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The Monologue latest version - unfinished masterwork - by Akram Chahine PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Akram Chahine   
Thursday, 02 July 2015 16:23

Chapter I

     The other day when we went to Lattakia, to see as my wife declared at the very start of the venture, “to see her Majesty the Sunset of Lattakia slaughters the suave waters of the Mediterranean”- my wife has her ways with words and often she forgets what she has said right away after saying it and often she fails to explain what she means by that which she has just vocalized, so never ask her to repeat or to explain unless you have the time for an extended nodal discourse…educated, sure she is and the B.A. Degree is the evidence…and as I have already stated, the other day when we went to Latakia I was still under the spill of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

     Somehow, having lived in San Francesco Bay Area for more than ten years and having, as you know, come in contact with wide varieties of social organizations from the Daises Clusters to the Zen Clubs and from Collage Fraternities through Anglican Parishes to Black Muslims Brotherhoods, it was inescapable to develop and cherish peculiar dispositions to survival in general; dispositions nourished by conditions analogous to that usually prevailing in sea-fronts, wharfs and aquariums, exhibiting entropy of deceptive orders; they definitely tasted fishy and totally alien.

     I strongly believed then and for quite many years later that the End had to come with the end of the second millennium… and though fasted and prayed and though way later on paid for a few dinners in lost bets, there was no way to win me to the adversaries then.

    True, the end of the second millennium is a few years behind now and that prophesy had not had any translation yet…still, I blame it on the accuracy of the starting date. It is common knowledge that the date of the birthday of Jesus had been recognized and fixed years after it actually happened, even after Constantine crossed the Tipper. A margin of a few percents plus and not minus seemed a reasonable accuracy limit considering the almost four thousand years between the creation of Adam and the fixing of Jesus’ birthday. Fifteen to twenty years from agreed upon date would still be within the scope of virtual reality…within the scope of on line prophesy. For years later I was not aware that Abraham was fifty three years old when Noah died.

    My wife calls the topic of the doom's day the loser for it had cost us six dinner invitations on six consecutive days. We rested on the seventh.

    My stubbornness concerning the inevitability of the coming of the four Horsemen seemed to have been reinforced by the coining to gather of once highly appreciated two terms, ‘Modern’ and ‘Democrat’. ‘Modern’ may not be the term in this context for the target is introducing the term ‘New Democrats”, ask President Clinton about this issue and about the permission granted to employ offensive weapons against kids fighting a war with stones; being new was in no way being modern and the American ‘New Democrats’ following the footsteps of the British Heroes of the Empire through Road Scholarships and the Global Organizations of the Americans following the English Eastern Companies could not be called modern in any sense and the testing of the New Weapon in Madras and the massacre of Al-Mehdi freedom fighters in Sudan among a host of other identical incidents are almost as contemporary as the introduction of the Hiroshima bomb, the experimentation for the effect of nuclear radiation involving thousands of U S A troopers in Nevada desert and the bombing of Iraq with depilated Uranium bombs. It is all within the legacy of the slave drivers` democracy of the open space of the Southern States…Let us not waste time over these minor issues for they have already achieved the status of matters at facts and Nobel Prizes can not camouflage the issue!

 

Well…also, it appears that the other support for my stubbornness resulted from the new turn which the expression ‘global’ had taken with the advance of the “New Republicans”: global communications, global expressions, global interests, global toplesses, global miniskirts, global MacDonalds, global funky chickens, global terrorism etc. Yet all of these labels had some positive implications during the age of the good gays, Superman, Batman and Spider-man which is not the case globally now. And since we got on the ‘global’, we should mention ‘National Interest’ and "Human Rights"; some how each of these three labels, call for each other when ever one of them comes to any sober mind.

    What the heck; let’s get back to business! Enough space for the loser…And let’s get on with the story telling.

    On that day when we went to Lattakia which came about almost five years and seven months after the agreed upon date from the end of the millennium, something should have taken place to make me see definite light at the end of the tunnel; the nature of the light still escapes me as much as the difference between the “New Democrats” and the “New Republicans” escapes me…I’m sure that that light has an existential importee…I’m sure it is there at the end of the tunnel- and it is being bright enough to exceed the status of mere hallucination.

    The tunnel was a Mongolian horseshoe in structure. The definite light was of the nature of a rainbow with one end pointing in my direction and the other end floated, more or less, in a bowel with its concavity opening up in my direction, a bowel that emitted clouds of metallic grey shades, very much like circles coming out of buffed tobacco smoke when the lips had been tightened up in a circle, floated first up and then down the hump of the rainbow.

    That picture of the tunnel and in a flash of a second seemed to have revealed it self when my eyes met my youngest son’s eyes while he was insisting on carrying three suit-cases leaving me free of handling any. I’m sure of my urgent need to know more about that light and about its nature; for I have three kids, a daughter and two sons and the worries about their future…Where do we fit in this unbelievable expansion of the Cosmo in our way to the coming big bang!

    Should I go back to “the other day when” or enough of “the other day when”...Paco should not be the anchor man! Yet still as he used to say often: “chasing a rainbow is hard enough let alone the case of chasing it with the knowledge that its nonexistence is highly probable”…The Professor, the self acclaimed champion of probability having been among the very few to buy and master the use of a Word Processor in San Francisco Bay Area is the most ignorant of how to define membership or the meaning of belonging, most ignorant of what Safer really means, even though he was made more than acquainted with Borje.

    Making good guesses is a gift often attributed to sages and sears and he definitely is guided by the bright moon light. And if he is a champion then he is the champion for the static effect that as a professor rubs up on him from circling talents.

    Towards the end of November, 1973 I turned down Paco’s invitation to spend a few days vacation in his Ranch near the Salomon Fork for I would have been the only single in the group.

    The night before their scheduled departure for the Ranch he called again re-insisting and made an argument based on the availability of a single female for me to couple up with. Having at the wrong time severed my accommodating and highly needed romantic involvement some three months earlier, I found it an agreeable idea counting on his good intentions and his good taste and promised to follow them to the ranch on the next day.

    I drove my VW beetle up to the Ranch from Saratoga taking 101 High-way across the Golden Gate Bridge, had a long delayed Sea Food early lunch in Sausalito and then continued non-stopped second grade routes to the Salomon Fork. Stretched my legs for some twenty minutes or so and then headed north-east ward to final destination.

    The weather nice and cool and the few dark patches of clouds speeding in the direction of the East forecasted rainy days to come. In that age of minding and mot minding it was the only place on earth where I did not mind rainy days. I counted horse back riding in the rain as one of the very few delicacies of being alive.

    In my early twenties, as you know, horse back riding without a hat and with a wide shirt collar to allow for the rain drops to sneak through and tickle the skin of your back elevates you to other dimensions…In today’s mental disposition, I would have considered the dark patches of clouds a good omen.

    What am I doing over there now…this sequence should come up later. Does the ‘should’ refer to an apple falling down ward from the tree?

    Should I take a short cut back to “the other day when”; or what else!

    Yes…my wife’s Trilogy, Rambling, Mimicking and Repetition, screams before my eyes now. She often eludes at the fact that out of the three repetition and mimicking are signs of malfunctioning; she uses, though unaware, ‘repeat’ and ‘mimic’ as synonyms and her eluding at this always comes about when ever the conversant with her try to summarize or to recapitulate her contribution to a casual chat, by trying to drop out some of the peripheral topics the blind allies which she can not but inject into each of her conversations.

    All those who know her well do often repeat after her in the hope to foster some respond to her thoughts…Does she suffer from our problem too; is she aware of this problem or just live it?

    What the Hell the difference should be…Let’s recourse to the story telling. Let’s restart in the right fashion and from the very start of the affair. After all, the story should be told…the story should be told.

    For an appropriate reopening of the story let me say that we have the following to be involved with: I, You, my wife, my daughter, my youngest son and my wife’s brother who lives with his family in Lattakia.

    We will not talk about his daughter or rather she maybe mentioned only when a topic would lead up to her. The reason for the possibility of dropping the beauty out is her being away working on getting her self a University Degree. But, her brother and her mother can not be avoided. They are going to be there in front of you all the time and somehow they are going to over shadow the time of the visit. We will come to the others including the remaining member of my immediate family later and we should not stall more spending time chasing the beginning of the Story. We should get on with it.

    You may think I should introduce the others too. A quickie would do; I guess. After all this is what I believe to structure a good beginning and makes a meaningful presentation for the work at any hand.

    Most of our Union Members think that introductions for Stories are written by Publishing Houses and Critiques; often confronted with after reading the work itself or attempting to read the work itself and as a kind of comments, read in newspaper columns or heard in TV shows…and the only reason it may be called Introduction is because readers often discover in this kind of literature or supposed to discover as far as the Critiques are concerned, something which they themselves, readers, were not expected to notice while reading the work. Thus, it is assumed that a need to buy your own copy of the work becomes a must for you have to read and reread generating suspense in the eyes of the beholder and at the same time fishing for what Critiques eluded at or so I, You and they claim…such you also run into some times on the jackets of the hard covers or on the back of paper covers…Critiques can not but glorify their command and but exaggerate a hinted at limitedness of the Clients. Some of them while admitting this claim that they do not mean to hurt the readers’ feelings but rather to fulfill business objectives, by stimulating a better sale and could there be a more important venture than this: awkward means for good causes!

    Challenge always brings out the best in others; they claim that the best is to educate the clients to buy more books and not just barrow copies from friends, relatives and acquaintances and authors should not but support critiques in this respect! `Challenge’ should be defined in a sequential manner or sequential discourse…`

    Listen…here it should be said that the format of the essay is not applicable to stories; Critiques and Professors in general insist on the above and our Professor Paco is among them. Yet, we have come to a point where all established businesses need reassessment and on the bases of this reassessment a new concept of constructivism should be established if the work presented, any work, is to be fitted into the Global-ness of today.

    The habit of reading should be redeveloped in our clients if we are to survive the war with Movies and TVs. With this in mind, what is wrong with counting on some help from another branch of the Trade!

    Think of this and think of…of the infinite potential passes for an apple separation from its tree!

    Yes, it should become a must or let’s say an accepted practice to require Novelists and Authors of stories in general to begin their work with an introduction that gives the characters discussed in their works in a form of a catalogue entries, as a preface to their work. Thus creativity begins with an accommodating structure, a stimulus, a sort of a window shop and a…maybe I should say a Museum for this idea seems to take us to a remote past to ken ye ma ken.

    Such prefaces may not be accommodating for mystery stories but mystery stories are only one among a multitude. Such an introduction for other types, other than mystery stories would be multifunctional; permitting enough time and space to present the involved characters of the work in the most agreeable fashion without Authors being worried about character development, the hardest in the business, granting the reader the chance to say “I have read the work.” with out having read anything but the introduction and this would eliminate the assumed need to insult the readers, with the addition of increasing the consumption of a wide variety of commodities generating better business for allied industries in this time of crisis: Ink, Paper and the like…the arms and the ammunitions of the trade.

    Also a new line of business with the welcomed creation of new job opportunities in the line of Men of Litter needed contribution to National Economies would become possible. These new job opportunities as an addition to the usual commercials function along the same line.

    Young Collage students and even welling needy Professors maybe trained to be a sort of Coffee-Shops Hakawatees like what used to be popular in the Near East years ago and now are present there only in some sophisticated Tourism Establishments: the pastorals of Charier and Scheherazade. Those trainees, the Hakawatees, are to be used as title droppers and subjects and theme propagators in public places. With this the buying of Novels and Stories on impulses becomes viable.

    This approach does have short comings of course but a close assessment will reveal that the advantages over weigh the disadvantages; most important is the expected increase in the volume of sale and the increase in the percentage of surplus money. After all, isn’t Global-ness the art of catering to the whims and the needs of the majority of individuals; of their aspiration for money and fame or should we coin the two together and say for power the ultimate goal for having money and the embodiment of fame?

    `Hah-hah…`

    Don’t laugh at the idea; you have never been officially on record yet!

    I’m serious and I am aware of the fact that the worst catastrophes which would befall the human race are those you can not but somehow, snicker and laugh at.

    I do believe in introductions. Even though, and at the risk of leaving you {Hypocrite} wondering whether this is an essay or a story or an utter bullshit of a new genus, I say hypocrite because I am sure you know what this is and that I’m not trading beds with you…It is impossible to envision the availability of two different beds for the tow of poor us! No need for any introduction here…yet since by applying the structure requiring Introduction without introducing it here, we eliminate some of the needed suspense in the suggested new story telling approach, we can rely on the act of elimination to be suspense enough in itself.

    `Knock it off…`

    As you wish… And here I am on my way to Lattakia and what we are about to get into regardless of the naivety and the awkwardness inherent in this genre of work, is not an account of a virtual reality nor is a Tourist Guide.

    Here we go…

    The other day when my daughter interrupted my TV hour with a kiss on my nose I knew I was destined to accept doing things usually I did not accept to do; a rare thing to happen. Why; I had no idea. All I could say that I was sure of the desire to fulfill my daughter’s wish!

    And there we were following afternoon, there we were on our way to Lattakia.

    The usual family routine for such occasions used to be for them to go where ever they wanted to go, for vacation or visit or what ever the reason for leaving home might be called leaving me alone with my coughs occupied by drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes and watching TV or behind my key board endeavoring to hunt for some of my wife’s Cave-images.

    The ‘Yes’ which came as a shook even to me, fowled up the old routine and started us, the family, on a new course, a new tradition. There were other ‘Yeses’ before but what shook my wife and established the new tradition was the wrought unfamiliar music in my voice; the evident intention of fulfilling the content of the ‘Yes’, the evident intention for getting on the train as scheduled.

    Traditions often are established by mere at random occurrences…often miscalled Laws; Laws eventually culture hosts of cherished cults…Take the above as a miss call of a strike; the ball traveled the ally but there were no wooden or plastic bottles at the end of the run.

