attach this end to that leather collar around your neck?”
Tensing, the retriever growled and prepared to attack if this man tried to grab him.
“Okay, I get it. You’ll share your land, but we’re not friends. Got it.”
While the surf rose to 15-foot rollers. The man fell unconscious, and the rain plummeted; in the down swoops, the retriever paced back and forth, but then later as the storm worsened, he belly-crawled over to the crumpled sleeper, sniffed, and finally lay down next to the man like he always did every night with his owner.
Morning came bright and cool, shining its brilliant sunlight down on the floating graveyard and its two castaways.
Chapter 2: Sniper Attack
News Alert Exclusive! KNXTV LOS ANGELES:
“There’s been a shooting in Orange County. Our reporter Shelia Cameron was on location doing interviews near South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa when shots rang out. One Muslim young woman has been wounded. No assailant has yet been apprehended.”
“The shooting took place during a noisy demonstration by over 103 Muslim students from the University of California Irvine and Orange Coast College. They are protesting Israel’s renewed bombings in Gaza 3 days ago.”
“That seriously injured woman hasn’t been identified, but she was flown by Medevac helicopter to Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach. Her condition is unknown at this time. Police are investigating the attack.”
Here’s the disturbing video from earlier:
>>“Free Palestine! Allah Akbar! God is great!”
Chanting rows of Muslim protesters walk up and down in front of South Coast Plaza near the 405 Freeway; carrying signs and waving Palestinian flags; some of them yelling to passing motorists.
Suddenly, there’s the unmistakable retort of several gunshots and one young woman lets go of her protest sign, spasms, and crumples to the concrete. Swathed from head to foot in Islamic clothes, she lays silent, red blooding her robe in the stomach area.
Chaos erupts. Screams and shouts in Arabic and Urdu—a few in English: “Oh my Allah! Help her! Where's the shooter? Protect the others!”
Camera footage jitters as the KNX-TV news crew tries to get past male protesters. Several angry men shove their hands up in front of the lens and shout angrily. Protesters run out onto Bristol Avenue; cars shriek to grinding stops. The harsh crunch of metal—two vehicles collide, a BMW smashes into the back of a Lexus.
More deafening shouts, a cacophony of horns blare; screams in Arabic, Urdu, and English; protesters running back and forth; the reporter Sheila Cameron loudly speaks into her microphone over the yelling, and repeats what has happened, is happening.
The newsreel camera videos the chaos; students shoulder around a line of head-covered women, and hold their hands out like shields; they scan the area--the Plaza buildings near Bloomingdales, and southward toward the 405 Freeway overpass. Fearful; expecting more gunshots.
Then everyone pulls out cellphones, punching numbers while the reporter pushes closer, continues to summarize the events.
But two Muslim young men shove Cameron back, knocking her mike to the pavement, and she falls and cries out. The camera jitters and blanks.<<
Back in the news room a somber newsman speaks again: “There’s our disturbing news alert. Fortunately, reporter Cameron wasn’t injured, nor our cameraman, Don Abinami, though the front of his video camera was damaged by angry protesters.”
“There you have it. Not war-torn Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, or Gaza but South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, where a young Muslim woman was shot at a protest march this morning, right here in safe and balmy Southern California; the dangerous violence erupted today at 9:13 am. Fast News Exclusive, always first on KNX-TV!
More updates at 6 and 11 tonight. This is Damon Sansant reporting. Good day.”
"Walidy! Walidy! Daddy! Where are you? Walidy, I'm hurt! I can't get up." Affifah tried to rise, but fell back in jagged pain. Momentarily, she blacked out then woke in a vague haze, and gazed around her. A thing up above…a clear bag hanging down—oh, an IV. Pain medication? But my side hurts so! Why!?
She glanced at the medical stem in her right arm and then slowly felt of her body with limp fingers; I’m almost unclothed! Only wearing a short skimpy shift. She tried to pull the sheet and blanket up higher over her body. "Ohh!" she shrieked. “Walidy!”
After an urge to vomit, Affifah lay still, agonizing, lost…Where's my robe? I don't hear Zarafah, my goat...oh yeah, I'm in America, studying, but where is Dalia, my roommate? This isn't our apartment. Oh, yes, I got shot! At the demonstration…
Later some of the excruciating pain eased. She opened her eyes focused, and again tried to sit up, but pains stabbed violently. With her fingers she felt down to where heavy bandages covered her side and abdomen. I got shot, but how’d I get here? What hospital? She couldn't remember. Where’s my brothers? Mother? My father? Anxious she yelled, "Walidy!"
No answer. Only a quiet hum of shiny technical equipment above her. Affifah looked across the pastel-shaded room--another bed, but privacy curtains were pulled. The young Palestinian could see a window’s top part over on the other side. But her mind fogged…it was hard to think.
