With Leather Book Club: Jason Elam’s ‘Monday Night Jihad’ Part 2

By: 04.08.14

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Chapter Six

Saturday, December 20
CTD North Cental Division Headquarters
Minneapolis, Minnesota
6:00 A.M. CST

Scott Ross is peeved because the King of the Mall of America has refused to shut things down solely based on “one guy’s hunch”. The CTD team couldn’t even get the governor to help out, making Jim Hicks pine for Jesse Ventura in charge. Without help from Minnesota, the CTD team is left to go through the cameras at the border crossings, hoping to spot similar Canadian rental cars that Kurshumi was picked up in. Add in a hearty dose of racial profiling, and CTD just might be able to provide a few faces the sixty-six cops and agents can be on the lookout for.

Saturday, December 20
North Central United States
7:10 A.M. CST

Abdel and Aamir have finished their morning prayers, and Abdel realizes he’ll miss the other four if everything goes according to plan. Aamir presses Abdel to see if he’s still having doubts, but Abdel is all ‘talk to the hand’ and tells his brother that he’ll be there with him. The brothers take turns, placing bomb vests on each other, threading the detonator under heavy flannel shirts, and taping the wires to their arms. Abdel finally realizes that the children he’s attacking aren’t innocents since they will more than likely grow up to become infidels.

CTD North Central Division Headquarters

After extensive searching (Thank you, Patriot Act!), Ross and Tara Walsh have finally found some faces. They’ve found border crossing hits on Kurshumi, Iskandar Bogra (Isn’t that the pianist/comedian?) from Pakistan, and the al-Hasani brothers, Abdel and Aamir, from Saudi Arabia. The al-Hasanis in particular are notable since they were discovered at a training camp in Pakistan. Both Aamir and Bogra have been seen on camera four hours apart at the Hawthorne Avenue bus station in Minneapolis, which was one of the drop sites Kurshumi was supposed to collect a package from.

Hicks makes the call to his team to get ready at the Mall of America, and Ross begs to be allowed on the squad. Hicks is skeptical, since all he knows about Scott is that he’s a chubby intel guy, and chubby intel guys tend to get themselves and others killed on missions like this. Ross points out that despite his extra weight, he’s got a military background and has spent some time IN THE SH*T, man! Hicks is still reluctant, but agrees to letting Ross on the team under some sort of weird “You found ’em, you get to potentially kill ’em” rules.

Saturday, December 20
Mall of America
Bloomington, Minnesota
3:20 P.M. CST

Abdel and Aamir are waiting in their car, a rented Dodge Stratus (No, really, THEY DROVE A DODGE STRATUS!) Abdel cuts the tape on Aamir’s detonator, and Aamir does the same for Abdel. They arm each other’s vests, and Aamir goes over the plan once more: The brothers will separate at the escalators, with Abdel posting up outside the movie theater and Aamir getting in line for the roller coaster. At 3:30, Aamir will detonate, thirty seconds later a martyr on the second floor will follow, then Abdel thirty seconds after that, and the last man thirty seconds later, near the entrance to the east parking garage.

Scott Ross is hanging around next to the Healthy Express, having downed three mango smoothies in the five hours he’s been at the mall, and he’s got to take a piss. Unfortunately, he knows that he’ll be a laughing stock and kicked off the team if he asks Hicks for a bathroom break. Ross could have just as easily taken up a spot next to the Freshens Yogurt at the north entrance, since he figured the east and west entrances, with their covered parking garages, would limit the availability to bundle up and hide the bomb vests, but five hours of frozen yogurt would have meant an entirely different kind of problem.

Abdel is nearly at the entrance to the mall when a ruckus distracts him. An old lady has fallen, and needs help getting up. Aamir guides his brother past the scene and into the mall itself. Abdel quickly scans the area, trying to determine if anyone is looking for him, but discounts the people he sees, and continues on his way.

Scott’s getting back into his AFSOC rhythm, when he notices Abdel al-Hasani walk through the door, unwrapping a scarf. He quickly brings his smoothie cup to his mouth and speaks into his wrist-radio, alerting Jim Hicks, who’s posted inside the American Eagle Outfitters. Hicks calls for essential communications only and orders Four and Six Teams to be ready for take downs, while he and Ross follow in behind Aamir and Abdel.

Abdel’s grip on the detonator tightens as his hand gets sweatier and the cylinder feels heavier and heavier. As the brothers near the escalators, Abdel notices a guy in a trench coat leaving the juice bar, and he gets a moment of panic before dismissing the notion that anybody knows what him and Aamir are planning.

Hicks walks out of the store and gets behind the taller of the two brothers, presumably Aamir. He notices they both have their hands shoved deep inside coat pockets, no doubt tightly gripping detonators. Jim wonders how to get their hands off the triggers without the bombs going off when he notices the group is headed for the escalators. That’ll make the snipers’ jobs that much harder, so Jim and Scott will have to figure out something fast.

Aamir gives Abdel’s arm a brief squeeze before veering away from the escalators. However, as he chances a glance back at his brother, Aamir notices the man in the trench coat from the juice place not far behind Abdel. What’s worse, Aamir can tell that the trench coat guy recognizes his and Abdel’s faces. Aamir rips open his jacket, ready to advance the plan considerably.

Jim sees Aamir notice Scott and reveal the detonator. Realizing there’s no other choice, Hicks gives the order to a sniper to take a shot. The shooter fires and a split second later, Aamir al-Hasani is missing a head.