    `Don’t loose touch with the story telling`.

    No, and here we are…and seconds after we were seated the Express Train rolled on its rails. I looked at my watch and almost made a ponderous comment. Only my wife noticed the opening of the mouth with the intention of saying something and then the closing of it without any utterance. I saw her eyes following the movement of my lips as reflected on the window glass. She waited for a while and when she heard no comments coming from me, her eyes wore the familiar looks asserting that the opportunity would still arise. She knew the man, her man or so was supposed well enough.

    Turning her head towards the window, she pretended dropping the waiting and with the plinking hazel eyes showed an involvement with the successive framed views opening up before her.

    The train rolled on picking up speed, while my wife turned her attention to the inside inspecting the family members.

    At that time and for a few minutes two notions struggled in my mind for supremacy. Not that there was a problem with the availability of time, plentitude of it, but rather each demanded supremacy over the prevailing moment and one prevailing moment was at hand. So you could imagine the volume of confusion and the frequency at which elements of thoughts ran into each other and the volume of entropy generated. The first notion was the need for a good omen while the second was of my wife’s gaze that pinned me a blinking tableau sprawling to the train seat. She was not looking in my direction and she did not like to wait; like they say in Arabic “her Onion is always burnt”.

    As you would have guessed; from the evening before and I was on the look for some good omen, to justify making the effort to leave home, to take the trip and to justify the birth of the intended new tradition. And since the train for a moment looked as if not Syrian, being punctual to the fraction of the second and what a coincident, reminding me of the old exactitude of the European Trains, I thought there was the good omen looked for.

    My eagerness to start the trip with an appreciating mind made me and only for a moment, made me forget that my old time-piece though a reputable Swiss suffered the loss of a few minutes per week in hot weather and that I had not reset it for a couple of weeks then. And… if I had opened my big mouth and relayed the delightful idea of the punctuality of the Syrian train to the members of the family available at the time even in the mocking expression I had planned to come out of my beg mouth, my wife would have still jumped on me and chewed my ass to pieces over and over, at least for the duration of the train trip and only of the trip, if I were lucky.

    The chewing would come not over the subject of my watch and its handicap and my failure to take it to the repair shop or, better say my uncalled for laziness, definitely not. It would come centered on what she would call my prejudice and my unqualified logic and my failure to see things as they are and about the ridiculous optimism in history to come; my conception of the future.

    Her mind did not react to what she heard, she made what ever she heard a reason to release what occupied her mind…what occupied her mind and as a permanent occupancy ever since little before my retirement, had been the gloominess of the family prospective, a modern version of the Four Horsemen. She was not alone in this respect but she would not see that!

    Working on resetting my watch, I thought the good omen probably manifested itself in the slow reaction to my thoughts which in a few occasions had lately betrayed the numbness which the brain muscle exhibit when short circuited by access of alcohol.

    As you knew, I had stopped drinking alcohols altogether over one year ago then and my metabolism had completely recovered normality. Yet, as you know, the handicap of growing older couldn’t have been stopped.

    The good omen was definitely the slow reaction which lately became a symptom of…getting old…a better term would be “aging”…of aging!

    “Aging” as an expression does have some agreeable connotations, not like getting old with all its negative aspects. Wine, experience, wisdom, massive furniture old potteries and manuscripts…among others like Persian carpets and China ceramics gain value with time; they’re better when aged.

    Seated with my back to the direction of the Train motion near the window I remembered having seen two young train attendants at the start of the train motion…well…in their uniforms of light blue short sleeved shirts and dark blue trousers racing the train which was developing speed, trying to catch the handle of the carriage door; with a smile on each face no less than utter childishness.

    `Wonder if the Train Engineer has a side mirror…and shouldn’t their managing to get on the train save, for you, be considered…as I can see now a good omen though in a negative sense! `

    True, we did not loose either of them which would not have been much of a loss considering their service performance, yet the second in line for the handle should have lost some blood when his nose hit the out side panel of the carriage. I saw his head bounce in a violent kick back that should have had resonance in his spine.

    Inside, the two attendants’ laughter and giggles though neither was visible, were louder than the rhythm of the train wheels hitting the rails.

    Don't you feel it strange how the episode of the train attendants, lived and survived in entirety even though it did not interrupt the sequence of the confrontation between the other two notions…and who is responsible for the retention of both along the third incident in a clear sequence!

    `So what…and why there was a need for a good omen? `

    Lately or since forced retirement my at home hours increased to the extent that my not at home hours became very scarce. Mobility as a genus of leg motion outside of home, became limited to short walks from one shrine to another and back to the first, often once or twice a day: the walk from home to the near by mosque for Night or for Dawn prayers and back.

    Aleppo evenings all through till little after sunrise, except for rainy days which made me feel heavy…provided ample space for comfort of mind and spirit when the anxiety of aging would better be termed bewilderment, lolled the soul to sleep walking. Sleep walking while on the way to the mosque and back home from it, had been the only contact with the world of the others except for TV; and TV contact was an articulated contact…Of course not counting members of the immediate family who I believe acted and interacted in the space of my retirements…

    `Yet still, a contact with reality quite different from sleep-walk! `

    Yes! The believers on the way to the mosque, in the mosque and on their ways back home from the mosque, including me, posed in snap shots like paintings tagged to walls in saloons, corridors and pretentious living rooms or printed on pages of books, handbooks, manuals and Newspapers; most of us in white robes, and white caps and plastic or canvas slippers in dry weather, with rosaries hanging over posteriors from the seemingly pious and worried fingertips hovered on the sidewalks like shadows with backs arched and heads that seemed heavier than what the necks could handle or as if each man’s vision was focusing on the tip of his nose...Very few of us believed in socks.

    Non conformists glided on the reel and out of it a kind of disharmonies recyclable in the bin at the touch of a glance with ease and the rather subdued and infrequent honking of vehicle horns considering the prevailing hours of the day, along with the occasional squeaking of brakes never hit the status of the notion of the two Train Attendants.

    The peace of mind those moments between the two shrines provided was beyond description very close to the rain drops tickles…Yet the exception to that and the most enjoyable, was playing hide and seek with the full moon after the night prayer of the fourteenth of the lunar month with its seasonal variation. On these occasions I never participated in the rituals of hymens after the prayers to have the street empty for me and to be able to catch the game with the full moon traveling its course from due south on to due south west.

    Right from the open yard of the mosque which gave an extended view of the southern horizon the game would start with my nod of acknowledgement. The moon would open up in turn with a hearty smile and by the time I reached the gate of the mosque which would be to my left, turned around in the direction of due east drawing a right angle to go through the wide gate, my friend would take the opportunity and would hide behind the up rise building that hosted the bakery shop and the sandwich stand; meanwhile my eyes would turn due North to view the Torah concrete monument: “God The Light of Heaven.”

    Turning in the direction of due south there would be nothing but the comfortable brilliance sketching tilted tree trunks and elongated leaves on the eastern side of the street and its sidewalk. All buildings to my right falling on the west side would darken their features slightly as if teasingly siding up with the moon.

    Rolling with the street I would begin counting the fallen leaves of the trees in term of groups of sevens.

    By the count of seven grouping of seven leaves and after taking the seventh step, the moon would begin to reappear in the form of a packed part of a circle with the apex in the direction of the west. Then enlarging in size and coming out as if it were from the inside of the bakery building would soon loose its apex in the adjacent building to become an enticing radiance trapped between two up-rises and out lined by an upper and a lower identical arcs.

    At that point I always crossed from the right sidewalk to the left one, loosing for a moment the sight of my dear friend.

    Making my third right angle turn for the game, the full moon would slip into the form of a semicircle with an apex opening up on the east. Tow groups of seven steps and it would be hidden behind the Pull Man Hotel. Twenty one more steps and there it was pinned to the shoulder of the University Hospital. At that point I always turned my neck almost forty five degrees to have my face in the direction of the south west and continued my way due south having a face to face with the full moon for seven groupings of seven more steps; and before straightening up my neck, making my last right angle turn leaving the moon behind my back with the certainty that Mother’s eyes with that full of sorrow looks, were grazing on the back of my neck, I always gave the farewell nod that was befitting my dear friend and wished that the game could have been longer.

    A limbo partaking of both joy and sorrow would down on me from the time I made my last right angle turn into the east direction till in bed little before suffering the always disturbed sleep since forced retirement.

    `What brought your Mother’s eyes to the telling?

    ` Never mind; we will have a complete chapter to explain that later…

    `Then, you should resume the story telling and expand on the reasons for disturbed sleep.

    ` Good and…here we go…

    The Express Train scheduled to cover the space of little less than tow hundred kilometers in a little more than two and a half hours labored through familiar fields and places soon revealed their familiar skeletons. First recognition came to the old Station Concrete Structures. The sign for the Station was not readable; partly because of weathering conditions and partly because of the old growth of the branches of the parched tree in front of the signs.

    Some forty and plus years before I labored through the very same fields. I worked for the Rail Road Earth Platform and Concrete Structures for Stations, Project. The Russians had engineered the project and supervised the construction. Engineer Jinadi to be called by his first name only through this work because of the difficulty to remember or \ and to pronounce his last name…Jinadi a twenty nine years old Engineer then and in the capacity of a Supervisor for construction refused a private Mobile Unit which was prepared for him and shared me my Unit.

    Mine, had a bed room, an office and a space between the two, a space fitted and furnished to be a living and a dinning quarter at the same time…all on wheels. He suggested turning the office into a second bedroom since it included bathroom facility like the other bedroom and suggested making use of the cupboard in the living quarter which looked better with Project Files and Drawings than empty. We moved the office to the outside; a desk with a few chairs, a water cooler and a sturdy big beach umbrella solved the problem and he continued his shared residency with me even after his wife joined him on the site.

    A bachelor, little younger than the Russian, learned to skip the weekly visit to Aleppo replacing it with a two days monthly break, and we got along fine. Soon I became on the two kilometers sprint, the cold shower and the hearty breakfast for the sunrise routine.

    For years before, I never had lunch because it made me feel tired and sleepy and required taking an after noon knap shortening by that my working hours per day light and presenting me as a green shoot of the city. Taking breakfast and skipping lunch and lunch break for few days made me suffer, yet catching up with Jinadi’s routine for the evening eventually solved the problem.

    The cold shower, the slipping into shorts, the heavy dinner with lots of boiled vegetables, the light beer, the review of the work program for the next day, Korsakov or Khatchaturian with a game of chess and the hot vodka constituted the routine that began little after sunset to continue through and in the above given order till about eleven o’clock evening time.

    Project employees soon learned to respect our privacy for the evening routine and except for a few occasions of what appeared then to be as top urgencies, we were left alone. Life was easy then and overloaded with being young: active delights.

    The few times I tried to pull the Russian Engineer’s leg into discussions of political or religious nature survived not their moments; the same was true for sex. The pale smile and the shrug of the shoulders aborted any further attempts. Yet the Earth Platform for the Train progressed ahead of schedule and the Concrete Construction for the Stations maintained superior quality.

    Though for the record, there was a subject not related directly to my business, which he persistently tackled during his second week on the site, the subject of building a two way Rail Road line instead of one line almost threw our good start together into chaos.

    He emphasized and over emphasized the willingness of the Russian to finance more than fifty percent of the cost of the two lines Project with a generous grant on top of that as a gift from the Soviet People to the Syrians and addressed the subject as if I would have been a negotiating party. And I persistently emphasized the fact that there was nothing I could do concerning the issue.  

    Eventually when I asked for the catch for the Soviet People which I could not see, he felt hurt and never mentioned the subject again. A few days and things went back to normal.

    Within less than two weeks from being on the field, Jinadi began calling each one of them Project employees by his first name and began to the dismay of the Engineers of the project spending more time with manual laborers.

    I had no objection to that for there was my Project evolving up in the best possible shape with the least exerted effort on my behalf. Not that we did not work hard, very hard…

    It became a regular matter to see him going up the wooden ladder with a pale of cement concrete mix on his shoulder or to see him operating earth-moving equipment to give the operator an unscheduled break time for an offered glass of tee and a cigarette, though he himself was not a smoker. One Friday and Fridays were halve of days of work, to provide believers the chance for noon sermon, the Russian Council in Aleppo appeared on the Site before noon with gifts for workers which included working shoes, belts and gloves, goggles and three bottles of vodka and a can of caviar for me. Quite many workers, marveling over the gifts and enjoying the partying with the Council over tee while inaugurating the Office in the Wilderness for communication was symbiotic, did not seem to mind missing their noon prayer.

    The festivity grew to be an occasion falling on the second and the last Friday of every month during which a late lunch of barbecued lamb meat was served along with refreshments and fruits; a gift from the Russians to the Employees of the Project.

    Football and Volleyball games were introduced and teams were orchestrated. For the Elders and those who felt working was enough exercise, the Russians provided chess games, trick-track tables and playing cards. Leagues were organized and the whole thing captivated lots of interest among Project employees and was highly appreciated by the workers including local engineers and continued for almost the three years the project took to completion.

    The Council attended the first two Fridays and then when Lady Engineer Nadia, joined her husband, the Council stopped appearing on the Site. Jinadi and later on he and his Wife became the unofficial representatives of the local manual laborers of the Project. Not that there were any serious problems with the Labor but they did regardless.

    It was on the second of November of that very year, 1963, when the three of us Jinadi, Nadia and my self started, early morning before sunrise in my Land Rover pickup truck on our way to Beirut Lebanon from the site of the Project for a two weeks vacation…

    The Jinadi of that time and I say of that time because I have no idea of what has become of him or of his wife since last I saw them…exactly like my case with Paco and his divorcee…that super Engineer and his wife, I say, are in all respects departmentalized faculties radiating practical values like a walking University.

    `How do you like this sentence! `

    He was a University that had no Professors and no faculty members except him and his wife.

