By Talal Chami
Stories of Raping random girls, killing random children, and cutting open the wombs of random pregnant women were the order of the day. The conflation of the hard body and the violence emphasized these virile acts: Once added, the weapons became the required artifacts of masculine performance quintessentially. Days and nights in the ravaged city looked like scenes from Coppola’s Apocalypse Now unknotting. I thought to myself: War is a visual occurrence by all means. I reminisced about Nick Ut’s “Accidental Napalm” photograph –as the defining image of the Vietnam War. That little girl will not go away, despite many attempts at forgetting. War photographs are frozen moments in time. I freeze what I see. It’s not what you see. It’s what I see. It’s my truth. It’s not the truth. It’s my eye. It’s the way I saw it with a specific lens, with a specific light. You wouldn’t have seen it the same way I have. Someone would claim. The Vietnam War ended in the same month as the Lebanese Civil War. A clear-dissolve. And it is even more thought-provoking when we know for a fact that USS New Jersey, or BB 62 -the only U.S battleship providing gunfire support during the Vietnam War, also took part in U.S operations during the Lebanese Civil War in 1983. Beirut is a disfigured city. Once a hide-out, where coup d’états, political assaults, espionage, and even felony could be planned, financial deals, bank transactions, and international trade could be brokered, was alas! a ravaged city. She circularly rubbed her strapless lid with some Thai oil I had in store, using her left hand, and sitting back in the bunker of my bed, with her cherry-red lips squeezing a hard, spicy, and fired-up Jimmy on the loose that looked more like a German Hindenburg caught on fire attempting to dock on her delicious lips. She did all that with the elasticity of a gazelle in suspicion of a fuck-up. Of an imminent death. A cruel act. She looked me in the eyes and said: I fucked six guys simultaneously last time. I don’t know where the obsession with sex comes from. I am talking about my own. I guess, and irrevocably, Freud was so right. Life was built around tension and pleasure. And all that build-up of libido I needed to discharge, somehow. To release interminably. Curiously, she did not fuck me as much as I wanted to. She was more of a mouth-inserter. Just like a baby who gets much satisfaction from putting all sorts of things in its mouth to satisfy her libido. She used to come to my place famished for some reason: She got up. I strolled to the fridge and pulled the doo o. I ate whatever she found and ate a tiny, little wagon with an engine. She devoured ravenously and greedily what was left of a turkey and mashed potatoes I had saved for a lonesome afternoon and drank up all the beer cans standing proud and eerie in the deep of my light box. She did all that with the motivation of a fifteen-year-old novice- cheerleader. She sat back on my bunker of a bed and watched a silent black and white TV movie on an old TV set in decay, mute. A regal act. Worthy of a pictorial endeavor a la Salvador Dali. The TV set was an old artifact I found in that apartment when I moved in three years ago. She was high. I was drunk. She loved to sit back in the bunker of my bed, spite strawless lid, scrub her strapless repeatedly, using her left hand, like there was no tomorrow, and drink wine all afternoon. And she did all that not far away from the Demarcation Line in the no-man zone. She was 15, and I was the luckiest bastard in West Beirut. The memory of that fuck-up kept bouncing off the walls of my place like a stress ball in distress. Marlon Brando once couldn’t get it up. It was shameful, but I guess it was ok; she loved the feeling of a revolver barrel inside her. She used to revere the freshly fired metal tube with both frame and cylinder inside. A regal tactic of enormous after-effect. One day and out of the blue, we decided to meet: In other words, to go out for a change. Greta Garbo’s was a warm and cozy brasserie outside Beirut, which had turned into a scrapyard. It was the perfect meeting place for a Saturday afternoon wine A-Go-Go. The place was not crowded as we expected. As we had agreed, she came out of the android flair with a Latin flair. Hard to explain if you didn’t have it in the first place. I stood there. Earnest and ceremonial in my act. Looking at her royal-paced walk-in euphoria. She walked my way the seventeen steps it took her to face me, kiss me on both cheeks, and say: I missed you, my Pacino. Graceful and yet unpretentious. Her holy halo leaked elements of light, spilling radiant and shiny bright as she moved forward. That afternoon rushed in like a Belgian train in mid-voyage, hat never made it on time. In Dystopia, we talked about flatbread pizza, her next mobile cinema project, her last, fast-paced failed love affair, and her attempt at piano lessons. I listened, mostly. For practical reasons. -A wisdom I had acquired recently, which had saved me plenty of time, effort, and appetite. We had a couple of jumpy-chicken salads and local wine. Fresh and flavorsome. We laughed as we talked about almost everything and nothing and managed to kill the hour away gracefully. We both imagined moments-to-be, simultaneously. Mostly naked. For some strange reason, she loved to be touched on her forehead. A regal act of a woman on fire. On her eyebrows, to be exact. She was the classic example of someone who knows what she wants and how to get it right away. A negotiator, if you know what I mean. Willing to try new things –in private. My type of chick. Affectionate, and aall theoutside, and yet crazy and freaky on the inside. A mind-type. And believe it or not I was her perfect match. A sophisticated flirt in my own right: A wild, well-traveled, fearless Latino