ANOTHER POINTLESS DAY IN ABSURDISTAN Vol 2

ANOTHER POINTLESS DAY IN ABSURDISTAN Vol 2

A-Loop-In-One-Act

TALAL CHAMI

©

I stood facing that bloody mirror for a perpetuity. Blood drenched the entire surface.  I fired up my Jimmy and waited in a stark, tiny box where I stood in a ghostly fashion, restricted by the moving-and-closing-in of four walls around me, in a random apartment building, that I ran in for cover, with door/glass broken, and ceiling half-open, that served a double purpose: I was safe and sound for a while and well yeah in a way distanced from the insanity unleashing around me. A foolish act.  I thought. But my head was still in place. Fully mounted and eyes wide open. For some reason, I could hear two tracks playing in parallel: The remote echoes of an old record of Stevie Wonder’s Superstition looping over and over again, perhaps left unattended by its accidental and charming supervisor, and countless bombs hissing through the purple air of a hot Beiruti night in the middle of a skirmish. As random as a fart on the quiet side of a library. Sounds of fuck is all I heard for the next ten minutes.  I was stuck. Random lovers across were in ecstasy.  Christian Bombs kept falling. Smoke kept spiraling up and a falcon kept fluttering its majestic wings upon a dark biker on the loose riding his Davidson on Rue Verdun.  I had no other choice but to masturwait every once in a while, for reassurance, to the noises they fashioned. To the soundscape of war that made me as randy as hell.  What a fidiot! I thought to myself.  I was sleepless, famished, tired and wired like a barbwire left forsaken, stripped and empty in the Demarcation Line. A Few yards away.  A line of resolute ants marched across the Universe of that elevator in a loop.  Alienated.  War-irrelevant. And forever hopeless. I could see the preview of my face on the mirror: A ghostly, eerie, and spine-chilling face looked back in anger.  Man up! I thought.  Nothing.  Just silence.  And a thought or two every once in a while: Mostly a recollection of ideas that revolved in my head, just like ocean bubbles making it to the surface.  I was a street façade, in a state of renovation. A line of armed silhouettes rushed in, inside that accidental structure.  They barricaded themselves behind bullet-holed fences.  They didn’t say much.  I enjoyed the unplanned instances that played in sequence.  Haphazard, unidentified, and random.  I was trapped in a maze of fire and fucking.  I had a hard on for the entire progression.  To tell you the truth: I was motivated by the sum of bombs falling, guns popping and fuck-yelling.  Most of the random characters involved in the shoot-out were harboring delusions of grandeur. A truc macabre.  The heat was unbearable.  I was in a tiny, rented dark suit that looked more like a uniform. I camouflaged inside it, inside that dwelling with a creepy look, and I felt unnerving as well inside. In that moment of ardor and out of nowhere I looked up and there she was looking down at me with her piercing eyes and some interest.  She didn’t say much.  She dropped a few props and jumped inside.  She looked back at me and said something in French like, On a froid. On est seuls.  Mais au moins, on sait où trouver de la chaleur. I shifted my weight to the right, to contemplate her even more.  She was whole, in her flaw.  Out of nowhere, a round of shots fired, randomly, struck me on my left arm, missing my heart by only a few inches.  I am pretty damn sure I was struck in the back of my neck by the second shot, the bullet ricocheting off my spine. Some shots hit me in the head above my left eye, passing through underneath my brain and shattering my brain. All my ideas got scattered like pebbles on a marble floor.  The round grazed a rib and lodged in my lung, stopping less than an inch from my heart. I’m in love! I’m in love.  You have intense emotions inside and this keeps you wanting to do it even more. It’s hard to hit a heart in love.  I felt supreme.  The more you do it, the more you want.  You pretend life is ok.  It’s never ok.  War kills you inside and love takes care of the rest of ya’.  Apparently: Over time, and within the given circumstances, you become an outsider in your own life! The man you never thought you’d be.  And as you collect all the pieces, the broken pieces that make you, you: That the explosion had left you, and you try to carry on with the remnants of someone who once was, and you pretend life is ok and you live the rituals of a life, that’s beautiful, so fucking beautiful! you begin to feel you are living on leftovers of a life that never was! Inside myself, in a remote corner where I could hide undetected for evermore, with my own anger, shame, my own indignation, I stood there, forced to recognize my failure! Alas, I was busted in my hide-out! Love dismembers you like a dummy made out of clay, mercilessly.  And it pours all over you a rainocalypse of bullfrogs and hammer-handles. And you melt and roll out with the water and you vanish and out of a sudden, you are part of something completely out of yourself.  Don’t I fucking know it! Looking at my own life, in tedious fragments, in tedious sections, as I peep through a zoetrope at the galloping horses with a neigh –A wooden zoetrope which consists of a cylinder with slits cut vertically in the sides. As the cylinder spins, I look through the slits at the pictures across. The scanning of the slits keeps the pictures from simply blurring together, and I see a rapid succession of images, producing the illusion of motion. The motion of the horses galloping, with a bray, greeting other horses: A strapping-neigh! Reminiscent of old days when I rode a broomstick wildly around the house and whinny.  You smoke too much! She said. I looked at her, in her never-ending stillness and we fucked for hours. Stonie wore a Machiavellian smile and fashioned a Cobra Shades just like the ones Stallone wore as Marion Cobretti in Cobra, 1986.  The truth of the matter is this guy looked more like a train-ticket conductor or inspector with a twist, for all I know. He looked like a mutant gorilla on the run.  And not even close to what a member of an elite division called Zombie Squad looked like. A truc macabre.  After a moment, he panned his head appearing entirely as a more recent version of the black drummer in Youtube Bill Withers’ Ain’t No Sunshine, with a grin. He looked up from his tiny, half-open, smoke-twirling-window and said: Hello Mr. Ruggles, am Stonie.  Welcome to Lebanon. The Switzerland of the East. Wesley Ruggles – was an accomplished and prominent American photojournalist.  He got in the back seat of the white Peugeot 504 and smiled all the way to the Commodore Hotel in Hamra. Stonie looked at his customer adjusting himself in the back seat, as he got in, on the rear-view mirror and said: Our country is the best place if you wish to take on the challenge of surfing and skiing on the same day. There’s no particular way to do it – some prefer to hit the waves early in the morning and end the day with a cup of mulled wine after a great ski or snowboard session; others prefer to hit the slopes in the morning and watch the sunset from Ain El Mraisse on West End, after catching some waves. It’s really up to you, Mr. Ruggles. You decide.  I leave it up to you. Wesley Ruggles grinned.  He wasn’t much of a talker, if you know what I mean.  He nodded affirmatively to all the words Stonie shot at him.  Lester Young Stardust – 1952 was coming out of the radio. Soft and easy. Let me tell ya a story.  Stonie said:  Two families were arguing in a field about where the boundary between their lands lay.  The dispute dated back a long time and blood had been shed a number of times.  A boy, a child of some eight or nine years, picked up a stick and drew a line in the earth.  When asked what he was doing, he said he was marking the boundary as it had been agreed at the last round of negotiation, long before he was born.  His father asked him how he knew this, and the boy replied that he was the reincarnation of a man the father had killed in the feud.  When the child revealed details of the shooting that only the dead man and his killer could have known, his father embraced his former adversary who was now his son. Both families wanted the feud to end.  It had been costly in terms of lives, and all were seeking a way out of a resumption of hostilities.  After a long drive and a prolonged silence, Wesley Ruggles said: Take to me to the Green Line. Now.  Militias around West Beirut were a spectacle not to be missed.  A daily-affair. They rode Jeeps as if they were riding horses. Ski-nautique, once heard someone say. Their rituals comprised life as it happened on the eve of the end of the world. For all I know.  Ruggles was a modern-times Dziga Vertov, with a movie camera.  He was a prompt man.  Never late to a meeting or a date and had a subtle way of complaining to chefs about mediocre meals at restaurants. He was an homme d’affaires. He was a lean, mean fighting-machine that would not have anything be used to his disadvantage.  And for some unknown reason always wore black.  From head to bottom. No matter what. He was a distinctive soul with an Italian flare. A lady’s man. No doubt about it.  The Lebanese Rambo –or the subject of his piece, was in place in the smashed part of the city.  Surely on the demarcation line in Down Town. Pre-disposed and ready.  He was a robust, broad-shouldered and extremely serious fella. A War-Junkie. A visual spectacle par excellence, so to speak.  A local hero of sorts.  A Stallone-look-a-like, whose physical transformation was evident and clear indication that Post-Vietnam American War films and more specifically Rambo films of the 1980s, made a huge impression on him, to the extent he -and possibly others, eventually transmuted into Rambo himself. That prompted folks like Wesley Ruggles and others to come to Beirut to have a closer look.  Monk was in a state of total rapture. And so were we.  We embraced each other in a sudden act. She was young.  I was tired.  But her resolve and my obvious turn-on made the entire undertaking more unrelenting.  It made her go down on me endless times.  She sucked my carrot like she did every time, with the same drive, the same craving, the same accidental, haphazard and mechanical fervor of a woman with a pre-determined purpose.  To fuck and get fucked.  Random characters/strangers in the distance did not deter us from this public act of yearning.  They looked on and kept looking as they fell trapped in a vicious cycle of codependency between spectator and spectacle bred by garish iconography taken sincerely.   Out of a sudden she giggled -and for no particular reason.  She grabbed my handle for reassurance.  She spit at it multiple times, my face was all over the ceiling and the windshield, roaring like a wounded lion, like a man who had bet his life saving on second running horse in the races.  Caterina was an opera addict, I was a jazz freak.  She loved books and Italian cuisine: Was an expert at Pasta Carbonara. She’d cook the pasta in salted water, and cook some tomatoes in a large skillet over medium-high heat with olive oil and stirring often, until it slightly softened for around three minutes. She would then add some shallots and cook, stirring until the shallots and tomatoes softened for the same amount of time or so.  She would then add the garlic, some natural herbs and finally bring to a boil.  Once done, she would blend the mix using a hand blender –no wonder she was good at hand jobs, for Christ’s sake, and stir in pasta.  Later, when I asked her about her obsession with the dish she’d say: Buon appetito!  è delizioso. That day she was draped like a mannequin in a display window. She wore a horrible dress. Stained with dark spots of coffee, that did not taste good, which she had, early in the morning.  She played it down by wearing no makeup, a loose-fitting vintage dress, and her regular flat green shoes.  She always wore green shoes.  She squashed a gum behind her front teeth. Her finger-nails in double-decker red.  Both her earrings scintillated an assortment of a spectrum caused by the light diffused through the silver clouds, and bouncing off strategically located car handles in car doors.  I thought to myself: What a lucky bastard! As I pulled the metallic cold through my nostrils and a line or two of blow coke. We took a moment.  We did not say much.  We did a line or two of coke.  Had some smokes. We waited the time it took for a cigarette of three to four inches in length to burn down onto a memory. She squeezed my carrot with her free hand, thinking maybe she would make it spill by way of her magic. She was in her late thirties and was assailed by a huge range of regrets.  Assaulted by a series of failed relationshits. It was in that very instant, she tried desperately to project a cheerful air: I think am in love, with you.  Dogs and birds were leaping from one tree to another undetected. A truc macabre. She looked out the window and I pretended her say something in French like, On a froid. On est seuls.  Mais au moins, on sait où trouver de la chaleur. She looked back at me for an entire minute.  Uninterrupted. Gallant. And noble. The emotions she had stirred were exactly where we had left them. Unnoticed.  I was making a much-needed escape from my own trivial life, to try to reconnect with it. It was a favorite pastime. The way of a dog, astray and awry, one afternoon in the city. Brave enough to shout out his fears in public.  Freud would have laughed, and probably join in. It’s funny, but now that I come to think about it, the old man did flash in my memory a couple of times every time, while at it.  I would picture him in that coat, with the classic white beard, all cracked up coke-high and murmuring to himself: A truc macabre. Turn up that Monk shit, I imagine he’d say. A few minutes had passed when looking to my right I detected her stripping from waste down.  She looked strikingly eye-catching.  Her shadow making a regal comeback as her hair swayed in all directions.  I was a bohemian in my final act, she was Lucifer desperate for more. She came out of her apartment building in a haste, and as she opened my red Rover Mini Cooper door and got in, I threw out the window my half-way consumed cigarette, I had lit a few minutes ago for convenience, as I listened to Monk Live in Paris, 1965.  I dreamt about you nearly every night this week with a lollipop stuck in your mouth and a hot gun barrel swinging in and out inside your strawless lid.  A morbid affair. I know.  She hung up the phone and 7 minutes and 47 seconds later she was knocking on my door. As randy as a smoking gun.  I usually don’t but for some reason I was tempted to peep through the peephole to see first if it was her –not some Toters delivery bubblehead named Stonie just for kicks, and second to feel a certain rush, you only feel when you look – all sidled-up at your woman, all dressed up and everything and coming for a tryst.  It didn’t take long before she went down on me -with the evident exhilaration of a soldier in the haste of an on-going battle and she started slurping my bacon bazooka. A morning entr’acte. I looked down at her and she seemed involved for a moment. Like fully-devoted to her a.m. affair. Rapid and swift. My head was spinning like a windmill, with flying cards and shots and funk tune notes striking the walls around me.  I could still hear the drum roll of the climax of Stairway to Heaven inside my oval head and little devils were still crossing inside from one end to another.  To tell you the truth it looked romantic for a while, and I wasn’t unhappy about it. As a matter of fact, it was kind of fun for as long as it lasted. I only hoped she didn’t mind whatsoever the obnoxious and fetid odours of my Peter Johnson as they spurted across the air and made it even more putrid. I was standing A la Superman, with cape and everything, in a decrepit room of one window and one door.  Meanwhile: Atoush el Balanti sat on a rusty wheelchair, left to rotten, by a patient-carer from Deir El Salib, and shielded by spider web and thick dust, with his head bent, his left eye half-shut, his nose semi-broken, and his lower lip in stitches caused by a tryst and a brawl. His lower lip looked like a structure held in place by the scaffold of wire in decay. The unrelenting screw rotated outward in an almost-mechanical fashion in spite of the predominant rift in the middle of the tiny lens, caused by a deliberate blow to the peephole of my door, a few months earlier. The entire artefact managed to come out unscathed.  To tell you the truth this was a temporary solution to stop curious by-standers to keep snooping on me. I had to unscrew the artefact and seal it with tape until further notice. A deliberate-act. My door was majestic. It stood out.   In cherry red. Glowing out, under a piercing sun, in our all-white-painted-houses neighborhood, in the outskirts of the city, that grew dimmer and hazier before me all the time. My house had two windows: A front-view one that looked on the main street, where Chiquitas and tape-vendors spent their languid Saturdays afternoon.  And a rear-view one where all the action happened.  My fav spot. I used to masturwait for hours on that spot. Amin, the locksmith, said: Your peephole is ready to serve. I looked through.  I said: no good. I can’t see a thing. It’s all blurry.  Everything on the other side looks blurry and revolting. He said: Step aside, sir. I did. He looked through it with a peculiar grin.  Moved back. Looked at me and said: “This is the only model we have.” I said: “No good. No-go! Am a photographer.  You can’t fool a photographer. For fucks sakes.” He budged. All the while Lucia was on her way out to her spacious balcony for some sun-bath.  The sun rays pierced her golden body like sewing pins on dungaree cloth. Istez Issam was on his way back home when some kids from the hood came his way and made fun of his bulging wig. He was the subject of daily pillory. He was in love, though, with Cecilia – an old Palestinian widow from the hood, who never went out. She had barricaded herself after her husband’s passing and swore never to see sun light again.  Ever. She used to say that her land had sunken like a ship and it was harder to find now. She stepped out of the shower and onto a random bar soap left on that random floor almost unhidden. She slipped and hit the back of her head on the bath tub ceramic edge side, as her forearm hooked the dangling cord of a random iron on her way, dropping the iron, which in turn smashed onto the hot water, electrocuting her hair first. A truc macabre. She shook like an Oriental belly-dancer in a frenzy on stage at the Parisiana.  Nawal was a stripper of a local breed -who did not find any purpose after the war. She was a big fan of karaoke nights and ice cream specially when feeling randy and on the look-out for some mutant gorilla on the loose, in the Jounieh Bay area. One of her fav pastimes was going to the Luna Park –a trendy amusement park at the time. That day she met Alejandro Jimenez, A Colombian diplomat of sorts on a mission in Beirut.  He had an Italian flare and wore green socks just for kicks.  This Alejo guy was a Bip-Bip of sorts. Always on the run.  And always late. He got in the back seat of the cab, dropped his sunglass in his jacket’s upper left side pocket and they in turn slipped through a sudden rip inside the jacket itself.  A truc macabre.  He spent the next fifteen minutes trying to get the specs back up and out. In vain.  He said: Stop the car! Stop the car! Came out and attempted on several occasions. Nothing. He fixed his stare at Im Elie -a lady having a double cheese burger inside a burger joint just across the street. Out of a sudden, her teeth came off as she took a bite. Shit! He thought. Am outta here. Paganini’s Devil Violinist was playing on the old car audio-stereo in decay. He had a line or two of blow as he left his warm apartment just an hour ago. Some folks around the corner were strumming an improvised version of Bob Dylan’s Knocking on Heaven’s Door in Arabic. A truc macabre.  Stonie was a hell of a guy: A cabbie like no other in Beirut.  He was obsessed with films and music of all genres and kinds. Owned a pug named Rambo just for kicks. And woke up to the Orchestral Suite of the Godfather-The Dream Part he had dubbed a few years ago via a friend who was a sound recordist. He puffed a Cuban cigar on Saturdays afternoon.  He had an adulation for Greta Garbo and Oum Kalsoum. Atoush Al Balanti -a random pax whom Stonie called Good-for-nothing, who was a regular take-me-to-lunch-kinda-guy, was either going to or from one. He was a talented mechanic, though, who owned a peacock named Stopyra and had two cats: One black and one white, who never spoke again, after Brazil lost to France in the quarter finals of 1986.  Stonie drove that cab past checkpoints and falling bombs. A war macabre. I was on the other end of the city blowing my Hubbly Bubbly and watching Alo Hayete on TV. The sound of the vacuum cleaner was so loud I had to yell at Fouad to stop it. He hoovered like a fencer.  She, on the other hand, was only fifteen at the time and had the tallest legs to stroll with. A walking Twin-Towers. She was the most ravishing kid around the hood. The truth of the matter is she was a yo-yo with a deep groove, and attached to my index with a see-through, transpicuous, and thin string a la Mario Puzo. Only she spun alternately forward and backward –instead of downward and upward. I used to unwind and rewind the string with a flick of my wrist –as it pleased me.  And I did all that often. I called it the yo-yo affair. To tell you the truth she was a fuck-prospect, for all I know. She was a bitch on the run. And I was a mutant gorilla on the loose. There was something peculiar about her cheeks.  Her buttocks that it: Oven-hot and almost as if freshly made. Oven-fresh. I used to love her tasty arm on my face and lips when she slept over. Her unusual recipe of the Pao de Queijo was my all-time favorite and she was a master-chef of the cheese bread par excellence. A love-affair. And she had an unusual and sporadic sex-appetite, that was uncommon and rare. The least I can say about her now is that she was rude and insolent with a whole array of bad manners to account for.  A spoiled-brat, so to speak.  She always got what she wanted. Her daily impertinence and rude behavior was a daily affair. A daily-act. Typical of her on a Monday morning and salient of her on a Friday afternoon. A week-long attitude backed by the long-lasting reputation of a business family she belonged to -with a reputation for impertinence, impudence and effrontery of their own. “He’s got a lot of cheek to say that to me!” She said.  The Westy camper was swooshing like a washing-machine with me and Little Sunshine inside. She sat on me for hours but looked at me in the eyes in one Trevi-Fountain second and said: A female elephant may physically encounter hundreds of other individuals in the course of her daily range. The individuals she meets will be related to her by different degrees, and known to her based on the frequency and the quality of their previous meetings and these factors will shape the nature and define the form of the relationship. An adult male, too, may meet and interact with hundreds of different individuals in the course of a day, though the type and nature of his relationships may be tempered by on his age and sexual state.  Some of the calls used by elephants are powerful low frequency vocalizations that carry over long distances. Elephant can recognize the voices of hundreds of other elephants from up to 2 kilometers away. That elephant-man had come back to his resting cave when he entered that hospital’s elevator in decay and pressed the second floor.  As he went up he pointed the gun’s barrel to his chest and shot himself to death.  A truc macabre. The elevator gradually came to a stand-still.  A random nurse with a random smirk directed her left arm slowly towards that shattered door and opened it in an abrupt fashion as the man slid on the back mirror leaving a red-velvet blood stain mark-patent on the surface, which reminded me when I was little I used to love sliding on the living room polished marble floor in my socks and fall over -head first, and crack my head open while at it.  The smell of blood gave me the shivers, back then. And still does.   I was a mutant gorilla on the loose. I was a cowboy on the run.   A brutal memory. A few paramedics rushed into the scene. The truth of the matter is I was waiting for a cousin of mine –who had broken what was left of his already broken nose, an hour earlier, trying to fix his TV antenna on top of his apartment building top floor, and skipping random sharp-shooters while at it. The poor chap fell head first and smashed his broken nose on the pavement. All the while, he was busy trying to impress some foxy nurse with a gorgeous-looking rack, and with an absurd, made-up argument: That the blasting noise of the trembling bullets that hit his and other apartment building rooftops, reminded him of Monk-Live-In-Paris-1965.  A repertoire-macabre. He never liked Jazz, for all I know. This old chap was a movie-theatre ticket clerk with no real purpose in life except to collect tickets and to pick up randy whores on the loose whenever he could afford it. He had no style.  No swagger. Let alone Mojo or some.  He was a random man.  A Beirut bastard. So, to speak.  Of many, the city despised and abhorred.  I parked my rover not far away from that Volkswagen camper of 1966 with a highly flashy neon light on top that read: Hot Prices in a fire ball and a front-side plate that read: I love sex, just for kicks. You could not miss other highly visual signs/stickers such as: Relax, sit on my face, motherfucker! Or Eat-Sleep-Kamasutra-Repeat, or my preferred-choice: Sex is like snow, you never know how long it will last, or how many inches. I Michael-Jacksoned my way to the half-way open camper door in penumbra. A cool-act. I wore my hair a la Capone just for kicks. A manly-act in 1976. It was more like a fashion statement, if you know what I mean. Then I thought to my-self:  What a sexy-looking machine that was. A Pick-up Westy of at least 11-windows or some that you could easily call a Bully. Little Sunshine-Vanessa-Fay-Rebecca-Carmen-Amar-Sam-Gina-Tala-Nina-Toya-Orly and Tracy were all inside with legs spread-open. “Spread, a little more love! Come on! And don’t be shy about it!” Joujou, the camper-pimp said.  Of course, he meant ladies it’s time you show off your strapless cap.  Your strawless lid. A truc macabre. Stonie wore a Machiavellian smile and fashioned a Cobra Shades just like the ones Stallone wore as Marion Cobretti in Cobra, 1986.  The truth of the matter is this guy looked more like a train-ticket conductor or inspector with a twist, for all I know. He looked like a mutant gorilla on the run.  And not even close to what a member of an elite division called Zombie Squad looked like. A truc macabre.  After a moment, he panned his head appearing entirely as a more recent version of the black drummer in Youtube Bill Withers’ Ain’t No Sunshine, with a grin. He looked up from his tiny, half-open, smoke-twirling-window and said: Hello Mr. Ruggles, am Stonie.  Welcome to Lebanon. The Switzerland of the East. Wesley Ruggles – was an accomplished and prominent American photojournalist.  He got in the back seat of the white Peugeot 504 and smiled all the way to the Commodore Hotel in Hamra. Stonie looked at his customer adjusting himself in the back seat, as he got in, on the rear-view mirror and said: Our country is the best place if you wish to take on the challenge of surfing and skiing on the same day. There’s no particular way to do it – some prefer to hit the waves early in the morning and end the day with a cup of mulled wine after a great ski or snowboard session; others prefer to hit the slopes in the morning and watch the sunset from Ain El Mraisse on West End, after catching some waves. It’s really up to you, Mr. Ruggles. You decide.  I leave it up to you. Wesley Ruggles grinned.  He wasn’t much of a talker, if you know what I mean.  He nodded affirmatively to all the words Stonie shot at him.  Lester Young Stardust – 1952 was coming out of the radio. Soft and easy. Let me tell ya a story.  Stonie said:  Two families were arguing in a field about where the boundary between their lands lay.  The dispute dated back a long time and blood had been shed a number of times.  A boy, a child of some eight or nine years, picked up a stick and drew a line in the earth.  When asked what he was doing, he said he was marking the boundary as it had been agreed at the last round of negotiation, long before he was born.  His father asked him how he knew this, and the boy replied that he was the reincarnation of a man the father had killed in the feud.  When the child revealed details of the shooting that only the dead man and his killer could have known, his father embraced his former adversary who was now his son. Both families wanted the feud to end.  It had been costly in terms of lives, and all were seeking a way out of a resumption of hostilities.  After a long drive and a prolonged silence, Wesley Ruggles said: Take to me to the Green Line. Now.  Militias around West Beirut were a spectacle not to be missed.  A daily-affair. They rode Jeeps as if they were riding horses. Ski-nautique, once heard someone say. Their rituals comprised life as it happened on the eve of the end of the world. For all I know.  Ruggles was a modern-times Dziga Vertov, with a movie camera.  He was a prompt man.  Never late to a meeting or a date and had a subtle way of complaining to chefs about mediocre meals at restaurants. He was an homme d’affaires. He was a lean, mean fighting-machine that would not have anything be used to his disadvantage.  And for some unknown reason always wore black.  From head to bottom. No matter what. He was a distinctive soul with an Italian flare. A lady’s man. No doubt about it.  The Lebanese Rambo –or the subject of his piece, was in place in the smashed part of the city.  Surely on the demarcation line in Down Town. Pre-disposed and ready.  He was a robust, broad-shouldered and extremely serious fella. A War-Junkie. A visual spectacle par excellence, so to speak.  A local hero of sorts.  A Stallone-look-a-like, whose physical transformation was evident and clear indication that Post-Vietnam American War films and more specifically Rambo films of the 1980s, made a huge impression on him, to the extent he -and possibly others, eventually transmuted into Rambo himself. That prompted folks like Wesley Ruggles and others to come to Beirut to have a closer look. A truc macabre. The truth of the matter is the local Rambo did not like or fancy Rambo.  He became Rambo: The man himself.  A rare case of a man who becomes another.  A copy of an original, so to speak -who is eventually rejected! Wesley Ruggles told the local Rambo to look away as he took pictures of him. The others did just the same. But these two worked as an ensemble-together:  A photo session followed by a video session.  The whole spectacle ensued in a surreal war-inspired open-air studio, in the heart of the city. A war-triggered art installation under the piercing sun for hours: The local Rambo loved to be photographed and Ruggles, well, yeah consequently, loved to be the producer of the images. A love-affair of sort. Zeina Salem –A gorgeous-looking local news producer –they all look gorgeous at the times- stood near-by.  She took some photos of her own. There is something arrogant about him. She thought. Ruggles spent hours with his subjects. He was a war-junkie himself. Up until February 6, 1984 greater Beirut was under the control of the government. On that day, the Lebanese army was forced to withdraw from the West side of the city, which again came under the control of militias and political groups opposed to the government.  The truth of the matter is that these men in the framework of war seemed wired to invade and conquer with glory being the primary objective. The key takeaway is that none of these displays bear any significance if there is no audience to play to. Some folks stood by. Some others from a far stared and marveled.  The Lebanese Rambo had this funny approach: Rambo fights in the films, I, on the other hand, am real.  I drove my Rover with my two dazzling companions:  Zeina Salem by my side and well, yeah Paul Desmond and his Quartet-1954 coming out of the radio.  Soft and easy. The meeting with Ruggles was set at the demarcation line just for kicks.  Part of the war-thrill encounters he was after.  We compromised. I still remember the first time I met Wesley Ruggles. He gave the impression he was a temperamental actor having to do retakes.  Non-stop. But Rambo was not the real reason for Ruggles to fly down here. Rambo was inconsequential.  A slight- story.  Wesley Ruggles was in Beirut for completely different reasons: The Plugged-Sniper of Beirut. Random boys stood-still as a lady-photographer took some pictures of a random Palestinian commander who sat between two low-ranking officers close-by. Sit-still! She said -as she released her film camera’s release button.  They all look like ancillaries. The main character was wearing black shades. A la Marion Cobretti.  And a black beret crowned his head, which provided him with immediate identifying qualities, in addition to his physical position in relation to the others which emphasized his authority.  His face seemed expressionless due to various props it displayed. Masculinized by his obvious mustache.  A gendering-trope.  We had Peaches, prosciutto, burrata, mint, pistachios with honey and white balsamic vinegar drizzle on top with white wine all afternoon.  Zeina Salem said “The commander looks older than the back-standing militiamen.  They are all in uniform in a near-battle field/zone position.  They are dressed for war. But not enacting it.  They look masculine and yet the kitten adds that softness touch to Brando’s character in this specific re-interpretation which is by no means intended.” She paused for a second and then resumed “I have the perception that the producer of the image herself did not know whether the commander was trying to imitate “The Godfather” character or not.”  The focal point of the mise-en-scene was a white kitten the commander held with his right hand, which he didn’t seem to care for.  He held it with cool passiveness.  The photographer was able to frame the kitten occupying a lower position.  His bodyguard stood on both sides: The one who stood to his right looked away. Showing disinterest or confusion.  He carried a machine-gun pointing upward.  He wore a military uniform with magazine holders strapped all around him.  His flexed right arm differed from the left arm that rested by his standing body.  On the opposite left side of the commander, there sat another militiaman who gazed straight at him.  He was more interested it seems on the commander’s next act than on the photographer’s consequent actions. I thought to myself.  The cat in hand was very significant.  The way the main combatant held the kitten was domineering, almost like a chokehold, a threat. This served the purpose of making him seem uncaring and hardened by the war. A power move that was even more amplified by the presence of his goons at his sides. Then I thought: He appears to be copying Marlon Brando’s opening scene in Godfather, 1972. A truc macabre.  Zeina Salem was a ravishing Capricorn -unleashed.  I was entangled immediately.  I tried to keep up with her interpretation and responded in kind: “The house in the background reflects the living conditions of its inhabitants.  If any, at all.  It is a relaxed moment. I think.   A break from the exhaustive instants of combat.  They are all facing the camera somehow.  The commander is surrounded by his guards. They look at him or the people around him for security reasons.  The commander’s unintentional pursuit of conflating his military might with that of a mafia boss is evident.  He pretends to demystify him somehow by acting out a “real” version of a representational power.” After a long silence, she looked at me and said: “Rumor has it that the cat held by Brando, in the opening scene of Godfather was a stray, the actor found while on the lot at Paramount, and was not originally called for in the script.  So content was the cat, that its purring muffled some of Brando’s dialogue, and, as a result, most of his lines had to be looped.” We both sniggered and had a toast. To tell you the truth, the Palestinian commander, being the main mantelpiece of this scene, deserves more attention.  His face is cold and gives nothing away which is mostly attributed to his dark tinted glasses. As the eyes are the windows to the soul, this accessory is a very strategic affront on the mere possibility of conveying emotion. This skipper has taken all of the precautions to shield himself from being perceived as anything but masculine. He is a lean, mean fighting-machine that will not have anything be used to his disadvantage. The truth of the matter is that the three-armed war veterans whose placements clearly exemplify the power dynamics at play, looked invincible. The one in the center is decidedly the head of the group surrounded by two subordinate officers who, while authoritative, rank lower than him or at least submit to him. One is looking vacantly into the far left of the camera in slight amusement. The other henchman is seated on the bottom right of the frame looking directly at the head of the leader as if awaiting his signal, his every beck and call. The hierarchy is very blatant here. Zeina said: “These images remind me of Nick Ut’s “Accidental Napalm” photograph as the defining image of the Vietnam War because that little girl will not go away, despite many attempts at forgetting. War photographs are frozen moments in war-time. I freeze what I see.  It’s not what you see.  It’s what I see.  It’s my truth.  It’s not the truth.  It’s my eye.  It’s the way I saw it with a specific lens, with a specific light.  You wouldn’t have seen it the same way.” The Vietnam war ended in the same month, the Lebanese Civil war had started.  A clear dissolve. Beirut, once a hide-out, where coup d’états, political assaults, espionage and even felony could be planned, where financial deals, bank transactions, and international trade could be brokered, was alas! a ravaged city. Disfigured and ultimately forsaken. During a shelling of the town, an almost wasted, Wesley Ruggles raised a glass of Bordeaux and said: “You’re Lebanese? You’re lucky! You have a war, you have something to live for! We have nothing back home.” I think that hadn’t we had a war; we would have died slowly. War had renewed us. The war sound kept coming in and out of my head, and a couple was still fucking inside a tiny yellow Fiat not far away from where I was standing.  A mechanical undertaking.  Not much emotion/commotion at play except for their intense sexual collaboration.  A deliberate, indecent exposure.   It did not take me long to realize that angels were standing in cue at the entrance of a crumbling city: Dilapidated and decrepit. Partly broken, partly rotten, and partly forgotten. For years, I was a war junkie in Beirut.  Out of nowhere, a crowded jeep of militiamen stopped and disembarked.  They all looked like Knights subpoenaed by the monarch who was pissed and drunk and tired. For a moment, they all looked irritated and pissed off. A sort of a fashion insignia they all displayed just for kicks. A war-affair. Hip and ceremonial. Then, they began to disperse along the sidewalk in zigzag, with machine guns and RPGs pointing upward.  Their beards, long and unpleasant, pointing downward.  And their self-esteem half-way in between. They all came for the cut.  The King’s cut. The truth of the matter is the King Salon was the hippest place in town. A classic spot. A royal den.  The cosmopolitan centre of Beirut. So, to speak.  Everybody was there.  A meeting place for spies, including Kim Philby and Archie Roosevelt, and CIA men such as Miles Copeland as well as journalists of the caliber of John Chancellor and Sulzberger. Numerous diplomats and politicians, business tycoons and oil Sheikhs, they all mixed with oil and banking tycoons of the day molding the clientele of this classic establishment.  A royal place.  During the 50’s and even early 70’s the plots, the deals, and the stories that came out of this famous barbershop in Beirut were gripping. Plots and counter-plots, stretching over a quarter of a century echoed and re-echoed inside, every time.   Rumor has it, many incidents which helped to shape and re-shape Middle Eastern history are associated with the Salon: The attempt to overthrow King Hussein of Jordan, for instance. It was partially destroyed in the Two-Year war, but it was totally re-erected and managed to preserve its heyday reputation for a while.   I used to come here when I was little.  My dad was a big fan of this room.  He used to call it his part-time office. A place to chill. A room where you could conduct business as usual without the hassle of the real workplace. A place you didn’t call a café for prestige and yet it was almost one. The tea they served was splendid and kingly. And ladies used to stay out on the sidewalk just for thrills, with the hope to catch heartthrobs on the loose. I went out with a new hair-cut. The King’s cut. I was the King’s Knight for the night.  I kick-started my bike and cruised for a while. A poet on tour.  Roaming the city.  Looking for a one-night stand. Or at least what appears to be.  I saw a solitary figure standing on a random spot.  A black woman with an Afro.  It was perfect.  She jumped me on the highway the time it took me to give her a ride home.  A truc macabre. I pressed the number nine inside the elevator of my apartment building.  I was tired and wired. As the elevator began to go up it suddenly stopped.  I was alone. And forgotten for a while.  Dangling by a cord. Forsaken.  Maybe.  I masturwaited the hour. Power was restored and I made it to my apartment safely. Minutes later the phone rang.  It was her.  She said: Baby, are you craving me tonight.  The next thing I know I have couple of Lesbians over slurping my bacon bazooka just for kicks. A royal act. Worthy of enjoyment with what I called decent music: I used to play Stevie Wonder’s Superstition really loud on my Marshall speakers in decay. A ritual of old fun-days when I was young, full of sperms, and needs and itches. The funny part –though, is that I always experienced something peculiar in that very moment. Hard to explain and yet I saw the trailer of my own life lived, projected on the facing wall.  I reminisced about past affairs and was transfixed by a lingering memory of a blow job as well as a highly visual fuck-climax. Vivid and highly pictorial.  Cheers! They both said. As they both poured all the wine content glittering in penumbra upon my bacon bazooka.  It looked like a copper fall unleashing. Unceasing. A truc macabre.   A royal act. Three was company.  Beirut was a junkyard of scrap metal and waste back then.  A place for sub-humans and android-machines on the run. BB 62 opened fire and hit some targets on the outskirts of the city. Rumors has it the bomb shells were all empty. As the American destroyer showered guerilla positions in Souk el Gharb, I was firing my own cannon all over the Lesbians scattered along enemy lines inside my dim room. A supreme act. A simultaneous-affair. Many years later, I had a similar experience when I was shagging this Pilipino –gurl- in a random hotel in Jounieh, just for kicks, while watching the final of the World Cup in 2010. I still remember cumming inside her mouth at the exact moment Iniesta was kicking the ball inside the Netherland finish line.  A glorious-victorious moment.  The Lesbians just loved the feeling of a revolver barrel inside them. A truc macabre. A regal tactic of enormous after-effect.  For some reason, they used to revere the freshly fired metal tube with both frame and cylinder inside. I stood there. Earnest and ceremonial in my act.  Viewing the trailer of my life on the facing wall of my dim room, and watching my bacon bazooka in constant spa-treatment mode. Graceful and yet unpretentious. The afternoon rushed in like a Belgian train in mid-voyage, that never made it on time. I dreamed of flatbread pizza, in the wasteland. Reminisced about my last, fast-paced failed love-affair and my futile attempt at piano lessons. We laughed, as we talked and killed the hours away. We imagined moments-to-be. Mostly naked. For some strange reason, they both loved to be touched on their forehead. A women-thing.  On their eye-brows to be exact.  The truth of the matter is that they both were willing to try new things –in private. My type of women.  Alone and crazy. A mind-type. Affectionate, and calm on the outside, and yet crazy and freaky on the inside. To tell you the truth I pretended I read more books than they both presumed I did. I wrestled with my own thoughts and delusions.  Concealed my deeper feelings and idiosyncrasies -in the midst of our talk. A Gemini-kind-of-thing.   I was after their strapless lid. What else do you expect: One of the few remaining standard activities in Dystopia.  I fucked them both for a while and I got kind of bored afterwards.  The truth of the matter is I completely lost interest in them.  Soon after, I found my next victim. A young, fresh psychology graduate with a healthy appetite for sex and a delightful fashion-style that managed to trigger my bacon bazooka, back. This next fuck-affair kept rolling for more than we both expected. She was the kind of girl who would do anything to satisfy you.  I acted in kind. I used a proactive approach with her, for as long as it lasted. She was worth the try: Worth every single sperm I spared on her lower and upper abdomen. And well, yeah often times on her breasts and her cute, funny face.  A truc macabre. She loved to be chased after -for sex. She loved BJs as much. And she used to brag about it in public.  A few weeks later, I found out she was sleeping with a couple of other guys from around the block, for subsistence. Good for her. She was a practical kid, with lots of love to spare. I lit my Jimmy and made some smoke rings with my mouth, for my own amusement, that is. She showered.  Poured herself a drink. Walked all the way to my bed, completely naked.  She, then, army-crawled my entire body without a word.  Once, fully up and facing me, she said with her typical intense voice: Impress me with your brains. I played a VHS tape I had borrowed from an old pal, of Greta Garbo’s Anna Karenina -1935- in decay. Well, yeah, to try to impress her with my cultural background and shit.  The perfect artefact for a late evening binge. A truc macabre. The glitches and hiccups of the shivering images of Greta Garbo on the TV screen, did not corrupt the actress’s royal flare. What a Dame! I thought. What an ass! I thought in sequence. As I took turns looking at both the screen and the new chick’s naked, flattened body shimmering in the dark, and glowing like a sea-urchin in the deep. And I thought to myself: They don’t make them like this anymore. Sublime and Heavenly. A Regal act. Of course, I was talking about the chick’s ass. What else. I mean, the truth of the matter is she was lying right before my own eyes to see: Face down with a few hours to spare. And I was hungry. Endlessly famished. I was after her strawless lid.  I crawled on the bed and once in position I sucked her strapless lid for hours. I grinned. Placed my half-consumed Jimmy on the Buddha-ashtray I had from my old days in Kamasutra-training in New Delhi. I decided to burn my bacon bazooka inside her fire place. We fucked the night away.  Like two little kids grounded in confinement.  Her spark was her climax. Unequal. Pristine and immaculate.  The e-streets below and around me were dim and vacant. Cold and bare. I took off.  Had to: I zigzagged my way to the Demarcation Line, past sandbags and burning silhouettes of e-cars, in falloff. A conspicuous tactic that I deployed every time to avoid unleashed android-snipers on the loose.  Whether someone or something conforms to customary patterns or deviates from them depends on one’s point of view: Behind the concepts of normality and abnormality is the assumption that there is a single standard by which to judge everything. What may be normal to one group, however, may be unacceptable to another. I had the same Walkman on, with the same headphones arching the same oval head I displayed for a thousand times at the frontline. A truc macabre. I played Monk Live in Paris 1964 every time.  Every day. Non-stop. It was more like a frontline pursuit for kicks. A Grotesque business. A reel replayed the same white 1979 Super-Beetle Cabriolet stopping right there in the middle of nowhere, over and over again.  A loop in one act.  Its occupiers looked like soul reapers with scythes, when out of a sudden, they revealed their hidden arms and fired in all directions. At the end of which, the white Beetle stood-still, in complete stillness. Technically, a malware. Once at the frontline, in total stillness, and in complete silence/quiet: I heard the remote air of a lullaby looping the same word stuck in reverse. I was surrounded by eccentric structures –which stood tall beholding my own state of incongruity. I stood almost mortified in the middle of the battleground, in silence.  Out of a thick, almost-mythical mist, a machine gun emerged and finally rested on my forehead. I stood-still.  Did not utter a word for an entire minute. A strange haze shrouded my eyesight. I still remember my counter-part’s brimmed-shape, white Panama hat, silk shirt, striped pants and his green suspenders. A distinctive act. He looked like a model taken out of a GQ magazine. I still remember when he looked at me for the last time and said: Learn how to cook and spend less.  Save time and have sex more often. The sound of my camera release bottom re-echoed in the stillness of that barren place, bouncing off the empty, worn-out, and shattered walls around me. On that crispy autumn day, and somewhere in town, The Red Prince carried a pistol holstered in brown leather and worn on his hip a la Clint Eastwood. He was a playboy alright, on his final rave. He was in a convoy of two Chevi station wagons heading from Georgina’s flat to his mother’s, for a birthday party. Chambers was on her balcony painting, and her red Beetle parked below on Rue Verdun.  As Salameh’s convoy passed that red wagon at 3:35 pm and turned onto Rue Madam Curie, a hundred Kilos of explosives attached to the car by a Mossad agent was remotely detonated either by Chambers herself or on her signal to another Mossad agent. They did not mistake him this time. A truc macabre.  The blast left Salameh conscious, but severely wounded and in great pain, having pieces of steel shrapnel embedded in his head and throughout his body.  He was rushed to The American University of Beirut Hospital, where he died on the operating table at 4:03 pm. Salameh’s four bodyguards and four bystanders were also killed, and at least 16 people were injured.  I was on the other end of town, with Mario Garcia having some Single malt whisky, in some random bar, surrounded by Frenchies at the moment of the blast.  The air turned purple and crowds rushed in to get the latest news from an old, dusty radio inside. You could feel the heat of the day in full armor. Hours later, I was sitting at my fav round table in the kitchen back at home when the telephone reechoed.  A voice –on the other end of the line said: I miss you, my baby. Shall I come over? I grinned.  I said: No.  I’m tired. We read countless pages of Gabo’s Hundred Years of Solitude, in Spanish, together, and ended up shagging a couple of times before going to bed.  We massacred solitude.  A masterful act. Luciana stayed way into the night.  She had a special homemade flatbread pizza formula for kicks, which she experimented with, when over. The fun part: I improvised most of the toppings from leftovers and a sauce I had on the side for the occasion. We had some slices of pizza, with red wine. I concede she did all the maintenance required and left before sunrise. A ballerina in her finest hour. Next morning, I drove my e-Rover to the frontline -like a student in love, on his second day of school.  Out of nowhere, A fighter pointed his machine gun to my temple, and said: Do not move. That day, I met Mario Garcia on the frontline. He came with cash to burn – a fleet of airplanes and a keen eye for French-speaking ladies. He had a crowd of bodyguards with him, just for kicks.  A business man of some sort looking for some prospects in the middle of a farcical war with no-end.  He was a bit of a ghost down here.  Nobody saw him.  Nobody knew him. He stayed in the prominent Achrafieh area for convenience.  “The safest part of Beirut,” he’d say. The sound of my camera release bottom re-echoed over and over again in the stillness of that barren place, bouncing off the empty, worn-out, and shattered walls around me. Chambers was on her balcony painting, and her red Beetle parked below on Rue Verdun.  As Salameh’s convoy passed that red wagon at 3:35 pm and turned onto Rue Madam Curie, a hundred Kilos of explosives attached to the car by a Mossad agent was remotely detonated either by Chambers herself or on her signal to another Mossad agent. They did not mistake him this time. A truc macabre.  The blast left Salameh conscious, but severely wounded and in great pain, having pieces of steel shrapnel embedded in his head and throughout his body. He was rushed to The American University of Beirut Hospital, where he died on the operating table at 4:03 pm. Salameh’s four bodyguards and four bystanders were also killed, and at least 16 people were injured.  I was on the other end of town, with Wesley Ruggles and Zeina Salem taking countless shots of The Plugged-Sniper of Beirut -who walked no more than thirty steps to his rifle.  Fired some shots at random crossers –who crossed from one side to the other every time and walked back to his seat to smoke cigars and drink single malt whisky all day. A Chaplin-like puppet of sorts.  A war junkie. A mutant gorilla on the run. A member of an elite division called the Zombie Squad. Why do you do it ? Ruggles asked him. The Plugged-Sniper of Beirut looked back at him after a long pause and said: I’m shooting people.  Ruggles perplexed asked: But why? The Plugged-Sniper of Beirut said: They pay me twenty five Lebanese Pounds (for the head) for every person I kill. Ruggles asked again: How do they know how many you’ve killed?  At that point, The Plugged-Sniper of Beirut got pissed because of Ruggles disrespectful remarks. Dropped his rifle and said: Ain’t I an honest man? The air turned purple and crowds rushed in to get the latest news from an old, dusty radio inside. You could feel the heat of the day in full armor.  My counter-part –still pointing his machine gun at my temple, was in a chill mood. He grinned at the end of his act and said: Hasta La Vista, Baby. Some chap in green was swaying by the rear hatch: Blow jobs were a standing-affair. And expensive ones too. He had his bacon bazooka inserted through the hatch and a gorgeous-looking Chiquita was taking good care of it.  If you know what I mean. A manly-act.  “Check the menu, man.” A voice behind me said. To tell you the truth, I was randy and so I did. I ordered a Doggy, The Om, A G-Whiz, a couple of Magic Mountains and topped them all with the Pinball Wizard. Wine-a-Go-Go was on the house and so it sounded like a good plan to save the night. Little Sunshine –my night-pick, was all I could afford that eve. She reminded me of Natasha, an old fuck-buddy from the college days, and so, all played down well. She mostly sat with legs bent or leaning back on her hand and forearms. My starter-act was The Chairman: A grinding position if you were after deep and abysmal penetration. Having your Chiquita kiss your shoulders and your neck all the while you played with her nipples was a cool act.  I did that on multiple occasions. She looked me in the eyes and said: Comeme, Puto. She loved to speak Spanish while at it.  A sexy-act. It made her randy. Of course, a sex toy made the whole experience worth the try. I loved manual stimulation. And so she did use one. Sex on wheels was electrifying. Unlike any other mobile experience: Now, don’t ask me why do it. Sometimes a man gotta do what he gotta do.  And gotta go where he gotta go. There is no point in arguing. That simple. I was a Rambo on the run: with a sex pistol on the loose. What a sexy looking machine that was. I mean look at that: I heard someone say that Volkswagen made nearly 3 million Type 2 models during the 51-year production lifespan. The Type 24 had a dashboard that included a speedometer, warning lights for oil pressure, main headlight beam and indicators. The fuel gauge was an option. There is a release knob that activates 1.1 gallons of reserve fuel to be added to the tank. That one in particular had a middle seat which is rather rare as most were removed to carry additional cargo.  She rubbed her strapless lid in a circular fashion with some Thai oil I had in store, using her left hand, and sitting back in the bunker of her bed, with her cherry-red lips squeezing a hard, spicy and fired-up Jimmy on the loose, that looked more like a German Hindenburg caught on fire attempting to dock on her scrumptious lips and she did all that with the elasticity of a gazelle in premonition of a fuck-up. Of an imminent death. A cruel act.  She looked me in the eyes and said: Last time I fucked six guys at the same time.  I don’t really know where does this obsession with sex come from.  I am talking about my own. I guess, and irrevocably, Freud was so right. Life was built round tension and pleasure. And all that build-up of libido I needed to discharge, somehow.  To release interminably. Curiously, she did not fuck me as much as I wanted to.  She was more of a mouth-inserter. Just like a baby who gets much satisfaction from putting all sorts of things in its mouth to satisfy her libido. She used to come to my place famished: And eat whatever she found in my tiny, little wagon with an engine.  She devoured ravenously and greedily what was left of a turkey and mashed potatoes I had saved for a lonesome afternoon and drank up all the beer cans standing proud and eerie in the deep of my light box. She did all that with the motivation of a fifteen-year old novice-cheerleader.  She sat back on my bunker of her bed and watched a silent black and white TV movie on an old TV set in decay, mute. A regal act.  Worthy of a pictorial endeavor a la Salvador Dali.  She was high.  I was drunk. The truth of the matter is she loved to sit back in the bunker of her bed and spit at her strawless lid, and scrub her strapless cap repeatedly, using her left hand, like there was no tomorrow, and drink wine all afternoon and part of the night.  And she did all that not far away from the Demarcation Line in no-man zone.  She was 15 and I was the luckiest bastard in West Beirut. The memory of that fuck-up kept bouncing off the walls of my place like a stress ball in distress. Marlon Brando once couldn’t get it up. It was shameful and everything but I guess it was ok. She loved the feeling of a revolver barrel inside her. She used to revere the freshly fired metal tube with both frame and cylinder inside.  A regal tactic of enormous after-effect. One day and out of the blue, we decided to meet: In other words, to go out for a change. Greta Garbo’s was a warm and cozy brasserie outside Beirut, which had turned into a scrapyard. It was the perfect meeting-place for a Saturday afternoon wine A-Go-Go. The place was not crowded, as we expected. She came out of the android-Uber with a Latin flare, as we had agreed. Hard to explain if you didn’t have it in the first place.  I stood there. Earnest and ceremonial in my act. Looking at her royal-paced walk in euphoria. She walked my way the seventeen steps it took her to face me and kiss me on both cheeks and said: I missed you, my Pacino. Graceful and yet unpretentious. Her holy-halo leaked elements of light, spilling radiant and shiny bright as she moved forward.  That afternoon rushed in like a Belgian train in mid-voyage, that never made it on time.  We talked about flatbread pizza, her next mobile cinema project, in Dystopia. About her last, fast-paced failed love-affair and her attempt at piano lessons.  I listened, mostly.  For practical reasons. -A wisdom I had acquired in recent years, which had saved me plenty of time and effort and appetite. We had a couple of jumpy-chicken salads and local wine. Fresh and flavorsome. We laughed, as we talked about almost everything and nothing, and managed, gracefully, to kill the hour away. We both imagined moments-to-be, simultaneously. Mostly naked. For some strange reason, she loved to be touched on her forehead. A regal act of a woman on fire. On her eye-brows to be exact. She was the classic example of someone who knows what she wants and knows how to get it right away.  A negotiator, if you know what I mean. Willing to try new things –in private. My type of chick. Affectionate, and calm on the outside, and yet crazy and freaky on the inside. A mind-type. And believe it or not I was her perfect match. A sophisticated flirt in my own right: A wild and well-traveled and fearless Latino lover by birthright.  To tell you the truth I pretended I read more books than she presumed I did. A manly-affair.  I wrestled with my own thoughts and delusions as the afternoon got away. I concealed most of my inner feelings and idiosyncrasies -in the midst of our talk. A Gemini-kind-of-affair. I was after her strapless lid. What else.  One of the few remaining standard activities in Dystopia. The truth of the matter is we fucked for a while and I got kind of bored with her afterwards. I completely lost interest in her. A guy- thing –so to speak. But her healthy appetite for sex and her delightful fashion-style triggered my bacon bazooka, back. And the fuck-affair kept rolling for more than we both expected. She was the kind of a girl who would do anything to satisfy you.  I acted in kind. I used a proactive approach with her, for as long as it lasted.  She was predictable, but was worth the try, though. Worth every single sperm I spared on her lower and upper abdomen. And well, yeah often times on her tits and her cute, and funny face. I mean, why not. I had nothing to lose. I was a cowboy on the run.  She loved to be chased after -for sex. And after sex. She loved BJs as much, and she used to brag about it in public. A truc macabre.  A few weeks later, I found out she was sleeping with a couple of other guys from around the block, for subsistence, and with some big shot of sorts, as well.  A playboy –so to speak. Loaded with guns and green.  Good for her. She was a practical kid, with lots of love to spare. And lots of ambition. I fired up my gorgeous-looking Jimmy and made some smoke rings with my mouth, for my own amusement, that is. And that lasted for quite a while. She had a shower: Poured herself a drink, and walked slowly the seventeen steps, all the way to my bed, completely naked.  Next, she crawled my entire body like a wounded, and moaning soldier on the frontline. Once, fully on top and facing me, she said with her typical intense voice: Impress me with your brains. It occurred to me, and I played a VHS tape I had borrowed from an old chum, of Greta Garbo’s Anna Karenina 1935, in decay. Well, yeah, to try to impress her with my cultural backdrop and shit.  The perfect artefact for a late evening binge. A truc macabre, so to speak.  The glitches and hiccups of the shivering images of Greta Garbo on the old TV set screen, did not corrupt the actress’s royal flare. What a Dame! I thought. What an ass! I thought in sequence. As I took turns looking at both the screen and the Chiquita’s naked, greasy, and flattened body shimmering in the dark, and glowing like a sea-urchin in the deep. And I thought to myself: They don’t make round asses like this anymore. Sublime and holy. The truth of the matter is she was lying right before my own eyes to see: Face-down with a few hours to spare, and I was shit sex-hungry. Infinitely famished. I was after her strawless lid. Her strapless cap.  It was my turn to crawl all over her and once in position I slurped her strapless lid for hours. Out of a sudden, I decided to burn my bacon bazooka inside her fireplace. A regal act.  We fucked for hours. Like two little kids grounded inside their tiny, little school for the weekend, in solitary confinement.  Her final spark was her peculiar climax. Unequal. Unusual.  One of a kind.  Pristine and immaculate.  The street below, stretched, tall and empty, kept shifting shadows and light as the clock ticked and the seconds died forever. I took off.  Had to: I zigzagged my way to the Demarcation Line, past sandbags and burning silhouettes of cars, in fall-off. A conspicuous tactic that I deployed every time to avoid unleashed android-snipers on the loose.  Whether someone or something conforms to customary patterns or deviates from them depends on one’s point of view: Behind the concepts of normality and abnormality is the assumption that there is a single standard by which to judge everything. What may be normal to one group, however, may be unacceptable to another. I had the same Walkman on, with the same headphones arching the same epic oval head –of mine- I displayed for a thousand times at the frontline. Every time.  A truc macabre. I played Monk Live in Paris 1964 every time.  Every day. Every hour. Non-stop. It was more like a frontline pursuit, just for kicks. A Grotesque-act of reverie.  A snow-white 1979 Super-Beetle Cabriolet stopped right there in the middle of nowhere, just a few steps from the line.   I couldn’t identify any of its occupants –who wore ceremonial masks, just for kicks. The truth of the matter is they all looked like soul-reapers with scythes.  Next, they revealed their hidden and nasty-looking arms and fired up abruptly in all directions for at least seven random minutes. At the end of which, the snow-white Beetle stood-still in complete stillness. Suddenly, that tiny little wagon was showered and hammered countless times with all sorts of ammo. An RPG sealed its fate, turning them and the vehicle into a burning chunk of metal and flesh. A suicidal undertaking. An eccentric haze shrouded my eyesight. That day, I met the iconic Wesley Ruggles on the Demarcation Line in Downtown Beirut. A day-to-remember. I was surrounded by eccentric structures –which stood tall beholding my own state of incongruity. I stood almost mortified in the middle of the forlorn battleground, in quiet.  Out of a thick, almost-mythical mist, a machine gun re-surfaced and finally rested on my temple.  Pristine and Immaculate.  I stood-still.  Did not utter a word for an entire Trevi-Fountain second. I still remember that cowboy’s brimmed-shape-white-Panama-hat, silk shirt, striped pants and his green suspenders. A distinctive and manly act. He looked like an older fashion model from GQ magazine. I still remember when he looked at me for the last time and said: Learn how to cook and spend less, save time and have sex more often. The noise of my camera release bottom echoed and re-echoed in the stillness of that barren place, bouncing off the empty, worn-out, and shattered walls and streets around me. On that cool Winter-day and somewhere in another part of town, The Red Prince carried a pistol holstered in brown leather and worn on his hip a la Clint Eastwood. He was a playboy alright, on his way to his final rave. He was in a two-Chevi station wagons convoy heading from Georgina’s flat to his mother’s, for a birthday party. Chambers was on her balcony, graciously painting, and her sinister red Beetle was parked right below on Rue Verdun.  As Salameh’s convoy passed that red wagon at 3:35 pm and turned onto Rue Madam Curie, a hundred Kilos of explosives attached to the car by a Mossad agent was remotely detonated either by Chambers herself or on her signal to another Mossad agent. They did not mistake him this time. A truc macabre.  The blast left Salameh conscious, but severely wounded and in great pain, having pieces of steel shrapnel embedded in his head and throughout his body.  He was rushed to The American University of Beirut Hospital, where he died on the operating table at 4:03 pm. Salameh’s four bodyguards and four bystanders were also killed, and at least 16 people were injured.  I was on the other end of town, with Wesley Ruggles sipping some single malt whisky, in some random bar, surrounded by Frenchies at the moment of the blast.  The air had turned purple and a crowd rushed in on an empty street. You could feel the heat of the day in full armor.  “We’re out of condoms, sir” said a muffled voice behind the counter.  It had started to rain and I was already overtly provoked and ready for Yasmine, as she waited in the solitude of that apartment in Sodeco.  I was only nineteen at the time, had memorized the entire First Act of The Birthday Party for a purpose, was semi-high and had impressed my Mass Communication professor just that very morning on what made the news: The dog who bites the woman or the woman who bites the dog.  My wallet was emptied and as I reached for a lighter placed candidly on that rustic shelf, I remembered: Wine! The bottle of wine that she had ordered.  I was keen on bringing bottles of wine to my heated one-nights.  I knew that this was nothing but another hit and run and she was to turn into another of my victims.  I don’t feel sorry for her.  She had used me in the past and so it was my way of getting even.  It was a sort of payback.  Just like that time when my bestie fucked another bestie and I had to put up with it.  Only time brought me justice. When I fucked her ex-wife just for fun. And Am in no position to brag about it.  To tell you the truth, she was most probably under age, and I am talking about Yasmine, of course. But she had been impressed by my poor acting and most likely my Latin stage presence.  She would call me Pacino –for some weird, unstated reason. And I liked it. I used to call her Frenchie.  My immediate purpose was to make it to the car. That’s for sure.  You guessed it: My Rover. I was high.  I was drunk.  Beirut looked like a scrapyard and I was detained by a Danish lady who was looking for a bar. She wore a white dress and lime green, round hoop earrings. I am pretty sure I gave her the wrong route, while at it. Sorry to disappoint you, lady. I thought minutes later.  But for once I didn’t feel bad about it.  I was entitled to my foolish act.  I had someone waiting for me.  All alone, remember: Frenchie in Sodeco.  Most probably cold and most probably feeling melancholic as she waited for Pacino on his way. And perhaps, fuck-hungry. I had this wacko-concept: That it was a matter of national interest to satisfy lonesome women in a lonesome city for the night. To keep them warm and content. An Eastern-affair.  At least, I felt entitled due to my evident arrogance, primitive experience and to be honest: Well, I was desperate for a fuck! A truc macabre, so to speak. I was reduced to an android-Pacino on the run.  A mutant gorilla on the loose. I walked with a typical Latino swagger –That I had picked from remote days when I used to live in a trailer park peopled by exotic wackos and misfits. My own reflection on the adjacent window display –as I walked through, seemed to repeat Pacino motifs in my head and all around me. And it was all accentuated by my own motion and light and penumbra. I don’t know why but I always had this impression that Pacino was the epitome of manliness. And Yasmine’s impression of me –in turn, made it unblemished. I was about to become one, on a professional level. Distinct and sexual. A series of failed affairs, my constant agitation looking for a reason to be, to exist and my endless struggle in settling down, and trying constantly to find momentarily satisfaction in whatever I was doing at the time, made a serious vagabond out of me –but with good intentions. I landed jobs of all kinds.  Appropriate and suitable ones, and totally despicable and thorny.  But it was part of the bigger mosaic of shitless nonsense I was in, in a city that did not appreciate its most notable artists.  And this perhaps was one of the reasons I found solace in night encounters. I didn’t measure or anticipate the consequences.  I was a soldier of fortune playing his best hand every time, regardless of the fallout.  I found delight in loving women: Women of all walks of life.  A weekly-affair of enormous after-effect. Jazz and Booze adjusted the happenstances. I was a hero for a night, every other night: Hidden from the rays of shame and banality. Hidden from the rays of sun and dust in perpetuity.  I was alas! stuck in reverse in the cycle of my own propensity. Love affairs, in one way or another had destroyed me.  I was left with nothing but the nucleus of a man that once was! Alone, desperate and attempting to become the reflection of the Pacino who had just glimmered before him. I derived pleasure from ecstasy. And ecstasy from pleasure.  I was an android-Romeo equipped with apps and wine. The shine of the screen reminded me of Frenchie, dripping messages of small talk and nonsense every once in a while. Where are you? Why are you taking this long? Try not to be late and so on and so forth, with the typical French-English accent. This was a boring part.  I detested it. I had to put up with lots of shit. Birds, dogs, cats, and a gold-fish named Cookie Monkey.  And even a Parrot, that I taught Spanish. Oye, Puto: Chupame la Pinga. This was a daily punch line. It felt good, for a while.  But after that, the whole enterprise became mechanical, it turned hysterical and unemotional. Not my regular cup of coffee. Her sofa bed was remarkably enormous. Of course, some of her pets found sanctuary there.  I was happy to know that some had died a few months later only to gather she had replaced most of them to no avail. Let me be more honest: Yasmine was my playmate.  A pet of my own.  I don’t mean to sound wicked, but she had stripped me down to the ground. Of all my talent and my merits.  I had lost all my medals and my marvels since the end of the Civil war and no one had hugged me, like really hugged me ever since. It was a masterful act of her part. We were two gorilla mutants of intimacy.  She used to remind me that we were up for it only if we agreed that -that was going to be the only night together.  And of course, it wasn’t. We used to bang like rabbits every once in a while. She was high and I was drunk.  A perfect match.  A truc macabre. I was her pet.  Her Pluto – for all I know.  I drove my car to Sodeco.  The rain had stopped partially.  Some garbage cans were in flame around corners. A typical yet berserk Pacino scene in the making, unfolding before me.  I looked around me to see if some random passenger from a random passing vehicle would recognize me, from a random scene I was part of, the night before on a local TV network. An absurd act of vanity. A woman stood nearby.  She approached my half-open window.   The breeze coming in made the perfect match for my Monk –Live in Paris 1964.  She said: “Sodeco!” I said” “Yes!” She got in.  I said: “No. Not that way!” She looked at me as if I had slain her entire race or tribe.  I succumbed in silence. Did her the favor in utter quiet. I smiled a Mona Lisa smirk and drove in partial stillness, turned down Monk playing and closed the window entirely. How could I ruin the moment? We were both happy. In our driving act.   Me driving to my fuck and she, well, she was comfortably being driven to her random location in Sodeco. A night scene. I did not utter a word until we got there. She was about to pay the alleged taxi fare when another stranger said: “Hamra!” I had to open the door and step away from my Rover to inspect it.  It didn’t look at all like a taxi or cab –to sound more Pacino-like, if you know what I mean.  What is wrong with these people? I thought to my-self. The pale color of my car, the sudden rain and the smoke curling up in the air, in a New-York fashion, it prompted such reactions, most probably. At night, everything changes and a lie becomes the truth.  I got pissed.  I was going to be late. You don’t want to miss a fuck.  They say it’s bad luck. And now this: Taken or mistaken for a Travis Bickle in the middle of Beirut at 11 PM. A truc macabre. Let me just say that our friendship had lasted for over twenty years. Yasmine –or Frenchie as I used to call her, was a hell of a woman.  She was smart, tenacious, multi-talented and had an Italian flare, for all the time we were together.  She never lost it. I was amazed. But for some random reason I was at the end of the day -Her Pluto. Her pet-playmate.  Pluto is just a random name.  You can call me any pet name, if you want to.  I wouldn’t even know it.  I would be long gone.  Doing Yasmine or maybe slurping her strawless lid, her strapless cap for an eternity. The truth of the matter is our one-night stand lasted for seven years.  Tonight, was a random night.  Just like any other random night. Nothing special about it, except for the Danish lady with a white dress and lime green, round hoop earrings, and the random passengers who had mistaken me for a cabbie in a cab film. Often times I would turn violent on Yasmine. Like shit crazy. I lost control several times. I do regret that now. I used to hit, punch, strike, beat, slap, smack, hand-cuff her to her bed, so drunk that she wouldn’t even remember it, the next morning. She would laugh and kind of let go. I used to slam her against the closet like shit crazy. I –once, smashed her head with a Chinese vase just because she changed some random TV channel that I wasn’t even watching.  I was high.  She was drunk. I still remember when I smashed some window panels at her place, one day, by simply walking through.  It was so lucid, I didn’t even see them block my way.  That one time, a police patrol was called in but made no arrests. Her favorite part was the whipping we did.  It took months of self-adaptation and re-adjustments.  She got so used to it she said one time she was addicted to it. That she didn’t want to stop and that if we did, she’d probably kill herself. And I liked it. She didn’t want me to stop, alright. I kept going. It kept rolling. Her addiction was Freud-induced. Mine was cigar and booze. That’s what made matters worse. I had become ill-tempered.  Nothing could fix that. Out of nowhere I had this idea: To get drunk before I go up and see her. And so I did. Got wasted, went up and the first thing I did when I saw her was go down on her and eat her strawless lid for hours. I still remember when one night I went up to see her, and for some wacko reason she wouldn’t let me in.  She blocked my way in, like completely.  She said she had a friend inside and that she wasn’t feeling ok. That was an eye-opener for me. Her cat kept meowing at my foot. In a sudden act, I lifted that poor thing with my foot and threw him or her –You tell me, over the stairway.  I heard it still meow down there in the dark. For quite some time.   A truc macabre.  I still think about it. It makes me feel uneasy. It gives me the shivers. Just to think about it. Sometimes I dream of the poor little cat down there in the dark looking at me, waiting for the day to get even. I can still feel the spell of that cat all around me.  Well, if there’s any consolation, I am truly sorry for that. Guilt chased me and still chases me like a wounded dog and that time when I fucked this part-time actress and got her pregnant.  Well, it took years before she could show some mercy.  She never said it but I guess she did forgive me in the end.  As for Frenchie.  I see her from time to time, you know.  Am her Pluto. Her pet-playmate.  Pluto is just a random name.  You can call me any pet name, if you want to.  I wouldn’t even know it.  I would be long gone. Doing Yasmine or maybe slurping her strawless lid, her strapless cap for an eternity.  She came out of her apartment building in a haste, and as she opened my red Rover Mini Cooper door and got in, I threw out the window my half-way consumed zeppelin on the loose, I had lit a few minutes ago for convenience, as I listened to Monk Live in Paris, 1965.   She hated Jazz but budged in the middle of a speedy fuck.  As a matter of fact, she would turn the volume up and tell me that the music drove her nuts.  Little I knew, back then, that that zeppelin tail would plunge upon the bubbling sidewalk, that afternoon, like a Hindenburg in 1937, while its nose, rose into the air like a breaching whale. My mini-Hindenburg smashed what was left of a line of symmetrically-aligned ants on their way to an important meeting.  They were all in black and looked serious. My Chiquita threw herself onto her seat, tossed her bag onto the back seat, shifted her weight multiple times and finally sat straight up looking ahead like a sphinx.  She said: You can go now. I drove my Rover like I stole it -as my little serious victims were dispersing, in notable confusion, and in random fashion right outside my half-open window. The sandstorm I left behind grew taller than the lamp posts scattered along the street and above the noise of TV game shows poorly produced. The shadows of that afternoon street were eating up silhouettes and those silhouettes were in turn forming in surrounding walls and facades in a fatuitous manner. Chiquita and I knew each way back.  From school days when we were young and tall and vigorous.  She found pleasure in random talk, random acts. She once told me that it was more meaningful for her to justify her request of seeing me than to just say what she wanted right away.  A modus operandi, so to speak.  As I drove past flower shops and pharmacies, lingerie stores and sex toys swaying like giant bait worms on display, I thought I should get a dog and maybe a girlfriend, for all I know.  -A way of mending up my lonesome act, and one or two forlorn Beirut afternoons, while at it.   And maybe why not get a real job. And actually, do something for a living.  This business of random projects, and freelance writing was getting on my nerves. The job wasn’t but the pay was. A truc macabre. She was gorgeous-looking, the kind of a girl you want to hit on, and do from time and time and well yeah, like try to keep for a while.  The fact is she was unquenchable, hard to stop once in, and her demands grew more assiduous as our afternoon escapades became more regular. She said: Stop the car. We sat there in the middle of nowhere. Monk was a Devil in a state of total rapture. I kissed her soft lips with no bad intentions in mind. She slurped my bacon bazooka several times just for kicks.  On-lookers stood by. She grabbed my handle for reassurance, gave it a good brush and sat on me like she really had missed it.  She spat at it multiple times, my face was all over the ceiling and the windshield, and I was roaring like a wounded lion, like a man who had bet his life saving on second running-horse in the races. She was high on Blow. I was a jazz freak.  She loved History books and Italian cuisine: She was an expert at Pasta Carbonara. She’d cook the pasta in salted water, and cook some tomatoes in a large skillet over medium-high heat with olive oil and stirring often, until it slightly softened for around three minutes. She would then add some shallots and cook, stirring until the shallots and tomatoes softened for the same amount of time or so.  She would then add the garlic, some natural herbs and finally bring to a boil.  Once done, she would blend the mix using a hand blender –no wonder she was good at hand jobs.  Buon appetito!  è delizioso. That day she was draped like a mannequin in a display window. She wore a horrible, loose-fitting vintage dress, and no make-up. Stained with dark spots of coffee, that did not taste good, which she had, early in the morning. And her regular flat green shoes.  She always wore green shoes.  She squashed a gum behind her front teeth. Her finger-nails in double-decker red.  Both her earrings scintillated an assortment of a spectrum caused by the light diffused through the silver clouds, and bouncing off strategically located car handles in car doors.  I thought to myself: What a lucky bastard! I was the luckiest bastard in West Beirut.   As I pulled the metallic cold through my nostrils and a line or two of blow coke in a sporadic fashion while at it, a snow-white cigarette of three to four inches in length, resting between her fingers, burned down onto a memory. She squeezed my bacon bazooka with her free hand, thinking maybe she would make it spill by way of her magic. She was in her late thirties and I was assailed by a huge range of a regrets and shames and disappointments.  Assaulted by a series of failed relationshits. It was in that very instant, she tried desperately to project a cheerful air: I think am in love, with your dick.  Dogs and birds were leaping from one tree to another undetected. A truc macabre. She looked out the window and I pretended her say something in French like, “On a froid. On est seuls.  Mais au moins, on sait où trouver de la chaleur.” She looked back at me for an entire Trevi-Fountain second. Gallant and noble. The emotions she had stirred were exactly where we had left them. Undetected.  I was making a much-needed escape from my own trivial life, to try to reconnect back with it. It was a favorite pastime. The way of a dog, astray and awry, one afternoon in the city. Freud would have laughed, and probably join in. He would say some like I am in for the blow, man. Do what you want with her lid. Now that I come to think about it: The old man did flash in my memory a couple of times, while at it.  I pictured him in that coat, with the classic white beard, all cracked up coke-high and murmuring to himself: Turn that Monk shit up. A moment later I detected her stripping from waste down.  She looked strikingly beautiful. Her pristine shadow making a regal comeback as her hair swayed in all directions.  I was a bohemian in my final act, she was Lucifer desperate for more.  Stonie wore a Machiavellian smile and fashioned a Cobra Shades just like the ones Stallone wore as Marion Cobretti in Cobra, 1986.  The truth of the matter is this guy looked more like a train-ticket conductor or inspector with a twist, for all I know. He looked like a mutant gorilla on the run.  And not even close to what a member of an elite division called Zombie Squad looked like. A truc macabre.  After a moment, he panned his head appearing entirely as a more recent version of the black drummer in Youtube Bill Withers’ Ain’t No Sunshine, with a grin. He looked up from his tiny, half-open, smoke-twirling-window and said: Hello Mr. Ruggles, am Stonie.  Welcome to Lebanon. The Switzerland of the East. Wesley Ruggles – was an accomplished and prominent American photojournalist.  He got in the back seat of the white Peugeot 504 and smiled all the way to the Commodore Hotel in Hamra. Stonie looked at his customer adjusting himself in the back seat, as he got in, on the rear-view mirror and said: Our country is the best place if you wish to take on the challenge of surfing and skiing on the same day. There’s no particular way to do it – some prefer to hit the waves early in the morning and end the day with a cup of mulled wine after a great ski or snowboard session; others prefer to hit the slopes in the morning and watch the sunset from Ain El Mraisse on West End, after catching some waves. It’s really up to you, Mr. Ruggles. You decide.  I leave it up to you. Wesley Ruggles grinned.  He wasn’t much of a talker, if you know what I mean.  He nodded affirmatively to all the words Stonie shot at him.  Lester Young Stardust – 1952 was coming out of the radio. Soft and easy. Let me tell ya a story.  Stonie said:  Two families were arguing in a field about where the boundary between their lands lay.  The dispute dated back a long time and blood had been shed a number of times.  A boy, a child of some eight or nine years, picked up a stick and drew a line in the earth.  When asked what he was doing, he said he was marking the boundary as it had been agreed at the last round of negotiation, long before he was born.  His father asked him how he knew this, and the boy replied that he was the reincarnation of a man the father had killed in the feud.  When the child revealed details of the shooting that only the dead man and his killer could have known, his father embraced his former adversary who was now his son. Both families wanted the feud to end.  It had been costly in terms of lives, and all were seeking a way out of a resumption of hostilities. Wesley Ruggles said: Take to me to the Green Line. Now.  The war sound kept coming in and out of my head, and a couple was still banging inside a tiny yellow Fiat not far away from where I was standing.  A mechanical undertaking.  Not much emotion/commotion at play except for their intense sexual collaboration.  A deliberate, indecent exposure.  The gurl – a night-time frontline-regular took turns shifting her rear-end from East to West in a regal act. A line up of militiamen stood in queue on both of ends of the line to shag her. A surreal act. A moment of truce.  Both the gurl and the city were completely naked, shattered and decrepit. Partly broken, partly rotten, and partly forgotten. For years, I was a war junkie in Beirut. A crowded jeep of militiamen stopped and disembarked on a random sidewalk of a deserted, and smashed street on the other end of the city.  They all looked like knights subpoenaed by the monarch who was pissed and drunk and tired. For a moment, they all looked irritated and pissed off. A sort of a fashion insignia they all displayed just for kicks. A war-affair. Hip and ceremonial. Then, they began to disperse along the sidewalk in zigzag, with machine guns and RPGs pointing upward.  Their beards, long and unpleasant, pointing downward.  And their self-esteem half-way in between. They all came for the cut.  The King’s cut. The truth of the matter is the King Salon was the hippest place in town. A classic spot. A royal den.  The cosmopolitan centre of Beirut. So, to speak.  Everybody was there.  A meeting place for spies, including Kim Philby and Archie Roosevelt, and CIA men such as Miles Copeland as well as journalists of the caliber of John Chancellor and Sulzberger. Numerous diplomats and politicians, business tycoons and oil Sheikhs, they all mixed with oil and banking tycoons of the day molding the clientele of this classic establishment.  A royal place.  During the 50’s and even early 70’s the plots, the deals, and the stories that came out of this famous barbershop in Beirut were gripping. Plots and counter-plots, stretching over a quarter of a century echoed and re-echoed inside, every time.   Rumor has it, many incidents which helped to shape and re-shape Middle Eastern history are associated with the Salon: The attempt to overthrow King Hussein of Jordan, for instance. It was partially destroyed in the Two-Year war, but it was totally re-erected and managed to preserve its heyday reputation for a while.   I used to come here when I was little. A place to chill. A room where you could conduct business as usual without the hassle of the real workplace. A place you didn’t call a café for prestige and yet it was almost one. The tea they served was splendid and kingly. And ladies used to stay out on the sidewalk just for thrills, with the hope to catch heartthrobs on the loose. I went out with a new hair-cut. The King’s cut. I was the King’s Knight for the night.  I kick-started my bike and cruised for a while. A poet on tour.  Roaming the city.  Looking for a one-night stand. Or at least what appears to be.  I saw a solitary figure standing on a random spot.  A black woman with an Afro.  It was just perfect.  She jumped me on the highway the time it took me to give her a ride home.  A truc macabre. I pressed the number nine button inside the elevator of my apartment building.  I was tired and wired. As the elevator began to go up it suddenly stopped.  I was alone. And forgotten for a while.  Dangling by a cord. Forsaken.  Maybe.  I masturwaited the hour. Power was restored and I made it to my apartment safely. Minutes later the phone rang. She said: Baby, are you craving me tonight.  The next thing I know I have couple of Lesbians over slurping my bacon bazooka just for kicks. A royal act. Worthy of enjoyment with what I called decent music: I used to play Stevie Wonder’s Superstition really loud on my Marshall speakers in decay, while at it. A ritual of old fun-days when I was young, full of sperms, and needs and itches. The funny part –though, is that I always experienced something peculiar in that very moment of sorts. Hard to explain but I saw the trailer of my own life lived, projected on the facing wall. A broken wall.  I reminisced about past affairs and was transfixed by the lingering memory of a blow job as well as a highly visual fuck-climax. Vivid and highly pictorial.  Cheers! They both said. As they both poured all the wine content, glittering in penumbra, upon my bacon bazooka.  It looked like a copper fall unleashing. Unceasing. A truc macabre.   A royal act. Three was company.  Beirut was a junkyard of scrap metal and waste back then.  A place for sub-humans and android-machines on the run. BB 62 opened fire and hit some targets on the outskirts of the city. I was an android-cowboy in disguise.  Rumors had it the bomb shells were all empty. As the American destroyer showered guerilla positions in Souk el Gharb, I was firing my own cannon all over the Lesbians scattered along enemy lines inside my dim room, not far away from the Demarcation Line in Beirut.  A supreme act. A simultaneous-affair. Many years later, I had a similar experience when I was shagging this Pilipino gurl -in a random hotel in Jounieh, just for kicks, while watching the final of the World Cup in 2010. I still remember cumming inside her mouth at the exact moment Iniesta was kicking the ball inside the Netherland finish line.  A glorious-act of sorts.  The two Lesbians just loved the feeling of a revolver barrel inside them. A truc macabre. A regal tactic of enormous after-effect.  For some reason, they used to revere the freshly fired metal tube with both frame and cylinder inside. I never understood why.  I stood there. Earnest and ceremonial in my act.  Viewing the trailer of my own life on the facing wall of that dim room, and watching my bacon bazooka in constant spa-treatment mode. Graceful and yet unpretentious. The afternoon rushed in like a Belgian train in mid-voyage, that never made it on time. I dreamed of flatbread pizza, in the wasteland. Reminisced about my last, fast-paced failed love-affair and my futile attempt at piano lessons. We laughed, as we talked and killed the hours away. We imagined moments-to-be. Mostly naked. For some strange reason, they both loved to be touched on their forehead. A women-thing.  On their eye-brows to be exact.  The truth of the matter is that they both were willing to try new things –in private. My type of women.  Alone and crazy. A mind-type. Affectionate, and calm on the outside, and yet crazy and freaky on the inside. To tell you the truth I pretended I read more books than they both presumed I did. I wrestled with my own thoughts and delusions.  Concealed my deeper feelings and idiosyncrasies -in the midst of our talk. In the middle of a futile war with no ending.  A Gemini-kind-of-thing with a thrill.   I was after their strapless lid. What else do you expect: One of the few remaining standard activities in Dystopia, at the time. I fucked them both for a while and I got kind of bored afterwards.  The truth of the matter is I completely lost interest in them.  Soon after, I found my next victim. A young, fresh psychology graduate with a healthy appetite for sex and a delightful fashion-style that managed to trigger my bacon bazooka, back. This next fuck-affair with Luciana kept rolling for more than we both expected. She was the kind of girl who would do anything to satisfy you.  I acted in kind. I used a proactive approach with her, for as long as it lasted. She was worth the try: Worth every single sperm I spared on her lower and upper abdomen. And well, yeah often times on her breasts and her cute, funny face.  A truc macabre. She loved to be chased after -for sex. She loved BJs as much. And she used to brag about it in public.  A few weeks later, I found out she was sleeping with a couple of other guys from around the block, for subsistence, and with some big shot of sorts, as well.  A playboy –so to speak. Loaded with guns and green.  Good for her. She was a practical kid, with lots of love to spare.  And lots of ambition. I fired up my gorgeous-looking Jimmy and made some smoke rings with my mouth, for my own amusement, that is. And that lasted for quite a while. She had a shower: Poured herself a drink, and walked slowly the seventeen steps, all the way to my bed, completely naked.  Next, she crawled my entire body like a wounded, and moaning soldier on the frontline. Once, fully on top and facing me, she said with her typical intense voice: Impress me with your brains. It occurred to me, and I played a VHS tape I had borrowed from an old chum, of Greta Garbo’s Anna Karenina 1935, in decay. Well, yeah, to try to impress her with my cultural backdrop and shit.  The perfect artefact for a late evening binge. A truc macabre, so to speak.  The glitches and hiccups of the shivering images of Greta Garbo on the TV screen, did not corrupt the actress’s royal flare. What a Dame! I thought. What an ass! I thought in sequence. As I took turns looking at both the screen and the new chick’s naked, greasy, and flattened body shimmering in the dark, and glowing like a sea-urchin in the deep. And I thought to myself: They don’t make them like this anymore. Sublime and Holy. A Regal act.  I was talking about the chick’s ass. What else. I mean, the truth of the matter is she was lying right before my own eyes to see: Face-down with a few hours to spare. And I was fuck-hungry. Endlessly famished. I was after her strawless lid. Strapless cap. Flavorsome and scrumptious like shit crazy.  I crawled all over her on the bed and -once in position, I slurped her strapless lid for hours. I grinned. Placed my half-consumed Jimmy on the loose on the Buddha-ashtray I had in store from my old days in Kamasutra-training in New Delhi. I decided to burn my bacon bazooka inside her fire place. We fucked for hours.  Her spark was her unusual climax.  Pristine and immaculate.  The streets below and around me were dim and vacant. Cold and bare. I took off.  Had to: I zigzagged my way to the Demarcation Line, past sandbags and burning silhouettes of cars, in fall-off. A conspicuous tactic that I deployed every time to avoid unleashed android-snipers on the loose. Or mutant gorillas on the run –as I used to call them.  Whether someone or something conforms to customary patterns or deviates from them depends on one’s point of view: Behind the concepts of normality and abnormality is the assumption that there is a single standard by which to judge everything. What may be normal to one group, however, may be unacceptable to another. I had the same Walkman on, with the same headphones arching the same oval head I displayed for a thousand times at the frontline. A truc macabre. I played Monk Live in Paris 1964 every time.  Every day. Non-stop. It was more like a frontline pursuit, just for kicks. A Grotesque affair.  Stories of love and madness is all I heard on both ends of the Demarcation Line. A snow-white 1979 Super-Beetle Cabriolet stopped right there in the middle of nowhere. Just a few steps from the Line. I could not identify any of its occupants, who wore ceremonial masks, just for kicks. The truth of the matter is they all looked like soul-reapers with scythes. They then revealed their hidden arms abruptly, and opened fire in all directions for at least seven random minutes. At the end of which, the snow-white Beetle stood-still in complete silence. Out of a sudden, that tiny little wagon, was showered and hammered countless times with all sorts of ammo.  