Two brothers, years apart in age. One became a boxer and the other a real fighter. The fighter still remains.
Michael pulled into the drive and sat behind the wheel a little longer, his thoughts on the young woman visible through the window. This was not going to be an easy conversation. Just to be safe, they would not be having it in the house.
At dinner, Michael seemed cheerful enough, but a sensitive wife always knew when something was wrong. When he suggested a walk along the waterfront after they’d eaten, Karen forced a brave smile. Michael loved her for that.
Across town, another serious conversation was taking place. Brent needed a sign. He was begging the Lord for one when it walked through the door in the form of his wife. She had just gotten a phone call from Karen.
Later that night, two couples would risk career, friendship and possibly life itself given the nature of their husbands’ work. Both couples would meet for coffee and disclose their faith. And then talk would turn to another matter and once it did, there would be no going back. They would either be allies or the friendship would be over.
Snow surrounded Devens. A biting wind scattered the tops of the drifts across the walkway. The outside temperature was dropping fast. Inside, the building was no warmer – especially not for Dzhokhar.
They’d been at the door of his cell again. Taunting. Barking stupid, pointless orders. Playing their games. Satisfying their egos by tearing his to shreds.
Hate makes you stupid, Dzhokhar knew. And fear. Fear did that too. He had to be smarter. Control his breathing. He hated them, but he knew he dared not let it show.
Once, he’d entertained himself with the thought of what Tamerlan could do to them but that hadn’t lasted long. Tamerlan was dead. He was on his own in this world controlled by the guards and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, prisoner # 95079-038, had no idea how he’d ended up a part of it. No one told him anything; there was no kindness here.
The problem was, Dzhokhar was not a rock. He cried. Often. And as far as he knew, if anyone heard, they didn’t care.
One of the guards seemed to think it would be funny. “Hey Muslim have a Bible!” Dzhokhar chose to ignore the book, and the guard who’d tossed it at him, though his tormentor continued passing by at odd times, always asking, with a laugh, if he’d read it yet.
One night, sheer boredom won out. Dzhokhar finally cracked the cover. As all of heaven looked on, he read:
“The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.” Exodus 14: 14
Dzhokhar was startled by a sudden movement at the front of his cell. Where had the guard come from? He hadn’t heard anyone approaching. As usual, it was the one who’d thrown the Bible. Now, he just stood there, staring intently. Dzhokhar began to feel uneasy.
“You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free, Dzhokhar.”
“What?” Dzhokhar blurted out, more out of shock than anything else.
“John 8:32. Look it up.”
And then he was gone. Dzhokhar never saw that guard again. But the encounter had taught him something important: that things, and people, weren’t always what they seemed. Maybe kindness, in here, had to be done in secret.
Flipping the pages again, making a game of it, Dzhokhar marked a spot with his finger and read Genesis 50: 20
“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.”
Someone, probably the guard, had underlined it. Suddenly, Dzhokhar felt more alone than ever.