lover by birthright. To tell you the truth, I pretended I read more books than she presumed I did. A manly-affair. I wrestled with my lights and delusions as the afternoon got away. I concealed most of my inner feelings and idiosyncrasies -in thamidtalk. A Gemini-kind-of-affair. I was after her strapless lid. What else. One of the few remaining standard activities in Dystopia. The truth of the matter is we fucked for a while, and I got kind of bored with her afterwards. I completely lost interest in her. A guy- thing –so to speak. But her healthy appetite for sex and her delightful fashion style triggered my bacon bazooka. And the fuck-affair kept rolling for more than we both expected. She was the kind of girl who would do anything to satisfy you. I acted in kind. I used a proactive approach with her for as long as it lasted. She was predictable but was worth the try, though. Worth every single sperm I spared on her lower and upper abdomen. And well, yeahoftenes on her tiooftenunny face. I mean, why not. I had nothing to lose. I was a cowboy on the run. She loved to be chased after -for sex. And after sex. She loved BJs as much, and she very much, and she used to brag about it publicly. A few weeks later, I found out she was sleeping with a couple of other guys from around the block, for subsistence, and with some big shot of sorts. A playboy –so to speak. Loaded with guns and green. Good for her. She was a practical kid with lots of love to spare. And lots of ambition. For amusement, I fired up my gorgeous-looking Jimmy and made some smoke rings with my mouth. And that lasted for quite a while. She had a shower: Poured herself a drink, and walkestrolledseventeen steps, all the way to my bed, completely naked. Next, she crawled my entire body like a wounded aoaningsoldier on the frontline. Once, fully on top and facing me, she said with her typical intense voice: Impress me with sojourns. It occurred to me, and I played a VHS tape I had borrowed from an old chum, of Greta Garbo’s Anna Karenina 1935, in decay. Well, yeah, to try to impress her with my cultural backdrop and shit. The perfect artifact for a late evening binge. A truc macabre, so to speak. The glitches and hiccups of the shivering images of Greta Garbo on the old TV set screen, did not corrupt the actress’s royal flare. What a Dame! I thought. What an ass! I thought in sequence. As I t I took turns looking at both the screen and the Chiquita’s naked, greasy, and flattened body shimmering in the dark, g like a sea-urchin in the deep. And I thought to myself: They don’t make round asses like this anymore. Sublime and holy. The truth is she was lying before my own eyes to see: Face-down with a few hours to spare, and I was shit sex-hungry. Infinitely famished. I was after her strawless lid. Her strapless cap. It was my turn to crawl all over her and once in position I slu,rped her strapless lid for hours. Out of a sudden, I dSuddenlymy bacon bazooka inside her fireplace. A regal act. We fucked for hours. Like two little kids grounded inside their tiny, littlel for the weekend, in solitary confinement. Her final spark was her peculiar climax. Unwas equal. Unusual. One of a kind. Pristine and immaculate. The street below, stretched, tall nd em,pty, kept shifting shadows and light as the clock ticked and the seconds died forever. I took off. Had to: I zigzagged my way to the Demarcation Line, past sandbags and burning silhouettes of cars, in fall-off. A conspicuous tactic that I deployed every time to avoid unleashed android-snipers on the loose. Whether someone or something conforms to customfamiliarrns or deviates from them depends on one’s point of view: Behind the concepts of normality and abnormality is the assumption that there is a single standard by which to judge everything. What may be normal to one group, however, may be unacceptable to another. I had the same Walkman on, with the same headphones arching the same epic oval head –of mine- I displayed for a thousand times at the frontline. Every time. A truc macabre. I played Monk Live in Paris 1964 evin ery time. Every day. Every hour. Non-stop. It was more like a frontline pursuit, just for kicks. Grotesque-act of reverie. A snow-white 1979 Super-Beetle Cabriolet stopped right there in the middle of nowhere, just a few steps from the line. I couldn’t identify any of its occupants –who wore ceremonial masks, just for kicks. The truth of the matter is they all looked like soul-reapers with scythes. Next, they revealed their hidden and nasty-looking arms and fired up abruptly in all directions for at least seven randtes. At the end of which, the snow-white Beetle stood-still in complete stillness. Suddenly, that tiny little wagon was showered and hammered countless times with all sorts of ammo. An RPG sealed its fate, turning them and the vehicle into a burning chunk of metal and flesh. A suicidal undertaking. An eccentric haze shrouded my eyesight. That da I met the iconic Wesley Ruggles on the Demarcation Line in Downtown Beirut that day-to-remember. I was surrounded by eccentric structures –which stood tall beholding my own state of incongruity. I stood almost mortified in the middle of the forlorn battldesolate, in quiet. Out of a thick, almost-mythical mist, a machine gun re-surfaced and finally rested on my temple. Pristine and Immaculate. I stood-still. Did not utter a word for an entire Trevi-Fountain second. I still remember that cowboy’s brimmed-shape-white-Panama-hat, silk shirt, striped pants and hi,s green suspenders. A distinctive and manly act. He looked like an older fashion model from GQ magazine. I still remember when he looked at me for the last time and said: Learn how to cook and spend less, save time and have sex more often. The noise of my camera release bottom echoed and re-echoed in the