Sahid looked over at the red headed kid he had known all those years ago. Back then, the stocky little red head had only been sixteen years old. Sahid remembered how the stocky little guy had slid around the six angry men facing Sahid at the time.
“Here you go.” Handing a length of steel pipe to Sahid. “This should save your knuckles. You take out the big talker first. I shall take out the big guy standing next to him. After that, well, let’s see if we can hold the rest of them off long enough for the Police I called to get here.”
Sahid smiled at the memory. He had never seen the stocky little red head in his life before that moment. And yet, here he was offering to stand by him in a fight against six men. He noticed that the little red head was holding a stick not much bigger than a Magicians Wand, but thicker, and a cucumber.
The Loud Mouth who had insulted Sahid’s Faith, Family, and Honor stared at the little stocky kid. With a smirk that somehow managed to squeeze into his words the Loud Mouth said:
“Oh great, you brought a dwarf to help you. (The stocky little kid stood a bit straighter, but at five foot four inches, he technically was not a dwarf, just low average) And just what exactly are you going to do with a cucumber?”
There was genuine curiosity in the Loud Mouth's voice for that last comment. In fact, all of them were quite interested in his answer, even Sahid turned to look and see what the answer would be.
The little red headed stocky kid looked down at the cucumber, then raised it up so they all could see it.
“This? Oh, I use this in gang fights like this. I can smash your eye with it, but it won’t go far enough in to kill you. So I just leave you blind in the eye I cram it into. That way I don’t go to jail for murder, and you still have the one eye. Usually it ends the fight for the guy I hit with it. I take it the pain is excruciating to watch your eye burst like a grape and then spill down your cheek. Takes all the fight right out of you.”
All six of the would be toughs leaned back. It wasn’t a pretty picture the kid had painted. And the way he said it…made them hesitate. It sounded like the voice of experience, or memory.
The Loud Mouth was a little shaken but he tried:
“You think you can stop all of us with a cucumber?”
The stocky kid smiled.
“No. I expect you will be down before I can shove it in your eye, but the big guy (and he waved the cucumber at the big guy, who’s reptile brain immediately made him cover his eye) will be blind in one eye before he can hit me. And then, well, I know how to use this (and he waved his wand) enough to get at least one more eye with the cucumber. By then, I will either be down, or the Police I called before I came over here will take care of things.”
And then the stocky little kid turned to Sahid:
“Well, Buddy, I am done talking, so if you will take out the Loud Mouth, I will start on the big guy.”
And that is all it took. All six would be toughs started backing away, the Big Guy pulling the Loud Mouth back by the collar:
“You started this bullshit JR. I ain’t losing my eye to some short kid because you hate Muslims. If you want to stay and fight, you are on your own. “
The Loud Mouth wasn’t mouthing any longer. He saw the look of justice in Sahid’s eye, and the complete confidence in the stocky little kid’s stance. He didn’t even try to give them a parting word, or look of daring. He just turned and ran when the Big Guy jerked him by the collar.
And then…the alley was empty.
Sahid turned to the stocky little red head:
“Thank you, my friend. I am Sahid. And can you really do that with a cucumber?”
“My name is Bryan, and I don’t know. I have only used cucumbers for salads.”
And with that, the little stocky kid took a bite of cucumber. Sahid had laughed so hard he had to drop to his knees. That memory was as fresh now, sixteen years later, as it had been the day it was laid down that afternoon in the alley.
“Bryan. I need your help. My sister can’t get out of Syria. I have enough money, but I don’t have the connections to get her somewhere that will let her live. Her husband and two kids have to come with her- or I could probably get just her out. I know everybody likes you. Can you help? “
“I don’t know. Let me think. You know, I think Cerise might be able to help. Wasn’t your sister a biologist or something?”
“She was a botanist. She is a botanist. Or at least she was until they closed the University and put her in that camp.”
The still little stocky red head smiled a big smile.
“Oh, that is even better. Let me make a call.”
“Cerise. She owns a small winery in France. I met her in the Peace Corps. She just started a small business to sell Medicinal Plants. I wonder if she could help? I know she could use your sister’s expertise. Let me make the call.”
Sahid’s hopes went up. Then sunk immediately. After all, Sahid had a small business that made enough money to support his sister. He just couldn’t get through all the red tape. He had no idea how to navigate immigration laws in any country- and his adopted Country of the USA was getting tough on letting anyone in, Ph.D, or no Ph.D. times had changed since he was a student at MIT, and the little stocky kid had helped him in that alley.
The little red head saw the look on Sahid’s face, leaned over and patted his shoulder.
“Let’s call and see what she says. Then we can go from there.”
“Bryan, money isn’t enough. I know. I tried. Your friend sounds like a great match for my sister’s talents, but she won’t leave Syria without her husband and family. And most countries balk at bringing in whole families. “
“Oh, I don’t think that will be a problem. Cerise’s husband’s Father is France’s Ambassador to Germany. I think he might pull a few strings. Can your sister speak French?”
It turned out she could. And did.
A year later a small party was held at the little Vineyard in Southern France- to celebrate Cerise’s new companies' first Patent on a Medicinal herb. Discovered, isolated, and grown by Sahid’s sister.
Sahid stood next to one of the British Partners in the New Company.
“Who is that little red headed stocky kid? Everyone seems to know him. “
“Oh, Bryan? Well, he is everyone’s friend.”
Just then the little stocky red head looked over at Sahid, raised his glass in the air and smiled.
Sahid smiled back, raised his glass back. Turned to the British Partner and said: