THE VAULT

My Pal Al
June 12, 2006 by The Colonel

We Hardly Knew Ye, Zarqawi.

A Eulogy by The Colonel:

Al-Zarqawi- how we hardly knew ye. A lot of things can be said about former terrorist leader Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi. He was a murderer. He was a terrorist. He was the leader of a rebel insurgency that cost the lives of hundreds and thousands of Americans and Iraqis alike. But one thing most won’t call him is roommate.

Yes, it is true. Your faithful servant here, reporting nothing but the facts, actually roomed with Zarqawi in college. I called him Al. Although the world will remember him as an evil man filled with evil thoughts, I will remember him as that smelly kid who had a penchant for late night games of Stratego and was strangely popular with the ladies. Back then, there was never an indication that he may tread down the path of terrorism, in fact, he seemed to love the United States.

Once, as I studied late into the night for my Masters in Botanical Studies, Al stumbled in, screamed “I love this country!” and fell to the floor, only to awaken the next morning in his own mess. To this day, I wonder if that tragic experience didn’t sour him on the US’s culture of beer, breasts and bong rips. Perhaps the pungent taste of your own bile the day after a raging kegger at Kappa Gamma Phi is enough to do just that.

Still, when he wasn’t playing zany pranks, or going on midnight panty raids halfway across campus, he was studying. His goal was to be a Kindergarten teacher, as he simply loved children. He used to say to me, “They are our future, Moses; they are our future.”

Then, something happened that none of us expected; Al fell in love. I remember it was a mid-summer afternoon when he met Laura Welch. She was working as a librarian at the time, and Al was studying at the library where she worked. Although she had already graduated with a Masters in education and he was just a freshman, he did everything he could to woo that girl. Dressed up like a puppy dog and played “Total Eclipse of the Heart” on ukulele; sent her a solid chocolate sculpture of himself, and made several video tapes in which he confessed his love for her. Ironically, those were of no better quality than some of the ones that made him famous later in life.

Eventually, Laura relented, and they dated. Their romance was a torrid one. Details of the affair cannot be published (even on the internet), but let me say that, no one on Floor 3 of Building B on the Campus of the University of Texas at Austin got much sleep during the Summer of 1977.

As fall neared and the passions of summer faded, something horrible occurred. Laura met someone new. He was a young upstart, with a smirk of determination and a good old boy attitude. He was everything that Al was not. White, cocky, and (most importantly) rich. It wasn’t long before George stepped in and Al was out of the picture.

I recall the days and weeks after the breakup, when he would stay in our dorm for days. His once clean-shaven appearance had given way to a thick growth, and the walls of the room were filled with morose poems about death and dying. I suppose it was only a matter of time before these feelings of self-loathing projected themselves outward into becoming the leader of the largest terrorist network in the world. Or something.

Dressed all in black, my buddy Al stood from his bed one afternoon, his mascara running down his pale, painted face and said “Why?” then walked out of the dorm. I never saw him again. And while I wouldn’t know him for the remaining years of his life; I would see him now and again when I would go to the post office, or whilst playing poker games with my old friends from The Legion.

The last time I saw Al was when I saw his cold, dead face this week, on the covers of newspapers and news shows across the nation, with captions such as, “Game Over” and “Out of Business.” While the rest of the world rejoices in the death of this horrendous terrorist leader, I simply take a moment to remember my quirky college roommate, Al.

~The Colonel