stillness of that barren place, bouncing off the empty, worn-out, and shattered walls and streets around me. On that cool Winter-day and somewhere in another part of town, The Red Prince carried a pistol holstered in brown leather and worn on his hip a la Clint Eastwood. He was a playboy alrig,ht, on his way to his final rave. He was in a two-CheviChevyion wagons convoy heading from Georgina’s flat to his mother's, for birthday party. Chambers was on her balcony, graciously painting, and her sinister red Beetle was parked right below on Rue Verdun. As Salameh's convoy passed that red wagon at 3:35 pm and turned onto Rue Madame Curie, a hundred Kilos of explosives attached to the car by a Mossad agent was remotely detonated either bers herself or on her signal to another Mossad agent. They did not mistake him this time. A truc macabre. The blast left Salameh conscious, but sverely wounded and in great pain, having pieces of steel shrapnel embedded in his head and throughout his body. He was rushed to The American University of Beirut Hospital, where he died on the operating table at 4:03 pm. Salameh's four bodyguards and four bystanders were also killed, and at least 16 people were injured. I was on the other end of town, with Wesley Ruggles sipping some single malt whisky, in some random bar, surrounded by Frenchies at the moment of the blast. The air had turned purple and a crowd rushed in on an empty street. You could feel the heat of the day in full armor. “We’re out of condoms, sir” said, muffled voice behind the counter. It had started to rain and I was already overtly provoked and ready for Yasmine, as she waited in the solitude of that apartment in Sodeco. I was only nineteen at the time, had memorized the entire First Act of The Birthday Party for a purpose, was semi-high and had impressed my Mass Communication professor just that very moron what made the news: The dog who bites the woman or the woman who bites the dog. My wallet was emptied and as I reached for a lighter placed candidly on that rustic shelf, I remembered: Wine! The bottle of wine that she had ordered. I was keen on bringing bottles of wine to my heated one-nights. I knew that this was nothing but another hit and run and she was ,to turn into another of my victims. I don’t feel sorry for her. She had used me in the past and so it was my way of getting even. It was a sort of payback. Just like that time when my bestie best friend another best friend and I had to put up with it. Only time brought me justice. When I fucked her ex-wife just for fun. And Am in no position to brag about it. To tell you the truth, she was most probably under age, and I am talking about Yasmine, of course. But she had been impressed by my poor acting and most likely my Latin stage presence. She would call me Pacino –for some weird, unstated reason. And I liked it. I used to call her Frenchie. My immediate purpose was to make it to the car. That’s for sure. You guessed it: My Rover. I was high. I was drunk. Beirut looked like a scrapyard and I was detained by a Danish lady looking for a bar. She wore a white dress and lime green, round hoop earringam pretty saving save her the wrong route, while at it. Sorry to disappoint you, lady. I thought minutes later. But for once I didn’t feel bad about it. I was entitled to my foolish act. I had someone waiting for me. All alone, remember: Frenchie in Sodeco. Most probably cold and most probably feeling melancholic as she waited for Pacino on his way. And perhaps, fuck-hungry. I had this wacko-concept: wacko concept matter of national interest to satisfy lonesome women in a lonesome city for the night. To keep them warm and content. An Eastern-affair. At least, I felt entitled due to my evident arrogance, primitive experience and to be honest: Well, I was desperate for a fuck! A truc macabre, so to speak. I was reduced to an android-Pacino on the run. A mutant gorilla on the loose. I walked with a typical Latino swagger –That I had picked from remote days when I used to live in a trailer park peopled by exotic wackos and misfits. My own reflection on the adjacent window display –as I walked through, seemed to repeat Pacino motifs in my head and all around me. And it was all accentuated by my own motion and light and penumbra. I don’t know why but I always had this impression that Pacino was the epitome of manliness. And Yasmine’s impression of me –in turn, made it unblemished. I was about to become one, on a professional level. Distinct and sexual. A series of failed affairs, my constant agitation looking for a reason to be, to exist and my endless struggle in settling down, and trying cconstantly trying momentarily satisfaction in whatever I was doing at the time, made a seriou vagabond out of me –but with good intentions. I landed jobs of all kinds. Appropriate and suitable ones, and totally despicable and thorny. But it was part of the bigger mosaic of shitless nonsense I was in, in a city that did not appreciate its most notable artists. And this perhaps was one of the reasons I found solace in night encounters. I didn’t measure or anticipate the consequences. I was a soldier of fortune playing his best hand every time, regardless of the fallout. I found delight in loving women: Women of all walks of life. A weekly-affair ofweekly affairer-effect. Jazz and Booze adjusted the happenstances. I was a hero for a night, every other night: Hidden from the rays of shame and banality. Hidden from the rays of sun and dust in perpetuity. I was alas! stuck in reverse in the cycle of my own propensity. Love affairs, in one way or another had destroyed me. I was left with nothing but the nucleus of a man that once was! Alone, desperate and attempting to become the reflection of the Pacino who had just glimmered before him. I derived pleasure from ecstasy. And