Monday, August 23, 2010

My Roommate, My Murderer - Part 2

[Read Part 1 first!]

But then, after three months Faroukh was laid off — in his view because he was a Yemini, and Yemenis were conspicuously involved in the campaign to drive a knife into America’s still-ailing heart by building a mosque near where the Twin Towers had once stood. He went into a deep funk, leaving his bed only to use the restroom, and sometimes not even that. I had to resume doing my own cooking. I’m an enthusiastic, but not gifted, cook. I tried to lighten his mood by offering to point out to his estranged employers’ human resources department that one of the most beloved characters in Disney lore was Yemeni Cricket, Pinocchio’s conscience and sidekick. His scowl suggested he either didn’t get my little joke or didn’t find it amusing.

I got home one afternoon from the gym to find him sacrificing a goat in the middle of the living room floor, and made no secret of how alarmed I was. He assured me he’d clean up every drop of blood, and suggested I take a chill pill. I surmised that he was trying to invoke voodoo to induce an inoperable tumor in the person he blamed for his firing. I have always hated being urged to take a chill pill.

I got a disturbing phone call from his girlfriend Ashlee, a primary education major up at Vassar. She said he'd given as the reason they would no longer be dating that she was the whore of Babylon. Once again, I hoped a joke — that the whore of Babylon sounded a lot more dignified than the whore of Poughkeepsie (or, as the locals prefer it, P-Town) — might help. Once again I was wrong. She begged me to have a word with him, and I said I would, but every time I tapped on his door he told me to sodomize myself, or to have sex with a ewe.

What he was busy doing, I discovered when he ran out of chick peas and had no recourse but to dash over to the Sunoco station on Route 9D, which was owned by Egyptians, was building a bomb according to instructions he’d found on the Internet. When I confronted him about it, he claimed first that he’d been doing it only to keep himself busy, and then would admit only that he’d been thinking of trying to blow up the new Welcome to Beacon kiosk that volunteer laborers have been building, very, very slowly, at the foot of Main Street the past few months. When I pressed him, he admitted his ambition was to get better and better at bomb-building, and eventually to take the train up to Albany with other disgruntled Yemenis to blow up the state capitol. I reminded him our rental agreement precluded his building bombs under my roof, and he called me a Zionist thug.

I advised him, as New York law requires, that I wanted him to vacate my home within 30 days. He, in turn, advised that I could go have sex with a ewe. I phoned the FBI, and was surprised to find myself listening to a succession of prerecorded menus, much as when I try to get in touch with someone regarding my health insurance. After making multiple choices, I was told to say or click 4 if I had a tenant who had expressed an interest in blowing up the capitol building in a state other than Arkansas, either of the Dakotas, or Wyoming. Finally I got to speak to a live person, whose accent suggested he was somewhere like New Delhi, even though he claimed his name was Jack Williams. (That ruse is familiar to me from my days selling Life magazine to white people — we weren’t allowed to accept black people’s subscriptions — over the phone; the idea was not to give the sucker a difficult, or even vaguely ethnic, name.) When I said Faroukh had spoken of blowing up the New York state capitol, Jack gleefully asserted, “I can assist you with that,” before taking my address and so on.

Not 90 minutes later, a pair of square-jawed former college offensive linemen types in Ray-Bans and FBI windbreakers appeared at my front door, accompanied by a SWAT team. They sprayed Faroukh with something that made him nauseated and docile, and took him into custody. I did an interview that evening with Beacon Tonite, and was asked for my autograph when I stopped at the Sunoco station to check my tire pressure. Someone from the Justice Department phoned to say Farkoukh wasn’t likely to reappear any time soon to ask for his security deposit back, but what used to be Claire’s study floor is streaked with goat’s blood that laughs at bleach, and I miss the hell out of the guy’s falafel smoothies.


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