Holy cow, friends, it’s been a while! Sorry for the big gap in updates on the goings on of Riley Covington, Scott Ross, Abdel al-Hasani, and the rest of the gang in Jason Elam’s debut novel, Monday Night Jihad. If you’ve forgotten what’s happened (And I wouldn’t blame you), terrorists have terror-attacked the Mall of America and shit is going CRAZY. For a more in-depth look at what’s gone down, check out Part One and Part Two at those handy links.
If you’d like a break from reading recaps about terrible people jamming knives into faces, take a peep at the With Leather twitter family! I’m @LegKickTKO, our fearless editor-in-chief is @MrBrandonStroud, there’s the ultra-awesome @MayorBurnsy, our intrepid Impact Best and Worster, Danielle “@ProGrapsLady” Mattheson and of course, @WithLeather itself. We probably won’t stab knives into your face, probably.
Saturday, December 20
CTD North Central Division Headquarters
Heavily bandaged, Abdel al-Hasani is in the CTD’s interrogation (TORTURE) room, chained to a desk that, like Abdel’s chair, is bolted to the floor. Jim Hicks walks in, places his murderin’ knife on the table, just out of Abdel’s reach and starts questioning him. Hicks points out that Aamir, Abdel’s dead brother, was an idiot for believing the lies that Allah wants innocent people to be murdered to further The Cause. Jim keeps pressing on Abdel’s reluctance to believe in The Cause until Abdel finally breaks down and offers up one name as the name responsible: Hakeem (Oh dip).
Saturday, December 20
Hakeem Qasim (OH DIP!) sits in a dark hotel room, fingers rubbing a brass medallion. It says “honor” in seven different languages along the edge, with three daggers in the center. Of course, it wasn’t always a medallion, but was once a 7.62 x 39 mm bullet given to him by his dearly departed Uncle Ali. Hakeem is staring at a muted TV screen as CNN replayed the limited information about the Mall of America attack. Hakeem seethes at the disaster the beginning of his grand revenge ended up as.
After his immediate family was murdered by the Great Satan’s bombs, young Hakeem was taken in by his uncle Ibrahim, in Ramadi. Ibrahim is Hakeem’s mother’s brother, but due to his connection with the Cause, an Iraq-based terrorist group with plans to take down the decadent West, Ibrahim wasn’t allowed around the family very often. Ibrahim sent Hakeem to al-‘Aqran, the Scorpion, to mold him into a long-term sleeper agent. For two years, Hakeem studied under al-‘Aqran, learning both bomb making and the languages and cultures of western Europe and the imperialistic United States. Following his training and indoctrination, the Scorpion left 12-year old Hakeem at the gates of a monastery to begin his new life. Hakeem remained alone for fourteen years, until ten months ago when he was contacted. Al-‘Aqran was ready for Hakeem to take his revenge. Now, there are just ten more days of Hakeem leading his double life. Ten more days until he can drop his facade and become Hakeem Qasim, the Cheetah again. Until then, though, Hakeem is left to stew over the failures of his soldiers in completing their mission.
Key Lines: “My mind was created by Allah and for Allah.” – I have a really awesome FABA track jacket.
But now, in this orphaned boy, Ibrahim had seen an opportunity to create a weapon potentially more powerful than anything the Cause had stashed in its secret arsenals in the southern al-Hajarah desert.
– The biggest weapon the Cause has hidden away in the desert is a Light Grenade. Very dangerous.
“Satan’s great puppet, Bush of America, took your family, your future, and your honor.” – I always KNEW that Jeff Dunham was essentially a demonic force for evil.
Sunday, December 21
San Francisco, California
Riley Covington wakes up in his hotel room in San Francisco and stares out across the foggy landscape, looking at the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Prison. He thinks it might be nice to one day tour the California coast, maybe on his honeymoon, but that kind of necessitates having a girlfriend first, and Riley’s never been a smooth operator when it comes to the ladies (Not enough wholesome cheerleaders, I bet).
Riley watches FOX NEWS, learning that two police officers were killed during the attack, and grumbles about Pasto Tim being wrong about having pity for the terrorists for being misguided. Riley turns off the TV, takes a quick shower, and then heads down to the conference room for team chapel services. The chaplain, Walter Washburne, talks about how misguided the terrorists are for believing in killing for a cause. He also mentions something that’s hard for the players to stomach: the concept of putting others ahead of themselves (I guess that’s expected out of quarterbacks and DIVA RECEIVAS, but what offensive guards are me-first players?).
After the sermon, the team heads off for a buffet to load up on calories before the game. There’s pastas and steaks and all sorts of wonderful treats, but all Riley goes for is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. After breakfast, the team heads to several buses to make the trip across the bay into Oakland. The ride is quiet as there’s a strict “no talking” rule, allowing to further contemplate the terrorists’ actions.