ecstasy from pleasure. I was an android-Romeo equipped with apps and wine. The shine of the screen reminded me of Frenchie, dripping messages of small talk and nonsense every once in a while. Where are you? Why are you taking this long? Try not to be late and so on and so forth, with the typical French-English accent. This was a boring part. I detested it. I had to put up with lots of shit. Birds, dogs, cats, and a gold-fish named Cookie Monkey. And even a Parrot, that I taught Spanish. Oye, Puto: Chupame la Pinga. This was a daily punch line. It fet good, for a while. But after that, the whole enterprise became mech; ital, it turned hysterical and unemotional. Not my regular cup of coffee. Her sofa bed was remarkably enormous. Of course, some of her pets found sanctuary there. I was happy to know that some had died a few months later only to gather she had replaced most of them to no avail. Let me be more honest: Yasmine was my playmate. A pet of my own. I don’t mean to sound wicked, but she had stripped me down to the ground. Of all my talent and my merits. I had lost all my medals and my marvels since the end of the Civil war, and no one had hugged me, like really hugged me ever since. It was a masterful act of her part. We were two gorilla mutants of intimacy. She used to remind me that we were up for it only if we agreed that -that was going to be the only night together. And of course, it wasn’t. We used to bang like rabbits every once in a while. She was hig,h and I was drunk. A perfect match. A tr isuc macabre. I was her pet. Her Pluto – for all I know. I drove my car to Sodeco. The rain had stopped partially. Some garbage cans were in flame around corners. A typical yet berserk Pacino scene in the making, unfolding before me. I looked around me to see if some random passenger from a random passing vehicle would recognize me, from a random scene I was part of, the night before on a local TV network. An absurd act of vanity. A woman stood nearby. She approached my half-open window. The breezcame in perfectly matchedor my Monk –Live in Paris 1964. She said: “Sodeco!” I said” “Yes!” She got in. I said: “No. Not that way!” She looked at me as if I had slain her entire race or tribe. I succumbed in silence. Did her the favor in utter quiet. I smiled a Mona Lisa smirk and drove in partial stillness, turned down Monk playing and closed the window entirely. How could I ruin the moment? We were both happy. In our driving act. Me driving to my fuck and she, well, she was comfortably being driven to her random location in Sodeco. A night scene. I did not utter a word until we got there. She was about to pay the alleged taxi fare when another stranger said: “Hamra!” I had to open the door and step away from my Rover to inspect it. It didn’t look at all like a taxi or cab –to sound more Pacino-like, if you know what I mean. What is wrong with these people? I thought to my-self. The pale color of my car, the sudden rain and the smoke curling up in the air, in a New-York fashion prompted such reactibly. At night, everything changes and a lie becomes the truth. I got pissed. I was going to be late. You don’t want to miss a fuck. They say it’s bad luck. And now this: Taken or mistaken for a Travis Bickle in the middle of Beirut at 11 PM. A truc macabre. Let me just say that our friendship had lasted for ovhastwenty years. Yasmine –or Frenchie as I used to call her, was a hell of a woman. She was smart, tenacious, multi-talented and had an Italian flare, for all the time we were together. She never lost it. I was amazed. But for some random reason ,I was at the end of the day -Her Pluto. Her pet-playmate. Pluto is just a random name. You can call me any pet name, if you want to. I wouldn’t even know it. I would be long gone. Doing Yasmine or maybe slurping her strawless lid, her strapless cap for an eternity. The truth of the matter is our one-night stand lasted for seven years. Tonight, was a random night. Just like any other random night. Nothing special about it, except for the Danish lady with a white dress and lime green, round hoop earrings, and the random passengers who had mistaken me for a cabbie in a cab film. Often times I would turn violent on Yasmine. Like shit crazy. I lost control several times. I do regret that now. I used to hit, punch, strike, beat, slap, smack, hand-cuff her to her bed, so drunk that she wouldn’t even remember it, the next morning. She would laugh and kind of let go. I used to slam her against the closet like shit crazy. I –once, smashed her head with a Chinese vase just because she changed some random TV channel that I wasn’t even watching. I was high. She was drunk. I still remember when I smashed some window panels at her place, one day, by simply walking through. It was so lucid, I didn’t even see them block my way. That one time, a police patrol was called in but made no arrests. Her favorite part was the whipping we did. It took months of self-adaptation and re-adjustments. She got so used to it she said one time she was addicted to it. That she didn’t Shestop and that if we did, she’d probably kill herself. And I liked it. She didn’t want me to stop, alright. I kept going. It kept rolling. Her addiction was Freud-induced. Mine was cigar and booze. That’s what made matters worse. I had become ill-tempered. Nothing could fix that. Out of nowhere I had this idea: To get drunk before I go up and see her. And so I did. Got wasted, went up, and the first thing I did when I saw her was go down on her and eat her strawless lid for hours. I still remember when one night I went up to see her, and for some wacko reason she wouldn’t let me in. She blocked my way in, like completely. She said she had a friend inside and that she wasn’t feeling ok. That was an eye-opener for me. Her cat kept meowing at my