    I Tarik…educated and trained in the West in one of the famous or as you prefer…since I believe I know you well…a notorious Universities of the American West Coast…admit that I could not achieve the status of a reader in the Russian Engineers` University.

    I saw procedures that could not have been legitimized yet, hardly started enforcing them before we realized that they fitted the job in best possible fashion…and we saw achieved objectives best met without comprehending the cause and effect relation involved…Apples were falling in all direction uncontrolled in their separation from the tree…or so I believed!

    `Bullshit; maybe you were blind `

    Maybe not…yet, you might be right for what legitimizes such grand judgments and why do I always insist on such notions…Where are the jurors to justify the explicit condemnation…Are you welling to become a juror?

    `Yes; and no more stuttering, no more such spacing of three points.

    ` Am I loosing control?

    `Is this a new problem? `

    Of course, that is not a problem; I am referring to the escape through the Cartesian time, the escape through the three points spacing and have not lost command.

    Usually problems arise when vocalized statements attempt to order a flux into a meaningful state. Problems arise only when the vocalized statements assume the role of a divinity of some kind: ass-u-me…

    God bless Professor Taylor’s soul and keep the past away from us all. Let’s get over with weeping widows; weeping willows and all that Jazz…Why do I always plot Jinadi verses the Professor?

    `Where are we now? ` Let us go back to the immediate family…does it matter where we are!

    `Let’s revisit the past occasionally and not just drag it along, a virtual face without an identifiable course or an identifiable legacy. `

    Well, the legacy is clearly identifiable…still, if you insist, we will not go back to the very beginning, we cannot any-more. We will go back to the disturbing disharmony in the music of the train wheels…Better; we begin with “the other day”.

    The other day…when my wife put here reading glasses on, held a cooking Book above here head looking like a helpless case of a manikin in practice and assuming that professional gait with that funny apron covering no more than thirty five square inches of her skirt declaring that she was going to help us, poor family, to a very special treat for a change. The family felt it could settle for the ordinary, but spared itself the monologue.

    Out of sudden, a vision of the distant past revisited me and an urge to shave closed my horizons though it was past nine thirty evening time. I could not help smiling while moving in the direction of the bathroom, keeping my eyes on my wife’s back while she was gazing on something in front of her with the head dropping a little forward and the hands grapping the waist.

    She heard my steps…it seemed and turned around to give the full view of her front.

    “Father “; I heard my daughter’s comment. I stopped and measured my wife’s grimace.

    “An old occasion came to my mind. Do you remember the evening when I jerked with Mrs. Hoofer?” I asked while wondering why I said what I had already said and what to answer if asked why or what prompted my question.

    “No, I don’t”.

    “You were less than one year old then; I’m talking to your mother!”

    “You mean the gentleman who used to call you GI!”

    “Walid used to call me GI and not Mr. Hoofer… Besides; we are talking about his wife and dancing and not about the gentleman.”

    “You mean you’re talking about Nadia…”

    “Who’s Nadia?”

    “Ask you father about the story of this apron.” My wife answered her daughter while pushing her tummy up front.

    “Yes, father?”

    “You tell her.”

    “Regardless of how much effort I put; if it were not for the kids!” her coquettish smile was framed by worried eyes. I cleared my throat and continued to the bathroom, being aware that the vein was not lending comfortable grounds.

    Inside the bathroom and looking through the mirror, my face of some twenty years ago visited me with a definite snicker which almost went beyond the limit of the mirror. Sharpe Mr. Hoofer was there too with the red carnation in the button hole of his jacket sucking his lips lightly without leaving any moisture on either one…That evening, that unforgotten evening; so many things happened then and volumes can be written without giving that evening its due respect!

    You can start with the TV Grand Net Bureau Chief, Mr. and Mrs. Hoofer and their Embassy, my friend Walid and his wife, Dr. Ghassani, his wife and his Syrian News Agency, my wife and her special cuisine or with my utter helplessness of that evening. Yet, the advice of Waddah or Abdul razakh as he for some reason wanted to be called that evening, proved to be the most persistent snap-shot ever: “Don’t let them get on your nerves”, ever reoccurring neon sign; vivid with its minutest intonation details and its flickering illusions, even though lately had wore a lesser screaming tone…

    `Could it be the blunting effect of smoking on the vocal cords or could it be the ‘yellow smog’ wrapping its back against your retinas? `

    What the hick…Occasionally these neon signs would pup up before my eyes but always without an evident call reinforcing my belief in you, in the ghost within the machine; the ghost that would issue unheard yet demanding and operative statements in such a way that the effected actions would seem rootless and without objectives; just like the urge to shave while waiting for dinner at home, years after the routine of showering, shaving, applying perfume or after shave before going to bed had seized to be in forced and appreciated…ever since the valve of the prostate loosened up a little…or much, and ever since the whitish grey hair conquered my beard and sideburns and since shaving every other morning became the shaving routine.

    Off course you know that and that hardly the waiting for dinner began, the urge to shave ascended on me out of the blue skies but definitely proceeded by the flashing neon sign. The respond, automatic, did not reveal any act of cognition beyond the urge to shave; so different a case from what took place after experiencing the food fumes while coming back to the living room…here you seem to have been officially introduced…and the descent of the sudden urge to get dressed for going out then was of a different nature.

    Once upon a time after reading the neon sign and after realizing how strange your call was, I tried to solve the problem of its being uncalled for by dissecting to single and rounded elements the prevailing physical and mental conditions at hand in the hope to at least foster legitimacy if not asserting a credibility of any kind for the call…to foster some credibility to a capricious gravity defying the separation of an apple from its tree.

    The content of my thoughts at the time when that sign appeared was King Solomon and the building of the Temple as reflected from within a hard cover which I was reading. And the urge demanded the moving from the terrace to my room to flirt with the keyboard of the computer without a definite aim; no hunting for images was in the mind. I was then all alone and had been so for few days.

    The family was on a visit to a mountain resort near the Turkish boarders. All alone: I was all alone with the freedom to orchestrate my time at whim and subject to no other harassment than the brutal human conditions of hunger, thirst, drowsiness, discarding and motion. There was nobody to get on my nerves, save, could be, the Freudian impositions from having to hold my atrophied penis in hand too often and that did not relate to flirting with keyboards.

    `So what could be the call for the flashing? `

    I reran the scene as available in the then snapshots and came up with an incoherent and clumsy analysis of the immediate past. Trying again…I tried again but this time I fixed an arbitrary starting cadre in the album…Having been reading the subject of the King and the Temple in the text with hard cover, the dissecting into rounded elements yielded the following for main categories:

    1- the physical environment,

    2- the mental disposition,

    3- the cognition process, and

    4- the objective of the cognition process.

    But by the time I got on rounding the single elements of the cognition process or so I thought, a splitting headache split my head and the importance of the original goal of the venture mellowed of. Then Paco`s sudden appearance encouraged me to continue with the satiation of the urge regardless of the headache.

    On the background Scheherazade first hovered like a seductive shadow then she materialized a beauty laughing hard at me; so hard that pearl like tears were coming out of the half dropped eyelids. Soon she was chocking with here own mute whispers.

    Leaving the Computer, I went back to the terrace and to the hard cover text and continued reading the story of Building the Temple while the splitting headache seeped away with the drying of the last two tears on my two cheeks. Evidently you still had your way. I could not figure out what you were after…!

    Tunnels play baritone key to the music of train wheels… It is easy to try to read the past at a present point in time…the past does not exist unless read; yet, strange enough when the past is read and its skeletal constitution opens up before the eyes as it actually is, as a set of phenomena of angles of visions without any lineal dimension assigned to them - prismatic snap-shots in vitro, striving for the needed additives of survival, placing both viewer and viewed out of the aging domain in what appears to be a process of retrieval and re-retrieval, a state of eternal youth unfolds itself a sequence allowing for endless number of arrangements and rearrangements coining the vicious circle of the “Word”…the past is not a locatable tense…The past seems to be an amalgam of tenses and hence, it is a neutral Creativity: an attribute of Divinity. Man is sculptured after the image of his own God and acts accordingly or so is the claim!

    As Professor Taylor used to say “What you have once seen you cannot see again and regardless of how much you try you can not make the very same visit twice.” I always wondered which Chinese restaurant he used to frequent and how much of them cookies he used to consume!

    `Where is the Story? `

    Yes… you are right…Let us go back to the story telling before we get the neon sign flashing again…let us go back to the story telling!

    And here we go…and here we go!

    Rinsing the remaining shaving foam off, my face came back with the furrows and the stretched skin of the neck and the chin. I crossed back to the living room that opened on the kitchen and I was immediately struck by the fumes, the un-locatable fumes. I made no comments and with the rest of the family, we all sat and waited for mother’s dinner; waited for my Mother’s face…

    `But why waiting for Mother’s face? `

    Let us continue with the Story telling! I’ll think about Mother’s infringement later on.

    It is needless to explain what transpired that evening but to continue with the Charier symptom and to keep dear Scheherazade in business, the fact that the food served on the terrace of the Italian Restaurant at the Pull Man Hotel in Aleppo later on that very evening was delicious and brought back good memories instigating a few giggles among the younger members of the family, should be clearly stated and emphasized, though my wife` s eyes were permanently diligent then in getting lost.

    Wives pertain to the category of inhibitions that nature can not do without; the sweet and sour dishes of the Chinese Kitchen…

    We have been married for almost twenty eight years yet no routine has ever developed in our relationship except for the routine of surprises; and almost all surprises had the winds of the outside, the outside of home: for we never had an inside unless obliged to…never had an inside!

    One time, casual chats lead to the enumeration of the ladies whom my wife knew of or heard about their sudden taking on the Islamic veiling seriously. Keeping the casual atmosphere umbrella and attempting to change the subject, I commented on their right as thinking creatures to the making of their own decisions. Of course, I was ignored and the monologue continued in a confusing vein where I could not tell who the Male or God was to be blamed for the crime against Humanity as if humanity is constituted of females only.

    She handled a variety of sub-topics like veiling and make-ups, veiling and holding hands in public, veiling and fashion, veiling and smoking hobble bubbles in restaurants, among other things yet I really had it when she got on the Islamic swimming suit.

    I tried the old routine of shutting off, but since it was not a brawl situation, it did not work. When I came back to the scene and after not having heard her say anything for quite sometime, she picked up the same subject of the Islamic swimming suit again.

    Thus it happened that I suggested since it was sunset praying time to pray together and according to tradition I the male to lead the prayer. She exploded and after firing no less than twenty five sentences she asked why should God favor Man with this privilege and deprive women from the right to lead mixed prayers. I took my rug and did my duty to God in the reception room. Yet, before I finished she had already followed me to the reception room and right away after I finished my prayer, indulged herself in the injustice done to Muslim women absolving God and throwing all the blame on poor Man…Action of the ever staged Play: Adam and Eve or should it be of Adam and Lilith!

    Forced retirement had resulted in spending most of my time at home. Before, what made survival easier had been the need to spend most of my time up on the field at Work Sites or in business trips. There the norm was regularity and assumed punctuality otherwise it would be a case of loosing money…Nobody likes to loose money and I had never been an exception in this respect.

    Occasionally, you spend more than you make and some people call this loosing money; others call it financing! Personally, I do not know what to call it for experience had not offered a viable answer.

    My wife is among those who since my forced retirement consider this as loosing case. A few times I was about to catch her calling me looser but she never did. “He has bad temper. You cannot talk to him.” Her claim, often substantiated by irrelevant and circumstantial evidences that stemmed from her monologues and occasionally relayed to me through our close relatives or our children. And this became clearer and more frequent and hence the developing of an analog attitude like my wife’s to my version of monologues had to become highly needed.

    Monologues create Universes and by virtue of melodic orchestration and reorchestration since music is the back bone of the intellect and since dialogues are imperative structures as per definition, monologues acquire substance and eventually mature into virtual reality and thus you begin quoting them…

    They, like experience do not have to be viable all the time. I do not have bad temper and to be honest, I say, or I should say that I have, some times and not often, I have a disturbed unaccountable for reactions to other people’s behavior and not to other people’s words; not always, only when the party involved is a somebody I care for or supposed to care for; an audio problem…and in such cases, my reaction would be best described by the process of shutting off…the process of leaving the scene and it would not have to be a physical departure by must though often it did…You switch off and suddenly you become aware that you are somewhere else, in a sort of a vestibule and that you must enlarge the dimensions of what lies a head…

    Yet now, shouldn’t we go back to what matters and not loose sight of Lattakia Sunsets, we shouldn’t we say first that…that we have lingered in the chambers of the Limbo for long and that it is time to go back to Scheherazade and to her anxious manipulation of the time between the Sunsets and the melodies of the cock…Now is not time for the story of the thirty five square inch apron nor is for the story of jerking with lady Hoofer. It could be time for stories of jerking with words but never mind.

    `Jerking with words! `

    Yes, jerking with words. Authors feel good when they stumble on a phrase or a sentence that singles itself out by calling “Here I am…Here I am. “ For such phrases or sentences consume a good chunk of time and space in problematic matters that do not call for any solutions, but rather pose, not in their essence but in their definitive occurrences, some dilemmas or paradoxes of one sort or the other. Dilemmas and paradoxes are substitutes for solutions – substitution for solution - and since solutions are hard to come by dilemmas and their twin paradoxes become the bread and salt of story telling…salt and bread…the wondrous two tools of Scheherazade.

    ` Good point! `

    Yes, for they belong to a rudimentary age when neither opened nor closed matrixes existed and they can always be over looked, regardless of the sequence identity or the sort or the type; it is in the nature of their constituencies.

    ‘You hypocrite, sharpen your wits and examine the scene of action thoroughly and with open mindedness; after all, the flux as it can be experienced and lived has never requested any ordering.’

