"The Horn of Freedom" is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual people, living or dead, events or locales is completely coincidental.
"The Horn of Freedom" is the property of author Othy Jones and may not be redistributed or posted without prior written consent.
A special thanks to Jeremiah Hoehner for the sentence that inspired this short story.
WARNING: This short story contains coarse language that is not suitable for children.
THE HORN OF FREEDOM
By Othy Jones
He reached for the gun tucked snugly in the small of his back.
“Hands where I can see ‘em!” demanded a man who Ryan assumed was an Arabic commanding officer before him. Ryan guessed he must be a captain or some shit. The thought of an Arabic police captain in his own hometown made him sick. What had become of his country?
Ryan acted post-haste, whipping his arm out from behind his back with the pistol emerging like a Black Hawk copter straight out of ‘Nam. He’d go down fighting, just like he should have back then. But the police captain anticipated his move and rattled off four shots by the time he’d been ready to aim. Ryan dropped the weapon, his hand a bloody mess.
“Cuff him,” the Captain ordered. “Count yourself lucky,” Ryan heard him taunt. “That could have been your chest.”
“You think you’re somethin’ special, don’t you?” Ryan asked with a deliberate attitude as two other officers finished cuffing him. “I’ll tell you want you are. You’re a God damned terrorist who thinks he can come to my country, take jobs meant for my people and use them to plot your jihads!” He spit at the Captain’s face but missed. “Go back to your own country, asshole!”
“Don’t forget to read him his rights,” added the Captain whom left the deli storefront seemingly un-phased. Outside the deli on Ford Rd, the Captain was greeted by a newly arriving media frenzy.
“Officer,” shouted one reporter. “Sam Raimes, of the Dearborn Daily, was this another hate crime, Sir? If so, that’d make it six in the last two weeks.”
“My name is Captain Kashir Mansur. My fellow officers and I encountered an armed threat and we disarmed that threat. This situation is under control. That’s all I can say at this time, thank you.”
“That’s not a denial to my question, is it?” asked Raimes as Captain Mansur passed him by and headed towards one of his own.
“Do me a favor, Kendrek,” asked the Captain. “Button things up here for me. If I miss dinner, Samia will make me look worse than we made that punk look in there!”
“You got it, Cap,” replied his Polish Caucasian counter-part.
When Kashir returned to his squad car, he found a large Caucasian man, practically six foot two dressed in a black suit with black sun glasses blocking his way. “Captain Mansur?” the man asked.
“That’s me. That’s my car. I’d like to get in it, if you please.”
“Captain, I’ll get straight to the point. My name is Daniel J. Horn; previously of the Venkateswaran administration of Edison, New Jersey.”
“And I should care because?”
“With my help, Mr. Venkateswaran took the Edison mayoral race like a black horse. No one saw him coming. Why should you care? Twenty-eight percent of Edison is made up of Indian Americans, mostly Hindus. Yet the likelihood of an Indian becoming mayor is an even smaller percentage. I made that happen. I can do it again. I can do it for Dearborn and I can do it for you.”
“For me? Why would I want to be mayor?”
“We both know what went on in that deli today, Captain Mansur. Someone needs to put a stop to it. Someone needs to stand up for your people’s rights. They need a hero they can trust.”
“Why do you want to get involved? A white guy like yourself, you could probably take the spot.”
“They need one of their own. I’m a behind the scenes guy. I usher in change, I’m not one for the dirty work myself. But I can tell you’re a straight shooter, Captain Mansur. So I’ll lay my cards out for you to see. I grew up in Detroit myself, East side raised. Buddy of mine was a hockey player, tried to go pro. He was damn good too. Would have made it but one day a couple guys from an opposing team decided hockey was no place for a black man. The details weren’t pretty but let’s just say he didn’t make it. Since then, I’ve dedicated my life to righting as many wrongs of my race as possible. Venkateswaran was my second gig, the first was a stint I pulled in Chicago’s Chinatown. Call me the Robin Hood of diversity.”