As the Mustangs get closer and closer to Golden West Stadium, the number of fans decked out in black and silver, with spikes and skull masks and pirate gear, all flipping off the team, grows and grows. The buses finally reach the stadium, and everyone piles out and makes a beeline straight for the visiting locker room. The players start their unique pre-game preparations, with some watching the early Boston versus Florida game (I’m thinking MILITIA MEN versus MANATEES, what about y’all?). Riley gets his ankles taped up, puts his football pants on (Technically they are football capris), and then heads onto the field to check the conditions of the turf.
A small group of fans is waiting in the stands to scream insults at the Mustangs, and another gaggle behind the uprights, yelling at Mustangs kicker Tory Girchwood. Covington makes his way to Girchwood, who expresses a desire to take a shot back, to just maybe get the fans to shut up for once. Tory, showing off how suave and badass kickers are, punts a ball into the stands, drilling a guy in the chest, knocking him on his ass and spilling his Bud Light. This instantly gets the Bandit fans cheering and chanting Girchwood’s name because kickers are f*cking awesome, bro. After Girchwood’s epic pwning of the Bandits fans, Riley heads back in to the locker room to put on his shoulder pads and jersey, and then get ready for the full team warm-up.
His fame, his odd schedule of PFL and off-season air force reserves, and his general ineptitude with women all combined to make his chances of ever having a meaningful relationship with a young lady about equivalent to the Detroit Wildcats’ chances of ever having a meaningful relationship with the PFL Cup.
– I seriously love how lazy Elam is in renaming the teams. “Aww, jeez, can’t use Lions, uh, what’s close? Panthers? No, that’s a thing already, too. I’VE GOT IT!” Also, THE WILDCATS!
“They believed the Koran tells them to kill those who don’t agree with them. Maybe it does and maybe it doesn’t – I’m not an expert in the Koran or in Islam.” – BUT I AM AN EXPERT IN KNOWING THEY ARE WRONG AND GROSS!
Sunday, December 21
Hakeem Qasim is sitting in deep contemplation. He’s at his cover job, but all he’s thinking about is the tape he recorded the night before. Using gloves before opening the mini DVD-R to leave no traces of fingerprints, he sat with a lamp behind him, leaving his face covered in darkness as he spoke.
Hakeem talks about fighting for The Cause, which is comprised of warriors from across the Muslim world, some fighting for honor, some for revenge, some for Allah and ideology. Qasim says The Cause was formed when the Great Satan struck first, stealing Arab lands for oil and attacking innocent people. He says that now, with this most recent attack (Which hasn’t happened yet), nowhere is safe in America. Anybody could have a bomb strapped to his chest, and he wants America to stew in that fear.
Hakeem’s anxious since he wants his hammer blow to fall immediately, but plan doesn’t happen for another eight days. It’s been fifteen years of planning, though, so a little over a week shouldn’t be too much to wait for.
Sunday, December 21
CTD North Central Division Headquarters
Jim Hicks and Scott Ross are going over the confession that was “extracted” from Abdel al-Hasani, while Jim, ever the professional, offers Scott some Baileys for his coffee. Scott’s a bit of a recovering alcoholic, so he declines, yet he keeps longingly looking at the bottle.
The two deduce that since Abdel spoke of Hakeem looking to target the West, and then specifically mentioning America, that Hakeem had probably been based in Europe for some time before moving to the states. Ross and Hicks figure if Hakeem was a regular dude, he could have moved to the US at any time, but since it was only a short time ago, he must have a particular set of skills that kept him in Europe (Throat punching Armenians?). Scott calls up Tara Walsh back in St. Louis and tells her to put together a team to investigate business men or doctors that have moved from Europe to the United States in the past five years. Of course, that’s totally ridiculous and stupid, so Scott tells her to highlight any dudes of potential Middle Eastern or Arabic descent.
“Hakeem’s body was where his superiors expected him to be, but his mind was far from his job.” – THIS IS ME, EVERY DAY AT WORK.
“If you’re right, then we’re looking for some sort of businessman or professional, like a doctro or maybe an IT guy.” – In the Counter-Terrorism Division, Arabs can be doctors or computer dudes, exclusively.
Sunday, December 21
Golden West Stadium
Chaplain Washburne calls for “praying in the showers” which is a practice that I believe originated at Penn State. He calls upon GOD (You know, the real, Christian one) to protect the players, especially from those rowdy Bay City Bandit fans. He ends the prayer and the players head back to the locker room to continue their mental preparations for the upcoming game. Some of the defensive players pass around an ammonia strip to wake them up (Ah, the wonders of modern science. Back when Bronko Nagurski was playing, he had to huff a piss-soaked sock to get hyped for game time). The offensive line is trying to remain inconspicuous, except for the center, Chris Gorkowski, who is violently horking up the contents of his stomach due to nerves.