foot. In a sudden act, I lifted that poor thing with my foot and threw him or her –You tell me, over the stairway. I heard it still meow down there in the dark. For quite some time. A truc macabre. I still think about it. It makes me feel uneasy. It gives me the shivers. Just to think about it. Sometimes I dream of the poor little cat in the dark looking at me, waiting for the day to get even. I can still feel the spell of that cat all around me. Well, if there’s any consolation, I am truly sorry for that. Guilt chased me and still chases me like a wounded dog and that time when I fucked this part-time actress and got her pregnant. Well, it took years before she could show some mercy. She never said it but I guess she did forgive me, in the end. As for Frenchie. I see her from time to time, you know. Am her Pluto. Her pet-playmate. Pluto is just a random name. You can call me any pet name, if you want to. I wouldn’t even know it. I would be long gone. Doing Yasmine or maybe slurping her strawless lid, her strapless cap for an eternity. She came out of her apartment building in a haste, and as s. And my red Rover Mini Cooper door and got in, I threw out the window my half-way consumed zeppelin on the loose, I had lit a few minutes ago for convenience, as I listened to Monk Live in Paris, 1965. She hated Jazz but budged in the middle of a speedy fuck. As a matter of fact, she would turn the volume up and tell me that the music drove her nuts. Little I knew, back then, that that zeppelin tail would plunge upon the bubbling sidewalk, that afternoon, like a Hindenburg in 1937, while its nose, rose into the air like a breaching whale. My mini-Hindenburg smashed what was left of a line of symmetrically-aligned ants on their way to an important meeting. They were all in black and looked serious. My Chiquita threw herself onto her seat, tossed her bag onto the back seat, shifted her weight multiple times and finally sat straight up looking ahead, like a sphinx. She said: You can go now. I drove my Rover like I stole it -as my little serious victims were dispersing, in notable confusion, and in random fashion right outside my half-open window. The sandstorm I left behind grew taller than the lamp posts scattered along the street and above the noise of TV game shows poorly produced. The shadows of that afternoon street were eating up silhouettes and those silhouettes were in turn forming in surrounding walls and facades in a fatuitous manner. Chiquita and I knew each way back. From school days when we were young and tall and vigorous. She found pleasure in random talk, random acts. Sand he once told me that it was more meaningful for her to justify her request of seeing me than to just say what she wanted right away. A modus operandi, so to speak. As I drove past flower shops and pharmacies, lingerie stores and sex toys swaying like giant bait worms on display, I thought I should get a dog and maybe a girlfriend, for all I know. -A way of mending up my lonesome act, and one or two forlorn Beirut afternoons, while at it. And maybe why not get a real job. And actually, do something for a living. This business of random projects, and freelance writing was getting on my nerves. The job wasn’t but the pay was. A truly macabre. She was gorgeous-looking, the kind of a girl you want to hit on, and do from time and time and well yeah, like try to keep for a while. The fact is she was unquenchable, hard to stop once in, and her demands grew more assiduous as our afternoon escapades became more regular. She said: Stop the car. We sat there in the middle of nowhere. Monk was a Devil in a state of total rapture. I kissed her soft lips with no bad intentions in mind. She slurped my bacon bazooka several times just for kicks. On-lookers stood by. She grabbed my handle for reassurance, gave it a good brush and sat on me like shy had missed it. She spat at it multiple times, my face was all over the ceiling and the windshield, and I was roaring like a wounded lion, like a man who had bet his life saving on second running-horse in the races. She was high on Blow. I was a jazz freak. She loved History books and Italian cuisine: She was an expert at Pasta Carbonara. She’d cook the pasta in salted water, and ook some tomatoes in a large skillet over medium-high heat with olive oil andoften stirringn, until it slightly softened for around three minutes. She would then add some shallots and cook, stirring until the shallots and tomatoes softened for the same amount of time or so. She would then add the garlic, some nand atural herbs and finally bring to a boil. Once done, she would blend the mix using a hand blender –no wonder she was good at hand jobs. Buon appetito! è delizioso. That day she was draped like a mannequin in a display window. She wore a horrible, loose-fitting vintage dress, and o make-up. Stained with dark spots of coffee, that did not taste good, which she had, early in the morning. And her regular flat green shoes. She always wore green shoes. She squashed a gum behind her front teeth. Her finger-nails in double-decker red. Both her earrings scintillated an assortment of a spectrum caused by the light diffused through the silver clouds, and bouncing off strategically located car handles in car doors. I thought to myself: What a lucky bastard! I was the luckiest bastard in West Beirut. As I pulled the metallic cold through my nostrils and a line or two of blow coke in a sporadic fashion while at it, a snow-white cigarette of three to four inches in length, resting between her fingers, burned down onto a memory. She squeezed my bacon bazooka with her free hand, thinking maybe she would make it spill by way of her magic. She was in her late thirties and I was assailed by a huge range of a regrets and shames and disappointments. Assaulted by a series of