    No; but why should you always add meaningless dimensions to subjects and to predicates too? For these dimensions after all are superimposed on the scene, often lending dissipation to their structures. They are not the sent that bee- honey carries from the digested flower. `

    You better be careful and not loose the fine thread separating readers from Sunsets. Better watch for the trap or the joke of supporting Ink, Paper and Printing Industries would strike back as a seriously comic business…You may say what can be done if things follow this way, and my answer would be:" find a solution to this problem"! For regardless of how well trained you may be, you still make many mistakes.

    ` It is true…I do have problems with the word “Solution” and with its integrals and with its derivatives. Yet, sometimes and for the sake of clarity, sometimes you cannot avoid what you have problems with. For example, you have been trained not to repeat a word more than one time in the same line or not to use subjective terms unless absolutely needed and only after qualifying them in a conventional manner with some kind of objective references…still as you see, the parallel lines are so deceptive that each case of two parallel lines includes two adjacent points which metamorphosis into one point at the eternity…eternities are everywhere!

    `Is your training fading away or should it be called getting old? `

    “Getting old…getting old…You shall wear the buttons of your…” so what…and is the nature of your aging problematic…oh, what a word “Problematic”…It fills up the mouth when pronounced just like Paco’s “Sacrible”.

    “You passers among lost words”, beware of the Dictionary days. “Labor for your days as if you die now…Labor for your days as if you live for ever.”

    `Here you are going back to reading signs in a loud voice along the Free -Ways for the sake of reading signs only: occupying time and denoting spaces and what for! Let us recourse to Lattakia and the savage Sunsets. Let us take refuge in being with and in the audience of the Sunset of Lattakia. Let us prevent the train wheel rhythm from leading us to dissipation. `

    Can we prevent the rhythm from dissipating us before taking care of the word “Solution”! Can we recourse to Lattakia after all the tee glasses, the coffee cups, the beer bottles, the wine gallons, the smoked cigarettes, the working shoes and the gloves, the futuristic goggles, the protective belts, the hot vodka and the caviar: after the visits to empty and crowded rooms, the empty and the crowded lobbies and the grey smoke of the arcades; after all the read and the ignored signs along the endless Free Ways…after all the aprons, after all the evenings of bathing naked under the moon light in the suave warm waters of the Mediterranean or the suave cold waters of the Pacific and after the endless search for Mother’s eyes!

    You should be a son of a bitch… And probably, you are. What else could you be…what else anybody could be?

    `Train wheels or no train wheels: let’s bring the case before the Jury.

    ` Good, here we go; gentlemen, the Indian apricot trees linger in the chambers of San Antonio Street…San Antonio Street slides into De Anza Boulevard and there on the foothills Stevens Creek hypnotized behind the cement concrete Dam, awaits the rain fall…awaits the rain fall…

    Therefore give us a legitimate forecast; are the rainy days coming and if they are not coming, shall we make it the case of children accountable for the Masquerades and Orgies of the Forefathers!

    `Be careful and don’t loose the track of the fact that The Indian apricots are the legacy of the Red Indians and should not be consumed except by the Red Indians them selves. Further, and since this fruit is called “AKI DONIA” some –where else, you should not overlook the dictation of the Constitution since no elusions in view of an Amendment, no interested nine States. `

    Then, should all the Indian Apricot trees be left for National Parks, Sidewalks and Land Reservations with special introduction signs so that your kids would know what they are and not make the mistake and consume their fruits and by that run the risk of polluting the species by re-producing “AkIDONIA” dynasty or…should the trees be cut down to extinction!

    There are no Indians any more on the Foot Hills, on the Plateaus or on the Planes.

    `Is it possible or advisable for the Attorney Generals to play the Jurors and the Judges too in the absence of the proper conflicting ideas? `

    Paco insists that the case amounts to a technical matter which has achieved the status of power by the first implementation of the Bill of Rights recently identified as the Tommy Machine gun…can we put those who die standing erect on trail without risking Nature Lovers picketing the Sidewalks!

    Indian apricots can be left as animal feed…as a food for the gentiles and yet, will you tolerate the swarming flies over the fallen fruit! Therefore, can we say that in spite of the flies, Indian apricot trees should be spared or should we make Indian apricot trees impotent?

    Margin notes: we readers, are destined to find ourselves face to face with the power of the word best described in the concept of either applying “Shemhamforash” or “Emet” to the Golem before plunging earnestly into our serious business of pronouncing a judgment; an either or situation is presented through the case of the thus animated Golem to go back from their animated existence to dust- either the erasing of the attribute of the Divine, an attribute which we do not have a clear and comprehensible content for in total or the erasing of the first ‘E’ from the word “Emet”?

    On one hand an adjective which is not definable is responsible for a definite action while on the other hand a noun metamorphosis into another noun leads to the same result: ‘Met’ as a label does have content. Further, if we are to take the structural parallel for the either or situation as given here, we run into the cases of adjectives functioning as names. Further, we have the case of must equality between an adjective and a letter: the letter “E” and the “Shemhamforash”.

    Yes, it looks so…Now, if Paco` s Ghost is to tackle this problem, it would elaborate its case by telling the story of Solomon and the building of the Temple. You ask why it should select the story of building the Temple and whether it is possible that Paco’s Ghost is suffering the imposition of his own Ghost or not and whether these are uncalled for assumptions…for going West ward West has arrived with its subject at the East and the Hard Cover Book after having been leather jacketed, had been shelved a long time ago!

    `No, it won’t be.

    ` Let’s bring Scheherazade in for she has a consolatory nature and since Paco employed the Golem as an explanatory case, it does make sense exploiting the story of building the Temple in this context.

    No need for wasting more time and more space; Scheherazade will be brought in immediately to tackle the main problem of building the Temple or any other parallel episode or discourse from the leather jacketed text and we then from there and after completing the task, we definitely should recourse to Sunsets.

    `And he---re comes Scheherazade. `

    Once upon a time in a blessed Kingdom of past time… there is no story telling in Sheol which does not cherish any concept of reward, punishment or time…once upon a time in that blessed Land there was a King who woke up with the Sunset from a Golem sponsored slumber; wet, soaking in his sweat for having spent considerable hours under the hot sun of the Bequeathed Land, salivating the blessed afternoon to verify from the top of his roof his chief of Intelligence, the predecessor of the Hoopoe’s report about the Moon like beautiful wife of one of his generals among other reports… and thus awakening wet in his sweat the king could not but decide that it was time to repent.

    Yes…Kan Ye Ma Kan…yes, once upon a time when it was said that peeping was a legitimate intelligence act, a King decided to repent after an act of peeping…which definitely could not have been a kingly crime. Yet his majesty somehow was convinced that the Avenger with the Elites’ repeated violations of his Covenants was looking for a victim to justify doing the only thing that can be done which is namely sparing the Elites from a fate worse than extinction.

    What to do; what to do…and Scheherazade kept repeating “what to do” while pacing the lavish bedroom looking for revelations.

    Michel, evidently, was on vacation and Gabriel choking in tears over what had befallen the gentiles could not be much of help. And thus she went on with “what to do”… ”what to do”, “What to do” and a thigh was revealed. “What to do” and a nipple shown. “What to do” and the voluptuous shoulders lost the shawl. She could not stand still…She could not set down any where.

    Chahrier’s eyes followed the thigh, the nipple, and the round shoulders but did not comment and could not bring him self to drop a silver-piece.

    “Build the Temple, build the Temple and prepay by that for the coming guilt! And thus thou and your linage for ten generations could be saved in line with the prophesy”…No cause followed by an effect and the apple could fall free from any inhibitions in any possible direction; a mere chain of events!

    Scheherazade took her head in both hands and dropped in the nearest chair.

    `Disgusting; you Hakawatee; what do you think you’re doing! It’s your privilege to make a fool of yourself but definitely you should spare Scheherazade. `

    Enough beating around the bush, go for the coyote right a way.

    `Bushes are numerous and going through all of them is no less than going through all of the beads of the Devil’s rosary. ` Once upon a time…once upon a time…

    once upon a time there was a king; once upon a time there was a king…there was an old wood cutter who specializing in cutting Olive and Orange trees…Olive and Orange trees…and then had a sudden urge to promote the business to cutting Cedar trees though no neon signs were involved…

    The Avenger liked the idea of building the Temple using Ashtar`s temper yet sour for violating the old Covenants as already had been stated, forbade by the new rules levied on his beloved a mountainous burden before redemption: ‘No iron tools are to be used’. After all, the King, the General, the wife, the temper, Ashtar and the Golems were his subjects and there also other things which could not be forgotten and other things that could not be hastily redeemed by automatic volition…

    Time for the stunt: “No iron tools are to be used”, a condition substantiated by the meanest and the heaviest thunderbolts and the blinding lightening after forbidding deliveries of children dry milk for years to derail possible chemical war imposed the intervention of Shamir through the elaborate services of Benaiah.to control Ashmedia who in tern was controlling Shamir.

    Yes, once upon a time, there was a need to elaborate a plot to secure the replacement of drinking water by wine to effect the captivity of Ashmedia and thus the Temple in due time, would acquire the permissible and the functional substance…Therefore the convoys sailed the sand to the cursed land fouling the oases with depleted Uranium bomb and white phosphorous gas...no atomic or bionic weapons were to be used and this was the rhetoric’s of those who printed the leather jacketed Dictionaries.

    This is one version of the story. Scheherazade has many faces or one face with infinite number of profiles. For if the problem is approached from a different angle we would find that Scheherazade would tackle the mentioned above problem of Paco and I don’t think she ever did…she would tackle it by taking quite some time to realize what the problem was, or the nature of the dispute was.

    For her phenomena are amenable to causes. Words are either spoken or written and if the spoken are written they should be written somewhere in the eternal big Book. Further “words” have contents or they're empty. Empty “words” for Scheherazade pertain to the theater of childhood, if they existed and there the users strive for the faculty of manipulating tools; vocalization only. Therefore, Gearboxes inside the skulls and Structures of static electric arches between arms stretched to the skies to bridge Universes do not exist for her: she believes that the bridging exists regardless of the stretching of the arms.

    ` Ridiculous, never expected the music of train wheels and the baritones of the tunnels to have such an effect! `

    Why are you against margin notes? You should have noticed that margin notes are fashionable now-a-days and texts have been reduced to the space of a couple of words. Maybe you prefer resumes; so her we go.

    From the top of the hell “A” appeared taller than “A`” who was a mile or so a head. Taking wide steps “A” began gaining space and eventually over took his road companion at the turn little before the sky met the land of the south. From there on the abating dusk light first remerged them together and then wiped them into an erased incoherent shade among other incoherent shades. The hill and the easy descending lay behind them as a legacy of family heritage and the closed horizon a head marked the end of their own road, marked the end of their contribution to history…’A’ clearly aware of the ascending is also clearly aware of the suffocating weight of the Globe on his shoulder.

    Strange as it is, confusion in history structures begins at an early age; at an age where on different terrains sober joy should be the norm.

    Are they to seek the other terrain, only dream about it for in the ascendancy of TV age the boarder line between dream and reality has long since vanished…should they have faith in the possibility of the rehabilitation of their own terrain?

    `How ridiculous it is; even your Ghost is laughing at you! It is unthinkable of that any creature could finish reading this uncalled for hallucination.

    Are you an Arab or a Muslim; Are you a citizen of Syria or a citizen of the Globe? `

    You, I, They, He, She and all of us are subject of ridicule here regardless of the justifications and besides our train trip is almost over and soon there will appear the other horizon…the shores of Lattakia, lingering against the confused merger of seas and skies…`

 

Chapter: II

 

    Latakia: houses were painted white with blue strips for the Mediterranean Games. It happened years ago then. How many years ago, he did not remember. It was during the Father’s regime, little before or little after Aleppo and Hama incidents.

    No; it should have been after the incidents for he was living in Damascus at that time and in his daily routine of calling on the English Pup at the Sheraton Hotel evening time, a substitute for the Brass Rail of Saratoga rituals, he met there at the mahogany bar a correspondent who introduced himself as the Chief of a Grand TV Net Bureau at Cairo. Was it before or after?

    Or should the question be what difference if before or after…for among the mountainous blesses of this age stands out in bold prints the loss of the boarder line between the before and the after; “the elastic chastity of the now”!

    “The elastic chastity of the now”…Paco’s most favorite multi-function tool employed as a structure, as a concept, as a motif and as so many other things; it was his Universal tool. And after all these years Tarik could not figure out the mod by which his professor utilized the content of the above quotation. The Professor persistently and passionately avoided as much as he could topics which would lead to a better understanding of the above phrase. Admitting the difficulties he suffered in keeping elements of diction separate from elements of structure, the before and the after of the thought or the idea {the history of the pattern of the thought or the dogma inherent in the structure that carried the celebrated aspects of the ‘Word’} - he ignored these kinds of problems to the extent of refusing their operatives in his or others’ minds.

    “No; no, this is purified bullshit”; he always insisted. And in an implicit approach, he claimed to be emphasizing the truth of the empirical reality of the said “word”: "In the beginning there was the Word and that Word was a super Unit given as an entity made up of the totality of all existing elements; the One and the Multitude at one time; subject, verb, predicate and all that was there and is possible to be here and there at the same time- grammar, syntax, diction, and all you name it, all in the One."

    He insisted that all you had to do was to dream of the matrix of potential aspects of the Word in term of worlds and pull out your selection from the eternal Hat of the Magician. He weaved away all requests to make “potential aspects” and “Words in term of worlds” more concrete. And when he was asked about the empirical nature of the Hat, he replied: "You’d better look at it in the perspective of the almighty Unit generating “Worlds”; in particular, other subunits. He forcefully drummed the idea that depending on the coordinates – not specifying the type of the coordinates - the designation of a unit or subunit should be attributed. Yet the Unit and the Subunit for him are indivisible and that is why “Words” become functional.

