Rod K Rogers is the owner and principle consultant for AMI Church Consulting, a church fundraising firm. A former pastor, he has a Doctor of Ministry degree and has published three non-fiction books. This is his first fictional story.
ISIS GOES TO STARBUCKS
On a Saturday morning in August, Ali Nasar, ISIS terrorist, and Jessica Reed each drove to Starbucks carrying a concealed handgun. Ali’s lay hidden under a Hustler magazine on the passenger seat of his Jeep. Jessica’s rested in the bottom of her purse, along with her Zoloft and Xanax, and her Kindle. Jessica carried her pistol for self-defense. Ali did not.
Jessica arrived first at 9:00 a.m. She was a skinny thirty-something with limp, brown hair and a nose too long for her face. She ordered her daily decaf latte without making eye contact, then settled into the armchair near the front of the store, to the right of the entrance. She kept her favorite bag on her lap—the zipper had jammed open—and sipped her coffee.
Out of the corner of her eye she watched two bulked up football players from the local college strut through the front entrance. They wore jeans and identical T-shirts with Eagles printed on the back. One shaved his head bald. The other had curly red hair. They glanced at Jessica on their way to the bar. Bald murmured something and Red snickered.
Jessica’s face flushed. She shrank inside her baggy green blouse and denim shorts and hunched deeper into her seat. Jessica accessed The Pirate’s Bride on her Kindle and began to read. The smell of coffee, the whine of the bean grinder, and the chatter of customers soothed her.
At 9:12 a.m., Ali Nasar burst through the door wearing a black balaclava, white hoodie, jeans, and hiking boots. He shouted “Allahu Akbar” and fired two deafening shots into the ceiling with a Glock 21.
Terrified patrons and baristas dropped to the floor and covered their heads. Bald and Red, who had settled at a table to the left of the entrance, dove for the floor as if practicing a loose ball drill.
The smell of burnt gunpowder mixed with the aroma of fresh coffee. Norah Jones sang about lies. A woman, curled like a fetus near the bathroom at the back of the store, whimpered.
While the others scrambled to protect themselves, Jessica froze like an antelope at the roar of a lion. Every muscle in her body clenched tight. In her paralysis, she was the only customer left upright, her coffee cup suspended at chest level.
Ali Nasar could not resist lecturing his pathetic victims. He shouted in accented English, “You infidels are soft. Your society is corrupt.” He pointed at a scrawny woman’s bare legs with his gun, “Your women are whores. The followers of Mohammed will conquer America. Today Allah will roast your stomachs in hell.”
Jessica had been seconds away from total collapse, but when the gunman insulted her, she felt something shift inside. Enough! She had spent her life cowering in the presence of bullies, and now she was about to be murdered by one. In Starbucks.
Her stomach began to burn and heat spread through her body. Her muscles unlocked and flooded with strength. She felt a foreign emotion. Anger. For the first time in her life she was ready to fight back. And she had a gun.
But, she held her latte in her shooting hand. If she set it down and reached for her revolver, he would see the movement and shoot her. She had to find a way to get to her gun without alarming him.
Jessica’s heart pounded in her chest and sweat beaded on her forehead. Would her last thoughts be of a terrorist and coffee?
Jessica moaned, dropped the cup into her purse, and plunged her hand in after it.
Ali heard the moan and snapped his head around in time to see the coffee and the woman’s hand disappear into the bag. He snorted, glanced around, and turned to start the slaughter with her.
But Jessica had a head start. She yanked out her coffee-slick Lady Smith .357 Magnum, pointed it at him, and began jerking the trigger.
Ali’s eyes widened and he froze. Gun! He hadn’t expected…
Jessica’s first two bullets flew over his head, blowing out the glass wall behind him.
Her third shot struck him in the left shoulder.
Her fourth bullet shattered his left collar bone and a red stain blossomed on his hoodie. Ali crumpled to his knees.
Jessica’s last shot flew above the falling man and out the store.
It was over in six seconds. When the firing pin clicked repeatedly on empty rounds, Jessica shrieked and hurled the gun across the room.
Now the Eagles joined the battle. Bald jumped to wrench the pistol from the kneeling gunman’s hand. Red tackled him from behind, knocking him flat, and twisted his arms behind his back.
A lone wolf of ISIS lay writhing belly down on the floor, bleeding, crying, grinding his teeth in pain and rage. Beaten in a gunfight by a woman.
ISIS was finished at Starbucks for the day, but Jessica Reed was not. Twenty years of cowering in fear of bullies, of repressing a thousand slights and humiliations, had created in her a pressurized cauldron of emotional lava. Now the rage erupted in a powerful flow and Jessica threw a long-suppressed tantrum. While smooth jazz played in the background, and shocked customers cowered on the floor, Jessica screamed, jumped up and down, and stomped around Starbucks pulling down racks, smashing mugs, and kicking over chairs.
Finally, she slumped to the floor by the entrance and began to sob quietly.
The others slowly picked themselves up, some crying, some talking softly. Police sirens wailed in the distance. Gun smoke clouded the room.
Jessica stopped crying, crossed her legs, and slowly straightened up.
Deeper in the store Bald stood next to Red, who was kneeling on Ali, and stared at Jessica’s frail form. His customary smirk was gone. Bald bent over, murmured something to Red who nodded, then walked around and squatted in front of Jessica.
Jessica Reed tilted her head back and looked him in the eye.