As Scott rides the escalator to the second floor, he notices the commotion, but the general noise of the mall means Abdel couldn’t hear Aamir’s truncated cry of “ALLAHU AKBAR!” Unfortunately, general mall noise does nothing for a rifle shot and the subsequent screams of terrified patrons. Ross quickly pulls the knife from the sheath on his back and jams it into Abdel’s armpit before al-Hasani can make his move. Scott then sweeps the leg, pulls Abdel’s hand out of his pocket, and then pins Abdel’s hand to a bench with his blade, the detonator falling uselessly to the ground.

Hicks snatches up Aamir’s detonator and shouts for a complete lock down of the mall. He notices Scott’s got a handgun pressed against Abdel’s head, so the “rookie” seems to have acquitted himself rather nicely. Jim pulls out his badge just to make sure nobody tries to vigilante him, when an explosion shatters glass and nearly knocks him over. He looks up again at Ross, but the blast wasn’t that close. He quickly runs towards the explosion, with Ross following after. They head to the north entrance, devoid of all glass as cars smolder and burn in the parking lot.

Hicks finally gets to the impact spot and asks a CTD agent what happened. After lock down was called, several police officers exited the mall, startling a guy. He ran away, two officers gave chase, and when they finally caught up to him, he detonated his vest (He, more than likely, being Bogra). Jim tells Scott to get the bomb squad to remove Abdel’s vest and then prep him for interrogation. He doesn’t like it, but Hicks will use any means necessary to get Abdel to talk.

Key Lines: “I spent six years with AFSOC, two of them hunting hajjis in Afghanistan.” – Seriously, you’re going to drop a h-bomb like that? That’s a line out of bad airport fiction. OH WAIT.

But as he scanned the surrounding areas, all he saw were a few teenage girls talking on their cell phones, a scruffy-looking guy in a trench coat hanging out at the juice bar, a family diving up their cash, and singles and couples passing by, carrying bags of expensive, worthless junk out to their cars.

– I would have thought wearing a trench coat to look inconspicuous would in fact be too conspicuous, and thus, a terrible idea for a spy mission. Also, the juice bar? Is this Angel Grove?

Chapter Seven

Saturday, December 20
Denver International Airport
Denver, Colorado

“Snap” Gorkowski is a scorned man. One of the rookies has failed in his chickenly duties, and has not rendered unto Gorkowski that which is Gorkowski’s. Namely, a bucket of Popeye’s, mashed taters n gravy, and some biscuits. You’d think that since it’s only a two hour flight from Denver to San Francisco, a healthy, adult human being could go more than 120 minutes without food, but Gorkowski is less of a a man and more of a ravenous, insatiable black hole of hunger. Also, Coach Burton hates the entire city of Oakland and refuses to set foot in the city until game day, so that explains the flight to Frisco.

Riley is trying to ignore Snap’s lamentations by letting the soothing sounds of A Decade of Steely Dan soothe him to sleep, but the captain has asked to see him in the cockpit. As Covington makes his way toward the front of the plane, he bumps into Ricci, who’s looking very stressed out and upset, which Sal chalks up to his hatred of flying. Riley offers up some Yo-Yo Ma cello suites to calm Ricci’s frazzled Italian nerves, and he continues on to the pilot.

The captain, Mike Flores, is also an Air Force graduate, and a big fan of Covington’s. He offers Riley the chance to sit in the jump seat for the flight, an opportunity Riley quickly accepts. He has to take a quick position test for coach Texeira, but other than that, is primed to hang out with the flight crew. First, though, Riley does the pre-flight announcements, getting some digs in at Gorkowski for being a giant lummox, and then ‘accidentally’ leaves the mic on while asking the pilot which pedal is the gas and which is the clutch, which is somehow the height of comedy.

Riley breezes through his position test, since he’s not only supremely physically gifted in terms of speed and strength, but is also incredibly smart, often out-smarting the coaches. He finishes up the test and makes his way to the cockpit as the plane is passing over the Rocky Mountains. Riley gets back on the microphone to antagonize his teammates as the plane goes through several pockets of turbulence. He pulls the ‘accidentally left the mic on’ trick again as he asks Captain Flores if the 12,000 feet elevation refers to from sea level or mountain level, then hits the WARNING – TERRAIN – PULL UP button, because apparently Riley thinks it’s funny to make his good friend, Sal, who is uncomfortable flying, have a heart attack.

With his jokes all done, Riley remains in the jump seat for the rest of the flight. As the plane begins to descend, the pilots get a print out message announcing the terror attack at the Mall of America, and the notice that all fights are to proceed as scheduled. Knowing that the crew will have a lot to take care of, Riley exits the cockpit and heads back to his seat. He gets some flack form Gorkowski and a few other players, but he’s mostly met with cheers for his antics. The plane lands without incident at 3:16 P.M. PST, and everyone files onto several chartered buses. It’s not until then that PR director Robert Taylor discovers the attack and announces it to the group.

Ricci is particularly concerned since his wife has friends in Minneapolis and wants to know more information, but Taylor isn’t getting much from his Blackberry. The buses reach the Hyatt to a screaming collection of fans, autograph seekers and sellers. Riley ignores the guys looking to make a quick buck and gets his room key.

At 6:00 P.M PST, the team meets up in the ballroom for a catered dinner, and both Travis Marshall and Garrett Widnall ask Riley’s perspective on the attack. After dinner, the team splits off for position meetings, and also a special teams meeting. And as we all know, special teams has two jobs: don’t screw up and be f*cking awesomely sexy (I knew Elam couldn’t help himself). After all the meetings is coach Burton’s final pep talk before lights out. An important division game with the Mustangs most hated rival awaits tomorrow.

Key Lines: Bones was Ted Bonham, the head of the medical team. – Nice Star Trek reference, NERD.

“Today we are expecting moderate to severe turbulence on takeoff. Gorkowski, this means Mr. Plane go bump-bump.” – THIS IS BAD COMEDY

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