    “The Son, the Father and the Holy Ghost."; Paco occasionally articulated with reverence and admiration this concussion before he would detonate his bomb …"and that is Fiction: Sacrible!"

    As you remember, when asking him what he meant by the “word” and whether “label” would be more applicable in this context, he took his time and you’d assume that his eyes behind the thick glasses would have articulated getting lost deep in thoughts expression to come back with: "No, no, definitely “word” and not “label”."

    Arriving at that level of confusion, which rarely did not happened to or with the Professor and having admitted his inability to separate actions from thoughts or ideas whether on time dimension or on the geographic one, he would have had to have a problem with relating Jinadi to Doukhobors through Kharkov like he would have the problem of relating Ku Klux Klan to Little Rock through South Los Angelo’s…Only Scheherazade could do that and she can do that because she is a story teller and not an attorney at Law.

    `But Scheherazade belongs to a different world, different “Word”; different history and different sets of matrix realities. You...my antagonist, you can relate to Paco as I can relate to you…So, if he would visit our sister Scheherazade you will insist that the visit will have the sexual manifestation of…`

    Bull shit; it could not be!

    Let me formulize the idea in precise diction. He had never been man enough for this kid of a job for two reasons. The first is his not cherishing a clear concept for “Love” and second for masquerading in the basic elements of the heritage of his Sunsets, his alternatives come with the Unit that includes the weird concoction that synthesizes the Four Horsemen with the Del Ca Vita; he has never had the time to learn from the birdie…the demarcation in his conception of time; don’t be shy and ask Hiroshima or the Vietnamese or still the children of Iraq where his scenarios could not but plot Sex and money against Genocides…The Genghis Khan tradition…

    He can pass from three dimensional spaces to four and more than four without being worried about the Divinity of Time for it is all mechanical and destined in the genes…should the four or five points spacing replace the three pointer or should all of them coexist together as a Unit divisible into sub Units!

    The Professor is no more than a piece of an impossible to change one face coin, unconscious of our wondering if he ever could acquire the second face…Doom’s Day is clearly in-view descending on him and us too. He thinks of the passing from the before to the after and conversely from the after to the before as a must, since it is conceivable in term of Star Trek episodes, forgetting any limitations on the stage of action. Thus we believe he could not make love to antiquities. Evidently he does not know how; for though his aging process increases the market value of the antique objects he has managed to acquire, it could not but preserve his finger prints his concept of the yellow fog of history, the yellow dust, the dust of time that prevails as a growing annihilation dimension, the creative anarchy.

    `So, you're aware that beauty in this sense is mostly the value of exerted effort. `

    Is not this what we are talking about! Yes…the effort to create and the effort to annihilate, a sort of entropy and for him the belief in the slow depletion of entropy even when the body is outside of time and space is incontestable. Making love is a positive way for sought increment yet he has not rediscovered the population of “nothingness” and that there are no Red Indians any more except in Movies and TV Shows. What was he then and what is he now is a paradox void of meaning except through the rigorous application of Hegemony that leaves no space or words for individuals though he has always been the hero of individuality. What a marvelous created theory!

    Here we discover ourselves as being back at the problem of his confused set of Time Dimensions, and the solution seems possible only through the implication of the Theory of Conspiracy…a paradox for a solution.

    `But, this is what he and his advocates are! `

    True, and all you have to do is to understand his problem regardless of the before or the after and then translate it to a dilemma or a paradox…by referring your self to Star Trek Ventures and the needed miniatures for the elaborately mimicked reality.

    Paco in the presence of her Majesty his JIOCONDA cannot but masturbate. He had been always the Hero of here I am. In audience with the JIOCONDA, he could only think in terms of how much making love would add to or subtract from his bank account and where Francesco Del Giaconda would be during his audience with her. His romantic mind conditions require him to keep her behind protective glass. Therefore, he could only humiliate him self at her Shrine…

    `When the Giaconda was conceived Al Andalusia was a vivid recent memory in the awareness of the West. For them the intellectual ascendancy was still that of a foreign Sunset. `

    The same would follow if he was to encounter the story teller Scheherazade, ask his authors of the different profiles of “Ali Baba and the Forty Thief’s”.

    All the professor could do, since she did not come out of his Magician's Hat, was to carry his penis on his shoulder and drive up De Anza Boulevard flirting with his Napa Valley red, full body, wine gallon; up to Stevens Creek Dam and latter on instead of to the Dam up to the El Gatos Estate. Even when he visited Greece all he did was to exercise his penis; never managed to do better than that; pity enough he circumscribed it as making love!

    He copied the beam and the column but seemed to be totally unaware of the kidnapped Princess episode, was unaware of the solitude and the crowdedness of the inside of the Temple. He did not see the vault that carried the Universe, did not comprehend the meaning of earning a Silver - piece…he was always unaware of the bewitching music of the Temple.

    From his bewildered eyes as peeped from behind the thick spectacles and from his objective and descriptive accounts of what had transpired during his visit to Greece, only exercising his penis could be inferred.

    Marrying a woman of Greek origin did not help either; he hardly got married before they divorced. Very much like his Master wedding a concentration camp number and kept parading them both wife and numbers on the porches of San Francesco Hills only to become soon annoyed by the stretched skin of the arms, realizing his self pitying in the hatred that jotted out of the brown eyes…The basic problem for both, it was believed to come from the over reliance on dictionaries and encyclopedias…from the over reliance on the prescribed designated attributes, from their double standard dealing with the “Word” and their new concept of the Sunday which eventually allowed for the re-enthroning of the Old Testaments under Talmudic crown, the reestablishing of blue blood and the superiority of the Robust hunter with his forceful jaw; the slow process originating with robust killing that developed a peculiar new concept of Divine Monarchies that lead to a premature opening on the Far East - premature because both are still one face coins and because their Buddha is either a fake or too advanced for them.

    You should fix a Land mark, designate it an adverb which is camouflaged in a barrowed simile which deprived of the “as”. Now…jumping, where would you land? Would it be possible to land on either of the following and not make any difference: the nouns {the land mark, Europe, The Daughter of the King, etc.}, the verbs {to assimilate, to bomb, to mutilate, etc.}, the adverbs{BC, after the Crusaders Campaigns, before Dir Yassin, etc.} or the barrowed similes {Preemptive Strike, Hiroshima Bomb, Anti-Semitism. }?

    Paco would have had a splitting headache over this monologue; the usual of what he would have for such problems even after being introduced to dilemmas and paradoxes as substitutes. His inevitable finality would have to end with “Sacrible” and self pity in the arms of self assertion! Where are we now…

    where are we now and would the Professor’s gadgets be handy here; is the occasion ripe enough for a new jump along the Fifth Avenue or should it be the Fourth or the Sixth…Let us get back to familiar ground, familiar exposition; let’s get back to Scheherazade. Yes, the story should be told if this concoction is to lead somewhere and achieve the definite purpose intended for.

    If the afore mentioned is told by the “Word” of those who lived it with the intention of communicating their experience with those who could not admit understanding it or those who would rather be designated as beholders or gentiles regardless of their real label, a definite problem of communication would be in effect. For in a given community each lives his and theirs and the “I” stands in pure speculative mood. Yet, should the “I” completely coincides with the “they”, poses the possible problem of them not being there or “He” not being there, cases that take the subject matter out of context-no redeemable social order; not mentioning the dilemma of those who squat on the peripherals ready and waiting for the jumping into another time or space dimension and not knowing why they should jump.

    `Where does this lead to; outer Space Traveling or a dope trip? `

    You Hypocrite…Yes; we have had rambled on the shores of the seas for a long time engulfed by sea topless girls “crowned by sea weeds” and watched the Sunsets slaughter the suave waters of Antiquities. We have watched Sunsets and we have read about Sunsets that left their marks on the skies and the waters. We have seen so many Sunsets and Sub-sunsets…so many…count them…yes, count them…count the mighty Sunsets; mighty as they were, as they have been or as they are, Sunsets…would be most appreciated not only fall time but any time on the shore of Lattakia. Yet, had we not lingered enough on vacationing shores and had not been there since then calls enough to resume the telling of the other profile of the story giving the anxious Hakawatees the chores to justify their earnings! Let us go to implicit Scheherazade…Let us go to the story telling and leave the sleeper one eye on one eye off, pretending he is awake

 

Chapter:III

 

The Chief Correspondent was very quick with his visit card and flashed it out of his peg skin wallet like a magician pulling a dry card out of the dripping nose of the kid. He acknowledged that his trip came in the aftermath of the Mediterranean Games in Lattakia and failing to qualify the nature of the disagreeable content of the aftermath right away took his time to present what he called “the facts” garnished with parsley her and occasional cherries else where. Carrots came up later on but what was the crux of the matter was not clear for quite sometime.

    As it began, the correspondent who covered the games was selected from Cairo Office to avoid the Lebanese infringements on requested objectified investigation and somehow the table was turned up side down.

    It appeared that the file which the eye witness presented for the Games and other researched subjects, boarded on the unbelievable end of the picture and the Chief had to see the truth of it by him self; not only because of Main Office request but basically…he had to see it for himself.

    Little by little he built up to the big bang and got to the fact that “Syria has no Akhenaton, no Moses` Infancy, no Captivity, no Alexandria Library, no Solomon Temple and no Nativity Scene. I admit; lots appear much better and much different from expected, but still lots to be done."

    The dictated terms, expressions, instructions and actions of that encounter engraved the minutes of that meeting in Tarik’s mind...Akhenaton!

    The Correspondent expressed his interest in giving the Local a chance for an interview which would be televised on the Grand Net World wide provided the Local would discuss the ruling clique in Syria openly and honestly and with the sense of responsibility expected from the elites. “After all this is what Democracy which we all love and respect calls for.” He articulated and continued. “You understand me of course? And we will help where a research is needed.”

    The local tried to read between the lines to maximize his understanding of what was released and then wondered how he could read between the lines in the absence of a written script. And though remembered and though savored what was said before in relation to IQ scores and the genes, he voiced no gesture or comment.

    The Correspondent’s suggestion did not come up out of the blues but rather came up after he thought he pulled our friend’s leg in bites of chats punctuated by comfortable sips of expensive aged Scotch whisky in the form of casual comments about the discrepancies of the ruling Class in Syria.

    The terms and the expressions which communicated the chat revealed the minimum of 135 score for the Chief and the maximum of 65 score for the Local on the appropriate IQ tests. The genes remained in problematic zone for both were fair and blue eyed. Yes…and further, the suggestion came up camouflaged in the loud music which was saturated with Arabic, English, French, German, Armenian, Kurdish, Turkish and God knew what other hums. In fact, it came about after needless exploitations of potentials and skills. For, there was the Local all ready for the leg pull right from the moment he became aware that the gentleman on the stool seated to his left was really a Grand Net Bureau Chief.

    The believe that the Chief should be well informed in the politics of the Meddle East and would know more about the basic components of the matrix of determinants controlling the earning of daily bread, due to other similar old experiences instigated a state of mind for the local permitting and permeating a comfortable atmosphere. Of course there was no way for the Chief to know that!

    The Local was ready for the leg pull but, he was not ready for a world wide televised show. All he wanted to know was some information which could promote a better understanding of his own business. And then maybe some release of that pressure which had been mounting inside of him since Roosevelt Junior orchestrated the historic monument of the Near East, the first Cope de tat in the history of modern independent Syria…or maybe since the local became self aware.

    Tarik had been for some time moving in a circle which could be called vicious because of the oddity of the elements of which it had been constituted: Foreigners, Carpetbaggers, Civil Servants presenting themselves as Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurs and an assortment of Police and Armed Forces Officers. Members of that group represented the typical portfolio of business anywhere across the Globe. And thus, our friend was not afraid of the local Secret Police as indirectly suggested by the Chief; at least it never occurred to him that he should be at that time. Yet the Chief numerating the advantages of living with the family abroad and the “should be expected help for good dough” sounded hilarious but still brought piercing apprehension to our Man’s mind.

    All the Local was concerned with was to know more about what future was there for his work with the Companies financing the exploration for Oil in Syria. The fear of or the inhibition which occupied the Chief’s mind as our friend became aware of later on and on a different occasion, the inhibition with the idea of an almighty and scrupulous local Secret Police and Intelligence Service did not exist for him then especially when and where foreigners were involved. For our friend there was no way to guess, especially with the prevailing conviction among the Syrians that the CIA was capable of pulling its Agents out of any mess they could get themselves into, like pulling a hair out of a sour bread dough patch…Ask any Movies which the Syrians watch on TV evening time and on almost daily bases too. Tarik could not see why the Chief of the SOP Bureau in Cairo should have any worries about Syrian or any other Secret Police or Intelligence Services. The Soviet Union and for some years had been out of the picture busy with Afghanistan problem and the problems of quick food services and seductive Coca Cola bottles. Israel had always been a USA stooge regardless of what -ever the Americans’ claim could be.

    The issue for our friend was the difference the interview would make for him. In this respect he conjured no better case than what the Arabic proverb stated: “Taking refuge near a lit furnace to avoid the heat of the direct sun rays.” Eventually, the local had to give some sort of a definite respond.

    “Where were you when XX was hit?”

    “What?”

    “Where were you when XX was hit…of course, you’re not going to tell me that what happened in XX or YY was not a Global issue…your National Interest did not call for such a visit then…Do not play the game of promoting Democracy with me…Not me…I lived in your Democratic Paradise long enough…True, my score is 65 only, but you need a fool, actually a moron for that game!”

    A good chunk of time passed before any response from the Chief became noticed. Meanwhile, the hummed music leaked into beats of percussion instruments simulating the count before bomb detonation in an American action Movies.

    Eventually the Chief of the Bureau paid his bell, grabbed his Times Magazine issue, slid of the stool and leaving his expensive whisky glass half full, departed with out uttering a word.

