November 30, 2015 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

THE CURB – Here I am performing my weekly task to create a greener planet, add to the beauty of Texas and commune with nature — taking out the garbage. Across the street performing the same task must be our new neighbor, Elmo Hammod from Syracuse. I go over to welcome him to Running Rats Acres. “Greetings, Elmo Hammod from Syracuse.”

He smiles and extends his hand. “Actually, I am Al-Mohammed from Syria. We are refugees from the war. Thanks for letting us live here.”

“You speak good English for a foreigner. Learn it in grade school?”

“I’ve spent much time in your country. I was born in Damascus, raised in Pampa and received my doctorate from Rice in bio-generic molecular engineering and a post-doctorate from MIT in atomic isotope transmissions as they relate to auto-physical neutrons. I’m a U.S. citizen, but Governor Greg Abbott believes that I’m a security risk, and threatened to cut off all state funding to my workplace, UTMB.”
“So what are you doing now?”

“I got a gig with Uber.”

“Sounds a waste of your talents.”

“Not bad. I get to see a lot of the city and meet many nice people. But the two black SUVs that follow mc everywhere are bad for business.”

His family’s arrival spruced up the next meeting of the Running Rats Acres Homeowners Association. Milton Mudflap brought it up. “I don’t want no commie Arab in my neighborhood. He’ll be building pyramids in his front yard like they do in Turkey.” Jimbo Jackknife pointed out that the pyramids were actually in Iraq, but did note that Mudflap’s own front yard exceeded the deed restrictions of no more than four cars on blocks at any one time. Debbie Sue Bonnie Bootstrap was next. “We’re getting swarms of them Muzzlems in here, and not one of them will do yard work. What’s the point of having migraine if they can’t rake leaves? I say send them back to Lesbian or Algebra.” She got a standing ovation.

The next week I ran into Al at the supermarket. “Hope you like it here. Don’t mind the smell. It’s only when the wind blows over the hog rendering plant.”

“We are doing fine,” he says.” My son, Rocky, is captain of the soccer team, and daughter, JoAnn Luci, is class president and perhaps valedictorian. And they still have time to work the overnight shift at the hog rendering plant. Oh, let me ask you. Is it normal for the Texas State Guard to set up camp in one’s front yard?”

“Al, Governor Abbott said he would do everything in his power to prohibit any more Syrians from coming to Texas. Unfortunately for him, his power has nothing to do with migration, immigration, salutations or vacations. In Texas we call this ‘grandstanding’ or ‘pandering.’ But it works. To be fair, the Texas State Guard followed Abbott’s orders and kept tabs on Operation Jade Helm 15. As a result of the guard’s vigilance, the military did not seize a single Texas city of any size, if you don’t count San Antonio.”

“I am worried that we are not welcome here, because your Texas senator, Ted Cruz, wants to bar all Syrians from immigrating who are not Christians.”

“Ted Cruz knows all about immigration, since he kept dual citizenship with Canada until last year when he was found out. But I agree totally – only Christians allowed in. So long Albert Einstein, Irving Berlin and, retroactively, Elizabeth Taylor.”

“Don’t forget Barack Obama.” Al says. “A Pew Research Center survey found that 17 percent of Americans, including one third of conservative Republicans, think Obama is a Muslim, and one third think he was born outside the U.S. That’s double jeopardy. It is good to live in a country with so many intelligent and well-educated people. No wonder more Americans voted in the 2014 ‘American Idol’ finals, 132 million, than voted in the 2014 Presidential election, 122 million. Well, I’d better go now. The curfew, you know. ”

A few days later I drop by Al’s house to hand him a letter that had been mistakenly delivered to my house. It’s from the Dept. of Homeland – Terrorists Div. A stranger comes to the door. “Allah be praised. It’s the infidel from across the street. I am Ali’s visiting cousin, Akmed, also known as Mohammed, Jose and LeRoy, depending which passport check. Pardon my attire. I am just fitting for a new vest. Pockets holds 10, uh, hotdogs. Yes, that’s it, hotdogs in a bun. Ali not here, checking in with the Border Patrol, ICE and FBI. Weekly. He also needs a new battery for his ankle bracelet. Oh, let me show you a selfie I made recently in front of a sports stadium in Paris. Uh, selling hotdogs.”

“Do you live in town?”

“No, I am refugee, fleeing the bombs and bullets, the kidnappings and terrorism.”

“Baghdad? Damascus?”

“No, Chicago. Actually, I think I’ll move to Damascus. It’s safer.”

That week I read a news report: “The federal Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act has been stalled for eight years because the NRA and GOP lawmakers oppose it. So a legal loophole allowed more than 2,000 suspects on the FBI’s Terror Watchlist to legally purchase weapons from 2004 and 2014.” Right! The feds start prohibiting firearm sales to known terrorists, and pretty soon they’ll be prying my howitzer from my cold, dead bunker.

I ran into another neighbor, J.J. Beerbreath, at our school’s meeting of the PTA (Parents with Troubled Adolescents). “I hear you’re chummy with that Musler in the neighborhood. Do you know he prays five times a day? Even my preacher says that’s too much. And I hear he’s setting up a caliphate, or calcium, maybe it’s a California, in Running Rats Acres. That would mean wives must obey their husbands, and women can’t drive a car, and can’t buy anything without their husbands’ permission. I sent him twenty bucks.”


Ashby refugees at ashby2@comcast.net





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