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the big reveal

There were people with cameras and of course she could do nothing as they approached and snapped. The local Cobb News people poured from their office across the street and now there was a videocam. Microphones were thrust forward.


“What is your name? Where did you come from?” were the questions thrown at her.


It was the first thing on the news, of course. The camera frantically being turned on and a quick view of the photographer’s sneakers and then the upview of the building coming down, horrible memories of 9/11 but now the slowness in descending, an immense object being carefully controlled, and the blessed thankful relief that things were in benevolent hands as it slowly and safely approached the ground as if it was a tired building that was taking a rest.


And the close-up of the naked woman, nipples and crotch digitally fuzzified, under the horizontal tower as it slowly and softly went lower, lower, then gently the naked woman’s feet rested on the pavement and all was safe. Her nude body took up the full screen as people could be seen gathering around. And now the close-up of her amazed, shy, newly famous face, a gentle brown pretty Arab-American face with big brown eyes.


In the living room of a modest tract house in Dunwoody, Hemet and Fatima Alkaras, who had been wondering why their daughter hadn’t called in a few days, looked at the screen in open-mouthed astonishment.


On a little black and white TV in the kitchen, the nearly naked Lourdes, who had been sitting gloomily and uneasily with her parents and munching fried bananas and watching the Noticias, tuned out the rapid Spanish of the announcer as the face appeared on screen. She gulped down too much and began coughing.


In an apartment over Charlie’s, Billy Gibbs, slouching on a sofa with his girlfriend, stopped sipping from his long-necked Coors and playing idly with his girlfriend’s dreadlocks, and said, “Jeee -- sus!”


Dareen’s naked form and now a close-up of her adorable face took up Jamal’s TV screen. He sat back in the chair in his bedroom, looking at the TV sideways, no longer concerned with the internet surfing in front of him. His mouth was open. He couldn’t breathe. Strangely he felt his eyes getting wet.


Elly, listening with her co-workers clustered around the radio in her office, sat back apart from the others and muttered, “Oh . . . my . . . God . . . ”


At Cobb News headquarters in New York, interns were running everywhere, executives were butting in on each other’s cell phones, ideas were thrashed around, the film clip was showing over and over on the screens on each desk, on the screens up on the wall. The place was going bonkers.


And now Imam Tahir, sitting down in front of the television in his quiet little house with the Grand Imam for a little rest after that fine meal his wife had cooked. They placed their coffees on the table in front of them, the Grand Imam of course with slow dignity and a sense of presence like with everything he did. Tahir thought he had made some headway with him tonight. He seemed willing to withhold judgment for now on Dareen and the other women at his mosque. He had said, “Great changes must come slowly,” which was a concession that eventually the change would come.


Tahir turned on the remote control and the first thing they heard was, “And now a news bulletin from Action News.” The shot of the tipping Joly Tower, and the naked woman guiding it down to rest. The eyes and mouths of the two men opened wider and wider as they watched. Even Tahir’s wife came out of the kitchen to look.


And now the closeup of Dareen Alkaras’s face filling the screen. Tahir emitted a strange choking sound. “What is your name? Where are you from?” an off-camera voice called out.


She said the most natural thing that came to her. “All glory to Allah . . . I am glad to do Allah’s will.” And then the camera panned back to her bare butt (fuzzified) as she turned, carefully and awkwardly set the building down onto the street, and jumped up. The camera tilted up and caught only a blur as she flew away.

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