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Apr 11, 2007

I'm in. Ala Baba and the Forty Thieves, if possible.



Apr 11, 2007

Killing Kassim
Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves
1547 Words

“What’s your association with Morgiana Sasaki?” Detective Jensen asked. She set a styrofoam cup of lukewarm coffee on the metal desk sitting in front of Ali and then took a seat herself. “She worked for you?”

Ali eyed the coffee and then took a hesitant sip. “No. She worked for my brother until his murder.”

Jensen leaned forward, her shirt catching on her shoulders. An undershirt or bra stood out in stark relief against the fabric, momentarily distracting Ali. “I need to ask this right now: Did you murder your brother Kassim, Mr. Baba?”


“Did Miss Sasaki?”

“No.” Ali paused briefly and then added, “She avenged him.”

Jensen pawed her face and said, “Why don’t you just start at the beginning?”

The beginning. What beginning? A competition of brothers from childhood into college and then into business? A long-standing rivalry of wit and financial success? Kassim had won those battles; both of them. But Ali was smart. Good with computers. And he had discovered something a few weeks ago.

Something that resulted in his brother’s death.

This would be delicate to explain. Saying too little might put Ali on the suspects list—if he wasn’t on it already—and saying too much would result in Morgiana’s possible conviction. He wished she hadn’t run.

“I found a file,” Ali said. “It was a backdoor into the National First Banking systems and it was on my brother’s company’s network. He didn’t know what it was, and once we realized how severe the crime was, it was too late.”

Jensen rolled a hand in the air, her elbow perched on the edge of the table, as if to urge Ali to move past this. “We know about the Sesame.exe program.” She pulled a manila folder full of papers from the desk. She opened the folder and flipped to a statement Ali made earlier that afternoon in another interview. “You stole thousands in a matter of hours.”

“By skimming from rounded fractions of a cent, yes,” Ali said. “All you had to do was open Sesame and put the routing number in. Like in that movie, Office Space.” He tried to laugh, but the laughter came out nervous and short. Apparently Jensen wasn’t a big fan of movies. Ali added, “I have the money still. I can return it! My brother’s as well.”

“If you tell us something we can use in the murder case, we’ll overlook the theft. We want to work with you, Mr. Baba.” Jensen sounded friendly and warm, but her tone froze Ali to the core.

Ali shifted in his seat. “I didn’t murder my brother! He was murdered on Reynolds orders for discovering the Sesame program; it was Reynolds’ program! Mr. Reynolds was in the mafia! He had Kassim killed in his own office right in the middle of the day.” Ali could see his reflection in the one-way mirror that faced into the room. He looked guilty as hell.

Jensen stood up and began to pace around the room. “So why invite Reynolds into your house? Why put you and your wife in danger with some mob boss?”

“It wasn’t like that,” Ali said, his heart racing. He could almost feel the Detective’s disbelief.

“Mr. Baba, tell me exactly how it is then. Cause where I am, it looks to me like you killed your brother, you killed Reynolds, and then you killed forty of Reynolds’ employees in what can only be described as a terrorist attack.”

Oh, God. Calling it terrorism? That kind of thing put people on death row.

Jensen said, quieter now, “Seems to be your word against Morgiana Sasaki’s.”

Ali turned to face Jensen. “You’ve spoken to her?”

“Sure did, partner.”

“What did she say?”

Jensen leaned against the doorframe, resting a hand thoughtlessly on her holster. “What if I told you she said that you killed them all?”

“She lies!” Ali said, standing up and throwing the empty cup of coffee at the wall. It rolled drunkenly across the floor, spilling only a handful of drops.

“Mr. Baba, I need you to sit down,” Jensen said, one arm outstretched and the other now firmly on her pistol. “Another outburst and you’ll be spending the night with us.”

Ali sat down again, now very aware of how that might have looked to a courtroom watching the security footage of this later. He avoided looking at the camera mounted in the corner.

