“The Protector Faraji”
“Faraji, how much farther do you wish to bike?” Zuberi asks a stocky, muscular Black man biking in front of him.
“We’ve gone farther before!” Faraji reminds him, the tall red, black and green crown on his head signifying him as a Maa Nation Protector.
“True,” Zuberi admits, “but I was not a Hunter then, Amadi has no mother watching over him.”
Faraji doesn’t slow down. “He’s better off without your ex-wife. The women of the daycare can care for him better than she or you.”
“He still needs a parent.”
Faraji shrugs. “It’s only a little farther.” Faraji veers right and slows down in front of a busy shopping center in the heart of Black Brooklyn. “Let’s stand over there,” he says as he points to an empty building. “I hear that years ago Brothers worried about those police cameras, but the police can not touch us anymore.”
“Didn’t I tell you that?” Zuberi laughed.
“Ah that’s right. It’s been a while since we got to recruit together. The new Protectors don’t know our history like you do!” When Zuberi was married, Faraji and he were often given the same assignments, but since his divorce and subsequent demotion to Hunter, the Protector Faraji had to go on assignment with different Protectors. None, however, fit Faraji as well as Zuberi. Faraji invited Zuberi out to an unassigned recruit, for old times sake.
The pair stood on the corner engaging the passersby with admonishments like “Learn a trade, Black man!” and “Everyone should have a product!” Occasionally someone would stop and engage them. The pair would hand out flyers, collect numbers, instruct or inform those who stopped, or offer solutions to the grievances of their Brothers and Sisters. And if ever a passerby was noncommittal to the Maa Nation, Zuberi would remind Faraji,
“What we do not get today, we can still get tomorrow.”
“Indeed, Brother,” Faraji had often responded. After three hours of this, Faraji pointed out a young man who previously passed them. “Isn’t that the young man who spoke of Black unity earlier? Is it me or is that buffoon eating chinese food as he walks.”
The young man rolls an order of chicken lo mein around his plastic fork as he walks the narrow path in front of Zuberi and Faraji. The man sees the pair and raises his fist in a Black power salute; Zuberi slaps his hand down. “Hey what gives?” the man says. Zuberi is only an inch taller than the man but his biceps are thicker than the man’s body. Zuberi slaps the man’s food out of his hands. “Yo!” the man remonstrates.
“Stop financing your oppression,” Zuberi demands, his glare piercing into the smaller man.
“Yo, my dude you made a mistake,” the small man utters, pulling a gun from his belt loop and bringing it to point at Zuberi; but Zuberi grabs the man’s wrist, twists it so the gun faces away from him, pulls that man forward and elbows him in the face with his other arm. The poor man thuds to the floor, blood protruding from his face. Zuberi then lifts the man up, “Yo, my dude put me down!” the little man protests.
“Try to understand. We are here to lift you up. But we can certainly put you down.” Zuberi says as he flings the man down the sidewalk. He rolls like a ragdoll. The man lays there motionless as Zuberi walks to him. He lowers his body to speak to the man, “Don’t you ever raise your fist like a Black Man, unless you are willing to live like a Black Man.” He offers his hand to the small man and lifts him up. The man sobs uncontrollably as blood runs from his face. “Listen carefully. These eurasians do nothing for you. Only give outside of your race when you need to. Eat from us.” The man nodded as he held his nose. “Take your gun back,” Zuberi said, emptying the pistol in front of the man before crushing it with his bare hands. “Next I see you, be a Man.” The man retreated with the ball of metal in his hand.
Faraji places his arm on Zuberi’s shoulder, “Take it easy next time. That wasn’t necessary.”
“I concede,” Zuberi announces, “I guess my son just needs a mother.”
“He has the Healers now and other Hunters,” Faraji explains. “They can care for him.” The Healers were the married female Maa Nationals; the Hunters were both male and female unmarried Maa Nationals, but Zuberi understood Faraji to mean the female Nationals.
“Fine, I need a wife. Happy?”
Faraji laughs. “Didn’t you have fun last night?” he said referring to Dallas and Zuberi’s tryst.
Zuberi smiles. “Yes. But a woman and a wife are two different things.”
“In time, Brother, exercise patience. In the meantime, be more sociable.” The two continued recruiting for another hour. “Perhaps we should head back?” Faraji says. “I’m sure you miss Amadi and I must escort some of the Sisters to their homes.”
“I always miss him,” Zuberi admits. The two hop on their bikes and ride back to the Maa Nation. Today was a success. A handful of phone numbers were collected, a slew of flyers were distributed, a lot of people were proselytized, but also, Zuberi had it set to ‘be more sociable.’ And he knew just where to do so.
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