An RPG sealed its fate, turning them into a burning chunk of metal and flesh.  A suicidal undertaking. An eccentric haze shrouded my eyesight. That day, I met the iconic Wesley Ruggles on the Demarcation Line in Down Town Beirut. On that taciturn Winter-day, and somewhere in town, The Red Prince carried a pistol holstered in brown leather and worn on his hip a la Clint Eastwood. He was a playboy alright, on his final rave. He was in a convoy of two Chevi station wagons heading from Georgina’s flat to his mother’s, for a birthday party. Chambers was on her balcony painting, and her red Beetle parked below on Rue Verdun.  As Salameh’s convoy passed that red wagon at 3:35 pm and turned onto Rue Madam Curie, a hundred Kilos of explosives attached to the car by a Mossad agent was remotely detonated either by Chambers herself or on her signal to another Mossad agent. They did not mistake him this time. A truc macabre.  The blast left Salameh conscious, but severely wounded and in great pain, having pieces of steel shrapnel embedded in his head and throughout his body.  He was rushed to The American University of Beirut Hospital, where he died on the operating table at 4:03 pm. I was surrounded by eccentric structures –which stood tall beholding my own state of incongruity. I stood almost mortified in the middle of the battleground, in silence.  Out of a thick, almost-mythical mist, a machine gun emerged and finally rested on my temple: I stood-still. I did not utter a word for an entire minute. A strange haze shrouded my eyesight. I still remember that android-cowboy with rifle still pointing at me, and with his brimmed-shape-white-Panama-hat, silk shirt, striped pants and his green suspenders. A distinctive and manly act.  I still remember when he looked at me for the last time and said: Learn how to cook and spend less, save time and have sex more often.  He was in a chill mood. He grinned at the end of his act and said: Hasta La Vista, Baby.  As for her:  She read the last couple of lines of a letter she kept in one of her emerald green coat’s inner pockets for the last time, folded the letter the way she was supposed to, placed the letter gently on the desk, took a pistol out of an upper drawer, put the pistol’s barrel inside her mouth and shot herself. She was six months pregnant. Stonie wore a Machiavellian smile and fashioned a Cobra Shades just like the ones Stallone wore as Marion Cobretti in Cobra, 1986.  The truth of the matter is this guy looked more like a train-ticket conductor or inspector with a twist, for all I know. He looked like a mutant gorilla on the run.  And not even close to what a member of an elite division called Zombie Squad looked like. A truc macabre.  After a moment, he panned his head appearing entirely as a more recent version of the black drummer in Youtube Bill Withers’ Ain’t No Sunshine, with a grin. He looked up from his tiny, half-open, smoke-twirling-window and said: Hello Mr. Ruggles, am Stonie.  Welcome to Lebanon. The Switzerland of the East. Wesley Ruggles – was an accomplished and prominent American photojournalist.  He got in the back seat of the white Peugeot 504 and smiled all the way to the Commodore Hotel in Hamra. Stonie looked at his customer adjusting himself in the back seat, as he got in, on the rear-view mirror and said: Our country is the best place if you wish to take on the challenge of surfing and skiing on the same day. There’s no particular way to do it – some prefer to hit the waves early in the morning and end the day with a cup of mulled wine after a great ski or snowboard session; others prefer to hit the slopes in the morning and watch the sunset from Ain El Mraisse on West End, after catching some waves. It’s really up to you, Mr. Ruggles. You decide.  I leave it up to you. Wesley Ruggles grinned.  He wasn’t much of a talker, if you know what I mean.  He nodded affirmatively to all the words Stonie shot at him.  Lester Young Stardust – 1952 was coming out of the radio. Soft and easy. Let me tell ya a story.  Stonie said:  Two families were arguing in a field about where the boundary between their lands lay.  The dispute dated back a long time and blood had been shed a number of times.  A boy, a child of some eight or nine years, picked up a stick and drew a line in the earth.  When asked what he was doing, he said he was marking the boundary as it had been agreed at the last round of negotiation, long before he was born.  His father asked him how he knew this, and the boy replied that he was the reincarnation of a man the father had killed in the feud.  When the child revealed details of the shooting that only the dead man and his killer could have known, his father embraced his former adversary who was now his son. Both families wanted the feud to end.  It had been costly in terms of lives, and all were seeking a way out of a resumption of hostilities.  After a long drive and a prolonged silence, Wesley Ruggles said: Take to me to the Green Line. Now.  Militias around West Beirut were a spectacle not to be missed.  A daily-affair. They rode Jeeps as if they were riding horses. Ski-nautique, once heard someone say. Their rituals comprised life as it happened on the eve of the end of the world. For all I know.  Ruggles was a modern-times Dziga Vertov, with a movie camera.  He was a prompt man.  Never late to a meeting or a date and had a subtle way of complaining to chefs about mediocre meals at restaurants. He was an homme d’affaires. He was a lean, mean fighting-machine that would not have anything be used to his disadvantage.  And for some unknown reason always wore black.  From head to bottom. No matter what. He was a distinctive soul with an Italian flare. A lady’s man. No doubt about it.  The Lebanese Rambo –or the subject of his piece, was in place in the smashed part of the city.  Surely on the demarcation line in Down Town. Pre-disposed and ready.  He was a robust, broad-shouldered and extremely serious fella. A War-Junkie. A visual spectacle par excellence, so to speak.  A local hero of sorts.  A Stallone-look-a-like, whose physical transformation was evident and clear indication that Post-Vietnam American War films and more specifically Rambo films of the 1980s, made a huge impression on him, to the extent he -and possibly others, eventually transmuted into Rambo himself. That prompted folks like Wesley Ruggles and others to come to Beirut to have a closer look. A truc macabre. The truth of the matter is the local Rambo did not like or fancy Rambo.  He became Rambo: The man himself.  A rare case of a man who becomes another.  A copy of an original, so to speak -who is eventually rejected! Wesley Ruggles told the local Rambo to look away as he took pictures of him. The others did just the same. But these two worked as an ensemble-together:  A photo session followed by a video session.  The whole spectacle ensued in a surreal war-inspired open-air studio, in the heart of the city. A war-triggered art installation under the piercing sun for hours: The local Rambo loved to be photographed and Ruggles, well, yeah consequently, loved to be the producer of the images. A love-affair of sort. Zeina Salem –A gorgeous-looking local news producer –they all look gorgeous at the times- stood near-by.  She took some photos of her own. There is something arrogant about him. She thought. Ruggles spent hours with his subjects. He was a war-junkie himself. Up until February 6, 1984 greater Beirut was under the control of the government. On that day, the Lebanese army was forced to withdraw from the West side of the city, which again came under the control of militias and political groups opposed to the government.  The truth of the matter is that these men in the framework of war seemed wired to invade and conquer with glory being the primary objective. The key takeaway is that none of these displays bear any significance if there is no audience to play to. Some folks stood by. Some others from a far stared and marveled.  The Lebanese Rambo had this funny approach: Rambo fights in the films, I, on the other hand, am real.  I drove my Rover with my two dazzling companions:  Zeina Salem by my side and well, yeah Paul Desmond and his Quartet-1954 coming out of the radio.  Soft and easy. The meeting with Ruggles was set at the demarcation line just for kicks.  Part of the war-thrill encounters he was after.  We compromised. I still remember the first time I met Wesley Ruggles. He gave the impression he was a temperamental actor having to do retakes.  Non-stop. But Rambo was not the real reason for Ruggles to fly down here. Rambo was inconsequential.  A slight- story.  Wesley Ruggles was in Beirut for completely different reasons: The Plugged-Sniper of Beirut. Random boys stood-still as a lady-photographer took some pictures of a random Palestinian commander who sat between two low-ranking officers close-by. Sit-still! She said -as she released her film camera’s release button.  They all look like ancillaries. The main character was wearing black shades. A la Marion Cobretti.  And a black beret crowned his head, which provided him with immediate identifying qualities, in addition to his physical position in relation to the others which emphasized his authority.  His face seemed expressionless due to various props it displayed. Masculinized by his obvious mustache.  A gendering-trope.  We had Peaches, prosciutto, burrata, mint, pistachios with honey and white balsamic vinegar drizzle on top with white wine all afternoon.  Zeina Salem said “The commander looks older than the back-standing militiamen.  They are all in uniform in a near-battle field/zone position.  They are dressed for war. But not enacting it.  They look masculine and yet the kitten adds that softness touch to Brando’s character in this specific re-interpretation which is by no means intended.” She paused for a second and then resumed “I have the perception that the producer of the image herself did not know whether the commander was trying to imitate “The Godfather” character or not.”  The focal point of the mise-en-scene was a white kitten the commander held with his right hand, which he didn’t seem to care for.  He held it with cool passiveness.  The photographer was able to frame the kitten occupying a lower position.  His bodyguard stood on both sides: The one who stood to his right looked away. Showing disinterest or confusion.  He carried a machine-gun pointing upward.  He wore a military uniform with magazine holders strapped all around him.  His flexed right arm differed from the left arm that rested by his standing body.  On the opposite left side of the commander, there sat another militiaman who gazed straight at him.  He was more interested it seems on the commander’s next act than on the photographer’s consequent actions. I thought to myself.  The cat in hand was very significant.  The way the main combatant held the kitten was domineering, almost like a chokehold, a threat. This served the purpose of making him seem uncaring and hardened by the war. A power move that was even more amplified by the presence of his goons at his sides. Then I thought: He appears to be copying Marlon Brando’s opening scene in Godfather, 1972. A truc macabre.  Zeina Salem was a ravishing Capricorn -unleashed.  I was entangled immediately.  I tried to keep up with her interpretation and responded in kind: “The house in the background reflects the living conditions of its inhabitants.  If any, at all.  It is a relaxed moment. I think.   A break from the exhaustive instants of combat.  They are all facing the camera somehow.  The commander is surrounded by his guards. They look at him or the people around him for security reasons.  The commander’s unintentional pursuit of conflating his military might with that of a mafia boss is evident.  He pretends to demystify him somehow by acting out a “real” version of a representational power.” After a long silence, she looked at me and said: “Rumor has it that the cat held by Brando, in the opening scene of Godfather was a stray, the actor found while on the lot at Paramount, and was not originally called for in the script.  So content was the cat, that its purring muffled some of Brando’s dialogue, and, as a result, most of his lines had to be looped.” We both sniggered and had a toast. To tell you the truth, the Palestinian commander, being the main mantelpiece of this scene, deserves more attention.  His face is cold and gives nothing away which is mostly attributed to his dark tinted glasses. As the eyes are the windows to the soul, this accessory is a very strategic affront on the mere possibility of conveying emotion. This skipper has taken all of the precautions to shield himself from being perceived as anything but masculine. He is a lean, mean fighting-machine that will not have anything be used to his disadvantage. The truth of the matter is that the three-armed war veterans whose placements clearly exemplify the power dynamics at play, looked invincible. The one in the center is decidedly the head of the group surrounded by two subordinate officers who, while authoritative, rank lower than him or at least submit to him. One is looking vacantly into the far left of the camera in slight amusement. The other henchman is seated on the bottom right of the frame looking directly at the head of the leader as if awaiting his signal, his every beck and call. The hierarchy is very blatant here. Zeina said: “These images remind me of Nick Ut’s “Accidental Napalm” photograph as the defining image of the Vietnam War because that little girl will not go away, despite many attempts at forgetting. War photographs are frozen moments in war-time. I freeze what I see.  It’s not what you see.  It’s what I see.  It’s my truth.  It’s not the truth.  It’s my eye.  It’s the way I saw it with a specific lens, with a specific light.  You wouldn’t have seen it the same way.” The Vietnam war ended in the same month, the Lebanese Civil war had started.  A clear dissolve. Beirut, once a hide-out, where coup d’états, political assaults, espionage and even felony could be planned, where financial deals, bank transactions, and international trade could be brokered, was alas! a ravaged city. Disfigured and ultimately forsaken. During a shelling of the town, an almost wasted, Wesley Ruggles raised a glass of Bordeaux and said: “You’re Lebanese? You’re lucky! You have a war, you have something to live for! We have nothing back home.” I think that hadn’t we had a war; we would have died slowly. War had renewed us. The war sound kept coming in and out of my head, and a couple was still fucking inside a tiny yellow Fiat not far away from where I was standing.  A mechanical undertaking.  Not much emotion/commotion at play except for their intense sexual collaboration.  A deliberate, indecent exposure.   It did not take me long to realize that angels were standing in cue at the entrance of a crumbling city: Dilapidated and decrepit. Partly broken, partly rotten, and partly forgotten. For years, I was a war junkie in Beirut.  Out of nowhere, a crowded jeep of militiamen stopped and disembarked.  They all looked like Knights subpoenaed by the monarch who was pissed and drunk and tired. For a moment, they all looked irritated and pissed off. A sort of a fashion insignia they all displayed just for kicks. A war-affair. Hip and ceremonial. Then, they began to disperse along the sidewalk in zigzag, with machine guns and RPGs pointing upward.  Their beards, long and unpleasant, pointing downward.  And their self-esteem half-way in between. They all came for the cut.  The King’s cut. The truth of the matter is the King Salon was the hippest place in town. A classic spot. A royal den.  The cosmopolitan centre of Beirut. So, to speak.  Everybody was there.  A meeting place for spies, including Kim Philby and Archie Roosevelt, and CIA men such as Miles Copeland as well as journalists of the caliber of John Chancellor and Sulzberger. Numerous diplomats and politicians, business tycoons and oil Sheikhs, they all mixed with oil and banking tycoons of the day molding the clientele of this classic establishment.  A royal place.  During the 50’s and even early 70’s the plots, the deals, and the stories that came out of this famous barbershop in Beirut were gripping. Plots and counter-plots, stretching over a quarter of a century echoed and re-echoed inside, every time.   Rumor has it, many incidents which helped to shape and re-shape Middle Eastern history are associated with the Salon: The attempt to overthrow King Hussein of Jordan, for instance. It was partially destroyed in the Two-Year war, but it was totally re-erected and managed to preserve its heyday reputation for a while.   I used to come here when I was little.  My dad was a big fan of this room.  He used to call it his part-time office. A place to chill. A room where you could conduct business as usual without the hassle of the real workplace. A place you didn’t call a café for prestige and yet it was almost one. The tea they served was splendid and kingly. And ladies used to stay out on the sidewalk just for thrills, with the hope to catch heartthrobs on the loose. I went out with a new hair-cut. The King’s cut. I was the King’s Knight for the night.  I kick-started my bike and cruised for a while. A poet on tour.  Roaming the city.  Looking for a one-night stand. Or at least what appears to be.  I saw a solitary figure standing on a random spot.  A black woman with an Afro.  It was perfect.  She jumped me on the highway the time it took me to give her a ride home.  A truc macabre. I pressed the number nine inside the elevator of my apartment building.  I was tired and wired. As the elevator began to go up it suddenly stopped.  I was alone. And forgotten for a while.  Dangling by a cord. Forsaken.  Maybe.  I masturwaited the hour. Power was restored and I made it to my apartment safely. Minutes later the phone rang.  It was her.  She said: Baby, are you craving me tonight.  The next thing I know I have couple of Lesbians over slurping my bacon bazooka just for kicks. A royal act. Worthy of enjoyment with what I called decent music: I used to play Stevie Wonder’s Superstition really loud on my Marshall speakers in decay. A ritual of old fun-days when I was young, full of sperms, and needs and itches. The funny part –though, is that I always experienced something peculiar in that very moment. Hard to explain and yet I saw the trailer of my own life lived, projected on the facing wall.  I reminisced about past affairs and was transfixed by a lingering memory of a blow job as well as a highly visual fuck-climax. Vivid and highly pictorial.  Cheers! They both said. As they both poured all the wine content glittering in penumbra upon my bacon bazooka.  It looked like a copper fall unleashing. Unceasing. A truc macabre.   A royal act. Three was company.  Beirut was a junkyard of scrap metal and waste back then.  A place for sub-humans and android-machines on the run. BB 62 opened fire and hit some targets on the outskirts of the city. Rumors has it the bomb shells were all empty. As the American destroyer showered guerilla positions in Souk el Gharb, I was firing my own cannon all over the Lesbians scattered along enemy lines inside my dim room. A supreme act. A simultaneous-affair. Many years later, I had a similar experience when I was shagging this Pilipino –gurl- in a random hotel in Jounieh, just for kicks, while watching the final of the World Cup in 2010. I still remember cumming inside her mouth at the exact moment Iniesta was kicking the ball inside the Netherland finish line.  A glorious-victorious moment.  The Lesbians just loved the feeling of a revolver barrel inside them. A truc macabre. A regal tactic of enormous after-effect.  For some reason, they used to revere the freshly fired metal tube with both frame and cylinder inside. I stood there. Earnest and ceremonial in my act.  Viewing the trailer of my life on the facing wall of my dim room, and watching my bacon bazooka in constant spa-treatment mode. Graceful and yet unpretentious. The afternoon rushed in like a Belgian train in mid-voyage, that never made it on time. I dreamed of flatbread pizza, in the wasteland. Reminisced about my last, fast-paced failed love-affair and my futile attempt at piano lessons. We laughed, as we talked and killed the hours away. We imagined moments-to-be. Mostly naked. For some strange reason, they both loved to be touched on their forehead. A women-thing.  On their eye-brows to be exact.  The truth of the matter is that they both were willing to try new things –in private. My type of women.  Alone and crazy. A mind-type. Affectionate, and calm on the outside, and yet crazy and freaky on the inside. To tell you the truth I pretended I read more books than they both presumed I did. I wrestled with my own thoughts and delusions.  Concealed my deeper feelings and idiosyncrasies -in the midst of our talk. A Gemini-kind-of-thing.   I was after their strapless lid. What else do you expect: One of the few remaining standard activities in Dystopia.  I fucked them both for a while and I got kind of bored afterwards.  The truth of the matter is I completely lost interest in them.  Soon after, I found my next victim. A young, fresh psychology graduate with a healthy appetite for sex and a delightful fashion-style that managed to trigger my bacon bazooka, back. This next fuck-affair kept rolling for more than we both expected. She was the kind of girl who would do anything to satisfy you.  I acted in kind. I used a proactive approach with her, for as long as it lasted. She was worth the try: Worth every single sperm I spared on her lower and upper abdomen. And well, yeah often times on her breasts and her cute, funny face.  A truc macabre. She loved to be chased after -for sex. She loved BJs as much. And she used to brag about it in public.  A few weeks later, I found out she was sleeping with a couple of other guys from around the block, for subsistence. Good for her. She was a practical kid, with lots of love to spare. I lit my Jimmy and made some smoke rings with my mouth, for my own amusement, that is. She showered.  Poured herself a drink. Walked all the way to my bed, completely naked.  She, then, army-crawled my entire body without a word.  Once, fully up and facing me, she said with her typical intense voice: Impress me with your brains. I played a VHS tape I had borrowed from an old pal, of Greta Garbo’s Anna Karenina -1935- in decay. Well, yeah, to try to impress her with my cultural background and shit.  The perfect artefact for a late evening binge. A truc macabre. The glitches and hiccups of the shivering images of Greta Garbo on the TV screen, did not corrupt the actress’s royal flare. What a Dame! I thought. What an ass! I thought in sequence. As I took turns looking at both the screen and the new chick’s naked, flattened body shimmering in the dark, and glowing like a sea-urchin in the deep. And I thought to myself: They don’t make them like this anymore. Sublime and Heavenly. A Regal act. Of course, I was talking about the chick’s ass. What else. I mean, the truth of the matter is she was lying right before my own eyes to see: Face down with a few hours to spare. And I was hungry. Endlessly famished. I was after her strawless lid.  I crawled on the bed and once in position I sucked her strapless lid for hours. I grinned. Placed my half-consumed Jimmy on the Buddha-ashtray I had from my old days in Kamasutra-training in New Delhi. I decided to burn my bacon bazooka inside her fire place. We fucked the night away.  Like two little kids grounded in confinement.  Her spark was her climax. Unequal. Pristine and immaculate.  The e-streets below and around me were dim and vacant. Cold and bare. I took off.  Had to: I zigzagged my way to the Demarcation Line, past sandbags and burning silhouettes of e-cars, in falloff. A conspicuous tactic that I deployed every time to avoid unleashed android-snipers on the loose.  Whether someone or something conforms to customary patterns or deviates from them depends on one’s point of view: Behind the concepts of normality and abnormality is the assumption that there is a single standard by which to judge everything. What may be normal to one group, however, may be unacceptable to another. I had the same Walkman on, with the same headphones arching the same oval head I displayed for a thousand times at the frontline. A truc macabre. I played Monk Live in Paris 1964 every time.  Every day. Non-stop. It was more like a frontline pursuit for kicks. A Grotesque business. A reel replayed the same white 1979 Super-Beetle Cabriolet stopping right there in the middle of nowhere, over and over again.  A loop in one act.  Its occupiers looked like soul reapers with scythes, when out of a sudden, they revealed their hidden arms and fired in all directions. At the end of which, the white Beetle stood-still, in complete stillness. Technically, a malware. Once at the frontline, in total stillness, and in complete silence/quiet: I heard the remote air of a lullaby looping the same word stuck in reverse. I was surrounded by eccentric structures –which stood tall beholding my own state of incongruity. I stood almost mortified in the middle of the battleground, in silence.  Out of a thick, almost-mythical mist, a machine gun emerged and finally rested on my forehead. I stood-still.  Did not utter a word for an entire minute. A strange haze shrouded my eyesight. I still remember my counter-part’s brimmed-shape, white Panama hat, silk shirt, striped pants and his green suspenders. A distinctive act. He looked like a model taken out of a GQ magazine. I still remember when he looked at me for the last time and said: Learn how to cook and spend less.  Save time and have sex more often. The sound of my camera release bottom re-echoed in the stillness of that barren place, bouncing off the empty, worn-out, and shattered walls around me. On that crispy autumn day, and somewhere in town, The Red Prince carried a pistol holstered in brown leather and worn on his hip a la Clint Eastwood. He was a playboy alright, on his final rave. He was in a convoy of two Chevi station wagons heading from Georgina’s flat to his mother’s, for a birthday party. Chambers was on her balcony painting, and her red Beetle parked below on Rue Verdun.  As Salameh’s convoy passed that red wagon at 3:35 pm and turned onto Rue Madam Curie, a hundred Kilos of explosives attached to the car by a Mossad agent was remotely detonated either by Chambers herself or on her signal to another Mossad agent. They did not mistake him this time. A truc macabre.  The blast left Salameh conscious, but severely wounded and in great pain, having pieces of steel shrapnel embedded in his head and throughout his body.  He was rushed to The American University of Beirut Hospital, where he died on the operating table at 4:03 pm. Salameh’s four bodyguards and four bystanders were also killed, and at least 16 people were injured.  I was on the other end of town, with Mario Garcia having some Single malt whisky, in some random bar, surrounded by Frenchies at the moment of the blast.  The air turned purple and crowds rushed in to get the latest news from an old, dusty radio inside. You could feel the heat of the day in full armor. Hours later, I was sitting at my fav round table in the kitchen back at home when the telephone reechoed.  A voice –on the other end of the line said: I miss you, my baby. Shall I come over? I grinned.  I said: No.  I’m tired. We read countless pages of Gabo’s Hundred Years of Solitude, in Spanish, together, and ended up shagging a couple of times before going to bed.  We massacred solitude.  A masterful act. Luciana stayed way into the night.  She had a special homemade flatbread pizza formula for kicks, which she experimented with, when over. The fun part: I improvised most of the toppings from leftovers and a sauce I had on the side for the occasion. We had some slices of pizza, with red wine. I concede she did all the maintenance required and left before sunrise. A ballerina in her finest hour. Next morning, I drove my e-Rover to the frontline -like a student in love, on his second day of school.  Out of nowhere, A fighter pointed his machine gun to my temple, and said: Do not move. That day, I met Mario Garcia on the frontline. He came with cash to burn – a fleet of airplanes and a keen eye for French-speaking ladies. He had a crowd of bodyguards with him, just for kicks.  A business man of some sort looking for some prospects in the middle of a farcical war with no-end.  He was a bit of a ghost down here.  Nobody saw him.  Nobody knew him. He stayed in the prominent Achrafieh area for convenience.  “The safest part of Beirut,” he’d say. The sound of my camera release bottom re-echoed over and over again in the stillness of that barren place, bouncing off the empty, worn-out, and shattered walls around me. Chambers was on her balcony painting, and her red Beetle parked below on Rue Verdun.  As Salameh’s convoy passed that red wagon at 3:35 pm and turned onto Rue Madam Curie, a hundred Kilos of explosives attached to the car by a Mossad agent was remotely detonated either by Chambers herself or on her signal to another Mossad agent. They did not mistake him this time. A truc macabre.  The blast left Salameh conscious, but severely wounded and in great pain, having pieces of steel shrapnel embedded in his head and throughout his body. He was rushed to The American University of Beirut Hospital, where he died on the operating table at 4:03 pm. Salameh’s four bodyguards and four bystanders were also killed, and at least 16 people were injured.  I was on the other end of town, with Wesley Ruggles and Zeina Salem taking countless shots of The Plugged-Sniper of Beirut -who walked no more than thirty steps to his rifle.  Fired some shots at random crossers –who crossed from one side to the other every time and walked back to his seat to smoke cigars and drink single malt whisky all day. A Chaplin-like puppet of sorts.  A war junkie. A mutant gorilla on the run. A member of an elite division called the Zombie Squad. Why do you do it ? Ruggles asked him. The Plugged-Sniper of Beirut looked back at him after a long pause and said: I’m shooting people.  Ruggles perplexed asked: But why? The Plugged-Sniper of Beirut said: They pay me twenty five Lebanese Pounds (for the head) for every person I kill. Ruggles asked again: How do they know how many you’ve killed?  At that point, The Plugged-Sniper of Beirut got pissed because of Ruggles disrespectful remarks. Dropped his rifle and said: Ain’t I an honest man? The air turned purple and crowds rushed in to get the latest news from an old, dusty radio inside. You could feel the heat of the day in full armor.  My counter-part –still pointing his machine gun at my temple, was in a chill mood. He grinned at the end of his act and said: Hasta La Vista, Baby.  I can’t overlook the fact that her vagina was once snipped by a randy horn-eyed ghost crab confusing her fleshy bits for an open oyster on the beach, in spite of the fact that it was illegal to lie down there, naked. A foolish-act. The truth of the matter is some of her intimate friends were woken up by her screaming that somethin’ had bitten her and they were shocked to see a crab hanging off her privates. A morbid-act.  They had no choice but to release the pinchers open and free her from his grip. The recollection of that sinister incident turned me on every time she narrated it. Lustful and lecherous.  I guess her secret weapon was the knockout garlic-herb butter she used to brush each oyster with arranged in a single-layer on the grill. And subsequently, cook out uncovered for seven minutes or at least until the edges curled. The truth of the matter is eating oysters and sex merged well.  A magic-twist. I guess the salty juice and soft flesh of the oyster had the power to excite.  In both, eating oysters and sex, one used all five senses just for kicks. Casanova was so right to power up with oysters before his lusty bedroom undertakings. Chiquita loved to cook oysters for me, and she went randy when we cooked oysters together on Sunday afternoons.  A sexy-act. A night involving lubricants and oysters was a weekend-thrill. I love oysters.  She said.  It’s like kissing the sea on the lips. Casanova puts it like this: I put the shell to her mouth, I told her to suck in the liquid and keep the oyster between her lips. She performed the feat to the letter after laughing heartily, and I took the oyster by pressing my lips to hers with the greatest decency. She was delighted by the delicacy with which I took the oyster from her lips.  I was a randy horn-eyed ghost crab myself. On the look-out for thrill-driven trysts round the clock.  Beirut was a massive bed of lust and smoke and violence. A tower of sexual escapades and rendezvous. She used to sleep on her side, naked. I used to sleep on my back, full of sperms.  She was an open and naked oyster on the beach of my waterbed and I was a randy, horny ghost crab on her oyster-resembling genitalia:  The flavorsome local white wine added the ultimate aroma to our scrumptious encounter.  I once read that the Greeks believed that the semen was white because it was made of foam.  Semen was similar to the salty foam of the ocean.  Add to this the belief that the soft milky texture of oysters was like semen and thus eating them would generate more semen in a male.  The legend goes that Cronos, Zeus father, overthrew his own –Uranus. It was a brutal fight.  In the end, Cronos chopped his father’s bacon bazooka off with his sickle. Everywhere Uranus golden blood landed, new organisms appeared.  Blood on the rocks turned into winged demons called Furies, and blood on fertile soil turned into nymphs and satyrs. Cronos threw the bacon bazooka into the ocean.  Sperm came out of it and made foam.  The foam, in turn, mixed with the sea and created none other but Aphrodite.  A truc-macabre. As a matter of fact, Botticelli’s Birth of Venus painting shows her arriving in Cyprus in a giant shell. The connection between shellfish and Aphrodite is more than clear. A grim and complicated-plot. A la Giacomo Casanova.The famous lover ate at least fifty slippery oysters a day and he used assurance caps to prevent impregnating his mistresses.  I didn’t. Words of love must be implied. He used to say.  Not boldly proclaimed. I never used words. My bacon bazooka needed no introduction. He was a man of far-ranging intellect and curiosity. A true adventurer, traveling across Europe from end to end in search of fortune.  He was a lawyer, clergyman, military officer, violinist, con man, pimp, gourmand, dancer, businessman, diplomat, spy, politician, mathematician, social philosopher, playwright, and writer. I, on the other hand, was a fucker on the run. An android-lover on the loose. A sybarite seeking the perpetual euphoria of a new fuck-affair, every time.  And always looking for Chiquitas around the city-bed of lust and smoke and violence. She looked me in the eyes and said: Eat your oysters naked first.   Rumor has it Casanova purchased a twelve-year old girl in St. Petersburg as a sexual slave in 1765, when he was my age. Around forty years old.  A cruel-act.  She was emphatically prepubescent: Her breasts had still not finished budding. She was in her thirteenth year.  She had nowhere the definitive mark of puberty.  Born of actors, he had a passion for the theater and for an improvised, theatrical life, but with all his talents he frequently succumbed to the quest for pleasure and sex.  His true occupation was living largely on his quick wits, steely nerves, luck, social charm, and the money given to him in gratitude and by trickery.  There is nothing in the world of which he wasn’t capable of.  Oysters were more of an-agent provocateur for the famous lover – An initiator, so to speak.  And part of their sensual reputation might have come from the fact that oysters are hermaphrodites: Can be both males and females at different points in their life cycle. Like in all good myths, there’s an element of truth in the oysters-make-you-randy story. Spawning occurs in spring and summer. External fertilization of the eggs with the sperm occurs in the water. The fertilized eggs drift away as free-floating larvae. When they settle on an optimal bottom, they affix themselves to it and are called spat.  They remain there for the rest of their lives. It typically takes a two-three year to reach adulthood. Their magical allure may spring from their liminal life–free floating larvae which are transformed into a shelled organism fixed in one place and forming the foundation for future generations.  Oyster habitat is brackish water: A mixture of fresh and salt water like one finds in estuaries. They settle on hard surfaces like reefs, older shells, piers, and rocks. Their shells grow on top of each other and form reefs.  Oysters contain eight times more zinc and three times more iron than the same size serving of beef.  That Little Sunshine Chiquita rubbed her strapless lid in a circular fashion with some Thai oil she had in store, using her left hand, and sitting back in the bunker of her bed, with her cherry-red lips squeezing a hard, spicy and fired-up Jimmy on the loose, that looked more like a German Hindenburg caught on fire attempting to dock on her scrumptious lips and she did all that with the elasticity of a gazelle in premonition of a fuck-up. Of an imminent death. A cruel act.  She looked me in the eyes and said: Last time I fucked six guys at the same time right here!  I don’t really know where does this obsession with sex come from.  I am talking about my own.  Hers.  The city’s. I guess, and irrevocably, Freud was so right. Life was built round tension and pleasure. And all that build-up of libido I needed to discharge, somehow.  To release interminably. Curiously, the war did the rest.  Little Sunsine did not fuck me as much as I wanted to that eve.  She was more of a mouth-inserter. Just like a baby who gets much satisfaction from putting all sorts of things in its mouth to satisfy her libido. For some reason, she used to come to my place famished: She got up.  Walked with a slow pace all the way to the fridge, and pulled the door open: Ate whatever she found in my tiny, little wagon with an engine.  She devoured ravenously and greedily what was left of a turkey and mashed potatoes I had saved for a lonesome afternoon and drank up all the beer cans standing proud and eerie in the deep of my light box. She did all that with the motivation of a fifteen-year old novice- cheerleader.  She sat back on her bunker of a bed and watched a silent black and white TV movie on an old TV set in decay, mute. A regal act.  Worthy of a pictorial endeavor a la Salvador Dali. Or some other random artist that I don’t know nothing about.   The TV set was an old artefact I found in that apartment when I first moved in three years ago. She was high.  I was drunk. The truth of the matter is she loved to sit back in the bunker of her bed –just like she used to, in the old days, and spit at her strawless lid, and scrub her strapless cap repeatedly, using her left hand, like there was no tomorrow, and drink wine all afternoon.  And she did all that not far away from the Demarcation Line in no-man zone.  She was 15 and I was the luckiest bastard in West Beirut. The memory of that fuck-up kept bouncing off the walls of my place like a stress ball in distress. Marlon Brando once couldn’t get it up. It was shameful and everything but I guess it was ok. She loved the feeling of a revolver barrel inside her. She used to revere the freshly fired metal tube with both frame and cylinder inside.  A regal tactic of enormous after-effect. One day and out of the blue, we decided to meet: In other words, to go out for a change. Greta Garbo’s was a warm and cozy brasserie outside Beirut, which had turned into a scrapyard. It was the perfect meeting-place for a Saturday afternoon wine A-Go-Go. The place was not crowded, as we expected. She came out of the android-Uber with a Latin flare, as we had agreed. Hard to explain if you didn’t have it in the first place.  I stood there. Earnest and ceremonial in my act. Looking at her royal-paced walk in euphoria. She walked my way the seventeen steps it took her to face me and kiss me on both cheeks and said: I missed you, my Pacino. Graceful and yet unpretentious. Her holy-halo leaked elements of light, spilling radiant and shiny bright as she moved forward.  That afternoon rushed in like a Belgian train in mid-voyage, that never made it on time.  We talked about flatbread pizza, her next mobile cinema project, in Dystopia. About her last, fast-paced failed love-affair and her attempt at piano lessons.  I listened, mostly.  For practical reasons. -A wisdom I had acquired in recent years, which had saved me plenty of time and effort and appetite. We had a couple of jumpy-chicken salads and local wine. Fresh and flavorsome. We laughed, as we talked about almost everything and nothing, and managed, gracefully, to kill the hour away. We both imagined moments-to-be, simultaneously. Mostly naked. For some strange reason, she loved to be touched on her forehead. A regal act of a woman on fire. On her eye-brows to be exact. She was the classic example of someone who knows what she wants and knows how to get it right away.  A negotiator, if you know what I mean. Willing to try new things –in private. My type of chick. Affectionate, and calm on the outside, and yet crazy and freaky on the inside. A mind-type. And believe it or not I was her perfect match. A sophisticated flirt in my own right: A wild and well-traveled and fearless Latino lover by birthright.  To tell you the truth I pretended I read more books than she presumed I did. A manly-affair.  I wrestled with my own thoughts and delusions as the afternoon got away. I concealed most of my inner feelings and idiosyncrasies -in the midst of our talk. A Gemini-kind-of-affair. I was after her strapless lid. What else.  One of the few remaining standard activities in Dystopia. The truth of the matter is we fucked for a while and I got kind of bored with her afterwards. I completely lost interest in her. A guy- thing –so to speak. But her healthy appetite for sex and her delightful fashion-style triggered my bacon bazooka, back. And the fuck-affair kept rolling for more than we both expected. She was the kind of a girl who would do anything to satisfy you.  I acted in kind. I used a proactive approach with her, for as long as it lasted.  She was predictable, but was worth the try, though. Worth every single sperm I spared on her lower and upper abdomen. And well, yeah often times on her tits and her cute, and funny face. I mean, why not. I had nothing to lose. I was a cowboy on the run.  She loved to be chased after -for sex. And after sex. She loved BJs as much, and she used to brag about it in public. A truc macabre. Utterly gallivant. A few weeks later, I found out she was sleeping with a couple of other guys from around the block, for subsistence, and with some big shot of sorts, as well.  A playboy –so to speak. Loaded with guns and green.  Good for her. She was a practical kid, with lots of love to spare. And lots of ambition. I fired up my gorgeous-looking Jimmy and made some smoke rings with my mouth, for my own amusement, that is. And that lasted for quite a while. She had a shower: Poured herself a drink, and walked slowly the seventeen steps, all the way to my bed, completely naked.  Next, she crawled my entire body like a wounded, and moaning soldier on the frontline. Once, fully on top and facing me, she said with her typical intense voice: Impress me with your brains. It occurred to me, and I played a VHS tape I had borrowed from an old chum, of Greta Garbo’s Anna Karenina 1935, in decay. Well, yeah, to try to impress her with my cultural backdrop and shit.  The perfect artefact for a late evening binge. A truc macabre, so to speak.  The glitches and hiccups of the shivering images of Greta Garbo on the old TV set screen, did not corrupt the actress’s royal flare. What a Dame! I thought. What an ass! I thought in sequence. As I took turns looking at both the screen and the Chiquita’s naked, greasy, and flattened body shimmering in the dark, and glowing like a sea-urchin in the deep. And I thought to myself: They don’t make round asses like this anymore. Sublime and holy. The truth of the matter is she was lying right before my own eyes to see: Face-down with a few hours to spare, and I was shit sex-hungry. Infinitely famished. I was after her strawless lid. Her strapless cap.  It was my turn to crawl all over her and once in position I slurped her strapless lid for hours. Out of a sudden, I decided to burn my bacon bazooka inside her fireplace. A regal act.  We fucked for hours. Like two little kids grounded inside their tiny, little school for the weekend, in solitary confinement.  Her final spark was her peculiar climax. Unequal. Unusual.  One of a kind.  Pristine and immaculate.  The street below, stretched, tall and empty, kept shifting shadows and light as the clock ticked and the seconds died forever. I took off.  Had to: I zigzagged my way to the Demarcation Line, past sandbags and burning silhouettes of cars, in fall-off. A conspicuous tactic that I deployed every time to avoid unleashed android-snipers on the loose.  Whether someone or something conforms to customary patterns or deviates from them depends on one’s point of view: Behind the concepts of normality and abnormality is the assumption that there is a single standard by which to judge everything. What may be normal to one group, however, may be unacceptable to another. I had the same Walkman on, with the same headphones arching the same epic oval head –of mine- I displayed for a thousand times at the frontline. Every time.  A truc macabre. I played Monk Live in Paris 1964 every time. Non-stop. It was more like a frontline pursuit, just for kicks. A grotesque-act of reverie.  A snow-white 1979 Super-Beetle Cabriolet stopped right there in the middle of nowhere, just a few steps from the line.   I couldn’t identify any of its occupants –who wore ceremonial masks, just for kicks. The truth of the matter is they all looked like soul-reapers with scythes.  Next, they revealed their hidden and nasty-looking arms and fired up abruptly in all directions for at least seven random minutes. At the end of which, the snow-white Beetle stood-still in complete stillness. Suddenly, that tiny little wagon was showered and hammered countless times with all sorts of ammo. An RPG sealed its fate, turning them and the vehicle into a burning chunk of metal and flesh. A suicidal undertaking. An eccentric haze shrouded my eyesight. That day, I met the iconic Wesley Ruggles on the Demarcation Line in Downtown Beirut. A day-to-remember. I was surrounded by eccentric structures –which stood tall beholding my own state of incongruity. I stood almost mortified in the middle of the forlorn battleground, in quiet.  Out of a thick, almost-mythical mist, a machine gun re-surfaced and finally rested on my temple.  Pristine and Immaculate.  I stood-still.  Did not utter a word for an entire Trevi-Fountain second. I still remember that cowboy’s brimmed-shape-white-Panama-hat, silk shirt, striped pants and his green suspenders. A distinctive and manly act. He looked like an older fashion model from GQ magazine. I still remember when he looked at me for the last time and said: Learn how to cook and spend less, save time and have sex more often. The noise of my camera release bottom echoed and re-echoed in the stillness of that barren place, bouncing off the empty, worn-out, and shattered walls and streets around me. On that cool Winter-day and somewhere in another part of town, The Red Prince carried a pistol holstered in brown leather and worn on his hip a la Clint Eastwood. He was a playboy alright, on his way to his final rave. He was in a two-Chevi station wagons convoy heading from Georgina’s flat to his mother’s, for a birthday party. Chambers was on her balcony, graciously painting, and her sinister red Beetle was parked right below on Rue Verdun.  As Salameh’s convoy passed that red wagon at 3:35 pm and turned onto Rue Madam Curie, a hundred Kilos of explosives attached to the car by a Mossad agent was remotely detonated either by Chambers herself or on her signal to another Mossad agent. They did not mistake him this time. A truc macabre.  The blast left Salameh conscious, but severely wounded and in great pain, having pieces of steel shrapnel embedded in his head and throughout his body.  He was rushed to The American University of Beirut Hospital, where he died on the operating table at 4:03 pm. Salameh’s four bodyguards and four bystanders were also killed, and at least 16 people were injured.  I was on the other end of town, with Wesley Ruggles sipping some single malt whisky, in some random bar, surrounded by Frenchies at the moment of the blast.  The air had turned purple and a crowd rushed in on an empty street. You could feel the heat of the day in full armor.  “We’re out of condoms, sir” said a muffled voice behind the counter.  It had started to rain and I was already overtly provoked and ready for Yasmine, as she waited in the solitude of that apartment in Sodeco.  I was only nineteen at the time, had memorized the entire First Act of The Birthday Party for a purpose, was semi-high and had impressed my Mass Communication professor just that very morning on what made the news as concept: The dog who bites the woman or the woman who bites the dog.  My wallet was emptied and as I reached for a lighter placed candidly on that rustic shelf, I remembered: Wine! The bottle of wine that she had ordered.  I was keen on bringing bottles of wine to my heated one-nights.  I knew that this was nothing but another hit and run and she was to turn into another of my victims.  I don’t feel sorry for her.  She had used me in the past and so it was my way of getting even.  It was a sort of payback.  Just like that time when my bestie fucked another bestie and I had to put up with it.  Only time brought me justice. When I fucked her ex-wife just for fun. And Am in no position to brag about it.  To tell you the truth, she was most probably under age, and I am talking about Yasmine, of course. But she had been impressed by my poor acting and most likely my Latin stage presence.  She would call me Pacino –for some weird, unstated reason. And I liked it. I used to call her Frenchie.  My immediate purpose was to make it to the car. That’s for sure.  You guessed it: My Rover. I was high.  I was drunk.  Beirut looked like a scrapyard and I was detained by a Danish lady who was looking for a bar. She wore a white dress and lime green, round hoop earrings. I am pretty sure I gave her the wrong route, while at it. Sorry to disappoint you, lady. I thought minutes later.  But for once I didn’t feel bad about it.  I was entitled to my foolish act.  I had someone waiting for me.  All alone, remember: Frenchie in Sodeco.  Most probably cold and most probably feeling melancholic as she waited for Pacino on his way. And perhaps, fuck-hungry. I had this wacko-concept: That it was a matter of national interest to satisfy lonesome women in a lonesome city for the night. To keep them warm and content. An Eastern-affair.  At least, I felt entitled due to my evident arrogance, primitive experience and to be honest: Well, I was desperate for a fuck! A truc macabre, so to speak. I was reduced to an android-Pacino on the run.  A mutant gorilla on the loose. I walked with a typical Latino swagger –That I had picked from remote days when I used to live in a trailer park peopled by exotic wackos and misfits. My own reflection on the adjacent window display –as I walked through, seemed to repeat Pacino motifs in my head and all around me. And it was all accentuated by my own motion and light and penumbra. I don’t know why but I always had this impression that Pacino was the epitome of manliness. And Yasmine’s impression of me –in turn, made it unblemished. I was about to become one, on a professional level. Distinct and sexual. A series of failed affairs, my constant agitation looking for a reason to be, to exist and my endless struggle in settling down, and trying constantly to find momentarily satisfaction in whatever I was doing at the time, made a serious vagabond out of me –but with good intentions. I landed jobs of all kinds.  Appropriate and suitable ones, and totally despicable and thorny.  But it was part of the bigger mosaic of shitless nonsense I was in, in a city that did not appreciate its most notable artists.  And this perhaps was one of the reasons I found solace in night encounters. I didn’t measure or anticipate the consequences.  I was a soldier of fortune playing his best hand every time, regardless of the fallout.  I found delight in loving women: Women of all walks of life.  A weekly-affair of enormous after-effect. Jazz and Booze adjusted the happenstances. I was a hero for a night, every other night: Hidden from the rays of shame and banality. Hidden from the rays of sun and dust in perpetuity.  I was alas! stuck in reverse in the cycle of my own propensity. Love affairs, in one way or another had destroyed me.  I was left with nothing but the nucleus of a man that once was! Alone, desperate and attempting to become the reflection of the Pacino who had just glimmered before him. I derived pleasure from ecstasy. And ecstasy from pleasure.  I was an android-Romeo equipped with apps and wine. The shine of the screen reminded me of Frenchie, dripping messages of small talk and nonsense every once in a while. Where are you? Why are you taking this long? Try not to be late and so on and so forth, with the typical French-English accent. This was a boring part.  I detested it. I had to put up with lots of shit. Birds, dogs, cats, and a gold-fish named Cookie Monkey.  And even a Parrot, that I taught Spanish. Oye, Puto: Chupame la Pinga. This was a daily punch line. It felt good, for a while.  But after that, the whole enterprise became mechanical, it turned hysterical and unemotional. Not my regular cup of coffee. Her sofa bed was remarkably enormous. Of course, some of her pets found sanctuary there.  I was happy to know that some had died a few months later only to gather she had replaced most of them to no avail. Let me be more honest: Yasmine was my playmate.  A pet of my own.  I don’t mean to sound wicked, but she had stripped me down to the ground. Of all my talent and my merits.  I had lost all my medals and my marvels since the end of the Civil war and no one had hugged me, like really hugged me ever since. It was a masterful act of her part. We were two gorilla mutants of intimacy.  She used to remind me that we were up for it only if we agreed that -that was going to be the only night together.  And of course, it wasn’t. We used to bang like rabbits every once in a while. She was high and I was drunk.  A perfect match.  A truc macabre. I was her pet.  Her Pluto – for all I know.  I drove my car to Sodeco.  The rain had stopped partially.  Some garbage cans were in flame around corners. A typical yet berserk Pacino scene in the making, unfolding before me.  I looked around me to see if some random passenger from a random passing vehicle would recognize me, from a random scene I was part of, the night before on a local TV network. An absurd act of vanity. A woman stood nearby.  She approached my half-open window.   The breeze coming in made the perfect match for my Monk –Live in Paris 1964.  She said: “Sodeco!” I said” “Yes!” She got in.  I said: “No. Not that way!” She looked at me as if I had slain her entire race or tribe.  I succumbed in silence. Did her the favor in utter quiet. I smiled a Mona Lisa smirk and drove in partial stillness, turned down Monk playing and closed the window entirely. How could I ruin the moment? We were both happy. In our driving act.   Me driving to my fuck and she, well, she was comfortably being driven to her random location in Sodeco. A night scene. I did not utter a word until we got there. She was about to pay the alleged taxi fare when another stranger said: “Hamra!” I had to open the door and step away from my Rover to inspect it.  It didn’t look at all like a taxi or cab –to sound more Pacino-like, if you know what I mean.  What is wrong with these people? I thought to my-self. The pale color of my car, the sudden rain and the smoke curling up in the air, in a New-York fashion, it prompted such reactions, most probably. At night, everything changes and a lie becomes the truth.  I got pissed.  I was going to be late. You don’t want to miss a fuck.  They say it’s bad luck. And now this: Taken or mistaken for a Travis Bickle in the middle of Beirut at 11 PM. A truc macabre. Let me just say that our friendship had lasted for over twenty years. Yasmine –or Frenchie as I used to call her, was a hell of a woman.  She was smart, tenacious, multi-talented and had an Italian flare, for all the time we were together.  She never lost it. I was amazed. But for some random reason I was at the end of the day -Her Pluto. Her pet-playmate.  Pluto is just a random name.  You can call me any pet name, if you want to.  I wouldn’t even know it.  I would be long gone.  Doing Yasmine or maybe slurping her strawless lid, her strapless cap for an eternity. The truth of the matter is our one-night stand lasted for seven years.  Tonight, was a random night.  Just like any other random night. Nothing special about it, except for the Danish lady with a white dress and lime green, round hoop earrings, and the random passengers who had mistaken me for a cabbie in a cab film. Often times I would turn violent on Yasmine. Like shit crazy. I lost control several times. I do regret that now. I used to hit, punch, strike, beat, slap, smack, hand-cuff her to her bed, so drunk that she wouldn’t even remember it, the next morning. She would laugh and kind of let go. I used to slam her against the closet like shit crazy. I –once, smashed her head with a Chinese vase just because she changed some random TV channel that I wasn’t even watching.  I was high.  She was drunk. I still remember when I smashed some window panels at her place, one day, by simply walking through.  It was so lucid, I didn’t even see them block my way.  That one time, a police patrol was called in but made no arrests. Her favorite part was the whipping we did.  It took months of self-adaptation and re-adjustments.  She got so used to it she said one time she was addicted to it. That she didn’t want to stop and that if we did, she’d probably kill herself. And I liked it. She didn’t want me to stop, alright. I kept going. It kept rolling. Her addiction was Freud-induced. Mine was cigar and booze. That’s what made matters worse. I had become ill-tempered.  Nothing could fix that. Out of nowhere I had this idea: To get drunk before I go up and see her. And so I did. Got wasted, went up and the first thing I did when I saw her was go down on her and eat her strawless lid for hours. I still remember when one night I went up to see her, and for some wacko reason she wouldn’t let me in.  She blocked my way in, like completely.  She said she had a friend inside and that she wasn’t feeling ok. That was an eye-opener for me. Her cat kept meowing at my foot. In a sudden act, I lifted that poor thing with my foot and threw him or her –You tell me, over the stairway.  I heard it still meow down there in the dark. For quite some time.   A truc macabre.  I still think about it. It makes me feel uneasy. It gives me the shivers. Just to think about it. Sometimes I dream of the poor little cat down there in the dark looking at me, waiting for the day to get even. I can still feel the spell of that cat all around me.  Well, if there’s any consolation, I am truly sorry for that. Guilt chased me and still chases me like a wounded dog and that time when I fucked this part-time actress and got her pregnant.  Well, it took years before she could show some mercy.  She never said it but I guess she did forgive me in the end.  As for Frenchie.  I see her from time to time, you know.  Am her Pluto. Her pet-playmate.  Pluto is just a random name.  You can call me any pet name, if you want to.  I wouldn’t even know it.  I would be long gone. Doing Yasmine or maybe slurping her strawless lid, her strapless cap for an eternity.  She came out of her apartment building in a haste, and as she opened my red Rover Mini Cooper door and got in, I threw out the window my half-way consumed zeppelin on the loose, I had lit a few minutes ago for convenience, as I listened to Monk Live in Paris, 1965.   She hated Jazz but budged in the middle of a speedy fuck.  As a matter of fact, she would turn the volume up and tell me that the music drove her nuts.  Little I knew, back then, that that zeppelin tail would plunge upon the bubbling sidewalk, that afternoon, like a Hindenburg in 1937, while its nose, rose into the air like a breaching whale. My mini-Hindenburg smashed what was left of a line of symmetrically-aligned ants on their way to an important meeting.  They were all in black and looked serious. Chiquita threw herself onto her seat, tossed her bag onto the back seat, shifted her weight multiple times and finally sat straight up looking ahead like a sphinx.  She said: You can go now. I drove my Rover like I stole it -as my little serious victims were dispersing, in notable confusion, and in random fashion right outside my half-open window. The sandstorm I left behind grew taller than the lamp posts scattered along the street and above the noise of TV game shows poorly produced. The shadows of that afternoon street were eating up silhouettes and those silhouettes were in turn forming in surrounding walls and facades in a fatuitous manner. Chiquita and I knew each way back.  From school days when we were young and tall and vigorous.  She found pleasure in random talk, random acts. She once told me that it was more meaningful for her to justify her request of seeing me than to just say what she wanted right away.  A modus operandi, so to speak.  As I drove past flower shops and pharmacies, lingerie stores and sex toys swaying like giant bait worms on display, I thought I should get a dog and maybe a girlfriend, for all I know.  -A way of mending up my lonesome act, and one or two forlorn Beirut afternoons, while at it.   And maybe why not get a real job. And actually, do something for a living.  This business of random projects, and freelance writing was getting on my nerves. The job wasn’t but the pay was. A truc macabre. She was gorgeous-looking, the kind of a girl you want to hit on, and do from time and time and well yeah, like try to keep for a while.  The fact is she was unquenchable, hard to stop once in, and her demands grew more assiduous as our afternoon escapades became more regular. She said: Stop the car. We sat there in the middle of nowhere. Monk was a Devil in a state of total rapture. I kissed her soft lips with no bad intentions in mind. She slurped my bacon bazooka several times just for kicks.  On-lookers stood by. She grabbed my handle for reassurance, gave it a good brush and sat on me like she really had missed it.  She spat at it multiple times, my face was all over the ceiling and the windshield, and I was roaring like a wounded lion, like a man who had bet his life saving on second running-horse in the races. She was high on Blow. I was a jazz freak.  She loved History books and Italian cuisine: She was an expert at Pasta Carbonara. She’d cook the pasta in salted water, and cook some tomatoes in a large skillet over medium-high heat with olive oil and stirring often, until it slightly softened for around three minutes. She would then add some shallots and cook, stirring until the shallots and tomatoes softened for the same amount of time or so.  She would then add the garlic, some natural herbs and finally bring to a boil.  Once done, she would blend the mix using a hand blender –no wonder she was good at hand jobs.  Buon appetito!  è delizioso. That day she was draped like a mannequin in a display window. She wore a horrible, loose-fitting vintage dress, and no make-up. Stained with dark spots of coffee, that did not taste good, which she had, early in the morning. And her regular flat green shoes.  She always wore green shoes.  She squashed a gum behind her front teeth. Her finger-nails in double-decker red.  Both her earrings scintillated an assortment of a spectrum caused by the light diffused through the silver clouds, and bouncing off strategically located car handles in car doors.  I thought to myself: What a lucky bastard! I was the luckiest bastard in West Beirut.   As I pulled the metallic cold through my nostrils and a line or two of blow coke in a sporadic fashion while at it, a snow-white cigarette of three to four inches in length, resting between her fingers, burned down onto a memory. She squeezed my bacon bazooka with her free hand, thinking maybe she would make it spill by way of her magic. She was in her late thirties and I was assailed by a huge range of a regrets and shames and disappointments.  Assaulted by a series of failed relationshits. It was in that very instant, she tried desperately to project a cheerful air: I think am in love, with your dick.  Dogs and birds were leaping from one tree to another undetected. A truc macabre. She looked out the window and I pretended her say something in French like: On a froid. On est seuls.  Mais au moins, on sait où trouver de la chaleur. She looked back at me for an entire Trevi-Fountain second. Gallant and noble. The emotions she had stirred were exactly where we had left them. Undetected.  I was making a much-needed escape from my own trivial life, to try to reconnect back with it. It was a favorite pastime. The way of a dog, astray and awry, one afternoon in the city. Freud would have laughed, and probably join in. He would say some like I am in for the blow, man. Do what you want with her lid. Now that I come to think about it: The old man did flash in my memory a couple of times, while at it.  I pictured him in that coat, with the classic white beard, all cracked up coke-high and murmuring to himself: Turn that Monk shit up. A moment later I detected her stripping from waste down.  She looked strikingly beautiful. Her pristine shadow making a regal comeback as her hair swayed in all directions.  I was a bohemian in my final act, she was Lucifer desperate for more.  Stonie wore a Machiavellian smile and fashioned a Cobra Shades just like the ones Stallone wore as Marion Cobretti in Cobra, 1986.  The truth of the matter is this guy looked more like a train-ticket conductor or inspector with a twist, for all I know. He looked like a mutant gorilla on the run.  And not even close to what a member of an elite division called Zombie Squad looked like. A truc macabre.  After a moment, he panned his head appearing entirely as a more recent version of the black drummer in Youtube Bill Withers’ Ain’t No Sunshine, with a grin. He looked up from his tiny, half-open, smoke-twirling-window and said: Hello Mr. Ruggles, am Stonie.  Welcome to Lebanon. The Switzerland of the East. Wesley Ruggles – was an accomplished and prominent American photojournalist.  He got in the back seat of the white Peugeot 504 and smiled all the way to the Commodore Hotel in Hamra. Stonie looked at his customer adjusting himself in the back seat, as he got in, on the rear-view mirror and said: Our country is the best place if you wish to take on the challenge of surfing and skiing on the same day. There’s no particular way to do it – some prefer to hit the waves early in the morning and end the day with a cup of mulled wine after a great ski or snowboard session; others prefer to hit the slopes in the morning and watch the sunset from Ain El Mraisse on West End, after catching some waves. It’s really up to you, Mr. Ruggles. You decide.  I leave it up to you. Wesley Ruggles grinned.  He wasn’t much of a talker, if you know what I mean.  He nodded affirmatively to all the words Stonie shot at him.  Lester Young Stardust – 1952 was coming out of the radio. Soft and easy. Let me tell ya a story.  Stonie said:  Two families were arguing in a field about where the boundary between their lands lay.  The dispute dated back a long time and blood had been shed a number of times.  A boy, a child of some eight or nine years, picked up a stick and drew a line in the earth.  When asked what he was doing, he said he was marking the boundary as it had been agreed at the last round of negotiation, long before he was born.  His father asked him how he knew this, and the boy replied that he was the reincarnation of a man the father had killed in the feud.  When the child revealed details of the shooting that only the dead man and his killer could have known, his father embraced his former adversary who was now his son. Both families wanted the feud to end.  It had been costly in terms of lives, and all were seeking a way out of a resumption of hostilities. Wesley Ruggles said: Take to me to the Green Line. Now.  The war sound kept coming in and out of my head, and a couple was still banging inside a tiny yellow Fiat not far away from where I was standing.  A mechanical undertaking.  Not much emotion/commotion at play except for their intense sexual collaboration.  A deliberate, indecent exposure.  The gurl – a night-time frontline-regular took turns shifting her rear-end from East to West in a regal act. A line up of militiamen stood in queue on both of ends of the line to shag her. A surreal act. A moment of truce.  Both the gurl and the city were completely naked, shattered and decrepit. Partly broken, partly rotten, and partly forgotten. For years, I was a war junkie in Beirut.  A crowded jeep of militiamen stopped and disembarked on a random sidewalk of a deserted, and smashed street on the other end of the city.  They all looked like knights subpoenaed by the monarch who was pissed and drunk and tired. For a moment, they all looked irritated and pissed off. A sort of a fashion insignia they all displayed just for kicks. A war-affair. Hip and ceremonial. Then, they began to disperse along the sidewalk in zigzag, with machine guns and RPGs pointing upward.  Their beards, long and unpleasant, pointing downward.  And their self-esteem half-way in between. They all came for the cut.  The King’s cut. The truth of the matter is the King Salon was the hippest place in town. A classic spot. A royal den.  The cosmopolitan centre of Beirut. So, to speak.  Everybody was there.  A meeting place for spies, including Kim Philby and Archie Roosevelt, and CIA men such as Miles Copeland as well as journalists of the caliber of John Chancellor and Sulzberger. Numerous diplomats and politicians, business tycoons and oil Sheikhs, they all mixed with oil and banking tycoons of the day molding the clientele of this classic establishment.  A royal place.  During the 50’s and even early 70’s the plots, the deals, and the stories that came out of this famous barbershop in Beirut were gripping. Plots and counter-plots, stretching over a quarter of a century echoed and re-echoed inside, every time.   Rumor has it, many incidents which helped to shape and re-shape Middle Eastern history are associated with the Salon: The attempt to overthrow King Hussein of Jordan, for instance. It was partially destroyed in the Two-Year war, but it was totally re-erected and managed to preserve its heyday reputation for a while.   I used to come here when I was little. A place to chill. A room where you could conduct business as usual without the hassle of the real workplace. A place you didn’t call a café for prestige and yet it was almost one. The tea they served was splendid and kingly. And ladies used to stay out on the sidewalk just for thrills, with the hope to catch heartthrobs on the loose. I went out with a new hair-cut. The King’s cut. I was the King’s Knight for the night.  I kick-started my bike and cruised for a while. A poet on tour.  Roaming the city.  Looking for a one-night stand. Or at least what appears to be.  I saw a solitary figure standing on a random spot.  A black woman with an Afro.  It was just perfect.  She jumped me on the highway the time it took me to give her a ride home.  A truc macabre. I pressed the number nine button inside the elevator of my apartment building.  I was tired and wired. As the elevator began to go up it suddenly stopped.  I was alone. And forgotten for a while.  Dangling by a cord. Forsaken.  Maybe.  I masturwaited the hour. Power was restored and I made it to my apartment safely. Minutes later the phone rang. She said: Baby, are you craving me tonight.  The next thing I know I have couple of Lesbians over slurping my bacon bazooka just for kicks. A royal act. Worthy of enjoyment with what I called decent music: I used to play Stevie Wonder’s Superstition really loud on my Marshall speakers in decay, while at it. A ritual of old fun-days when I was young, full of sperms, and needs and itches. The funny part –though, is that I always experienced something peculiar in that very moment of sorts. Hard to explain but I saw the trailer of my own life lived, projected on the facing wall. A broken wall.  I reminisced about past affairs and was transfixed by the lingering memory of a blow job as well as a highly visual fuck-climax. Vivid and highly pictorial.  Cheers! They both said. As they both poured all the wine content, glittering in penumbra, upon my bacon bazooka.  It looked like a copper fall unleashing. Unceasing. A truc macabre.   A royal act. Three was company.  Beirut was a junkyard of scrap metal and waste back then.  A place for sub-humans and android-machines on the run. BB 62 opened fire and hit some targets on the outskirts of the city. I was an android-cowboy in disguise.  Rumors had it the bomb shells were all empty. As the American destroyer showered guerilla positions in Souk el Gharb, I was firing my own cannon all over the Lesbians scattered along enemy lines inside my dim room, not far away from the Demarcation Line in Beirut.  A supreme act. A simultaneous-affair. Many years later, I had a similar experience when I was shagging this Pilipino gurl -in a random hotel in Jounieh, just for kicks, while watching the final of the World Cup in 2010. I still remember cumming inside her mouth at the exact moment Iniesta was kicking the ball inside the Netherland finish line.  A glorious-act of sorts.  The two Lesbians just loved the feeling of a revolver barrel inside them. A truc macabre. A regal tactic of enormous after-effect.  For some reason, they used to revere the freshly fired metal tube with both frame and cylinder inside. I never understood why.  I stood there. Earnest and ceremonial in my act.  Viewing the trailer of my own life on the facing wall of that dim room, and watching my bacon bazooka in constant spa-treatment mode. Graceful and yet unpretentious. The afternoon rushed in like a Belgian train in mid-voyage, that never made it on time. I dreamed of flatbread pizza, in the wasteland. Reminisced about my last, fast-paced failed love-affair and my futile attempt at piano lessons. We laughed, as we talked and killed the hours away. We imagined moments-to-be. Mostly naked. For some strange reason, they both loved to be touched on their forehead. A women-thing.  On their eye-brows to be exact.  The truth of the matter is that they both were willing to try new things –in private. My type of women.  Alone and crazy. A mind-type. Affectionate, and calm on the outside, and yet crazy and freaky on the inside. To tell you the truth I pretended I read more books than they both presumed I did. I wrestled with my own thoughts and delusions.  Concealed my deeper feelings and idiosyncrasies -in the midst of our talk. In the middle of a futile war with no ending.  A Gemini-kind-of-thing with a thrill.   I was after their strapless lid. What else do you expect: One of the few remaining standard activities in Dystopia, at the time. I fucked them both for a while and I got kind of bored afterwards.  The truth of the matter is I completely lost interest in them.  Soon after, I found my next victim. A young, fresh psychology graduate with a healthy appetite for sex and a delightful fashion-style that managed to trigger my bacon bazooka, back. This next fuck-affair with Luciana kept rolling for more than we both expected. She was the kind of girl who would do anything to satisfy you.  I acted in kind. I used a proactive approach with her, for as long as it lasted. She was worth the try: Worth every single sperm I spared on her lower and upper abdomen. And well, yeah often times on her breasts and her cute, funny face.  A truc macabre. She loved to be chased after -for sex. She loved BJs as much. And she used to brag about it in public.  A few weeks later, I found out she was sleeping with a couple of other guys from around the block, for subsistence, and with some big shot of sorts, as well.  A playboy –so to speak. Loaded with guns and green.  Good for her. She was a practical kid, with lots of love to spare.  And lots of ambition. I fired up my gorgeous-looking Jimmy and made some smoke rings with my mouth, for my own amusement, that is. And that lasted for quite a while. She had a shower: Poured herself a drink, and walked slowly the seventeen steps, all the way to my bed, completely naked.  Next, she crawled my entire body like a wounded, and moaning soldier on the frontline. Once, fully on top and facing me, she said with her typical intense voice: Impress me with your brains. It occurred to me, and I played a VHS tape I had borrowed from an old chum, of Greta Garbo’s Anna Karenina 1935, in decay. Well, yeah, to try to impress her with my cultural backdrop and shit.  The perfect artefact for a late evening binge. A truc macabre, so to speak.  The glitches and hiccups of the shivering images of Greta Garbo on the TV screen, did not corrupt the actress’s royal flare. What a Dame! I thought. What an ass! I thought in sequence. As I took turns looking at both the screen and the new chick’s naked, greasy, and flattened body shimmering in the dark, and glowing like a sea-urchin in the deep. And I thought to myself: They don’t make them like this anymore. Sublime and Holy. A Regal act.  I was talking about the chick’s ass. What else. I mean, the truth of the matter is she was lying right before my own eyes to see: Face-down with a few hours to spare. And I was fuck-hungry. Endlessly famished. I was after her strawless lid. Strapless cap. Flavorsome and scrumptious like shit crazy.  I crawled all over her on the bed and -once in position, I slurped her strapless lid for hours. I grinned. Placed my half-consumed Jimmy on the loose on the Buddha-ashtray I had in store from my old days in Kamasutra-training in New Delhi. I decided to burn my bacon bazooka inside her fire place. We fucked for hours.  Her spark was her unusual climax.  Pristine and immaculate.  The streets below and around me were dim and vacant. Cold and bare. I took off.  Had to: I zigzagged my way to the Demarcation Line, past sandbags and burning silhouettes of cars, in fall-off. A conspicuous tactic that I deployed every time to avoid unleashed android-snipers on the loose. Or mutant gorillas on the run –as I used to call them.  Whether someone or something conforms to customary patterns or deviates from them depends on one’s point of view: Behind the concepts of normality and abnormality is the assumption that there is a single standard by which to judge everything. What may be normal to one group, however, may be unacceptable to another. I had the same Walkman on, with the same headphones arching the same oval head I displayed for a thousand times at the frontline. A truc macabre. I played Monk Live in Paris 1964 every time.  Every day. Non-stop. It was more like a frontline pursuit, just for kicks. A Grotesque affair.  Stories of love and madness is all I heard on both ends of the Demarcation Line. A snow-white 1979 Super-Beetle Cabriolet stopped right there in the middle of nowhere. Just a few steps from the Line. I could not identify any of its occupants, who wore ceremonial masks, just for kicks. The truth of the matter is they all looked like soul-reapers with scythes. They then revealed their hidden arms abruptly, and opened fire in all directions for at least seven random minutes. At the end of which, the snow-white Beetle stood-still in complete silence. Out of a sudden, that tiny little wagon, was showered and hammered countless times with all sorts of ammo.  An RPG sealed its fate, turning them into a burning chunk of metal and flesh.  A suicidal undertaking. An eccentric haze shrouded my eyesight. That day, I met the iconic Wesley Ruggles on the Demarcation Line in Down Town Beirut. On that taciturn Winter-day, and somewhere in town, The Red Prince carried a pistol holstered in brown leather and worn on his hip a la Clint Eastwood. He was a playboy alright, on his final rave. He was in a convoy of two Chevi station wagons heading from Georgina’s flat to his mother’s, for a birthday party. Chambers was on her balcony painting, and her red Beetle parked below on Rue Verdun.  As Salameh’s convoy passed that red wagon at 3:35 pm and turned onto Rue Madam Curie, a hundred Kilos of explosives attached to the car by a Mossad agent was remotely detonated either by Chambers herself or on her signal to another Mossad agent. They did not mistake him this time. A truc macabre.  The blast left Salameh conscious, but severely wounded and in great pain, having pieces of steel shrapnel embedded in his head and throughout his body.  He was rushed to The American University of Beirut Hospital, where he died on the operating table at 4:03 pm. I was surrounded by eccentric structures –which stood tall beholding my own state of incongruity. I stood almost mortified in the middle of the battleground, in silence.  Out of a thick, almost-mythical mist, a machine gun emerged and finally rested on my temple: I stood-still. I did not utter a word for an entire minute. A strange haze shrouded my eyesight. I still remember that android-cowboy with rifle still pointing at me, and with his brimmed-shape-white-Panama-hat, silk shirt, striped pants and his green suspenders. A distinctive and manly act.  I still remember when he looked at me for the last time and said: Learn how to cook and spend less, save time and have sex more often.  He was in a chill mood. He grinned at the end of his act and said: Hasta La Vista, Baby.  As for her:  She read the last couple of lines of a letter she kept in one of her emerald green coat’s inner pockets for the last time, folded the letter the way she was supposed to, placed the letter gently on the desk, took a pistol out of an upper drawer, put the pistol’s barrel inside her mouth and shot herself. She was six months pregnant. I can’t overlook the fact that her vagina was once snipped by a randy horn-eyed ghost crab confusing her fleshy bits for an open oyster on the beach, in spite of the fact that it was illegal to lie down there, naked. A foolish-act. The truth of the matter is some of her intimate friends were woken up by her screaming that somethin’ had bitten her and they were shocked to see a crab hanging off her privates. A morbid-act.  They had no choice but to release the pinchers open and free her from his grip. The recollection of that sinister incident turned me on every time she narrated it. Lustful and lecherous.  I guess her secret weapon was the knockout garlic-herb butter she used to brush each oyster with arranged in a single-layer on the grill. And subsequently, cook out uncovered for seven minutes or at least until the edges curled. The truth of the matter is eating oysters and sex merged well.  A magic-twist. I guess the salty juice and soft flesh of the oyster had the power to excite.  In both, eating oysters and sex, one used all five senses just for kicks. I fell in love with Maria at around 23:09 -a shy drizzle was splashing in part the dimly-lit sidewalk, sideways, under her timid window, on a shady and tall street, on the darkest side of the city. Beirut looked like a ghost town.  Monk Live in Paris 1965 was coming out of my antique and antediluvian car audio-stereo in decay.  My rover was in fractional dimness shrouded under some dusty and grim almond tree leaves in fall-off. She was on her knees –slurping my bacon bazooka just for kicks and I was, well, yeah, a Superman with a red cap on and shit, standing in supremacy over her and all the glittering windows of a city that stood-tall and away: Distant, grim and in total silence. A morbid-act. I was a cowboy on the run.  I was a mutant gorilla on the loose. Out of a sudden, a crowd jumped up and down in total hysteria: At precisely 16:09 local time Diego Armando Maradona kicked the ball over the English line and hit the net in Aztec Stadium on June 22. I was in and came inside Maria’s strapless lid at that precise instant. It was perfect. A Sunday like no other. Diego’s solo goal was the greatest ever scored after a mazy run. I was a Diego of my own.  Diego scored twice on that day.  I –on the other hand, scored multiple times.  And with no assurance cap on whatsoever. The crowd all around chanted Goal! The chant was for me.  A shy drizzle was splashing in part the dimly-lit sidewalk, sideways, under her timid window, on a shady and tall street, on the darkest side of the city. Beirut looked like a ghost town.  Monk Live in Paris 1965 was coming out of my antique and antediluvian car audio-stereo in decay.  My rover was in fractional dimness shrouded under some dusty and grim almond tree leaves in fall-off. She was back on her knees –slurping my bacon bazooka once and for all and just for kicks and I was, well, yeah, a Superman with a red cap on and shit, standing in supremacy over her and all the glittering windows of a city that stood-tall and away: Distant, grim and in total silence. The least I can say about her now is that she was rude and insolent with a whole array of bad manners to account for.  A spoiled-brat, so to speak.  She always got what she wanted. Her daily impertinence and rude behavior was a daily affair. A daily-act. Typical of her on a Monday morning and salient of her on a Friday afternoon. A week-long attitude backed by the long-lasting reputation of a business family she belonged to -with a reputation for impertinence, impudence and effrontery of their own. “He’s got a lot of cheek to say that to me!” She said. The previous customer left mad. He left some angry words behind as well. He left for some random elevator at a random hospital and shot himself on the chest. I heard someone say it was Atoush Al Balanti –who could not take the loss of Brazil in 1986. The funny thing is that random characters kept shuffling in and out the barricades and the bullet-stoppers that provided cover.  Inside the lobby of the Holiday Inn hotel, some light bulbs hung down off the wall, chairs smashed up, and a piano that more or less survived was left untouched.  I was making a much-needed escape from my own trivial life, to try to reconnect with it. The way of a Japanese, dog, astray and awry, one afternoon in the city.  I don’t know why but for some strange reason, I always pictured a laughing-Freud around me.  It’s funny, but now that I come to think about it, the old man did flash in my memory a couple of times this time: In that dark coat, with the classic white beard, all cracked up coke-high and murmuring to himself: Turn up that Monk shit, you shit-head. Out of a sudden, I detected her stripping down naked.  She looked pretty in the penumbra.  Her nipple-shadow making a regal comeback as her hair swayed in all directions.  I was a bohemian in my final act.  She was Lucifer desperate for more.  Out of a thick, almost-mythical mist, a machine gun emerged and finally rested on my temple: I stood-still. I did not utter a word for an entire minute. A strange haze shrouded my eyesight. I still remember that android-cowboy with rifle still pointing at me, and with his brimmed-shape-white-Panama-hat, silk shirt, striped pants and his green suspenders. A distinctive and manly act.  I still remember when he looked at me for the last time and said: Learn how to cook and spend less, save time and have sex more often.  He was in a chill mood. He grinned at the end of his act and said: Hasta La Vista, Baby.  As for her:  She read the last couple of lines of a letter she kept in one of her emerald green coat’s inner pockets for the last time, folded the letter the way she was supposed to, placed the letter gently on the desk, took a pistol out of an upper drawer, put the pistol’s barrel inside her mouth and shot herself. She was six months pregnant. She was sweet sixteen and I was a fuckhead. All I could think of, all day, was how to stick my stick in that mouth-watering, vagina-shaped, oyster-like masterpiece of hers that protruded intimately between her legs. Her scrumptious, strawless lid. The truth of the matter is it always smelled like fresh butter. And for some weird reason I always obsessed about it.  She once asked to slow-dance with her at a party around the corner in the hood. And ever since I have been obsessing about it.  Saw a couple of doctors twice. Fucked a few of my ex’s several times but the obsession persisted. I even had a night and a day-time shifts for it. To tell you the truth: She was totally oblivious of my act. All I wanted was get in her pants and all I did was daydream about her Fallopian tubes. She had a cat called Lasagna. I had a fish called Monk. The cool thing about obsessing with Eva Salem’s strawless lid was the fact that it proved once and for all that I wasn’t gay.  A relief for all I know. My penis. was changing all the time and her nipples were growing and getting more and more gorgeous. I thought they could be a perfect match.    There I was waiting at the dentist’s clinic, waiting for one of the two gorgeous-looking dentist assistants to call my name and I was obsessing about Eva’s Fallopian Tubes. For some weird reason my dentist had two gorgeous-looking assistants: A black hair and a red hair. Out of nowhere: they walked my way and came down on me. Like hell-loose crazy.  Then I heard my name and snapped out of my daydream threesome. I made sure nobody noticed my Chinese-tomato-red-turned face, as I walked in.  The instant I was asked to lie on my back at the dental chair, I traveled in time to the day I met Eva Salem.  “Pardon can you say that again?” Eva Salem said.  I was like “uh?” Totally flabbergasted by her charming looks.  I said: “Sorry ..” She asked again: “ Can you tell me how do I get to the shoemakers place? If you please .. “  I was standing at the corner of Bliss and Jeanne D’arc. It was summer of 79. I said: You walk down this way, you go left then right … then you keep walking until you get to the intersection. Then you go right, then right again and you should be there in let’ say twelve minutes. “She said: Thanks! Gotta go.  I’ve got my period.  Can’t be late.” I was looking at her Boops –all the time. Like all the time.  Did not even blink for a sec, while giving her directions. I did not notice my dentist at all. He was busy looking deep into my mouth as I was roving in a submarine up Eva Salem’s Fallopian Tubes, humming The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine. I stood there just like the Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius, without the horse, though, with hand extended and everything and eyesight transfixed on her back and black hair as she walked away. Just like a ship sailing off never to return.  An old man watching over the scene yelled at me.  He said in a contemptuous fashion: Go! What are you waiting for? They all bleed from time to time! It’s fine. Just go.” I watched gay porn most of the afternoon just for kicks. Had a line or two of blow. And went out that night for a beer. That night I called the Night of the Pussy.  A truc macabre. She stepped out of the shower and onto a random bar soap left on that random floor almost unhidden. She slipped on that bathroom floor and hit the back of her head on the bath tub ceramic edge side, as her forearm hooked the dangling cord of a random iron on her way, dropping the iron, which in turn smashed onto the hot water, electrocuting her hair first. A truc macabre. She shook like an Oriental belly-dancer in a frenzy on stage at the Parisiana. Nawal was a stripper of a local breed -who did not find any purpose after the war. She was a big fan of karaoke nights and ice cream specially when feeling randy and on the look-out for some mutant gorilla on the loose, in the Jounieh Bay area. One of her fav pastimes was going to the Luna Park –a trendy amusement park at the time. That day she met Alejandro Jimenez, A Colombian diplomat of sorts on a mission in Beirut.  He had an Italian flare and wore green socks just for kicks.  This Alejo guy was a Bip-Bip of sorts. Always on the run.  And always late. He got in the back seat of the cab, dropped his sunglass in his jacket’s upper left side pocket and they in turn slipped through a sudden rip inside the jacket itself.  A truc macabre.  He spent the next fifteen minutes trying to get the specs back up and out. In vain.  He said: Stop the car! Stop the car! Came out and attempted on several occasions. Nothing. He fixed his stare at a lady having a double cheese burger inside a burger joint just across the street. Out of a sudden, her teeth came off as she took a bite. Shit! He thought. Am outta here. Paganini’s Devil Violinist was playing on the old car audio-stereo in decay. He had a line or two of blow as he left his warm apartment just an hour ago. Some folks around the corner were strumming an improvised version of Bob Dylan’s Knocking on Heaven’s Door in Arabic. A truc macabre. Stonie was a hell of a guy: A cabbie like no other in Beirut in 1979. He was obsessed with films and music of all genres and kinds. Owned a pug named Rambo just for kicks. And woke up to the Orchestral Suite of the Godfather-The Dream Part he had dubbed a few years ago via a friend who was a sound recordist. He puffed a Cuban cigar on Saturdays afternoon.  He had an adulation for both Greta Garbo and Oum Kalsoum at the same time.  A random pax whom Stonie called Good-for-nothing who was a regular Take-me-to-lunch-kinda-guy, was either going to or from one. The four characters were inside that cab as it drove past checkpoints and falling bombs. A war macabre. I was on the other end of the city blowing my Hubbly Bubbly and watching Alo Hayete on TV. The sound of the vacuum cleaner was so loud I had to yell at Fouad to stop it. He hoovered like a fencer. Eva Salem, on the other hand, was only sweet sixteen at the time and had the tallest legs to stroll with. A walking Twin-Towers. She was the most ravishing kid around the hood. The truth of the matter is she was a yo-yo with a deep groove, and attached to my index with a see-through, transpicuous, and thin string a la Mario Puzo. Only she spun alternately forward and backward –instead of downward and upward. I used to unwind and rewind the string with a flick of my wrist –as it pleased me.  And I did all that often. I called it the yo-yo affair. To tell you the truth she was a fuck-prospect, for all I know. She was a bitch on the run. And I was a mutant gorilla on the loose. There was something peculiar about her cheeks.  Her buttocks that it: Oven-hot and almost as if freshly made. Oven-fresh. I used to love her tasty arm on my face and lips when she slept over. Her unusual recipe of the Pao de Queijo was my all-time favorite and she was a master-chef of the cheese bread par excellence. A love-affair. And she had an unusual and sporadic sex-appetite, that was uncommon and rare.  The least I can say about her now is that she was rude and insolent with a whole array of bad manners to account for.  A spoiled-brat, so to speak.  She always got what she wanted. Her daily impertinence and rude behavior was a daily affair. A daily-act. Typical of her on a Monday morning and salient of her on a Friday afternoon. A week-long attitude backed by the long-lasting reputation of a business family she belonged to -with a reputation for impertinence, impudence and effrontery of their own. “He’s got a lot of cheek to say that to me!” She said.  The Westy camper was swooshing like a washing-machine with me and Little Sunshine inside. She sat on me for hours but looked at me in the eyes in one Trevi-Fountain second and said: A female elephant may physically encounter hundreds of other individuals in the course of her daily range. The individuals she meets will be related to her by different degrees, and known to her based on the frequency and the quality of their previous meetings and these factors will shape the nature and define the form of the relationship. An adult male, too, may meet and interact with hundreds of different individuals in the course of a day, though the type and nature of his relationships may be tempered by on his age and sexual state.  Some of the calls used by elephants are powerful low frequency vocalizations that carry over long distances. Elephant can recognize the voices of hundreds of other elephants from up to 2 kilometers away. Atoush el Balanti or the elephant-man had come back to his resting cave when he entered that hospital’s elevator in decay and pressed the second floor.  As he went up he pointed the gun’s barrel to his chest and shot himself to death.  A truc macabre. The elevator gradually came to a stand-still.  A random nurse with a random smirk directed her left arm slowly towards that shattered door and opened it in an abrupt fashion as the man slid on the back mirror leaving a red-velvet blood stain mark-patent on the surface, which reminded me when I was little I used to love sliding on the living room polished marble floor in my socks and fall over -head first, and crack my head open while at it.  The smell of blood gave me the shivers, back then. And still does.   I was a mutant gorilla on the loose. I was a cowboy on the run.   A brutal memory. A few paramedics rushed into the scene. The truth of the matter is I was waiting for a cousin of mine –who had broken what was left of his already broken nose, an hour earlier, trying to fix his TV antenna on top of his apartment building top floor, and skipping random sharp-shooters while at it. The poor chap fell head first and smashed his broken nose on the pavement. All the while, he was busy trying to impress some foxy nurse with a gorgeous-looking rack, and with an absurd, made-up argument: That the blasting noise of the trembling bullets that hit his and other apartment building rooftops, reminded him of Monk-Live-In-Paris-1965.  A repertoire-macabre. He never liked Jazz, for all I know. This old chap was a movie-theatre ticket clerk with no real purpose in life except to collect tickets and to pick up randy whores on the loose whenever he could afford it. He had no style.  No swagger. Let alone Mojo or some.  He was a random man.  A Beirut bastard. So, to speak.  Of many, the city despised and abhorred.  I parked my rover not far away from that Volkswagen camper of 1966 with a highly flashy neon light on top that read: Hot Prices in a fire ball and a front-side plate that read: I love sex, just for kicks. You could not miss other highly visual signs/stickers such as: Relax, sit on my face, motherfucker! Or Eat-Sleep-Kamasutra-Repeat, or my preferred-choice: Sex is like snow, you never know how long it will last, or how many inches. I Michael-Jacksoned my way to the half-way open camper door in penumbra. A cool-act. I wore my hair a la Capone just for kicks. A manly-act in 1986. It was more like a fashion statement, if you know what I mean. Then I thought to my-self:  What a sexy-looking machine that was. A Pick-up Westy of at least 11-windows or some that you could easily call a Bully. Eva Salem- Little Sunshine-Vanessa-Fay-Rebecca-Carmen-Amar-Sam-Gina-Tala-Nina-Toya-Orly and Tracy were all inside with legs spread-open. “Spread, a little more love! Come on! And don’t be shy about it!” Joujou, the camper-pimp said.  Of course, he meant ladies it’s time you show off your strapless cap.  Your strawless lid. A truc macabre.   A queue of late movie-goers and militiamen of sorts shuffled in and out of the line to smoke some Jimmies, on an adjacent sidewalk, just for kicks. For a Trevi-Fountain second, that Bully of a camper looked more like the Holiday Inn in flames, when first hit, early on, on the eve of the Civil War. A conflict-landmark.