“I didn’t know it was Reynolds,” Ali said after a time.

“Say that again?”

“When he came to our home. He was posing as a lawyer for my brother’s estate.” Ali shook his head, “I didn’t know what some mob guy looked like. I’m an honest man! A good person.” Tears began to well up in Ali’s eyes. He didn’t want some damned hypothetical courtroom to see him like this. He didn’t even want to see himself like this, but he couldn’t stop it. His emotions had tipped. “I just do business. I don’t know what Kassim got himself wrapped up in. I just found some file they must have put on his company’s network. I work on their systems, you know.” Ali wiped tears away from his eyes.

“Tell me about it,” Jensen said, sitting back down in her chair.

“Morgiana knew it was him though. After my brother’s death, she stayed with us until she found a new job and could move out on her own. I was just trying to do right by my brother, Detective. Kassim and Morgiana were very . . . close.”

“And Reynolds didn’t know it was her?”

“No, I don’t think so. She excused herself and went outside when he arrived. I guess she went down to the street while Reynolds and my wife and I discussed my brother’s estate. I don’t know who he was until we heard the explosions.”

Jensen flipped a few pages in her folder and said, “At eleven fourteen PM, two box trucks marked Reynolds Security were destroyed using an IED, killing forty men and women who were inside. All were security employees at Reynolds. And you suggest this was the work of Miss Sasaki?”

“It had to be. After the explosions, she came back in and,” Ali’s voice caught in his throat and he paused before continuing, “shot Reynolds. I couldn’t believe it. And then she told me he was a mafia guy that had killed my brother and that she knew he was going to kill all of us.”

“Tell me that part, Mr. Baba. Why did she shoot him?”

For the first time, Ali wondered if maybe he would walk out of this room a free man. “The explosion had blown out the windows in my house and every other house on the street and then Morgiana was standing in the doorway to the parlour with a pistol in her hand while my wife was on the phone with 9-1-1. And she said something like, ‘This is for Kassim, you son-of-a-bitch,’ and she shot him. She shot him over and over, even though he was already dead, until she was out of bullets in her pistol. My wife was screaming at that point and then Morgiana just looked at us and said, ‘He was a gangster sent here to kill you. His crew was outside, waiting for us.’ She had the strangest look on her face. And then she just ran out.”

Ali stared down at his hands.

Jensen leaned back in her chair and ran her fingers through her hair. “poo poo,” she swore. “Mr. Baba, I’d like to say thank you for what you’ve said tonight and offer you a cab ride home.”

“That’s it?” Ali asked, looking up.
Jensen was already putting the manila folder away. “That’s it. I have what I need. You’re free to go.” She walked over to the door and held it open for Ali.

“Ah, thank you, Detective,” Ali said lamely. He stepped out into the police department’s hallway and was immediately greeted with a woman’s scream.

“Ali! Ali!” It was Morgiana, in handcuffs, being dragged to or from an interrogation room herself. She looked hysterical, jumping and pulling against the restraint of two police officers on each side of her. “I told them everything! Everything! How I killed them all! I avenged him! I loved Kassim! I loved him!”

“Morgiana!” Ali shouted, reaching out to her. “Why did you do this thing?” His hand was diverted by Jensen and she pulled him a step back into the room. “There could have been another way!” he pleaded to Morgiana, but the woman was still screaming and now totally incoherent. Ali had never seen her like this and it left him heartbroken.

“Jesus, guys, get her out of here,” Jensen said, pushing past Ali and grabbing Morgiana by the shoulder and pulling her down the hallway. Detective Jensen, calling over Morgiana’s hysterics, said, “Go home, Mr. Baba, but don’t go anywhere else. We’ll be in touch.” The group disappeared around a corner.

As Ali left the precinct with cab voucher in hand, he began to think of the Sesame program.

It still existed.

He still had access to his brother’s company’s systems.

And with a little more effort to be careful, he had a lucrative future ahead of him.

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