failed relationshits. It was in that very instthat ant, she tried desperately to project a cheerful air: I think am in love, with your dick. Dogs and birds were leaping from one tree to another undetected. Atrulyc macabre. She looked out the window and I pretended her say something in French like, “On a froid. On est seuls. Mais au moins, on sait où trouver de la chaleur.” She looked back at me for an entire Trevi-Fountain second. Gallant and noble. The emotions she had stirred were exactly where we had left them. Undetected. I was making a much-needed escape from my own trivial life, to try to reconnect back with it. It was a favorite pastime. The way of a dog, astray and awry, one afternoon in the city. Freud would have laughed, and probably join in. He would say some like I am in for the blow, man. Do what you want with her lid. Now that I come to think about it: The old man did flash in my memory a couple of times, while at it. I pictured him in that coat, with the classic white beard, all cracked up coke-high and murmuring to himself: Turn that Monk shit up. A moment later I detected her stripping from waste down. She looked strikingly beautiful. Her pristine shadow making a regal comeback as her hair swayed in all directions. I was a bohemian in my final act, she was Lucifer desperate for more. Stonie wore a Machiavellian smile and fashioned a Cobra Shades just like the ones Stallone wore as Marion Cobretti in Cobra, 1986. The trutr is this guy looked more like a train-ticket conductor or inspector with a twist, for all I know. He looked like a mutant gorilla on the run. And not even close to what a member of an elite division called Zombie Squad looked like. A truc macabre. A isfter a moment, he panned his head appearing entirely as a more recent version of the black drummer in Youtube Bill Withers’ Ain’t No Sunshine, with a grin. He looked up from his tiny, half-open, smoke-twirling-window and said: Hello Mr. Ruggles, am Stonie. Welcome to Lebanon. The Switzerland of the East. Wesley Ruggles – was an accomplished and prominent American photojournalist. He got in the back seat of the white Peugeot 504 and smiled all the way to the Commodore Hotel in Hamra. Stonie looked at his customer adjusting himself in the back seat, as he got in, on the rear-view mirror and said: Our country is the best place if you wish to take on the challenge of surfing and skiing on the same day. There’s no particular way to do it – some prefer to hit the waves early in the morning and end the day with a cup of mulled wine after a great ski or snowboard session; others prefer to hit the slopes in the morning and watch the sunset from Ain El Mraisse on West End, after catching some waves. It’s really up to you, Mr. Ruggles. You decide. I leave it up to you. Wesley Ruggles grinned. He wasn’t much of a talker, f you know what I mean. He nodded affirmatively to all the words Stonie shot at him. Lester Young Stardust – 1952 was coming out of the radio. Soft and easy. Let me tell ya a story. Stonie said: Two families were arguing in a field about where the boundary between their lands lay. The dispute dated back a long time and blood had been shed a number of timseveral a child of some eight or nine years, picked up a stick and drew a line in the earth. When asked what he was doing, he said he was marking the boundary as it had been agreed at the last round of negotiation, long before he was born. His father asked him how he knew this, and the boy replied that he was the reincarnation of a man the father had killed in the feud. When the child revealed details of the shooting that only the dead man and his killer could have known, his father embraced his former adversary wh,o was now his son. Both families wanted the feud to end. It had been costly in terms of lives, and all were seeking a way out of a resumption of hostilities. Wesley Ruggles said: Take to me to the Green Line. Now. The war sound kept coming in and out of my head, and a couple was still banging inside a tiny yellow Fiat not far away from where I was standing. A mechanical undertaking. Not much emotion/commotion at play except for their intense sexual collaboration. A deliberate, indecent exposure. The gurl – a night-time frontline-regular took turns shifting her rear-end from East to West rear endal act. A line up of militiamen stood in queue on both of ends of the line to shag her. A surreal act. A moment of truce. Both the gurl and the city were completely naked, shattered and decrepit. Partly broken, partly rotten, and partly forgotten. For years, I was a war junkie in Beirut. A crowded jeep of militiamen stopped and disembarked on a random sidewalk of a deserted, and smashed street on the other end of the city. They all looked like knights subpoenaed by the monarch who was pissed and drunk and tired. For a moment, they all looked irritated and pissed off. A sort of a fashion insignia they all displayed just for kicks. A war-affair. Hip and ceremonial. Then, they began to disperse along the sidewalk in zigzag, with machine guns and RPGs pointing upward. Their beards, long and unpleasant, pointing downward. And their self-esteem halfway inhalfway. They all came for the cut. The King’s cut. The truth of the matter is the King Salon was the hippest place in town. A classic spot. A royal den. The cosmopolitan centre of Beirut. So, to speak. Everybody was there. A meeting place for spies, including Kim Philby and Archie Roosevelt, and CIA men such as Miles Copeland as well as journalists of the caliber of John Chancellor and Sulzberger. Numerous diplomats and politicians, business tycoons and oil Sheikhs, they all mixed with oil and banking tycoons of the day molding the clientele of this classic establishment. A royal place. During the 50's and even 70's the plots, the deals, and the stories