Her friend and she were hiding from the imam in the closet. No, that was in Nablus, back home, in Palestine...we had been chasing...who? Couldn’t remember…
She drifted off again…was walking in the souk with her oldest brother, Aadil; shopping for a special present for Mother...no, I’m kneeling, praying the Muslim call... in the small basement room of the Nablus mosque where women and girls worshiped.
But she couldn't remember the words! It’s so hot. And ceiling fans kept blowing papers into her face...worshipers' shoes kept tumbling down upon her from many shelves lining the walls….
She could hear words from Imam Bukhari broadcast through a speaker from the men's floor above. Oh, how her side ached, but the women in rows near her ignored her suffering and crying.
Suddenly, she heard herself scream out, "Help me, oh women of Sunni...There is no God but Allah and Mohammad is his messenger." Then nothing.
The cut-pain seemed less, so groggy…she touched her forehead again to the thick blue carpet…but instead found there in her face the damp page of her American literature textbook…large blocky print so unlike Arabic flowing scroll…she had fallen asleep reading very late…before an exam…trying to understand that Puritan Jonathan Edwards...no, she was chanting next to her grandmother and ma…her sister and her feeding chickens…a sudden agony in her side…Affifah screamed again. Then fell into darkness.
In her nightmare, chaos reigned near her home, explosions erupting. Jewish soldiers shooting, trying to kill her…no, her cousin…Later awaking…an imam shouting…reading my Qur'an, reciting sura…serving Walidy his favorite dish of—can’t remember! …oh musakhan and taboon bread…him sitting before our glaring TV...no, red lights and being hoisted—agony—into a white van…loud siren or her own screaming?…Nothing made sense...she wanted to sleep...sensed someone near her but couldn’t get her eyes open…the pain lessened again…I'll figure it out later, inshallah, I...
Affifah woke startled and shrieked. She couldn’t breathe. Her whole side burned with daggered fire, like torn open and red hot knives shoved deep into her vitals. She couldn't move. Her mouth clogged with sand, parched; she tried to reach for a water glass she saw through bleary vision by her bedside…
Hiccuping, and then gasping for breath, she finally breathed deep and calmed down. Looked across the room toward the other patient’s bed; the privacy curtains had been pulled back. An older lady lay still, but snored loudly; had bandages swathing her head. How could the woman sleep after my loud shrieks? Medicated, of course.
But my side still hurts! Where’s my medication?! The bag above her looked slack. Afifah punched the call button over and over and wept. "Walidy! Oh Allah!” She trembled violently, a blinking light up above seemed to go on forever.
Then came the sound of movement. A heavyset nurse with a pug nose leaned above her and fiddled with the IV. Then left without speaking.
Gradually, her grievous pain softened. Through the large window beyond the other patient’s bed, sunshine shone through glistening on metal cabinets. No doubt if I could get up and walk over there, I would be able see white breakers in the Pacific. I wonder if I could see surfers.
How she loved the ocean here. Had never seen it until coming to California. Growing up in the country of Palestine, (falsely called the West Bank by Americans), she had never seen the sea. Even though its waves washed up on a sandy beach less than 20 miles away from her family’s small apartment in Nablus, it might as well been the moon; for visiting the coast was forbidden by the Israeli Government.
Few Muslims ever got permission to go through all the checkpoints and past the Israeli Wall, and then through Jewish-controlled land, before finally reaching the Mediterranean Ocean.
Affifah still heard, in her memory, her grandmother wailing for hours, crying repeatedly the loss of her ancestral home in A-Bassa, an Arab fishing village in northern Galilee. “The Zionists, on a cold bitter day, that was in December 1948, came and stole our land, took away my dear house! Grampa had the key! It’s up near the Lebanese border. We had wonderful olive trees and the most beautiful garden.”
Her grandmother continued, weeping, “Not too far from those beautiful grottos in high cliffs. But when our martyrs drive out the Jews soon, inshallah, dear Affifah, you will get to see those grottos—so beautiful! Oh, Allah, why did I lose my home?” And her black clad elderly gramma would wail some more.
Oh Gramma, I miss you! Suddenly Affifah felt uncomfortable again. Where’s the nurse?! I need to go to the bathroom. Memories of her gramma’s plight fragmented away like a broken plate. She punched the call button. Finally, yelled.
“There, there, dear! Do you want me to call the nurse for you?” It was the older lady in the other bed. She had risen part way up from her pillow, her face wrinkled in concern. Her bandaged head like a genie’s or a mummy’s.
Affifah managed to suppress an agonized moan, and responded, “No, but thanks. I’ve already pushed the button.”
“You must be hurt very bad to be in such severe pain.”
“Yes. But how about you, grandmother?” And pointed at the huge swath of bandages on the elder woman’s head.
“Yeah, well, I get wobbly here at 87, can’t take my daily walks like I’m used to; for over 80 years, I’ve been a real walking dynamo. Two days ago, dear, I was out by my garage feeding the neighborhood cats, had set my cane down to put a little water in a dish, and wouldn’t you know it, over I go!”
She managed to sit up as she talked. “And I had to bang my head on the side of the brick flower bed. Really irritating.”
