"Allahu Akbar!" shouted Yusuf as he depressed the plunger to his explosive vest -
And nothing happened.
All around him in the crowded Tel Aviv market, terrified shoppers and tourists stared in blank astonishment - still processing how close they'd come to death. All noise, even the rumble of cars and buses, had ceased at Yusuf's proclomation and no one seemed capable of restarting the buzz of everyday activity.
Yusuf himself couldn't quite believe it - Samir had promised he'd wired the vest properly! Yusuf had even watched him just that morning, both of them slick with sweat which they insisted to each other was from the hundred and five degree summer heat. Just like now - and the long bus ride over - Yusuf assured himself the heavy sweat slowly ruining his one and only suit didn't have anything to do with nerves -
A handbag caught him across the back of the head and he went crashing into a rack bootleg DVDs. The five foot old woman loomed over him, swinging again and again with her handbag while snarling in Hebrew. Yusuf had gained only a passing familiarity with the language - one of the reasosn he'd been forced out of University - but even he could recognize the expletives.
The rest of the people just continued to stare. A few started laughing - as much from shock as from the sight of the old Mizrahi wailing on the skinny Pal. A police officer managed to push his way through the crowd to see what all the commotion was about - and quickly shoved his way back the other way at the sight of Yusuf's explosive vest. Most of those present - mostly locals - followed his lead.
By the time he returned with more officers and a bomb technician, the old lady wheezed with every down-swing of her bag.
"Ma'am," a young officer said, hesitantly laying a hand on her shoulder. "Ma'am please, if you could -"
"Grraugh!" she bellowed with another swing, delivering a satisfying crack to Yusuf's nose.
It took three more officers to haul her away.
Once a safe distance had been cleared around Yusuf, the bomb technician lumbered up in that standard issue protective space suit. Yusuf looked up into the plexiglass face shield, feeling impotent and childish as the technician went to work, deftly dissassembling Samir's now obviously crude job. Yusuf almost felt the need to apologize to this gentleman - he certainly had better things to do today.
As the technician unbuckled the vest - and Yusuf shifted slightly to assist - he, or rather she, called to the other officers, "All clear!"
A woman! Yusuf's stomach tightened and he became intimately aware that through this entire ordeal he'd had a full bladder. That little issue hadn't seemed worth addressing in light of how he'd expected the day to go...
Now the officers closed in - looming over Yusuf and casting him into shadow. "Right, you have anything else on you?" one of them snapped. "Give it up now and things might go easy for you."
Yusuf shook his head. No, nothing else. Nothing at all.
Yusuf didn't resist as the officers lifted him to his feet - hands gently lifting at his armpits, as if he were a little boy. They didn't even bother with the flexcuffs - why should they? He was mostly harmless now.
The assembled officers lead him to a waiting police car. The crowd - still thick, despite the bomb technician - a woman! - only jeered a little. Only a few, "Hey, something go wrong?" "Having technical difficulties?" "Where are all the virgins, huh?"
The officers waved for people to shut it. Yusuf just hunched up his shoulders, hoping no one he knew might be in the crowd. Today had proved to be enough of a disgrace already. Damn Samir. Just God-fucking-damn Samir! - and Yusuf winced at the blasphemy. And his achingly full bladder...
"What's your name?" one of the officers asked as they drove him to the nearest station - no sirens of course, they had the decency not to draw anymore attention than necessary. "Hmm? You have a name, don't you?"
Yusuf didn't answer.
"Right then," the officer didn't seem all that put out. "You'll talk soon enough..."
"Did you rig the vest yourself?" asked the officer driving. "Hannah said the wires looked crossed every wrong way. Did you do it on your own or did you have help?"
"I don't think he's talking yet."
"Fine, no skin off my balls."
"But maybe his!" Both officers had a good laugh at that.
With the sirens off they didn't draw much attention - but the drive took much too long. They sepnt close to twenty minutes behind a bus that couldn't decide whether it had too many stops or was on the verge of breaking down. Yusuf idly hoped for someone else - maybe even Samir - to martyr themselves - and take him along in the process! Exploded is exploded and he'd already tried to do it himself - that had to count for something with God. Maybe not the highest level of Paradise but certainly better than he would've had if he'd spent the rest of his life flunking out of University...
"Aw fuck!" the officer driving said as they pulled into the station - a news crew right at the front door!
"How'd they get here so fast?" asked the other officer. "We haven't anounced anything, have we?"
"Wait, they're Americans! I don't think they're here for you," he said over his shoulder to Yusuf.
Peering out the car window, Yusuf could see four people - a man impecably dressed for a casual look and three less impressive men toting cameras and microphones - milling about the front door of the police station. The well-dressed man, clearly the one in charge, waved his hands around with a woman's exaggerated gestures to direct the others.