    The local could not help but notice the straight back, the wide shoulders, the tall and the well built body in a suit tailored to show the outstanding muscles and the balanced steps that hammered the porcelain tile…” Here I am…Here I am” and then out of the swinging door.

    “God; where do they manufacture them”: and he wondered which Movies scenario had been attempted…Was it Covert Action in Damascus, The English Pub Conspiracy or better still…Democracy in Action!

    “Its Zanzoon bedtime” smiling whispered the bartender while presenting the bell.

    Tarik looked at his watch and realized that the best he would get probably was a kiss on the cheeks of the sleeping little beauty.

    A soothing brilliance: the full moon had been traveling for the last couple of hours across Damascus sky.

    Fall time: the light breeze soused people with confused fragrance and the moon shied away with each small patch of clouds. Tarik, unconsciously swept with his eyes that portion of the upper horizon accessible among the tops of al- Mazzah multi-stories buildings; and so oriented him self to cover that portion from due south to due west every time the moon put on the veil. Tension leaked away when ever he looked up to the sky.

    Up on the top of Mount Harmon serenity and peace of mind would be wrapping the viewers of Damascus in a maternal blanket appointing the full moon a baby setter. The newly planted trees as per order of the Father would be whispering sweat whispers and jointly with low volume settings on a couple of transistor radios would distribute at leaguer, drowsiness among the groups of full moon supplicants. Close to the rim of the abyss which over looked the reclining voluptuous Damascus, eyes could see but would not comprehend that subtle beauty which dilated the saliva of so many Empires and so many Conquistadors and Fairooz’s chanting would make that comprehension more inaccessible.

    The Umayyad Mosque clearly marked with its sparkling and magnificently lit minarets should be suggesting mystic touches to the dark eastern horizon and the unsparingly lit rectangular structures of the Military Museum which along the sides of its roof, the Turkish domes squatted patches of darkness like pollution bobbles ready to take off to the skies.

    Farther to the South the forgotten Golan Heights perched on its plateau fossilized into Druze historic sceneries as if not aware of the discovery of fire works yet…Absolute darkness; and if it was not for the white and blue radiance of the Shake’s cofiah, it would not have been detectable at all…not detectable at all; would not have been but an incorporation of the vast southern horizon, incorporation of the land with out people… people without a land.

    How would it happen and the full Moon did not make it visible! Historians talked about Islam and how Islam skinned off the Moon out of its Divinity and made the wise owl a sign of bad omen but nobody ever talked about Islam depriving reflected moon beam lights of the property of radiance in selected geographies.

    `Be careful; is Islam about to become the topic…`

    You are right. We should go back to our story in the hope of a better understanding of how the ticks of time have piled up on Lattakia Sunsets…Yes we should!

    Thus: the traffic noises muffled through from distant streets and occasional sirens seemed as if coming from distant stars, yet the group of pedestrians with Tarik on the peripheral of it was making enough rattling attracting the attention and often a bet more than the attention of people on their ways back home or in their ways to their cars. A few commotions were evident on balconies over looking the relatively wide street to follow the group performance of ‘here we were’.

    Tarik had to suffer the eyes; though not clearly visible. It was his fault. He believed the eyes saw through into him and into the other members of the group. As far as he was convinced there was nothing to worry about, nothing disturbing was there to be seen in him; he did not shoot any plastic bottle and did not utter but a few whispered words…but the boat was sailing collectivism waters; he could not help but feel that kind of apprehension he learned to experience from in looking eyes whether virtual, real or imagined.

    Men in short sleeves carrying their babies in their arms close to their bosoms, speaking in whispers while older kids and mothers dragged the empty babies’ carts moved Like dreamers walking over waters seemingly unnoticed by the rowdy group.

    `Were the other members of the group really unaware of the people they passed? `

    Allow the foreigners the benefit of doubts…

    `What doubts…and what about the locals! `

    Evidently, there was no way but to react to the game with occasional semblance of low guttural laugh. He lived in that neighborhood. It was unavoidable to notice that the peacefulness of the wide back street in Syrian standards, usually enjoyed evening time on overlooking balconies was not disturbed except by foreigners or groups with foreigners among them.

    Many Western Diplomats and Mangers of Firms operating in Syria leased apartments in that residential neighborhood; and the group had just collected the Chief of the N Bureau at Cairo from a Guest House located on that street. And the call for the walk in that neighborhood was to be blamed on the unavailability of a near by parking space. Damascus the fast growing city just like all other Syrian cities lacked the belief in built parking spaces and the blame fill on the Fire-Fighting Code.

    The group included Mr. Hoofer, better known as the Political Officer in the American Embassy at Damascus, the Officer’s wife, the Chief of the N Bureau at Cairo but the other five were Locals and among them were two ladies. The notables were Dr. Gassani and his wife and then you may count three fillings Walid the businessman and his wife and finally Tarik the Civil Work Contractor. Dr. Gassani was counted among the notables because he was then a Senior Officer in the Syrian News Agency home on vacation from his European post.

    The group conversed mostly in loud voices and the conversations centered first on the architecture of the new city of Damascus, and on how each building in itself looked OK but not the street which looked more or less like a Pawn-shop, then branched off to the underdeveloped.

    The dirt on the street which even the night could not hide, along with the fusion of the sent of Jasmine brought over from the old Town with diesel oil used as pesticide and with that of garbage were subtopics which lead to one central theme: the manifestations of not yet developed or to leave the locals who when you talked with them and not talked to them did not seem to be much different from Western foreigners…yes those locals who to leave for them the right to self respect regardless of being a true case or not, you’d better say not developed enough or use the nice term which some Magicians in a performance for UN Affiliates drew out of their empty hat…you’d better say developing People or Communities or Countries.

    That evening and on the way to the cars, what the group could not get over or did not want to get over was the super abundance of empty mineral water plastic bottles reflecting drinking water crises in Damascus and the black shopping and garbage plastic bags of different sizes reflecting the affluence in that quarter of the city. Almost all of the bottles had labels indicating foreign distribution companies. Tarik found in the origin of the bottles a worthwhile topic to introduce hoping to find some body to lend a back to the blamed Syrians and carry part of the burden of being under-developed. He in a hardly audible voice communicated his observation that many foreign families lived in that quarter but only to receive the Political Officer’s loud remark about the challenge to come up with a single American label.

    Disappointed: dozens of Americans living on that street who worked for Oil Companies operating in Syria could have been named; but Tarik was hoping for a helping back and had no intention to overload the already suffering back as he expected to come from the locals in the group. He knew them well and was often accused of not seeing things as they really were.

    To the dismay of the ladies, the male members of the group kept shooting the empty and partially filled bottles like soccer balls. The Chief of CNN Bureau at Cairo was the first to take it on the poor bottles; a practice which he indicated to be carried over from Cairo streets, introducing by that a new topic for discussion namely Football after instructing the footballers in the group to avoid bottles with water in them for the time being: “shooting such bottles requires special training.”

    The football game continued…And you would hear more than two different dialogues going on at the same time and it seemed as if the same subject was being chewed and then passed over from one subgroup to the other. The very same theme remained always central…the underdeveloped. Eventually, our friend felt very uneasy and began his search for a way to stimulate quicker steps.

    “Tarik” He gave a start to Walid`s whisper.

    “Yes.”

    “Take us to a restaurant.” again whispered Walid in Arabic.

    "Did I hear MATTAM" the Political Officer broke in and continued: "Tarik; is this all you’re good for?"

    "Definitely…since…not being elite enough for a Grand Net interview".

    Everybody laughed but the Bureau Chief’s laughter revealed quite a lot of uneasiness. He assumed the face with the narrowed eyes and the furrowed brow. His chest heaved till the threads of the buttons of his jacket became strained in their holes revealing the stress exerted by the muscles on the textile. The eagle eyes in their sockets were full of promises; or so Tarik imagined.

    "Not the Pub…Not the Pub."

    "Hell…Of course not" Tarik responded.

    From Harmon Mountain and on that clear night Jabel Al- Shakhe ‘s cofiah could be seen reflecting cosmic brilliance in light blue strips that dwarfed the electric light sources of the few villages or maybe settlements on the western shoulder of the Golan Heights; villages on the eastern shoulder did not have any better luck, flickered lonely candle lights striving for survival .

    No more up rises: and for a moment, Tarik did not remember how he got up there on the mountain. He passed the peeled cactus fruit over to the lady next to him and felt the inside of his trousers` pocket. The car keys were there. And here it was again the falling short of training and the begging of too many treat questions in the form of statements and too many clichés and too many…Paco would have managed to find an excuse for him or rather would have seen an artistic value, a sense of beautiful and creative intentionality. It had been always very agreeable to see through Paco’s eyes; always very comfortable.

    Paco was very special; very special indeed, for many reasons and in many ways…yes, he was very special and not only because he had invited his ex- student to live with him free of charge in that wood structure house that had a small back yard, the yard that was big enough to host the extended shade of the neighbors’ Indian Apricot tree all through the afternoons of that unforgotten late fall of 1973, but for a host of other reasons too. Among the other reasons too and the most remarkable was Paco’s eyes as imagined to look, behind the thick glasses and Paco’s vision.

    Tarik did enjoy the two months which he spent in that wooden structure and especially his time in the backyard. Something was peculiar about the shade that visited the backyard then and the way it teased the parched greeneries of that time. It would crawl in as early as one thirty after noon time; shy and drowsy would linger for minutes near the fence of the neighbors as if making sure nobody was watching and then rapidly extended itself over the whole yard and there to stay until Sunset.

    “Good fences make good neighbors” but there is no way to keep the shade out and on its own premises only; especially when the fence is only average in height, the back yard is relatively small to allow for security zone and that the tree is tall with substantially impressive branches ready to develop into Freeway signs for eyes to see and read…

    It took most of the Californians from De Anza time till well into the twentieth Century to discover that the Indian Apricot tree has edible, juicy and tasty fruit which could be marketed and that had to come through foreign influence. Impressive creatures are scary and demanding.

    Paco is six and six by and almost three across the breathing chaste; well built and ordered specially for swimming which rewarded him free College education.

    Tarik had often taken advantage of the neighbor’s tree shade soaring high in the direction of the East.

    “When did the fourth female come;” he thought and taking an inspective look around him said: “Let’s have late supper.”

    “Welcome back.”

    “Told you better eat or you’ll be hungry soon with nobody to prepare anything for you! All kitchens in Damascus are closed now.”

    “I’d understand this if you were a working wife…In your case I wonder what wives are for!” Tarik took his time saying what he said while trying to gather the missed pieces of the evening.

    “You’re wife is Whisky. I’m only an attendant lady who’s good for pregnant moments only..good for…”

    A rowdy applaud rushed the roses up the checks and stopped the lady short of completing her sentence and startled the old man who was preparing the chilled cactus fruit for the consumption of the group.

    “What a wife!” Startled, Tarik looked in the direction from where the exclamation came from and then looked beyond the old man into the void.

    “You’re lucky. When your wife says things like this you better listen to her.” The English sentences that came out of the old man’s mouth that was mute up until then had a neutral accent and suggested a very good command of English: “You’re my steady customer for the season. I like serving you…Don’t let those guys get on your nerves. She is OK”

    “What did you like in what she has said?” Tarik asked, looking straight into the deep blue eyes under the bushy almost all white brows.

    “You only heard what she said…I heard and saw.”

    “You mean you heard and had a vision at the same time…You weren’t looking in this direction!”

    “Visions are for the Jewish Prophets…I only see.” The old man’s answer to Lady Hoofer’s remark fell in like the siren announcing the day of judgment; the sacrilege of a taboo came about when least expected and from what seemed to be an unnoticed man up until then.

    “What’s your name?”

    “I’m not in the Secret Service.”

    “First name would do.”

    “It’s difficult for you to pronounce…”

    “Try me!”

    “Who knows; maybe your command of Arabic is as good as their command of English. You seem to be the type…Abdul-razakh.” The old man said in a clear voice making a gesture in the direction of Tarik.

    Mr. Hoofer labored with the Khaff sound but managed to pronounce the name much better than most old Armenians in Aleppo would do.

    “Where did you learn English?”

    “Where do most people learn foreign Languages in Damascus?”

    “You name it: schools, traveling, living-abroad, self educate…you name it.” Dr. Ghassani retaliated.

    “Soak al-hamidiah.”

    Silence ordered the group into a spill. Only the sound of mild wind among the baby-trees and the subdued melodies of Fairooz’s song were audible. Seated on wooden crates covered by worn out prying rags with Tarik marking the eastern end of an arch right in front of the old man while the Chief of the Bureau the very western end of it, they silently witnessed the electric lights of the city of Damascus blare the southern horizon to oblivion…

    There was no south, only darkness. Yet our friend knew better and believed in creative dreams. You could dream the south was there and this dream yielded itself to reality as much as the dream that it was not there…a case of contested wills.

    “Where are you?”

    “Leave him alone…it’s a case which you all, men, share in, abet more than supposed of alcohol and cactus fruits are good remedies.”

    “Even you Abdul-razakh!” remarked the Political Officer.

    “He’s my best frend…” rejoined in Walid.

    “It’s his bad luck.” merrily whispered the old man.

    “Don’t you think you pushed your luck too far? His wife is here closer to me than to him and I’ve good leverage with her. There will not be any big tip this time if he wants to go back home”; the best friend said while smiling and looking in the direction of Tarik’s wife.

    Abdul-razakh, asked his friend to comment on the subject. The answer was a pail smile.

    A cheese sandwich was offered and then divided among the two friends. Abdul-razakh put his share back inside the cold box. Tarik feeling guilty for introducing the group to Waddah began chewing his bites silently with his eyes searching the darkness. Silence sneaked in again permeated by the sense of fatigue suffered after lots of drinking and lots of talking or listening.

