Terrorist under my bed

Bob Sweigert

A friend of mine told me there is a terrorist hiding under my bed. I looked, and he was right! There, behind my laundry basket, my ski boot bag and backpack was a guy. Or maybe it was a girl. I didnand#8217;t pay much attention at first. I couldnand#8217;t even tell by the voice because the person was so terrified. But it was a guy. I asked him, and#8220;What are you doing under my bed? Did you escape from Guantanamo Bay?and#8221;

He said, and#8220;No. I came to terrorize you because you are an old white guy with blue eyes, but when I snuck in your peaceful vibe took control of me. I was petrified. I donand#8217;t know how long I have been hiding here. It seems like yearsand#8221;.

and#8220;You knowand#8221;, I said, and#8220;Iand#8217;ve been wondering where all my bananas and milk have been disappearing to. Did you eat all those cookies too? And hey, what about my peanuts? I thought I was going crazy. I never bought so many jugs of peanuts in one month before. Youand#8217;ve been eating all my food, havenand#8217;t you?and#8221;

and#8220;Yes. I am sorry. I am sure Allah will forgive me.and#8221;

He went on and on about how he was especially freaked out because every night he could tell I was sleeping like a baby and all he could do was lay there trembling in fear, sweating little heart shaped sequins. He said sometimes they turned in to peace symbols.

and#8220;Oh, so that was you!and#8221; I said. and#8220;I thought I heard somebody screaming.and#8221;

and#8220;Yeah, I was desperately trying to swat off those hearts and peace symbols. They were biting me like scorpions. I havenand#8217;t been this afraid since terrorist training camp in Paducah, Kentucky. Why didnand#8217;t you help me?and#8221;

I said, and#8220;Aw, heck, this is an American tourist town. I hear people screaming and yelling around here all the time. You get use to it. I guess I just ignored you as if you were just another car alarm going off. Sorry. Hey, by the way, how did you like Paducah?and#8221;

He said, and#8220;It was great! The Ohio River is really beautiful in the Fall.and#8221;

and#8220;Did you get to hear any Bluegrass music?and#8221;

and#8220;Yeah, I did,and#8221; he said. and#8220;But I could only take it for about twenty minutes or so.and#8221;

and#8220;Yeah, I know what you mean,and#8221; I said. and#8220;It kind of grates on you after awhile. You really gotta love that twangy sound.and#8221;

He laughed. and#8220;No kidding,and#8221; he said.

It was he who finally broke a brief, uncomfortable silence. and#8220;So, you play the guitar. I love that Reggae song you do. And that one about the sunny side of life. Thatand#8217;s great, man. Can you teach me some of those songs?and#8221;

Well, I pulled out my guitar and we became great friends. I asked him if he still planned on terrorizing me. He said no, that after getting to know me he didnand#8217;t hate Americans anymore. He said I reminded him of his own family back home in Pakistan.

We sang some Gospel songs, and then I asked him if he thought George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were evil. He said he has learned, after hiding under my bed, that it isnand#8217;t fair to say things like that about people youand#8217;ve never talked to personally. He said you shouldnand#8217;t put religion and politics over love and friendship.

Finally, an extremist who speaks logic. My new imaginary friend I found hiding under my bed was making a lot more sense than anybody Iand#8217;ve ever talked to.

I said, and#8220;Yeah, itand#8217;s amazing what getting to know people can do. No sense shutting them down. If everybody was expected to think exactly the same, whatand#8217;s the point of having our own thoughts? People are usually pretty good no matter where you go.and#8221;

To that he added, somewhat somberly, and with a wry little smile, and#8220;Youand#8217;ve obviously never been to a terrorist training camp in Paducah.and#8221;

We both rolled on the floor with laughter.

Bob Sweigert is a Sierra Sun columnist, published poet, ski instructor and commercial driver. Heand#8217;s lived at Lake Tahoe for 25 years.

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