Dear Aunt Sophie,
You should be flattered to know this is the first letter I have written since my arrival in this place they call Super-Max. (You Americans make everything sound like a bumper sticker. I particularly detest the FBI's disrespectful way of referring to the blessed Osama Bin Laden, may his soul not enter the company of martyrs before mine, as UBL. It makes him sound like an internet address.)
Of course you are wondering why my first letter is to you and not to my dear mother. The answer is both simple and complicated. Being a woman, my mother is unenlightened. Her heart is broken because she wanted me to go to Paradise, but at the same time she wanted me to live, and she pleaded for my life. So it is her fault that I am rotting in this hellish place where you will now support me until the end of my days. She does not deserve my first communication.
I wanted to die in a great conflagration, not strapped to a pallet. Besides, I'm terrified of needles. Since my first plan did not work, I had to be sure I would live long enough to find another way to become a glorious shahid. My mother will never be able to grasp how difficult it was to appear to seek death while all the time striving to avoid it during my trial. How could any woman appreciate the fine line I had to walk in that courtroom between trying to seem the equal of Mohammed Atta who lies with the dark-eyed ones, may Allah bless his memory, and an ordinary madman whom no spineless American would ever put to death? It was very difficult, let me tell you, especially for a philosopher like me who despises any display of emotion.
Worst of all, I could not call upon Allah to help me because it would have seemed that I wanted to avoid Paradise itself. No, I had to do it all alone, without the help of the Merciful and Compassionate One.
I had heard all about American jails - the weight rooms, the movies, the communal showers - and I thought as long as they didn't put me in Maricopa County my life would be bearable while I planned my next attempt to win the beautiful ones.
But this is hell. I'm sure of it. Somehow I got here without dying. I have no opportunity to teach Islam to anyone but the guards and they, may Satan eat their brains, do not seem interested. One of them calls me "Moose" because he is too lazy to pronounce my name. This is an insult. I do not know what moose is, but I am quite sure it is not halal.
I must have another trial. American trials aren't that bad. It's the prisons that are hell.
I'm glad you're beginning to recognize the greatness of the American justice system. For one thing, it keeps vengeance out of the hands of the aggrieved. If it didn't, you'd have been rolled in lard before being hanged.
Now that you have some quiet time you should try to develop a little appreciation for your accommodations. At various times in their lives most people must settle for accommodations not to their liking. If you'd actually boarded a plane instead of fantasizing about it, you'd have seen some two hundred people strapped into seats deliberately designed three inches narrower than the average pre-schooler's tush. But instead of whining about their accommodations like some weepy mama's boy, these people would have been calmly munching peanuts and watching a movie. Unlike these wretched souls, you're free to use the bathroom any time you want without having to wonder whether you'll be able to squeeze past the beverage cart, or whether you'll be told to sit down because of turbulence. In fact where you are, if you obey the rules, you will have a life completely free of turbulence.
Don't be too hard on your mother. Like you, she will have an adjustment period. Imagine how she must feel when she gets together with friends to play "Smite the Infidel" and her best boast about the children is that her son managed to avoid the ignominy of a lethal injection.
Remember your mother whenever you get that old itch to fly a 757 into a tall building. You should have listened when she suggested a career in airline security. You should have paid attention when she warned you not to cut classes dealing with such quotidian matters as take-offs and landings. But you, ever the romantic, head-strong scamp, had better ideas.
You coulda been a contender. As it is, you lose, Moose.
Good luck and God bless.
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