    He had been meditating bringing his wife and daughter up to the Mountain for some time now and wanted them to meet his friend but not this way…the eternal story of the sails and the winds!

    “Probably Scheherazade has a remedy for this.” He thought while taking a look in the direction of his wife. Seated between his best friend’s wife and Mrs. Hoofer, she looked like a baby protected by two grannies, looked very delicate and fragile but he knew better.

    “This is unbelievable…I bet you; you cannot have such an experience in any underdeveloped Country in the world. Not even in Lebanon with its elite Christian Community.” The Chief’s out burst abided quickly and earned not any follow up. Yet autumn spelled some of its delights; refreshing breeze and patches of white clouds chasing each others in the direction of north east leaving behind an ocean of azure. Then the bewitching moon whipped all directions into oblivion radiating halos like water ripples. Tarik being aware of having to live in symbiosis with other forms of life felt heavy and pressed like a key stone of an arch condemned to carry the seven skies.

    He wondered what had become of the American War Correspondents who covered the spicy part of the Lebanese Civil War out of Napoleon Hotel in Ras Beirut and his thoughts indulged in running a comparison between them and the Bureau Chief available at the time…He noticed his wife looking in his direction yawning but that did not register any pretension to any hints in his mind…And they continued consuming more cactus fruit.

    During the three trips which he had to take to West Beirut during the civil war late 1975 and early 1976 to salvage a shipment of earth-moving equipments out of Sin Al feel Free Zone facility, he remembered detecting a great similarity in character between the Western War Correspondents who crouched in the lobbies of Napoleon Hotel evening time and the pleasant ambience of each of the Political Officers of the American University of Beirut – Dean of Foreign Students, Professors Hawker and the Director of the American Studies Program, Dr. Howler who both years ago when our friend was a student in that University, played a suspect role in the students demonstrations supporting Algerian Independence War; the same was true for other national occasions where some students were dropped out in disciplinary action.

    The War Correspondents having served in the Viet Nam War were well built and very handy with their photography gears and as expected well informed in the geopolitics of the Near East. The American University of Beirut Officials Like the Correspondents at Napoleon Hotel in all respects except for the theater of War; theirs was the Korean and not the Viet Nam…

    Tarik’s wife brought him back from war zone to Mount Harmon with a hardly audible cough…Of course, the hakawatee knew the Scheherazade of the family…Further; he had known the impossibility of being the Charier and the Hakawatee at the same time.

 

Chapter:IV

 

     “Was it 1972 or 1973?”

    Our hero is very poor when it comes to dates and names. You see he is not quite sure about the year and he can not come up with the name of the Chief Correspondent the Head of the N Bureau at Cairo, for he would have mentioned it if he would have remembered it. Be sure of that…He also, cannot remember whether the glorious October war took place in 1972 or 1973… still…and regardless, there is time to remember since the sequence of events is clear and exact in his mind.

    Of course he has known the dates and has known the names; has known them all, known them all whether in particular or as categories and has kept the Correspondent’s visit card intending to look him up in Cairo; a venture that had never materialized.

    Further, he has lived the experience of the October War minute per minute on the American Grand TV Nets which had direct and virtually non stopped coverage from the Israeli front…fraction of the second per fraction of the second…Besides both years, 1972 and 1973 should have related impact on our hero’s stream of thoughts for other reason than being two successive years.

    Tending the Brass Rail Bar in Old Town Saratoga, where section of the upper middle class of the San Francesco Bay Area were diligently dozing in dreamlike homes with the seemingly unchallenged monthly payments on them unaware of the handicaps of the future, Tarik played from behind the Brass both the Social Adviser and the Psychiatrist of the community. He even issued written remedies…He had a couple of years of Premedical courses in College.

    Clients took him for granted as an indispensable element of their socialization for having been a handsome blue eyed bachelor who worked in a Research Outfit day time, bar tended as a hobby evening time and ran a two bed room well furnished apartment just across the street from the Brass Rail night time. He fitted in as everybody’s and each client’s secretary and adviser.

    Wives, husbands and lovers let him in on even the natty gritty of their daily idiosyncrasies as they chose to call their ventures; all the way from boy friends, girl friends to snoring husbands or wives or neighbors to the swapping of wives and girl friends. Then came the Oil Embargo and out of a sudden the Bar Tender became an Arab, a Syrian gentile…

    But gentile-ism was of another world, an old story and belonged to a different level of cognition, different set of attributes and different Sunsets. At the time of the Oil Embargo it was not befitting of the Elite of the late decade of the twentieth Century subjects, to work grave yard shifts digging the grave yards of antiquities. Archeological digging and ventures were accepted to take place every- where else but not in the affluent San Francisco Bay Area. Thus the Bar tender continued tending the bar in silence, unnoticed by some and ignored by others; an all knowing robot reading clients’ thoughts and wishes serving the right drinks for the right occasions or dictating the right drink for the occasions trying to instigate some reproaches yet only to earn lavish tips, way more lavish than when the reality was for blood and flesh, for tender touches and for the bewitching language of the eyes.

    The Oil Embargo underlined a period when and where Paco was actually needed the most. Nevertheless his availability became scarce and more than scarcer. First, a conflict between what he chatted about and the way he looked, rewarded the tense clients with a few minutes of missed ease of mind and then and out of sudden, a new tone harmonized the stage; every body short changed others’ allowable time, even the background music of the bar became less appreciated and less tolerated and often, clients requested turning the already low volume dawn … Paco did not conform to the changes… and first there was especially the sore reactions to his full mouth wordings and his inconsiderate racy tales and then to his persistent attempts to bring the bar tender back to sight…

    His six and six could not be ignored yet the official weight the heaviness of two hundreds and ninety five pounds which he had to lay on the Brass and on the atmosphere of the bar as a whole and the reaction to the noises he articulated and his outrageous snoring eventually exceed the limit of his and their sensitivity.

    Paco was expected, for some unclear reason, expected to look younger than before every time he came through the swinging door of the Bar, at least this was the expectation of all females who knew him, yet to the contrary he began a process of quick aging as if he was going through a pressure cooking pot. Eventually, “Sacrible” began to be heard as if it were the only member of his diction. In no time it became the opening, the development and the closing remark to the extent that “Sacrible” became the leading and the sufficient attribute of Paco-ism.

    Scheherazade wore a white scarf for the occasion; a white scarf which wrapped her black hair, ivory neck and reclined on her round shoulders accentuating the black ness of the eyes…Her lips, usually quoted as full, became line like as if a painful decision had been made;” to hell with the story telling” and she dropped a couple of tears on the Paco`s wasted infancy hoping for a sooner cock melody…An elaborate version of the Black Concentrated Coffee’ named “ She Said” in the hope to mobilize a female revolt to re-enthrone Paco turned into an abortion and the bottom fishes soared close to the surface of the waters unidentifiable as if camouflaged in the mysterious sedimentations of the bottoms brought up to surface.

    Unexpectedly, the black concentrated Arabic coffee, though free of charge for both Management and Clients did not hit the level of appreciation or anywhere close to it. We should go back to our story or Scheherazade would be almost consumed again; better to go back to reading traffic signs if you continue hinting and eluding at subjects and actions without bringing any to the point of maturity; you will miss the panorama of Lattakia Sunset and by this you well defeat the purpose of this venture.

    Be more specific!

    `A while ago you hinted at some relevance between the two years 1972 and 1973 without qualifying this relevance as if you have no obligations to what ever you say…if no obligations then why take the trouble to utter even one syllable; putimg it in a positive sense, why should they take the trouble to notice any uttered syllable! `

    You have done it too often…already too often. Paco-ism is not a subject…though his confusing behavior during the Embargo period reflected aspects of his character that need further development…`

    `Do these aspects of his character relate to Lattakia Sunsets? `

    Syrian students demonstrating during the French Occupation of Syria were said to have shouted “Independence or USA mandate” among other forgotten slogans...

    Paco’s conception of the ‘Word’ does subscribe to such a relationship and also I agree, and for pure intellectual honesty, we should present him as a fully developed character; should round him up a little bet more even if we should ramble about more than advisable to do.

    Anyhow, considering him self lucky for selecting teaching business which though did not qualify him for driving a Type E 9.11 which he often dreamed about and had to settle in for a Datsun, threw him in the security of not needing much of external energy source for his creative output. His Hero’s swimmer internal clock designed to an eventuality of a dream like Ranch through a best seller, was expected to provide both financial and intellectual security; “one best seller will suffice and would be like tobacco for the USA Economy.”

    Still, two mugs of light beer or a glass of table wine in the presence of a pretty face sufficed for a ‘Sacrible’ that filled up the mouth and triggered the sensational presence of voluptuous Mother Ursula. The ensued climax whether as an expression of black or white Magic, as a sensual or pseudo spiritual experience exhibited an assiduous- ness quite remarkable, in drinking it to the brim…What else to do to exploit the continuum of time…”Farm boys have only farm chores” and discharged soldiers prefer wearing fatigues!

    During the Oil Embargo period male clients’ of the Bar began avoiding Paco and he exploited socializing with the wives and the girl friends to the utmost. “When Mustangs loose their pockets they become mules and provide ass- holes like me with all the available trophies of the field day. It’s good to be a divorcee.” It was easy said but hard to follow up; for trophies brought him dissipation only.

    Out of sudden, Paco stopped patronizing the Brass Rail and he was not seen in there except on a few occasions when there to collect the key to his friend and old student’s near by apartment. Clients of the Bar whether males or females missed his availability in the bar for somehow he had grown over the almost one year of rapt patronization to become an indispensable element of the atmosphere; but nobody voiced that. The Bar tender detected questioning eyes, but he was still being ignored and therefore no answers were due.

    “It shouldn’t be waiting for long to go back to normal or to semi normal…” Tarik felt then and he was sure that there was no need to qualify semi normal, broken glass could be cemented and brought together again yet no way for bringing glass dust and the tiny chips in the reclaimed; there was no need, for the qualifying would necessitate an awareness of the causality sequence involved. There was no case of cause and effect; only the unplanned random tension of the atmosphere generated from the fear of going on with the usual routines after the unexpected had happened. Most of the clients of the Brass Rail became convinced that it was possible for the apple to fly when maturity separates it from the tree in any direction and that gravity had lost its chastity.

    In 1972 and when Nixon blow up the love affair between the Dollar and Gold Tarik was then a client patronizing the Brass Rail of Saratoga. A week after the blow up and after the business community had realized the great advantages, resulting from the divorce, the Bar threw an open house free drinks for regular customers only, which took the shape of a home party and matured in the firing of the integration sign, the Black Bar Tender for misbehavior after having been allowed to consume alcohol while on duty, ended with Tarik helping behind the other end of the Bar for that evening.

    He did a good job and promised to help until management succeed in employing a new reliable bar tender; but some how he got stuck behind that other side for quite some time…He enjoyed it and enjoyed the free drinks and the money he made came up to an unexpected amount when the tips were added up.

    On the second Thursday after Nixon’s announcement, Tarik securing the OK of the management posted a cartoon of a billboard inviting regular customers for a free Syrian food dinner on following Friday. And since he was still waiting for management to come up with a bar tender, he felt it more appropriate to invite the tippers for a dinner at his expense.

    Friday evening free dinner excluded all non regulars which lead to the quick departure of the non-regulars turning the occasion into a restricted open house symposium on USA political policies and the Middle East had a good share of the elaborate discussions: began with South-east Asia ans ended up in the Middle-east.

    Jubilant in the new USD status which had high- jacked the status of international currency proper and not an international currency by proxy, the upper middle class of the Bay Area needed the show off. Thus the locked main door kept the elite in to end up in a record high income per night for the house.

    Clients chewed their affiliation with Power Houses, Trade Unions, Labor Unions, Grand establishments, power houses, Trade Syndicates, Banks and grandiose finance fraternities like popcorns; dropping labels and names flourished main motif.

    The atmosphere of the bar reflected an informal relation between the helping bar tender and the management. And since the bar was owned and operated by one man, it was easy to please the management and it was easy for the management to please the helping bar tender.

    Who does not like to litter with big names and the Chief of the NN Cairo Office seemed then and should still be up until now big enough and the October war how anybody could forget the year of the October war: souring oil prices, windfall riches and the bankruptcy of the small Firms monetary and workable concept wise that have generated simultaneously such calamities and such honeymoons that the year has become a landmark, a geometrical point which branched in to a herd of points eventually crystallizing in diametrically conflicting scents and conflicting colors, a flora of points of confused and confusing existence, a paradox of plague symptoms that has no clear originator or originators; Arms, Petroleum… and Pharmacopeias-should they be the candidates; should it be called an open matrix phenomenon…taking refuge in the crutch designated as natural phenomena…to begin with, is there such a thing which can be called a natural phenomenon; could such a monster exist?’

    Yes…and it has nothing to do with getting old, a thing of the genes; and the genes are things of the past as Tarik has been told so many times when in his early twenties and definitely has been told that by what seemed then to be authorities on the subject…His fair skin and his blue eyes were often mentioned with snickers eluding at his being a son of a bitch genetically speaking for they were not aware of Abu-baker’s red beard the first time the idea and later the topic was mentioned.

    Doctor Hawker, I wonder how long since dead. “Hell; should he be still a live: or should the question by whether such people die or not?”

    If people…it should die…Immortality is definite only for the Divine and that is as per definition for ideas are subject of time.

    Dr. Hawker from Little Rock and his close friend Dr. Howler, who though his name does not show it the rumors cited German Concentration Camp connections, insists to be an American of Polish origin, both are solid preachers of the concept of the natural phenomenon as revealed in the Old Testaments, namely ‘Gentile-ism’.