“Thanks to Allah! That you didn’t get hurt worse”—
“Oh dearie, the elderly woman interrupted, “you must be that young lady who got shot yesterday. I’m Martha Barnes. What’s your name? I saw that on the news. You falling down…Right here in Orange County! Shot?! What’s the world coming to? Well I know other places ‘re bad to worse. I watch more news than’s good for me. All them ISIS and HAMAS. But we got to keep informed don’t we? I guess you must be Muslim, yes? What did you say your name was?”
Finally the older woman paused, and the wounded student was able to answer. “Yes, that’s me. I’m glad to meet you. My name is Affifah. Thanks to Allah, most gracious, I survived—
“Well, well, glad to meet you too, but not here, if you know what I mean. Hospitals are no place to meet people. Where’re you from? Probably over there where they fight all the time, right?”
“I’m Palestinian, a foreign student on a scholarship to Orange Coast College, with a transfer plan to UC Irvine. To be a doctor. I was able to come to America several months a--”
The pug-nosed nurse came in, swung the privacy curtain closed and helped Affifah use the urinal. Then administered more sedative to her and she drifted off…
Later, she woke again. It was dark in the room, except for colored lights out the window, maybe ships or buildings along the coast-front. The gramma, Martha, was snoring loudly.
Affifah touched her bandaged side. Wish I was home in Nablus with my family, inshallah...NO! That would be worse. Daily patrols of Israelis...Be thankful. Allah is watching, most compassionate, most merciful. He knows best. I mustn’t keep complaining; I know that. Be thankful. And she slept, a troubled dreaming, where Zionists were standing over her and laughing while she cried.
Morning came. In the other bed, Martha was watching CNN on the TV monitor that jutted out from the corner. A bubbly reporter was interviewing Miley Cyrus. That scandalous actress stood near a fancy restaurant table wearing an obscene dress, showing most of her chest. Revolting. And, of course, her cropped hair uncovered.
No wonder our immam cautioned me against coming to America--even though he congratulated me on winning a medical scholarship.
“Well, dearie, you’ve finally woken up!” The elderly lady had turned to her, a big smile wrinkling her chubby face. “Feel better?”
“Yes, thanks to Allah, most compassionate”—
‘Here, here, you must be a very devout Muslim. Me, I’m lapsed Episcopalian, but got enough religion to know faith is important, but not enough to cause trouble, if you know what I mean—er sorry, didn’t mean to say anything negative. But the last news alert said more rockets have been fired into Damascus by Sunni rebels. Then Assad’s dropped barrel bombs and killed civilians. Now that ISIS beheaded another poor Muslim. I don’t get it.”
“Oh, yes, I know you’re Muslim! But you got attacked here…Makes no sense…No offense dearie, just speakin’ my mind. Why can’t we get all along with each other? Never mind…Tell me about yourself, otherwise I’ll keep talkin’, if you know what I mean.” And the older woman laughed, the droning of the news program ignored.
Affifah hesitated, not knowing how to explain complicated things like faith and the false heresy of the Shia, and of infidels like Assad and the Jews.
Finally she spoke, “My father, Walidly, back in Palestine, in Nablus, works a small falafel stand so he can’t send me enough for rent money; and my scholarship’s minimal; so while I take pre-med classes at Orange Coast College, I work as a live-in nurse care provider at Orange Board and Care 3 evenings a week.” She paused. But I won’t be there tonight….Why not? Oh, yes, I got shot….What was I saying? To whom? She couldn’t remember. She heard talk but drifted away….
Terrifying moments came back from the previous morning, swooped down on her like last summer when Israeli ‘copters raided a house 4 buildings down from their apartment in her home town. Only here—yesterday, there were no thunderous rotor blades…no, we were chanting, me and Dalia and Ghina and our friends, but…then incredible pain spasmed my side, a loud gunshot, and I collapsed. Screaming; then chaos. Can’t remember anything else. What happened next?
…She had been walking, carrying a placard next to Ghina, demonstrating with other students, mostly friends from UCI against more awful bombing by Israeli jets in Gaza last weekend—the Jews had killed so many again, and, also, because an Israeli professor was scheduled to speak at Orange Coast College.
But, oh, the cramping pain! How bad that had been for hours. However, now it was more manageable. She opened her eyes, and looked over toward the other patient, Martha, suddenly remembering she had been talking with her, but evidently had zoned out.
Night had fallen. Outside, through the window, Affifah could see lights like tiny stars along the coastal road, and beyond, the darkness of the Pacific Ocean. At least my pain level is way down.
She looked up at her IV and thanked Allah. Never had she dreamed she would be wounded by gunfire, not here America. Her cousin Hassan in Ramallah had been hit by a rubber bullet in the neck from an Israeli soldier’s gun. Two years ago. Had almost died, just for heaving a stone at a military jeep! But that’s occupied Palestine, her country, not America.
Chapter #3...To be continued
In the Light,