that came out of this famous barbershop in Beirut were gripping. Plots and counter-plots, stretching over a quarter of a century echoed and re-echoed inside, every time. Rumor has it, many incidents which helped to shape and re-shape Middle Eastern history are associated with the Salon: The attempt to overthrow King Hussein of Jordan, for instance. It was partially destroyed in the Two-Year war, but it was totally re-erected and managed to preserve its heyday reputation for a while. I used to come here when I was little. A place to chill. A room where you could conduct business as usual without the hassle of the real workplace. A place you didn’t call a café for prestige and yet it was almost one. The tea they served was splendid and kingly. And ladies used to stay out on the sidewalk just for thrills, with the hope to catch heartthrobs on the loose. I went out with a new hair-cut. The King’s cut. I was the King’s Knight for the night. I kick-started my bike and cruised for a while. A poet on tour. Roaming the city. Looking for a one-night stand. Or at least what appears to be. I saw a solitary figure standing on a random spot. A black woman with an Afro. It was just perfect. She jumped me on the highway the time it took me to give her a ride home. A truc macabre. I pressed the number nine button inside the elevator of my apartment building. I was tired and wired. As the elevator began to go up it suddenly stopped. I was alone. And forgotten for a while. Dangling by a cord. Forsaken. Maybe. I masturwaited the hour. Power was restored and I made it to my apartment safely. Minutes later the phone rang. She said: Baby, are you craving me tonight. The next thing I know I have couple of Lesbians over slurping my bacon bazooka just for kicks. A royal act. Worthy of enjoyment with what I called decent music: I used to play Stevie Wonder’s Superstition really loud on my Marshall speakers in decay, while at it. A ritual of old fun-days when I was young, full of sperms, and needs and itches. The funny part –though, is that I always experienced something peculiar in that very moment of sorts. Hard to explain but I saw the trailer of my own life lived, projected on the facing wall. A broken wall. I reminisced about past affairs and was transfixed by the lingering memory of a blow job as well as a highly visual fuck-climax. Vivid and highly pictorial. Cheers! They both said. As they both poured all the wine content, glittering in penumbra, upon my bacon bazooka. It looked like a copper fall unleashing. Unceasing. A truc macabre. A isroyal act. Three was company. Beirut was a junkyard of scrap metal and waste back then. A place for sub-humans and android-machines on the run. BB 62 opened fire and hit some targets on the outskirts occity’s outskirtsd-cowboy in disguise. Rumors had it the bomb shells were all empty. As the American destroyer showered guerilla positions in Souk el Gharb, I was firing my own cannon all over the Lesbians scattered along enemy lines inside my dim room, not far away from the Demarcation Line in Beirut. A supreme act. A simultaneous-affair. Many years later, I had a similar experience when I was shagging this Pilipino gurl -in a random hotel in Jounieh, just for kicks, while watching the final of the World Cup in 2010. I still remember cumming inside her mouth at the exact moment Iniesta was kicking the ball inside the Netherland finish line. A glorious-act of sorts. The two Lesbians just loved the feeling of a revolver barrel inside them. A truc macabre. A regal tactic of enormous after-effect. For some reason, they used to revere the freshly fired metal tube with both frame and cylinder inside. I never understood why. I stood there. Earnest and ceremonial in my act. Viewing the trailer of my own life on the facing wall of that dim room, and watching my bacon bazooka in constant spa-treatment mode. Graceful and yet unpretentious. The afternoon rushed in like a Belgian train in mid-voyage, that never made it on time. I dreamed of flatbread pizza, in the wasteland. Reminisced about my last, fast-paced failed love-affair and my futile attempt at piano lessons. We laughed, as we talkd and killed the hours away. We imagined moments-to-be. Mostly naked. For some strange reason, they both loved to be touched on their forehead. A women-thing. On their eye-brows to be exact., The truth of the matter is that they both were willing to try new things –in private. My type of women. Alone and crazy. A mind-type. Affectionate, and calm on the outside, and yet crazy and freaky on the inside. To tell you the truth I pretended I read more books than they both presumed I did. I wrestled with my own thoughts and delusions. Concealed my deeper feelings and idiosyncrasies -in the midst of our talk. In the middle of a futile war with no ending. A Geendind-of-thing with a thrill. I was after their strapless lid. What else do you expect: One of the few remaining standard activities in Dystopia, at the time. I fucked them both for a while and I got kind of bored afterwards. The truth of the matter is I completely lost interest in them. Soon after, I found my next victim. A young, fresh psychology graduate with a healthy appetite for sex and a delightful fashion-style that managed to trigger my bacon bazooka, back. This next fuck-affair with Luciana kept rolling for more than we both expected. She was the kind of girl who would do anything to satisfy you. I acted in kind. I used a proactive approach with her, for as long as it lasted. She was worth the try: Worth every single sperm I spared on her lower and upper abdomen. And well, yeah often times on her breasts and her cute, funny face. A truc macabre. She lo isv ised to be chased after -for sex. She loved BJs as much. And she used to brag about it in public. A few weeks later, I found out she