    `Here we are back at reading signs along the free ways for nothing but the reading of signs or is this a sign of total confusion! `

    Time the most important structural element of History and the eternally fought for commodity in the Stock Market of surviving, is looking for the manifestation of being there through the reading of signs. God bless; what a divine gift and would this mean that the brain needs a time off! Mr. Hawker and Mr. Toddler have sharp contrasted aspects of their personalities…yes, here it has come, for though I meant to say Mr. Howler, I said Mr. Toddler and for sure the sequence is still valid!

    The name was and still is Mr. Kurt Toddler; the Chief of the Bureau’s name is Mr. Toddler…As you see, reading signs along the high-ways often joggles the memory and shakes loose some of the forgotten end pits…A new label may become the fashion but all new ones point to the content of some old ones…Maybe Mr. Toddler’s remark about the elite Lebanese is justifiable, for the War Correspondents operating out of Beirut during the Civil War come across more informed than eventually they betray, and you may say more professional too, very much like the Hawker and the Howler types representing a genus of War-lords handy with the can, could, should and would; full of alligator tears, celebrators of the treat label ‘double standards’.

    Days before the International Press should handle the photos of the massacre of the Quarantine sector which are still being circulated on closed nets as a prod casting a sun rise of a type, Henry of NBC and of the New York Times and the USA State Department affiliate at the same time through sponsored Research Centers, after over loading his British accent with Bourbon doubles leaks the atrocity occasions by circulating his unbelievable photos in colors, from behind Napoleon Hotel lobby Bar.

    Recollecting his photos yet refraining from serving drinks to Club Members a service he enjoys playing usually, is wearing that unnamable look in his eyes…is it the fear of the Vampires or of the pain in the groans from having witnessed the devil himself in action; or is it that the photographed occasions mirrored experiences that have acquired the definition status, the out of tense status, gaining more hurt…or maybe joy…every once they are revisited…is it the cancerous growth out of Viet Nam or of Korea experience or should it go further back to General K and the Red Indians or to the British Trading Fleet laying anchorage in Madras proving the effectiveness of the new gadget, the Machinegun !

    Definitely, you can not revisit the past and like what Taylor has said: “There is no past. Designated past is no more or less than the growth of a persistent snap shot of a virtual reality, a reflection of the growth of personality; a now and here that cannot be pinned down anywhere, alligator tears, a fiction of the Text…therefore, it does not exist.” Of all the tenses, what exists is only the “NOW” for the “now” lay comfortable in the twilight zone beyond legal or moral or ethical responsibilities…But, is this possible?

    The sound of shelling and counter shelling are the persistent monotones which populate Napoleon Bar after the ascendancy of darkness and abiding to bed conditions are also monotones and all monotones are tense less, growing photo shots. All, clients and hotel employees at these types of occasions, move without pressure; articulated analogies of shadows suffering atrophies of the mind.

    Before sunset all would be in the hotel and the first thing everybody inquires about even before greeting each others are the condition of the establishment power generator and the supply of diesel and potable and sink water…How could it be possible to survive with out a hot shower or a hot meal summer or winter after a day of labor?

    A few shots of bourbon or whiskey or vodka, straight and on a hurry without even taking a seat or exchanging recognition glances dig in deeper for the elaborate and over emphasized ‘tomb atmosphere’. Tragedy the Mother of all Fiction Forms: everybody knows the hotel would not be bombed and no firing even by a pistol would be expected to be directed at the hotel.

    By translucent darkness the inmates would have showered, slipped into very casual attires and have had early dinner. After dinner, conversational hums brighten the scene for a little over half an hour or so. Yet the sound of the first round of shelling would announce the horizontal motion of the eyeballs in the opposite direction from the hearing ears; whispers as appointed coordinators then, assume the role of forefingers lined up in front of the forward projected and tightened lips…January thunder leads to the same effect. But nobody admits being afraid. Actually, there is no call for being afraid.

    The general atmosphere prescribes to different tendencies from the Revolution of 1958 in Lebanon, as they call it for Revolutions come in jot conditions: it is summer time and the swimming pool of the Commodore Hotel like other swimming pools in Ras Beirut which cater to United Nation Peace Force Members on vacation from duties on the Lebanese southern boarders, radiates with Sun Set Strip pleasures. *

 

Chapter:V

 

There is a longing for a ‘Sacrible’ but Paco hovers far away at a point where the West has started his vanishing process. Last that has been heard of him is his getting bored with everything including women due to their over loaded representations on TV which he claims to make him lose the needed thin boarder line between making love and masturbation; a sign of his adapting the long since suggested process of substituting paradoxes for problems; beauty in this sense has been sub-merged for him, to the bottom allowing for the foam of the scum of the lightless depths to pollute all visions that watch TVs, allowing for the articulated pleasure of violating daughters in law, daughters, sisters and even mothers in the sequence of natural phenomena; after all what Oedipus has done! An excuse people hear Paco cites often lately- as they say - to justify his recently acquired abnormality- his version of Shahirzad as a dweller of the lightless depths and that his now project has been how to drive the ascendancy road of the El Gatos Estate between the entrance metal gate and the upper wooden swinging gate at an almost fixed speed, not exceeding sixty five and not dropping below sixty four miles per hours…an inhibition going back to early seventies of the last century, the time Mitsubishi and Dotson became popular as wheel squeaking machines.

    Of course the 65 mile per hour maximum speed limit over the Free-ways owes its notoriety to Oil Embargo period and has been since considered among the measures adapted by most States to reduce National consumption of oil products, to reduce the imposition of rising oil price with its eroding effect on budgets…El Gatos ascendancy and descedency roads are private roads where no law or rather the law of whim is applicable…Whims as passing times!

    Similes with or without an as…Past virtual not real…huge and impressive ash trees inhabited by friendly roaming squirrels save guarding their hidden nuts while lulled to sleep by the comfortable shades of the thick branches; Bees and ants storing food for winters…What do we store for days to come: Sunsets!

    From the shores of Alexandria, waves travel due South. From the shores of Lattakia, waves travel due East and the legends say going Home signals the end of action time… the end of motion…and persisting due West until the West becomes a revisit of an East, a theater for Hakawatees battling against the ticks of a swimmer’s clock, a species of bored creatures living zealously to cultivate the civilization of mass suicide…no more or less than a mouth filling utterance of a label: “Sacrible”.

    I have been debating to break the ice of silence stretching over the oceans of noise, that has stretched across the skies of thunder years requesting Paco to retire to the Ranch near the endangered Species’ Fork where it is possible for him with an early retirement to quit the chores of manufacturing stereotyped babies and find the needed source for meaning: the tool for understanding and appreciating the content of the gift of life…Over five thousand years of recordings are already available. Existing Dictionaries and Thesauruses and Encyclopedia demand generations of laborers to be consumed and digested to justify the fabrication of new labels…definitions in the becoming stage; definitely no new inventory has ever been registered, only the old ones coming in fresh packages…or spot light focusing on dark angles: Adam, Eve, Lilith, the Apple tree, the Apple, the Serpent, the Fall…Cain, his brother and his sisters, Noah, Noah’s Arch, the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse… Rituals, Knowledge, Ignorance, Salvation, Punishment, Paradise, Hell, Salvation, Damnation…Myth, Legend, Tradition, Folklore, Magic, the Supernatural, the Messiah, the Imam …the Peacock, God and the Devil; ‘mention the wolf after you get the cane ready’…There the green dome supported by snow white walls with its green narrow wooden gate hovers among Ashtar’s Trees up there on the peak where serenity is disturbed only by the rhythm of distant train wheels hitting the rails; where the toasting and roasting sun across the multitude of Sunsets did not manage to parch the evergreens as read by every Christmas. Ashtar, Ishtar, Hara, Ashera, Mary, Fatimah, all ever parading beauties on the top, on the green sanctuaries where Gilgamesh before this Majestic Throne, bewitched lost the multiplicity of the ‘words’ finding himself face to face with the un-namable while in search for the Plant of eternal life to bring his friend back to life!

    But is Paco mature enough for the safari in the wilderness, or still so young that he identifies maturity in hunting tigers and lions while shedding alligator’s tears, or is he long since substituted the paradox of action for the problem of ideas!

    “The end justifies the means”; a news correspondent endeavoring to single himself out in his check endorsing Establishment busy swallowing strait shots of hard alcohol every time he is scared of human eyes; a Henry hiding from himself behind shots of Bourbon when ever returning Home to his Napoleon!

    Asking questions in the form of affirmative statements underlines the leap in to beyond the threshold of sixty years of aging, introducing the realization of the creativity of the label “ignorance” in the shaping of knowledge and thereby the underlining Wisdom; a crutch realizable only by Paco`s Universal tool and only after the leap…”Sacrible”!

    A young contractor evolving into a business man, full of certainty actualizing projects and jobs before starting them; a young teacher evolving into a professor or possibly a correspondent evolving into a chief of a Bureau and eventually into a Senator or a Congressman, all with over loaded visions of Utopias shaped after their own cave images and living according to them, all handy with asking questions in the form of answers; syllogisms that are being built from the particular to the whole or chipped down from the whole into incomplete and incoherent particulars as ordered by the season.

    Napoleon Hotel in Ras Beirut, a three stars establishment on a side street across a walking distance from the Campus of the American University of Beirut, occupies a modest up rise building which is famous for its annexed bar which is said to have been a garage before. For some reason unknown reason the American and the British Correspondents circumscribes the facility a main office for them during the 1975-76 Civil War in Lebanon. Tarik having been a steady client of the Establishment since 1958 the year of the revolution except for the period of his residency in California embarrassed the management to respect his patronage yet they levied some restrictions on their services. The restrictions accepted after implicit negotiations which lead to the dropping of the no visitors’ article by allowing for business conferences up until three o’clock after noon. The equipments should be recovered, should be spared and their distractive contribution in the civil war should be brought back to constructive duties regardless of the cost: destructive in Lebanon constructive in Syria!

    The Hotel owned and operated by a Christian family in an area designated as the elite Muslims domain of Ras Beirut. Tarik eventually, discovered contrary to what he had been made to understand during the negotiation with the Management other locals, Syrians considered local just like Lebanese when the grouping involved Westerners or any other foreigners, discovered other local clients hidden here and there in the dark corners and the dark lobbies of the hotel; clients of well known names and pockets. Expatriate Barmaids residents of the establishment and operating the Bar could not survive without the hidden clients’ patronage. The War Correspondents subscribed not to good spenders even though they did well on being good lovers.

    - Mr. Homsi; am I right?

    - Yes. - Mr. Homsi…do you have money printing machine!

    - What… - Boulus has good respect for you as a businessman and suggested including you in our catering arrangement.

    - Do you want to buy or sell?

    - We are a group of six Correspondents sharing food catered from Al-Hamra Food Service. What we get per meal is enough for more than seven. Do you like to share us dinner this evening and see if you like to join in?

    - I ordered my dinner for the evening already.

    - Boulus is charging you for our food. Yours is dished in China ware...ours served in carton dishes. We could all be served in Chinaware, if your money is chipped in our pot.

    - If so, no problem.

    - Let me buy you a drink and introduce you to the group.

    The War Correspondents contribution to the episode of salvaging the earth moving equipments out of Sin al feel Free Zone in Beirut in 1975 and 1976 took the course of a lab experiment. And you could say they have added a comic taste to it; even though the addition eluded any savoring to a rosy perspective of the future. Comic, yes; but that definitely took us back to “the worst that can befall the human race…” At first, the rosy-ness peeped at the scene because of the impressions which speculative notions made when thrown on 65 inches wide monitors. Then all components of the episode became neutral entities moving at random at a very high speed, colliding, running into blind allays, generating new speculative values to lose them in no time, starting the traversing of new roads only to arrive at blind alleys again and suddenly like a soap babble yielding to a fly weight pressure, lost all identity and all conformity to any possible meaning…Some of the equipments were recovered on the second trip to Ras Beirut The episode full of action, betrayed a chaotic chain of occurrences. Doing business with almost all the warring factions in Lebanon and there were many of them, did not yield itself to possible understanding even after detailed discussions of the business negotiations with the well located war correspondents became part of the fashionable bed time fairy tales at Napoleon’s Hotel; it all happened after having dinner dished in China ware and bourbon in Bohemian shot glasses. The question remained un-answered; how did almost all the warring factions managed to get their shares of the lot located under the jurisdiction of only one of the warring parties!

    The War Correspondents descriptive accounts of the war Lords and their affiliates and the characterizations of the said people in general came handy during extended dialogues discussing the course of war or the expected results of the war or still the implicit necessity of the war as often alluded at, but the way that lead to the recovery of the stolen equipments was totally incomprehensible, regardless of what others believed or regardless of who ever took the credit for the recovery.

    Their advice to ship equipments at hand first and then start a new round of negotiation made sense giving but the advice was not conducted exactly as suggested. Still, the deviation did not reflect on future negotiations nor obliged the business to traverse unsafe terrain…Paco always indirectly credited believes and called logic the tool of the ignorant fool. Paco and the correspondents graduated from the same school, the same Tradition…the orchestra of multistage solution for one phase of the event…means and goals the confusing syllogisms with their deductive and inductive components where each component flashed at whim.

 

Editor's note: this is a new version yet unfinished but it is more developed than the one I published some years ago. This version is sent by his beloved daughter Zeina, I knew her a nice beautiful little girl, gifted in playing piano, and still she is. She is now a mother of three children living in exile as many of Syrians. My friend Akram Chahine deceised in April 2012 two months after I left Syria, I couldn't meet with him this year, he was living in Aleppo, I had to travel by plane before Damascus airport was closed. This lack of courage makes me feel unconfortable till today. Akram Chahine was a gentleman, with a large knowledge, very sensitive but the most outstanding character was his generosity, I never met in my life such a generous man.I am still thinking till today about what I learned during my short stay in Syria:the open dimension of friendship, should we always remain faithful to our friends? YES, if some of them are like Akram Chahine.
Last Updated on Sunday, 12 July 2015 09:30
 

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