"Fuck it, we'll take him in through the back."
"We can't. Remember the renovations?"
"Shit," he hissed.
The police car slid into an empty space in the lot. "We'll have to walk him in." Both officers turned to look at Yusuf - not so much with menace but with a tired superiority he remembered his aunts displaying when he was a child - "You promise to behave yourself? We don't particularly want to taze you in front of the cameras..."
Just like his aunts. "Yes, yes..." Yusuf mumbled.
"Bon!" said the driver with false cheeriness. He climbed out of the car first - quickly going round to his partners side so they could both manhandle Yusuf out.
The three of them approached the station, Yusuf between the two officers but still unrestrained. Hopefully they wouldn't draw much attention...
The boss of the news crew - clearly a reporter, judging by his professionaly sculpted hair - chettered rapidly. " - over there in shadows and shit! Do not compromise my fucking light, how many times do I have to tell you cocksuckers!? Fifteen years in this business a - the hell are you gawking at?"
One abused cameraman - a much browner hue than his boss, Yusuf noticed - gestured submissively to the procession.
The reporter rapidly composed himself - his back straightened, his chin raised, he stopped spitting when he talked - "Get the two kikes and the sand-monkey over my right. Okay? In five, four, three..."
He mouthed "two" and "one" and - "Israeli security forces struck another blow against terrorism today, capturing ten in a complex operation that may have saved thousands." Turning at precisely the moment Yusuf and the officers came within interview distance. "Gentlemen -"
The cameraman snickered at that. As Yusuf was rushed through the front door of the station, he could hear the reporter laying into his crew with words Yusuf didn't entirely understand but sounded offensive...
They hustled him into a poorly lit closet of a room - nothing but a table and two chairs under the solitary lightbulb. They left Yusuf there without a word, bolting the door from outside. Yusuf walked around the table and sat down - then immediately sprang back up to walk some more, a painful sloshing in his bladder. He paced once, twice, three times around the little room - God-fucking-dmaned Samir! Had he done it on purpose? Get Yusuf safely out of the picture to go after his sister? Samir likied thinking he was clever, that Yusuf didn't pick up on the little cues and longing glances - just because she was older and a doctor didn't mean Yusuf didn't have a brotherly duty to punch any lustful men in the balls!
Then why not let him explode? That would certainly free things up - but no, then Samir would never get any. "I helped your brother blow himself up!" was a lousy pick-up line. Better to say, "I stopped your brother from martyring himself and now he's safely being tortured by Mossad!"
Yusuf looked at the door - hands balled into fists, bladder all but pulsing inside - Torture! He hadn't counted on that. Hadn't counted on alot of things really...
He hadn't counted on failing his exams for one - well, his hopes weren't exactly high for Statistics but the rest! He knew his history and literature as well as anyone else! Better in fact! Why, he'd even tried his own hand at some literary pursuits and even been published - or was going to be, the editors kept promising him. Seven months of promises.
What would his mother think of him now? That's what lead to this in the first place - what would his mother hae to say about all these failing grades. "Oh Yusuf, you are such a gift to me! You are such a good, studious boy!" she'd gushed when he'd been excepted into University - two years and a lifetime ago. She'd rushed to tell everyone in the nieghborhood that Yusuf - her Yusuf! - was going to be educated and make something of himself. And then she'd see his most recent grades and likely throw herself from the roof.
Better to be a martyr - at least she culd still have pride in her son. Better to make something of himself the old fashioned way - the way all the old men playing dominos described - "Striking a blow at the zionist oppressors!" Not a doctor or a lawyer but much more dignified than a drop-out.
That's what Samir promised. "You're my friend, of course I'll help you - and I'll take care of Alia when you're gone." Of course, someone - an honorable man - had to watch after Alia back home. Even if she was already taking advanced plasement tests and had applied to Oxford and Georgetown, she was still just a girl. Samir would take good care of her, the cunt-sniffing asshole!
Yusuf bent over, desperately clamping down his muscles so as not to piss himself...
A deep, baritone laugh rumbled all through the surrounding walls. The drab cement seemed to swell and pulse with each throaty, "Haw! Haw! Haw!" - down into the floors, spreading right into the soles of Yusuf's feet, quivering up his legs and stabbing into his poor distended bladder, the sudden stab of pain and humiliation as he began to drip -
The door swung open. A young officer ducked in just long enough to let a bucket clatter to the floor.
Yusuf dragged the bucket into a corner and let loose a torrent of piss - only briefly worrying about whether or not this might be what the Zionists wanted...