“Sounds like you’re a gambler. Me, I’m a family man trying to make an honest living. I don’t have time for politics. Please excuse me Mr. Horn, my family awaits.”
“I can respect that. Here,” Daniel Horn reached into his suit pocket and produced a black business card with a golden horn printed on it. “I call it the horn of freedom. I’m only a phone call away when the time is right.”
Kashir reluctantly took the card. He thought it was the fastest way to be rid of Horn and he was right. Ten minutes later, Kashir found himself driving down Ford Rd. He glanced over his shoulder briefly to take in the sight of the largest mosque in North America. The mosque he himself belonged to.
Dearborn, Michigan was more than just a pocket of Arabs in Middle America, the way the whites and even the blacks saw it. It was a fresh start. Many of his family and friends left the Middle East back in the early nineties when Saddam was leading misguided Sunnis in a genocide campaign against the Shiites, Kashir’s people. The United States had been to them what it’d been to the Jews and the Poles during World War II, a safe haven. And since the sixties many of those Muslims had been coming here, to Dearborn, Michigan, looking for a safe place to practice their religion without persecution. Not unlike the founding fathers of this country claimed to be doing over two hundred plus years ago.
Kashir said a quick prayer under his breath and a short time later made his way home to where his beautiful wife, Samia, along with her sisters, and his own daughters, produced a fantastic meal. Such was the routine on Saturdays. Kashir couldn’t be more pleased.
That night, after dinner, Kashir crawled into bed alongside Samia.
“You never said how work was today,” she replied.
“Just another day,” he muttered quietly as he turned away from her.
“We saw you on the news tonight,” she added. “Well, your sweet little Rashida saw it first. How am I to explain such things to an eight year old, Kashir?”
“Tell her the truth,” he yawned. “These are dangerous times for our people.”
“So it was a hate crime?”
“I don’t want to discuss this now. I need to get some sleep.”
“Someone needs to do something.”
“Why do you think I became a police officer? There are too many crooked cops out there. I’ve grown up in Dearborn but even I know most whites would rather see us shot in the back of the head then stand next to them in line at the grocery store. You know what they call us?” he asked, raising his voice as he turned back towards her. “Sandniggers!”
“Kashir!” she quietly snapped. “Watch your tongue! Suppose the children hear.”
“Well, you’ve succeeded!” he shouted. “Now I can’t sleep.” He ripped the sheets off and got out of bed.
“Where are you going? Why are you so angry?”
“I need to clear my head. I’ll be down in the den, maybe check my e-mail or something.”
“Kashir, come back to bed. I apologize.”
“What’s been done has been done. I just need some time alone.”
On his way to down to the den, Kashir passed the laundry room and, out of the corner of his eye, spotted a black card poking its way up out of the laundry basket. He stared at it for a moment, then left it be.
The next morning, Kashir’s day off, he has come down to breakfast late. The children have already eaten and are watching television. Kashir, in his robe, fell into a chair at the table. Samia, already dressed, removed a plate of food from the microwave, where she’d put it to keep it warm.
“Should I heat it for you?”
“Please,” he stated, rubbing his eyes.
Samia put the plate back into the microwave and punched in some time. The microwave hummed its usual droned out melody as Samia reached into a pocket. “Here,” she offered. “I almost forgot that I found this in the laundry.”
Samia placed Daniel Horn’s card in front of Kashir on the table. “It looks important. You don’t want to lose it.”
“It’s trash,” he added. “I just forgot to toss it out.”
“It’s very elegant. A golden horn. Horns always remind me of those, what do you call them? Bugles? The ones that the army use to wake up their troops. Like a call to arms or something.” She chuckled. “Rashida saw a novelty alarm clock last week that had a little piglet holding one. Now that would wake you up in the morning!”
She then opened the lid to the trash can.
“Wait,” he sighed. “Let me have another look at it.”
