Rachel Gants

Narratives in Passion

George and Harriet

“What did ya turn that off for? That was ‘Patton’! One of the greatest war movies of our time. You’ve got passion, you’ve got drama, and conflict. Where’s the apprec…” Slowly getting off the weathered grey couch, George hobbles to the television and turns it back on.

“George, you’ve watched it at least twenty times already! I need you to come to Marshall’s with me to buy Christmas presents.” George continues staring intently at the screen, smiling at Patton’s witty remark.

“Just give me five minutes more. We’re getting to the –best—part!” George mumbles as Harriet turns off the screen. “Ah, my beautiful darling, my honey,” George says amusedly as he grabs his cane.

“Forget it. I’ll go by myself.” Harriet screeches as she storms out the living room door.

“Harriet, Harriet you could drive a man crazy!” George calls exasperatedly as he follows her, picking up the Marshall’s bag filled with clothes to return and stopping at the doorway to catch his breath.

“Me, drive you crazy?” Harriet exclaims, whirling around to face her husband as she stands in the gravel driveway. “ Every day you come back from a full time job at Wal-Mart that you despise, and then you sit on your butt staring at the television screen. Please! Find something to do with your life! What happened to your peace marches on Washington and your involvement in town politics?”

“I wasted my time with that hogwash!” George bellows and the soft chirping of sparrows seems suddenly to subside. “I spent thirty years working on those campaigns and what came of it? Gore lost, Bush is in office, and our deficit is growing by the minute.” George throws down the Marshall’s bag and slams his cane into the gravel. “The country’s going to the dogs! I was so hung up on ‘changing the world’ that I couldn’t see that the campaigning was just a worthless rat hole! I spent the first half of my life following such foolish, high strung ideas. I’m not going to spend what I have left of my life simply choosing new foolishness to follow.”

Shaking her head and opening the Toyota’s dented door, Harriet declared with agitation, “George, pick up the shopping bag and listen to yourself. You’re talking like an old, wrinkled curmudgeon who’s afraid to live his own life!”




“Javier, its Nikhil. Look, man, we have to get into the game this Friday. It’s the Bulls versus the Spurs—biggest game of the year. I just bought a hundred and fifty bucks worth of Bulls merchandise and full body paint for the both of us.”

“Hold up a second. Since when do you care anything for the Bulls?”

“Does it matter? What’s the difference—basketball, football, baseball…curling? Why would I care? Look I’ve got food, gear, and body paint. Are you in or what?”



“Lauren, I can’t let you do this. You’re too young for this kind of responsibility. You don’t understand fully what you are doing, and I don’t want you off thousands of miles away getting shot at by some crazy Islamist.”

“But, Dad, I need you to understand. I know what I’m doing. Do you remember September 11th and the feeling you got in the pit of your stomach when you saw those planes hit the towers on CNN? I do. All I remember thinking was that this must never happen again. ‘All it takes for evil to prevail is for a few good people to do nothing.’”

That was the conversation I’d had with my dad only three months ago. I had thought I was so clever, even “sagely” quoting Edmund Burke. All my words seem to ring of now is irony. As me and two other soldiers hide behind our poorly armored Hummer, Iraqis fire bullets at us from all sides. A bullet bursts through the Hummer’s paneling, narrowly missing my right arm. These are not the Iraqis with outstretched arms for their American saviors I was told of. A grenade goes off nearby and the idealism of Edmund Burke’s quote is lost on me. The only words that seem to truthfully define my condition are ‘what am I doing?’



The heavy belt laden with explosives pinches my waist under my loose sweater and jeans. Pushing through the crowd of despicable unbelievers I enter a clearing by the side of a store displaying the word “Marshall’s” in bold lettering. The shouts of the pre-game festivities of the Friday night Bull’s game across the street distract me from my focus—following of the words of Allah. I recite a passage from the Koran to focus me  and give me the strength of will to complete my work:

“O you who believe! Fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you and let them find in you hardness; and know that Allah is with those who guard against evil.”(9:123)

I hear his order. My family and my people will honor and remember my name. No longer will I be Nassin the beggar, but Nassin the hero who gave his life for the Prophet! Yet I stand in my required position and cannot manage to bring my hands to my waist.

A woman in American military garb who is chattering with her family over the joys of returning to Chicago for Christmas bumps me as she passes. I am reawakened. The Americans—the disbelievers who strive to undermine the words of Allah! In a cloud of fury I comprehend the words of Allah more clearly than ever.

“Allah is He Whom do glorify all those who are in the heavens and the earth!” I scream and reach for my belt. The woman dives at me, throwing me to the pavement and scraping my face and arms in a mad struggle to keep me from my duty. She will fail. “Never will Allah grant to the unbelievers a way to triumph over the believers.”




Copyright 2002-2006 Student Publishing Program (SPP). Poetry and prose 2002-2006 by individual authors. Reprinted with permission. SPP developed and designed by Strong Bat Productions.