Smoke rises from Beirut’s Holiday Inn during the early stages of Lebanon’s Civil War, December 15, 1975. (AP Photo)

https://timeline.com/photos-lebanese-civil-war-beirut-hotel-district-f64d4ee0c98e

Some chap in green was swaying by the rear hatch: Blow jobs were a standing-affair. And expensive ones too. He had his bacon bazooka inserted through the hatch and a gorgeous-looking Chiquita was taking good care of it.  If you know what I mean. A manly-act.  “Check the menu, man.” A voice behind me said. To tell you the truth, I was randy and so I did. I ordered a Doggy, The Om, A G-Whiz, a couple of Magic Mountains and topped them all with the Pinball Wizard. Wine-a-Go-Go was on the house and so it sounded like a good plan to save the night. Little Sunshine –my night-pick, was all I could afford that eve. She reminded me of Natasha, an old fuck-buddy from the college days, and so, all played down well. She mostly sat with legs bent or leaning back on her hand and forearms. My starter-act was The Chairman: A grinding position if you were after deep and abysmal penetration. Having your Chiquita kiss your shoulders and your neck all the while you played with her nipples was a cool act.  I did that on multiple occasions. She looked me in the eyes and said: Comeme, Puto. She loved to speak Spanish while at it.  A sexy-act. It made her randy. Of course, a sex toy made the whole experience worth the try. I loved manual stimulation. And so she did use one. Sex on wheels was electrifying. Unlike any other mobile experience: Now, don’t ask me why do it. Sometimes a man gotta do what he gotta do.  And gotta go where he gotta go. There is no point in arguing. That simple. I was a Rambo on the run: with a sex pistol on the loose. What a sexy looking machine that was. I mean look at that: I heard someone say that Volkswagen made nearly 3 million Type 2 models during the 51-year production lifespan. The Type 24 had a dashboard that included a speedometer, warning lights for oil pressure, main headlight beam and indicators. The fuel gauge was an option. There is a release knob that activates 1.1 gallons of reserve fuel to be added to the tank. That one in particular had a middle seat which is rather rare as most were removed to carry additional cargo.  She rubbed her strapless lid in a circular fashion with some Thai oil I had in store, using her left hand, and sitting back in the bunker of her bed, with her cherry-red lips squeezing a hard, spicy and fired-up Jimmy on the loose, that looked more like a German Hindenburg caught on fire attempting to dock on her scrumptious lips and she did all that with the elasticity of a gazelle in premonition of a fuck-up. Of an imminent death. A cruel act.  She looked me in the eyes and said: Last time I fucked six guys at the same time.  I don’t really know where does this obsession with sex come from.  I am talking about my own. I guess, and irrevocably, Freud was so right. Life was built round tension and pleasure. And all that build-up of libido I needed to discharge, somehow.  To release interminably. Curiously, she did not fuck me as much as I wanted to.  She was more of a mouth-inserter. Just like a baby who gets much satisfaction from putting all sorts of things in its mouth to satisfy her libido. She used to come to my place famished: And eat whatever she found in my tiny, little wagon with an engine.  She devoured ravenously and greedily what was left of a turkey and mashed potatoes I had saved for a lonesome afternoon and drank up all the beer cans standing proud and eerie in the deep of my light box. She did all that with the motivation of a fifteen-year old novice-cheerleader.  She sat back on my bunker of her bed and watched a silent black and white TV movie on an old TV set in decay, mute. A regal act.  Worthy of a pictorial endeavor a la Salvador Dali.  She was high.  I was drunk. The truth of the matter is she loved to sit back in the bunker of her bed and spit at her strawless lid, and scrub her strapless cap repeatedly, using her left hand, like there was no tomorrow, and drink wine all afternoon and part of the night.  And she did all that not far away from the Demarcation Line in no-man zone.  She was 15 and I was the luckiest bastard in West Beirut.  The memory of that fuck-up kept bouncing off the walls of my place like a stress ball in distress. Marlon Brando once couldn’t get it up. It was shameful and everything but I guess it was ok. She loved the feeling of a revolver barrel inside her. She used to revere the freshly fired metal tube with both frame and cylinder inside.  A regal tactic of enormous after-effect. One day and out of the blue, we decided to meet: In other words, to go out for a change. Greta Garbo’s was a warm and cozy brasserie outside Beirut, which had turned into a scrapyard. It was the perfect meeting-place for a Saturday afternoon wine A-Go-Go. The place was not crowded, as we expected. She came out of the android-Uber with a Latin flare, as we had agreed. Hard to explain if you didn’t have it in the first place.  I stood there. Earnest and ceremonial in my act. Looking at her royal-paced walk in euphoria. She walked my way the seventeen steps it took her to face me and kiss me on both cheeks and said: I missed you, my Pacino. Graceful and yet unpretentious. Her holy-halo leaked elements of light, spilling radiant and shiny bright as she moved forward.  That afternoon rushed in like a Belgian train in mid-voyage, that never made it on time.  We talked about flatbread pizza, her next mobile cinema project, in Dystopia. About her last, fast-paced failed love-affair and her attempt at piano lessons.  I listened, mostly.  For practical reasons. -A wisdom I had acquired in recent years, which had saved me plenty of time and effort and appetite. We had a couple of jumpy-chicken salads and local wine. Fresh and flavorsome. We laughed, as we talked about almost everything and nothing, and managed, gracefully, to kill the hour away. We both imagined moments-to-be, simultaneously. Mostly naked. For some strange reason, she loved to be touched on her forehead. A regal act of a woman on fire. On her eye-brows to be exact. She was the classic example of someone who knows what she wants and knows how to get it right away.  A negotiator, if you know what I mean. Willing to try new things –in private. My type of chick. Affectionate, and calm on the outside, and yet crazy and freaky on the inside. A mind-type. And believe it or not I was her perfect match. A sophisticated flirt in my own right: A wild and well-traveled and fearless Latino lover by birthright.  To tell you the truth I pretended I read more books than she presumed I did. A manly-affair.  I wrestled with my own thoughts and delusions as the afternoon got away. I concealed most of my inner feelings and idiosyncrasies -in the midst of our talk. A Gemini-kind-of-affair. I was after her strapless lid. What else.  One of the few remaining standard activities in Dystopia. The truth of the matter is we fucked for a while and I got kind of bored with her afterwards. I completely lost interest in her. A guy- thing –so to speak. But her healthy appetite for sex and her delightful fashion-style triggered my bacon bazooka, back. And the fuck-affair kept rolling for more than we both expected. She was the kind of a girl who would do anything to satisfy you.  I acted in kind. I used a proactive approach with her, for as long as it lasted.  She was predictable, but was worth the try, though. Worth every single sperm I spared on her lower and upper abdomen. And well, yeah often times on her tits and her cute, and funny face. I mean, why not. I had nothing to lose. I was a cowboy on the run.  She loved to be chased after -for sex. And after sex. She loved BJs as much, and she used to brag about it in public. A truc macabre.  A few weeks later, I found out she was sleeping with a couple of other guys from around the block, for subsistence, and with some big shot of sorts, as well.  A playboy –so to speak. Loaded with guns and green.  Good for her. She was a practical kid, with lots of love to spare. And lots of ambition. I fired up my gorgeous-looking Jimmy and made some smoke rings with my mouth, for my own amusement, that is. And that lasted for quite a while. She had a shower: Poured herself a drink, and walked slowly the seventeen steps, all the way to my bed, completely naked.  Next, she crawled my entire body like a wounded, and moaning soldier on the frontline. Once, fully on top and facing me, she said with her typical intense voice: Impress me with your brains. It occurred to me, and I played a VHS tape I had borrowed from an old chum, of Greta Garbo’s Anna Karenina 1935, in decay. Well, yeah, to try to impress her with my cultural backdrop and shit.  The perfect artefact for a late evening binge. A truc macabre, so to speak.  The glitches and hiccups of the shivering images of Greta Garbo on the old TV set screen, did not corrupt the actress’s royal flare. What a Dame! I thought. What an ass! I thought in sequence. As I took turns looking at both the screen and the Chiquita’s naked, greasy, and flattened body shimmering in the dark, and glowing like a sea-urchin in the deep. And I thought to myself: They don’t make round asses like this anymore. Sublime and holy. The truth of the matter is she was lying right before my own eyes to see: Face-down with a few hours to spare, and I was shit sex-hungry. Infinitely famished. I was after her strawless lid. Her strapless cap.  It was my turn to crawl all over her and once in position I slurped her strapless lid for hours. Out of a sudden, I decided to burn my bacon bazooka inside her fireplace. A regal act.  We fucked for hours. Like two little kids grounded inside their tiny, little school for the weekend, in solitary confinement.  Her final spark was her peculiar climax. Unequal. Unusual.  One of a kind.  Pristine and immaculate.  The street below, stretched, tall and empty, kept shifting shadows and light as the clock ticked and the seconds died forever. I took off.  Had to: I zigzagged my way to the Demarcation Line, past sandbags and burning silhouettes of cars, in fall-off. A conspicuous tactic that I deployed every time to avoid unleashed android-snipers on the loose.  Whether someone or something conforms to customary patterns or deviates from them depends on one’s point of view: Behind the concepts of normality and abnormality is the assumption that there is a single standard by which to judge everything. What may be normal to one group, however, may be unacceptable to another. I had the same Walkman on, with the same headphones arching the same epic oval head –of mine- I displayed for a thousand times at the frontline. Every time.  A truc macabre. I played Monk Live in Paris 1964 every time.  Every day. Every hour. Non-stop. It was more like a frontline pursuit, just for kicks. A Grotesque-act of reverie.  A snow-white 1979 Super-Beetle Cabriolet stopped right there in the middle of nowhere, just a few steps from the line.   I couldn’t identify any of its occupants –who wore ceremonial masks, just for kicks. The truth of the matter is they all looked like soul-reapers with scythes.  Next, they revealed their hidden and nasty-looking arms and fired up abruptly in all directions for at least seven random minutes. At the end of which, the snow-white Beetle stood-still in complete stillness. Suddenly, that tiny little wagon was showered and hammered countless times with all sorts of ammo. An RPG sealed its fate, turning them and the vehicle into a burning chunk of metal and flesh. A suicidal undertaking. An eccentric haze shrouded my eyesight. That day, I met the iconic Wesley Ruggles on the Demarcation Line in Downtown Beirut. A day-to-remember. I was surrounded by eccentric structures –which stood tall beholding my own state of incongruity. I stood almost mortified in the middle of the forlorn battleground, in quiet.  Out of a thick, almost-mythical mist, a machine gun re-surfaced and finally rested on my temple.  Pristine and Immaculate.  I stood-still.  Did not utter a word for an entire Trevi-Fountain second. I still remember that cowboy’s brimmed-shape-white-Panama-hat, silk shirt, striped pants and his green suspenders. A distinctive and manly act. He looked like an older fashion model from GQ magazine. I still remember when he looked at me for the last time and said: Learn how to cook and spend less, save time and have sex more often. The noise of my camera release bottom echoed and re-echoed in the stillness of that barren place, bouncing off the empty, worn-out, and shattered walls and streets around me. On that cool Winter-day and somewhere in another part of town, The Red Prince carried a pistol holstered in brown leather and worn on his hip a la Clint Eastwood. He was a playboy alright, on his way to his final rave. He was in a two-Chevi station wagons convoy heading from Georgina’s flat to his mother’s, for a birthday party. Chambers was on her balcony, graciously painting, and her sinister red Beetle was parked right below on Rue Verdun.  As Salameh’s convoy passed that red wagon at 3:35 pm and turned onto Rue Madam Curie, a hundred Kilos of explosives attached to the car by a Mossad agent was remotely detonated either by Chambers herself or on her signal to another Mossad agent. They did not mistake him this time. A truc macabre.  The blast left Salameh conscious, but severely wounded and in great pain, having pieces of steel shrapnel embedded in his head and throughout his body.  He was rushed to The American University of Beirut Hospital, where he died on the operating table at 4:03 pm. Salameh’s four bodyguards and four bystanders were also killed, and at least 16 people were injured.  I was on the other end of town, with Wesley Ruggles sipping some single malt whisky, in some random bar, surrounded by Frenchies at the moment of the blast.  The air had turned purple and a crowd rushed in on an empty street. You could feel the heat of the day in full armor.  “We’re out of condoms, sir” said a muffled voice behind the counter.  It had started to rain and I was already overtly provoked and ready for Yasmine, as she waited in the solitude of that apartment in Sodeco.  I was only nineteen at the time, had memorized the entire First Act of The Birthday Party for a purpose, was semi-high and had impressed my Mass Communication professor just that very morning on what made the news: The dog who bites the woman or the woman who bites the dog.  My wallet was emptied and as I reached for a lighter placed candidly on that rustic shelf, I remembered: Wine! The bottle of wine that she had ordered.  I was keen on bringing bottles of wine to my heated one-nights.  I knew that this was nothing but another hit and run and she was to turn into another of my victims.  I don’t feel sorry for her.  She had used me in the past and so it was my way of getting even.  It was a sort of payback.  Just like that time when my bestie fucked another bestie and I had to put up with it.  Only time brought me justice. When I fucked her ex-wife just for fun. And Am in no position to brag about it.  To tell you the truth, she was most probably under age, and I am talking about Yasmine, of course. But she had been impressed by my poor acting and most likely my Latin stage presence.  She would call me Pacino –for some weird, unstated reason. And I liked it. I used to call her Frenchie.  My immediate purpose was to make it to the car. That’s for sure.  You guessed it: My Rover. I was high.  I was drunk.  Beirut looked like a scrapyard and I was detained by a Danish lady who was looking for a bar. She wore a white dress and lime green, round hoop earrings. I am pretty sure I gave her the wrong route, while at it. Sorry to disappoint you, lady. I thought minutes later.  But for once I didn’t feel bad about it.  I was entitled to my foolish act.  I had someone waiting for me.  All alone, remember: Frenchie in Sodeco.  Most probably cold and most probably feeling melancholic as she waited for Pacino on his way. And perhaps, fuck-hungry. I had this wacko-concept: That it was a matter of national interest to satisfy lonesome women in a lonesome city for the night. To keep them warm and content. An Eastern-affair.  At least, I felt entitled due to my evident arrogance, primitive experience and to be honest: Well, I was desperate for a fuck! A truc macabre, so to speak. I was reduced to an android-Pacino on the run.  A mutant gorilla on the loose. I walked with a typical Latino swagger –That I had picked from remote days when I used to live in a trailer park peopled by exotic wackos and misfits. My own reflection on the adjacent window display –as I walked through, seemed to repeat Pacino motifs in my head and all around me. And it was all accentuated by my own motion and light and penumbra. I don’t know why but I always had this impression that Pacino was the epitome of manliness. And Yasmine’s impression of me –in turn, made it unblemished. I was about to become one, on a professional level. Distinct and sexual. A series of failed affairs, my constant agitation looking for a reason to be, to exist and my endless struggle in settling down, and trying constantly to find momentarily satisfaction in whatever I was doing at the time, made a serious vagabond out of me –but with good intentions. I landed jobs of all kinds.  Appropriate and suitable ones, and totally despicable and thorny.  But it was part of the bigger mosaic of shitless nonsense I was in, in a city that did not appreciate its most notable artists.  And this perhaps was one of the reasons I found solace in night encounters. I didn’t measure or anticipate the consequences.  I was a soldier of fortune playing his best hand every time, regardless of the fallout.  I found delight in loving women: Women of all walks of life.  A weekly-affair of enormous after-effect. Jazz and Booze adjusted the happenstances. I was a hero for a night, every other night: Hidden from the rays of shame and banality. Hidden from the rays of sun and dust in perpetuity.  I was alas! stuck in reverse in the cycle of my own propensity. Love affairs, in one way or another had destroyed me.  I was left with nothing but the nucleus of a man that once was! Alone, desperate and attempting to become the reflection of the Pacino who had just glimmered before him. I derived pleasure from ecstasy. And ecstasy from pleasure.  I was an android-Romeo equipped with apps and wine. The shine of the screen reminded me of Frenchie, dripping messages of small talk and nonsense every once in a while. Where are you? Why are you taking this long? Try not to be late and so on and so forth, with the typical French-English accent. This was a boring part.  I detested it. I had to put up with lots of shit. Birds, dogs, cats, and a gold-fish named Cookie Monkey.  And even a Parrot, that I taught Spanish. Oye, Puto: Chupame la Pinga. This was a daily punch line. It felt good, for a while.  But after that, the whole enterprise became mechanical, it turned hysterical and unemotional. Not my regular cup of coffee. Her sofa bed was remarkably enormous. Of course, some of her pets found sanctuary there.  I was happy to know that some had died a few months later only to gather she had replaced most of them to no avail. Let me be more honest: Yasmine was my playmate.  A pet of my own.  I don’t mean to sound wicked, but she had stripped me down to the ground. Of all my talent and my merits.  I had lost all my medals and my marvels since the end of the Civil war and no one had hugged me, like really hugged me ever since. It was a masterful act of her part. We were two gorilla mutants of intimacy.  She used to remind me that we were up for it only if we agreed that -that was going to be the only night together.  And of course, it wasn’t. We used to bang like rabbits every once in a while. She was high and I was drunk.  A perfect match.  A truc macabre. I was her pet.  Her Pluto – for all I know.  I drove my car to Sodeco.  The rain had stopped partially.  Some garbage cans were in flame around corners. A typical yet berserk Pacino scene in the making, unfolding before me.  I looked around me to see if some random passenger from a random passing vehicle would recognize me, from a random scene I was part of, the night before on a local TV network. An absurd act of vanity. A woman stood nearby.  She approached my half-open window.   The breeze coming in made the perfect match for my Monk –Live in Paris 1964.  She said: “Sodeco!” I said” “Yes!” She got in.  I said: “No. Not that way!” She looked at me as if I had slain her entire race or tribe.  I succumbed in silence. Did her the favor in utter quiet. I smiled a Mona Lisa smirk and drove in partial stillness, turned down Monk playing and closed the window entirely. How could I ruin the moment? We were both happy. In our driving act.   Me driving to my fuck and she, well, she was comfortably being driven to her random location in Sodeco. A night scene. I did not utter a word until we got there. She was about to pay the alleged taxi fare when another stranger said: “Hamra!” I had to open the door and step away from my Rover to inspect it.  It didn’t look at all like a taxi or cab –to sound more Pacino-like, if you know what I mean.  What is wrong with these people? I thought to my-self. The pale color of my car, the sudden rain and the smoke curling up in the air, in a New-York fashion, it prompted such reactions, most probably. At night, everything changes and a lie becomes the truth.  I got pissed.  I was going to be late. You don’t want to miss a fuck.  They say it’s bad luck. And now this: Taken or mistaken for a Travis Bickle in the middle of Beirut at 11 PM. A truc macabre. Let me just say that our friendship had lasted for over twenty years. Yasmine –or Frenchie as I used to call her, was a hell of a woman.  She was smart, tenacious, multi-talented and had an Italian flare, for all the time we were together.  She never lost it. I was amazed. But for some random reason I was at the end of the day -Her Pluto. Her pet-playmate.  Pluto is just a random name.  You can call me any pet name, if you want to.  I wouldn’t even know it.  I would be long gone.  Doing Yasmine or maybe slurping her strawless lid, her strapless cap for an eternity. The truth of the matter is our one-night stand lasted for seven years.  Tonight, was a random night.  Just like any other random night. Nothing special about it, except for the Danish lady with a white dress and lime green, round hoop earrings, and the random passengers who had mistaken me for a cabbie in a cab film. Often times I would turn violent on Yasmine. Like shit crazy. I lost control several times. I do regret that now. I used to hit, punch, strike, beat, slap, smack, hand-cuff her to her bed, so drunk that she wouldn’t even remember it, the next morning. She would laugh and kind of let go. I used to slam her against the closet like shit crazy. I –once, smashed her head with a Chinese vase just because she changed some random TV channel that I wasn’t even watching.  I was high.  She was drunk. I still remember when I smashed some window panels at her place, one day, by simply walking through.  It was so lucid, I didn’t even see them block my way.  That one time, a police patrol was called in but made no arrests. Her favorite part was the whipping we did.  It took months of self-adaptation and re-adjustments.  She got so used to it she said one time she was addicted to it. That she didn’t want to stop and that if we did, she’d probably kill herself. And I liked it. She didn’t want me to stop, alright. I kept going. It kept rolling. Her addiction was Freud-induced. Mine was cigar and booze. That’s what made matters worse. I had become ill-tempered.  Nothing could fix that. Out of nowhere I had this idea: To get drunk before I go up and see her. And so I did. Got wasted, went up and the first thing I did when I saw her was go down on her and eat her strawless lid for hours. I still remember when one night I went up to see her, and for some wacko reason she wouldn’t let me in.  She blocked my way in, like completely.  She said she had a friend inside and that she wasn’t feeling ok. That was an eye-opener for me. Her cat kept meowing at my foot. In a sudden act, I lifted that poor thing with my foot and threw him or her –You tell me, over the stairway.  I heard it still meow down there in the dark. For quite some time.   A truc macabre.  I still think about it. It makes me feel uneasy. It gives me the shivers. Just to think about it. Sometimes I dream of the poor little cat down there in the dark looking at me, waiting for the day to get even. I can still feel the spell of that cat all around me.  Well, if there’s any consolation, I am truly sorry for that. Guilt chased me and still chases me like a wounded dog and that time when I fucked this part-time actress and got her pregnant.  Well, it took years before she could show some mercy.  She never said it but I guess she did forgive me in the end.  As for Frenchie.  I see her from time to time, you know.  Am her Pluto. Her pet-playmate.  Pluto is just a random name.  You can call me any pet name, if you want to.  I wouldn’t even know it.  I would be long gone. Doing Yasmine or maybe slurping her strawless lid, her strapless cap for an eternity.  She came out of her apartment building in a haste, and as she opened my red Rover Mini Cooper door and got in, I threw out the window my half-way consumed zeppelin on the loose, I had lit a few minutes ago for convenience, as I listened to Monk Live in Paris, 1965.   She hated Jazz but budged in the middle of a speedy fuck.  As a matter of fact, she would turn the volume up and tell me that the music drove her nuts.  Little I knew, back then, that that zeppelin tail would plunge upon the bubbling sidewalk, that afternoon, like a Hindenburg in 1937, while its nose, rose into the air like a breaching whale. My mini-Hindenburg smashed what was left of a line of symmetrically-aligned ants on their way to an important meeting.  They were all in black and looked serious. My Chiquita threw herself onto her seat, tossed her bag onto the back seat, shifted her weight multiple times and finally sat straight up looking ahead like a sphinx.  She said: You can go now. I drove my Rover like I stole it -as my little serious victims were dispersing, in notable confusion, and in random fashion right outside my half-open window. The sandstorm I left behind grew taller than the lamp posts scattered along the street and above the noise of TV game shows poorly produced. The shadows of that afternoon street were eating up silhouettes and those silhouettes were in turn forming in surrounding walls and facades in a fatuitous manner. Chiquita and I knew each way back.  From school days when we were young and tall and vigorous.  She found pleasure in random talk, random acts. She once told me that it was more meaningful for her to justify her request of seeing me than to just say what she wanted right away.  A modus operandi, so to speak.  As I drove past flower shops and pharmacies, lingerie stores and sex toys swaying like giant bait worms on display, I thought I should get a dog and maybe a girlfriend, for all I know.  -A way of mending up my lonesome act, and one or two forlorn Beirut afternoons, while at it.   And maybe why not get a real job. And actually, do something for a living.  This business of random projects, and freelance writing was getting on my nerves. The job wasn’t but the pay was. A truc macabre. She was gorgeous-looking, the kind of a girl you want to hit on, and do from time and time and well yeah, like try to keep for a while.  The fact is she was unquenchable, hard to stop once in, and her demands grew more assiduous as our afternoon escapades became more regular. She said: Stop the car. We sat there in the middle of nowhere. Monk was a Devil in a state of total rapture. I kissed her soft lips with no bad intentions in mind. She slurped my bacon bazooka several times just for kicks.  On-lookers stood by. She grabbed my handle for reassurance, gave it a good brush and sat on me like she really had missed it.  She spat at it multiple times, my face was all over the ceiling and the windshield, and I was roaring like a wounded lion, like a man who had bet his life saving on second running-horse in the races. She was high on Blow. I was a jazz freak.  She loved History books and Italian cuisine: She was an expert at Pasta Carbonara. She’d cook the pasta in salted water, and cook some tomatoes in a large skillet over medium-high heat with olive oil and stirring often, until it slightly softened for around three minutes. She would then add some shallots and cook, stirring until the shallots and tomatoes softened for the same amount of time or so.  She would then add the garlic, some natural herbs and finally bring to a boil.  Once done, she would blend the mix using a hand blender –no wonder she was good at hand jobs.  Buon appetito!  è delizioso. That day she was draped like a mannequin in a display window. She wore a horrible, loose-fitting vintage dress, and no make-up. Stained with dark spots of coffee, that did not taste good, which she had, early in the morning. And her regular flat green shoes.  She always wore green shoes.  She squashed a gum behind her front teeth. Her finger-nails in double-decker red.  Both her earrings scintillated an assortment of a spectrum caused by the light diffused through the silver clouds, and bouncing off strategically located car handles in car doors.  I thought to myself: What a lucky bastard! I was the luckiest bastard in West Beirut.   As I pulled the metallic cold through my nostrils and a line or two of blow coke in a sporadic fashion while at it, a snow-white cigarette of three to four inches in length, resting between her fingers, burned down onto a memory. She squeezed my bacon bazooka with her free hand, thinking maybe she would make it spill by way of her magic. She was in her late thirties and I was assailed by a huge range of a regrets and shames and disappointments.  Assaulted by a series of failed relationshits. It was in that very instant, she tried desperately to project a cheerful air: I think am in love, with your dick.  Dogs and birds were leaping from one tree to another undetected. A truc macabre. She looked out the window and I pretended her say something in French like, “On a froid. On est seuls.  Mais au moins, on sait où trouver de la chaleur.” She looked back at me for an entire Trevi-Fountain second. Gallant and noble. The emotions she had stirred were exactly where we had left them. Undetected.  I was making a much-needed escape from my own trivial life, to try to reconnect back with it. It was a favorite pastime. The way of a dog, astray and awry, one afternoon in the city. Freud would have laughed, and probably join in. He would say some like I am in for the blow, man. Do what you want with her lid. Now that I come to think about it: The old man did flash in my memory a couple of times, while at it.  I pictured him in that coat, with the classic white beard, all cracked up coke-high and murmuring to himself: Turn that Monk shit up. A moment later I detected her stripping from waste down.  She looked strikingly beautiful. Her pristine shadow making a regal comeback as her hair swayed in all directions.  I was a bohemian in my final act, she was Lucifer desperate for more.  Stonie wore a Machiavellian smile and fashioned a Cobra Shades just like the ones Stallone wore as Marion Cobretti in Cobra, 1986.  The truth of the matter is this guy looked more like a train-ticket conductor or inspector with a twist, for all I know. He looked like a mutant gorilla on the run.  And not even close to what a member of an elite division called Zombie Squad looked like. A truc macabre.  After a moment, he panned his head appearing entirely as a more recent version of the black drummer in Youtube Bill Withers’ Ain’t No Sunshine, with a grin. He looked up from his tiny, half-open, smoke-twirling-window and said: Hello Mr. Ruggles, am Stonie.  Welcome to Lebanon. The Switzerland of the East. Wesley Ruggles – was an accomplished and prominent American photojournalist.  He got in the back seat of the white Peugeot 504 and smiled all the way to the Commodore Hotel in Hamra. Stonie looked at his customer adjusting himself in the back seat, as he got in, on the rear-view mirror and said: Our country is the best place if you wish to take on the challenge of surfing and skiing on the same day. There’s no particular way to do it – some prefer to hit the waves early in the morning and end the day with a cup of mulled wine after a great ski or snowboard session; others prefer to hit the slopes in the morning and watch the sunset from Ain El Mraisse on West End, after catching some waves. It’s really up to you, Mr. Ruggles. You decide.  I leave it up to you. Wesley Ruggles grinned.  He wasn’t much of a talker, if you know what I mean.  He nodded affirmatively to all the words Stonie shot at him.  Lester Young Stardust – 1952 was coming out of the radio. Soft and easy. Let me tell ya a story.  Stonie said:  Two families were arguing in a field about where the boundary between their lands lay.  The dispute dated back a long time and blood had been shed a number of times.  A boy, a child of some eight or nine years, picked up a stick and drew a line in the earth.  When asked what he was doing, he said he was marking the boundary as it had been agreed at the last round of negotiation, long before he was born.  His father asked him how he knew this, and the boy replied that he was the reincarnation of a man the father had killed in the feud.  When the child revealed details of the shooting that only the dead man and his killer could have known, his father embraced his former adversary who was now his son. Both families wanted the feud to end.  It had been costly in terms of lives, and all were seeking a way out of a resumption of hostilities. Wesley Ruggles said: Take to me to the Green Line. Now.  The war sound kept coming in and out of my head, and a couple was still banging inside a tiny yellow Fiat not far away from where I was standing.  A mechanical undertaking.  Not much emotion/commotion at play except for their intense sexual collaboration.  A deliberate, indecent exposure.  The gurl – a night-time frontline-regular took turns shifting her rear-end from East to West in a regal act. A line up of militiamen stood in queue on both of ends of the line to shag her. A surreal act. A moment of truce.  Both the gurl and the city were completely naked, shattered and decrepit. Partly broken, partly rotten, and partly forgotten. For years, I was a war junkie in Beirut. A crowded jeep of militiamen stopped and disembarked on a random sidewalk of a deserted, and smashed street on the other end of the city.  They all looked like knights subpoenaed by the monarch who was pissed and drunk and tired. For a moment, they all looked irritated and pissed off. A sort of a fashion insignia they all displayed just for kicks. A war-affair. Hip and ceremonial. Then, they began to disperse along the sidewalk in zigzag, with machine guns and RPGs pointing upward.  Their beards, long and unpleasant, pointing downward.  And their self-esteem half-way in between. They all came for the cut.  The King’s cut. The truth of the matter is the King Salon was the hippest place in town. A classic spot. A royal den.  The cosmopolitan centre of Beirut. So, to speak.  Everybody was there.  A meeting place for spies, including Kim Philby and Archie Roosevelt, and CIA men such as Miles Copeland as well as journalists of the caliber of John Chancellor and Sulzberger. Numerous diplomats and politicians, business tycoons and oil Sheikhs, they all mixed with oil and banking tycoons of the day molding the clientele of this classic establishment.  A royal place.  During the 50’s and even early 70’s the plots, the deals, and the stories that came out of this famous barbershop in Beirut were gripping. Plots and counter-plots, stretching over a quarter of a century echoed and re-echoed inside, every time.   Rumor has it, many incidents which helped to shape and re-shape Middle Eastern history are associated with the Salon: The attempt to overthrow King Hussein of Jordan, for instance. It was partially destroyed in the Two-Year war, but it was totally re-erected and managed to preserve its heyday reputation for a while.   I used to come here when I was little. A place to chill. A room where you could conduct business as usual without the hassle of the real workplace. A place you didn’t call a café for prestige and yet it was almost one. The tea they served was splendid and kingly. And ladies used to stay out on the sidewalk just for thrills, with the hope to catch heartthrobs on the loose. I went out with a new hair-cut. The King’s cut. I was the King’s Knight for the night.  I kick-started my bike and cruised for a while. A poet on tour.  Roaming the city.  Looking for a one-night stand. Or at least what appears to be.  I saw a solitary figure standing on a random spot.  A black woman with an Afro.  It was just perfect.  She jumped me on the highway the time it took me to give her a ride home.  A truc macabre. I pressed the number nine button inside the elevator of my apartment building.  I was tired and wired. As the elevator began to go up it suddenly stopped.  I was alone. And forgotten for a while.  Dangling by a cord. Forsaken.  Maybe.  I masturwaited the hour. Power was restored and I made it to my apartment safely. Minutes later the phone rang. She said: Baby, are you craving me tonight.  The next thing I know I have couple of Lesbians over slurping my bacon bazooka just for kicks. A royal act. Worthy of enjoyment with what I called decent music: I used to play Stevie Wonder’s Superstition really loud on my Marshall speakers in decay, while at it. A ritual of old fun-days when I was young, full of sperms, and needs and itches. The funny part –though, is that I always experienced something peculiar in that very moment of sorts. Hard to explain but I saw the trailer of my own life lived, projected on the facing wall. A broken wall.  I reminisced about past affairs and was transfixed by the lingering memory of a blow job as well as a highly visual fuck-climax. Vivid and highly pictorial.  Cheers! They both said. As they both poured all the wine content, glittering in penumbra, upon my bacon bazooka.  It looked like a copper fall unleashing. Unceasing. A truc macabre.   A royal act. Three was company.  Beirut was a junkyard of scrap metal and waste back then.  A place for sub-humans and android-machines on the run. BB 62 opened fire and hit some targets on the outskirts of the city. I was an android-cowboy in disguise.  Rumors had it the bomb shells were all empty. As the American destroyer showered guerilla positions in Souk el Gharb, I was firing my own cannon all over the Lesbians scattered along enemy lines inside my dim room, not far away from the Demarcation Line in Beirut.  A supreme act. A simultaneous-affair. Many years later, I had a similar experience when I was shagging this Pilipino gurl -in a random hotel in Jounieh, just for kicks, while watching the final of the World Cup in 2010. I still remember cumming inside her mouth at the exact moment Iniesta was kicking the ball inside the Netherland finish line.  A glorious-act of sorts.  The two Lesbians just loved the feeling of a revolver barrel inside them. A truc macabre. A regal tactic of enormous after-effect.  For some reason, they used to revere the freshly fired metal tube with both frame and cylinder inside. I never understood why.  I stood there. Earnest and ceremonial in my act.  Viewing the trailer of my own life on the facing wall of that dim room, and watching my bacon bazooka in constant spa-treatment mode. Graceful and yet unpretentious. The afternoon rushed in like a Belgian train in mid-voyage, that never made it on time. I dreamed of flatbread pizza, in the wasteland. Reminisced about my last, fast-paced failed love-affair and my futile attempt at piano lessons. We laughed, as we talked and killed the hours away. We imagined moments-to-be. Mostly naked. For some strange reason, they both loved to be touched on their forehead. A women-thing.  On their eye-brows to be exact.  The truth of the matter is that they both were willing to try new things –in private. My type of women.  Alone and crazy. A mind-type. Affectionate, and calm on the outside, and yet crazy and freaky on the inside. To tell you the truth I pretended I read more books than they both presumed I did. I wrestled with my own thoughts and delusions.  Concealed my deeper feelings and idiosyncrasies -in the midst of our talk. In the middle of a futile war with no ending.  A Gemini-kind-of-thing with a thrill.   I was after their strapless lid. What else do you expect: One of the few remaining standard activities in Dystopia, at the time. I fucked them both for a while and I got kind of bored afterwards.  The truth of the matter is I completely lost interest in them.  Soon after, I found my next victim. A young, fresh psychology graduate with a healthy appetite for sex and a delightful fashion-style that managed to trigger my bacon bazooka, back. This next fuck-affair with Luciana kept rolling for more than we both expected. She was the kind of girl who would do anything to satisfy you.  I acted in kind. I used a proactive approach with her, for as long as it lasted. She was worth the try: Worth every single sperm I spared on her lower and upper abdomen. And well, yeah often times on her breasts and her cute, funny face.  A truc macabre. She loved to be chased after -for sex. She loved BJs as much. And she used to brag about it in public.  A few weeks later, I found out she was sleeping with a couple of other guys from around the block, for subsistence, and with some big shot of sorts, as well.  A playboy –so to speak. Loaded with guns and green.  Good for her. She was a practical kid, with lots of love to spare.  And lots of ambition. I fired up my gorgeous-looking Jimmy and made some smoke rings with my mouth, for my own amusement, that is. And that lasted for quite a while. She had a shower: Poured herself a drink, and walked slowly the seventeen steps, all the way to my bed, completely naked.  Next, she crawled my entire body like a wounded, and moaning soldier on the frontline. Once, fully on top and facing me, she said with her typical intense voice: Impress me with your brains. It occurred to me, and I played a VHS tape I had borrowed from an old chum, of Greta Garbo’s Anna Karenina 1935, in decay. Well, yeah, to try to impress her with my cultural backdrop and shit.  The perfect artefact for a late evening binge. A truc macabre, so to speak.  The glitches and hiccups of the shivering images of Greta Garbo on the TV screen, did not corrupt the actress’s royal flare. What a Dame! I thought. What an ass! I thought in sequence. As I took turns looking at both the screen and the new chick’s naked, greasy, and flattened body shimmering in the dark, and glowing like a sea-urchin in the deep. And I thought to myself: They don’t make them like this anymore. Sublime and Holy. A Regal act.  I was talking about the chick’s ass. What else. I mean, the truth of the matter is she was lying right before my own eyes to see: Face-down with a few hours to spare. And I was fuck-hungry. Endlessly famished. I was after her strawless lid. Strapless cap. Flavorsome and scrumptious like shit crazy.  I crawled all over her on the bed and -once in position, I slurped her strapless lid for hours. I grinned. Placed my half-consumed Jimmy on the loose on the Buddha-ashtray I had in store from my old days in Kamasutra-training in New Delhi. I decided to burn my bacon bazooka inside her fire place. We fucked for hours.  Her spark was her unusual climax.  Pristine and immaculate.  The streets below and around me were dim and vacant. Cold and bare. I took off.  Had to: I zigzagged my way to the Demarcation Line, past sandbags and burning silhouettes of cars, in fall-off. A conspicuous tactic that I deployed every time to avoid unleashed android-snipers on the loose. Or mutant gorillas on the run –as I used to call them.  Whether someone or something conforms to customary patterns or deviates from them depends on one’s point of view: Behind the concepts of normality and abnormality is the assumption that there is a single standard by which to judge everything. What may be normal to one group, however, may be unacceptable to another. I had the same Walkman on, with the same headphones arching the same oval head I displayed for a thousand times at the frontline. A truc macabre. I played Monk Live in Paris 1964 every time.  Every day. Non-stop. It was more like a frontline pursuit, just for kicks. A Grotesque affair.  Stories of love and madness is all I heard on both ends of the Demarcation Line. A snow-white 1979 Super-Beetle Cabriolet stopped right there in the middle of nowhere. Just a few steps from the Line. I could not identify any of its occupants, who wore ceremonial masks, just for kicks. The truth of the matter is they all looked like soul-reapers with scythes. They then revealed their hidden arms abruptly, and opened fire in all directions for at least seven random minutes. At the end of which, the snow-white Beetle stood-still in complete silence. Out of a sudden, that tiny little wagon, was showered and hammered countless times with all sorts of ammo.  An RPG sealed its fate, turning them into a burning chunk of metal and flesh.  A suicidal undertaking. An eccentric haze shrouded my eyesight. That day, I met the iconic Wesley Ruggles on the Demarcation Line in Down Town Beirut. A day-to-remember.

