Mr. Cassim ran an auto repair shop.
He had no neck. He looked like a turtle.
He dyed his beard with henna like a good
Muslim. After work he bought me coconuts.
I’d sip them with a blue straw, and he’d ask
me why I didn’t have a lady. I’d tell him
I needed to become a better man. And he’d
say No one in this world is good. When I’d
argue (There are lots of good people!), he’d
point to the soldier across the street, no older
than 20, leaning a gun thicker than his arm
against the low tin roof of his patrol, watching
the road painted white over the scar of an
explosion. (The soldier would smile with the
most delicate lips.) Then Mr. Cassim would
pat my head like a puppy he was training.