was sleeping with a couple of other guys from around the block, for subsistence, and with some big shot of sorts, as well. A playboy –so to speak. Loaded with guns and green. Good for her. She was a practical kid, with lots of love to spare. And lots of ambition. I fired up my gorgeous-looking Jimmy and made some smoke rings with my mouth, for my own amusement, that is. And that lasted for quite a while. She had a shower: Poured herself a drink, and walked slowly the seventeen steps, all the way to my bed, completely naked. Next, she crawled my entire body like a wounded, and moaning soldier on the frontline. Once, fully on top and facing me, she said with her typical intense voice: Impress me with your brains. It occurred to me, and I played a VHS tape I had borrowed from an old chum, of Greta Garbo’s Anna Karenina 1935, in decay. Well, yeah, to try to impress her with my cultural backdrop and shit. The perfect artefact for a late evening binge. A truc macabre, so to speak. The glitches and hiccups of the shivering images of Greta Garbo on the TV screen, did not corrupt the actress’s royal flare. What a Dame! I thought. What an ass! I thought in sequence. As I took turns looking at both the screen and the new chick’s naked, greasy, and flattened body shimmering in the dark, and glowing like a sea-urchin in the deep. And I thought to myself: They don’t make them like this anymore. Sublime and Holy. A Regal act. I was talking about the chick’s ass. What else. I mean, the truth of the matter is she was lying right before my own eyes to see: Face-down with a few hours to spare. And I was fuck-hungry. Endlessly famished. I was after her strawless lid. Strapless cap. Flavorsome and scrumptious like shit crazy. I crawled all over her on the bed and -once in position, I slurped her strapless lid for hours. I grinned. Placed my half-consumed Jimmy on the loose on the Buddha-ashtray I had in store from my old days in Kamasutra-training in New Delhi. I decided to burn my bacon bazooka inside her fire place. We fucked for hours. Her spark was her unusual climax. Pristine and immaculate. The streets below and around me were dim and vacant. Cold and bare. I took off. Had to: I zigzagged my way to the Demarcation Line, past sandbags and burning silhouettes of cars, in fall-off. A conspicuous tactic that I deployed every time to avoid unleashed android-snipers on the loose. Or mutant gorillas on the run –as I used to call them. Whether someone or something conforms to customary patterns or deviates from them depends on one’s point of view: Behind the concepts of normality and abnormality is the assumption that there is a single standard by which to judge everything. What may be normal to one group, however, may be unacceptable to another. I had the same Walkman on, with the same headphones arching the same oval head I displayed for a thousand times at the frontline. A truc macabre. I played Monk Live in Paris 1964 every time. Every day. Non-stop. It was more like a frontline pursuit, just for kicks. A Grotesque affair. Stories of love and madness is all I heard on both ends of the Demarcation Line. A snow-white 1979 Super-Beetle Cabriolet stopped right there in the middle of nowhere. Just a few steps from the Line. I could not identify any of its occupants, who wore ceremonial masks, just for kicks. The truth of the matter is they all looked like soul-reapers with scythes. An RPG sealed its fate, turning them into a burning chunk of metal and flesh. A suicidal undertaking. An eccentric haze shrouded my eyesight. That day, I met the iconic Wesley Ruggles on the Demarcation Line in Down Town Beirut. On that taciturn Winter-day, and somewhere in town, The Red Prince carried a pistol holstered in brown leather and worn on his hip a la Clint Eastwood. He was a playboy alright, on his final rave. He was in a convoy of two Chevi station wagons heading from Georgina’s flat to his mother's, for a birthday party. Chambers was on her balcony painting, and her red Beetle parked below on Rue Verdun. As Salameh's convoy passed that red wagon at 3:35 pm and turned onto Rue Madam Curie, a hundred Kilos of explosives attached to the car by a Mossad agent was remotely detonated either by Chambers herself or on her signal to another Mossad agent. They did not mistake him this time. A truc macabre. The blast left Salameh conscious, but severely wounded and in great pain, having pieces of steel shrapnel embedded in his head and throughout his body. He was rushed to The American University of Beirut Hospital, where he died on the operating table at 4:03 pm. I was surrounded by eccentric structures –which stood tall beholding my own state of incongruity. I stood almost mortified in the middle of the battleground, in silence. Out of a thick, almost-mythical mist, a machine gun emerged and finally rested on my temple: I stood-still. I did not utter a word for an entire minute. A strange haze shrouded my eyesight. I still remember that android-cowboy with rifle still pointing at me, and with hi brimmed-shape-white-Panama-hat, silk shirt, striped pants and his green suspenders. A distinctive and manly act. I still remember when he looked at me for the last time and said: Learn how to cook and spend less, save time and have sex more often. He was in a chill mood. He grinned at the end of his act and said: Hasta La Vista, Baby. As for her: She read the last couple of lines of a letter she kept in one of her emerald green coat’s inner pockets for the last time, folded the letter the way she was supposed to, placed the letter gently on the desk, took a pistol out of an upper drawer, put the pistol’s barrel inside her mouth and shot herself. She was six months pregnant. ---
If you want to read more from Talal Chami please visit his personal blog at The Axles Of My Wagon Wheels..