    © Ali Salameh was killed in 1979 in Beirut, Lebanon when a bomb was detonated by remote control as his car drove past. AP

On that taciturn Winter-day, and somewhere in town, The Red Prince carried a pistol holstered in brown leather and worn on his hip a la Clint Eastwood. He was a playboy alright, on his final rave. He was in a convoy of two Chevi station wagons heading from Georgina’s flat to his mother’s, for a birthday party. Chambers was on her balcony painting, and her red Beetle parked below on Rue Verdun.  As Salameh’s convoy passed that red wagon at 3:35 pm and turned onto Rue Madam Curie, a hundred Kilos of explosives attached to the car by a Mossad agent was remotely detonated either by Chambers herself or on her signal to another Mossad agent. They did not mistake him this time. A truc macabre.  The blast left Salameh conscious, but severely wounded and in great pain, having pieces of steel shrapnel embedded in his head and throughout his body.  He was rushed to The American University of Beirut Hospital, where he died on the operating table at 4:03 pm. I was surrounded by eccentric structures –which stood tall beholding my own state of incongruity. I stood almost mortified in the middle of the battleground, in silence.  Out of a thick, almost-mythical mist, a machine gun emerged and finally rested on my temple: I stood-still. I did not utter a word for an entire minute. A strange haze shrouded my eyesight. I still remember that android-cowboy with rifle still pointing at me, and with his brimmed-shape-white-Panama-hat, silk shirt, striped pants and his green suspenders. A distinctive and manly act.  I still remember when he looked at me for the last time and said: Learn how to cook and spend less, save time and have sex more often.  He was in a chill mood. He grinned at the end of his act and said: Hasta La Vista, Baby.  As for her:  She read the last couple of lines of a letter she kept in one of her emerald green coat’s inner pockets for the last time, folded the letter the way she was supposed to, placed the letter gently on the desk, took a pistol out of an upper drawer, put the pistol’s barrel inside her mouth and shot herself. She was six months pregnant. Stonie wore a Machiavellian smile and fashioned a Cobra Shades just like the ones Stallone wore as Marion Cobretti in Cobra, 1986.  The truth of the matter is this guy looked more like a train-ticket conductor or inspector with a twist, for all I know. He looked like a mutant gorilla on the run.  And not even close to what a member of an elite division called Zombie Squad looked like. A truc macabre.  After a moment, he panned his head appearing entirely as a more recent version of the black drummer in Youtube Bill Withers’ Ain’t No Sunshine, with a grin. He looked up from his tiny, half-open, smoke-twirling-window and said: Hello Mr. Ruggles, am Stonie.  Welcome to Lebanon. The Switzerland of the East. Wesley Ruggles – was an accomplished and prominent American photojournalist.  He got in the back seat of the white Peugeot 504 and smiled all the way to the Commodore Hotel in Hamra. Stonie looked at his customer adjusting himself in the back seat, as he got in, on the rear-view mirror and said: Our country is the best place if you wish to take on the challenge of surfing and skiing on the same day. There’s no particular way to do it – some prefer to hit the waves early in the morning and end the day with a cup of mulled wine after a great ski or snowboard session; others prefer to hit the slopes in the morning and watch the sunset from Ain El Mraisse on West End, after catching some waves. It’s really up to you, Mr. Ruggles. You decide.  I leave it up to you. Wesley Ruggles grinned.  He wasn’t much of a talker, if you know what I mean.  He nodded affirmatively to all the words Stonie shot at him.  Lester Young Stardust – 1952 was coming out of the radio. Soft and easy. Let me tell ya a story.  Stonie said:  Two families were arguing in a field about where the boundary between their lands lay.  The dispute dated back a long time and blood had been shed a number of times.  A boy, a child of some eight or nine years, picked up a stick and drew a line in the earth.  When asked what he was doing, he said he was marking the boundary as it had been agreed at the last round of negotiation, long before he was born.  His father asked him how he knew this, and the boy replied that he was the reincarnation of a man the father had killed in the feud.  When the child revealed details of the shooting that only the dead man and his killer could have known, his father embraced his former adversary who was now his son. Both families wanted the feud to end.  It had been costly in terms of lives, and all were seeking a way out of a resumption of hostilities.  After a long drive and a prolonged silence, Wesley Ruggles said: Take to me to the Green Line. Now.  Militias around West Beirut were a spectacle not to be missed.  A daily-affair. They rode Jeeps as if they were riding horses. Ski-nautique, once heard someone say. Their rituals comprised life as it happened on the eve of the end of the world. For all I know.  Ruggles was a modern-times Dziga Vertov, with a movie camera.  He was a prompt man.  Never late to a meeting or a date and had a subtle way of complaining to chefs about mediocre meals at restaurants. He was an homme d’affaires. He was a lean, mean fighting-machine that would not have anything be used to his disadvantage.  And for some unknown reason always wore black.  From head to bottom. No matter what. He was a distinctive soul with an Italian flare. A lady’s man. No doubt about it.  The Lebanese Rambo –or the subject of his piece, was in place in the smashed part of the city.  Surely on the demarcation line in Down Town. Pre-disposed and ready.  He was a robust, broad-shouldered and extremely serious fella. A War-Junkie. A visual spectacle par excellence, so to speak.  A local hero of sorts.  A Stallone-look-a-like, whose physical transformation was evident and clear indication that Post-Vietnam American War films and more specifically Rambo films of the 1980s, made a huge impression on him, to the extent he -and possibly others, eventually transmuted into Rambo himself. That prompted folks like Wesley Ruggles and others to come to Beirut to have a closer look. A truc macabre. The truth of the matter is the local Rambo did not like or fancy Rambo.  He became Rambo: The man himself.  A rare case of a man who becomes another.  A copy of an original, so to speak -who is eventually rejected! Wesley Ruggles told the local Rambo to look away as he took pictures of him. The others did just the same. But these two worked as an ensemble-together:  A photo session followed by a video session.  The whole spectacle ensued in a surreal war-inspired open-air studio, in the heart of the city. A war-triggered art installation under the piercing sun for hours: The local Rambo loved to be photographed and Ruggles, well, yeah consequently, loved to be the producer of the images. A love-affair of sort. Zeina Salem –A gorgeous-looking local news producer –they all look gorgeous at the times- stood near-by.  She took some photos of her own. There is something arrogant about him. She thought. Ruggles spent hours with his subjects. He was a war-junkie himself. Up until February 6, 1984 greater Beirut was under the control of the government. On that day, the Lebanese army was forced to withdraw from the West side of the city, which again came under the control of militias and political groups opposed to the government.  The truth of the matter is that these men in the framework of war seemed wired to invade and conquer with glory being the primary objective. The key takeaway is that none of these displays bear any significance if there is no audience to play to. Some folks stood by. Some others from a far stared and marveled.  The Lebanese Rambo had this funny approach: Rambo fights in the films, I, on the other hand, am real.  I drove my Rover with my two dazzling companions:  Zeina Salem by my side and well, yeah Paul Desmond and his Quartet-1954 coming out of the radio.  Soft and easy. The meeting with Ruggles was set at the demarcation line just for kicks.  Part of the war-thrill encounters he was after.  We compromised. I still remember the first time I met Wesley Ruggles. He gave the impression he was a temperamental actor having to do retakes.  Non-stop. But Rambo was not the real reason for Ruggles to fly down here. Rambo was inconsequential.  A slight- story.  Wesley Ruggles was in Beirut for completely different reasons: The Plugged-Sniper of Beirut. Random boys stood-still as a lady-photographer took some pictures of a random Palestinian commander who sat between two low-ranking officers close-by. Sit-still! She said -as she released her film camera’s release button.  They all look like ancillaries. The main character was wearing black shades. A la Marion Cobretti.  And a black beret crowned his head, which provided him with immediate identifying qualities, in addition to his physical position in relation to the others which emphasized his authority.  His face seemed expressionless due to various props it displayed. Masculinized by his obvious mustache.  A gendering-trope.  We had Peaches, prosciutto, burrata, mint, pistachios with honey and white balsamic vinegar drizzle on top with white wine all afternoon.  Zeina Salem said “The commander looks older than the back-standing militiamen.  They are all in uniform in a near-battle field/zone position.  They are dressed for war. But not enacting it.  They look masculine and yet the kitten adds that softness touch to Brando’s character in this specific re-interpretation which is by no means intended.” She paused for a second and then resumed “I have the perception that the producer of the image herself did not know whether the commander was trying to imitate “The Godfather” character or not.”  The focal point of the mise-en-scene was a white kitten the commander held with his right hand, which he didn’t seem to care for.  He held it with cool passiveness.  The photographer was able to frame the kitten occupying a lower position.  His bodyguard stood on both sides: The one who stood to his right looked away. Showing disinterest or confusion.  He carried a machine-gun pointing upward.  He wore a military uniform with magazine holders strapped all around him.  His flexed right arm differed from the left arm that rested by his standing body.  On the opposite left side of the commander, there sat another militiaman who gazed straight at him.  He was more interested it seems on the commander’s next act than on the photographer’s consequent actions. I thought to myself.  The cat in hand was very significant.  The way the main combatant held the kitten was domineering, almost like a chokehold, a threat. This served the purpose of making him seem uncaring and hardened by the war. A power move that was even more amplified by the presence of his goons at his sides. Then I thought: He appears to be copying Marlon Brando’s opening scene in Godfather, 1972. A truc macabre.  Zeina Salem was a ravishing Capricorn -unleashed.  I was entangled immediately.  I tried to keep up with her interpretation and responded in kind: “The house in the background reflects the living conditions of its inhabitants.  If any, at all.  It is a relaxed moment. I think.   A break from the exhaustive instants of combat.  They are all facing the camera somehow.  The commander is surrounded by his guards. They look at him or the people around him for security reasons.  The commander’s unintentional pursuit of conflating his military might with that of a mafia boss is evident.  He pretends to demystify him somehow by acting out a “real” version of a representational power.” After a long silence, she looked at me and said: “Rumor has it that the cat held by Brando, in the opening scene of Godfather was a stray, the actor found while on the lot at Paramount, and was not originally called for in the script.  So content was the cat, that its purring muffled some of Brando’s dialogue, and, as a result, most of his lines had to be looped.” We both sniggered and had a toast. To tell you the truth, the Palestinian commander, being the main mantelpiece of this scene, deserves more attention.  His face is cold and gives nothing away which is mostly attributed to his dark tinted glasses. As the eyes are the windows to the soul, this accessory is a very strategic affront on the mere possibility of conveying emotion. This skipper has taken all of the precautions to shield himself from being perceived as anything but masculine. He is a lean, mean fighting-machine that will not have anything be used to his disadvantage. The truth of the matter is that the three-armed war veterans whose placements clearly exemplify the power dynamics at play, looked invincible. The one in the center is decidedly the head of the group surrounded by two subordinate officers who, while authoritative, rank lower than him or at least submit to him. One is looking vacantly into the far left of the camera in slight amusement. The other henchman is seated on the bottom right of the frame looking directly at the head of the leader as if awaiting his signal, his every beck and call. The hierarchy is very blatant here. Zeina said: “These images remind me of Nick Ut’s “Accidental Napalm” photograph as the defining image of the Vietnam War because that little girl will not go away, despite many attempts at forgetting. War photographs are frozen moments in war-time. I freeze what I see.  It’s not what you see.  It’s what I see.  It’s my truth.  It’s not the truth.  It’s my eye.  It’s the way I saw it with a specific lens, with a specific light.  You wouldn’t have seen it the same way.” The Vietnam war ended in the same month, the Lebanese Civil war had started.  A clear dissolve. Beirut, once a hide-out, where coup d’états, political assaults, espionage and even felony could be planned, where financial deals, bank transactions, and international trade could be brokered, was alas! a ravaged city. Disfigured and ultimately forsaken. During a shelling of the town, an almost wasted, Wesley Ruggles raised a glass of Bordeaux and said: “You’re Lebanese? You’re lucky! You have a war, you have something to live for! We have nothing back home.” I think that hadn’t we had a war; we would have died slowly. War had renewed us. The war sound kept coming in and out of my head, and a couple was still fucking inside a tiny yellow Fiat not far away from where I was standing.  A mechanical undertaking.  Not much emotion/commotion at play except for their intense sexual collaboration.  A deliberate, indecent exposure.   It did not take me long to realize that angels were standing in cue at the entrance of a crumbling city: Dilapidated and decrepit. Partly broken, partly rotten, and partly forgotten. For years, I was a war junkie in Beirut.  Out of nowhere, a crowded jeep of militiamen stopped and disembarked.  They all looked like Knights subpoenaed by the monarch who was pissed and drunk and tired. For a moment, they all looked irritated and pissed off. A sort of a fashion insignia they all displayed just for kicks. A war-affair. Hip and ceremonial. Then, they began to disperse along the sidewalk in zigzag, with machine guns and RPGs pointing upward.  Their beards, long and unpleasant, pointing downward.  And their self-esteem half-way in between. They all came for the cut.  The King’s cut. The truth of the matter is the King Salon was the hippest place in town. A classic spot. A royal den.  The cosmopolitan centre of Beirut. So, to speak.  Everybody was there.  A meeting place for spies, including Kim Philby and Archie Roosevelt, and CIA men such as Miles Copeland as well as journalists of the caliber of John Chancellor and Sulzberger. Numerous diplomats and politicians, business tycoons and oil Sheikhs, they all mixed with oil and banking tycoons of the day molding the clientele of this classic establishment.  A royal place.  During the 50’s and even early 70’s the plots, the deals, and the stories that came out of this famous barbershop in Beirut were gripping. Plots and counter-plots, stretching over a quarter of a century echoed and re-echoed inside, every time.   Rumor has it, many incidents which helped to shape and re-shape Middle Eastern history are associated with the Salon: The attempt to overthrow King Hussein of Jordan, for instance. It was partially destroyed in the Two-Year war, but it was totally re-erected and managed to preserve its heyday reputation for a while.   I used to come here when I was little.  My dad was a big fan of this room.  He used to call it his part-time office. A place to chill. A room where you could conduct business as usual without the hassle of the real workplace. A place you didn’t call a café for prestige and yet it was almost one. The tea they served was splendid and kingly. And ladies used to stay out on the sidewalk just for thrills, with the hope to catch heartthrobs on the loose. I went out with a new hair-cut. The King’s cut. I was the King’s Knight for the night.  I kick-started my bike and cruised for a while. A poet on tour.  Roaming the city.  Looking for a one-night stand. Or at least what appears to be.  I saw a solitary figure standing on a random spot.  A black woman with an Afro.  It was perfect.  She jumped me on the highway the time it took me to give her a ride home.  A truc macabre. I pressed the number nine inside the elevator of my apartment building.  I was tired and wired. As the elevator began to go up it suddenly stopped.  I was alone. And forgotten for a while.  Dangling by a cord. Forsaken.  Maybe.  I masturwaited the hour. Power was restored and I made it to my apartment safely. Minutes later the phone rang.  It was her.  She said: Baby, are you craving me tonight.  The next thing I know I have couple of Lesbians over slurping my bacon bazooka just for kicks. A royal act. Worthy of enjoyment with what I called decent music: I used to play Stevie Wonder’s Superstition really loud on my Marshall speakers in decay. A ritual of old fun-days when I was young, full of sperms, and needs and itches. The funny part –though, is that I always experienced something peculiar in that very moment. Hard to explain and yet I saw the trailer of my own life lived, projected on the facing wall.  I reminisced about past affairs and was transfixed by a lingering memory of a blow job as well as a highly visual fuck-climax. Vivid and highly pictorial.  Cheers! They both said. As they both poured all the wine content glittering in penumbra upon my bacon bazooka.  It looked like a copper fall unleashing. Unceasing. A truc macabre.   A royal act. Three was company.  Beirut was a junkyard of scrap metal and waste back then.  A place for sub-humans and android-machines on the run. BB 62 opened fire and hit some targets on the outskirts of the city. Rumors has it the bomb shells were all empty. As the American destroyer showered guerilla positions in Souk el Gharb, I was firing my own cannon all over the Lesbians scattered along enemy lines inside my dim room. A supreme act. A simultaneous-affair. Many years later, I had a similar experience when I was shagging this Pilipino –gurl- in a random hotel in Jounieh, just for kicks, while watching the final of the World Cup in 2010. I still remember cumming inside her mouth at the exact moment Iniesta was kicking the ball inside the Netherland finish line.  A glorious-victorious moment.  The Lesbians just loved the feeling of a revolver barrel inside them. A truc macabre. A regal tactic of enormous after-effect.  For some reason, they used to revere the freshly fired metal tube with both frame and cylinder inside. I stood there. Earnest and ceremonial in my act.  Viewing the trailer of my life on the facing wall of my dim room, and watching my bacon bazooka in constant spa-treatment mode. Graceful and yet unpretentious. The afternoon rushed in like a Belgian train in mid-voyage, that never made it on time. I dreamed of flatbread pizza, in the wasteland. Reminisced about my last, fast-paced failed love-affair and my futile attempt at piano lessons. We laughed, as we talked and killed the hours away. We imagined moments-to-be. Mostly naked. For some strange reason, they both loved to be touched on their forehead. A women-thing.  On their eye-brows to be exact.  The truth of the matter is that they both were willing to try new things –in private. My type of women.  Alone and crazy. A mind-type. Affectionate, and calm on the outside, and yet crazy and freaky on the inside. To tell you the truth I pretended I read more books than they both presumed I did. I wrestled with my own thoughts and delusions.  Concealed my deeper feelings and idiosyncrasies -in the midst of our talk. A Gemini-kind-of-thing.   I was after their strapless lid. What else do you expect: One of the few remaining standard activities in Dystopia.  I fucked them both for a while and I got kind of bored afterwards.  The truth of the matter is I completely lost interest in them.  Soon after, I found my next victim. A young, fresh psychology graduate with a healthy appetite for sex and a delightful fashion-style that managed to trigger my bacon bazooka, back. This next fuck-affair kept rolling for more than we both expected. She was the kind of girl who would do anything to satisfy you.  I acted in kind. I used a proactive approach with her, for as long as it lasted. She was worth the try: Worth every single sperm I spared on her lower and upper abdomen. And well, yeah often times on her breasts and her cute, funny face.  A truc macabre. She loved to be chased after -for sex. She loved BJs as much. And she used to brag about it in public.  A few weeks later, I found out she was sleeping with a couple of other guys from around the block, for subsistence. Good for her. She was a practical kid, with lots of love to spare. I lit my Jimmy and made some smoke rings with my mouth, for my own amusement, that is. She showered.  Poured herself a drink. Walked all the way to my bed, completely naked.  She, then, army-crawled my entire body without a word.  Once, fully up and facing me, she said with her typical intense voice: Impress me with your brains. I played a VHS tape I had borrowed from an old pal, of Greta Garbo’s Anna Karenina -1935- in decay. Well, yeah, to try to impress her with my cultural background and shit.  The perfect artefact for a late evening binge. A truc macabre. The glitches and hiccups of the shivering images of Greta Garbo on the TV screen, did not corrupt the actress’s royal flare. What a Dame! I thought. What an ass! I thought in sequence. As I took turns looking at both the screen and the new chick’s naked, flattened body shimmering in the dark, and glowing like a sea-urchin in the deep. And I thought to myself: They don’t make them like this anymore. Sublime and Heavenly. A Regal act. Of course, I was talking about the chick’s ass. What else. I mean, the truth of the matter is she was lying right before my own eyes to see: Face down with a few hours to spare. And I was hungry. Endlessly famished. I was after her strawless lid.  I crawled on the bed and once in position I sucked her strapless lid for hours. I grinned. Placed my half-consumed Jimmy on the Buddha-ashtray I had from my old days in Kamasutra-training in New Delhi. I decided to burn my bacon bazooka inside her fire place. We fucked the night away.  Like two little kids grounded in confinement.  Her spark was her climax. Unequal. Pristine and immaculate.  The e-streets below and around me were dim and vacant. Cold and bare. I took off.  Had to: I zigzagged my way to the Demarcation Line, past sandbags and burning silhouettes of e-cars, in falloff. A conspicuous tactic that I deployed every time to avoid unleashed android-snipers on the loose.  Whether someone or something conforms to customary patterns or deviates from them depends on one’s point of view: Behind the concepts of normality and abnormality is the assumption that there is a single standard by which to judge everything. What may be normal to one group, however, may be unacceptable to another. I had the same Walkman on, with the same headphones arching the same oval head I displayed for a thousand times at the frontline. A truc macabre. I played Monk Live in Paris 1964 every time.  Every day. Non-stop. It was more like a frontline pursuit for kicks. A Grotesque business. A reel replayed the same white 1979 Super-Beetle Cabriolet stopping right there in the middle of nowhere, over and over again.  A loop in one act.  Its occupiers looked like soul reapers with scythes, when out of a sudden, they revealed their hidden arms and fired in all directions. At the end of which, the white Beetle stood-still, in complete stillness. Technically, a malware. Once at the frontline, in total stillness, and in complete silence/quiet: I heard the remote air of a lullaby looping the same word stuck in reverse. I was surrounded by eccentric structures –which stood tall beholding my own state of incongruity. I stood almost mortified in the middle of the battleground, in silence.  Out of a thick, almost-mythical mist, a machine gun emerged and finally rested on my forehead. I stood-still.  Did not utter a word for an entire minute. A strange haze shrouded my eyesight. I still remember my counter-part’s brimmed-shape, white Panama hat, silk shirt, striped pants and his green suspenders. A distinctive act. He looked like a model taken out of a GQ magazine. I still remember when he looked at me for the last time and said: Learn how to cook and spend less.  Save time and have sex more often. The sound of my camera release bottom re-echoed in the stillness of that barren place, bouncing off the empty, worn-out, and shattered walls around me. On that crispy autumn day, and somewhere in town, The Red Prince carried a pistol holstered in brown leather and worn on his hip a la Clint Eastwood. He was a playboy alright, on his final rave. He was in a convoy of two Chevi station wagons heading from Georgina’s flat to his mother’s, for a birthday party. Chambers was on her balcony painting, and her red Beetle parked below on Rue Verdun.  As Salameh’s convoy passed that red wagon at 3:35 pm and turned onto Rue Madam Curie, a hundred Kilos of explosives attached to the car by a Mossad agent was remotely detonated either by Chambers herself or on her signal to another Mossad agent. They did not mistake him this time. A truc macabre.  The blast left Salameh conscious, but severely wounded and in great pain, having pieces of steel shrapnel embedded in his head and throughout his body.  He was rushed to The American University of Beirut Hospital, where he died on the operating table at 4:03 pm. Salameh’s four bodyguards and four bystanders were also killed, and at least 16 people were injured.  I was on the other end of town, with Mario Garcia having some Single malt whisky, in some random bar, surrounded by Frenchies at the moment of the blast.  The air turned purple and crowds rushed in to get the latest news from an old, dusty radio inside. You could feel the heat of the day in full armor. Hours later, I was sitting at my fav round table in the kitchen back at home when the telephone reechoed.  A voice –on the other end of the line said: I miss you, my baby. Shall I come over? I grinned.  I said: No.  I’m tired. We read countless pages of Gabo’s Hundred Years of Solitude, in Spanish, together, and ended up shagging a couple of times before going to bed.  We massacred solitude.  A masterful act. Luciana stayed way into the night.  She had a special homemade flatbread pizza formula for kicks, which she experimented with, when over. The fun part: I improvised most of the toppings from leftovers and a sauce I had on the side for the occasion. We had some slices of pizza, with red wine. I concede she did all the maintenance required and left before sunrise. A ballerina in her finest hour. Next morning, I drove my e-Rover to the frontline -like a student in love, on his second day of school.  Out of nowhere, A fighter pointed his machine gun to my temple, and said: Do not move. That day, I met Mario Garcia on the frontline. He came with cash to burn – a fleet of airplanes and a keen eye for French-speaking ladies. He had a crowd of bodyguards with him, just for kicks.  A business man of some sort looking for some prospects in the middle of a farcical war with no-end.  He was a bit of a ghost down here.  Nobody saw him.  Nobody knew him. He stayed in the prominent Achrafieh area for convenience.  “The safest part of Beirut,” he’d say. The sound of my camera release bottom re-echoed over and over again in the stillness of that barren place, bouncing off the empty, worn-out, and shattered walls around me. Chambers was on her balcony painting, and her red Beetle parked below on Rue Verdun.  As Salameh’s convoy passed that red wagon at 3:35 pm and turned onto Rue Madam Curie, a hundred Kilos of explosives attached to the car by a Mossad agent was remotely detonated either by Chambers herself or on her signal to another Mossad agent. They did not mistake him this time. A truc macabre.  The blast left Salameh conscious, but severely wounded and in great pain, having pieces of steel shrapnel embedded in his head and throughout his body. He was rushed to The American University of Beirut Hospital, where he died on the operating table at 4:03 pm. Salameh’s four bodyguards and four bystanders were also killed, and at least 16 people were injured.  I was on the other end of town, with Wesley Ruggles and Zeina Salem taking countless shots of The Plugged-Sniper of Beirut -who walked no more than thirty steps to his rifle.  Fired some shots at random crossers –who crossed from one side to the other every time and walked back to his seat to smoke cigars and drink single malt whisky all day. A Chaplin-like puppet of sorts.  A war junkie. A mutant gorilla on the run. A member of an elite division called the Zombie Squad. Why do you do it ? Ruggles asked him. The Plugged-Sniper of Beirut looked back at him after a long pause and said: I’m shooting people.  Ruggles perplexed asked: But why? The Plugged-Sniper of Beirut said: They pay me twenty five Lebanese Pounds (for the head) for every person I kill. Ruggles asked again: How do they know how many you’ve killed?  At that point, The Plugged-Sniper of Beirut got pissed because of Ruggles disrespectful remarks. Dropped his rifle and said: Ain’t I an honest man? The air turned purple and crowds rushed in to get the latest news from an old, dusty radio inside. You could feel the heat of the day in full armor.  My counter-part –still pointing his machine gun at my temple, was in a chill mood. He grinned at the end of his act and said: Hasta La Vista, Baby.  I can’t overlook the fact that her vagina was once snipped by a randy horn-eyed ghost crab confusing her fleshy bits for an open oyster on the beach, in spite of the fact that it was illegal to lie down there, naked. A foolish-act. The truth of the matter is some of her intimate friends were woken up by her screaming that somethin’ had bitten her and they were shocked to see a crab hanging off her privates. A morbid-act.  They had no choice but to release the pinchers open and free her from his grip. The recollection of that sinister incident turned me on every time she narrated it. Lustful and lecherous.  I guess her secret weapon was the knockout garlic-herb butter she used to brush each oyster with arranged in a single-layer on the grill. And subsequently, cook out uncovered for seven minutes or at least until the edges curled. The truth of the matter is eating oysters and sex merged well.  A magic-twist. I guess the salty juice and soft flesh of the oyster had the power to excite.  In both, eating oysters and sex, one used all five senses just for kicks. Casanova was so right to power up with oysters before his lusty bedroom undertakings. Chiquita loved to cook oysters for me, and she went randy when we cooked oysters together on Sunday afternoons.  A sexy-act. A night involving lubricants and oysters was a weekend-thrill. I love oysters.  She said.  It’s like kissing the sea on the lips. Casanova puts it like this: I put the shell to her mouth, I told her to suck in the liquid and keep the oyster between her lips. She performed the feat to the letter after laughing heartily, and I took the oyster by pressing my lips to hers with the greatest decency. She was delighted by the delicacy with which I took the oyster from her lips.  I was a randy horn-eyed ghost crab myself. On the look-out for thrill-driven trysts round the clock.  Beirut was a massive bed of lust and smoke and violence. A tower of sexual escapades and rendezvous. She used to sleep on her side, naked. I used to sleep on my back, full of sperms.  She was an open and naked oyster on the beach of my waterbed and I was a randy, horny ghost crab on her oyster-resembling genitalia:  The flavorsome local white wine added the ultimate aroma to our scrumptious encounter.  I once read that the Greeks believed that the semen was white because it was made of foam.  Semen was similar to the salty foam of the ocean.  Add to this the belief that the soft milky texture of oysters was like semen and thus eating them would generate more semen in a male.  The legend goes that Cronos, Zeus father, overthrew his own –Uranus. It was a brutal fight.  In the end, Cronos chopped his father’s bacon bazooka off with his sickle. Everywhere Uranus golden blood landed, new organisms appeared.  Blood on the rocks turned into winged demons called Furies, and blood on fertile soil turned into nymphs and satyrs. Cronos threw the bacon bazooka into the ocean.  Sperm came out of it and made foam.  The foam, in turn, mixed with the sea and created none other but Aphrodite.  A truc-macabre. As a matter of fact, Botticelli’s Birth of Venus painting shows her arriving in Cyprus in a giant shell. The connection between shellfish and Aphrodite is more than clear. A grim and complicated-plot. A la Giacomo Casanova.The famous lover ate at least fifty slippery oysters a day and he used assurance caps to prevent impregnating his mistresses.  I didn’t. Words of love must be implied. He used to say.  Not boldly proclaimed. I never used words. My bacon bazooka needed no introduction. He was a man of far-ranging intellect and curiosity. A true adventurer, traveling across Europe from end to end in search of fortune.  He was a lawyer, clergyman, military officer, violinist, con man, pimp, gourmand, dancer, businessman, diplomat, spy, politician, mathematician, social philosopher, playwright, and writer. I, on the other hand, was a fucker on the run. An android-lover on the loose. A sybarite seeking the perpetual euphoria of a new fuck-affair, every time.  And always looking for Chiquitas around the city-bed of lust and smoke and violence. She looked me in the eyes and said: Eat your oysters naked first.   Rumor has it Casanova purchased a twelve-year old girl in St. Petersburg as a sexual slave in 1765, when he was my age. Around forty years old.  A cruel-act.  She was emphatically prepubescent: Her breasts had still not finished budding. She was in her thirteenth year.  She had nowhere the definitive mark of puberty.  Born of actors, he had a passion for the theater and for an improvised, theatrical life, but with all his talents he frequently succumbed to the quest for pleasure and sex.  His true occupation was living largely on his quick wits, steely nerves, luck, social charm, and the money given to him in gratitude and by trickery.  There is nothing in the world of which he wasn’t capable of.  Oysters were more of an-agent provocateur for the famous lover – An initiator, so to speak.  And part of their sensual reputation might have come from the fact that oysters are hermaphrodites: Can be both males and females at different points in their life cycle. Like in all good myths, there’s an element of truth in the oysters-make-you-randy story. Spawning occurs in spring and summer. External fertilization of the eggs with the sperm occurs in the water. The fertilized eggs drift away as free-floating larvae. When they settle on an optimal bottom, they affix themselves to it and are called spat.  They remain there for the rest of their lives. It typically takes a two-three year to reach adulthood. Their magical allure may spring from their liminal life–free floating larvae which are transformed into a shelled organism fixed in one place and forming the foundation for future generations.  Oyster habitat is brackish water: A mixture of fresh and salt water like one finds in estuaries. They settle on hard surfaces like reefs, older shells, piers, and rocks. Their shells grow on top of each other and form reefs.  Oysters contain eight times more zinc and three times more iron than the same size serving of beef.  That Little Sunshine Chiquita rubbed her strapless lid in a circular fashion with some Thai oil she had in store, using her left hand, and sitting back in the bunker of her bed, with her cherry-red lips squeezing a hard, spicy and fired-up Jimmy on the loose, that looked more like a German Hindenburg caught on fire attempting to dock on her scrumptious lips and she did all that with the elasticity of a gazelle in premonition of a fuck-up. Of an imminent death. A cruel act.  She looked me in the eyes and said: Last time I fucked six guys at the same time right here!  I don’t really know where does this obsession with sex come from.  I am talking about my own.  Hers.  The city’s. I guess, and irrevocably, Freud was so right. Life was built round tension and pleasure. And all that build-up of libido I needed to discharge, somehow.  To release interminably. Curiously, the war did the rest.  Little Sunsine did not fuck me as much as I wanted to that eve.  She was more of a mouth-inserter. Just like a baby who gets much satisfaction from putting all sorts of things in its mouth to satisfy her libido. For some reason, she used to come to my place famished: She got up.  Walked with a slow pace all the way to the fridge, and pulled the door open: Ate whatever she found in my tiny, little wagon with an engine.  She devoured ravenously and greedily what was left of a turkey and mashed potatoes I had saved for a lonesome afternoon and drank up all the beer cans standing proud and eerie in the deep of my light box. She did all that with the motivation of a fifteen-year old novice- cheerleader.  She sat back on her bunker of a bed and watched a silent black and white TV movie on an old TV set in decay, mute. A regal act.  Worthy of a pictorial endeavor a la Salvador Dali. Or some other random artist that I don’t know nothing about.   The TV set was an old artefact I found in that apartment when I first moved in three years ago. She was high.  I was drunk. The truth of the matter is she loved to sit back in the bunker of her bed –just like she used to, in the old days, and spit at her strawless lid, and scrub her strapless cap repeatedly, using her left hand, like there was no tomorrow, and drink wine all afternoon.  And she did all that not far away from the Demarcation Line in no-man zone.  She was 15 and I was the luckiest bastard in West Beirut. The memory of that fuck-up kept bouncing off the walls of my place like a stress ball in distress. Marlon Brando once couldn’t get it up. It was shameful and everything but I guess it was ok. She loved the feeling of a revolver barrel inside her. She used to revere the freshly fired metal tube with both frame and cylinder inside.  A regal tactic of enormous after-effect. One day and out of the blue, we decided to meet: In other words, to go out for a change. Greta Garbo’s was a warm and cozy brasserie outside Beirut, which had turned into a scrapyard. It was the perfect meeting-place for a Saturday afternoon wine A-Go-Go. The place was not crowded, as we expected. She came out of the android-Uber with a Latin flare, as we had agreed. Hard to explain if you didn’t have it in the first place.  I stood there. Earnest and ceremonial in my act. Looking at her royal-paced walk in euphoria. She walked my way the seventeen steps it took her to face me and kiss me on both cheeks and said: I missed you, my Pacino. Graceful and yet unpretentious. Her holy-halo leaked elements of light, spilling radiant and shiny bright as she moved forward.  That afternoon rushed in like a Belgian train in mid-voyage, that never made it on time.  We talked about flatbread pizza, her next mobile cinema project, in Dystopia. About her last, fast-paced failed love-affair and her attempt at piano lessons.  I listened, mostly.  For practical reasons. -A wisdom I had acquired in recent years, which had saved me plenty of time and effort and appetite. We had a couple of jumpy-chicken salads and local wine. Fresh and flavorsome. We laughed, as we talked about almost everything and nothing, and managed, gracefully, to kill the hour away. We both imagined moments-to-be, simultaneously. Mostly naked. For some strange reason, she loved to be touched on her forehead. A regal act of a woman on fire. On her eye-brows to be exact. She was the classic example of someone who knows what she wants and knows how to get it right away.  A negotiator, if you know what I mean. Willing to try new things –in private. My type of chick. Affectionate, and calm on the outside, and yet crazy and freaky on the inside. A mind-type. And believe it or not I was her perfect match. A sophisticated flirt in my own right: A wild and well-traveled and fearless Latino lover by birthright.  To tell you the truth I pretended I read more books than she presumed I did. A manly-affair.  I wrestled with my own thoughts and delusions as the afternoon got away. I concealed most of my inner feelings and idiosyncrasies -in the midst of our talk. A Gemini-kind-of-affair. I was after her strapless lid. What else.  One of the few remaining standard activities in Dystopia. The truth of the matter is we fucked for a while and I got kind of bored with her afterwards. I completely lost interest in her. A guy- thing –so to speak. But her healthy appetite for sex and her delightful fashion-style triggered my bacon bazooka, back. And the fuck-affair kept rolling for more than we both expected. She was the kind of a girl who would do anything to satisfy you.  I acted in kind. I used a proactive approach with her, for as long as it lasted.  She was predictable, but was worth the try, though. Worth every single sperm I spared on her lower and upper abdomen. And well, yeah often times on her tits and her cute, and funny face. I mean, why not. I had nothing to lose. I was a cowboy on the run.  She loved to be chased after -for sex. And after sex. She loved BJs as much, and she used to brag about it in public. A truc macabre. Utterly gallivant. A few weeks later, I found out she was sleeping with a couple of other guys from around the block, for subsistence, and with some big shot of sorts, as well.  A playboy –so to speak. Loaded with guns and green.  Good for her. She was a practical kid, with lots of love to spare. And lots of ambition. I fired up my gorgeous-looking Jimmy and made some smoke rings with my mouth, for my own amusement, that is. And that lasted for quite a while. She had a shower: Poured herself a drink, and walked slowly the seventeen steps, all the way to my bed, completely naked.  Next, she crawled my entire body like a wounded, and moaning soldier on the frontline. Once, fully on top and facing me, she said with her typical intense voice: Impress me with your brains. It occurred to me, and I played a VHS tape I had borrowed from an old chum, of Greta Garbo’s Anna Karenina 1935, in decay. Well, yeah, to try to impress her with my cultural backdrop and shit.  The perfect artefact for a late evening binge. A truc macabre, so to speak.  The glitches and hiccups of the shivering images of Greta Garbo on the old TV set screen, did not corrupt the actress’s royal flare. What a Dame! I thought. What an ass! I thought in sequence. As I took turns looking at both the screen and the Chiquita’s naked, greasy, and flattened body shimmering in the dark, and glowing like a sea-urchin in the deep. And I thought to myself: They don’t make round asses like this anymore. Sublime and holy. The truth of the matter is she was lying right before my own eyes to see: Face-down with a few hours to spare, and I was shit sex-hungry. Infinitely famished. I was after her strawless lid. Her strapless cap.  It was my turn to crawl all over her and once in position I slurped her strapless lid for hours. Out of a sudden, I decided to burn my bacon bazooka inside her fireplace. A regal act.  We fucked for hours. Like two little kids grounded inside their tiny, little school for the weekend, in solitary confinement.  Her final spark was her peculiar climax. Unequal. Unusual.  One of a kind.  Pristine and immaculate.  The street below, stretched, tall and empty, kept shifting shadows and light as the clock ticked and the seconds died forever. I took off.  Had to: I zigzagged my way to the Demarcation Line, past sandbags and burning silhouettes of cars, in fall-off. A conspicuous tactic that I deployed every time to avoid unleashed android-snipers on the loose.  Whether someone or something conforms to customary patterns or deviates from them depends on one’s point of view: Behind the concepts of normality and abnormality is the assumption that there is a single standard by which to judge everything. What may be normal to one group, however, may be unacceptable to another. I had the same Walkman on, with the same headphones arching the same epic oval head –of mine- I displayed for a thousand times at the frontline. Every time.  A truc macabre. I played Monk Live in Paris 1964 every time. Non-stop. It was more like a frontline pursuit, just for kicks. A grotesque-act of reverie.  A snow-white 1979 Super-Beetle Cabriolet stopped right there in the middle of nowhere, just a few steps from the line.   I couldn’t identify any of its occupants –who wore ceremonial masks, just for kicks. The truth of the matter is they all looked like soul-reapers with scythes.  Next, they revealed their hidden and nasty-looking arms and fired up abruptly in all directions for at least seven random minutes. At the end of which, the snow-white Beetle stood-still in complete stillness. Suddenly, that tiny little wagon was showered and hammered countless times with all sorts of ammo. An RPG sealed its fate, turning them and the vehicle into a burning chunk of metal and flesh. A suicidal undertaking. An eccentric haze shrouded my eyesight. That day, I met the iconic Wesley Ruggles on the Demarcation Line in Downtown Beirut. A day-to-remember. I was surrounded by eccentric structures –which stood tall beholding my own state of incongruity. I stood almost mortified in the middle of the forlorn battleground, in quiet.  Out of a thick, almost-mythical mist, a machine gun re-surfaced and finally rested on my temple.  Pristine and Immaculate.  I stood-still.  Did not utter a word for an entire Trevi-Fountain second. I still remember that cowboy’s brimmed-shape-white-Panama-hat, silk shirt, striped pants and his green suspenders. A distinctive and manly act. He looked like an older fashion model from GQ magazine. I still remember when he looked at me for the last time and said: Learn how to cook and spend less, save time and have sex more often. The noise of my camera release bottom echoed and re-echoed in the stillness of that barren place, bouncing off the empty, worn-out, and shattered walls and streets around me. On that cool Winter-day and somewhere in another part of town, The Red Prince carried a pistol holstered in brown leather and worn on his hip a la Clint Eastwood. He was a playboy alright, on his way to his final rave. He was in a two-Chevi station wagons convoy heading from Georgina’s flat to his mother’s, for a birthday party. Chambers was on her balcony, graciously painting, and her sinister red Beetle was parked right below on Rue Verdun.  As Salameh’s convoy passed that red wagon at 3:35 pm and turned onto Rue Madam Curie, a hundred Kilos of explosives attached to the car by a Mossad agent was remotely detonated either by Chambers herself or on her signal to another Mossad agent. They did not mistake him this time. A truc macabre.  The blast left Salameh conscious, but severely wounded and in great pain, having pieces of steel shrapnel embedded in his head and throughout his body.  He was rushed to The American University of Beirut Hospital, where he died on the operating table at 4:03 pm. Salameh’s four bodyguards and four bystanders were also killed, and at least 16 people were injured.  I was on the other end of town, with Wesley Ruggles sipping some single malt whisky, in some random bar, surrounded by Frenchies at the moment of the blast.  The air had turned purple and a crowd rushed in on an empty street. You could feel the heat of the day in full armor.  “We’re out of condoms, sir” said a muffled voice behind the counter.  It had started to rain and I was already overtly provoked and ready for Yasmine, as she waited in the solitude of that apartment in Sodeco.  I was only nineteen at the time, had memorized the entire First Act of The Birthday Party for a purpose, was semi-high and had impressed my Mass Communication professor just that very morning on what made the news as concept: The dog who bites the woman or the woman who bites the dog.  My wallet was emptied and as I reached for a lighter placed candidly on that rustic shelf, I remembered: Wine! The bottle of wine that she had ordered.  I was keen on bringing bottles of wine to my heated one-nights.  I knew that this was nothing but another hit and run and she was to turn into another of my victims.  I don’t feel sorry for her.  She had used me in the past and so it was my way of getting even.  It was a sort of payback.  Just like that time when my bestie fucked another bestie and I had to put up with it.  Only time brought me justice. When I fucked her ex-wife just for fun. And Am in no position to brag about it.  To tell you the truth, she was most probably under age, and I am talking about Yasmine, of course. But she had been impressed by my poor acting and most likely my Latin stage presence.  She would call me Pacino –for some weird, unstated reason. And I liked it. I used to call her Frenchie.  My immediate purpose was to make it to the car. That’s for sure.  You guessed it: My Rover. I was high.  I was drunk.  Beirut looked like a scrapyard and I was detained by a Danish lady who was looking for a bar. She wore a white dress and lime green, round hoop earrings. I am pretty sure I gave her the wrong route, while at it. Sorry to disappoint you, lady. I thought minutes later.  But for once I didn’t feel bad about it.  I was entitled to my foolish act.  I had someone waiting for me.  All alone, remember: Frenchie in Sodeco.  Most probably cold and most probably feeling melancholic as she waited for Pacino on his way. And perhaps, fuck-hungry. I had this wacko-concept: That it was a matter of national interest to satisfy lonesome women in a lonesome city for the night. To keep them warm and content. An Eastern-affair.  At least, I felt entitled due to my evident arrogance, primitive experience and to be honest: Well, I was desperate for a fuck! A truc macabre, so to speak. I was reduced to an android-Pacino on the run.  A mutant gorilla on the loose. I walked with a typical Latino swagger –That I had picked from remote days when I used to live in a trailer park peopled by exotic wackos and misfits. My own reflection on the adjacent window display –as I walked through, seemed to repeat Pacino motifs in my head and all around me. And it was all accentuated by my own motion and light and penumbra. I don’t know why but I always had this impression that Pacino was the epitome of manliness. And Yasmine’s impression of me –in turn, made it unblemished. I was about to become one, on a professional level. Distinct and sexual. A series of failed affairs, my constant agitation looking for a reason to be, to exist and my endless struggle in settling down, and trying constantly to find momentarily satisfaction in whatever I was doing at the time, made a serious vagabond out of me –but with good intentions. I landed jobs of all kinds.  Appropriate and suitable ones, and totally despicable and thorny.  But it was part of the bigger mosaic of shitless nonsense I was in, in a city that did not appreciate its most notable artists.  And this perhaps was one of the reasons I found solace in night encounters. I didn’t measure or anticipate the consequences.  I was a soldier of fortune playing his best hand every time, regardless of the fallout.  I found delight in loving women: Women of all walks of life.  A weekly-affair of enormous after-effect. Jazz and Booze adjusted the happenstances. I was a hero for a night, every other night: Hidden from the rays of shame and banality. Hidden from the rays of sun and dust in perpetuity.  I was alas! stuck in reverse in the cycle of my own propensity. Love affairs, in one way or another had destroyed me.  I was left with nothing but the nucleus of a man that once was! Alone, desperate and attempting to become the reflection of the Pacino who had just glimmered before him. I derived pleasure from ecstasy. And ecstasy from pleasure.  I was an android-Romeo equipped with apps and wine. The shine of the screen reminded me of Frenchie, dripping messages of small talk and nonsense every once in a while. Where are you? Why are you taking this long? Try not to be late and so on and so forth, with the typical French-English accent. This was a boring part.  I detested it. I had to put up with lots of shit. Birds, dogs, cats, and a gold-fish named Cookie Monkey.  And even a Parrot, that I taught Spanish. Oye, Puto: Chupame la Pinga. This was a daily punch line. It felt good, for a while.  But after that, the whole enterprise became mechanical, it turned hysterical and unemotional. Not my regular cup of coffee. Her sofa bed was remarkably enormous. Of course, some of her pets found sanctuary there.  I was happy to know that some had died a few months later only to gather she had replaced most of them to no avail. Let me be more honest: Yasmine was my playmate.  A pet of my own.  I don’t mean to sound wicked, but she had stripped me down to the ground. Of all my talent and my merits.  I had lost all my medals and my marvels since the end of the Civil war and no one had hugged me, like really hugged me ever since. It was a masterful act of her part. We were two gorilla mutants of intimacy.  She used to remind me that we were up for it only if we agreed that -that was going to be the only night together.  And of course, it wasn’t. We used to bang like rabbits every once in a while. She was high and I was drunk.  A perfect match.  A truc macabre. I was her pet.  Her Pluto – for all I know.  I drove my car to Sodeco.  The rain had stopped partially.  Some garbage cans were in flame around corners. A typical yet berserk Pacino scene in the making, unfolding before me.  I looked around me to see if some random passenger from a random passing vehicle would recognize me, from a random scene I was part of, the night before on a local TV network. An absurd act of vanity. A woman stood nearby.  She approached my half-open window.   The breeze coming in made the perfect match for my Monk –Live in Paris 1964.  She said: “Sodeco!” I said” “Yes!” She got in.  I said: “No. Not that way!” She looked at me as if I had slain her entire race or tribe.  I succumbed in silence. Did her the favor in utter quiet. I smiled a Mona Lisa smirk and drove in partial stillness, turned down Monk playing and closed the window entirely. How could I ruin the moment? We were both happy. In our driving act.   Me driving to my fuck and she, well, she was comfortably being driven to her random location in Sodeco. A night scene. I did not utter a word until we got there. She was about to pay the alleged taxi fare when another stranger said: “Hamra!” I had to open the door and step away from my Rover to inspect it.  It didn’t look at all like a taxi or cab –to sound more Pacino-like, if you know what I mean.  What is wrong with these people? I thought to my-self. The pale color of my car, the sudden rain and the smoke curling up in the air, in a New-York fashion, it prompted such reactions, most probably. At night, everything changes and a lie becomes the truth.  I got pissed.  I was going to be late. You don’t want to miss a fuck.  They say it’s bad luck. And now this: Taken or mistaken for a Travis Bickle in the middle of Beirut at 11 PM. A truc macabre. Let me just say that our friendship had lasted for over twenty years. Yasmine –or Frenchie as I used to call her, was a hell of a woman.  She was smart, tenacious, multi-talented and had an Italian flare, for all the time we were together.  She never lost it. I was amazed. But for some random reason I was at the end of the day -Her Pluto. Her pet-playmate.  Pluto is just a random name.  You can call me any pet name, if you want to.  I wouldn’t even know it.  I would be long gone.  Doing Yasmine or maybe slurping her strawless lid, her strapless cap for an eternity. The truth of the matter is our one-night stand lasted for seven years.  Tonight, was a random night.  Just like any other random night. Nothing special about it, except for the Danish lady with a white dress and lime green, round hoop earrings, and the random passengers who had mistaken me for a cabbie in a cab film. Often times I would turn violent on Yasmine. Like shit crazy. I lost control several times. I do regret that now. I used to hit, punch, strike, beat, slap, smack, hand-cuff her to her bed, so drunk that she wouldn’t even remember it, the next morning. She would laugh and kind of let go. I used to slam her against the closet like shit crazy. I –once, smashed her head with a Chinese vase just because she changed some random TV channel that I wasn’t even watching.  I was high.  She was drunk. I still remember when I smashed some window panels at her place, one day, by simply walking through.  It was so lucid, I didn’t even see them block my way.  That one time, a police patrol was called in but made no arrests. Her favorite part was the whipping we did.  It took months of self-adaptation and re-adjustments.  She got so used to it she said one time she was addicted to it. That she didn’t want to stop and that if we did, she’d probably kill herself. And I liked it. She didn’t want me to stop, alright. I kept going. It kept rolling. Her addiction was Freud-induced. Mine was cigar and booze. That’s what made matters worse. I had become ill-tempered.  Nothing could fix that. Out of nowhere I had this idea: To get drunk before I go up and see her. And so I did. Got wasted, went up and the first thing I did when I saw her was go down on her and eat her strawless lid for hours. I still remember when one night I went up to see her, and for some wacko reason she wouldn’t let me in.  She blocked my way in, like completely.  She said she had a friend inside and that she wasn’t feeling ok. That was an eye-opener for me. Her cat kept meowing at my foot. In a sudden act, I lifted that poor thing with my foot and threw him or her –You tell me, over the stairway.  I heard it still meow down there in the dark. For quite some time.   A truc macabre.  I still think about it. It makes me feel uneasy. It gives me the shivers. Just to think about it. Sometimes I dream of the poor little cat down there in the dark looking at me, waiting for the day to get even. I can still feel the spell of that cat all around me.  Well, if there’s any consolation, I am truly sorry for that. Guilt chased me and still chases me like a wounded dog and that time when I fucked this part-time actress and got her pregnant.  Well, it took years before she could show some mercy.  She never said it but I guess she did forgive me in the end.  As for Frenchie.  I see her from time to time, you know.  Am her Pluto. Her pet-playmate.  Pluto is just a random name.  You can call me any pet name, if you want to.  I wouldn’t even know it.  I would be long gone. Doing Yasmine or maybe slurping her strawless lid, her strapless cap for an eternity.  She came out of her apartment building in a haste, and as she opened my red Rover Mini Cooper door and got in, I threw out the window my half-way consumed zeppelin on the loose, I had lit a few minutes ago for convenience, as I listened to Monk Live in Paris, 1965.   She hated Jazz but budged in the middle of a speedy fuck.  As a matter of fact, she would turn the volume up and tell me that the music drove her nuts.  Little I knew, back then, that that zeppelin tail would plunge upon the bubbling sidewalk, that afternoon, like a Hindenburg in 1937, while its nose, rose into the air like a breaching whale. My mini-Hindenburg smashed what was left of a line of symmetrically-aligned ants on their way to an important meeting.  They were all in black and looked serious. Chiquita threw herself onto her seat, tossed her bag onto the back seat, shifted her weight multiple times and finally sat straight up looking ahead like a sphinx.  She said: You can go now. I drove my Rover like I stole it -as my little serious victims were dispersing, in notable confusion, and in random fashion right outside my half-open window. The sandstorm I left behind grew taller than the lamp posts scattered along the street and above the noise of TV game shows poorly produced. The shadows of that afternoon street were eating up silhouettes and those silhouettes were in turn forming in surrounding walls and facades in a fatuitous manner. Chiquita and I knew each way back.  From school days when we were young and tall and vigorous.  She found pleasure in random talk, random acts. She once told me that it was more meaningful for her to justify her request of seeing me than to just say what she wanted right away.  A modus operandi, so to speak.  As I drove past flower shops and pharmacies, lingerie stores and sex toys swaying like giant bait worms on display, I thought I should get a dog and maybe a girlfriend, for all I know.  -A way of mending up my lonesome act, and one or two forlorn Beirut afternoons, while at it.   And maybe why not get a real job. And actually, do something for a living.  This business of random projects, and freelance writing was getting on my nerves. The job wasn’t but the pay was. A truc macabre. She was gorgeous-looking, the kind of a girl you want to hit on, and do from time and time and well yeah, like try to keep for a while.  The fact is she was unquenchable, hard to stop once in, and her demands grew more assiduous as our afternoon escapades became more regular. She said: Stop the car. We sat there in the middle of nowhere. Monk was a Devil in a state of total rapture. I kissed her soft lips with no bad intentions in mind. She slurped my bacon bazooka several times just for kicks.  On-lookers stood by. She grabbed my handle for reassurance, gave it a good brush and sat on me like she really had missed it.  She spat at it multiple times, my face was all over the ceiling and the windshield, and I was roaring like a wounded lion, like a man who had bet his life saving on second running-horse in the races. She was high on Blow. I was a jazz freak.  She loved History books and Italian cuisine: She was an expert at Pasta Carbonara. She’d cook the pasta in salted water, and cook some tomatoes in a large skillet over medium-high heat with olive oil and stirring often, until it slightly softened for around three minutes. She would then add some shallots and cook, stirring until the shallots and tomatoes softened for the same amount of time or so.  She would then add the garlic, some natural herbs and finally bring to a boil.  Once done, she would blend the mix using a hand blender –no wonder she was good at hand jobs.  Buon appetito!  è delizioso. That day she was draped like a mannequin in a display window. She wore a horrible, loose-fitting vintage dress, and no make-up. Stained with dark spots of coffee, that did not taste good, which she had, early in the morning. And her regular flat green shoes.  She always wore green shoes.  She squashed a gum behind her front teeth. Her finger-nails in double-decker red.  Both her earrings scintillated an assortment of a spectrum caused by the light diffused through the silver clouds, and bouncing off strategically located car handles in car doors.  I thought to myself: What a lucky bastard! I was the luckiest bastard in West Beirut.   As I pulled the metallic cold through my nostrils and a line or two of blow coke in a sporadic fashion while at it, a snow-white cigarette of three to four inches in length, resting between her fingers, burned down onto a memory. She squeezed my bacon bazooka with her free hand, thinking maybe she would make it spill by way of her magic. She was in her late thirties and I was assailed by a huge range of a regrets and shames and disappointments.  Assaulted by a series of failed relationshits. It was in that very instant, she tried desperately to project a cheerful air: I think am in love, with your dick.  Dogs and birds were leaping from one tree to another undetected. A truc macabre. She looked out the window and I pretended her say something in French like: On a froid. On est seuls.  Mais au moins, on sait où trouver de la chaleur. She looked back at me for an entire Trevi-Fountain second. Gallant and noble. The emotions she had stirred were exactly where we had left them. Undetected.  I was making a much-needed escape from my own trivial life, to try to reconnect back with it. It was a favorite pastime. The way of a dog, astray and awry, one afternoon in the city. Freud would have laughed, and probably join in. He would say some like I am in for the blow, man. Do what you want with her lid. Now that I come to think about it: The old man did flash in my memory a couple of times, while at it.  I pictured him in that coat, with the classic white beard, all cracked up coke-high and murmuring to himself: Turn that Monk shit up. A moment later I detected her stripping from waste down.  She looked strikingly beautiful. Her pristine shadow making a regal comeback as her hair swayed in all directions.  I was a bohemian in my final act, she was Lucifer desperate for more.  Stonie wore a Machiavellian smile and fashioned a Cobra Shades just like the ones Stallone wore as Marion Cobretti in Cobra, 1986.  The truth of the matter is this guy looked more like a train-ticket conductor or inspector with a twist, for all I know. He looked like a mutant gorilla on the run.  And not even close to what a member of an elite division called Zombie Squad looked like. A truc macabre.  After a moment, he panned his head appearing entirely as a more recent version of the black drummer in Youtube Bill Withers’ Ain’t No Sunshine, with a grin. He looked up from his tiny, half-open, smoke-twirling-window and said: Hello Mr. Ruggles, am Stonie.  Welcome to Lebanon. The Switzerland of the East. Wesley Ruggles – was an accomplished and prominent American photojournalist.  He got in the back seat of the white Peugeot 504 and smiled all the way to the Commodore Hotel in Hamra. Stonie looked at his customer adjusting himself in the back seat, as he got in, on the rear-view mirror and said: Our country is the best place if you wish to take on the challenge of surfing and skiing on the same day. There’s no particular way to do it – some prefer to hit the waves early in the morning and end the day with a cup of mulled wine after a great ski or snowboard session; others prefer to hit the slopes in the morning and watch the sunset from Ain El Mraisse on West End, after catching some waves. It’s really up to you, Mr. Ruggles. You decide.  I leave it up to you. Wesley Ruggles grinned.  He wasn’t much of a talker, if you know what I mean.  He nodded affirmatively to all the words Stonie shot at him.  Lester Young Stardust – 1952 was coming out of the radio. Soft and easy. Let me tell ya a story.  Stonie said:  Two families were arguing in a field about where the boundary between their lands lay.  The dispute dated back a long time and blood had been shed a number of times.  A boy, a child of some eight or nine years, picked up a stick and drew a line in the earth.  When asked what he was doing, he said he was marking the boundary as it had been agreed at the last round of negotiation, long before he was born.  His father asked him how he knew this, and the boy replied that he was the reincarnation of a man the father had killed in the feud.  When the child revealed details of the shooting that only the dead man and his killer could have known, his father embraced his former adversary who was now his son. Both families wanted the feud to end.  It had been costly in terms of lives, and all were seeking a way out of a resumption of hostilities. Wesley Ruggles said: Take to me to the Green Line. Now.  The war sound kept coming in and out of my head, and a couple was still banging inside a tiny yellow Fiat not far away from where I was standing.  A mechanical undertaking.  Not much emotion/commotion at play except for their intense sexual collaboration.  A deliberate, indecent exposure.  The gurl – a night-time frontline-regular took turns shifting her rear-end from East to West in a regal act. A line up of militiamen stood in queue on both of ends of the line to shag her. A surreal act. A moment of truce.  Both the gurl and the city were completely naked, shattered and decrepit. Partly broken, partly rotten, and partly forgotten. For years, I was a war junkie in Beirut. A crowded jeep of militiamen stopped and disembarked on a random sidewalk of a deserted, and smashed street on the other end of the city.  They all looked like knights subpoenaed by the monarch who was pissed and drunk and tired. For a moment, they all looked irritated and pissed off. A sort of a fashion insignia they all displayed just for kicks. A war-affair. Hip and ceremonial. Then, they began to disperse along the sidewalk in zigzag, with machine guns and RPGs pointing upward.  Their beards, long and unpleasant, pointing downward.  And their self-esteem half-way in between. They all came for the cut.  The King’s cut. The truth of the matter is the King Salon was the hippest place in town. A classic spot. A royal den.  The cosmopolitan centre of Beirut. So, to speak.  Everybody was there.  A meeting place for spies, including Kim Philby and Archie Roosevelt, and CIA men such as Miles Copeland as well as journalists of the caliber of John Chancellor and Sulzberger. Numerous diplomats and politicians, business tycoons and oil Sheikhs, they all mixed with oil and banking tycoons of the day molding the clientele of this classic establishment.  A royal place.  During the 50’s and even early 70’s the plots, the deals, and the stories that came out of this famous barbershop in Beirut were gripping. Plots and counter-plots, stretching over a quarter of a century echoed and re-echoed inside, every time.   Rumor has it, many incidents which helped to shape and re-shape Middle Eastern history are associated with the Salon: The attempt to overthrow King Hussein of Jordan, for instance. It was partially destroyed in the Two-Year war, but it was totally re-erected and managed to preserve its heyday reputation for a while.   I used to come here when I was little. A place to chill. A room where you could conduct business as usual without the hassle of the real workplace. A place you didn’t call a café for prestige and yet it was almost one. The tea they served was splendid and kingly. And ladies used to stay out on the sidewalk just for thrills, with the hope to catch heartthrobs on the loose. I went out with a new hair-cut. The King’s cut. I was the King’s Knight for the night.  I kick-started my bike and cruised for a while. A poet on tour.  Roaming the city.  Looking for a one-night stand. Or at least what appears to be.  I saw a solitary figure standing on a random spot.  A black woman with an Afro.  It was just perfect.  She jumped me on the highway the time it took me to give her a ride home.  A truc macabre. I pressed the number nine button inside the elevator of my apartment building.  I was tired and wired. As the elevator began to go up it suddenly stopped.  I was alone. And forgotten for a while.  Dangling by a cord. Forsaken.  Maybe.  I masturwaited the hour. Power was restored and I made it to my apartment safely. Minutes later the phone rang. She said: Baby, are you craving me tonight.  The next thing I know I have couple of Lesbians over slurping my bacon bazooka just for kicks. A royal act. Worthy of enjoyment with what I called decent music: I used to play Stevie Wonder’s Superstition really loud on my Marshall speakers in decay, while at it. A ritual of old fun-days when I was young, full of sperms, and needs and itches. The funny part –though, is that I always experienced something peculiar in that very moment of sorts. Hard to explain but I saw the trailer of my own life lived, projected on the facing wall. A broken wall.  I reminisced about past affairs and was transfixed by the lingering memory of a blow job as well as a highly visual fuck-climax. Vivid and highly pictorial.  Cheers! They both said. As they both poured all the wine content, glittering in penumbra, upon my bacon bazooka.  It looked like a copper fall unleashing. Unceasing. A truc macabre.   A royal act. Three was company.  Beirut was a junkyard of scrap metal and waste back then.  A place for sub-humans and android-machines on the run. BB 62 opened fire and hit some targets on the outskirts of the city. I was an android-cowboy in disguise.  Rumors had it the bomb shells were all empty. As the American destroyer showered guerilla positions in Souk el Gharb, I was firing my own cannon all over the Lesbians scattered along enemy lines inside my dim room, not far away from the Demarcation Line in Beirut.  A supreme act. A simultaneous-affair. Many years later, I had a similar experience when I was shagging this Pilipino gurl -in a random hotel in Jounieh, just for kicks, while watching the final of the World Cup in 2010. I still remember cumming inside her mouth at the exact moment Iniesta was kicking the ball inside the Netherland finish line.  A glorious-act of sorts.  The two Lesbians just loved the feeling of a revolver barrel inside them. A truc macabre. A regal tactic of enormous after-effect.  For some reason, they used to revere the freshly fired metal tube with both frame and cylinder inside. I never understood why.  I stood there. Earnest and ceremonial in my act.  Viewing the trailer of my own life on the facing wall of that dim room, and watching my bacon bazooka in constant spa-treatment mode. Graceful and yet unpretentious. The afternoon rushed in like a Belgian train in mid-voyage, that never made it on time. I dreamed of flatbread pizza, in the wasteland. Reminisced about my last, fast-paced failed love-affair and my futile attempt at piano lessons. We laughed, as we talked and killed the hours away. We imagined moments-to-be. Mostly naked. For some strange reason, they both loved to be touched on their forehead. A women-thing.  On their eye-brows to be exact.  The truth of the matter is that they both were willing to try new things –in private. My type of women.  Alone and crazy. A mind-type. Affectionate, and calm on the outside, and yet crazy and freaky on the inside. To tell you the truth I pretended I read more books than they both presumed I did. I wrestled with my own thoughts and delusions.  Concealed my deeper feelings and idiosyncrasies -in the midst of our talk. In the middle of a futile war with no ending.  A Gemini-kind-of-thing with a thrill.   I was after their strapless lid. What else do you expect: One of the few remaining standard activities in Dystopia, at the time. I fucked them both for a while and I got kind of bored afterwards.  The truth of the matter is I completely lost interest in them.  Soon after, I found my next victim. A young, fresh psychology graduate with a healthy appetite for sex and a delightful fashion-style that managed to trigger my bacon bazooka, back. This next fuck-affair with Luciana kept rolling for more than we both expected. She was the kind of girl who would do anything to satisfy you.  I acted in kind. I used a proactive approach with her, for as long as it lasted. She was worth the try: Worth every single sperm I spared on her lower and upper abdomen. And well, yeah often times on her breasts and her cute, funny face.  A truc macabre. She loved to be chased after -for sex. She loved BJs as much. And she used to brag about it in public.  A few weeks later, I found out she was sleeping with a couple of other guys from around the block, for subsistence, and with some big shot of sorts, as well.  A playboy –so to speak. Loaded with guns and green.  Good for her. She was a practical kid, with lots of love to spare.  And lots of ambition. I fired up my gorgeous-looking Jimmy and made some smoke rings with my mouth, for my own amusement, that is. And that lasted for quite a while. She had a shower: Poured herself a drink, and walked slowly the seventeen steps, all the way to my bed, completely naked.  Next, she crawled my entire body like a wounded, and moaning soldier on the frontline. Once, fully on top and facing me, she said with her typical intense voice: Impress me with your brains. It occurred to me, and I played a VHS tape I had borrowed from an old chum, of Greta Garbo’s Anna Karenina 1935, in decay. Well, yeah, to try to impress her with my cultural backdrop and shit.  The perfect artefact for a late evening binge. A truc macabre, so to speak.  The glitches and hiccups of the shivering images of Greta Garbo on the TV screen, did not corrupt the actress’s royal flare. What a Dame! I thought. What an ass! I thought in sequence. As I took turns looking at both the screen and the new chick’s naked, greasy, and flattened body shimmering in the dark, and glowing like a sea-urchin in the deep. And I thought to myself: They don’t make them like this anymore. Sublime and Holy. A Regal act.  I was talking about the chick’s ass. What else. I mean, the truth of the matter is she was lying right before my own eyes to see: Face-down with a few hours to spare. And I was fuck-hungry. Endlessly famished. I was after her strawless lid. Strapless cap. Flavorsome and scrumptious like shit crazy.  I crawled all over her on the bed and -once in position, I slurped her strapless lid for hours. I grinned. Placed my half-consumed Jimmy on the loose on the Buddha-ashtray I had in store from my old days in Kamasutra-training in New Delhi. I decided to burn my bacon bazooka inside her fire place. We fucked for hours.  Her spark was her unusual climax.  Pristine and immaculate.  The streets below and around me were dim and vacant. Cold and bare. I took off.  Had to: I zigzagged my way to the Demarcation Line, past sandbags and burning silhouettes of cars, in fall-off. A conspicuous tactic that I deployed every time to avoid unleashed android-snipers on the loose. Or mutant gorillas on the run –as I used to call them.  Whether someone or something conforms to customary patterns or deviates from them depends on one’s point of view: Behind the concepts of normality and abnormality is the assumption that there is a single standard by which to judge everything. What may be normal to one group, however, may be unacceptable to another. I had the same Walkman on, with the same headphones arching the same oval head I displayed for a thousand times at the frontline. A truc macabre. I played Monk Live in Paris 1964 every time.  Every day. Non-stop. It was more like a frontline pursuit, just for kicks. A Grotesque affair.  Stories of love and madness is all I heard on both ends of the Demarcation Line. A snow-white 1979 Super-Beetle Cabriolet stopped right there in the middle of nowhere. Just a few steps from the Line. I could not identify any of its occupants, who wore ceremonial masks, just for kicks. The truth of the matter is they all looked like soul-reapers with scythes. They then revealed their hidden arms abruptly, and opened fire in all directions for at least seven random minutes. At the end of which, the snow-white Beetle stood-still in complete silence. Out of a sudden, that tiny little wagon, was showered and hammered countless times with all sorts of ammo.  An RPG sealed its fate, turning them into a burning chunk of metal and flesh.  A suicidal undertaking. An eccentric haze shrouded my eyesight. That day, I met the iconic Wesley Ruggles on the Demarcation Line in Down Town Beirut.  On that taciturn Winter-day, and somewhere in town, The Red Prince carried a pistol holstered in brown leather and worn on his hip a la Clint Eastwood. He was a playboy alright, on his final rave. He was in a convoy of two Chevi station wagons heading from Georgina’s flat to his mother’s, for a birthday party. Chambers was on her balcony painting, and her red Beetle parked below on Rue Verdun.  As Salameh’s convoy passed that red wagon at 3:35 pm and turned onto Rue Madam Curie, a hundred Kilos of explosives attached to the car by a Mossad agent was remotely detonated either by Chambers herself or on her signal to another Mossad agent. They did not mistake him this time. A truc macabre.  The blast left Salameh conscious, but severely wounded and in great pain, having pieces of steel shrapnel embedded in his head and throughout his body.  He was rushed to The American University of Beirut Hospital, where he died on the operating table at 4:03 pm. I was surrounded by eccentric structures –which stood tall beholding my own state of incongruity. I stood almost mortified in the middle of the battleground, in silence.  Out of a thick, almost-mythical mist, a machine gun emerged and finally rested on my temple: I stood-still. I did not utter a word for an entire minute. A strange haze shrouded my eyesight. I still remember that android-cowboy with rifle still pointing at me, and with his brimmed-shape-white-Panama-hat, silk shirt, striped pants and his green suspenders. A distinctive and manly act.  I still remember when he looked at me for the last time and said: Learn how to cook and spend less, save time and have sex more often.  He was in a chill mood. He grinned at the end of his act and said: Hasta La Vista, Baby.  As for her:  She read the last couple of lines of a letter she kept in one of her emerald green coat’s inner pockets for the last time, folded the letter the way she was supposed to, placed the letter gently on the desk, took a pistol out of an upper drawer, put the pistol’s barrel inside her mouth and shot herself. She was six months pregnant. I can’t overlook the fact that her vagina was once snipped by a randy horn-eyed ghost crab confusing her fleshy bits for an open oyster on the beach, in spite of the fact that it was illegal to lie down there, naked. A foolish-act. The truth of the matter is some of her intimate friends were woken up by her screaming that somethin’ had bitten her and they were shocked to see a crab hanging off her privates. A morbid-act.  They had no choice but to release the pinchers open and free her from his grip. The recollection of that sinister incident turned me on every time she narrated it. Lustful and lecherous.  I guess her secret weapon was the knockout garlic-herb butter she used to brush each oyster with arranged in a single-layer on the grill. And subsequently, cook out uncovered for seven minutes or at least until the edges curled. The truth of the matter is eating oysters and sex merged well.  A magic-twist. I guess the salty juice and soft flesh of the oyster had the power to excite.  In both, eating oysters and sex, one used all five senses just for kicks. I fell in love with Maria at around 23:09 -a shy drizzle was splashing in part the dimly-lit sidewalk, sideways, under her timid window, on a shady and tall street, on the darkest side of the city. Beirut looked like a ghost town.  Monk Live in Paris 1965 was coming out of my antique and antediluvian car audio-stereo in decay.  My rover was in fractional dimness shrouded under some dusty and grim almond tree leaves in fall-off. She was on her knees –slurping my bacon bazooka just for kicks and I was, well, yeah, a Superman with a red cap on and shit, standing in supremacy over her and all the glittering windows of a city that stood-tall and away: Distant, grim and in total silence. A morbid-act. I was a cowboy on the run.  I was a mutant gorilla on the loose. Out of a sudden, a crowd jumped up and down in total hysteria: At precisely 16:09 local time Diego Armando Maradona kicked the ball over the English line and hit the net in Aztec Stadium on June 22. I was in and came inside Maria’s strapless lid at that precise instant. It was perfect. A Sunday like no other. Diego’s solo goal was the greatest ever scored after a mazy run. I was a Diego of my own.  Diego scored twice on that day.  I –on the other hand, scored multiple times.  And with no assurance cap on whatsoever. The crowd all around chanted Goal! The chant was for me.  A shy drizzle was splashing in part the dimly-lit sidewalk, sideways, under her timid window, on a shady and tall street, on the darkest side of the city. Beirut looked like a ghost town.  Monk Live in Paris 1965 was coming out of my antique and antediluvian car audio-stereo in decay.  My rover was in fractional dimness shrouded under some dusty and grim almond tree leaves in fall-off. She was back on her knees –slurping my bacon bazooka once and for all and just for kicks and I was, well, yeah, a Superman with a red cap on and shit, standing in supremacy over her and all the glittering windows of a city that stood-tall and away: Distant, grim and in total silence. The least I can say about her now is that she was rude and insolent with a whole array of bad manners to account for.  A spoiled-brat, so to speak.  She always got what she wanted. Her daily impertinence and rude behavior was a daily affair. A daily-act. Typical of her on a Monday morning and salient of her on a Friday afternoon. A week-long attitude backed by the long-lasting reputation of a business family she belonged to -with a reputation for impertinence, impudence and effrontery of their own. “He’s got a lot of cheek to say that to me!” She said. The previous customer left mad. He left some angry words behind as well. He left for some random elevator at a random hospital and shot himself to death. One idea kept lingering on my mind: Elephants have strong individual personalities that affect how they interact with other elephants, how others perceive them, and how well they are able to influence members of their group. Some elephants are popular while others are not. Some elephants show strong leadership qualities, others do not; some are highly social extroverts, while others are less social introverts. The truth of the matter is I left like a tired and wired elephant –long rotten, forgotten, with the hope that life and the next day were going to be beautiful.  So fucking and miraculously beautiful. As for her:  She read the last couple of lines of a letter she kept in one of her emerald green coat’s inner pockets for the last time, folded the letter the way she was supposed to, placed the letter gently on the desk, took a pistol out of an upper drawer, put the pistol’s barrel inside her mouth and shot herself. She was six months pregnant. She hated Jazz but budged in the middle of a fuck.  As a matter of fact, she would turn the volume up and tell me that the music drove her nuts.  Little I knew, back then, that that cigarette would plunge upon the bubbling sidewalk, that afternoon, like a zeppelin in flames, and smash what was left of a line of symmetrically-aligned ants on their way to an undisclosed location.  My companion threw herself onto her seat, threw her bag onto the back seat, shifted her weight multiple times and finally sat straight up looking ahead.  She said after a calculated pause: You can go now. I drove my Rover like I stole it -as my little victims were dispersing, in notable confusion, and in random fashion next to me.  The sandstorm I left behind grew taller than the lamp posts that dotted the long street, above the loud voices of Turkish soap operas actors bombarding out lines from arbitrary TV screens in unsystematic houses.  All in vain. Who cared? The shadows of that afternoon street were eating up silhouettes and those silhouettes were in turn forming in surrounding walls and facades in a fatuitous manner.  We knew each other from high school, and last time we spoke over the lines she needed my expertise with some issue related to an inheritance.  An issue like any haphazard issue we never spoke about. She found pleasure in random talk, random acts. She once told me that it was more meaningful for her to justify her demand of seeing me than to just say what she wanted right away.  A modus operandi, so to speak.  As I drove past flower shops and pharmacies, lingerie stores and sex toys swaying like giant bait worms on display, I thought I should get a dog and maybe a girlfriend, for all I know.  -A way of mending up my lonesome act, and one or two forlorn Beirut afternoons, while at it.   And maybe why not get a real job.  This business of random projects, and freelance writing undertakings was getting on my nerves. The job wasn’t but the pay was.  Truc macabre. She was gorgeous-looking, the kind of girl you want to hit on, and do from time and time.  The fact is she was unquenchable, hard to stop once in, and her demands grew more assiduous as our afternoon escapades became more regular. She said: Stop the car. We sat there in the middle of nowhere. Monk was in a state of total rapture. And so were we.  We embraced each other in a sudden act. She was young.  I was tired.  But her resolve and my obvious turn-on made the entire undertaking more persevering.  It made her go down on me endless times.  She sucked my carrot like she did every time, with the same drive, the same craving, the same accidental, haphazard and mechanical fervor of a woman with a pre-determined purpose.  To fuck and get fucked.  Random characters/strangers in the distance did not deter us from this public act of yearning onto gratification.  They looked on and kept looking as they fell trapped in a vicious cycle of codependency between spectator and spectacle bred by garish iconography taken sincerely.   Out of a sudden she giggled -and for no particular reason.  She grabbed my handle for reassurance.  She spat at it multiple times, my face was all over the ceiling and the windshield, roaring like a wounded lion, like a man who had bet his life saving on second running horse in the races.  Caterina was an opera addict, I was a jazz freak.  She loved books and Italian cuisine: Was an expert at Pasta Carbonara. She’d cook the pasta in salted water, and cook some tomatoes in a large skillet over medium-high heat with olive oil and stirring often, until it slightly softened for around three minutes. She would then add some shallots and cook, stirring until the shallots and tomatoes softened for the same amount of time or so.  She would then add the garlic, some natural herbs and finally bring to a boil.  Once done, she would blend the mix using a hand blender –no wonder she was good at hand jobs, for Christ’s sake, and stir in pasta.  Later, when I asked her about her obsession with the dish she’d say: Buon appetito!  è delizioso. That day she was draped like a mannequin in a display window. She wore a horrible dress. Stained with dark spots of coffee, that did not taste good, which she had, early in the morning.  She played it down by wearing no makeup, a loose-fitting vintage dress, and her regular flat green shoes.  She always wore green shoes.  She squashed a gum behind her front teeth. Her finger-nails in double-decker red.  Both her earrings scintillated an assortment of a spectrum caused by the light diffused through the silver clouds, and bouncing off strategically located car handles in car doors.  I thought to myself: What a lucky bastard! As I pulled the metallic cold through my nostrils and a line or two of blow coke. We took a moment.  We did not say much.  We did a line or two of coke.  Had some smokes. We waited the time it took for a cigarette of three to four inches in length to burn down onto a memory. She squeezed my carrot with her free hand, thinking maybe she would make it spill by way of her magic. She was in her late thirties and was assailed by a huge range of regrets.  Assaulted by a series of failed relationshits. It was in that very instant, she tried desperately to project a cheerful air: I think am in love, with you.  Dogs and birds were leaping from one tree to another undetected. A truc macabre. She looked out the window and I pretended her say something in French like, On a froid. On est seuls.  Mais au moins, on sait où trouver de la chaleur. She looked back at me for an entire minute.  Uninterrupted. Gallant. And noble. The emotions she had stirred were exactly where we had left them. Unnoticed.  I was making a much-needed escape from my own trivial life, to try to reconnect with it. It was a favorite pastime. The way of a dog, astray and awry, one afternoon in the city. Brave enough to shout out his fears in public.  Freud would have laughed, and probably join in. It’s funny, but now that I come to think about it, the old man did flash in my memory a couple of times every time, while at it.  I would picture him in that coat, with the classic white beard, all cracked up coke-high and murmuring to himself: Truc macabre. Turn up that Monk shit, I imagine he’d say. A few minutes had passed when looking to my right I detected her stripping from waste down.  She looked strikingly eye-catching.  Her shadow making a regal comeback as her hair swayed in all directions.  I was a bohemian in my final act, she was Lucifer desperate for more. She came out of her apartment building in a haste, and as she opened my red Rover Mini Cooper door and got in, I threw out the window my half-way consumed cigarette, I had lit a few minutes ago for convenience, as I listened to Monk Live in Paris, 1965.  She was only fifteen at the time and had the tallest legs to stroll with. A walking Twin-Towers. The truth of the matter is she was a yo-yo with a deep groove, and attached to my index with a see-through, transpicuous, and thin string a la Mario Puzo. Only she spun alternately forward and backward –instead of downward and upward. I used to unwind and rewind the string with a flick of my wrist –as it pleased me.  And I did all that often. I called it the yo-yo affair. To tell you the truth she was a fuck-prospect, for all I know. She was a bitch on the run. And I was a mutant gorilla on the loose. There was something peculiar about her cheeks.  Her buttocks that it: Oven-hot and almost as if freshly made. Oven-fresh. I used to love her tasty arm on my face and lips when she slept over. Her unusual recipe of the Pao de Queijo was my all-time favorite and she was a master-chef of the cheese bread par excellence. A love-affair. And she had an unusual and sporadic sex-appetite, that was uncommon and rare. The least I can say about her now is that she was rude and insolent with a whole array of bad manners to account for.  A spoiled-brat, so to speak.  She always got what she wanted. Her daily impertinence and rude behavior was a daily affair. A daily-act. Typical of her on a Monday morning and salient of her on a Friday afternoon. A week-long attitude backed by the long-lasting reputation of a business family she belonged to -with a reputation for impertinence, impudence and effrontery of their own. “He’s got a lot of cheek to say that to me!” She said.  The Westy camper was swooshing like a washing-machine with me and Little Sunshine inside. She sat on me for hours but looked at me in the eyes in one Trevi-Fountain second and said: A female elephant may physically encounter hundreds of other individuals in the course of her daily range. The individuals she meets will be related to her by different degrees, and known to her based on the frequency and the quality of their previous meetings and these factors will shape the nature and define the form of the relationship. An adult male, too, may meet and interact with hundreds of different individuals in the course of a day, though the type and nature of his relationships may be tempered by on his age and sexual state.  Some of the calls used by elephants are powerful low frequency vocalizations that carry over long distances. Elephant can recognize the voices of hundreds of other elephants from up to 2 kilometers away. That elephant-man had come back to his resting cave when he entered that hospital’s elevator in decay and pressed the second floor.  As he went up he pointed the gun’s barrel to his chest and shot himself to death.  A truc macabre. The elevator gradually came to a stand-still.  A random nurse with a random smirk directed her left arm slowly towards that shattered door and opened it in an abrupt fashion as the man slid on the back mirror leaving a red-velvet blood stain mark-patent on the surface, which reminded me when I was little I used to love sliding on the living room polished marble floor in my socks and fall over -head first, and crack my head open while at it.  The smell of blood gave me the shivers, back then. And still does.   I was a mutant gorilla on the loose. I was a cowboy on the run.   A brutal memory. A few paramedics rushed into the scene. The truth of the matter is I was waiting for a cousin of mine –who had broken what was left of his already broken nose, an hour earlier, trying to fix his TV antenna on top of his apartment building top floor, and skipping random sharp-shooters while at it. The poor chap fell head first and smashed his broken nose on the pavement. All the while, he was busy trying to impress some foxy nurse with a gorgeous-looking rack, and with an absurd, made-up argument: That the blasting noise of the trembling bullets that hit his and other apartment building rooftops, reminded him of Monk-Live-In-Paris-1965.  A repertoire-macabre. He never liked Jazz, for all I know. This old chap was a movie-theatre ticket clerk with no real purpose in life except to collect tickets and to pick up randy whores on the loose whenever he could afford it. He had no style.  No swagger. Let alone Mojo or some.  He was a random man.  A Beirut bastard. So, to speak.  Of many, the city despised and abhorred.  I parked my rover not far away from that Volkswagen camper of 1966 with a highly flashy neon light on top that read: Hot Prices in a fire ball and a front-side plate that read: I love sex, just for kicks. You could not miss other highly visual signs/stickers such as: Relax, sit on my face, motherfucker! Or Eat-Sleep-Kamasutra-Repeat, or my preferred-choice: Sex is like snow, you never know how long it will last, or how many inches. I Michael-Jacksoned my way to the half-way open camper door in penumbra. A cool-act. I wore my hair a la Capone just for kicks. A manly-act in 1976. It was more like a fashion statement, if you know what I mean. Then I thought to my-self:  What a sexy-looking machine that was. A Pick-up Westy of at least 11-windows or some that you could easily call a Bully. Little Sunshine-Vanessa-Fay-Rebecca-Carmen-Amar-Sam-Gina-Tala-Nina-Toya-Orly and Tracy were all inside with legs spread-open. “Spread, a little more love! Come on! And don’t be shy about it!” Joujou, the camper-pimp said.  Of course, he meant ladies it’s time you show off your strapless cap.  Your strawless lid. A truc macabre.   A queue of late movie-goers and militiamen of sorts shuffled in and out of the line to smoke some Jimmies, on an adjacent sidewalk, just for kicks. For a Trevi-Fountain second, that Bully of a camper looked more like the Holiday Inn in flames, when first hit, early on, on the eve of the Civil War. A conflict-landmark.