With a slight shrug, Samia handed Kashir the black card. She’d been right about it. The shiny golden horn did look elegant against the stark black background. Beneath the horn, in gold writing, was a single phone number, nothing more.
“Abee, Abee!” came the anxious call of his little Rashida as she stumbled out of her slippers to get to him. “Abee, the TV.”
“Rashida, your father is about to eat his breakfast,” Samia declared.
“It’s all right, Samia. Rashida, you have my attention.”
“Abee, come quick, they’re showing the man you shot yesterday!”
With a quick curse under his breath, Kashir dropped the card on the table and joined his daughters in the living room. The other three were already huddled around the television set as a black newswoman sat beside a picture of the man Kashir had dealt with the day before in the deli.
“His name is Ryan Wooding,” began the anchorwoman. “Despite being arraigned on armed robbery charges yesterday, he has since posted bail causing quite an upset in Dearborn’s Muslim community.” The camera then cut to footage of an older man, whom Kashir recognized as an outspoken Bangladeshi whom often attracts media attention.
“This is an outrage!” he hollered behind his white moustache. “He was put in prison, he should stay in prison!”
“Local reporter, Sam Raimes, of the Dearborn Daily, was on the scene.”
“There’s no question that the initial incident was racially charged,” said Raimes as his face flashed across the screen briefly before the anchorwoman came back.
“Eye witnesses claim Wooding forced his way into a local deli on the south side of Ford Rd, late Saturday evening just as the owner was closing up for the night. Once inside, Raimes’ speculates that he began using racial slurs at the owner, verbally threatening the man’s life. Later, once authorities were on the scene, shots were fired and Wooding was removed with a bleeding right hand.”
Raimes' face again came to the screen. “When questioned for comments, Captain Kashir Mansur only had this to say, and I quote: My fellow officers and I encountered an armed threat and we disarmed that threat.”
“Turn the TV off,” Kashir ordered his children.
“But Abee,” began his eldest.
“I said off!” he shouted with such ferocity that he brought water to Rashida’s eyes.
Not knowing exactly what more he should say, if anything, he turned around and stormed out of the room, passed his breakfast on the table and took up the little black business card. Moments later Kashir was out the front door, dressed in his civilian clothes and strolling down the block with his smart phone in hand.
“This is Horn,” stated his voice through the phone.
“It’s Mansur, I’m in.”
“You’re making the right choice.”
“Remind me of that a year from now.”
One year later, nearly to the day, Kashir found himself amongst a crowd of supporters, media, family and friends as he took to the podium passing Daniel Horn, whom merely gave him a smile and a nod.
“They said I would never be mayor. They said I had no place in politics. I didn’t think I did either, at first. Then one man changed my mind.” All eyes turned towards Daniel Horn as he stood there in his black shades. “Not Mr. Horn. It was a man named Ryan Wooding who, a year ago I stopped from attacking a Lebanese shop owner. He was armed, ill intended, dangerous by all accounts. The next day he was back out on the streets, never to be incarcerated again. I was so heart-broken for my people that I knew something had to be done. Someone would need to step up and say, this is unacceptable. That day, I became that man. That was really the day I became your mayor.”
“You call that a speech Mansur?” shouted a man off to his right. “Go to hell!” Suddenly shots were fired and the man known as Ryan Wooding was taken down almost as soon as he’d taken down Kashir. The mayor fell backwards, his head slamming against the ground while little Rashida watched on in horror.
“Madame President,” calls a voice. “Madame President?” A middle aged Arabic woman finds herself back in the present moment where a tall greying man in a black suit and sun glasses reaches out a leather gloved hand to her. “Rashida,” he says. “It’s time.”
As Rashida steps out in front of the crowd of thousands on the White House lawn, Daniel Horn whispers into her ear. “Your father would have been proud.”
“No, Mr. Horn,” she replies with a single tear in her eye. “My father is proud.” With that, Rashida removes her gloves and steps out onto the stage where she is sworn in by the swelling of golden horns. Horns of freedom.