Sûrah LXIX
THE REALITY
"The Reality! What is the Reality? Ah, what will convey unto thee what the reality is!"

69
JUST THE FACTS

Nine-one-one had been dialed three times during Ahmed's assault on Zahra. I patrol car was dispatched. It arrived too late. "Domestic Violence"? Though reports had been conflicting, two of three guessed 'man and wife,' one witness jotting down the taxi cab's ID number.

EYEWITNESS ONE

Guy really slugged 'er; not like slapped 'er around; I mean beat 'er up, real nasty.

EYEWITNESS TWO

She fought back, though.

EYEWITNESS ONE

That's what ticked 'im off. Initially, he just grabbed 'er.

EYEWITNESS TWO

You mean 'cuffed' 'er.

EYEWITNESS ONE

Huh?

EYEWITNESS TWO

Used handcuffs. I'd've yelled, except for that. I figured: plainclothes makin' a bust.

EYEWITNESS ONE

Uh, uh; no handcuffs. He wore a wristwatch; she wore a bracelet.

EYEWITNESS TWO

Bracelet? Where the hell were you? I's sittin' right up there, not thirty feet away. Don't tell me what I seen. He put them cuffs on; she went straight for 'is face. Got a real good swipe at it, too. But he come back with a punch must've hurt somethin' awful; smack dab on 'er titty.

POLICE OFFICER

She got into the cab voluntarily?

EYEWITNESS TWO

What are you, nuts?

EYEWITNESS THREE

They sort of carried her.

POLICE OFFICER

They?

EYEWITNESS THREE

The cab driver; he came to help.

EYEWITNESS TWO

Poor thing; by then, he'd knocked 'er stupid.

EYEWITNESS THREE

I didn't see the actual attack; I saw the aftermath—them on the bench, her sort of slumped, him trying to hold her up—from my office. I work across the street. She looked sort of drugged, I thought. I wasn't going to bother. But something wasn't right. Then when the cab pulled up, the husband buried his fist in his wife's ribs or stomach; cabby didn't see. So I called you, then ran outside to catch the license.

EYEWITNESS ONE

I called sooner.

EYEWITNESS TWO

I called HOURS ago. Took your own sweet time. Listen up; I seen 'em good. The man is short and squat and built like a fireplug—looked to be I-talian—in his thirties, bearded, dark blue suit, no tie on. She's in jeans; you know, the kind the kids all wear these days with holes in 'em, tights underneath? Hair's raven black and long. Body's sturdy. Got some meat on 'er bones. Not skinny. Itsy-bitsy waist, though; I seen that when they lugged 'er to the cab.

POLICE OFFICER

And she was handcuffed?

EYEWITNESS TWO

No. Yes. No, not then.

EYEWITNESS ONE

See?

EYEWITNESS TWO

Musta took 'em off. What's the difference? I just gave you a full description. Go an' do your job.