Smoke rises from Beirut’s Holiday Inn during the early stages of Lebanon’s Civil War, December 15, 1975. (AP Photo)

© https://timeline.com/photos-lebanese-civil-war-beirut-hotel-district-f64d4ee0c98e

Some chap in green was swaying by the rear hatch: Blow jobs were a standing-affair. And expensive ones too. He had his bacon bazooka inserted through the hatch and a gorgeous-looking Chiquita was taking good care of it.  If you know what I mean. A manly-act.  “Check the menu, man.” A voice behind me said. To tell you the truth, I was randy and so I did. I ordered a Doggy, The Om, A G-Whiz, a couple of Magic Mountains and topped them all with the Pinball Wizard. Wine-a-Go-Go was on the house and so it sounded like a good plan to save the night. Little Sunshine –my night-pick, was all I could afford that eve. She reminded me of Natasha, an old fuck-buddy from the college days, and so, all played down well. She mostly sat with legs bent or leaning back on her hand and forearms. My starter-act was The Chairman: A grinding position if you were after deep and abysmal penetration. Having your Chiquita kiss your shoulders and your neck all the while you played with her nipples was a cool act.  I did that on multiple occasions. She looked me in the eyes and said: Comeme, Puto. She loved to speak Spanish while at it.  A sexy-act. It made her randy. Of course, a sex toy made the whole experience worth the try. I loved manual stimulation. And so she did use one. Sex on wheels was electrifying. Unlike any other mobile experience: Now, don’t ask me why do it. Sometimes a man gotta do what he gotta do.  And gotta go where he gotta go. There is no point in arguing. That simple. I was a Rambo on the run: with a sex pistol on the loose. What a sexy looking machine that was. I mean look at that: I heard someone say that Volkswagen made nearly 3 million Type 2 models during the 51-year production lifespan. The Type 24 had a dashboard that included a speedometer, warning lights for oil pressure, main headlight beam and indicators. The fuel gauge was an option. There is a release knob that activates 1.1 gallons of reserve fuel to be added to the tank. That one in particular had a middle seat which is rather rare as most were removed to carry additional cargo.  She rubbed her strapless lid in a circular fashion with some Thai oil I had in store, using her left hand, and sitting back in the bunker of her bed, with her cherry-red lips squeezing a hard, spicy and fired-up Jimmy on the loose, that looked more like a German Hindenburg caught on fire attempting to dock on her scrumptious lips and she did all that with the elasticity of a gazelle in premonition of a fuck-up. Of an imminent death. A cruel act.  She looked me in the eyes and said: Last time I fucked six guys at the same time.  I don’t really know where does this obsession with sex come from.  I am talking about my own. I guess, and irrevocably, Freud was so right. Life was built round tension and pleasure. And all that build-up of libido I needed to discharge, somehow.  To release interminably. Curiously, she did not fuck me as much as I wanted to.  She was more of a mouth-inserter. Just like a baby who gets much satisfaction from putting all sorts of things in its mouth to satisfy her libido. She used to come to my place famished: And eat whatever she found in my tiny, little wagon with an engine.  She devoured ravenously and greedily what was left of a turkey and mashed potatoes I had saved for a lonesome afternoon and drank up all the beer cans standing proud and eerie in the deep of my light box. She did all that with the motivation of a fifteen-year old novice-cheerleader.  She sat back on my bunker of her bed and watched a silent black and white TV movie on an old TV set in decay, mute. A regal act.  Worthy of a pictorial endeavor a la Salvador Dali.  She was high.  I was drunk. The truth of the matter is she loved to sit back in the bunker of her bed and spit at her strawless lid, and scrub her strapless cap repeatedly, using her left hand, like there was no tomorrow, and drink wine all afternoon and part of the night.  And she did all that not far away from the Demarcation Line in no-man zone.  She was 15 and I was the luckiest bastard in West Beirut.  She loved the feeling of a revolver barrel inside her. She used to revere the freshly fired metal tube with both frame and cylinder inside.  A regal tactic of enormous after-effect. One day and out of the blue, we decided to meet: In other words, to go out for a change. Greta Garbo’s was a warm and cozy brasserie outside Beirut, which had turned into a scrapyard. It was the perfect meeting-place for a Saturday afternoon wine A-Go-Go. The place was not crowded, as we expected. She came out of the android-Uber with a Latin flare, as we had agreed. Hard to explain if you didn’t have it in the first place.  I stood there. Earnest and ceremonial in my act. Looking at her royal-paced walk in euphoria. She walked my way the seventeen steps it took her to face me and kiss me on both cheeks and said: I missed you, my Pacino. Graceful and yet unpretentious. Her holy-halo leaked elements of light, spilling radiant and shiny bright as she moved forward.  That afternoon rushed in like a Belgian train in mid-voyage, that never made it on time.  We talked about flatbread pizza, her next mobile cinema project, in Dystopia. About her last, fast-paced failed love-affair and her attempt at piano lessons.  I listened, mostly.  For practical reasons. -A wisdom I had acquired in recent years, which had saved me plenty of time and effort and appetite. We had a couple of jumpy-chicken salads and local wine. Fresh and flavorsome. We laughed, as we talked about almost everything and nothing, and managed, gracefully, to kill the hour away. We both imagined moments-to-be, simultaneously. Mostly naked. For some strange reason, she loved to be touched on her forehead. A regal act of a woman on fire. On her eye-brows to be exact. She was the classic example of someone who knows what she wants and knows how to get it right away.  A negotiator, if you know what I mean. Willing to try new things –in private. My type of chick. Affectionate, and calm on the outside, and yet crazy and freaky on the inside. A mind-type. And believe it or not I was her perfect match. A sophisticated flirt in my own right: A wild and well-traveled and fearless Latino lover by birthright.  To tell you the truth I pretended I read more books than she presumed I did. A manly-affair.  I wrestled with my own thoughts and delusions as the afternoon got away. I concealed most of my inner feelings and idiosyncrasies -in the midst of our talk. A Gemini-kind-of-affair. I was after her strapless lid. What else.  One of the few remaining standard activities in Dystopia. The truth of the matter is we fucked for a while and I got kind of bored with her afterwards. I completely lost interest in her. A guy- thing –so to speak. But her healthy appetite for sex and her delightful fashion-style triggered my bacon bazooka, back. And the fuck-affair kept rolling for more than we both expected. She was the kind of a girl who would do anything to satisfy you.  I acted in kind. I used a proactive approach with her, for as long as it lasted.  She was predictable, but was worth the try, though. Worth every single sperm I spared on her lower and upper abdomen. And well, yeah often times on her tits and her cute, and funny face. I mean, why not. I had nothing to lose. I was a cowboy on the run.  She loved to be chased after -for sex. And after sex. She loved BJs as much, and she used to brag about it in public. A truc macabre.  A few weeks later, I found out she was sleeping with a couple of other guys from around the block, for subsistence, and with some big shot of sorts, as well.  A playboy –so to speak. Loaded with guns and green.  Good for her. She was a practical kid, with lots of love to spare. And lots of ambition. I fired up my gorgeous-looking Jimmy and made some smoke rings with my mouth, for my own amusement, that is. And that lasted for quite a while. She had a shower: Poured herself a drink, and walked slowly the seventeen steps, all the way to my bed, completely naked.  Next, she crawled my entire body like a wounded, and moaning soldier on the frontline. Once, fully on top and facing me, she said with her typical intense voice: Impress me with your brains. It occurred to me, and I played a VHS tape I had borrowed from an old chum, of Greta Garbo’s Anna Karenina 1935, in decay. Well, yeah, to try to impress her with my cultural backdrop and shit.  The perfect artefact for a late evening binge. A truc macabre, so to speak.  The glitches and hiccups of the shivering images of Greta Garbo on the old TV set screen, did not corrupt the actress’s royal flare. What a Dame! I thought. What an ass! I thought in sequence. As I took turns looking at both the screen and the Chiquita’s naked, greasy, and flattened body shimmering in the dark, and glowing like a sea-urchin in the deep. And I thought to myself: They don’t make round asses like this anymore. Sublime and holy. The truth of the matter is she was lying right before my own eyes to see: Face-down with a few hours to spare, and I was shit sex-hungry. Infinitely famished. I was after her strawless lid. Her strapless cap.  It was my turn to crawl all over her and once in position I slurped her strapless lid for hours. Out of a sudden, I decided to burn my bacon bazooka inside her fireplace. A regal act.  We fucked for hours. Like two little kids grounded inside their tiny, little school for the weekend, in solitary confinement.  Her final spark was her peculiar climax. Unequal. Unusual.  One of a kind.  Pristine and immaculate.  The street below, stretched, tall and empty, kept shifting shadows and light as the clock ticked and the seconds died forever. I took off.  Had to: I zigzagged my way to the Demarcation Line, past sandbags and burning silhouettes of cars, in fall-off. A conspicuous tactic that I deployed every time to avoid unleashed android-snipers on the loose.  Whether someone or something conforms to customary patterns or deviates from them depends on one’s point of view: Behind the concepts of normality and abnormality is the assumption that there is a single standard by which to judge everything. What may be normal to one group, however, may be unacceptable to another. I had the same Walkman on, with the same headphones arching the same epic oval head –of mine- I displayed for a thousand times at the frontline. Every time.  A truc macabre. I played Monk Live in Paris 1964 every time.  Every day. Every hour. Non-stop. It was more like a frontline pursuit, just for kicks. A Grotesque-act of reverie.  A snow-white 1979 Super-Beetle Cabriolet stopped right there in the middle of nowhere, just a few steps from the line.   I couldn’t identify any of its occupants –who wore ceremonial masks, just for kicks. The truth of the matter is they all looked like soul-reapers with scythes.  Next, they revealed their hidden and nasty-looking arms and fired up abruptly in all directions for at least seven random minutes. At the end of which, the snow-white Beetle stood-still in complete stillness. Suddenly, that tiny little wagon was showered and hammered countless times with all sorts of ammo. An RPG sealed its fate, turning them and the vehicle into a burning chunk of metal and flesh. A suicidal undertaking. An eccentric haze shrouded my eyesight. That day, I met the iconic Wesley Ruggles on the Demarcation Line in Downtown Beirut. A day-to-remember. I was surrounded by eccentric structures –which stood tall beholding my own state of incongruity. I stood almost mortified in the middle of the forlorn battleground, in quiet.  Out of a thick, almost-mythical mist, a machine gun re-surfaced and finally rested on my temple.  Pristine and Immaculate.  I stood-still.  Did not utter a word for an entire Trevi-Fountain second. I still remember that cowboy’s brimmed-shape-white-Panama-hat, silk shirt, striped pants and his green suspenders. A distinctive and manly act. He looked like an older fashion model from GQ magazine. I still remember when he looked at me for the last time and said: Learn how to cook and spend less, save time and have sex more often. The noise of my camera release bottom echoed and re-echoed in the stillness of that barren place, bouncing off the empty, worn-out, and shattered walls and streets around me. On that cool Winter-day and somewhere in another part of town, The Red Prince carried a pistol holstered in brown leather and worn on his hip a la Clint Eastwood. He was a playboy alright, on his way to his final rave. He was in a two-Chevi station wagons convoy heading from Georgina’s flat to his mother’s, for a birthday party. Chambers was on her balcony, graciously painting, and her sinister red Beetle was parked right below on Rue Verdun.  As Salameh’s convoy passed that red wagon at 3:35 pm and turned onto Rue Madam Curie, a hundred Kilos of explosives attached to the car by a Mossad agent was remotely detonated either by Chambers herself or on her signal to another Mossad agent. They did not mistake him this time. A truc macabre.  The blast left Salameh conscious, but severely wounded and in great pain, having pieces of steel shrapnel embedded in his head and throughout his body.  He was rushed to The American University of Beirut Hospital, where he died on the operating table at 4:03 pm. Salameh’s four bodyguards and four bystanders were also killed, and at least 16 people were injured.  I was on the other end of town, with Wesley Ruggles sipping some single malt whisky, in some random bar, surrounded by Frenchies at the moment of the blast.  The air had turned purple and a crowd rushed in on an empty street. You could feel the heat of the day in full armor.  “We’re out of condoms, sir” said a muffled voice behind the counter.  It had started to rain and I was already overtly provoked and ready for Yasmine, as she waited in the solitude of that apartment in Sodeco.  I was only nineteen at the time, had memorized the entire First Act of The Birthday Party for a purpose, was semi-high and had impressed my Mass Communication professor just that very morning on what made the news: The dog who bites the woman or the woman who bites the dog.  My wallet was emptied and as I reached for a lighter placed candidly on that rustic shelf, I remembered: Wine! The bottle of wine that she had ordered.  I was keen on bringing bottles of wine to my heated one-nights.  I knew that this was nothing but another hit and run and she was to turn into another of my victims.  I don’t feel sorry for her.  She had used me in the past and so it was my way of getting even.  It was a sort of payback.  Just like that time when my bestie fucked another bestie and I had to put up with it.  Only time brought me justice. When I fucked her ex-wife just for fun. And Am in no position to brag about it.  To tell you the truth, she was most probably under age, and I am talking about Yasmine, of course. But she had been impressed by my poor acting and most likely my Latin stage presence.  She would call me Pacino –for some weird, unstated reason. And I liked it. I used to call her Frenchie.  My immediate purpose was to make it to the car. That’s for sure.  You guessed it: My Rover.