Coach Burton gets the team to huddle up, then the Mustangs run onto the field and are instantly drowned in a chorus of boos. The jeers quickly turn to cheers as soon as the first Bandit players steps onto the turf as AC/DC’s “Back in Black” welcomes the home team (So Fox News and Bon Scott are fair game for inclusion, but Broncos and Raiders are off limits? WHATEVER, ELAM). The Mustangs captains, quarterback Randy Meyer, defensive end Micah Pittman, and Riley head to midfield for the coin toss, which gives Riley the chance to briefly catch up with his old Air Force buddy and Bandits cornerback, Alex McNeil. The Bandits win the toss and elect to receive, which means Covington and the rest of the Mustangs defense will be taking the field first.
However, before the scintillating football action can begin, a brief history lesson. The Bandits are currently 0-14, which means they are close to a winless season, with only the expansion Tampa Bay Tarpons achieving that dubious distinction. This means the Bandits are going to be playing with the intensity of a methed-out Bandit Nation fan before the heated Bay City versus Colorado rivalry is even brought into consideration. Nobody really knows when the rivalry started, though scholars believe former Bandits coach-turned announcer Jim Madison has something to do with it (BAM, STRONG WORKIN’ LOTRIMIN!), or maybe everyone just hates the creepy old Bandits owner, Arthur Drake (Some say he time traveled from the future to buy a PFL franchise with his great-grandfather Nathan’s treasure fortune). Whatever the reason, nobody likes anybody (Except Riley and McNeil, I guess?), so expect a lot of injuries!
The game doesn’t start well for the Mustangs, as the Bandits make good use of their hurry-up offense to get Colorado reeling. Riley misses three tackles in a row because HE AIN’T GOT THAT SEC SPEED, PAAAAAWWWWLL! The Bandits get the ball to the Mustangs 10-yard line, and it’s 3rd and 5. Covington drops back into pass coverage, reads the QB’s eyes and makes his move. Unfortunately, it’s too little, too late, as Riley drops to the ground as Bandit Nation roars in approval for the touchdown. Despite his tremendous failure on at least four plays, Riley isn’t the player getting chewed out on the sidelines. That honor goes to defensive end LeMonjello (Le-MAHN-jel-lo) “Jiggly” Fredericks, who rips out the coach phone and throws it in the trash.
I’ll get back to the action, but I seriously want to point out that Elam named one of the characters after that terrible, racist joke “Lemon Jello and Orange Jello”. Let that sink in, friends. LEMONJELLO, YOU GET YOUR OWN PARAGRAPH BECAUSE DESPITE TANK ABBOTT TALKING ABOUT “BORDER BROTHERS”, THIS SEEMS A MILLION TIMES MORE RACIST. SHEESH BO-BEESH.
The Mustangs go on offense after the kick off, but the crowd is so loud that Sal Ricci has to focus on Gorkowski’s hands instead of Randy Meyer’s snap count. Sal heads down field, uses the umpire as a pick to separate from the linebacker covering him, and catches a pass from Meyer. After juking past one Bandit defender, Sal heads down field (RACK UP DAT YAC, SON, WHAT?!), eventually getting stopped by two Bandits, taking a Samoan Spike during the pile up on the turf.
On the very next play, Ricci blows a block on a running play, resulting in his linebacker obliterating the halfback behind the line of scrimmage. Somehow, the Mustangs are a better team, yet the Bandits are just dominating. Ricci heads to the sideline to get an earful from both coach Burton and his position coach. Luckily for Sal, the Mustangs manage to move the ball down field enough to warrant him getting back in the game. Ricci lines up, runs his route, and turns to catch Meyer’s pass. Unfortunately, his terrible Italian hands fail him, the ball bounces off his chest, and into the waiting arms of a Bandits cornerback, who streaks down field for a pick-six.
The Mustangs have tightened things up on both ends, as the score is 14-10, with just three minutes left in the fourth quarter. The Bandits have the ball, it’s third and seven, and one more first down will ice the game. At the snap, Riley blitzes the quarterback, then realizes that a screen to the fullback is looming. Covington starts backpedaling, and just barely manages to get his finger tips on the pass, deflecting it away from the Bay City fullback, and right into safety Danie Colson’s hands. Colson zips to the end zone for a pick six and starts in on his “hoodaman” dance (Who is the man, indeed?)
“So give them the courage of David, the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Samson, and the integrity of Daniel.” – Chaplain Washburne, you are f*cking terrible at summoning SHAZAM.
“I told you. Just be patient and they’ll make a mistake. They’re the Bandits; that’s what they do.” – Hey, Coach Burton, your team was making mistakes left and right in the first quarter, don’t act like the Mustangs are awesome. Also, unwittingly, Elam combined a Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff with a Mark Henry reference years before those were things to reference. Dude’s streets ahead.