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“Where you are, Mister--” the man with the double bars looked down at his Manila folder of notes, “Rasheed, is not important.” He looked up. “Where you were planning to go is. What were you and your co-conspirators planning to do once you got to New York?”
“I wasn’t headed to New York,” Saifullah told the tabletop.
“Lister, Mister Rasheed,” the commanding officer set his elbows on the spread contents of the folder, forcing his beefy arms into Saifullah’s field of vision, “we know you and the others were headed to New York City to run the marathon. We know you all ran that marathon in Singapore to set up a spread of qualifying times for NYC. We know you entered the country illegally last spring.” The officer, whose name on his breast was covered with black tape, smashed one hand into another to form a tight fist. “What we don’t know is what you boys planned to do once you were in the race line-up.”
Saifullah looked up, this time with a sneer. “Nothing.”
“Nothing,” the commander repeated, smashing his hands into a fist once more. “We’ll see if your buddies say ‘nothing.’ Cooperate now, and the tribunal just might show leniency in your case.”
Saifullah’s sneer remained. “What, life in one of your prisons instead of death? Let me die an innocent martyr! You haven’t found the others yet! I know because you know nothing! What have I done? Nothing!” His last syllable ejected saliva onto the tabletop.
The commander looked down upon the spit on the metal in disgust. “‘Nothing’ as opposed to ‘what’: that’s the question. We’ll see what the others say to our offers.” He rose from his seat and headed for the door, leaving the folder open on the table and his subordinates standing at attention.
“Coffee?” Single Silver Bar asked Single Gold Bar as soon as the salutes had disappeared.
“Sure. Cream and sugar, thanks.”