©

I was high.  I was drunk.  Beirut looked like a scrapyard and I was detained by a Danish lady who was looking for a bar. She wore a white dress and lime green, round hoop earrings. I am pretty sure I gave her the wrong route, while at it. Sorry to disappoint you, lady. I thought minutes later.  But for once I didn’t feel bad about it.  I was entitled to my foolish act.  I had someone waiting for me.  All alone, remember: Frenchie in Sodeco.  Most probably cold and most probably feeling melancholic as she waited for Pacino on his way. And perhaps, fuck-hungry. I had this wacko-concept: That it was a matter of national interest to satisfy lonesome women in a lonesome city for the night. To keep them warm and content. An Eastern-affair.  At least, I felt entitled due to my evident arrogance, primitive experience and to be honest: Well, I was desperate for a fuck! A truc macabre, so to speak. I was reduced to an android-Pacino on the run.  A mutant gorilla on the loose. I walked with a typical Latino swagger –That I had picked from remote days when I used to live in a trailer park peopled by exotic wackos and misfits. My own reflection on the adjacent window display –as I walked through, seemed to repeat Pacino motifs in my head and all around me. And it was all accentuated by my own motion and light and penumbra. I don’t know why but I always had this impression that Pacino was the epitome of manliness. And Yasmine’s impression of me –in turn, made it unblemished. I was about to become one, on a professional level. Distinct and sexual. A series of failed affairs, my constant agitation looking for a reason to be, to exist and my endless struggle in settling down, and trying constantly to find momentarily satisfaction in whatever I was doing at the time, made a serious vagabond out of me –but with good intentions. I landed jobs of all kinds.  Appropriate and suitable ones, and totally despicable and thorny.  But it was part of the bigger mosaic of shitless nonsense I was in, in a city that did not appreciate its most notable artists.  And this perhaps was one of the reasons I found solace in night encounters. I didn’t measure or anticipate the consequences.  I was a soldier of fortune playing his best hand every time, regardless of the fallout.  I found delight in loving women: Women of all walks of life.  A weekly-affair of enormous after-effect. Jazz and Booze adjusted the happenstances. I was a hero for a night, every other night: Hidden from the rays of shame and banality. Hidden from the rays of sun and dust in perpetuity.  I was alas! stuck in reverse in the cycle of my own propensity. Love affairs, in one way or another had destroyed me.  I was left with nothing but the nucleus of a man that once was! Alone, desperate and attempting to become the reflection of the Pacino who had just glimmered before him. I derived pleasure from ecstasy. And ecstasy from pleasure.  I was an android-Romeo equipped with apps and wine. The shine of the screen reminded me of Frenchie, dripping messages of small talk and nonsense every once in a while. Where are you? Why are you taking this long? Try not to be late and so on and so forth, with the typical French-English accent. This was a boring part.  I detested it. I had to put up with lots of shit. Birds, dogs, cats, and a gold-fish named Cookie Monkey.  And even a Parrot, that I taught Spanish. Oye, Puto: Chupame la Pinga. This was a daily punch line. It felt good, for a while.  But after that, the whole enterprise became mechanical, it turned hysterical and unemotional. Not my regular cup of coffee. Her sofa bed was remarkably enormous. Of course, some of her pets found sanctuary there.  I was happy to know that some had died a few months later only to gather she had replaced most of them to no avail. Let me be more honest: Yasmine was my playmate.  A pet of my own.  I don’t mean to sound wicked, but she had stripped me down to the ground. Of all my talent and my merits.  I had lost all my medals and my marvels since the end of the Civil war and no one had hugged me, like really hugged me ever since. It was a masterful act of her part. We were two gorilla mutants of intimacy.  She used to remind me that we were up for it only if we agreed that -that was going to be the only night together.  And of course, it wasn’t. We used to bang like rabbits every once in a while. She was high and I was drunk.  A perfect match.  A truc macabre. I was her pet.  Her Pluto – for all I know.  I drove my car to Sodeco.  The rain had stopped partially.  Some garbage cans were in flame around corners. A typical yet berserk Pacino scene in the making, unfolding before me.  I looked around me to see if some random passenger from a random passing vehicle would recognize me, from a random scene I was part of, the night before on a local TV network. An absurd act of vanity. A woman stood nearby.  She approached my half-open window.   The breeze coming in made the perfect match for my Monk –Live in Paris 1964.  She said: “Sodeco!” I said” “Yes!” She got in.  I said: “No. Not that way!” She looked at me as if I had slain her entire race or tribe.  I succumbed in silence. Did her the favor in utter quiet. I smiled a Mona Lisa smirk and drove in partial stillness, turned down Monk playing and closed the window entirely. How could I ruin the moment? We were both happy. In our driving act.   Me driving to my fuck and she, well, she was comfortably being driven to her random location in Sodeco. A night scene. I did not utter a word until we got there. She was about to pay the alleged taxi fare when another stranger said: “Hamra!” I had to open the door and step away from my Rover to inspect it.  It didn’t look at all like a taxi or cab –to sound more Pacino-like, if you know what I mean.  What is wrong with these people? I thought to my-self. The pale color of my car, the sudden rain and the smoke curling up in the air, in a New-York fashion, it prompted such reactions, most probably. At night, everything changes and a lie becomes the truth.  I got pissed.  I was going to be late. You don’t want to miss a fuck.  They say it’s bad luck. And now this: Taken or mistaken for a Travis Bickle in the middle of Beirut at 11 PM. A truc macabre. Let me just say that our friendship had lasted for over twenty years. Yasmine –or Frenchie as I used to call her, was a hell of a woman.  She was smart, tenacious, multi-talented and had an Italian flare, for all the time we were together.  She never lost it. I was amazed. But for some random reason I was at the end of the day -Her Pluto. Her pet-playmate.  Pluto is just a random name.  You can call me any pet name, if you want to.  I wouldn’t even know it.  I would be long gone.  Doing Yasmine or maybe slurping her strawless lid, her strapless cap for an eternity. The truth of the matter is our one-night stand lasted for seven years.  Tonight, was a random night.  Just like any other random night. Nothing special about it, except for the Danish lady with a white dress and lime green, round hoop earrings, and the random passengers who had mistaken me for a cabbie in a cab film. Often times I would turn violent on Yasmine. Like shit crazy. I lost control several times. I do regret that now. I used to hit, punch, strike, beat, slap, smack, hand-cuff her to her bed, so drunk that she wouldn’t even remember it, the next morning. She would laugh and kind of let go. I used to slam her against the closet like shit crazy. I –once, smashed her head with a Chinese vase just because she changed some random TV channel that I wasn’t even watching.  I was high.  She was drunk. I still remember when I smashed some window panels at her place, one day, by simply walking through.  It was so lucid, I didn’t even see them block my way.  That one time, a police patrol was called in but made no arrests. Her favorite part was the whipping we did.  It took months of self-adaptation and re-adjustments.  She got so used to it she said one time she was addicted to it. That she didn’t want to stop and that if we did, she’d probably kill herself. And I liked it. She didn’t want me to stop, alright. I kept going. It kept rolling. Her addiction was Freud-induced. Mine was cigar and booze. That’s what made matters worse. I had become ill-tempered.  Nothing could fix that. Out of nowhere I had this idea: To get drunk before I go up and see her. And so I did. Got wasted, went up and the first thing I did when I saw her was go down on her and eat her strawless lid for hours. I still remember when one night I went up to see her, and for some wacko reason she wouldn’t let me in.  She blocked my way in, like completely.  She said she had a friend inside and that she wasn’t feeling ok. That was an eye-opener for me. Her cat kept meowing at my foot. In a sudden act, I lifted that poor thing with my foot and threw him or her –You tell me, over the stairway.  I heard it still meow down there in the dark. For quite some time.   A truc macabre.  I still think about it. It makes me feel uneasy. It gives me the shivers. Just to think about it. Sometimes I dream of the poor little cat down there in the dark looking at me, waiting for the day to get even. I can still feel the spell of that cat all around me.  Well, if there’s any consolation, I am truly sorry for that. Guilt chased me and still chases me like a wounded dog and that time when I fucked this part-time actress and got her pregnant.  Well, it took years before she could show some mercy.  She never said it but I guess she did forgive me in the end.  As for Frenchie.  I see her from time to time, you know.  Am her Pluto. Her pet-playmate.  Pluto is just a random name.  You can call me any pet name, if you want to.  I wouldn’t even know it.  I would be long gone. Doing Yasmine or maybe slurping her strawless lid, her strapless cap for an eternity.  She came out of her apartment building in a haste, and as she opened my red Rover Mini Cooper door and got in, I threw out the window my half-way consumed zeppelin on the loose, I had lit a few minutes ago for convenience, as I listened to Monk Live in Paris, 1965.   She hated Jazz but budged in the middle of a speedy fuck.  As a matter of fact, she would turn the volume up and tell me that the music drove her nuts.  Little I knew, back then, that that zeppelin tail would plunge upon the bubbling sidewalk, that afternoon, like a Hindenburg in 1937, while its nose, rose into the air like a breaching whale. My mini-Hindenburg smashed what was left of a line of symmetrically-aligned ants on their way to an important meeting.  They were all in black and looked serious. My Chiquita threw herself onto her seat, tossed her bag onto the back seat, shifted her weight multiple times and finally sat straight up looking ahead like a sphinx.  She said: You can go now. I drove my Rover like I stole it -as my little serious victims were dispersing, in notable confusion, and in random fashion right outside my half-open window. The sandstorm I left behind grew taller than the lamp posts scattered along the street and above the noise of TV game shows poorly produced. The shadows of that afternoon street were eating up silhouettes and those silhouettes were in turn forming in surrounding walls and facades in a fatuitous manner. Chiquita and I knew each way back.  From school days when we were young and tall and vigorous.  She found pleasure in random talk, random acts. She once told me that it was more meaningful for her to justify her request of seeing me than to just say what she wanted right away.  A modus operandi, so to speak.  As I drove past flower shops and pharmacies, lingerie stores and sex toys swaying like giant bait worms on display, I thought I should get a dog and maybe a girlfriend, for all I know.  -A way of mending up my lonesome act, and one or two forlorn Beirut afternoons, while at it.   And maybe why not get a real job. And actually, do something for a living.  This business of random projects, and freelance writing was getting on my nerves. The job wasn’t but the pay was. A truc macabre. She was gorgeous-looking, the kind of a girl you want to hit on, and do from time and time and well yeah, like try to keep for a while.  The fact is she was unquenchable, hard to stop once in, and her demands grew more assiduous as our afternoon escapades became more regular. She said: Stop the car. We sat there in the middle of nowhere. Monk was a Devil in a state of total rapture. I kissed her soft lips with no bad intentions in mind. She slurped my bacon bazooka several times just for kicks.  On-lookers stood by. She grabbed my handle for reassurance, gave it a good brush and sat on me like she really had missed it.  She spat at it multiple times, my face was all over the ceiling and the windshield, and I was roaring like a wounded lion, like a man who had bet his life saving on second running-horse in the races. She was high on Blow. I was a jazz freak.  She loved History books and Italian cuisine: She was an expert at Pasta Carbonara. She’d cook the pasta in salted water, and cook some tomatoes in a large skillet over medium-high heat with olive oil and stirring often, until it slightly softened for around three minutes. She would then add some shallots and cook, stirring until the shallots and tomatoes softened for the same amount of time or so.  She would then add the garlic, some natural herbs and finally bring to a boil.  Once done, she would blend the mix using a hand blender –no wonder she was good at hand jobs.  Buon appetito!  è delizioso. That day she was draped like a mannequin in a display window. She wore a horrible, loose-fitting vintage dress, and no make-up. Stained with dark spots of coffee, that did not taste good, which she had, early in the morning. And her regular flat green shoes.  She always wore green shoes.  She squashed a gum behind her front teeth. Her finger-nails in double-decker red.  Both her earrings scintillated an assortment of a spectrum caused by the light diffused through the silver clouds, and bouncing off strategically located car handles in car doors.  I thought to myself: What a lucky bastard! I was the luckiest bastard in West Beirut.   As I pulled the metallic cold through my nostrils and a line or two of blow coke in a sporadic fashion while at it, a snow-white cigarette of three to four inches in length, resting between her fingers, burned down onto a memory. She squeezed my bacon bazooka with her free hand, thinking maybe she would make it spill by way of her magic. She was in her late thirties and I was assailed by a huge range of a regrets and shames and disappointments.  Assaulted by a series of failed relationshits. It was in that very instant, she tried desperately to project a cheerful air: I think am in love, with your dick.  Dogs and birds were leaping from one tree to another undetected. A truc macabre. She looked out the window and I pretended her say something in French like, “On a froid. On est seuls.  Mais au moins, on sait où trouver de la chaleur.” She looked back at me for an entire Trevi-Fountain second. Gallant and noble. The emotions she had stirred were exactly where we had left them. Undetected.  I was making a much-needed escape from my own trivial life, to try to reconnect back with it. It was a favorite pastime. The way of a dog, astray and awry, one afternoon in the city. Freud would have laughed, and probably join in. He would say some like I am in for the blow, man. Do what you want with her lid. Now that I come to think about it: The old man did flash in my memory a couple of times, while at it.  I pictured him in that coat, with the classic white beard, all cracked up coke-high and murmuring to himself: Turn that Monk shit up. A moment later I detected her stripping from waste down.  She looked strikingly beautiful. Her pristine shadow making a regal comeback as her hair swayed in all directions.  I was a bohemian in my final act, she was Lucifer desperate for more.  Stonie wore a Machiavellian smile and fashioned a Cobra Shades just like the ones Stallone wore as Marion Cobretti in Cobra, 1986.  The truth of the matter is this guy looked more like a train-ticket conductor or inspector with a twist, for all I know. He looked like a mutant gorilla on the run.  And not even close to what a member of an elite division called Zombie Squad looked like. A truc macabre.  After a moment, he panned his head appearing entirely as a more recent version of the black drummer in Youtube Bill Withers’ Ain’t No Sunshine, with a grin. He looked up from his tiny, half-open, smoke-twirling-window and said: Hello Mr. Ruggles, am Stonie.  Welcome to Lebanon. The Switzerland of the East. Wesley Ruggles – was an accomplished and prominent American photojournalist.  He got in the back seat of the white Peugeot 504 and smiled all the way to the Commodore Hotel in Hamra. Stonie looked at his customer adjusting himself in the back seat, as he got in, on the rear-view mirror and said: Our country is the best place if you wish to take on the challenge of surfing and skiing on the same day. There’s no particular way to do it – some prefer to hit the waves early in the morning and end the day with a cup of mulled wine after a great ski or snowboard session; others prefer to hit the slopes in the morning and watch the sunset from Ain El Mraisse on West End, after catching some waves. It’s really up to you, Mr. Ruggles. You decide.  I leave it up to you. Wesley Ruggles grinned.  He wasn’t much of a talker, if you know what I mean.  He nodded affirmatively to all the words Stonie shot at him.  Lester Young Stardust – 1952 was coming out of the radio. Soft and easy. Let me tell ya a story.  Stonie said:  Two families were arguing in a field about where the boundary between their lands lay.  The dispute dated back a long time and blood had been shed a number of times.  A boy, a child of some eight or nine years, picked up a stick and drew a line in the earth.  When asked what he was doing, he said he was marking the boundary as it had been agreed at the last round of negotiation, long before he was born.  His father asked him how he knew this, and the boy replied that he was the reincarnation of a man the father had killed in the feud.  When the child revealed details of the shooting that only the dead man and his killer could have known, his father embraced his former adversary who was now his son. Both families wanted the feud to end.  It had been costly in terms of lives, and all were seeking a way out of a resumption of hostilities. Wesley Ruggles said: Take to me to the Green Line. Now.  The war sound kept coming in and out of my head, and a couple was still banging inside a tiny yellow Fiat not far away from where I was standing.  A mechanical undertaking.  Not much emotion/commotion at play except for their intense sexual collaboration.  A deliberate, indecent exposure.  The gurl – a night-time frontline-regular took turns shifting her rear-end from East to West in a regal act. A line up of militiamen stood in queue on both of ends of the line to shag her. A surreal act. A moment of truce.  Both the gurl and the city were completely naked, shattered and decrepit. Partly broken, partly rotten, and partly forgotten. For years, I was a war junkie in Beirut. A crowded jeep of militiamen stopped and disembarked on a random sidewalk of a deserted, and smashed street on the other end of the city.  They all looked like knights subpoenaed by the monarch who was pissed and drunk and tired. For a moment, they all looked irritated and pissed off. A sort of a fashion insignia they all displayed just for kicks. A war-affair. Hip and ceremonial. Then, they began to disperse along the sidewalk in zigzag, with machine guns and RPGs pointing upward.  Their beards, long and unpleasant, pointing downward.  And their self-esteem half-way in between. They all came for the cut.  The King’s cut. The truth of the matter is the King Salon was the hippest place in town. A classic spot. A royal den.  The cosmopolitan centre of Beirut. So, to speak.  Everybody was there.  A meeting place for spies, including Kim Philby and Archie Roosevelt, and CIA men such as Miles Copeland as well as journalists of the caliber of John Chancellor and Sulzberger. Numerous diplomats and politicians, business tycoons and oil Sheikhs, they all mixed with oil and banking tycoons of the day molding the clientele of this classic establishment.  A royal place.  During the 50’s and even early 70’s the plots, the deals, and the stories that came out of this famous barbershop in Beirut were gripping. Plots and counter-plots, stretching over a quarter of a century echoed and re-echoed inside, every time.   Rumor has it, many incidents which helped to shape and re-shape Middle Eastern history are associated with the Salon: The attempt to overthrow King Hussein of Jordan, for instance. It was partially destroyed in the Two-Year war, but it was totally re-erected and managed to preserve its heyday reputation for a while.   I used to come here when I was little. A place to chill. A room where you could conduct business as usual without the hassle of the real workplace. A place you didn’t call a café for prestige and yet it was almost one. The tea they served was splendid and kingly. And ladies used to stay out on the sidewalk just for thrills, with the hope to catch heartthrobs on the loose. I went out with a new hair-cut. The King’s cut. I was the King’s Knight for the night.  I kick-started my bike and cruised for a while. A poet on tour.  Roaming the city.  Looking for a one-night stand. Or at least what appears to be.  I saw a solitary figure standing on a random spot.  A black woman with an Afro.  It was just perfect.  She jumped me on the highway the time it took me to give her a ride home.  A truc macabre. I pressed the number nine button inside the elevator of my apartment building.  I was tired and wired. As the elevator began to go up it suddenly stopped.  I was alone. And forgotten for a while.  Dangling by a cord. Forsaken.  Maybe.  I masturwaited the hour. Power was restored and I made it to my apartment safely. Minutes later the phone rang. She said: Baby, are you craving me tonight.  The next thing I know I have couple of Lesbians over slurping my bacon bazooka just for kicks. A royal act. Worthy of enjoyment with what I called decent music: I used to play Stevie Wonder’s Superstition really loud on my Marshall speakers in decay, while at it. A ritual of old fun-days when I was young, full of sperms, and needs and itches. The funny part –though, is that I always experienced something peculiar in that very moment of sorts. Hard to explain but I saw the trailer of my own life lived, projected on the facing wall. A broken wall.  I reminisced about past affairs and was transfixed by the lingering memory of a blow job as well as a highly visual fuck-climax. Vivid and highly pictorial.  Cheers! They both said. As they both poured all the wine content, glittering in penumbra, upon my bacon bazooka.  It looked like a copper fall unleashing. Unceasing. A truc macabre.   A royal act. Three was company.  Beirut was a junkyard of scrap metal and waste back then.  A place for sub-humans and android-machines on the run. BB 62 opened fire and hit some targets on the outskirts of the city. I was an android-cowboy in disguise.  Rumors had it the bomb shells were all empty. As the American destroyer showered guerilla positions in Souk el Gharb, I was firing my own cannon all over the Lesbians scattered along enemy lines inside my dim room, not far away from the Demarcation Line in Beirut.  A supreme act. A simultaneous-affair. Many years later, I had a similar experience when I was shagging this Pilipino gurl -in a random hotel in Jounieh, just for kicks, while watching the final of the World Cup in 2010. I still remember cumming inside her mouth at the exact moment Iniesta was kicking the ball inside the Netherland finish line.  A glorious-act of sorts.  The two Lesbians just loved the feeling of a revolver barrel inside them. A truc macabre. A regal tactic of enormous after-effect.  For some reason, they used to revere the freshly fired metal tube with both frame and cylinder inside. I never understood why.  I stood there. Earnest and ceremonial in my act.  Viewing the trailer of my own life on the facing wall of that dim room, and watching my bacon bazooka in constant spa-treatment mode. Graceful and yet unpretentious. The afternoon rushed in like a Belgian train in mid-voyage, that never made it on time. I dreamed of flatbread pizza, in the wasteland. Reminisced about my last, fast-paced failed love-affair and my futile attempt at piano lessons. We laughed, as we talked and killed the hours away. We imagined moments-to-be. Mostly naked. For some strange reason, they both loved to be touched on their forehead. A women-thing.  On their eye-brows to be exact.  The truth of the matter is that they both were willing to try new things –in private. My type of women.  Alone and crazy. A mind-type. Affectionate, and calm on the outside, and yet crazy and freaky on the inside. To tell you the truth I pretended I read more books than they both presumed I did. I wrestled with my own thoughts and delusions.  Concealed my deeper feelings and idiosyncrasies -in the midst of our talk. In the middle of a futile war with no ending.  A Gemini-kind-of-thing with a thrill.   I was after their strapless lid. What else do you expect: One of the few remaining standard activities in Dystopia, at the time. I fucked them both for a while and I got kind of bored afterwards.  The truth of the matter is I completely lost interest in them.  Soon after, I found my next victim. A young, fresh psychology graduate with a healthy appetite for sex and a delightful fashion-style that managed to trigger my bacon bazooka, back. This next fuck-affair with Luciana kept rolling for more than we both expected. She was the kind of girl who would do anything to satisfy you.  I acted in kind. I used a proactive approach with her, for as long as it lasted. She was worth the try: Worth every single sperm I spared on her lower and upper abdomen. And well, yeah often times on her breasts and her cute, funny face.  A truc macabre. She loved to be chased after -for sex. She loved BJs as much. And she used to brag about it in public.  A few weeks later, I found out she was sleeping with a couple of other guys from around the block, for subsistence, and with some big shot of sorts, as well.  A playboy –so to speak. Loaded with guns and green.  Good for her. She was a practical kid, with lots of love to spare.  And lots of ambition. I fired up my gorgeous-looking Jimmy and made some smoke rings with my mouth, for my own amusement, that is. And that lasted for quite a while. She had a shower: Poured herself a drink, and walked slowly the seventeen steps, all the way to my bed, completely naked.  Next, she crawled my entire body like a wounded, and moaning soldier on the frontline. Once, fully on top and facing me, she said with her typical intense voice: Impress me with your brains. It occurred to me, and I played a VHS tape I had borrowed from an old chum, of Greta Garbo’s Anna Karenina 1935, in decay. Well, yeah, to try to impress her with my cultural backdrop and shit.  The perfect artefact for a late evening binge. A truc macabre, so to speak.  The glitches and hiccups of the shivering images of Greta Garbo on the TV screen, did not corrupt the actress’s royal flare. What a Dame! I thought. What an ass! I thought in sequence. As I took turns looking at both the screen and the new chick’s naked, greasy, and flattened body shimmering in the dark, and glowing like a sea-urchin in the deep. And I thought to myself: They don’t make them like this anymore. Sublime and Holy. A Regal act.  I was talking about the chick’s ass. What else. I mean, the truth of the matter is she was lying right before my own eyes to see: Face-down with a few hours to spare. And I was fuck-hungry. Endlessly famished. I was after her strawless lid. Strapless cap. Flavorsome and scrumptious like shit crazy.  I crawled all over her on the bed and -once in position, I slurped her strapless lid for hours. I grinned. Placed my half-consumed Jimmy on the loose on the Buddha-ashtray I had in store from my old days in Kamasutra-training in New Delhi. I decided to burn my bacon bazooka inside her fire place. We fucked for hours.  Her spark was her unusual climax.  Pristine and immaculate.  The streets below and around me were dim and vacant. Cold and bare. I took off.  Had to: I zigzagged my way to the Demarcation Line, past sandbags and burning silhouettes of cars, in fall-off. A conspicuous tactic that I deployed every time to avoid unleashed android-snipers on the loose. Or mutant gorillas on the run –as I used to call them.  Whether someone or something conforms to customary patterns or deviates from them depends on one’s point of view: Behind the concepts of normality and abnormality is the assumption that there is a single standard by which to judge everything. What may be normal to one group, however, may be unacceptable to another. I had the same Walkman on, with the same headphones arching the same oval head I displayed for a thousand times at the frontline. A truc macabre. I played Monk Live in Paris 1964 every time.  Every day. Non-stop. It was more like a frontline pursuit, just for kicks. A Grotesque affair.  Stories of love and madness is all I heard on both ends of the Demarcation Line. A snow-white 1979 Super-Beetle Cabriolet stopped right there in the middle of nowhere. Just a few steps from the Line. I could not identify any of its occupants, who wore ceremonial masks, just for kicks. The truth of the matter is they all looked like soul-reapers with scythes. They then revealed their hidden arms abruptly, and opened fire in all directions for at least seven random minutes. At the end of which, the snow-white Beetle stood-still in complete silence.  On that taciturn Winter-day, and somewhere in town, The Red Prince carried a pistol holstered in brown leather and worn on his hip a la Clint Eastwood. He was a playboy alright, on his final rave. He was in a convoy of two Chevi station wagons heading from Georgina’s flat to his mother’s, for a birthday party. Chambers was on her balcony painting, and her red Beetle parked below on Rue Verdun.  As Salameh’s convoy passed that red wagon at 3:35 pm and turned onto Rue Madam Curie, a hundred Kilos of explosives attached to the car by a Mossad agent was remotely detonated either by Chambers herself or on her signal to another Mossad agent. They did not mistake him this time. A truc macabre.  The blast left Salameh conscious, but severely wounded and in great pain, having pieces of steel shrapnel embedded in his head and throughout his body.  He was rushed to The American University of Beirut Hospital, where he died on the operating table at 4:03 pm. I was surrounded by eccentric structures –which stood tall beholding my own state of incongruity. I stood almost mortified in the middle of the battleground, in silence.  Out of a thick, almost-mythical mist, a machine gun emerged and finally rested on my temple: I stood-still. I did not utter a word for an entire minute. A strange haze shrouded my eyesight. I still remember that android-cowboy with rifle still pointing at me, and with his brimmed-shape-white-Panama-hat, silk shirt, striped pants and his green suspenders. A distinctive and manly act.  I still remember when he looked at me for the last time and said: Learn how to cook and spend less, save time and have sex more often.  He was in a chill mood. He grinned at the end of his act and said: Hasta La Vista, Baby.  As for her:  She read the last couple of lines of a letter she kept in one of her emerald green coat’s inner pockets for the last time, folded the letter the way she was supposed to, placed the letter gently on the desk, took a pistol out of an upper drawer, put the pistol’s barrel inside her mouth and shot herself. She was six months pregnant. Stonie wore a Machiavellian smile and fashioned a Cobra Shades just like the ones Stallone wore as Marion Cobretti in Cobra, 1986.  The truth of the matter is this guy looked more like a train-ticket conductor or inspector with a twist, for all I know. He looked like a mutant gorilla on the run.  And not even close to what a member of an elite division called Zombie Squad looked like. A truc macabre.  After a moment, he panned his head appearing entirely as a more recent version of the black drummer in Youtube Bill Withers’ Ain’t No Sunshine, with a grin. He looked up from his tiny, half-open, smoke-twirling-window and said: Hello Mr. Ruggles, am Stonie.  Welcome to Lebanon. The Switzerland of the East. Wesley Ruggles – was an accomplished and prominent American photojournalist.  He got in the back seat of the white Peugeot 504 and smiled all the way to the Commodore Hotel in Hamra. Stonie looked at his customer adjusting himself in the back seat, as he got in, on the rear-view mirror and said: Our country is the best place if you wish to take on the challenge of surfing and skiing on the same day. There’s no particular way to do it – some prefer to hit the waves early in the morning and end the day with a cup of mulled wine after a great ski or snowboard session; others prefer to hit the slopes in the morning and watch the sunset from Ain El Mraisse on West End, after catching some waves. It’s really up to you, Mr. Ruggles. You decide.  I leave it up to you. Wesley Ruggles grinned.  He wasn’t much of a talker, if you know what I mean.  He nodded affirmatively to all the words Stonie shot at him.  Lester Young Stardust – 1952 was coming out of the radio. Soft and easy. Let me tell ya a story.  Stonie said:  Two families were arguing in a field about where the boundary between their lands lay.  The dispute dated back a long time and blood had been shed a number of times.  A boy, a child of some eight or nine years, picked up a stick and drew a line in the earth.  When asked what he was doing, he said he was marking the boundary as it had been agreed at the last round of negotiation, long before he was born.  His father asked him how he knew this, and the boy replied that he was the reincarnation of a man the father had killed in the feud.  When the child revealed details of the shooting that only the dead man and his killer could have known, his father embraced his former adversary who was now his son. Both families wanted the feud to end.  It had been costly in terms of lives, and all were seeking a way out of a resumption of hostilities.  After a long drive and a prolonged silence, Wesley Ruggles said: Take to me to the Green Line. Now.  Militias around West Beirut were a spectacle not to be missed.  A daily-affair. They rode Jeeps as if they were riding horses. Ski-nautique, once heard someone say. Their rituals comprised life as it happened on the eve of the end of the world. For all I know.  Ruggles was a modern-times Dziga Vertov, with a movie camera.  He was a prompt man.  Never late to a meeting or a date and had a subtle way of complaining to chefs about mediocre meals at restaurants. He was an homme d’affaires. He was a lean, mean fighting-machine that would not have anything be used to his disadvantage.  And for some unknown reason always wore black.  From head to bottom. No matter what. He was a distinctive soul with an Italian flare. A lady’s man. No doubt about it.  The Lebanese Rambo –or the subject of his piece, was in place in the smashed part of the city.  Surely on the demarcation line in Down Town. Pre-disposed and ready.  He was a robust, broad-shouldered and extremely serious fella. A War-Junkie. A visual spectacle par excellence, so to speak.  A local hero of sorts.  A Stallone-look-a-like, whose physical transformation was evident and clear indication that Post-Vietnam American War films and more specifically Rambo films of the 1980s, made a huge impression on him, to the extent he -and possibly others, eventually transmuted into Rambo himself. That prompted folks like Wesley Ruggles and others to come to Beirut to have a closer look. A truc macabre. The truth of the matter is the local Rambo did not like or fancy Rambo.  He became Rambo: The man himself.  A rare case of a man who becomes another.  A copy of an original, so to speak -who is eventually rejected! Wesley Ruggles told the local Rambo to look away as he took pictures of him. The others did just the same. But these two worked as an ensemble-together:  A photo session followed by a video session.  The whole spectacle ensued in a surreal war-inspired open-air studio, in the heart of the city. A war-triggered art installation under the piercing sun for hours: The local Rambo loved to be photographed and Ruggles, well, yeah consequently, loved to be the producer of the images. A love-affair of sort. Zeina Salem –A gorgeous-looking local news producer –they all look gorgeous at the times- stood near-by.  She took some photos of her own. There is something arrogant about him. She thought. Ruggles spent hours with his subjects. He was a war-junkie himself. Up until February 6, 1984 greater Beirut was under the control of the government. On that day, the Lebanese army was forced to withdraw from the West side of the city, which again came under the control of militias and political groups opposed to the government.  The truth of the matter is that these men in the framework of war seemed wired to invade and conquer with glory being the primary objective. The key takeaway is that none of these displays bear any significance if there is no audience to play to. Some folks stood by. Some others from a far stared and marveled.  The Lebanese Rambo had this funny approach: Rambo fights in the films, I, on the other hand, am real.  I drove my Rover with my two dazzling companions:  Zeina Salem by my side and well, yeah Paul Desmond and his Quartet-1954 coming out of the radio.  Soft and easy. The meeting with Ruggles was set at the demarcation line just for kicks.  Part of the war-thrill encounters he was after.  We compromised. I still remember the first time I met Wesley Ruggles. He gave the impression he was a temperamental actor having to do retakes.  Non-stop. But Rambo was not the real reason for Ruggles to fly down here. Rambo was inconsequential.  A slight- story.  Wesley Ruggles was in Beirut for completely different reasons: The Plugged-Sniper of Beirut. Random boys stood-still as a lady-photographer took some pictures of a random Palestinian commander who sat between two low-ranking officers close-by. Sit-still! She said -as she released her film camera’s release button.  They all look like ancillaries. The main character was wearing black shades. A la Marion Cobretti.  And a black beret crowned his head, which provided him with immediate identifying qualities, in addition to his physical position in relation to the others which emphasized his authority.  His face seemed expressionless due to various props it displayed. Masculinized by his obvious mustache.  A gendering-trope.  We had Peaches, prosciutto, burrata, mint, pistachios with honey and white balsamic vinegar drizzle on top with white wine all afternoon.  Zeina Salem said “The commander looks older than the back-standing militiamen.  They are all in uniform in a near-battle field/zone position.  They are dressed for war. But not enacting it.  They look masculine and yet the kitten adds that softness touch to Brando’s character in this specific re-interpretation which is by no means intended.” She paused for a second and then resumed “I have the perception that the producer of the image herself did not know whether the commander was trying to imitate “The Godfather” character or not.”  The focal point of the mise-en-scene was a white kitten the commander held with his right hand, which he didn’t seem to care for.  He held it with cool passiveness.  The photographer was able to frame the kitten occupying a lower position.  His bodyguard stood on both sides: The one who stood to his right looked away. Showing disinterest or confusion.  He carried a machine-gun pointing upward.  He wore a military uniform with magazine holders strapped all around him.  His flexed right arm differed from the left arm that rested by his standing body.  On the opposite left side of the commander, there sat another militiaman who gazed straight at him.  He was more interested it seems on the commander’s next act than on the photographer’s consequent actions. I thought to myself.  The cat in hand was very significant.  The way the main combatant held the kitten was domineering, almost like a chokehold, a threat. This served the purpose of making him seem uncaring and hardened by the war. A power move that was even more amplified by the presence of his goons at his sides. Then I thought: He appears to be copying Marlon Brando’s opening scene in Godfather, 1972. A truc macabre.  Zeina Salem was a ravishing Capricorn -unleashed.  I was entangled immediately.  I tried to keep up with her interpretation and responded in kind: “The house in the background reflects the living conditions of its inhabitants.  If any, at all.  It is a relaxed moment. I think.   A break from the exhaustive instants of combat.  They are all facing the camera somehow.  The commander is surrounded by his guards. They look at him or the people around him for security reasons.  The commander’s unintentional pursuit of conflating his military might with that of a mafia boss is evident.  He pretends to demystify him somehow by acting out a “real” version of a representational power.” After a long silence, she looked at me and said: “Rumor has it that the cat held by Brando, in the opening scene of Godfather was a stray, the actor found while on the lot at Paramount, and was not originally called for in the script.  So content was the cat, that its purring muffled some of Brando’s dialogue, and, as a result, most of his lines had to be looped.” We both sniggered and had a toast. To tell you the truth, the Palestinian commander, being the main mantelpiece of this scene, deserves more attention.  His face is cold and gives nothing away which is mostly attributed to his dark tinted glasses. As the eyes are the windows to the soul, this accessory is a very strategic affront on the mere possibility of conveying emotion. This skipper has taken all of the precautions to shield himself from being perceived as anything but masculine. He is a lean, mean fighting-machine that will not have anything be used to his disadvantage. The truth of the matter is that the three-armed war veterans whose placements clearly exemplify the power dynamics at play, looked invincible. The one in the center is decidedly the head of the group surrounded by two subordinate officers who, while authoritative, rank lower than him or at least submit to him. One is looking vacantly into the far left of the camera in slight amusement. The other henchman is seated on the bottom right of the frame looking directly at the head of the leader as if awaiting his signal, his every beck and call. The hierarchy is very blatant here. Zeina said: “These images remind me of Nick Ut’s “Accidental Napalm” photograph as the defining image of the Vietnam War because that little girl will not go away, despite many attempts at forgetting. War photographs are frozen moments in war-time. I freeze what I see.  It’s not what you see.  It’s what I see.  It’s my truth.  It’s not the truth.  It’s my eye.  It’s the way I saw it with a specific lens, with a specific light.  You wouldn’t have seen it the same way.” The Vietnam war ended in the same month, the Lebanese Civil war had started.  A clear dissolve. Beirut, once a hide-out, where coup d’états, political assaults, espionage and even felony could be planned, where financial deals, bank transactions, and international trade could be brokered, was alas! a ravaged city. Disfigured and ultimately forsaken. During a shelling of the town, an almost wasted, Wesley Ruggles raised a glass of Bordeaux and said: “You’re Lebanese? You’re lucky! You have a war, you have something to live for! We have nothing back home.” I think that hadn’t we had a war; we would have died slowly. War had renewed us. The war sound kept coming in and out of my head, and a couple was still fucking inside a tiny yellow Fiat not far away from where I was standing.  A mechanical undertaking.  Not much emotion/commotion at play except for their intense sexual collaboration.  A deliberate, indecent exposure.   It did not take me long to realize that angels were standing in cue at the entrance of a crumbling city: Dilapidated and decrepit. Partly broken, partly rotten, and partly forgotten. For years, I was a war junkie in Beirut.  Out of nowhere, a crowded jeep of militiamen stopped and disembarked.  They all looked like Knights subpoenaed by the monarch who was pissed and drunk and tired. For a moment, they all looked irritated and pissed off. A sort of a fashion insignia they all displayed just for kicks. A war-affair. Hip and ceremonial. Then, they began to disperse along the sidewalk in zigzag, with machine guns and RPGs pointing upward.  Their beards, long and unpleasant, pointing downward.  And their self-esteem half-way in between. They all came for the cut.  The King’s cut. The truth of the matter is the King Salon was the hippest place in town. A classic spot. A royal den.  The cosmopolitan centre of Beirut. So, to speak.  Everybody was there.  A meeting place for spies, including Kim Philby and Archie Roosevelt, and CIA men such as Miles Copeland as well as journalists of the caliber of John Chancellor and Sulzberger. Numerous diplomats and politicians, business tycoons and oil Sheikhs, they all mixed with oil and banking tycoons of the day molding the clientele of this classic establishment.  A royal place.  During the 50’s and even early 70’s the plots, the deals, and the stories that came out of this famous barbershop in Beirut were gripping. Plots and counter-plots, stretching over a quarter of a century echoed and re-echoed inside, every time.   Rumor has it, many incidents which helped to shape and re-shape Middle Eastern history are associated with the Salon: The attempt to overthrow King Hussein of Jordan, for instance. It was partially destroyed in the Two-Year war, but it was totally re-erected and managed to preserve its heyday reputation for a while.   I used to come here when I was little.  My dad was a big fan of this room.  He used to call it his part-time office. A place to chill. A room where you could conduct business as usual without the hassle of the real workplace. A place you didn’t call a café for prestige and yet it was almost one. The tea they served was splendid and kingly. And ladies used to stay out on the sidewalk just for thrills, with the hope to catch heartthrobs on the loose. I went out with a new hair-cut. The King’s cut. I was the King’s Knight for the night.  I kick-started my bike and cruised for a while. A poet on tour.  Roaming the city.  Looking for a one-night stand. Or at least what appears to be.  I saw a solitary figure standing on a random spot.  A black woman with an Afro.  It was perfect.  She jumped me on the highway the time it took me to give her a ride home.  A truc macabre. I pressed the number nine inside the elevator of my apartment building.  I was tired and wired. As the elevator began to go up it suddenly stopped.  I was alone. And forgotten for a while.  Dangling by a cord. Forsaken.  Maybe.  I masturwaited the hour. Power was restored and I made it to my apartment safely. Minutes later the phone rang.  It was her.  She said: Baby, are you craving me tonight.  The next thing I know I have couple of Lesbians over slurping my bacon bazooka just for kicks. A royal act. Worthy of enjoyment with what I called decent music: I used to play Stevie Wonder’s Superstition really loud on my Marshall speakers in decay. A ritual of old fun-days when I was young, full of sperms, and needs and itches. The funny part –though, is that I always experienced something peculiar in that very moment. Hard to explain and yet I saw the trailer of my own life lived, projected on the facing wall.  I reminisced about past affairs and was transfixed by a lingering memory of a blow job as well as a highly visual fuck-climax. Vivid and highly pictorial.  Cheers! They both said. As they both poured all the wine content glittering in penumbra upon my bacon bazooka.  It looked like a copper fall unleashing. Unceasing. A truc macabre.   A royal act. Three was company.  Beirut was a junkyard of scrap metal and waste back then.  A place for sub-humans and android-machines on the run. BB 62 opened fire and hit some targets on the outskirts of the city. Rumors has it the bomb shells were all empty. As the American destroyer showered guerilla positions in Souk el Gharb, I was firing my own cannon all over the Lesbians scattered along enemy lines inside my dim room. A supreme act. A simultaneous-affair. Many years later, I had a similar experience when I was shagging this Pilipino –gurl- in a random hotel in Jounieh, just for kicks, while watching the final of the World Cup in 2010. I still remember cumming inside her mouth at the exact moment Iniesta was kicking the ball inside the Netherland finish line.  A glorious-victorious moment.  The Lesbians just loved the feeling of a revolver barrel inside them. A truc macabre. A regal tactic of enormous after-effect.  For some reason, they used to revere the freshly fired metal tube with both frame and cylinder inside. I stood there. Earnest and ceremonial in my act.  Viewing the trailer of my life on the facing wall of my dim room, and watching my bacon bazooka in constant spa-treatment mode. Graceful and yet unpretentious. The afternoon rushed in like a Belgian train in mid-voyage, that never made it on time. I dreamed of flatbread pizza, in the wasteland. Reminisced about my last, fast-paced failed love-affair and my futile attempt at piano lessons. We laughed, as we talked and killed the hours away. We imagined moments-to-be. Mostly naked. For some strange reason, they both loved to be touched on their forehead. A women-thing.  On their eye-brows to be exact.  The truth of the matter is that they both were willing to try new things –in private. My type of women.  Alone and crazy. A mind-type. Affectionate, and calm on the outside, and yet crazy and freaky on the inside. To tell you the truth I pretended I read more books than they both presumed I did. I wrestled with my own thoughts and delusions.  Concealed my deeper feelings and idiosyncrasies -in the midst of our talk. A Gemini-kind-of-thing.   I was after their strapless lid. What else do you expect: One of the few remaining standard activities in Dystopia.  I fucked them both for a while and I got kind of bored afterwards.  The truth of the matter is I completely lost interest in them.  Soon after, I found my next victim. A young, fresh psychology graduate with a healthy appetite for sex and a delightful fashion-style that managed to trigger my bacon bazooka, back. This next fuck-affair kept rolling for more than we both expected. She was the kind of girl who would do anything to satisfy you.  I acted in kind. I used a proactive approach with her, for as long as it lasted. She was worth the try: Worth every single sperm I spared on her lower and upper abdomen. And well, yeah often times on her breasts and her cute, funny face.  A truc macabre. She loved to be chased after -for sex. She loved BJs as much. And she used to brag about it in public.  A few weeks later, I found out she was sleeping with a couple of other guys from around the block, for subsistence. Good for her. She was a practical kid, with lots of love to spare. I lit my Jimmy and made some smoke rings with my mouth, for my own amusement, that is. She showered.  Poured herself a drink. Walked all the way to my bed, completely naked.  She, then, army-crawled my entire body without a word.  Once, fully up and facing me, she said with her typical intense voice: Impress me with your brains. I played a VHS tape I had borrowed from an old pal, of Greta Garbo’s Anna Karenina -1935- in decay. Well, yeah, to try to impress her with my cultural background and shit.  The perfect artefact for a late evening binge. A truc macabre. The glitches and hiccups of the shivering images of Greta Garbo on the TV screen, did not corrupt the actress’s royal flare. What a Dame! I thought. What an ass! I thought in sequence. As I took turns looking at both the screen and the new chick’s naked, flattened body shimmering in the dark, and glowing like a sea-urchin in the deep. And I thought to myself: They don’t make them like this anymore. Sublime and Heavenly. A Regal act. Of course, I was talking about the chick’s ass. What else. I mean, the truth of the matter is she was lying right before my own eyes to see: Face down with a few hours to spare. And I was hungry. Endlessly famished. I was after her strawless lid.  I crawled on the bed and once in position I sucked her strapless lid for hours. I grinned. Placed my half-consumed Jimmy on the Buddha-ashtray I had from my old days in Kamasutra-training in New Delhi. I decided to burn my bacon bazooka inside her fire place. We fucked the night away.  Like two little kids grounded in confinement.  Her spark was her climax. Unequal. Pristine and immaculate.  The e-streets below and around me were dim and vacant. Cold and bare. I took off.  Had to: I zigzagged my way to the Demarcation Line, past sandbags and burning silhouettes of e-cars, in falloff. A conspicuous tactic that I deployed every time to avoid unleashed android-snipers on the loose.  Whether someone or something conforms to customary patterns or deviates from them depends on one’s point of view: Behind the concepts of normality and abnormality is the assumption that there is a single standard by which to judge everything. What may be normal to one group, however, may be unacceptable to another. I had the same Walkman on, with the same headphones arching the same oval head I displayed for a thousand times at the frontline. A truc macabre. I played Monk Live in Paris 1964 every time.  Every day. Non-stop. It was more like a frontline pursuit for kicks. A Grotesque business. A reel replayed the same white 1979 Super-Beetle Cabriolet stopping right there in the middle of nowhere, over and over again.  A loop in one act.  Its occupiers looked like soul reapers with scythes, when out of a sudden, they revealed their hidden arms and fired in all directions. At the end of which, the white Beetle stood-still, in complete stillness. Technically, a malware. Once at the frontline, in total stillness, and in complete silence/quiet: I heard the remote air of a lullaby looping the same word stuck in reverse. I was surrounded by eccentric structures –which stood tall beholding my own state of incongruity. I stood almost mortified in the middle of the battleground, in silence.  Out of a thick, almost-mythical mist, a machine gun emerged and finally rested on my forehead. I stood-still.  Did not utter a word for an entire minute. A strange haze shrouded my eyesight. I still remember my counter-part’s brimmed-shape, white Panama hat, silk shirt, striped pants and his green suspenders. A distinctive act. He looked like a model taken out of a GQ magazine. I still remember when he looked at me for the last time and said: Learn how to cook and spend less.  Save time and have sex more often. The sound of my camera release bottom re-echoed in the stillness of that barren place, bouncing off the empty, worn-out, and shattered walls around me. On that crispy autumn day, and somewhere in town, The Red Prince carried a pistol holstered in brown leather and worn on his hip a la Clint Eastwood. He was a playboy alright, on his final rave. He was in a convoy of two Chevi station wagons heading from Georgina’s flat to his mother’s, for a birthday party. Chambers was on her balcony painting, and her red Beetle parked below on Rue Verdun.  As Salameh’s convoy passed that red wagon at 3:35 pm and turned onto Rue Madam Curie, a hundred Kilos of explosives attached to the car by a Mossad agent was remotely detonated either by Chambers herself or on her signal to another Mossad agent. They did not mistake him this time. A truc macabre.  The blast left Salameh conscious, but severely wounded and in great pain, having pieces of steel shrapnel embedded in his head and throughout his body.  He was rushed to The American University of Beirut Hospital, where he died on the operating table at 4:03 pm. Salameh’s four bodyguards and four bystanders were also killed, and at least 16 people were injured.  I was on the other end of town, with Mario Garcia having some Single malt whisky, in some random bar, surrounded by Frenchies at the moment of the blast.  The air turned purple and crowds rushed in to get the latest news from an old, dusty radio inside. You could feel the heat of the day in full armor. Hours later, I was sitting at my fav round table in the kitchen back at home when the telephone reechoed.  A voice –on the other end of the line said: I miss you, my baby. Shall I come over? I grinned.  I said: No.  I’m tired. We read countless pages of Gabo’s Hundred Years of Solitude, in Spanish, together, and ended up shagging a couple of times before going to bed.  We massacred solitude.  A masterful act. Luciana stayed way into the night.  She had a special homemade flatbread pizza formula for kicks, which she experimented with, when over. The fun part: I improvised most of the toppings from leftovers and a sauce I had on the side for the occasion. We had some slices of pizza, with red wine. I concede she did all the maintenance required and left before sunrise. A ballerina in her finest hour. Next morning, I drove my e-Rover to the frontline -like a student in love, on his second day of school.  Out of nowhere, A fighter pointed his machine gun to my temple, and said: Do not move. That day, I met Mario Garcia on the frontline. He came with cash to burn – a fleet of airplanes and a keen eye for French-speaking ladies. He had a crowd of bodyguards with him, just for kicks.  A business man of some sort looking for some prospects in the middle of a farcical war with no-end.  He was a bit of a ghost down here.  Nobody saw him.  Nobody knew him. He stayed in the prominent Achrafieh area for convenience.  “The safest part of Beirut,” he’d say. The sound of my camera release bottom re-echoed over and over again in the stillness of that barren place, bouncing off the empty, worn-out, and shattered walls around me. Chambers was on her balcony painting, and her red Beetle parked below on Rue Verdun.  As Salameh’s convoy passed that red wagon at 3:35 pm and turned onto Rue Madam Curie, a hundred Kilos of explosives attached to the car by a Mossad agent was remotely detonated either by Chambers herself or on her signal to another Mossad agent. They did not mistake him this time. A truc macabre.  The blast left Salameh conscious, but severely wounded and in great pain, having pieces of steel shrapnel embedded in his head and throughout his body. He was rushed to The American University of Beirut Hospital, where he died on the operating table at 4:03 pm. Salameh’s four bodyguards and four bystanders were also killed, and at least 16 people were injured.  I was on the other end of town, with Wesley Ruggles and Zeina Salem taking countless shots of The Plugged-Sniper of Beirut -who walked no more than thirty steps to his rifle.  Fired some shots at random crossers –who crossed from one side to the other every time and walked back to his seat to smoke cigars and drink single malt whisky all day. A Chaplin-like puppet of sorts.  A war junkie. A mutant gorilla on the run. A member of an elite division called the Zombie Squad. Why do you do it ? Ruggles asked him. The Plugged-Sniper of Beirut looked back at him after a long pause and said: I’m shooting people.  Ruggles perplexed asked: But why? The Plugged-Sniper of Beirut said: They pay me twenty five Lebanese Pounds (for the head) for every person I kill. Ruggles asked again: How do they know how many you’ve killed?  At that point, The Plugged-Sniper of Beirut got pissed because of Ruggles disrespectful remarks. Dropped his rifle and said: Ain’t I an honest man? The air turned purple and crowds rushed in to get the latest news from an old, dusty radio inside. You could feel the heat of the day in full armor.  My counter-part –still pointing his machine gun at my temple, was in a chill mood. He grinned at the end of his act and said: Hasta La Vista, Baby.  I can’t overlook the fact that her vagina was once snipped by a randy horn-eyed ghost crab confusing her fleshy bits for an open oyster on the beach, in spite of the fact that it was illegal to lie down there, naked. A foolish-act. The truth of the matter is some of her intimate friends were woken up by her screaming that somethin’ had bitten her and they were shocked to see a crab hanging off her privates. A morbid-act.  They had no choice but to release the pinchers open and free her from his grip. The recollection of that sinister incident turned me on every time she narrated it. Lustful and lecherous.  I guess her secret weapon was the knockout garlic-herb butter she used to brush each oyster with arranged in a single-layer on the grill. And subsequently, cook out uncovered for seven minutes or at least until the edges curled. The truth of the matter is eating oysters and sex merged well.  A magic-twist. I guess the salty juice and soft flesh of the oyster had the power to excite.  In both, eating oysters and sex, one used all five senses just for kicks. Casanova was so right to power up with oysters before his lusty bedroom undertakings. Chiquita loved to cook oysters for me, and she went randy when we cooked oysters together on Sunday afternoons.  A sexy-act. A night involving lubricants and oysters was a weekend-thrill. I love oysters.  She said.  It’s like kissing the sea on the lips. Casanova puts it like this: I put the shell to her mouth, I told her to suck in the liquid and keep the oyster between her lips. She performed the feat to the letter after laughing heartily, and I took the oyster by pressing my lips to hers with the greatest decency. She was delighted by the delicacy with which I took the oyster from her lips.  I was a randy horn-eyed ghost crab myself. On the look-out for thrill-driven trysts round the clock.  Beirut was a massive bed of lust and smoke and violence. A tower of sexual escapades and rendezvous. She used to sleep on her side, naked. I used to sleep on my back, full of sperms.  She was an open and naked oyster on the beach of my waterbed and I was a randy, horny ghost crab on her oyster-resembling genitalia:  The flavorsome local white wine added the ultimate aroma to our scrumptious encounter.  I once read that the Greeks believed that the semen was white because it was made of foam.  Semen was similar to the salty foam of the ocean.  Add to this the belief that the soft milky texture of oysters was like semen and thus eating them would generate more semen in a male.  The legend goes that Cronos, Zeus father, overthrew his own –Uranus. It was a brutal fight.  In the end, Cronos chopped his father’s bacon bazooka off with his sickle. Everywhere Uranus golden blood landed, new organisms appeared.  Blood on the rocks turned into winged demons called Furies, and blood on fertile soil turned into nymphs and satyrs. Cronos threw the bacon bazooka into the ocean.  Sperm came out of it and made foam.  The foam, in turn, mixed with the sea and created none other but Aphrodite.  A truc-macabre. As a matter of fact, Botticelli’s Birth of Venus painting shows her arriving in Cyprus in a giant shell. The connection between shellfish and Aphrodite is more than clear. A grim and complicated-plot. A la Giacomo Casanova.The famous lover ate at least fifty slippery oysters a day and he used assurance caps to prevent impregnating his mistresses.  I didn’t. Words of love must be implied. He used to say.  Not boldly proclaimed. I never used words. My bacon bazooka needed no introduction. He was a man of far-ranging intellect and curiosity. A true adventurer, traveling across Europe from end to end in search of fortune.  He was a lawyer, clergyman, military officer, violinist, con man, pimp, gourmand, dancer, businessman, diplomat, spy, politician, mathematician, social philosopher, playwright, and writer. I, on the other hand, was a fucker on the run. An android-lover on the loose. A sybarite seeking the perpetual euphoria of a new fuck-affair, every time.  And always looking for Chiquitas around the city-bed of lust and smoke and violence. She looked me in the eyes and said: Eat your oysters naked first.  Rumor has it Casanova purchased a twelve-year old girl in St. Petersburg as a sexual slave in 1765, when he was my age. Around forty years old.  A cruel-act.  She was emphatically prepubescent: Her breasts had still not finished budding. She was in her thirteenth year.  She had nowhere the definitive mark of puberty.  Born of actors, he had a passion for the theater and for an improvised, theatrical life, but with all his talents he frequently succumbed to the quest for pleasure and sex.  His true occupation was living largely on his quick wits, steely nerves, luck, social charm, and the money given to him in gratitude and by trickery.  There is nothing in the world of which he wasn’t capable of.  Oysters were more of an-agent provocateur for the famous lover – An initiator, so to speak.  And part of their sensual reputation might have come from the fact that oysters are hermaphrodites: Can be both males and females at different points in their life cycle. Like in all good myths, there’s an element of truth in the oysters-make-you-randy story. Spawning occurs in spring and summer. External fertilization of the eggs with the sperm occurs in the water. The fertilized eggs drift away as free-floating larvae. When they settle on an optimal bottom, they affix themselves to it and are called spat.  They remain there for the rest of their lives. It typically takes a two-three year to reach adulthood. Their magical allure may spring from their liminal life–free floating larvae which are transformed into a shelled organism fixed in one place and forming the foundation for future generations.  Oyster habitat is brackish water: A mixture of fresh and salt water like one finds in estuaries. They settle on hard surfaces like reefs, older shells, piers, and rocks. Their shells grow on top of each other and form reefs.  Oysters contain eight times more zinc and three times more iron than the same size serving of beef.  That Little Sunshine Chiquita rubbed her strapless lid in a circular fashion with some Thai oil she had in store, using her left hand, and sitting back in the bunker of her bed, with her cherry-red lips squeezing a hard, spicy and fired-up Jimmy on the loose, that looked more like a German Hindenburg caught on fire attempting to dock on her scrumptious lips and she did all that with the elasticity of a gazelle in premonition of a fuck-up. Of an imminent death. A cruel act.  She looked me in the eyes and said: Last time I fucked six guys at the same time right here!  I don’t really know where does this obsession with sex come from.  I am talking about my own.  Hers.  The city’s. I guess, and irrevocably, Freud was so right. Life was built round tension and pleasure. And all that build-up of libido I needed to discharge, somehow.  To release interminably. Curiously, the war did the rest.  Little Sunsine did not fuck me as much as I wanted to that eve.  She was more of a mouth-inserter. Just like a baby who gets much satisfaction from putting all sorts of things in its mouth to satisfy her libido. For some reason, she used to come to my place famished: She got up.  Walked with a slow pace all the way to the fridge, and pulled the door open: Ate whatever she found in my tiny, little wagon with an engine.  She devoured ravenously and greedily what was left of a turkey and mashed potatoes I had saved for a lonesome afternoon and drank up all the beer cans standing proud and eerie in the deep of my light box. She did all that with the motivation of a fifteen-year old novice- cheerleader.  She sat back on her bunker of a bed and watched a silent black and white TV movie on an old TV set in decay, mute. A regal act.  Worthy of a pictorial endeavor a la Salvador Dali. Or some other random artist that I don’t know nothing about.   The TV set was an old artefact I found in that apartment when I first moved in three years ago. She was high.  I was drunk. The truth of the matter is she loved to sit back in the bunker of her bed –just like she used to, in the old days, and spit at her strawless lid, and scrub her strapless cap repeatedly, using her left hand, like there was no tomorrow, and drink wine all afternoon.  And she did all that not far away from the Demarcation Line in no-man zone.  She was 15 and I was the luckiest bastard in West Beirut. The memory of that fuck-up kept bouncing off the walls of my place like a stress ball in distress. Marlon Brando once couldn’t get it up. It was shameful and everything but I guess it was ok. She loved the feeling of a revolver barrel inside her. She used to revere the freshly fired metal tube with both frame and cylinder inside.  A regal tactic of enormous after-effect. One day and out of the blue, we decided to meet: In other words, to go out for a change. Greta Garbo’s was a warm and cozy brasserie outside Beirut, which had turned into a scrapyard. It was the perfect meeting-place for a Saturday afternoon wine A-Go-Go. The place was not crowded, as we expected. She came out of the android-Uber with a Latin flare, as we had agreed. Hard to explain if you didn’t have it in the first place.  I stood there. Earnest and ceremonial in my act. Looking at her royal-paced walk in euphoria. She walked my way the seventeen steps it took her to face me and kiss me on both cheeks and said: I missed you, my Pacino. Graceful and yet unpretentious. Her holy-halo leaked elements of light, spilling radiant and shiny bright as she moved forward.  That afternoon rushed in like a Belgian train in mid-voyage, that never made it on time.  We talked about flatbread pizza, her next mobile cinema project, in Dystopia. About her last, fast-paced failed love-affair and her attempt at piano lessons.  I listened, mostly.  For practical reasons. -A wisdom I had acquired in recent years, which had saved me plenty of time and effort and appetite. We had a couple of jumpy-chicken salads and local wine. Fresh and flavorsome. We laughed, as we talked about almost everything and nothing, and managed, gracefully, to kill the hour away. We both imagined moments-to-be, simultaneously. Mostly naked. For some strange reason, she loved to be touched on her forehead. A regal act of a woman on fire. On her eye-brows to be exact. She was the classic example of someone who knows what she wants and knows how to get it right away.  A negotiator, if you know what I mean. Willing to try new things –in private. My type of chick. Affectionate, and calm on the outside, and yet crazy and freaky on the inside. A mind-type. And believe it or not I was her perfect match. A sophisticated flirt in my own right: A wild and well-traveled and fearless Latino lover by birthright.  To tell you the truth I pretended I read more books than she presumed I did. A manly-affair.  I wrestled with my own thoughts and delusions as the afternoon got away. I concealed most of my inner feelings and idiosyncrasies -in the midst of our talk. A Gemini-kind-of-affair. I was after her strapless lid. What else.  One of the few remaining standard activities in Dystopia. The truth of the matter is we fucked for a while and I got kind of bored with her afterwards. I completely lost interest in her. A guy- thing –so to speak. But her healthy appetite for sex and her delightful fashion-style triggered my bacon bazooka, back. And the fuck-affair kept rolling for more than we both expected. She was the kind of a girl who would do anything to satisfy you.  I acted in kind. I used a proactive approach with her, for as long as it lasted.  She was predictable, but was worth the try, though. Worth every single sperm I spared on her lower and upper abdomen. And well, yeah often times on her tits and her cute, and funny face. I mean, why not. I had nothing to lose. I was a cowboy on the run.  She loved to be chased after -for sex. And after sex. She loved BJs as much, and she used to brag about it in public. A truc macabre. Utterly gallivant. A few weeks later, I found out she was sleeping with a couple of other guys from around the block, for subsistence, and with some big shot of sorts, as well.  A playboy –so to speak. Loaded with guns and green.  Good for her. She was a practical kid, with lots of love to spare. And lots of ambition. I fired up my gorgeous-looking Jimmy and made some smoke rings with my mouth, for my own amusement, that is. And that lasted for quite a while. She had a shower: Poured herself a drink, and walked slowly the seventeen steps, all the way to my bed, completely naked.  Next, she crawled my entire body like a wounded, and moaning soldier on the frontline. Once, fully on top and facing me, she said with her typical intense voice: Impress me with your brains. It occurred to me, and I played a VHS tape I had borrowed from an old chum, of Greta Garbo’s Anna Karenina 1935, in decay. Well, yeah, to try to impress her with my cultural backdrop and shit.  The perfect artefact for a late evening binge. A truc macabre, so to speak.  The glitches and hiccups of the shivering images of Greta Garbo on the old TV set screen, did not corrupt the actress’s royal flare. What a Dame! I thought. What an ass! I thought in sequence. As I took turns looking at both the screen and the Chiquita’s naked, greasy, and flattened body shimmering in the dark, and glowing like a sea-urchin in the deep. And I thought to myself: They don’t make round asses like this anymore. Sublime and holy. The truth of the matter is she was lying right before my own eyes to see: Face-down with a few hours to spare, and I was shit sex-hungry. Infinitely famished. I was after her strawless lid. Her strapless cap.  It was my turn to crawl all over her and once in position I slurped her strapless lid for hours. Out of a sudden, I decided to burn my bacon bazooka inside her fireplace. A regal act.  We fucked for hours. Like two little kids grounded inside their tiny, little school for the weekend, in solitary confinement.  Her final spark was her peculiar climax. Unequal. Unusual.  One of a kind.  Pristine and immaculate.  The street below, stretched, tall and empty, kept shifting shadows and light as the clock ticked and the seconds died forever. I took off.  Had to: I zigzagged my way to the Demarcation Line, past sandbags and burning silhouettes of cars, in fall-off. A conspicuous tactic that I deployed every time to avoid unleashed android-snipers on the loose.  Whether someone or something conforms to customary patterns or deviates from them depends on one’s point of view: Behind the concepts of normality and abnormality is the assumption that there is a single standard by which to judge everything. What may be normal to one group, however, may be unacceptable to another. I had the same Walkman on, with the same headphones arching the same epic oval head –of mine- I displayed for a thousand times at the frontline. Every time.  A truc macabre. I played Monk Live in Paris 1964 every time. Non-stop. It was more like a frontline pursuit, just for kicks. A grotesque-act of reverie.  A snow-white 1979 Super-Beetle Cabriolet stopped right there in the middle of nowhere, just a few steps from the line.   I couldn’t identify any of its occupants –who wore ceremonial masks, just for kicks. The truth of the matter is they all looked like soul-reapers with scythes.  Next, they revealed their hidden and nasty-looking arms and fired up abruptly in all directions for at least seven random minutes. At the end of which, the snow-white Beetle stood-still in complete stillness. Suddenly, that tiny little wagon was showered and hammered countless times with all sorts of ammo. An RPG sealed its fate, turning them and the vehicle into a burning chunk of metal and flesh. A suicidal undertaking. An eccentric haze shrouded my eyesight. That day, I met the iconic Wesley Ruggles on the Demarcation Line in Downtown Beirut. A day-to-remember. I was surrounded by eccentric structures –which stood tall beholding my own state of incongruity. I stood almost mortified in the middle of the forlorn battleground, in quiet.  Out of a thick, almost-mythical mist, a machine gun re-surfaced and finally rested on my temple.  Pristine and Immaculate.  I stood-still.  Did not utter a word for an entire Trevi-Fountain second. I still remember that cowboy’s brimmed-shape-white-Panama-hat, silk shirt, striped pants and his green suspenders. A distinctive and manly act. He looked like an older fashion model from GQ magazine. I still remember when he looked at me for the last time and said: Learn how to cook and spend less, save time and have sex more often. The noise of my camera release bottom echoed and re-echoed in the stillness of that barren place, bouncing off the empty, worn-out, and shattered walls and streets around me. On that cool Winter-day and somewhere in another part of town, The Red Prince carried a pistol holstered in brown leather and worn on his hip a la Clint Eastwood. He was a playboy alright, on his way to his final rave. He was in a two-Chevi station wagons convoy heading from Georgina’s flat to his mother’s, for a birthday party. Chambers was on her balcony, graciously painting, and her sinister red Beetle was parked right below on Rue Verdun.  As Salameh’s convoy passed that red wagon at 3:35 pm and turned onto Rue Madam Curie, a hundred Kilos of explosives attached to the car by a Mossad agent was remotely detonated either by Chambers herself or on her signal to another Mossad agent. They did not mistake him this time. A truc macabre.  The blast left Salameh conscious, but severely wounded and in great pain, having pieces of steel shrapnel embedded in his head and throughout his body.  He was rushed to The American University of Beirut Hospital, where he died on the operating table at 4:03 pm. Salameh’s four bodyguards and four bystanders were also killed, and at least 16 people were injured.  I was on the other end of town, with Wesley Ruggles sipping some single malt whisky, in some random bar, surrounded by Frenchies at the moment of the blast.  The air had turned purple and a crowd rushed in on an empty street. You could feel the heat of the day in full armor.  “We’re out of condoms, sir” said a muffled voice behind the counter.  It had started to rain and I was already overtly provoked and ready for Yasmine, as she waited in the solitude of that apartment in Sodeco.  I was only nineteen at the time, had memorized the entire First Act of The Birthday Party for a purpose, was semi-high and had impressed my Mass Communication professor just that very morning on what made the news as concept: The dog who bites the woman or the woman who bites the dog.  My wallet was emptied and as I reached for a lighter placed candidly on that rustic shelf, I remembered: Wine! The bottle of wine that she had ordered.  I was keen on bringing bottles of wine to my heated one-nights.  I knew that this was nothing but another hit and run and she was to turn into another of my victims.  I don’t feel sorry for her.  She had used me in the past and so it was my way of getting even.  It was a sort of payback.  Just like that time when my bestie fucked another bestie and I had to put up with it.  Only time brought me justice. When I fucked her ex-wife just for fun. And Am in no position to brag about it.  To tell you the truth, she was most probably under age, and I am talking about Yasmine, of course. But she had been impressed by my poor acting and most likely my Latin stage presence.  She would call me Pacino –for some weird, unstated reason. And I liked it. I used to call her Frenchie.  My immediate purpose was to make it to the car. That’s for sure.  You guessed it: My Rover. I was high.  I was drunk.  Beirut looked like a scrapyard and I was detained by a Danish lady who was looking for a bar. She wore a white dress and lime green, round hoop earrings. I am pretty sure I gave her the wrong route, while at it. Sorry to disappoint you, lady. I thought minutes later.  But for once I didn’t feel bad about it.  I was entitled to my foolish act.  I had someone waiting for me.  All alone, remember: Frenchie in Sodeco.  Most probably cold and most probably feeling melancholic as she waited for Pacino on his way. And perhaps, fuck-hungry. I had this wacko-concept: That it was a matter of national interest to satisfy lonesome women in a lonesome city for the night. To keep them warm and content. An Eastern-affair.  At least, I felt entitled due to my evident arrogance, primitive experience and to be honest: Well, I was desperate for a fuck! A truc macabre, so to speak. I was reduced to an android-Pacino on the run.  A mutant gorilla on the loose. I walked with a typical Latino swagger –That I had picked from remote days when I used to live in a trailer park peopled by exotic wackos and misfits. My own reflection on the adjacent window display –as I walked through, seemed to repeat Pacino motifs in my head and all around me. And it was all accentuated by my own motion and light and penumbra. I don’t know why but I always had this impression that Pacino was the epitome of manliness. And Yasmine’s impression of me –in turn, made it unblemished. I was about to become one, on a professional level. Distinct and sexual. A series of failed affairs, my constant agitation looking for a reason to be, to exist and my endless struggle in settling down, and trying constantly to find momentarily satisfaction in whatever I was doing at the time, made a serious vagabond out of me –but with good intentions. I landed jobs of all kinds.  Appropriate and suitable ones, and totally despicable and thorny.  But it was part of the bigger mosaic of shitless nonsense I was in, in a city that did not appreciate its most notable artists.  And this perhaps was one of the reasons I found solace in night encounters. I didn’t measure or anticipate the consequences.  I was a soldier of fortune playing his best hand every time, regardless of the fallout.  I found delight in loving women: Women of all walks of life.  A weekly-affair of enormous after-effect. Jazz and Booze adjusted the happenstances. I was a hero for a night, every other night: Hidden from the rays of shame and banality. Hidden from the rays of sun and dust in perpetuity.  I was alas! stuck in reverse in the cycle of my own propensity. Love affairs, in one way or another had destroyed me.  I was left with nothing but the nucleus of a man that once was! Alone, desperate and attempting to become the reflection of the Pacino who had just glimmered before him. I derived pleasure from ecstasy. And ecstasy from pleasure.  I was an android-Romeo equipped with apps and wine. The shine of the screen reminded me of Frenchie, dripping messages of small talk and nonsense every once in a while. Where are you? Why are you taking this long? Try not to be late and so on and so forth, with the typical French-English accent. This was a boring part.  I detested it. I had to put up with lots of shit. Birds, dogs, cats, and a gold-fish named Cookie Monkey.  And even a Parrot, that I taught Spanish. Oye, Puto: Chupame la Pinga. This was a daily punch line. It felt good, for a while.  But after that, the whole enterprise became mechanical, it turned hysterical and unemotional. Not my regular cup of coffee. Her sofa bed was remarkably enormous. Of course, some of her pets found sanctuary there.  I was happy to know that some had died a few months later only to gather she had replaced most of them to no avail. Let me be more honest: Yasmine was my playmate.  A pet of my own.  I don’t mean to sound wicked, but she had stripped me down to the ground. Of all my talent and my merits.  I had lost all my medals and my marvels since the end of the Civil war and no one had hugged me, like really hugged me ever since. It was a masterful act of her part. We were two gorilla mutants of intimacy.  She used to remind me that we were up for it only if we agreed that -that was going to be the only night together.  And of course, it wasn’t. We used to bang like rabbits every once in a while. She was high and I was drunk.  A perfect match.  A truc macabre. I was her pet.  Her Pluto – for all I know.  I drove my car to Sodeco.  The rain had stopped partially.  Some garbage cans were in flame around corners. A typical yet berserk Pacino scene in the making, unfolding before me.  I looked around me to see if some random passenger from a random passing vehicle would recognize me, from a random scene I was part of, the night before on a local TV network. An absurd act of vanity. A woman stood nearby.  She approached my half-open window.   The breeze coming in made the perfect match for my Monk –Live in Paris 1964.  She said: “Sodeco!” I said” “Yes!” She got in.  I said: “No. Not that way!” She looked at me as if I had slain her entire race or tribe.  I succumbed in silence. Did her the favor in utter quiet. I smiled a Mona Lisa smirk and drove in partial stillness, turned down Monk playing and closed the window entirely. How could I ruin the moment? We were both happy. In our driving act.   Me driving to my fuck and she, well, she was comfortably being driven to her random location in Sodeco. A night scene. I did not utter a word until we got there. She was about to pay the alleged taxi fare when another stranger said: “Hamra!” I had to open the door and step away from my Rover to inspect it.  It didn’t look at all like a taxi or cab –to sound more Pacino-like, if you know what I mean.  What is wrong with these people? I thought to my-self. The pale color of my car, the sudden rain and the smoke curling up in the air, in a New-York fashion, it prompted such reactions, most probably. At night, everything changes and a lie becomes the truth.  I got pissed.  I was going to be late. You don’t want to miss a fuck.  They say it’s bad luck. And now this: Taken or mistaken for a Travis Bickle in the middle of Beirut at 11 PM. A truc macabre. Let me just say that our friendship had lasted for over twenty years. Yasmine –or Frenchie as I used to call her, was a hell of a woman.  She was smart, tenacious, multi-talented and had an Italian flare, for all the time we were together.  She never lost it. I was amazed. But for some random reason I was at the end of the day -Her Pluto. Her pet-playmate.  Pluto is just a random name.  You can call me any pet name, if you want to.  I wouldn’t even know it.  I would be long gone.  Doing Yasmine or maybe slurping her strawless lid, her strapless cap for an eternity. The truth of the matter is our one-night stand lasted for seven years.  Tonight, was a random night.  Just like any other random night. Nothing special about it, except for the Danish lady with a white dress and lime green, round hoop earrings, and the random passengers who had mistaken me for a cabbie in a cab film. Often times I would turn violent on Yasmine. Like shit crazy. I lost control several times. I do regret that now. I used to hit, punch, strike, beat, slap, smack, hand-cuff her to her bed, so drunk that she wouldn’t even remember it, the next morning. She would laugh and kind of let go. I used to slam her against the closet like shit crazy. I –once, smashed her head with a Chinese vase just because she changed some random TV channel that I wasn’t even watching.  I was high.  She was drunk. I still remember when I smashed some window panels at her place, one day, by simply walking through.  It was so lucid, I didn’t even see them block my way.  That one time, a police patrol was called in but made no arrests. Her favorite part was the whipping we did.  It took months of self-adaptation and re-adjustments.  She got so used to it she said one time she was addicted to it. That she didn’t want to stop and that if we did, she’d probably kill herself. And I liked it. She didn’t want me to stop, alright. I kept going. It kept rolling. Her addiction was Freud-induced. Mine was cigar and booze. That’s what made matters worse. I had become ill-tempered.  Nothing could fix that. Out of nowhere I had this idea: To get drunk before I go up and see her. And so I did. Got wasted, went up and the first thing I did when I saw her was go down on her and eat her strawless lid for hours. I still remember when one night I went up to see her, and for some wacko reason she wouldn’t let me in.  She blocked my way in, like completely.  She said she had a friend inside and that she wasn’t feeling ok. That was an eye-opener for me. Her cat kept meowing at my foot. In a sudden act, I lifted that poor thing with my foot and threw him or her –You tell me, over the stairway.  I heard it still meow down there in the dark. For quite some time.   A truc macabre.  I still think about it. It makes me feel uneasy. It gives me the shivers. Just to think about it. Sometimes I dream of the poor little cat down there in the dark looking at me, waiting for the day to get even. I can still feel the spell of that cat all around me.  Well, if there’s any consolation, I am truly sorry for that. Guilt chased me and still chases me like a wounded dog and that time when I fucked this part-time actress and got her pregnant.  Well, it took years before she could show some mercy.  She never said it but I guess she did forgive me in the end.  As for Frenchie.  I see her from time to time, you know.  Am her Pluto. Her pet-playmate.  Pluto is just a random name.  You can call me any pet name, if you want to.  I wouldn’t even know it.  I would be long gone. Doing Yasmine or maybe slurping her strawless lid, her strapless cap for an eternity.  She came out of her apartment building in a haste, and as she opened my red Rover Mini Cooper door and got in, I threw out the window my half-way consumed zeppelin on the loose, I had lit a few minutes ago for convenience, as I listened to Monk Live in Paris, 1965.   She hated Jazz but budged in the middle of a speedy fuck.  As a matter of fact, she would turn the volume up and tell me that the music drove her nuts.  Little I knew, back then, that that zeppelin tail would plunge upon the bubbling sidewalk, that afternoon, like a Hindenburg in 1937, while its nose, rose into the air like a breaching whale. My mini-Hindenburg smashed what was left of a line of symmetrically-aligned ants on their way to an important meeting.  They were all in black and looked serious. Chiquita threw herself onto her seat, tossed her bag onto the back seat, shifted her weight multiple times and finally sat straight up looking ahead like a sphinx.  She said: You can go now. I drove my Rover like I stole it -as my little serious victims were dispersing, in notable confusion, and in random fashion right outside my half-open window. The sandstorm I left behind grew taller than the lamp posts scattered along the street and above the noise of TV game shows poorly produced. The shadows of that afternoon street were eating up silhouettes and those silhouettes were in turn forming in surrounding walls and facades in a fatuitous manner. Chiquita and I knew each way back.  From school days when we were young and tall and vigorous.  She found pleasure in random talk, random acts. She once told me that it was more meaningful for her to justify her request of seeing me than to just say what she wanted right away.  A modus operandi, so to speak.  As I drove past flower shops and pharmacies, lingerie stores and sex toys swaying like giant bait worms on display, I thought I should get a dog and maybe a girlfriend, for all I know.  -A way of mending up my lonesome act, and one or two forlorn Beirut afternoons, while at it.   And maybe why not get a real job. And actually, do something for a living.  This business of random projects, and freelance writing was getting on my nerves. The job wasn’t but the pay was. A truc macabre. She was gorgeous-looking, the kind of a girl you want to hit on, and do from time and time and well yeah, like try to keep for a while.  The fact is she was unquenchable, hard to stop once in, and her demands grew more assiduous as our afternoon escapades became more regular. She said: Stop the car. We sat there in the middle of nowhere. Monk was a Devil in a state of total rapture. I kissed her soft lips with no bad intentions in mind. She slurped my bacon bazooka several times just for kicks.  On-lookers stood by. She grabbed my handle for reassurance, gave it a good brush and sat on me like she really had missed it.  She spat at it multiple times, my face was all over the ceiling and the windshield, and I was roaring like a wounded lion, like a man who had bet his life saving on second running-horse in the races. She was high on Blow. I was a jazz freak.  She loved History books and Italian cuisine: She was an expert at Pasta Carbonara. She’d cook the pasta in salted water, and cook some tomatoes in a large skillet over medium-high heat with olive oil and stirring often, until it slightly softened for around three minutes. She would then add some shallots and cook, stirring until the shallots and tomatoes softened for the same amount of time or so.  She would then add the garlic, some natural herbs and finally bring to a boil.  Once done, she would blend the mix using a hand blender –no wonder she was good at hand jobs.  Buon appetito!  è delizioso. That day she was draped like a mannequin in a display window. She wore a horrible, loose-fitting vintage dress, and no make-up. Stained with dark spots of coffee, that did not taste good, which she had, early in the morning. And her regular flat green shoes.  She always wore green shoes.  She squashed a gum behind her front teeth. Her finger-nails in double-decker red.  Both her earrings scintillated an assortment of a spectrum caused by the light diffused through the silver clouds, and bouncing off strategically located car handles in car doors.  I thought to myself: What a lucky bastard! I was the luckiest bastard in West Beirut.   As I pulled the metallic cold through my nostrils and a line or two of blow coke in a sporadic fashion while at it, a snow-white cigarette of three to four inches in length, resting between her fingers, burned down onto a memory. She squeezed my bacon bazooka with her free hand, thinking maybe she would make it spill by way of her magic. She was in her late thirties and I was assailed by a huge range of a regrets and shames and disappointments.  Assaulted by a series of failed relationshits. It was in that very instant, she tried desperately to project a cheerful air: I think am in love, with your dick.  Dogs and birds were leaping from one tree to another undetected. A truc macabre. She looked out the window and I pretended her say something in French like: On a froid. On est seuls.  Mais au moins, on sait où trouver de la chaleur. She looked back at me for an entire Trevi-Fountain second. Gallant and noble. The emotions she had stirred were exactly where we had left them. Undetected.  I was making a much-needed escape from my own trivial life, to try to reconnect back with it. It was a favorite pastime. The way of a dog, astray and awry, one afternoon in the city. Freud would have laughed, and probably join in. He would say some like I am in for the blow, man. Do what you want with her lid. Now that I come to think about it: The old man did flash in my memory a couple of times, while at it.  I pictured him in that coat, with the classic white beard, all cracked up coke-high and murmuring to himself: Turn that Monk shit up. A moment later I detected her stripping from waste down.  She looked strikingly beautiful. Her pristine shadow making a regal comeback as her hair swayed in all directions.  I was a bohemian in my final act, she was Lucifer desperate for more.  Stonie wore a Machiavellian smile and fashioned a Cobra Shades just like the ones Stallone wore as Marion Cobretti in Cobra, 1986.  The truth of the matter is this guy looked more like a train-ticket conductor or inspector with a twist, for all I know. He looked like a mutant gorilla on the run.  And not even close to what a member of an elite division called Zombie Squad looked like. A truc macabre.  After a moment, he panned his head appearing entirely as a more recent version of the black drummer in Youtube Bill Withers’ Ain’t No Sunshine, with a grin. He looked up from his tiny, half-open, smoke-twirling-window and said: Hello Mr. Ruggles, am Stonie.  Welcome to Lebanon. The Switzerland of the East. Wesley Ruggles – was an accomplished and prominent American photojournalist.  He got in the back seat of the white Peugeot 504 and smiled all the way to the Commodore Hotel in Hamra. Stonie looked at his customer adjusting himself in the back seat, as he got in, on the rear-view mirror and said: Our country is the best place if you wish to take on the challenge of surfing and skiing on the same day. There’s no particular way to do it – some prefer to hit the waves early in the morning and end the day with a cup of mulled wine after a great ski or snowboard session; others prefer to hit the slopes in the morning and watch the sunset from Ain El Mraisse on West End, after catching some waves. It’s really up to you, Mr. Ruggles. You decide.  I leave it up to you. Wesley Ruggles grinned.  He wasn’t much of a talker, if you know what I mean.  He nodded affirmatively to all the words Stonie shot at him.  Lester Young Stardust – 1952 was coming out of the radio. Soft and easy. Let me tell ya a story.  Stonie said:  Two families were arguing in a field about where the boundary between their lands lay.  The dispute dated back a long time and blood had been shed a number of times.  A boy, a child of some eight or nine years, picked up a stick and drew a line in the earth.  When asked what he was doing, he said he was marking the boundary as it had been agreed at the last round of negotiation, long before he was born.  His father asked him how he knew this, and the boy replied that he was the reincarnation of a man the father had killed in the feud.  When the child revealed details of the shooting that only the dead man and his killer could have known, his father embraced his former adversary who was now his son. Both families wanted the feud to end.  It had been costly in terms of lives, and all were seeking a way out of a resumption of hostilities. Wesley Ruggles said: Take to me to the Green Line. Now.  The war sound kept coming in and out of my head, and a couple was still banging inside a tiny yellow Fiat not far away from where I was standing.  A mechanical undertaking.  Not much emotion/commotion at play except for their intense sexual collaboration.  A deliberate, indecent exposure.  The gurl – a night-time frontline-regular took turns shifting her rear-end from East to West in a regal act. A line up of militiamen stood in queue on both of ends of the line to shag her. A surreal act. A moment of truce.  Both the gurl and the city were completely naked, shattered and decrepit. Partly broken, partly rotten, and partly forgotten. For years, I was a war junkie in Beirut. A crowded jeep of militiamen stopped and disembarked on a random sidewalk of a deserted, and smashed street on the other end of the city.  They all looked like knights subpoenaed by the monarch who was pissed and drunk and tired. For a moment, they all looked irritated and pissed off. A sort of a fashion insignia they all displayed just for kicks. A war-affair. Hip and ceremonial. Then, they began to disperse along the sidewalk in zigzag, with machine guns and RPGs pointing upward.  Their beards, long and unpleasant, pointing downward.  And their self-esteem half-way in between. They all came for the cut.  The King’s cut. The truth of the matter is the King Salon was the hippest place in town. A classic spot. A royal den.  The cosmopolitan centre of Beirut. So, to speak.  Everybody was there.  A meeting place for spies, including Kim Philby and Archie Roosevelt, and CIA men such as Miles Copeland as well as journalists of the caliber of John Chancellor and Sulzberger. Numerous diplomats and politicians, business tycoons and oil Sheikhs, they all mixed with oil and banking tycoons of the day molding the clientele of this classic establishment.  A royal place.  During the 50’s and even early 70’s the plots, the deals, and the stories that came out of this famous barbershop in Beirut were gripping. Plots and counter-plots, stretching over a quarter of a century echoed and re-echoed inside, every time.   Rumor has it, many incidents which helped to shape and re-shape Middle Eastern history are associated with the Salon: The attempt to overthrow King Hussein of Jordan, for instance. It was partially destroyed in the Two-Year war, but it was totally re-erected and managed to preserve its heyday reputation for a while.   I used to come here when I was little. A place to chill. A room where you could conduct business as usual without the hassle of the real workplace. A place you didn’t call a café for prestige and yet it was almost one. The tea they served was splendid and kingly. And ladies used to stay out on the sidewalk just for thrills, with the hope to catch heartthrobs on the loose. I went out with a new hair-cut. The King’s cut. I was the King’s Knight for the night.  I kick-started my bike and cruised for a while. A poet on tour.  Roaming the city.  Looking for a one-night stand. Or at least what appears to be.  I saw a solitary figure standing on a random spot.  A black woman with an Afro.  It was just perfect.  She jumped me on the highway the time it took me to give her a ride home.  A truc macabre. I pressed the number nine button inside the elevator of my apartment building.  I was tired and wired. As the elevator began to go up it suddenly stopped.  I was alone. And forgotten for a while.  Dangling by a cord. Forsaken.  Maybe.  I masturwaited the hour. Power was restored and I made it to my apartment safely. Minutes later the phone rang. She said: Baby, are you craving me tonight.  The next thing I know I have couple of Lesbians over slurping my bacon bazooka just for kicks. A royal act. Worthy of enjoyment with what I called decent music: I used to play Stevie Wonder’s Superstition really loud on my Marshall speakers in decay, while at it. A ritual of old fun-days when I was young, full of sperms, and needs and itches. The funny part –though, is that I always experienced something peculiar in that very moment of sorts. Hard to explain but I saw the trailer of my own life lived, projected on the facing wall. A broken wall.  I reminisced about past affairs and was transfixed by the lingering memory of a blow job as well as a highly visual fuck-climax. Vivid and highly pictorial.  Cheers! They both said. As they both poured all the wine content, glittering in penumbra, upon my bacon bazooka.  It looked like a copper fall unleashing. Unceasing. A truc macabre.   A royal act. Three was company.  Beirut was a junkyard of scrap metal and waste back then.  A place for sub-humans and android-machines on the run. BB 62 opened fire and hit some targets on the outskirts of the city. I was an android-cowboy in disguise.  Rumors had it the bomb shells were all empty. As the American destroyer showered guerilla positions in Souk el Gharb, I was firing my own cannon all over the Lesbians scattered along enemy lines inside my dim room, not far away from the Demarcation Line in Beirut.  A supreme act. A simultaneous-affair. Many years later, I had a similar experience when I was shagging this Pilipino gurl -in a random hotel in Jounieh, just for kicks, while watching the final of the World Cup in 2010. I still remember cumming inside her mouth at the exact moment Iniesta was kicking the ball inside the Netherland finish line.  A glorious-act of sorts.  The two Lesbians just loved the feeling of a revolver barrel inside them. A truc macabre. A regal tactic of enormous after-effect.  For some reason, they used to revere the freshly fired metal tube with both frame and cylinder inside. I never understood why.  I stood there. Earnest and ceremonial in my act.  Viewing the trailer of my own life on the facing wall of that dim room, and watching my bacon bazooka in constant spa-treatment mode. Graceful and yet unpretentious. The afternoon rushed in like a Belgian train in mid-voyage, that never made it on time. I dreamed of flatbread pizza, in the wasteland. Reminisced about my last, fast-paced failed love-affair and my futile attempt at piano lessons. We laughed, as we talked and killed the hours away. We imagined moments-to-be. Mostly naked. For some strange reason, they both loved to be touched on their forehead. A women-thing.  On their eye-brows to be exact.  The truth of the matter is that they both were willing to try new things –in private. My type of women.  Alone and crazy. A mind-type. Affectionate, and calm on the outside, and yet crazy and freaky on the inside. To tell you the truth I pretended I read more books than they both presumed I did. I wrestled with my own thoughts and delusions.  Concealed my deeper feelings and idiosyncrasies -in the midst of our talk. In the middle of a futile war with no ending.  A Gemini-kind-of-thing with a thrill.   I was after their strapless lid. What else do you expect: One of the few remaining standard activities in Dystopia, at the time. I fucked them both for a while and I got kind of bored afterwards.  The truth of the matter is I completely lost interest in them.  Soon after, I found my next victim. A young, fresh psychology graduate with a healthy appetite for sex and a delightful fashion-style that managed to trigger my bacon bazooka, back. This next fuck-affair with Luciana kept rolling for more than we both expected. She was the kind of girl who would do anything to satisfy you.  I acted in kind. I used a proactive approach with her, for as long as it lasted. She was worth the try: Worth every single sperm I spared on her lower and upper abdomen. And well, yeah often times on her breasts and her cute, funny face.  A truc macabre. She loved to be chased after -for sex. She loved BJs as much. And she used to brag about it in public.  A few weeks later, I found out she was sleeping with a couple of other guys from around the block, for subsistence, and with some big shot of sorts, as well.  A playboy –so to speak. Loaded with guns and green.  Good for her. She was a practical kid, with lots of love to spare.  And lots of ambition. I fired up my gorgeous-looking Jimmy and made some smoke rings with my mouth, for my own amusement, that is. And that lasted for quite a while. She had a shower: Poured herself a drink, and walked slowly the seventeen steps, all the way to my bed, completely naked.  Next, she crawled my entire body like a wounded, and moaning soldier on the frontline. Once, fully on top and facing me, she said with her typical intense voice: Impress me with your brains. It occurred to me, and I played a VHS tape I had borrowed from an old chum, of Greta Garbo’s Anna Karenina 1935, in decay. Well, yeah, to try to impress her with my cultural backdrop and shit.  The perfect artefact for a late evening binge. A truc macabre, so to speak.  The glitches and hiccups of the shivering images of Greta Garbo on the TV screen, did not corrupt the actress’s royal flare. What a Dame! I thought. What an ass! I thought in sequence. As I took turns looking at both the screen and the new chick’s naked, greasy, and flattened body shimmering in the dark, and glowing like a sea-urchin in the deep. And I thought to myself: They don’t make them like this anymore. Sublime and Holy. A Regal act.  I was talking about the chick’s ass. What else. I mean, the truth of the matter is she was lying right before my own eyes to see: Face-down with a few hours to spare. And I was fuck-hungry. Endlessly famished. I was after her strawless lid. Strapless cap. Flavorsome and scrumptious like shit crazy.  I crawled all over her on the bed and -once in position, I slurped her strapless lid for hours. I grinned. Placed my half-consumed Jimmy on the loose on the Buddha-ashtray I had in store from my old days in Kamasutra-training in New Delhi. I decided to burn my bacon bazooka inside her fire place. We fucked for hours.  Her spark was her unusual climax.  Pristine and immaculate.  The streets below and around me were dim and vacant. Cold and bare. I took off.  Had to: I zigzagged my way to the Demarcation Line, past sandbags and burning silhouettes of cars, in fall-off. A conspicuous tactic that I deployed every time to avoid unleashed android-snipers on the loose. Or mutant gorillas on the run –as I used to call them.  Whether someone or something conforms to customary patterns or deviates from them depends on one’s point of view: Behind the concepts of normality and abnormality is the assumption that there is a single standard by which to judge everything. What may be normal to one group, however, may be unacceptable to another. I had the same Walkman on, with the same headphones arching the same oval head I displayed for a thousand times at the frontline. A truc macabre. I played Monk Live in Paris 1964 every time.  Every day. Non-stop. It was more like a frontline pursuit, just for kicks. A Grotesque affair.  Out of a thick, almost-mythical mist, a machine gun emerged and finally rested on my temple: I stood-still. I did not utter a word for an entire minute. A strange haze shrouded my eyesight. I still remember that android-cowboy with rifle still pointing at me, and with his brimmed-shape-white-Panama-hat, silk shirt, striped pants and his green suspenders. A distinctive and manly act.  I still remember when he looked at me for the last time and said: Learn how to cook and spend less, save time and have sex more often.  He was in a chill mood. He grinned at the end of his act and said: Hasta La Vista, Baby.  As for her:  She read the last couple of lines of a letter she kept in one of her emerald green coat’s inner pockets for the last time, folded the letter the way she was supposed to, placed the letter gently on the desk, took a pistol out of an upper drawer, put the pistol’s barrel inside her mouth and shot herself. She was six months pregnant. I can’t overlook the fact that her vagina was once snipped by a randy horn-eyed ghost crab confusing her fleshy bits for an open oyster on the beach, in spite of the fact that it was illegal to lie down there, naked. A foolish-act. The truth of the matter is some of her intimate friends were woken up by her screaming that somethin’ had bitten her and they were shocked to see a crab hanging off her privates. A morbid-act.  They had no choice but to release the pinchers open and free her from his grip. The recollection of that sinister incident turned me on every time she narrated it. Lustful and lecherous.  I guess her secret weapon was the knockout garlic-herb butter she used to brush each oyster with arranged in a single-layer on the grill. And subsequently, cook out uncovered for seven minutes or at least until the edges curled. The truth of the matter is eating oysters and sex merged well.  A magic-twist. I guess the salty juice and soft flesh of the oyster had the power to excite.  In both, eating oysters and sex, one used all five senses just for kicks. I fell in love with Maria at around 23:09 -a shy drizzle was splashing in part the dimly-lit sidewalk, sideways, under her timid window, on a shady and tall street, on the darkest side of the city. Beirut looked like a ghost town.  Monk Live in Paris 1965 was coming out of my antique and antediluvian car audio-stereo in decay.  My rover was in fractional dimness shrouded under some dusty and grim almond tree leaves in fall-off. She was on her knees –slurping my bacon bazooka just for kicks and I was, well, yeah, a Superman with a red cap on and shit, standing in supremacy over her and all the glittering windows of a city that stood-tall and away: Distant, grim and in total silence. A morbid-act. I was a cowboy on the run.  I was a mutant gorilla on the loose. Out of a sudden, a crowd jumped up and down in total hysteria:

Diego Maradona scoring a goal that will never be forgotten | AFP

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At precisely 16:09 local time Diego Armando Maradona kicked the ball over the English line and hit the net in Aztec Stadium on June 22. I was in and came inside Maria’s strapless lid at that precise instant. It was perfect. A Sunday like no other. Diego’s solo goal was the greatest ever scored after a mazy run. I was a Diego of my own.  Diego scored twice on that day.  I –on the other hand, scored multiple times.  And with no assurance cap on whatsoever. The crowd all around chanted Goal! The chant was for me.  A shy drizzle was splashing in part the dimly-lit sidewalk, sideways, under her timid window, on a shady and tall street, on the darkest side of the city. Beirut looked like a ghost town.  Monk Live in Paris 1965 was coming out of my antique and antediluvian car audio-stereo in decay.  My rover was in fractional dimness shrouded under some dusty and grim almond tree leaves in fall-off. She was back on her knees –slurping my bacon bazooka once and for all and just for kicks and I was, well, yeah, a Superman with a red cap on and shit, standing in supremacy over her and all the glittering windows of a city that stood-tall and away: Distant, grim and in total silence. The least I can say about her now is that she was rude and insolent with a whole array of bad manners to account for.  A spoiled-brat, so to speak.  She always got what she wanted. Her daily impertinence and rude behavior was a daily affair. A daily-act. Typical of her on a Monday morning and salient of her on a Friday afternoon. A week-long attitude backed by the long-lasting reputation of a business family she belonged to -with a reputation for impertinence, impudence and effrontery of their own. “He’s got a lot of cheek to say that to me!” She said. The previous customer left mad. He left some angry words behind as well. He left for some random elevator at a random hospital and shot himself to death. One idea kept lingering on my mind: Elephants have strong individual personalities that affect how they interact with other elephants, how others perceive them, and how well they are able to influence members of their group. Some elephants are popular while others are not. Some elephants show strong leadership qualities, others do not; some are highly social extroverts, while others are less social introverts. The truth of the matter is I left like a tired and wired elephant –long rotten, forgotten, with the hope that life and the next day were going to be beautiful.  So fucking and miraculously beautiful.  I stood facing that bloody mirror for a perpetuity. Blood drenched the entire surface.  I fired up my gorgeous-looking-Jimmy and waited for a perpetuity. Countless hours passed as I waited in that dark box of fear and improbability.  A stark, tiny place where I stood in a ghostly fashion, restricted by the moving-and-closing-in four walls around me.  A bloody-mirrored elevator, in a random apartment building, that I ran in for cover, with door broken, and ceiling open, served as a temporary shelter.  For some reason, I could hear two tracks playing in parallel: The remote sounds of an old record looping over and over again Stevie Wonder’s Superstition, left unattended by its accidental supervisor, and countless bombs hissing through the purple air of a hot Beiruti night in the middle of a skirmish.  It was around 11 PM in my Hide-Out. A couple ran behind me and disappeared under a stairway.  A few hours later, they fucked uninterrupted, like they didn’t give a shit.   I was stuck. They were in ecstasy.  Bombs kept falling.  I had no other choice but to masturwait every once in a while, for reassurance, to the noises they fashioned.  What a fidiot! I thought to myself.  I was sleepless, famished, tired and wired like a barbwire left forsaken, stripped and empty.  A line of resolute ants marched across the Universe of that elevator in a loop.  Alienated.  War-irrelevant. And forever hopeless. I could see the preview of my face on the mirror: A ghostly, eerie, and spine-chilling face looked back in anger.  Man up! I thought.  Nothing.  Just silence.  And a thought or two every once in a while: Mostly a recollection of ideas that rotated in my head, just like ocean bubbles making it to the surface.  I was a street façade, in a state of renovation. Out of a sudden, I heard arbitrary voices, and a line of armed silhouettes rushed in, inside that accidental structure.  They barricaded themselves behind bullet-holed fences.  They didn’t say much.  I enjoyed the unplanned instances that played in sequence.  Haphazard, unidentified, and random.  Arbitrary militiamen fired their machine guns from different, unintended locations across the streets around me.  I was trapped in a maze of fire and fucking.  I had a hard on for the entire progression. I was desperate, yet excited.  Unwilling to budge.   Her silhouette rushing in almost in slow-motion changed my life completely.  I was a delighted man.  With a potential fuck rushing in.  To tell you the truth: I was kind of relieved.  She smiled like a Hooker with intent.  I lit her cigarette as I looked at her face.  It felt awkward.  A blind date in a dystopian abode. I suck at conversation, and yet I was motivated by the sum of bombs falling, guns popping and fuck-yelling.  Most of the random characters involved in the shoot-out were harboring delusions of grandeur.  A manly act.  A truc macabre.  The heat was unbearable. She didn’t hesitate to detach pieces of her.  She started subsiding before my eyes with that intrepid look that made her distinct in the middle of a war unleashing.  She was in her late thirties and was assailed by a massive collection of disappointments. In that very instant, of despair and ambiguity, I managed to rip her dress, her panties and insert my penis inside her vagina.  Her nails scratched my shoulders and my back, leaving a bloody trail behind.  Her vagina was small enough. Or maybe I was anxious, and the sound of war made the entire experience irreplaceable and distinctive.  We did more waiting and memory-recollecting in between bitter banquets and endless seconds of crying and mourning, as we got high, fucked some more and watched the drizzle against the beam of lamp posts.  We were Invincible.  Her hair blew to the wind. For a second, it looked like a military parade.  A solemn act.   I was pissed-drunk. A silhouette of on-lookers stood by.  I endured that fuck, wet, tired and deserted in the middle of a random house in the middle of nowhere.  I was in a tiny, rented dark suit that looked more like a uniform. I camouflaged inside that dwelling with a creepy look, and I felt unnerving as well inside.  She looked back at me and said something in French like, On a froid. On est seuls.  Mais au moins, on sait où trouver de la chaleur. I shifted my weight to the right, to contemplate her even more.  She was whole, in her flaw.  Out of nowhere, a round of shots fired, randomly, struck me on my left arm, missing my heart by only a few inches.  I am pretty damn sure I was struck in the back of my neck by the second shot, the bullet ricocheting off my spine. Some shots hit me in the head above my left eye, passing through underneath my brain and shattering my brain. All my ideas got scattered like pebbles on a marble floor.  The round grazed a rib and lodged in my lung, stopping less than an inch from my heart. I’m in love! I’m in love.  You have intense emotions inside and this keeps you wanting to do it even more. It’s hard to hit a heart in love.  I felt supreme.  The more you do it, the more you want.  You pretend life is ok.  It’s never ok.  War kills you inside and love takes care of the rest of ya’.  Apparently: Over time, and within the given circumstances, you become an outsider in your life! The man you never thought you’d be.  And as you collect all the pieces, the broken pieces that make you, you: That the explosion had left you, and you try to carry on with the remnants of someone who once was, and you pretend life is ok and you live the rituals of a life, that’s beautiful, so fucking beautiful! you begin to feel you are living on leftovers of a life that never was! Inside myself, in a remote corner where I could hide undetected for evermore, with my own anger, shame, my own indignation, I sat there, forced to recognize my failure! Alas, I was busted in my hide-out! Love dismembers you like a dummy made out of clay, mercilessly.  And it pours all over you a rainocalypse of bullfrogs and hammer-handles. And you melt and roll out with the water and you vanish and out of a sudden, you are part of something completely out of yourself.  Don’t I fucking know it! Looking at my own life, in tedious fragments, in tedious sections, as I peep through a zoetrope at the galloping horses with a neigh –A wooden zoetrope which consists of a cylinder with slits cut vertically in the sides. As the cylinder spins, I look through the slits at the pictures across. The scanning of the slits keeps the pictures from simply blurring together, and I see a rapid succession of images, producing the illusion of motion. The motion of the horses galloping, with a bray, greeting other horses: A strapping-neigh!

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I placed my half-consumed Jimmy on the Buddha-ashtray I had from my old days in Kamasutra-training in New Delhi. I decided to burn my bacon bazooka inside her fire place. We fucked the night away.  Like two little kids grounded in confinement.  Her spark was her climax. Unequal. Pristine and immaculate.  The e-streets below and around me were dim and vacant. Cold and bare. I took off.  Had to: I zigzagged my way to the Demarcation Line, past sandbags and burning silhouettes of e-cars, in falloff. A conspicuous tactic that I deployed every time to avoid unleashed android-snipers on the loose.  Whether someone or something conforms to customary patterns or deviates from them depends on one’s point of view: Behind the concepts of normality and abnormality is the assumption that there is a single standard by which to judge everything. What may be normal to one group, however, may be unacceptable to another. I had the same Walkman on, with the same headphones arching the same oval head I displayed for a thousand times at the frontline. A truc macabre. I played Monk Live in Paris 1964 every time.  Every day. Non-stop. It was more like a frontline pursuit for kicks. A Grotesque business. A reel replayed the same white 1979 Super-Beetle Cabriolet stopping right there in the middle of nowhere, over and over again.  A loop in one act.  Its occupiers looked like soul reapers with scythes, when out of a sudden, they revealed their hidden arms and fired in all directions. At the end of which, the white Beetle stood-still, in complete stillness. Technically, a malware. Once at the frontline, in total stillness, and in complete silence/quiet: I heard the remote air of a lullaby looping the same word stuck in reverse. I was surrounded by eccentric structures –which stood tall beholding my own state of incongruity. I stood almost mortified in the middle of the battleground, in silence.  Out of a thick, almost-mythical mist, a machine gun emerged and finally rested on my forehead. I stood-still.  Did not utter a word for an entire minute. A strange haze shrouded my eyesight. I still remember my counter-part’s brimmed-shape, white Panama hat, silk shirt, striped pants and his green suspenders. A distinctive act. He looked like a model taken out of a GQ magazine. I still remember when he looked at me for the last time and said: Learn how to cook and spend less.  Save time and have sex more often. The sound of my camera release bottom re-echoed in the stillness of that barren place, bouncing off the empty, worn-out, and shattered walls around me. On that crispy autumn day, and somewhere in town, The Red Prince carried a pistol holstered in brown leather and worn on his hip a la Clint Eastwood. He was a playboy alright, on his final rave. He was in a convoy of two Chevi station wagons heading from Georgina’s flat to his mother’s, for a birthday party. Chambers was on her balcony painting, and her red Beetle parked below on Rue Verdun.  As Salameh’s convoy passed that red wagon at 3:35 pm and turned onto Rue Madam Curie, a hundred Kilos of explosives attached to the car by a Mossad agent was remotely detonated either by Chambers herself or on her signal to another Mossad agent. They did not mistake him this time. A truc macabre.  The blast left Salameh conscious, but severely wounded and in great pain, having pieces of steel shrapnel embedded in his head and throughout his body.  He was rushed to The American University of Beirut Hospital, where he died on the operating table at 4:03 pm. Salameh’s four bodyguards and four bystanders were also killed, and at least 16 people were injured.  I was on the other end of town, with Mario Garcia having some Single malt whisky, in some random bar, surrounded by Frenchies at the moment of the blast.  The air turned purple and crowds rushed in to get the latest news from an old, dusty radio inside. You could feel the heat of the day in full armor. Hours later, I was sitting at my fav round table in the kitchen back at home when the telephone reechoed.  A voice –on the other end of the line said: I miss you, my baby. Shall I come over? I grinned.  I said: No.  I’m tired. We read countless pages of Gabo’s Hundred Years of Solitude, in Spanish, together, and ended up shagging a couple of times before going to bed.  We massacred solitude.  A masterful act. Luciana stayed way into the night.  She had a special homemade flatbread pizza formula for kicks, which she experimented with, when over. The fun part: I improvised most of the toppings from leftovers and a sauce I had on the side for the occasion. We had some slices of pizza, with red wine. I concede she did all the maintenance required and left before sunrise. A ballerina in her finest hour. Next morning, I drove my e-Rover to the frontline -like a student in love, on his second day of school.  Out of nowhere, A fighter pointed his machine gun to my temple, and said: Do not move. That day, I met Mario Garcia on the frontline. He came with cash to burn – a fleet of airplanes and a keen eye for French-speaking ladies. He had a crowd of bodyguards with him, just for kicks.  A business man of some sort looking for some prospects in the middle of a farcical war with no-end.  He was a bit of a ghost down here.  Nobody saw him.  Nobody knew him. He stayed in the prominent Achrafieh area for convenience.  “The safest part of Beirut,” he’d say. The sound of my camera release bottom re-echoed over and over again in the stillness of that barren place, bouncing off the empty, worn-out, and shattered walls around me. Chambers was on her balcony painting, and her red Beetle parked below on Rue Verdun.  As Salameh’s convoy passed that red wagon at 3:35 pm and turned onto Rue Madam Curie, a hundred Kilos of explosives attached to the car by a Mossad agent was remotely detonated either by Chambers herself or on her signal to another Mossad agent. They did not mistake him this time. A truc macabre.  The blast left Salameh conscious, but severely wounded and in great pain, having pieces of steel shrapnel embedded in his head and throughout his body. He was rushed to The American University of Beirut Hospital, where he died on the operating table at 4:03 pm. Salameh’s four bodyguards and four bystanders were also killed, and at least 16 people were injured.  I was on the other end of town, with Mario Garcia having some Single malt whisky, in some random bar, surrounded by Frenchies at the moment of the blast.  The air turned purple and crowds rushed in to get the latest news from an old, dusty radio inside. You could feel the heat of the day in full armor.  My counter-part –still pointing his machine gun at me, was in a chill mood. He grinned at the end of his act and said: Hasta La Vista, Baby. I wrestled with the e-dustbin in the e-bathroom. It took me at least seven minutes to finally place the top in perfect alignment with the top-side open cube. It was a matter of resetting the code and no problemo.   A truc macabre. That worked every single time. I reached for my e-shoes under the bed, in decay. Put them on without socks.  A regular habit. And I strolled the full hallway, all the way, to the other end of the house, looking for some matches. One of the few remaining standard activities in Dystopia. A solitary candle waited in private defiance back in my room, on top of the waxed TV set in relapse.  A morbid act. The truth is I didn’t want to hurt myself walking barefoot on the broken glass dispersed along the passageway: Relics of a Single Malt Whisky bottle shattered in a glorifying act of conquest a few weeks back. For a moment, the entire crossing seemed like looking for a black cat in a dark room, and of course there was no cat. I found a lighter, placed divinely in the anti-chamber.  Shimmering in the dark, like a glowing deep-sea fish. I lit my Jimmy and stood tall by an e-window inspecting the smoke go up in the air. Silent and languid.  Like an ancient tower of lament, remorse, and guilt.  A peculiar idea grew fervent on my mind, unfolding with a prelude: When I light, I light heavy.  I grinned.  Threw out the e-window, the remnants of my Jimmy in decay. The e-streets below and around me were dark and empty. Cold and bare. I took off.  I zigzagged my way to the Demarcation Line, past sandbags and burning silhouettes of e-cars, in falloff. A conspicuous tactic that I deployed every time to avoid unleashed android-snipers on the loose.  Whether someone or something conforms to customary patterns or deviates from them depends on one’s point of view: Behind the concepts of normality and abnormality is the assumption that there is a single standard by which to judge everything. What may be normal to one group, however, may be unacceptable to another. I had the same Walkman on, with the same headphones arching the same oval head I displayed for a thousand times at the frontline. A truc macabre. I played Monk Live in Paris 1964 every time.  Every day. Non-stop. It was more like a frontline pastime for kicks. A Grotesque enterprise. A reel replayed the same white 1979 Super-Beetle Cabriolet stopping right there in the middle of nowhere, over and over again.  A loop in one act. Its occupants looked like soul reapers with scythes, when out of a sudden, they revealed their hidden arms and fired in all directions. At the end of which, the white Beetle stood-still, in complete stillness. Technically, a malware.  Once at the frontline, in total stillness, and in complete silence/quiet: I heard the remote air of a lullaby looping the same word stuck in reverse. I was surrounded by eccentric structures –which stood tall beholding my own state of incongruity. I stood almost mortified in the middle of the battleground, in silence.  Out of a thick, almost-mythical mist, a machine gun emerged and finally rested on my forehead. I stood-still.  Did not utter a word for an entire minute. A strange haze shrouded my eyesight. I still remember my counter-part’s brimmed-shape, white Panama hat, silk shirt, striped pants and his green suspenders. A distinctive act. He looked like a model taken out of a GQ magazine. I still remember when he looked at me for the last time and said: Learn how to cook and spend less.  Save time and have sex more often. The sound of my camera release bottom re-echoed in the stillness of that barren place, bouncing off the empty, worn-out, and shattered walls around me. On that crispy autumn day, and somewhere in town, The Red Prince carried a pistol holstered in brown leather and worn on his hip a la Clint Eastwood. He was a playboy alright, on his final rave. He was in a convoy of two Chevi station wagons heading from Georgina’s flat to his mother’s, for a birthday party. Chambers was on her balcony painting, and her red Beetle parked below on Rue Verdun.  As Salameh’s convoy passed that red wagon at 3:35 pm and turned onto Rue Madam Curie, a hundred Kilos of explosives attached to the car by a Mossad agent was remotely detonated either by Chambers herself or on her signal to another Mossad agent. They did not mistake him this time. A truc macabre.  The blast left Salameh conscious, but severely wounded and in great pain, having pieces of steel shrapnel embedded in his head and throughout his body.  He was rushed to The American University of Beirut Hospital, where he died on the operating table at 4:03 pm. Salameh’s four bodyguards and four bystanders were also killed, and at least 16 people were injured.  I was on the other end of town, with Mario Garcia having some Single malt whisky, in some random bar, surrounded by Frenchies at the moment of the blast.  The air turned purple and crowds rushed in to get the latest news from an old, dusty radio inside. You could feel the heat of the day in full armor. Hours later, I was sitting at my fav round table in the kitchen at home when the telephone reechoed.  A voice –on the other end of the line said: I miss you, my baby. Shall I come over? I grinned. We had some chicken sandwich from Marrouche, with beer. Read a few pages of Gabo’s Hundred Years of Solitude, in Spanish, together, and ended up shagging a couple of times before going to bed.  We massacred solitude.  A masterful act. Luciana stayed way into the night.  She had a special homemade flatbread pizza formula for kicks, which she experimented with, when over. The fun part: I improvised most of the toppings from leftovers and a sauce I had on the side for the occasion. We had some slices of pizza, with wine. I concede she did all the maintenance required and left before sunrise. A ballerina in her finest hour. Next morning, I drove my e-Rover to the frontline -like a student in love, on his second day of school.  Out of nowhere, A fighter pointed his machine gun to my temple, and said: Do not move. That day, I met Mario Garcia on the frontline. He came with cash to burn – a fleet of airplanes and a keen eye for French-speaking ladies. He had a crowd of bodyguards with him, just for kicks.  A business man of some sort looking for some prospects in the middle of a farcical war with no-end.  He was a bit of a ghost down here.  Nobody saw him.  Nobody knew him. He stayed in the Achrafieh area for convenience.  “The safest part of Beirut,” he’d say. The sound of my camera release bottom re-echoed over and over again in the stillness of that barren place, bouncing off the empty, worn-out, and shattered walls around me. Chambers was on her balcony painting, and her red Beetle parked below on Rue Verdun.  As Salameh’s convoy passed that red wagon at 3:35 pm and turned onto Rue Madam Curie, a hundred Kilos of explosives attached to the car by a Mossad agent was remotely detonated either by Chambers herself or on her signal to another Mossad agent. They did not mistake him this time. A truc macabre.  The blast left Salameh conscious, but severely wounded and in great pain, having pieces of steel shrapnel embedded in his head and throughout his body. He was rushed to The American University of Beirut Hospital, where he died on the operating table at 4:03 pm. Salameh’s four bodyguards and four bystanders were also killed, and at least 16 people were injured.  I was on the other end of town, with Mario Garcia having some Single malt whisky, in some random bar, surrounded by Frenchies at the moment of the blast.  The air turned purple and crowds rushed in to get the latest news from an old, dusty radio inside. You could feel the heat of the day in full armor.  My counter-part was in a chill mood. He grinned at the end of his act and said: Hasta La Vista, Baby.

FILE – In this Feb. 20, 1987, file photo, a Shiite Muslim AMAL militiaman fires his AK-47 assault rifle during skirmishes with Druse irregulars on Corniche Mazraa road, West Beirut, Lebanon. The Lebanese civil war itself played out in several stages between 1975 and 1990. Over that time, Christians fought Palestinians, Lebanese Sunni and Shiite Muslims and Druse. At one point, Christian groups turned their guns on each other, in a nasty episode of fratricidal bloodshed later repeated by Shiite militias. (AP Photo, File)

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Up until February 6, 1984 greater Beirut was under the control of the government. On that day, the Lebanese army was forced to withdraw from the West side of the city, which again came under the control of militias, political groups opposed to the government. Militias around West Beirut were a spectacle not to be missed.  A daily-affair. They rode Jeeps as if they were riding horses. Ski-nautique. For all I know.  Their rituals comprised life as it happened on the eve of the end of the world. You could easily see with naked eyes their constant physical adjustments.  A visual spectacle par excellence. A local Rambo flirted with death on a daily basis for quite some time in little Beirut. A robust, broad-shouldered and extremely serious fella. A War-Junkie. He was associated with one of the most important, if not the most important, of the Maronite militias that arose in the early 1970s.  The Lebanese Forces –or Al-Quwwat al-Lubnaniyya led by Bashir Gemayel.  Rambo did what John Wayne did in his films: To create a self so real to others that he could disappear into it. Pretty much what Chaplin did with the Tramp. And maybe grab the attention of some film producer, while at it.  Who, possibly, would be interested in casting him in a role or in a look-a-like spin off.  He was a local celebrity in his own right, you know, his story was all over the news media.  Journalists and photographers searched for him over a substantial period. They were after a scoop.  He even travelled to the U.S on one occasion and succeeded to spot Stallone himself, somewhere, and who unexpectedly warned him “Not to come here!” It was an awkward moment.  Stallone might have felt flabbergasted by his uncanny resemblance and thought this could have negative repercussions.  He felt an immediate threat, that the Lebanese Rambo was, perhaps, an opportunist in search of fortune.  Of course, he wasn’t. Stallone had denied him direct access! He was allegedly asked by Stallone’s lawyer to stay out, and was cautioned not to use Stallone’s name or even his physical resemblance for own gain.  The Local Rambo’s physical transformation was evident and clear indication that Post-Vietnam American War films and more specifically Rambo films of 1980s, made a huge impression to the extent he -and possibly others, eventually transformed into Rambo/s himself.   He did not like or fancy Rambo.   He became Rambo: A rare case of a man who becomes another.  A copy of an original, so to speak.  Who is eventually rejected!  Patrick Baz told the local Rambo to look away as he took his pictures somewhere in Down Town.  Rambo’s right arm and part of his face and even chest looked greasy and oily transmitting a sense of what in food photography is known as specular highlight to them. The light is hitting the arm and bouncing back its reflections. What first draws your eye is his voyeuristic presentation. Every single element in the picture is strategically positioned to convey a specific persona, that of a self-proclaimed “bad boy” or “enfant terrible”. First, his bulging muscles, made to glisten with body oil, are flexing at the camera while he’s drenched in display ornaments. Even his stare just barely grazes the camera almost breaking the fourth wall. What’s more, there is something arrogant about his gaze but more specifically there’s defiance, like the rules don’t apply to him. This sort of entitlement is not uncommon among men of stature which he perfectly encompasses here.  Then, there’s his gun. Contextually a recurrent euphemism for phallus, his firearm is massive, erect, and presumably pointing at his target that he wishes to dominate whichever way that may manifest. Even the bullets around his neck serve more for aesthetics than practicality, further supporting the performative function.   He exhibits a haughty look of indifference. It suggests he’s in it for the thrills and not much else. Men in the framework of war seem wired to invade and conquer with glory being the primary objective. The key takeaway is that none of these displays bear any significance if there is no audience to play to.  The Lebanese Rambo had this funny approach: Rambo fights in the films, I, on the other hand, am real. Rambo sits as he holds a grenade with both hands: First, he mutters some things that are not particularly insightful or informed. One can quickly infer that these are not the musings of someone dialed into politics, but rather the proclamations of a thrill-seeking anarchist. While it’s unclear whether the interviewer is the one holding the camera or whether there’s a third-party camera operator, the visual direction seems very intentional. Ten seconds into the interview, the camera operator slowly zooms out to reveal a ripped “Rambo” in an equally ripped tank top. Before the video cuts out, the camera zooms back into Donanian’s hands to show that he is squeezing a gripper.  This reveals so much about the dynamic at play here. The camera lens doesn’t care about what he has to say, it just wants to see the flavor of the week in action.  This war junkie wants to be perceived as a “tough guy” in every sense of the word and the public, embodied here by the interviewer and cameraman, is more than willing to comply with those wishes. It’s a vicious cycle of codependency between spectator and spectacle bred by garish iconography taken sincerely.  He’s in his “battle gear” reenacting a war-like scenario as he runs around and flexes at the camera. The whole time, he’s shooting his gun in the air presumably at intruders or enemies. This entire routine feels very staged as it lacks any element of authenticity. There is no real danger, that’s not real military attire, and that is not the real Missak Donanian, so to speak. From his posture to the way he enunciates in the manner of Stallone, he is playing a character. Through a very calculated set of premeditations, he has perfectly replicated Stallone’s whole essence, specifically his portrayal of Rambo. One could make the argument that his is an homage to the lavish displays of heroism depicted by war films of that era. That theory would have been admissible because it’s plain to see the explicit allure of the omnipotent man swooping in to save the day, except for the fact that Rambo seems rather earnest about his character. Much like a kid on Halloween, he believes he is one with the costume the only difference being that come November first, the kid takes off the mask. The question is, does he? I’m inclined to say no. Asked if U.S President Reagan had called on him to save the U.S hostages being held in Lebanon, he said he was capable of this, but qualified his statement by saying everything in due time. One of my earliest memories of war, was that of a graffiti stamped across the bridge wall facing my apartment building in West Beirut at the time.  Written in classic Arabic, it read: Sanaj’aal Min’ Al Janoub Vietnam Okhra.  -We will make out of the South, another Vietnam!  A clear reference to the fate of the American invaders in the Easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula, in Southeast Asia, during the endless war.   Today, the graffiti, that I had recalled, had been amended on an adjacent wall: Darayeb Mish Rah Nid’faa.  -We will not pay taxes! It is a timely-predicament. As I looked into the street below me, a young man collapsed before my eyes.  A few random characters looked on.  Some came near him to pull him away from the sniper’s shooting range.  I didn’t hear the bullet. He died in the act. Random boys stood-still as a lady-photographer looked through her lens and saw a commander who sat between two low-ranking officers. Sit-still! She said, as she released her film camera’s release button.  They all look like ancillaries. The main character was wearing black shades.  And a black beret crowned his head, which provided him with immediate identifying qualities in addition to his physical position in relation to the others which emphasized his authority. His face seemed expressionless due to various props it displayed. Masculinized by his obvious mustache.  A gendering-trope. The focal point of the mise-en-scene was a white kitten the commander held with his right hand, which he didn’t seem to care for.  He held it with cool passiveness.  The photographer was able to frame the kitten occupying a lower position.  His bodyguard stood on both sides: The one who stood to his right looked away. Showing disinterest or confusion.  He carried a machine-gun pointing upward.  He wore a military uniform with magazine holders strapped all around him.  His flexed right arm differed from the left arm that rested by his standing body.  On the opposite left side of the commander, there sat another militiaman who gazed straight at him.  He was more interested it seems on the commander’s next act than on the photographer’s consequent actions.  They both were positioned in the middle ground of the image to emphasize their military occupation and served as protectors in a moment of truce. I could read Roland Barthes’ punctum in the final frame which was plastered on a random wall at the photographer’s photo exhibit a month later. As I looked at the image, random silhouettes shuffled in and out inside that boite. Out of nowhere, a lady in green stood still. After a long pause, she said: “He appears to be copying Marlon Brando’s opening scene in Godfather, 1972.” She continued: “The commander looks older than the back-standing militiamen.  They are all in uniform in a near-battle field/zone position.  They are dressed for war. But not enacting it.  They look masculine and yet the kitten adds that softness touch to Brando’s character in this specific re-interpretation which is by no means intended.” She paused for a second and said: “I have the perception that the producer of the image herself did not know whether the commander was trying to imitate “The Godfather” character or not.” A truc macabre. She was a ravishing Capricorn unleashed.  I was entrapped immediately.  I tried to keep up with her argumentation and said: “The house in the background reflects the living conditions of its inhabitants.  If any, at all.  It is a relaxed moment. I think.   A break from the exhaustive instants of combat.  They are all facing the camera somehow.  The commander is surrounded by his guards. They look at him or the people around him for security reasons.  The commander’s unintentional pursuit of conflating his military might with that of a mafia boss is evident.  He pretends to demystify him somehow by acting out a “real” version of a representational power.” After a long silence, she said: “Rumor has it that the cat held by Brando, in the opening scene of Godfather was a stray, the actor found while on the lot at Paramount, and was not originally called for in the script.  So content was the cat, that its purring muffled some of Brando’s dialogue, and, as a result, most of his lines had to be looped.” We both grinned.  The truth of the matter is that the three-armed war veterans whose placements on that particular image clearly exemplify the power dynamics at play, looked invincible. The one in the center is decidedly the head of the group surrounded by two subordinate officers who, while authoritative, rank lower than him or at least submit to him. One is looking vacantly into the far left of the camera in slight amusement. The other henchman is seated on the bottom right of the frame looking directly at the head of the leader as if awaiting his signal, his every beck and call. The hierarchy is very blatant here.  The commander, being the main mantelpiece of this scene, deserves more attention.  His face is cold and gives nothing away which is mostly attributed to his dark tinted glasses. As the eyes are the windows to the soul, this accessory is a very strategic affront on the mere possibility of conveying emotion. This captain has taken all of the precautions to shield himself from being perceived as anything but masculine. He is a lean, mean fighting machine that will not have anything be used to his disadvantage. According to normative definitions of masculinity, men ought to be “strong” and impenetrable. The alley, a clear relic of the war, looks dulled and disheveled. The three men emulate an almost exact level of run-down quality. And yet, they still have some very vague luster or spirit to them. This could be the sense of power they feel entitled to with their massive guns slinging from their shoulders ensuring them a position of supremacy. The cat in hand is very significant.  The way the main combatant holds the kitten is domineering, almost like a chokehold, a threat. This serves the purpose of making him seem uncaring and hardened by the war. This is a power move that is even more amplified by the presence of his goons at his sides. The ever-imperious mob boss, Don Corleone, pets a cat in his lap while antagonizing one of his devotees. In that scene, he is almost fenced by goons ready to take out adversaries at his command. The cat in Corleone’s lap is meant to soften his otherwise austere presentation: To show duality between a cold-hearted mobster and a devoted family man as exhibited by how mindfully he caresses his kitten. The officer in the image before me, on the other hand, is not stroking the cat, he is grabbing it. I think that setup is more reminiscent of the typical iconography of the Bond villain, Ernest Stavro Blofeld, played by Donald Pleasence.  Originator, perhaps, of the cat stroking trope, He has an infamous scene where he pets a white cat as he delightedly muses about his plans for world domination to his long-time rival in You Only Live Twice, in 1967. He is unsympathetic and irredeemable, so this trope is used to illustrate the wickedness of the character in possession of the feline. This makes sense as throughout history, cats have captured human curiosity but not in a good way.  Due to their enigmatic nature, they’ve been associated with gods in the times of Ancient Egypt and witches in the Middle Ages. I walked on to the next image. The Cowboy came down from his Jeep and posed for the camera.  Like the thousand times he had posed for a photograph.  But this particular one stands out: Basically, as part of his anatomy, the gun rests just below his navel pointed downwards.  His stance may be at ease, but he is one trigger away from firing his weapon, though he may not be so reckless given the fact that his finger is not on the actual trigger.  He faces the camera as a random photographer snaps a few images of him. He is looking straight at the lens. He is emitting confidence with a relaxed military posture that cannot be reversed: He is wearing a ‘Cowboy’ hat and hence the alias. A traditional cowboy hat and trigger-happy posture. He is wearing a jacket and a white t-shirt under it. A red, party-identifying scarf falls on his shoulders with the icons of Kamal Joumblatt on the right side, and the symbol/insignia of the PSP on the left side.  Kamal Joumblatt’s image depicts him wearing an Arab koufiyya.  It is the depiction of a well- known portrait of the Druze leader.  Heroes fight and die in uniforms. The uniform legitimates the cause. The cowboy is carrying a machine gun.  What a cowboy’s pistol, in the hands of a modern, civil-war time, militarized cowboy should look like. Taxi Driver’s Travis’ khaki jacket with his battalion insignia comes to mind.  A recurring feature of his wardrobe.  It appears in his first scene, as he enters the taxi office in slow motion, and the camera watches him do a half spin toward the personnel man, to the sound of portentous music by Bernard Herrmann. Travis, himself, was a war veteran who was attempting to re-adjust to civilian life with dire consequences.   The Cowboy’s face shows ambiguity and rebellion in his frozen act.  His back to a parked vehicle with windows closed.  The car behind him act as a barrier, a fence, that protects him from the stray bullets.  For some reason, the image is split in three parts: the two side-parts of this image are distorted, defocused parts of the actual image of the cowboy.  This split reflects his own identity-split: name/alias etc. It conveys the idea of haziness/fogginess that surrounds him or someone like him.   His long hair hides under his hat, possibly, and his white beard reflects age/maturity.  You can tell he is assuming his authoritative role even for this random image.  His right hand’s index finger rests on the machine gun magazine and not on the trigger.  His relative facial unresponsiveness does not translate into composure. The cowboys’ gaze is calm and neutral, there are a lot of facial cues that point to immense fatigue, no doubt a token of war. He’s clearly seen combat and is tired of it. Yet, despite his semi-worn-down presentation, he seems alert still, almost painstakingly so.  What stands out to me the most is the explicit contrast between our cowboy’s camouflage-heavy uniform that is meant to conceal him from view and the boisterous red scarf that asserts a clear bias and pleas for attention. Once again, this man’s masculinity is upholstered by the spectacle factor of performance.  Stories of Raping random girls, killing random children, and cutting open the wombs of random pregnant women were the order of the day. The conflation of both the hard body and the violence emphasized these virile acts: Once added the weapons became quintessentially, the required artifacts of masculine performance. Days and nights in the ravaged city looked like scenes from Coppola’s Apocalypse Now unknotting. I thought to myself:  War is a visual occurrence by all means.  I reminisced about Nick Ut’s “Accidental Napalm” photograph –as the defining image of the Vietnam War. That little girl will not go away, despite many attempts at forgetting. War photographs are frozen moments in time. I freeze what I see.  It’s not what you see.  It’s what I see.  It’s my truth.  It’s not the truth.  It’s my eye.  It’s the way I saw it with a specific lens, with a specific light.  You wouldn’t have seen it the same way I have.  Someone would claim.  The Vietnam war was ending in the same month, the Lebanese Civil war had started.  A clear-dissolve. And it is even more thought-provoking when we know for a fact that USS New Jersey, or BB 62 -the only U.S battleship providing gunfire support during the Vietnam War, also took part in U.S operations during the Lebanese Civil War in 1983.  Beirut, a disfigured city.  Once a hide-out, where coup d’états, political assaults, espionage and even felony could be planned, where financial deals, bank transactions, and international trade could be brokered, was alas! a ravaged city. She rubbed her strapless lid in a circular fashion with some Thai oil I had in store, using her left hand, and sitting back in the bunker of my bed, with her cherry-red lips squeezing a hard, spicy and fired-up Jimmy on the loose, that looked more like a German Hindenburg caught on fire attempting to dock on her scrumptious lips and she did all that with the elasticity of a gazelle in premonition of a fuck-up. Of an imminent death. A cruel act.  She looked me in the eyes and said: Last time I fucked six guys at the same time.  I don’t really know where does this obsession with sex come from.  I am talking about my own. I guess, and irrevocably, Freud was so right. Life was built round tension and pleasure. And all that build-up of libido I needed to discharge, somehow.  To release interminably. Curiously, she did not fuck me as much as I wanted to.  She was more of a mouth-inserter. Just like a baby who gets much satisfaction from putting all sorts of things in its mouth to satisfy her libido. For some reason, she used to come to my place famished: She got up.  Walked with a slow pace all the way to the fridge, and pulled the door open: Ate whatever she found in my tiny, little wagon with an engine.  She devoured ravenously and greedily what was left of a turkey and mashed potatoes I had saved for a lonesome afternoon and drank up all the beer cans standing proud and eerie in the deep of my light box. She did all that with the motivation of a fifteen-year old novice- cheerleader.  She sat back on my bunker of a bed and watched a silent black and white TV movie on an old TV set in decay, mute. A regal act.  Worthy of a pictorial endeavor a la Salvador Dali.  The TV set was an old artefact I found in that apartment when I first moved in three years ago. She was high.  I was drunk. The truth of the matter is she loved to sit back in the bunker of my bed and spit at her strawless lid, and scrub her strapless cap repeatedly, using her left hand, like there was no tomorrow, and drink wine all afternoon.  And she did all that not far away from the Demarcation Line in no-man zone.  She was 15 and I was the luckiest bastard in West Beirut. The memory of that fuck-up kept bouncing off the walls of my place like a stress ball in distress. Marlon Brando once couldn’t get it up. It was shameful and everything but I guess it was ok. She loved the feeling of a revolver barrel inside her. She used to revere the freshly fired metal tube with both frame and cylinder inside.  A regal tactic of enormous after-effect. One day and out of the blue, we decided to meet: In other words, to go out for a change. Greta Garbo’s was a warm and cozy brasserie outside Beirut, which had turned into a scrapyard. It was the perfect meeting-place for a Saturday afternoon wine A-Go-Go. The place was not crowded, as we expected. She came out of the android-Uber with a Latin flare, as we had agreed. Hard to explain if you didn’t have it in the first place.  I stood there. Earnest and ceremonial in my act. Looking at her royal-paced walk in euphoria. She walked my way the seventeen steps it took her to face me and kiss me on both cheeks and said: I missed you, my Pacino. Graceful and yet unpretentious. Her holy-halo leaked elements of light, spilling radiant and shiny bright as she moved forward.  That afternoon rushed in like a Belgian train in mid-voyage, that never made it on time.  We talked about flatbread pizza, her next mobile cinema project, in Dystopia. About her last, fast-paced failed love-affair and her attempt at piano lessons.  I listened, mostly.  For practical reasons. -A wisdom I had acquired in recent years, which had saved me plenty of time and effort and appetite. We had a couple of jumpy-chicken salads and local wine. Fresh and flavorsome. We laughed, as we talked about almost everything and nothing, and managed, gracefully, to kill the hour away. We both imagined moments-to-be, simultaneously. Mostly naked. For some strange reason, she loved to be touched on her forehead. A regal act of a woman on fire. On her eye-brows to be exact. She was the classic example of someone who knows what she wants and knows how to get it right away.  A negotiator, if you know what I mean. Willing to try new things –in private. My type of chick. Affectionate, and calm on the outside, and yet crazy and freaky on the inside. A mind-type. And believe it or not I was her perfect match. A sophisticated flirt in my own right: A wild and well-traveled and fearless Latino lover by birthright.  To tell you the truth I pretended I read more books than she presumed I did. A manly-affair.  I wrestled with my own thoughts and delusions as the afternoon got away. I concealed most of my inner feelings and idiosyncrasies -in the midst of our talk. A Gemini-kind-of-affair. I was after her strapless lid. What else.  One of the few remaining standard activities in Dystopia. The truth of the matter is we fucked for a while and I got kind of bored with her afterwards. I completely lost interest in her. A guy- thing –so to speak. But her healthy appetite for sex and her delightful fashion-style triggered my bacon bazooka, back. And the fuck-affair kept rolling for more than we both expected. She was the kind of a girl who would do anything to satisfy you.  I acted in kind. I used a proactive approach with her, for as long as it lasted.  She was predictable, but was worth the try, though. Worth every single sperm I spared on her lower and upper abdomen. And well, yeah often times on her tits and her cute, and funny face. I mean, why not. I had nothing to lose. I was a cowboy on the run.  She loved to be chased after -for sex. And after sex. She loved BJs as much, and she used to brag about it in public. A truc macabre.  A few weeks later, I found out she was sleeping with a couple of other guys from around the block, for subsistence, and with some big shot of sorts, as well.  A playboy –so to speak. Loaded with guns and green.  Good for her. She was a practical kid, with lots of love to spare. And lots of ambition. I fired up my gorgeous-looking Jimmy and made some smoke rings with my mouth, for my own amusement, that is. And that lasted for quite a while. She had a shower: Poured herself a drink, and walked slowly the seventeen steps, all the way to my bed, completely naked.  Next, she crawled my entire body like a wounded, and moaning soldier on the frontline. Once, fully on top and facing me, she said with her typical intense voice: Impress me with your brains. It occurred to me, and I played a VHS tape I had borrowed from an old chum, of Greta Garbo’s Anna Karenina 1935, in decay. Well, yeah, to try to impress her with my cultural backdrop and shit.  The perfect artefact for a late evening binge. A truc macabre, so to speak.  The glitches and hiccups of the shivering images of Greta Garbo on the old TV set screen, did not corrupt the actress’s royal flare. What a Dame! I thought. What an ass! I thought in sequence. As I took turns looking at both the screen and the Chiquita’s naked, greasy, and flattened body shimmering in the dark, and glowing like a sea-urchin in the deep. And I thought to myself: They don’t make round asses like this anymore. Sublime and holy. The truth of the matter is she was lying right before my own eyes to see: Face-down with a few hours to spare, and I was shit sex-hungry. Infinitely famished. I was after her strawless lid. Her strapless cap.  It was my turn to crawl all over her and once in position I slurped her strapless lid for hours. Out of a sudden, I decided to burn my bacon bazooka inside her fireplace. A regal act.  We fucked for hours. Like two little kids grounded inside their tiny, little school for the weekend, in solitary confinement.  Her final spark was her peculiar climax. Unequal. Unusual.  One of a kind.  Pristine and immaculate.  The street below, stretched, tall and empty, kept shifting shadows and light as the clock ticked and the seconds died forever. I took off.  Had to: I zigzagged my way to the Demarcation Line, past sandbags and burning silhouettes of cars, in fall-off. A conspicuous tactic that I deployed every time to avoid unleashed android-snipers on the loose.  Whether someone or something conforms to customary patterns or deviates from them depends on one’s point of view: Behind the concepts of normality and abnormality is the assumption that there is a single standard by which to judge everything. What may be normal to one group, however, may be unacceptable to another. I had the same Walkman on, with the same headphones arching the same epic oval head –of mine- I displayed for a thousand times at the frontline. Every time.  A truc macabre. I played Monk Live in Paris 1964 every time.  Every day. Every hour. Non-stop. It was more like a frontline pursuit, just for kicks. A Grotesque-act of reverie.  A snow-white 1979 Super-Beetle Cabriolet stopped right there in the middle of nowhere, just a few steps from the line.   I couldn’t identify any of its occupants –who wore ceremonial masks, just for kicks. The truth of the matter is they all looked like soul-reapers with scythes.  Next, they revealed their hidden and nasty-looking arms and fired up abruptly in all directions for at least seven random minutes. At the end of which, the snow-white Beetle stood-still in complete stillness. Suddenly, that tiny little wagon was showered and hammered countless times with all sorts of ammo. An RPG sealed its fate, turning them and the vehicle into a burning chunk of metal and flesh. A suicidal undertaking. An eccentric haze shrouded my eyesight. That day, I met the iconic Wesley Ruggles on the Demarcation Line in Downtown Beirut. A day-to-remember. I was surrounded by eccentric structures –which stood tall beholding my own state of incongruity. I stood almost mortified in the middle of the forlorn battleground, in quiet.  Out of a thick, almost-mythical mist, a machine gun re-surfaced and finally rested on my temple.  Pristine and Immaculate.  I stood-still.  Did not utter a word for an entire Trevi-Fountain second. I still remember that cowboy’s brimmed-shape-white-Panama-hat, silk shirt, striped pants and his green suspenders. A distinctive and manly act. He looked like an older fashion model from GQ magazine. I still remember when he looked at me for the last time and said: Learn how to cook and spend less, save time and have sex more often. The noise of my camera release bottom echoed and re-echoed in the stillness of that barren place, bouncing off the empty, worn-out, and shattered walls and streets around me. On that cool Winter-day and somewhere in another part of town, The Red Prince carried a pistol holstered in brown leather and worn on his hip a la Clint Eastwood. He was a playboy alright, on his way to his final rave. He was in a two-Chevi station wagons convoy heading from Georgina’s flat to his mother’s, for a birthday party. Chambers was on her balcony, graciously painting, and her sinister red Beetle was parked right below on Rue Verdun.  As Salameh’s convoy passed that red wagon at 3:35 pm and turned onto Rue Madam Curie, a hundred Kilos of explosives attached to the car by a Mossad agent was remotely detonated either by Chambers herself or on her signal to another Mossad agent. They did not mistake him this time. A truc macabre.  The blast left Salameh conscious, but severely wounded and in great pain, having pieces of steel shrapnel embedded in his head and throughout his body.  He was rushed to The American University of Beirut Hospital, where he died on the operating table at 4:03 pm. Salameh’s four bodyguards and four bystanders were also killed, and at least 16 people were injured.  I was on the other end of town, with Wesley Ruggles sipping some single malt whisky, in some random bar, surrounded by Frenchies at the moment of the blast.  The air had turned purple and a crowd rushed in on an empty street. You could feel the heat of the day in full armor.  “We’re out of condoms, sir” said a muffled voice behind the counter.  It had started to rain and I was already overtly provoked and ready for Yasmine, as she waited in the solitude of that apartment in Sodeco.  I was only nineteen at the time, had memorized the entire First Act of The Birthday Party for a purpose, was semi-high and had impressed my Mass Communication professor just that very morning on what made the news: The dog who bites the woman or the woman who bites the dog.  My wallet was emptied and as I reached for a lighter placed candidly on that rustic shelf, I remembered: Wine! The bottle of wine that she had ordered.  I was keen on bringing bottles of wine to my heated one-nights.  I knew that this was nothing but another hit and run and she was to turn into another of my victims.  I don’t feel sorry for her.  She had used me in the past and so it was my way of getting even.  It was a sort of payback.  Just like that time when my bestie fucked another bestie and I had to put up with it.  Only time brought me justice. When I fucked her ex-wife just for fun. And Am in no position to brag about it.  To tell you the truth, she was most probably under age, and I am talking about Yasmine, of course. But she had been impressed by my poor acting and most likely my Latin stage presence.  She would call me Pacino –for some weird, unstated reason. And I liked it. I used to call her Frenchie.  My immediate purpose was to make it to the car. That’s for sure.  You guessed it: My Rover. I was high.  I was drunk.  Beirut looked like a scrapyard and I was detained by a Danish lady who was looking for a bar. She wore a white dress and lime green, round hoop earrings. I am pretty sure I gave her the wrong route, while at it. Sorry to disappoint you, lady. I thought minutes later.  But for once I didn’t feel bad about it.  I was entitled to my foolish act.  I had someone waiting for me.  All alone, remember: Frenchie in Sodeco.  Most probably cold and most probably feeling melancholic as she waited for Pacino on his way. And perhaps, fuck-hungry. I had this wacko-concept: That it was a matter of national interest to satisfy lonesome women in a lonesome city for the night. To keep them warm and content. An Eastern-affair.  At least, I felt entitled due to my evident arrogance, primitive experience and to be honest: Well, I was desperate for a fuck! A truc macabre, so to speak. I was reduced to an android-Pacino on the run.  A mutant gorilla on the loose. I walked with a typical Latino swagger –That I had picked from remote days when I used to live in a trailer park peopled by exotic wackos and misfits. My own reflection on the adjacent window display –as I walked through, seemed to repeat Pacino motifs in my head and all around me. And it was all accentuated by my own motion and light and penumbra. I don’t know why but I always had this impression that Pacino was the epitome of manliness. And Yasmine’s impression of me –in turn, made it unblemished. I was about to become one, on a professional level. Distinct and sexual. A series of failed affairs, my constant agitation looking for a reason to be, to exist and my endless struggle in settling down, and trying constantly to find momentarily satisfaction in whatever I was doing at the time, made a serious vagabond out of me –but with good intentions. I landed jobs of all kinds.  Appropriate and suitable ones, and totally despicable and thorny.  But it was part of the bigger mosaic of shitless nonsense I was in, in a city that did not appreciate its most notable artists.  And this perhaps was one of the reasons I found solace in night encounters. I didn’t measure or anticipate the consequences.  I was a soldier of fortune playing his best hand every time, regardless of the fallout.  I found delight in loving women: Women of all walks of life.  A weekly-affair of enormous after-effect. Jazz and Booze adjusted the happenstances. I was a hero for a night, every other night: Hidden from the rays of shame and banality. Hidden from the rays of sun and dust in perpetuity.  I was alas! stuck in reverse in the cycle of my own propensity. Love affairs, in one way or another had destroyed me.  I was left with nothing but the nucleus of a man that once was! Alone, desperate and attempting to become the reflection of the Pacino who had just glimmered before him. I derived pleasure from ecstasy. And ecstasy from pleasure.  I was an android-Romeo equipped with apps and wine. The shine of the screen reminded me of Frenchie, dripping messages of small talk and nonsense every once in a while. Where are you? Why are you taking this long? Try not to be late and so on and so forth, with the typical French-English accent. This was a boring part.  I detested it. I had to put up with lots of shit. Birds, dogs, cats, and a gold-fish named Cookie Monkey.  And even a Parrot, that I taught Spanish. Oye, Puto: Chupame la Pinga. This was a daily punch line. It felt good, for a while.  But after that, the whole enterprise became mechanical, it turned hysterical and unemotional. Not my regular cup of coffee. Her sofa bed was remarkably enormous. Of course, some of her pets found sanctuary there.  I was happy to know that some had died a few months later only to gather she had replaced most of them to no avail. Let me be more honest: Yasmine was my playmate.  A pet of my own.  I don’t mean to sound wicked, but she had stripped me down to the ground. Of all my talent and my merits.  I had lost all my medals and my marvels since the end of the Civil war and no one had hugged me, like really hugged me ever since. It was a masterful act of her part. We were two gorilla mutants of intimacy.  She used to remind me that we were up for it only if we agreed that -that was going to be the only night together.  And of course, it wasn’t. We used to bang like rabbits every once in a while. She was high and I was drunk.  A perfect match.  A truc macabre. I was her pet.  Her Pluto – for all I know.  I drove my car to Sodeco.  The rain had stopped partially.  Some garbage cans were in flame around corners. A typical yet berserk Pacino scene in the making, unfolding before me.  I looked around me to see if some random passenger from a random passing vehicle would recognize me, from a random scene I was part of, the night before on a local TV network. An absurd act of vanity. A woman stood nearby.  She approached my half-open window.   The breeze coming in made the perfect match for my Monk –Live in Paris 1964.  She said: “Sodeco!” I said” “Yes!” She got in.  I said: “No. Not that way!” She looked at me as if I had slain her entire race or tribe.  I succumbed in silence. Did her the favor in utter quiet. I smiled a Mona Lisa smirk and drove in partial stillness, turned down Monk playing and closed the window entirely. How could I ruin the moment? We were both happy. In our driving act.   Me driving to my fuck and she, well, she was comfortably being driven to her random location in Sodeco. A night scene. I did not utter a word until we got there. She was about to pay the alleged taxi fare when another stranger said: “Hamra!” I had to open the door and step away from my Rover to inspect it.  It didn’t look at all like a taxi or cab –to sound more Pacino-like, if you know what I mean.  What is wrong with these people? I thought to my-self. The pale color of my car, the sudden rain and the smoke curling up in the air, in a New-York fashion, it prompted such reactions, most probably. At night, everything changes and a lie becomes the truth.  I got pissed.  I was going to be late. You don’t want to miss a fuck.  They say it’s bad luck. And now this: Taken or mistaken for a Travis Bickle in the middle of Beirut at 11 PM. A truc macabre. Let me just say that our friendship had lasted for over twenty years. Yasmine –or Frenchie as I used to call her, was a hell of a woman.  She was smart, tenacious, multi-talented and had an Italian flare, for all the time we were together.  She never lost it. I was amazed. But for some random reason I was at the end of the day -Her Pluto. Her pet-playmate.  Pluto is just a random name.  You can call me any pet name, if you want to.  I wouldn’t even know it.  I would be long gone.  Doing Yasmine or maybe slurping her strawless lid, her strapless cap for an eternity. The truth of the matter is our one-night stand lasted for seven years.  Tonight, was a random night.  Just like any other random night. Nothing special about it, except for the Danish lady with a white dress and lime green, round hoop earrings, and the random passengers who had mistaken me for a cabbie in a cab film. Often times I would turn violent on Yasmine. Like shit crazy. I lost control several times. I do regret that now. I used to hit, punch, strike, beat, slap, smack, hand-cuff her to her bed, so drunk that she wouldn’t even remember it, the next morning. She would laugh and kind of let go. I used to slam her against the closet like shit crazy. I –once, smashed her head with a Chinese vase just because she changed some random TV channel that I wasn’t even watching.  I was high.  She was drunk. I still remember when I smashed some window panels at her place, one day, by simply walking through.  It was so lucid, I didn’t even see them block my way.  That one time, a police patrol was called in but made no arrests. Her favorite part was the whipping we did.  It took months of self-adaptation and re-adjustments.  She got so used to it she said one time she was addicted to it. That she didn’t want to stop and that if we did, she’d probably kill herself. And I liked it. She didn’t want me to stop, alright. I kept going. It kept rolling. Her addiction was Freud-induced. Mine was cigar and booze. That’s what made matters worse. I had become ill-tempered.  Nothing could fix that. Out of nowhere I had this idea: To get drunk before I go up and see her. And so I did. Got wasted, went up and the first thing I did when I saw her was go down on her and eat her strawless lid for hours. I still remember when one night I went up to see her, and for some wacko reason she wouldn’t let me in.  She blocked my way in, like completely.  She said she had a friend inside and that she wasn’t feeling ok. That was an eye-opener for me. Her cat kept meowing at my foot. In a sudden act, I lifted that poor thing with my foot and threw him or her –You tell me, over the stairway.  I heard it still meow down there in the dark. For quite some time.   A truc macabre.  I still think about it. It makes me feel uneasy. It gives me the shivers. Just to think about it. Sometimes I dream of the poor little cat down there in the dark looking at me, waiting for the day to get even. I can still feel the spell of that cat all around me.  Well, if there’s any consolation, I am truly sorry for that. Guilt chased me and still chases me like a wounded dog and that time when I fucked this part-time actress and got her pregnant.  Well, it took years before she could show some mercy.  She never said it but I guess she did forgive me in the end.  As for Frenchie.  I see her from time to time, you know.  Am her Pluto. Her pet-playmate.  Pluto is just a random name.  You can call me any pet name, if you want to.  I wouldn’t even know it.  I would be long gone. Doing Yasmine or maybe slurping her strawless lid, her strapless cap for an eternity.  She came out of her apartment building in a haste, and as she opened my red Rover Mini Cooper door and got in, I threw out the window my half-way consumed zeppelin on the loose, I had lit a few minutes ago for convenience, as I listened to Monk Live in Paris, 1965.   She hated Jazz but budged in the middle of a speedy fuck.  As a matter of fact, she would turn the volume up and tell me that the music drove her nuts.  Little I knew, back then, that that zeppelin tail would plunge upon the bubbling sidewalk, that afternoon, like a Hindenburg in 1937, while its nose, rose into the air like a breaching whale. My mini-Hindenburg smashed what was left of a line of symmetrically-aligned ants on their way to an important meeting.  They were all in black and looked serious. My Chiquita threw herself onto her seat, tossed her bag onto the back seat, shifted her weight multiple times and finally sat straight up looking ahead like a sphinx.  She said: You can go now. I drove my Rover like I stole it -as my little serious victims were dispersing, in notable confusion, and in random fashion right outside my half-open window. The sandstorm I left behind grew taller than the lamp posts scattered along the street and above the noise of TV game shows poorly produced. The shadows of that afternoon street were eating up silhouettes and those silhouettes were in turn forming in surrounding walls and facades in a fatuitous manner. Chiquita and I knew each way back.  From school days when we were young and tall and vigorous.  She found pleasure in random talk, random acts. She once told me that it was more meaningful for her to justify her request of seeing me than to just say what she wanted right away.  A modus operandi, so to speak.  As I drove past flower shops and pharmacies, lingerie stores and sex toys swaying like giant bait worms on display, I thought I should get a dog and maybe a girlfriend, for all I know.  -A way of mending up my lonesome act, and one or two forlorn Beirut afternoons, while at it.   And maybe why not get a real job. And actually, do something for a living.  This business of random projects, and freelance writing was getting on my nerves. The job wasn’t but the pay was. A truc macabre. She was gorgeous-looking, the kind of a girl you want to hit on, and do from time and time and well yeah, like try to keep for a while.  The fact is she was unquenchable, hard to stop once in, and her demands grew more assiduous as our afternoon escapades became more regular. She said: Stop the car. We sat there in the middle of nowhere. Monk was a Devil in a state of total rapture. I kissed her soft lips with no bad intentions in mind. She slurped my bacon bazooka several times just for kicks.  On-lookers stood by. She grabbed my handle for reassurance, gave it a good brush and sat on me like she really had missed it.  She spat at it multiple times, my face was all over the ceiling and the windshield, and I was roaring like a wounded lion, like a man who had bet his life saving on second running-horse in the races. She was high on Blow. I was a jazz freak.  She loved History books and Italian cuisine: She was an expert at Pasta Carbonara. She’d cook the pasta in salted water, and cook some tomatoes in a large skillet over medium-high heat with olive oil and stirring often, until it slightly softened for around three minutes. She would then add some shallots and cook, stirring until the shallots and tomatoes softened for the same amount of time or so.  She would then add the garlic, some natural herbs and finally bring to a boil.  Once done, she would blend the mix using a hand blender –no wonder she was good at hand jobs.  Buon appetito!  è delizioso. That day she was draped like a mannequin in a display window. She wore a horrible, loose-fitting vintage dress, and no make-up. Stained with dark spots of coffee, that did not taste good, which she had, early in the morning. And her regular flat green shoes.  She always wore green shoes.  She squashed a gum behind her front teeth. Her finger-nails in double-decker red.  Both her earrings scintillated an assortment of a spectrum caused by the light diffused through the silver clouds, and bouncing off strategically located car handles in car doors.  I thought to myself: What a lucky bastard! I was the luckiest bastard in West Beirut.   As I pulled the metallic cold through my nostrils and a line or two of blow coke in a sporadic fashion while at it, a snow-white cigarette of three to four inches in length, resting between her fingers, burned down onto a memory. She squeezed my bacon bazooka with her free hand, thinking maybe she would make it spill by way of her magic. She was in her late thirties and I was assailed by a huge range of a regrets and shames and disappointments.  Assaulted by a series of failed relationshits. It was in that very instant, she tried desperately to project a cheerful air: I think am in love, with your dick.  Dogs and birds were leaping from one tree to another undetected. A truc macabre. She looked out the window and I pretended her say something in French like, “On a froid. On est seuls.  Mais au moins, on sait où trouver de la chaleur.” She looked back at me for an entire Trevi-Fountain second. Gallant and noble. The emotions she had stirred were exactly where we had left them. Undetected.  I was making a much-needed escape from my own trivial life, to try to reconnect back with it. It was a favorite pastime. The way of a dog, astray and awry, one afternoon in the city. Freud would have laughed, and probably join in. He would say some like I am in for the blow, man. Do what you want with her lid. Now that I come to think about it: The old man did flash in my memory a couple of times, while at it.  I pictured him in that coat, with the classic white beard, all cracked up coke-high and murmuring to himself: Turn that Monk shit up. A moment later I detected her stripping from waste down.  She looked strikingly beautiful. Her pristine shadow making a regal comeback as her hair swayed in all directions.  I was a bohemian in my final act, she was Lucifer desperate for more.  Stonie wore a Machiavellian smile and fashioned a Cobra Shades just like the ones Stallone wore as Marion Cobretti in Cobra, 1986.  The truth of the matter is this guy looked more like a train-ticket conductor or inspector with a twist, for all I know. He looked like a mutant gorilla on the run.  And not even close to what a member of an elite division called Zombie Squad looked like. A truc macabre.  After a moment, he panned his head appearing entirely as a more recent version of the black drummer in Youtube Bill Withers’ Ain’t No Sunshine, with a grin. He looked up from his tiny, half-open, smoke-twirling-window and said: Hello Mr. Ruggles, am Stonie.  Welcome to Lebanon. The Switzerland of the East. Wesley Ruggles – was an accomplished and prominent American photojournalist.  He got in the back seat of the white Peugeot 504 and smiled all the way to the Commodore Hotel in Hamra. Stonie looked at his customer adjusting himself in the back seat, as he got in, on the rear-view mirror and said: Our country is the best place if you wish to take on the challenge of surfing and skiing on the same day. There’s no particular way to do it – some prefer to hit the waves early in the morning and end the day with a cup of mulled wine after a great ski or snowboard session; others prefer to hit the slopes in the morning and watch the sunset from Ain El Mraisse on West End, after catching some waves. It’s really up to you, Mr. Ruggles. You decide.  I leave it up to you. Wesley Ruggles grinned.  He wasn’t much of a talker, if you know what I mean.  He nodded affirmatively to all the words Stonie shot at him.  Lester Young Stardust – 1952 was coming out of the radio. Soft and easy. Let me tell ya a story.  Stonie said:  Two families were arguing in a field about where the boundary between their lands lay.  The dispute dated back a long time and blood had been shed a number of times.  A boy, a child of some eight or nine years, picked up a stick and drew a line in the earth.  When asked what he was doing, he said he was marking the boundary as it had been agreed at the last round of negotiation, long before he was born.  His father asked him how he knew this, and the boy replied that he was the reincarnation of a man the father had killed in the feud.  When the child revealed details of the shooting that only the dead man and his killer could have known, his father embraced his former adversary who was now his son. Both families wanted the feud to end.  It had been costly in terms of lives, and all were seeking a way out of a resumption of hostilities. Wesley Ruggles said: Take to me to the Green Line. Now.  The war sound kept coming in and out of my head, and a couple was still banging inside a tiny yellow Fiat not far away from where I was standing.  A mechanical undertaking.  Not much emotion/commotion at play except for their intense sexual collaboration.  A deliberate, indecent exposure.  The gurl – a night-time frontline-regular took turns shifting her rear-end from East to West in a regal act. A line up of militiamen stood in queue on both of ends of the line to shag her. A surreal act. A moment of truce.  Both the gurl and the city were completely naked, shattered and decrepit. Partly broken, partly rotten, and partly forgotten. For years, I was a war junkie in Beirut. A crowded jeep of militiamen stopped and disembarked on a random sidewalk of a deserted, and smashed street on the other end of the city.  They all looked like knights subpoenaed by the monarch who was pissed and drunk and tired. For a moment, they all looked irritated and pissed off. A sort of a fashion insignia they all displayed just for kicks. A war-affair. Hip and ceremonial. Then, they began to disperse along the sidewalk in zigzag, with machine guns and RPGs pointing upward.  Their beards, long and unpleasant, pointing downward.  And their self-esteem half-way in between. They all came for the cut.  The King’s cut. The truth of the matter is the King Salon was the hippest place in town. A classic spot. A royal den.  The cosmopolitan centre of Beirut. So, to speak.  Everybody was there.  A meeting place for spies, including Kim Philby and Archie Roosevelt, and CIA men such as Miles Copeland as well as journalists of the caliber of John Chancellor and Sulzberger. Numerous diplomats and politicians, business tycoons and oil Sheikhs, they all mixed with oil and banking tycoons of the day molding the clientele of this classic establishment.  A royal place.  During the 50’s and even early 70’s the plots, the deals, and the stories that came out of this famous barbershop in Beirut were gripping. Plots and counter-plots, stretching over a quarter of a century echoed and re-echoed inside, every time.   Rumor has it, many incidents which helped to shape and re-shape Middle Eastern history are associated with the Salon: The attempt to overthrow King Hussein of Jordan, for instance. It was partially destroyed in the Two-Year war, but it was totally re-erected and managed to preserve its heyday reputation for a while.   I used to come here when I was little. A place to chill. A room where you could conduct business as usual without the hassle of the real workplace. A place you didn’t call a café for prestige and yet it was almost one. The tea they served was splendid and kingly. And ladies used to stay out on the sidewalk just for thrills, with the hope to catch heartthrobs on the loose. I went out with a new hair-cut. The King’s cut. I was the King’s Knight for the night.  I kick-started my bike and cruised for a while. A poet on tour.  Roaming the city.  Looking for a one-night stand. Or at least what appears to be.  I saw a solitary figure standing on a random spot.  A black woman with an Afro.  It was just perfect.  She jumped me on the highway the time it took me to give her a ride home.  A truc macabre. I pressed the number nine button inside the elevator of my apartment building.  I was tired and wired. As the elevator began to go up it suddenly stopped.  I was alone. And forgotten for a while.  Dangling by a cord. Forsaken.  Maybe.  I masturwaited the hour. Power was restored and I made it to my apartment safely. Minutes later the phone rang. She said: Baby, are you craving me tonight.  The next thing I know I have couple of Lesbians over slurping my bacon bazooka just for kicks. A royal act. Worthy of enjoyment with what I called decent music: I used to play Stevie Wonder’s Superstition really loud on my Marshall speakers in decay, while at it. A ritual of old fun-days when I was young, full of sperms, and needs and itches. The funny part –though, is that I always experienced something peculiar in that very moment of sorts. Hard to explain but I saw the trailer of my own life lived, projected on the facing wall. A broken wall.  I reminisced about past affairs and was transfixed by the lingering memory of a blow job as well as a highly visual fuck-climax. Vivid and highly pictorial.  Cheers! They both said. As they both poured all the wine content, glittering in penumbra, upon my bacon bazooka.  It looked like a copper fall unleashing. Unceasing. A truc macabre.   A royal act. Three was company.  Beirut was a junkyard of scrap metal and waste back then.  A place for sub-humans and android-machines on the run. BB 62 opened fire and hit some targets on the outskirts of the city. I was an android-cowboy in disguise.  Rumors had it the bomb shells were all empty. As the American destroyer showered guerilla positions in Souk el Gharb, I was firing my own cannon all over the Lesbians scattered along enemy lines inside my dim room, not far away from the Demarcation Line in Beirut.  A supreme act. A simultaneous-affair. Many years later, I had a similar experience when I was shagging this Pilipino gurl -in a random hotel in Jounieh, just for kicks, while watching the final of the World Cup in 2010. I still remember cumming inside her mouth at the exact moment Iniesta was kicking the ball inside the Netherland finish line.  A glorious-act of sorts.  The two Lesbians just loved the feeling of a revolver barrel inside them. A truc macabre. A regal tactic of enormous after-effect.  For some reason, they used to revere the freshly fired metal tube with both frame and cylinder inside. I never understood why.  I stood there. Earnest and ceremonial in my act.  Viewing the trailer of my own life on the facing wall of that dim room, and watching my bacon bazooka in constant spa-treatment mode. Graceful and yet unpretentious. The afternoon rushed in like a Belgian train in mid-voyage, that never made it on time. I dreamed of flatbread pizza, in the wasteland. Reminisced about my last, fast-paced failed love-affair and my futile attempt at piano lessons. We laughed, as we talked and killed the hours away. We imagined moments-to-be. Mostly naked. For some strange reason, they both loved to be touched on their forehead. A women-thing.  On their eye-brows to be exact.  The truth of the matter is that they both were willing to try new things –in private. My type of women.  Alone and crazy. A mind-type. Affectionate, and calm on the outside, and yet crazy and freaky on the inside. To tell you the truth I pretended I read more books than they both presumed I did. I wrestled with my own thoughts and delusions.  Concealed my deeper feelings and idiosyncrasies -in the midst of our talk. In the middle of a futile war with no ending.  A Gemini-kind-of-thing with a thrill.   I was after their strapless lid. What else do you expect: One of the few remaining standard activities in Dystopia, at the time. I fucked them both for a while and I got kind of bored afterwards.  The truth of the matter is I completely lost interest in them.  Soon after, I found my next victim. A young, fresh psychology graduate with a healthy appetite for sex and a delightful fashion-style that managed to trigger my bacon bazooka, back. This next fuck-affair with Luciana kept rolling for more than we both expected. She was the kind of girl who would do anything to satisfy you.  I acted in kind. I used a proactive approach with her, for as long as it lasted. She was worth the try: Worth every single sperm I spared on her lower and upper abdomen. And well, yeah often times on her breasts and her cute, funny face.  A truc macabre. She loved to be chased after -for sex. She loved BJs as much. And she used to brag about it in public.  A few weeks later, I found out she was sleeping with a couple of other guys from around the block, for subsistence, and with some big shot of sorts, as well.  A playboy –so to speak. Loaded with guns and green.  Good for her. She was a practical kid, with lots of love to spare.  And lots of ambition. I fired up my gorgeous-looking Jimmy and made some smoke rings with my mouth, for my own amusement, that is. And that lasted for quite a while. She had a shower: Poured herself a drink, and walked slowly the seventeen steps, all the way to my bed, completely naked.  Next, she crawled my entire body like a wounded, and moaning soldier on the frontline. Once, fully on top and facing me, she said with her typical intense voice: Impress me with your brains. It occurred to me, and I played a VHS tape I had borrowed from an old chum, of Greta Garbo’s Anna Karenina 1935, in decay. Well, yeah, to try to impress her with my cultural backdrop and shit.  The perfect artefact for a late evening binge. A truc macabre, so to speak.  The glitches and hiccups of the shivering images of Greta Garbo on the TV screen, did not corrupt the actress’s royal flare. What a Dame! I thought. What an ass! I thought in sequence. As I took turns looking at both the screen and the new chick’s naked, greasy, and flattened body shimmering in the dark, and glowing like a sea-urchin in the deep. And I thought to myself: They don’t make them like this anymore. Sublime and Holy. A Regal act.  I was talking about the chick’s ass. What else. I mean, the truth of the matter is she was lying right before my own eyes to see: Face-down with a few hours to spare. And I was fuck-hungry. Endlessly famished. I was after her strawless lid. Strapless cap. Flavorsome and scrumptious like shit crazy.  I crawled all over her on the bed and -once in position, I slurped her strapless lid for hours. I grinned. Placed my half-consumed Jimmy on the loose on the Buddha-ashtray I had in store from my old days in Kamasutra-training in New Delhi. I decided to burn my bacon bazooka inside her fire place. We fucked for hours.  Her spark was her unusual climax.  Pristine and immaculate.  The streets below and around me were dim and vacant. Cold and bare. I took off.  Had to: I zigzagged my way to the Demarcation Line, past sandbags and burning silhouettes of cars, in fall-off. A conspicuous tactic that I deployed every time to avoid unleashed android-snipers on the loose. Or mutant gorillas on the run –as I used to call them.  Whether someone or something conforms to customary patterns or deviates from them depends on one’s point of view: Behind the concepts of normality and abnormality is the assumption that there is a single standard by which to judge everything. What may be normal to one group, however, may be unacceptable to another. I had the same Walkman on, with the same headphones arching the same oval head I displayed for a thousand times at the frontline. A truc macabre. I played Monk Live in Paris 1964 every time.  Every day. Non-stop. It was more like a frontline pursuit, just for kicks. A Grotesque affair.  Stories of love and madness is all I heard on both ends of the Demarcation Line. A snow-white 1979 Super-Beetle Cabriolet stopped right there in the middle of nowhere. Just a few steps from the Line. I could not identify any of its occupants, who wore ceremonial masks, just for kicks. The truth of the matter is they all looked like soul-reapers with scythes.  An RPG sealed its fate, turning them into a burning chunk of metal and flesh.  A suicidal undertaking. An eccentric haze shrouded my eyesight. That day, I met the iconic Wesley Ruggles on the Demarcation Line in Down Town Beirut. On that taciturn Winter-day, and somewhere in town, The Red Prince carried a pistol holstered in brown leather and worn on his hip a la Clint Eastwood. He was a playboy alright, on his final rave. He was in a convoy of two Chevi station wagons heading from Georgina’s flat to his mother’s, for a birthday party. Chambers was on her balcony painting, and her red Beetle parked below on Rue Verdun.  As Salameh’s convoy passed that red wagon at 3:35 pm and turned onto Rue Madam Curie, a hundred Kilos of explosives attached to the car by a Mossad agent was remotely detonated either by Chambers herself or on her signal to another Mossad agent. They did not mistake him this time. A truc macabre.  The blast left Salameh conscious, but severely wounded and in great pain, having pieces of steel shrapnel embedded in his head and throughout his body.  He was rushed to The American University of Beirut Hospital, where he died on the operating table at 4:03 pm. I was surrounded by eccentric structures –which stood tall beholding my own state of incongruity. I stood almost mortified in the middle of the battleground, in silence.  Out of a thick, almost-mythical mist, a machine gun emerged and finally rested on my temple: I stood-still. I did not utter a word for an entire minute. A strange haze shrouded my eyesight. I still remember that android-cowboy with rifle still pointing at me, and with his brimmed-shape-white-Panama-hat, silk shirt, striped pants and his green suspenders. A distinctive and manly act.  I still remember when he looked at me for the last time and said: Learn how to cook and spend less, save time and have sex more often.  He was in a chill mood. He grinned at the end of his act and said: Hasta La Vista, Baby.  As for her:  She read the last couple of lines of a letter she kept in one of her emerald green coat’s inner pockets for the last time, folded the letter the way she was supposed to, placed the letter gently on the desk, took a pistol out of an upper drawer, put the pistol’s barrel inside her mouth and shot herself. She was six months pregnant. I dreamt about you nearly every night this week with a lollipop stuck in your mouth and a hot gun barrel swinging in and out inside your strawless lid.  A morbid affair. I know.  She hung up the phone and 7 minutes and 47 seconds later she was knocking on my door. As randy as a smoking gun.  I usually don’t but for some reason I was tempted to peep through the peephole to see first if it was her –not some Toters delivery bubblehead named Stonie just for kicks, and second to feel a certain rush, you only feel when you look – all sidled-up at your woman, all dressed up and everything and coming for a tryst.  It didn’t take long before she went down on me -with the evident exhilaration of a soldier in the haste of an on-going battle and she started slurping my bacon bazooka. A morning entr’acte. I looked down at her and she seemed involved for a moment. Like fully-devoted to her a.m. affair. Rapid and swift. My head was spinning like a windmill, with flying cards and shots and funk tune notes striking the walls around me.  I could still hear the drum roll of the climax of Stairway to Heaven inside my oval head and little devils were still crossing inside from one end to another.  To tell you the truth it looked romantic for a while, and I wasn’t unhappy about it. As a matter of fact, it was kind of fun for as long as it lasted. I only hoped she didn’t mind whatsoever the obnoxious and fetid odours of my Peter Johnson as they spurted across the air and made it even more putrid.

©

Raymond Depardon. Beirut. Civil War. 1978

I wrestled with the e-dustbin in the e-bathroom. It took me at least seven minutes to finally place the top in perfect alignment with the top-side open cube. It was a matter of resetting the code and no problemo.   A truc macabre. That worked every single time. I reached for my e-shoes under the bed, in decay. Put them on without socks.  A regular habit. And I strolled the full hallway, all the way, to the other end of the house, looking for some matches. One of the few remaining standard activities in Dystopia. A solitary candle waited in private defiance back in my room, on top of the waxed TV set in relapse.  A morbid act. The truth is I didn’t want to hurt myself walking barefoot on the broken glass dispersed along the passageway: Relics of a Single Malt Whisky bottle shattered in a glorifying act of conquest a few weeks back. For a moment, the entire crossing seemed like looking for a black cat in a dark room, and of course there was no cat. I found a lighter, placed divinely in the anti-chamber.  Shimmering in the dark, like a glowing deep-sea fish. I lit my Jimmy and stood tall by an e-window inspecting the smoke go up in the air. Silent and languid.  Like an ancient tower of lament, remorse, and guilt.  A peculiar idea grew fervent on my mind, unfolding with a prelude: When I light, I light heavy.  I grinned.  Threw out the e-window, the remnants of my Jimmy in decay.  The e-streets below and around me were dark and empty. Cold and bare. I took off.  I zigzagged my way to the Demarcation Line, past sandbags and burning silhouettes of e-cars, in falloff. A conspicuous tactic that I deployed every time to avoid unleashed android-snipers on the loose.  Whether someone or something conforms to customary patterns or deviates from them depends on one’s point of view: Behind the concepts of normality and abnormality is the assumption that there is a single standard by which to judge everything. What may be normal to one group, however, may be unacceptable to another. I had the same Walkman on, with the same headphones arching the same oval head I displayed for a thousand times at the frontline. A truc macabre. I played Monk Live in Paris 1964 every time.  Every day. Non-stop. It was more like a frontline pastime for kicks. A Grotesque enterprise. A reel replayed the same white 1979 Super-Beetle Cabriolet stopping right there in the middle of nowhere, over and over again.  A loop in one act. Its occupants looked like soul reapers with scythes, when out of a sudden, they revealed their hidden arms and fired in all directions. At the end of which, the white Beetle stood-still, in complete stillness. Technically, a malware.  Once at the frontline, in total stillness, and in complete silence/quiet: I heard the remote air of a lullaby looping the same word stuck in reverse. I was surrounded by eccentric structures –which stood tall beholding my own state of incongruity. I stood almost mortified in the middle of the battleground, in silence.  Out of a thick, almost-mythical mist, a machine gun emerged and finally rested on my forehead. I stood-still.  Did not utter a word for an entire minute. A strange haze shrouded my eyesight. I still remember my counter-part’s brimmed-shape, white Panama hat, silk shirt, striped pants and his green suspenders. A distinctive act. He looked like a model taken out of a GQ magazine. I still remember when he looked at me for the last time and said: Learn how to cook and spend less.  Save time and have sex more often. The sound of my camera release bottom re-echoed in the stillness of that barren place, bouncing off the empty, worn-out, and shattered walls around me. On that crispy autumn day, and somewhere in town, The Red Prince carried a pistol holstered in brown leather and worn on his hip a la Clint Eastwood. He was a playboy alright, on his final rave. He was in a convoy of two Chevi station wagons heading from Georgina’s flat to his mother’s, for a birthday party. Chambers was on her balcony painting, and her red Beetle parked below on Rue Verdun.  As Salameh’s convoy passed that red wagon at 3:35 pm and turned onto Rue Madam Curie, a hundred Kilos of explosives attached to the car by a Mossad agent was remotely detonated either by Chambers herself or on her signal to another Mossad agent. They did not mistake him this time. A truc macabre.  The blast left Salameh conscious, but severely wounded and in great pain, having pieces of steel shrapnel embedded in his head and throughout his body.  He was rushed to The American University of Beirut Hospital, where he died on the operating table at 4:03 pm. Salameh’s four bodyguards and four bystanders were also killed, and at least 16 people were injured.  I was on the other end of town, with Mario Garcia having some Single malt whisky, in some random bar, surrounded by Frenchies at the moment of the blast.  The air turned purple and crowds rushed in to get the latest news from an old, dusty radio inside. You could feel the heat of the day in full armor. Hours later, I was sitting at my fav round table in the kitchen at home when the telephone reechoed.  A voice –on the other end of the line said: I miss you, my baby. Shall I come over? I grinned. We had some chicken sandwich from Marrouche, with beer. Read a few pages of Gabo’s Hundred Years of Solitude, in Spanish, together, and ended up shagging a couple of times before going to bed.  We massacred solitude.  A masterful act. Luciana stayed way into the night.  She had a special homemade flatbread pizza formula for kicks, which she experimented with, when over. The fun part: I improvised most of the toppings from leftovers and a sauce I had on the side for the occasion. We had some slices of pizza, with wine. I concede she did all the maintenance required and left before sunrise. A ballerina in her finest hour. Next morning, I drove my e-Rover to the frontline -like a student in love, on his second day of school.  Out of nowhere, A fighter pointed his machine gun to my temple, and said: Do not move. That day, I met Mario Garcia on the frontline. He came with cash to burn – a fleet of airplanes and a keen eye for French-speaking ladies. He had a crowd of bodyguards with him, just for kicks.  A business man of some sort looking for some prospects in the middle of a farcical war with no-end.  He was a bit of a ghost down here.  Nobody saw him.  Nobody knew him. He stayed in the Achrafieh area for convenience.  “The safest part of Beirut,” he’d say. The sound of my camera release bottom re-echoed over and over again in the stillness of that barren place, bouncing off the empty, worn-out, and shattered walls around me. Chambers was on her balcony painting, and her red Beetle parked below on Rue Verdun.  As Salameh’s convoy passed that red wagon at 3:35 pm and turned onto Rue Madam Curie, a hundred Kilos of explosives attached to the car by a Mossad agent was remotely detonated either by Chambers herself or on her signal to another Mossad agent. They did not mistake him this time. A truc macabre.  The blast left Salameh conscious, but severely wounded and in great pain, having pieces of steel shrapnel embedded in his head and throughout his body. He was rushed to The American University of Beirut Hospital, where he died on the operating table at 4:03 pm. Salameh’s four bodyguards and four bystanders were also killed, and at least 16 people were injured.  I was on the other end of town, with Mario Garcia having some Single malt whisky, in some random bar, surrounded by Frenchies at the moment of the blast.  The air turned purple and crowds rushed in to get the latest news from an old, dusty radio inside. You could feel the heat of the day in full armor.  My counter-part was in a chill mood. He grinned at the end of his act and said: Hasta La Vista, Baby.

© Georgina Rizk during her beauty pageant days. Courtesy Bill Howard / ANL / Shutterstock

https://www.thenationalnews.com/arts-culture/art/the-untold-love-story-of-1971-miss-universe-georgina-rizk-1.886566

She read the last couple of lines of a letter she kept in one of her emerald green coat’s inner pockets for the last time, folded the letter the way she was supposed to, placed the letter gently on the desk, took a pistol out of an upper drawer, put the pistol’s barrel inside her mouth and shot herself. She was six months pregnant. At the moment of her untimely demise, she was madly in love with two lovers: Abu Hassan Salameh and herself.  A kinetic connection. Stories of love and madness is all I heard on both ends of the Demarcation Line. A snow-white 1979 Super-Beetle Cabriolet stopped right there in the middle of nowhere. Just a few steps from the Line. I could not identify any of its occupants, who wore ceremonial masks, just for kicks. The truth of the matter is they all looked like soul-reapers with scythes. They then revealed their hidden arms abruptly, and opened fire in all directions for at least seven random minutes. At the end of which, the snow-white Beetle stood-still in complete silence. Out of a sudden, that tiny little wagon, was showered and hammered countless times with all sorts of ammo.  An RPG sealed its fate, turning them into a burning chunk of metal and flesh.  A suicidal undertaking. An eccentric haze shrouded my eyesight. That day, I met the iconic Wesley Ruggles on the Demarcation Line in Down Town Beirut. A day-to-remember.  He came with cash to burn –a fleet of airplanes and a keen eye for French-speaking ladies. He had a crowd of bodyguards all over him, just for kicks. A cool act.  A business-man of some sort -looking for some prospects in the middle of a farcical war with no-end.  He was a bit of a ghost down here. A mutant gorilla on the run.  Nobody saw him.  Nobody knew him. He stayed in the Achrafieh area, most of the time, for convenience.  “The safest part of Beirut,” he’d say. I remember his brimmed-shape-white-Panama-hat, silk shirt, striped pants and his green suspenders. A distinctive act. He looked like an older model taken out of GQ magazine. I still remember when he looked at me for the last time and said: Learn how to cook and spend less.  Save time and have sex more often. The sound of my camera release bottom echoed and re-echoed in the stillness of that barren place, bouncing off the empty, worn-out, and shattered streets and broken walls around me.  On that taciturn Winter-day, and somewhere in town, The Red Prince carried a pistol holstered in brown leather and worn on his hip a la Clint Eastwood. He was a playboy alright, on his final rave. He was in a convoy of two Chevi station wagons heading from Georgina’s flat to his mother’s, for a birthday party. Chambers was on her balcony painting, and her red Beetle parked below on Rue Verdun.  As Salameh’s convoy passed that red wagon at 3:35 pm and turned onto Rue Madam Curie, a hundred Kilos of explosives attached to the car by a Mossad agent was remotely detonated either by Chambers herself or on her signal to another Mossad agent. They did not mistake him this time. A truc macabre.  The blast left Salameh conscious, but severely wounded and in great pain, having pieces of steel shrapnel embedded in his head and throughout his body.  He was rushed to The American University of Beirut Hospital, where he died on the operating table at 4:03 pm. I was on the other end of town, with Wesley Ruggles, swallowing some single malt whisky, in some random bar, surrounded by Frenchies at the moment of the blast.  The air turned purple and a crowd rushed in on an empty stomach. Hours later, I was sitting at my fav round table in the kitchen, at home, when the telephone re-echoed loudly.  A voice on the other end of the line said: I miss you, baby. Shall I come over? I grinned. We split a chicken sandwich from Marrouche in half. I wasn’t that hungry.  Read a few pages of Gabo’s Hundred Years of Solitude, in Spanish, together, and ended up shagging a couple of times before going to bed. The truth of the matter is that we massacred solitude once and for all on that squeaking bed, in decay.  A masterful act. Luciana stayed at my place way into the night.  She had this special homemade flatbread pizza recipe just for kicks, which she experimented with, when over. The fun part: I improvised most of the toppings from leftovers and a sauce I had on the side for the occasion. We had some slices of flatbread pizza, with wine. I concede she did all the maintenance I required and left before sunrise. A ballerina in her finest hour.  Next morning, I drove my Rover to the Demarcation Line -like a student in love, on his second day of school. Stonie wore a Machiavellian smile and fashioned a Cobra Shades just like the ones Stallone wore as Marion Cobretti in Cobra, 1986.  The truth of the matter is this guy looked more like a train-ticket conductor or inspector with a twist, for all I know. He looked like a mutant gorilla on the run.  And not even close to what a member of an elite division called Zombie Squad looked like. A truc macabre.  After a moment, he panned his head appearing entirely as a more recent version of the black drummer in Youtube Bill Withers’ Ain’t No Sunshine, with a grin. He looked up from his tiny, half-open, smoke-twirling-window and said: Hello Mr. Ruggles, am Stonie.  Welcome to Lebanon. The Switzerland of the East. Wesley Ruggles – was an accomplished and prominent American photojournalist.  He got in the back seat of the white Peugeot 504 and smiled all the way to the Commodore Hotel in Hamra. Stonie looked at his customer adjusting himself in the back seat, as he got in, on the rear-view mirror and said: Our country is the best place if you wish to take on the challenge of surfing and skiing on the same day. There’s no particular way to do it – some prefer to hit the waves early in the morning and end the day with a cup of mulled wine after a great ski or snowboard session; others prefer to hit the slopes in the morning and watch the sunset from Ain El Mraisse on West End, after catching some waves. It’s really up to you, Mr. Ruggles. You decide.  I leave it up to you. Wesley Ruggles grinned.  He wasn’t much of a talker, if you know what I mean.  He nodded affirmatively to all the words Stonie shot at him.  Lester Young Stardust – 1952 was coming out of the radio. Soft and easy. Let me tell ya a story.  Stonie said:  Two families were arguing in a field about where the boundary between their lands lay.  The dispute dated back a long time and blood had been shed a number of times.  A boy, a child of some eight or nine years, picked up a stick and drew a line in the earth.  When asked what he was doing, he said he was marking the boundary as it had been agreed at the last round of negotiation, long before he was born.  His father asked him how he knew this, and the boy replied that he was the reincarnation of a man the father had killed in the feud.  When the child revealed details of the shooting that only the dead man and his killer could have known, his father embraced his former adversary who was now his son. Both families wanted the feud to end.  It had been costly in terms of lives, and all were seeking a way out of a resumption of hostilities. Wesley Ruggles said: Take to me to the Green Line. Now.  The war sound kept coming in and out of my head, and a couple was still banging inside a tiny yellow Fiat not far away from where I was standing.  A mechanical undertaking.  Not much emotion/commotion at play except for their intense sexual collaboration.  A deliberate, indecent exposure.  The gurl – a night-time frontline-regular took turns shifting her rear-end from East to West in a regal act. A line up of militiamen stood in queue on both of ends of the line to shag her. A surreal act. A moment of truce.  Both the gurl and the city were completely naked, shattered and decrepit. Partly broken, partly rotten, and partly forgotten. For years, I was a war junkie in Beirut. A crowded jeep of militiamen stopped and disembarked on a random sidewalk of a deserted, and smashed street on the other end of the city.  They all looked like knights subpoenaed by the monarch who was pissed and drunk and tired. For a moment, they all looked irritated and pissed off. A sort of a fashion insignia they all displayed just for kicks. A war-affair. Hip and ceremonial. Then, they began to disperse along the sidewalk in zigzag, with machine guns and RPGs pointing upward.  Their beards, long and unpleasant, pointing downward.  And their self-esteem half-way in between. They all came for the cut.  The King’s cut. The truth of the matter is the King Salon was the hippest place in town. A classic spot. A royal den.  The cosmopolitan centre of Beirut. So, to speak.  Everybody was there.  A meeting place for spies, including Kim Philby and Archie Roosevelt, and CIA men such as Miles Copeland as well as journalists of the caliber of John Chancellor and Sulzberger. Numerous diplomats and politicians, business tycoons and oil Sheikhs, they all mixed with oil and banking tycoons of the day molding the clientele of this classic establishment.  A royal place.  During the 50’s and even early 70’s the plots, the deals, and the stories that came out of this famous barbershop in Beirut were gripping. Plots and counter-plots, stretching over a quarter of a century echoed and re-echoed inside, every time.   Rumor has it, many incidents which helped to shape and re-shape Middle Eastern history are associated with the Salon: The attempt to overthrow King Hussein of Jordan, for instance. It was partially destroyed in the Two-Year war, but it was totally re-erected and managed to preserve its heyday reputation for a while.   I used to come here when I was little. A place to chill. A room where you could conduct business as usual without the hassle of the real workplace. A place you didn’t call a café for prestige and yet it was almost one. The tea they served was splendid and kingly. And ladies used to stay out on the sidewalk just for thrills, with the hope to catch heartthrobs on the loose. I went out with a new hair-cut. The King’s cut. I was the King’s Knight for the night.  I kick-started my bike and cruised for a while. A poet on tour.  Roaming the city.  Looking for a one-night stand. Or at least what appears to be.  I saw a solitary figure standing on a random spot.  A black woman with an Afro.  It was just perfect.  She jumped me on the highway the time it took me to give her a ride home.  A truc macabre. I pressed the number nine button inside the elevator of my apartment building.  I was tired and wired. As the elevator began to go up it suddenly stopped.  I was alone. And forgotten for a while.  Dangling by a cord. Forsaken.  Maybe.  I masturwaited the hour. Power was restored and I made it to my apartment safely. Minutes later the phone rang. She said: Baby, are you craving me tonight.  The next thing I know I have couple of Lesbians over slurping my bacon bazooka just for kicks. A royal act. Worthy of enjoyment with what I called decent music: I used to play Stevie Wonder’s Superstition really loud on my Marshall speakers in decay, while at it. A ritual of old fun-days when I was young, full of sperms, and needs and itches. The funny part –though, is that I always experienced something peculiar in that very moment of sorts. Hard to explain but I saw the trailer of my own life lived, projected on the facing wall. A broken wall.  I reminisced about past affairs and was transfixed by the lingering memory of a blow job as well as a highly visual fuck-climax. Vivid and highly pictorial.  Cheers! They both said. As they both poured all the wine content, glittering in penumbra, upon my bacon bazooka.  It looked like a copper fall unleashing. Unceasing. A truc macabre.   A royal act. Three was company.  Beirut was a junkyard of scrap metal and waste back then.  A place for sub-humans and android-machines on the run. BB 62 opened fire and hit some targets on the outskirts of the city. I was an android-cowboy in disguise.  Rumors had it the bomb shells were all empty. As the American destroyer showered guerilla positions in Souk el Gharb, I was firing my own cannon all over the Lesbians scattered along enemy lines inside my dim room,  not far away from the Demarcation Line in Beirut.  A supreme act. A simultaneous-affair. Many years later, I had a similar experience when I was shagging this Pilipino gurl -in a random hotel in Jounieh, just for kicks, while watching the final of the World Cup in 2010. I still remember cumming inside her mouth at the exact moment Iniesta was kicking the ball inside the Netherland finish line.  A glorious-act of sorts.  The two Lesbians just loved the feeling of a revolver barrel inside them. A truc macabre. A regal tactic of enormous after-effect.  For some reason, they used to revere the freshly fired metal tube with both frame and cylinder inside. I never understood why.  I stood there. Earnest and ceremonial in my act.  Viewing the trailer of my own life on the facing wall of that dim room, and watching my bacon bazooka in constant spa-treatment mode. Graceful and yet unpretentious. The afternoon rushed in like a Belgian train in mid-voyage, that never made it on time. I dreamed of flatbread pizza, in the wasteland. Reminisced about my last, fast-paced failed love-affair and my futile attempt at piano lessons. We laughed, as we talked and killed the hours away. We imagined moments-to-be. Mostly naked. For some strange reason, they both loved to be touched on their forehead. A women-thing.  On their eye-brows to be exact.  The truth of the matter is that they both were willing to try new things –in private. My type of women.  Alone and crazy. A mind-type. Affectionate, and calm on the outside, and yet crazy and freaky on the inside. To tell you the truth I pretended I read more books than they both presumed I did. I wrestled with my own thoughts and delusions.  Concealed my deeper feelings and idiosyncrasies -in the midst of our talk. In the middle of a futile war with no ending.  A Gemini-kind-of-thing with a thrill.   I was after their strapless lid. What else do you expect: One of the few remaining standard activities in Dystopia, at the time. I fucked them both for a while and I got kind of bored afterwards.  The truth of the matter is I completely lost interest in them.  Soon after, I found my next victim. A young, fresh psychology graduate with a healthy appetite for sex and a delightful fashion-style that managed to trigger my bacon bazooka, back. This next fuck-affair with Luciana kept rolling for more than we both expected. She was the kind of girl who would do anything to satisfy you.  I acted in kind. I used a proactive approach with her, for as long as it lasted. She was worth the try: Worth every single sperm I spared on her lower and upper abdomen. And well, yeah often times on her breasts and her cute, funny face.  A truc macabre. She loved to be chased after -for sex. She loved BJs as much. And she used to brag about it in public.  A few weeks later, I found out she was sleeping with a couple of other guys from around the block, for subsistence. Good for her. She was a practical kid, with lots of love to spare. I lit my Jimmy and made some smoke rings with my mouth, for my own amusement, that is. She showered.  Poured herself a drink. Walked all the seven steps to my bed, completely naked.  Then, she crawled my entire body without a word.  Once, fully up and facing me, she said with her typical intense voice: Impress me with your brains. I played a VHS tape I had borrowed from an old chum, of Greta Garbo’s Anna Karenina 1935 in decay. Well, yeah, to try to impress her with my cultural background and shit.  The perfect artefact for a late evening binge. A truc macabre. The glitches and hiccups of the shivering images of Greta Garbo on the TV screen, did not corrupt the actress’s royal flare. What a Dame! I thought. What an ass! I thought in sequence. As I took turns looking at both the screen and the new chick’s naked, flattened body shimmering in the dark, and glowing like a sea-urchin in the deep. And I thought to myself: They don’t make them like this anymore. Sublime and Heavenly. A Regal act. Of course, I was talking about the chick’s ass. What else. I mean, the truth of the matter is she was lying right before my own eyes to see: Face down with a few hours to spare. And I was fuck-hungry. Endlessly famished. I was after her strawless lid. Strapless and scrumptious.  I crawled on the bed and -once in position, I slurped her strapless lid for hours. I grinned. Placed my half-consumed Jimmy on the Buddha-ashtray I had in store from my old days in Kamasutra-training in New Delhi. I decided to burn my bacon bazooka inside her fire place. We fucked the night away.  Like two little kids grounded and in confinement.  Her spark was her unusual climax.  Pristine and immaculate.  The streets below and around me were dim and vacant. Cold and bare. I took off.  Had to: I zigzagged my way to the Demarcation Line, past sandbags and burning silhouettes of cars, in fall-off. A conspicuous tactic that I deployed every time to avoid unleashed android-snipers on the loose. Or mutant gorillas on the run –as I used to call them.  Whether someone or something conforms to customary patterns or deviates from them depends on one’s point of view: Behind the concepts of normality and abnormality is the assumption that there is a single standard by which to judge everything. What may be normal to one group, however, may be unacceptable to another. I had the same Walkman on, with the same headphones arching the same oval head I displayed for a thousand times at the frontline. A truc macabre. I played Monk Live in Paris 1964 every time.  Every day. Non-stop. It was more like a frontline pursuit, just for kicks. A Grotesque affair.  Stories of love and madness is all I heard on both ends of the Demarcation Line. A snow-white 1979 Super-Beetle Cabriolet stopped right there in the middle of nowhere. Just a few steps from the Line. I could not identify any of its occupants, who wore ceremonial masks, just for kicks. The truth of the matter is they all looked like soul-reapers with scythes. They then revealed their hidden arms abruptly, and opened fire in all directions for at least seven random minutes. At the end of which, the snow-white Beetle stood-still in complete silence.  I stood almost mortified in the middle of the battleground, in silence.  Out of a thick, almost-mythical mist, a machine gun emerged and finally rested on my temple: I stood-still. I did not utter a word for an entire minute. A strange haze shrouded my eyesight. I still remember my counter-part’s brimmed-shape-white-Panama-hat, silk shirt, striped pants and his green suspenders. A distinctive act.  I still remember when he looked at me for the last time and said: Learn how to cook and spend less.  Save time and have sex more often. As for her:  She read the last couple of lines of a letter she kept in one of her emerald green coat’s inner pockets for the last time, folded the letter the way she was supposed to, placed the letter gently on the desk, took a pistol out of an upper drawer, put the pistol’s barrel inside her mouth and shot herself. She was six months pregnant. I ran in a barricaded street, tripped over a corpse splattered with dust and blood, lying randomly, unscathed.  Got up, my knees were aching a little bit, and bullets were ricocheting off smashed, metal balustrades from the upper floors of the buildings around me.  Only to end up facing the other side of the Green Line.  I put my camera where usually rifles go and started making pictures. A truc macabre. I was surrounded by fractured buildings –who stood tall witnessing my self-indulging act. I felt almost embarrassed in the middle of no man’s land. Out of nowhere, I saw a girl wearing a plain, red dress riding a white horse galloping in a hasty progression, and coming out of a thick, almost-mythical mist.  I had my Walkman on, with headphones arching my oval head and listening to Monk Live in Paris 1964. A frontline pastime for kicks. A Grotesque undertaking.  A white 1979 Super-Beetle Cabriolet followed suit.  It stopped right there in the middle of nowhere.  I could not identify any of its occupants, who wore masks. And to tell you the truth they looked like soul reapers with scythes. They disclosed their hidden arms abruptly, and opened fire in all directions for at least seven minutes. At the end of which, the white Beetle stood-still, in complete silence. Out of a sudden, that tiny little wagon, was showered and hammered countless times with all sorts of ammo.  An RPG sealed its fate, turning them into a burning chunk of metal and flesh.  A suicidal undertaking. An eccentric haze shrouded my eyesight.  Out of nowhere, A fighter pointed his machine gun to my temple, and said: Do not move. That day, I met Mario Garcia on the frontline. He came with cash to burn – a fleet of airplanes and a keen eye for French-speaking ladies. He had a crowd of bodyguards with him, just for kicks.  A business man of some sort looking for some prospects in the middle of a farcical war with no-end.  He was a bit of a ghost down here.  Nobody saw him.  Nobody knew him. He stayed in the Achrafieh area for convenience.  “The safest part of Beirut,” he’d say. I remember his brimmed-shape, white Panama hat, silk shirt, striped pants and his green suspenders. A distinctive act. He looked like a model taken out of GQ magazine. I still remember when he looked at me for the last time and said: Learn to cook and spend less.  Save time and have sex more often. The sound of my camera release bottom echoed in the stillness of that barren place, bouncing off the empty, worn-out, and shattered walls around me. Hours later, I was sitting at my fav round table in the kitchen at home when the telephone reechoed.  A voice –on the other end of the line said: I miss you, my baby. Shall I come over? I grinned. We had some chicken sandwich from Marrouche, with beer. Read a few pages of Gabo’s Hundred Years of Solitude, in Spanish, together, and ended up shagging a couple of times before going to bed.  We massacred solitude.  A masterful act. Luciana stayed way into the night.  She had a special homemade flatbread pizza formula for kicks, which she experimented with, when over. The fun part: I improvised most of the toppings from leftovers and a sauce I had on the side for the occasion. We had some slices of pizza, with wine. I concede she did all the maintenance required and left before sunrise. A ballerina in her finest hour.  Next morning, I drove my Rover to the frontline -like a student in love, on his second day of school. On that crispy autumn day, and somewhere in town, The Red Prince carried a pistol holstered in brown leather and worn on his hip a la Clint Eastwood. He was a playboy alright, on his final rave. He was in a convoy of two Chevi station wagons heading from Georgina’s flat to his mother’s, for a birthday party. Chambers was on her balcony painting, and her red Beetle parked below on Rue Verdun.  As Salameh’s convoy passed that red wagon at 3:35 pm and turned onto Rue Madam Curie, a hundred Kilos of explosives attached to the car by a Mossad agent was remotely detonated either by Chambers herself or on her signal to another Mossad agent. They did not mistake him this time. A truc macabre.  The blast left Salameh conscious, but severely wounded and in great pain, having pieces of steel shrapnel embedded in his head and throughout his body.  He was rushed to The American University of Beirut Hospital, where he died on the operating table at 4:03 pm. Salameh’s four bodyguards and four bystanders were also killed, and at least 16 people were injured.  I was on the other end of town, with Mario Garcia having some Single malt whisky, in some random bar, surrounded by Frenchies at the moment of the blast.  The air turned purple and crowds rushed in to get the latest news from an old, dusty radio inside. You could feel the heat of the day in full armor.  I stood facing that bloody mirror for a perpetuity. Blood drenched the entire surface.  I lit my Jimmy and waited for an eternity.  Countless hours passed as I waited in that dark box of fear and improbability.  A stark, tiny place where I stood in a ghostly fashion, restricted by the moving-and-closing-in four walls around me.  A bloody-mirrored elevator, in a random apartment building, that I ran in for cover, with door broken, and ceiling open, served as a temporary shelter.  For some reason, I could hear two tracks playing in parallel: The remote sounds of an old record looping over and over again Stevie Wonder’s Superstition, left unattended by its accidental supervisor, and countless bombs hissing through the purple air of a hot Beiruti night in the middle of a skirmish.  It was around 11 PM in my Hide-Out. A couple ran behind me and disappeared under a stairway.  A few hours later, they fucked uninterrupted, like they didn’t give a shit.   I was stuck. They were in ecstasy.  Bombs kept falling.  I had no other choice but to masturwait every once in a while, for reassurance, to the noises they fashioned.  What a fidiot! I thought to myself.  I was sleepless, famished, tired and wired like a barbwire left forsaken, stripped and empty.  A line of resolute ants marched across the Universe of that elevator in a loop.  Alienated.  War-irrelevant. And forever hopeless. I could see the preview of my face on the mirror: A ghostly, eerie, and spine-chilling face looked back in anger.  Man up! I thought.  Nothing.  Just silence.  And a thought or two every once in a while: Mostly a recollection of ideas that rotated in my head, just like ocean bubbles making it to the surface.  I was a street façade, in a state of renovation. Out of a sudden, I heard arbitrary voices, and a line of armed silhouettes rushed in, inside that accidental structure.  They barricaded themselves behind bullet-holed fences.  They didn’t say much.  I enjoyed the unplanned instances that played in sequence.  Haphazard, unidentified, and random.  Arbitrary militiamen fired their machine guns from different, unintended locations across the streets around me.  I was trapped in a maze of fire and fucking.  I had a hard on for the entire progression. I was desperate, yet excited.  Unwilling to budge.   Her silhouette rushing in almost in slow-motion changed my life completely.  I was a delighted man.  With a potential fuck rushing in.  To tell you the truth: I was kind of relieved.  She smiled like a Hooker with intent.  I lit her cigarette as I looked at her face.  It felt awkward.  A blind date in a dystopian abode. I suck at conversation, and yet I was motivated by the sum of bombs falling, guns popping and fuck-yelling.  Most of the random characters involved in the shoot-out were harboring delusions of grandeur.  A manly act.  A truc macabre.  The heat was unbearable. She didn’t hesitate to detach pieces of her.  She started subsiding before my eyes with that intrepid look that made her distinct in the middle of a war unleashing.  She was in her late thirties and was assailed by a massive collection of disappointments. In that very instant, of despair and ambiguity, I managed to rip her dress, her panties and insert my penis inside her vagina.  Her nails scratched my shoulders and my back, leaving a bloody trail behind.  Her vagina was small enough. Or maybe I was anxious, and the sound of war made the entire experience irreplaceable and distinctive.  We did more waiting and memory-recollecting in between bitter banquets and endless seconds of crying and mourning, as we got high, fucked some more and watched the drizzle against the beam of lamp posts.  We were Invincible.  Her hair blew to the wind. For a second, it looked like a military parade.  A solemn act.   I was pissed-drunk. A silhouette of on-lookers stood by.  I endured that fuck, wet, tired and deserted in the middle of a random house in the middle of nowhere.  I was in a tiny, rented dark suit that looked more like a uniform. I camouflaged inside that dwelling with a creepy look, and I felt unnerving as well inside.  She looked back at me and said something in French like, On a froid. On est seuls.  Mais au moins, on sait où trouver de la chaleur. I shifted my weight to the right, to contemplate her even more.  She was whole, in her flaw.  Out of nowhere, a round of shots fired, randomly, struck me on my left arm, missing my heart by only a few inches.  I am pretty damn sure I was struck in the back of my neck by the second shot, the bullet ricocheting off my spine. Some shots hit me in the head above my left eye, passing through underneath my brain and shattering my brain. All my ideas got scattered like pebbles on a marble floor.  The round grazed a rib and lodged in my lung, stopping less than an inch from my heart. I’m in love! I’m in love.  You have intense emotions inside and this keeps you wanting to do it even more. It’s hard to hit a heart in love.  I felt supreme.  The more you do it, the more you want.  You pretend life is ok.  It’s never ok.  War kills you inside and love takes care of the rest of ya’.  Apparently: Over time, and within the given circumstances, you become an outsider in your life! The man you never thought you’d be.  And as you collect all the pieces, the broken pieces that make you, you: That the explosion had left you, and you try to carry on with the remnants of someone who once was, and you pretend life is ok and you live the rituals of a life, that’s beautiful, so fucking beautiful! you begin to feel you are living on leftovers of a life that never was! Inside myself, in a remote corner where I could hide undetected for evermore, with my own anger, shame, my own indignation, I sat there, forced to recognize my failure! Alas, I was busted in my hide-out! Love dismembers you like a dummy made out of clay, mercilessly.  And it pours all over you a rainocalypse of bullfrogs and hammer-handles. And you melt and roll out with the water and you vanish and out of a sudden, you are part of something completely out of yourself.  Don’t I fucking know it! Looking at my own life, in tedious fragments, in tedious sections, as I peep through a zoetrope at the galloping horses with a neigh –A wooden zoetrope which consists of a cylinder with slits cut vertically in the sides. As the cylinder spins, I look through the slits at the pictures across. The scanning of the slits keeps the pictures from simply blurring together, and I see a rapid succession of images, producing the illusion of motion. The motion of the horses galloping, with a bray, greeting other horses: A strapping-neigh! Reminiscent of old days when I rode a broomstick wildly around the house and whinny.  You smoke too much! She said. I looked at her, in her never-ending stillness and we fucked for hours.

©

An hour or so before the street shops closed for the day, and the street cleared of traffic, Olivia Hanna, the wife of Elias Daher and mother of Michel’s was taking the day’s pay out of the drawer of the cash register when two bald heads came in with a duffel bag and a blade.  She put the cash back and said with a suspecting tone: A la Orden!  She picked up the phone to make a sudden call but was warned not to.  It did not take long before she gathered she was sort of being ambushed for her husband who had left a few days ago, back home to Beirut. He took their eldest son with him. And a suitcase full of verdes.  Green-moolah. As if he knew they would come. They sure did. “Where is the money?” a bald head asked. The order was clear: Plata o Plomo. The suspects asked as one closed, and almost locked the front-door from inside. “I don’t know what you’re talking about!” she said with a sudden itch to vomit.  “Where is your husband? Where is the money?” He asked her again. “My husband I know where he is. He will be gone for a while. He left a few days ago. The money, I have no idea what you’re talking about.” It was one of the longest sentences she said on her last afternoon.  “Show us where is the safe.  You have to tell us where is the key of the safe.” She didn’t reply. After a long silence and a fleeting panic, she said: “I don’t know. I really don’t know! You have to believe me!” That day she was draped like the mannequin in the display window. She wore a horrible dress. Stained with dark spots of coffee, that did not taste good, which she had, to please some Paisano of a neighbor, who could not shut up when he passed by to visit her on her last afternoon before the imminent tragedy. “You have to wait for him to come back!” She said. “We have come a long way!  You have to tell us or you die!” the bald head said.  Power went out.  Olivia squeezed her fists in anger, or shame.  Her loudest scream her husband never heard. The line of roving cars outside and the silhouettes of last-minute tourists, with hasty walks, helped spill street lamps light through the shop’s display window, casting dark shadows inside.  One suspect reached out for a lantern on sale and tried to grab her arm, but she slipped away and barricaded herself inside an adjacent back room with a metallic office desk, with currency notes from at least fifty countries under the glass, and two chairs on each side.  She shivered like a goat about to be slaughtered. She was in her late thirties and was assailed by a huge range of regrets.  In that very instant, she tried desperately to project a buoyant air.  But for some reason she could not scream to save herself.  The two suspects came in, infuriated. One suspect grazed a projecting nail on the wall in the entryway, as he went in, releasing a few blood droplets on that spot.  Olivia looked pale, as she stood like a defeated gazelle, with larger, limpid eyes, behind thin rays of dust. At first, they tried in vain to bring her down behind the desk. A brief altercation ensued: Finally, they both managed to get hold of her, and after reproaching her with wild accusations, and slapping her on the face, for not showing remorse or even regret for not telling them where the safe was; they took turns to bang her head against the wall, until her skull cracked. They kicked her on her stomach several times.  One suspect pulled her hair back and in a swift movement slit her throat with his angry blade. They walked backwards to the exit, stood still behind the door for a while, had to make sure no one was around when they walked out.  She was left all alone, posing on the floor like a movie star, with her head thrown to the back, chest thrust forward, and one leg extended a bit less than the other, with the left big toe almost touching her right ankle.  Both her feet were pointed, and with blood spilling out of her head, and out of her mouth.  Undetected by a few shop-owners who spoke loud in Arabic on their way back home.  She was left looking forever at the safe. Unlocked but empty. The safe was empty. The key hidden inside her horrible dress. She did not know the safe was empty. One of the Paisanos, noticed the door, now somewhat open, by an ephemeral passing breeze. He looked through the glass and said: “Something is not right!” He thought.   He tilted his hand down, pushed the door open and walked in. “This doesn’t look good.” He said as he walked in.  He walked forever all the way to the back room.  He could smell the drops of dust tinted with coffee on his way.  He found Olivia in a pool of blood.  Forgotten.  His penitent, trembling voice over the shop’s newly installed push-button black telephone, informing the police in broken-Spanish spoke volumes: “Se parece a un raton bien grande que se mete en la cama ajena!” An hour later, another telephone echoed and another and another.  Muslim bombs were falling nearby, in a Beirut suburb, when Ammo Elias became aware of the telephone buzzing on the corner of a desk, in the hall way.  He knew in his heart that something terrible had happened. He poured himself a drink.  Had a gulp.  And walked down the empty passageway to the telephone table. The telephone kept ringing. He didn’t pick up.  A tear or two sprung from the corner of his eye, as he reminisced about their last small talk: “What’s the weather like outside? Is it raining?” she asked. “It’s just spittin’ a little.” He said. “Kinda drizzlin’!” and that look on Olivia’s after a short stop, kept lingering in his memory.  “I’m sorry.  She is dead!” Whispered a voice on the other end of the line.  Elias stood there to his feet, unshaken.  It took forever for the telephone to fall back in place.  The truth is he never recovered from the shock or its aftermath.  Elias Daher, his three children, Michel, Elie and Nadine and a line of relatives and friends from the Eastern Regions waited tirelessly all day, the next day, and all night for two consecutive nights as mourners visited the family to pay their solemn respects and provide timely solace. They did more waiting and memory-recollecting in between sour meals and endless seconds of weeping and lamentation.  The most waiting they did is when they waited for the plane to stop at the tarmac.  The coffin seemed to walk itself out in quiet solitude.  The early morning rain had stopped, and the car had turned the corner at the end of the street when jeeps full of militias crossed in the opposite direction. Invincible.  Ribbons blew to the wind. For a second, it looked like the militias were summoned to pay their last respect.  A solemn act.   Cannons fired countless projectiles in the void.  I saw all their faces and it’s almost as if I were surveying them for the last time. As if they were going to be buried with her. “Are you boys here on your own?” An old Ziad El Rayyes enquired as we all rubbed shoulders on our way by an adjacent road to the old town’ cemetery. Birds were leaping from one tree to another undetected. Ziad El Rayyes was an old-time-Paisano who had traveled along with my father Jamil Salem, and some other folks, one cold Friday evening in February in 1966 for the first time ever across the pond to South America.  They were after the American dream with a twist.  “My parents could not make it.”  I said.  “They had to attend to some business back in Bogota.” I lied.  My dad was a hundred, and stinking like a dead-cow, somewhere in Miami, just like any of the million random cows he had slain during his life-time as a butcher. He was pissed-drunk, perhaps, having a beer by his American pool and wrecked like a sunken ship by betrayal and taxes.  My cousins were so tired they slept over the two fat, back-wheels of an old rusty and abandoned tractor in the middle of a marsh with what looked like lily pads, and braced by a variety of reeds, stalks and grasses. A silhouette of on-lookers stood by.  I endured tall in my tiny, rented dark suit that looked more like a uniform, next to Michel, who had an instinctive dislike of social occasions and mixing with people, but he was a master at camouflaging it.  I stood there as he wept for his mother. Ammo Elias, as I used to call him, walked out of the barren cemetery like a defeated field marshal.  He never spoke again. Ever.  He was to sell the shop and all his property a few years later. I never got to know much about him afterwards. I once heard he came back with a fat fifteen million, in cash, he never got to spend.  Yet, he never returned. Olivia’s two brothers joined a Colombian cartel years later, but one was caught and served term in a Bogota prison.  I never saw Michel nor Julia until recently when Michel told me of his plans to open another boite in Bogota.  She looked out the window and I pretended her say something in French like, “On a froid. On est seuls.  Mais au moins, on sait où trouver de la chaleur.” Mario! I said as I stood before her.  She didn’t reply nor looked back. I stood there for an entire minute.  Endless. Intrepid. Valiant.  It was mainly plains and rolling hills and falling leaves as I looked out the window.  Everything was exactly where we had left it. Undetected.  I was making a much-needed escape from my own trivial life, to try to reconnect with it. As we often do.   I was sitting around twelve rows back from the entrance door and on the other side of the aisle, rather quiet, absorbed in my thoughts or distant memories.  It happened often in trains.   Was in Jeans, with a hangover.  A couple argued semi-quietly in the seat behind me.  Another lonely rider, read a book on daggers while taking an occasional bite of a sweet candy.  Some riders came down, and others got in.  I couldn’t catch sight of her, at first.  For some reason I thought she smiled, at me, to feel invincible, at least.  As her steps grew faster and her determination to arrive at an unintentional seat, steadier, I abandoned the selfish and grotesque idea that had precipitated upon me like an undefeated general from the second battle of El Alamein in 1942. A way of mending the fences of my expectation.  As the train slowly pulled out of the station, I had to lean over towards my left, and fall downward in my seat, and further sideways, to the window, shifting my weight further to the right, to see her.  I failed. With my countless pent-up frustrations catapulting in my head.  There I was, like a tired soldier, this time, on his way back home.  Unattended.  Abandoned and yet unvanquished.  Out of nowhere, she fixed herself up on her seat.  Shifting her weight left and right continuously as to draw attention; put her bag to one side or whatever utensils she had on her.  She robbed a moment and looked back.  One tiny moment of all the moments she could have chosen.  She chose that tiny one.  And she looked at me.  A fleeting moment.  Baudelairean at best, as grooving hard pop tunes came out of my headphones.  An A-OK moment of plenitude.  I shot multiple glances in her direction.  Unnoticed by most of the passengers of a random train, with an average journey time between Maastricht and Amsterdam, of two hours and thirty minutes.  With around sixty-two trains per day.  Most of them had leaned back, with feet up, and couldn’t care less about my situation.  She wore a plain white dress and green flat shoes.  Minipanties and no bra.  And the most electrifying smile any human could ever throw back atcha. She walked strenuously her seventeen steps to her seat across mine. I did not get it.  I looked through the window and there she was: A random girl waiting for the train.  I had forgotten completely about my two other companions. Michel and Julia were a few seats back when I had a slight predicament: She knew I was looking at her.  She looked back once.  And that was it.  The entire expedition was surreal: I spent the rest of the journey pivoting between the bare trees and plains of Holland, that October, on my left and the lips of an angel fallen on the desert of my misery.  I had succumbed to the temptation of feeling desperado in a random train across the plain.  At least that’s how I felt for two hours and thirty minutes.  Boy, I was so thunderstruck.  I wouldn’t have traded my post for all the glory in the world. I like vestibule trains, passengers train whose cars have enclosed vestibules at their ends, in contrast to the open platforms on early cars.  Typically, a vestibule has doorways on either side to allow passenger entry and egress at stations, a door into the body of the car, and, at the car end, a doorway to allow access to the next car through a flexible gangway connection.  The first vestibule train was introduced on June 15, 1887, on the inaugural run of the Pennsylvania Limited of the Pennsylvania Railroad, forerunner of the famous Broadway Limited. Like the so-called suspension between two places.  The haphazard freedom it brings knowing where I was and where I am going.  One of the only moments in life in which you think forward, about things you haven’t done. Things you haven’t said.  You think of your unrepeated anecdotes, and the complexities of all the sensory-details of your memories, like for instance, raindrops glittering in the dark bouncing off a surface, undetected. The redux of bits of memory.  Of all the trains, she picked that very one.  The one I was in.  Finally, and in that very moment of downfall, of excruciating solitude, I sensed a glimmer of hope, of triumph: The ultimate realization that she had finally and for some unvaried reason leaned forward.  I could now see part of her face, her extraordinary lips. I was flabbergasted.  My entire world turned topsy-turvy.  Leaving Maastricht, we passed factories, modern flats, graffiti walls, lofts, and greenhouses, the sky opened up as we moved forward.  We passed lakes and fishing camps and plenty of cabins perched on hills bigger than they are; and all, as I looked out the huge window to take in the scenery.  Mountains shrouded by a cloud, cloaked in scents from the plains, wrapped in words that we say and we march on, not ever doubting the crisp pacing of our lives, with all its tedious sections, dull and unnecessary.  A life marred only by the unnecessary longueurs that demand constantly that we find a cure to its structural hiccups. Later on, we passed homes with gazebos and aboveground pools. Past backyards, alongside side roads, past calm streets or ones full of real people, real life.  I sat not far after a gallivant couple from Portugal who were madly in love and traveling around the world. They opted for traveling all year round and to work for only two weeks.  An odd couple.  A string band occupied the facing seats, and dressed like clowns and were perhaps willing to entertain an eager crowd, if they wished so.  My fellow riders looked surprisingly unusual, on a quiescent position.  With curved instruments of different names.   Undisturbed. I looked at their faces in sequence. I could hear the clowns pluck their strings in a tzigane fashion:  Out of nowhere, and in an imperceptible manner Bluegrass Shady Grove filled the air. A jolly-song. Their way to silence us up, as we passed stand after stand of birch trees, as well as beaver dams.  A finale to our noisy shindig.  We could now explore in stillness all the green parks offerings: Lush forests, gardens, lakes, and young men and young women strolling historic neighborhoods with coco-spliff where cool shops and chic restaurants lined up the cobblestone streets of a town that was in the very same place we had left it. Unnamed and unnoticed.  President Reagan waved to reporters and well-wishers as he made the short walk with his aides through a drizzle to the presidential limousine on a cold Monday afternoon of 1981.  No more than 15 feet away from Reagan, Hinckley raised his .22 revolver and fired six bullets in three seconds, that afternoon. The first shot struck press secretary James Brady in the head, leaving him partially paralyzed for the rest of his life. Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy and District of Columbia policeman Thomas Delahanty were wounded by subsequent bullets.  The final bullet fired by Hinckley ricocheted off the armored Lincoln Continental and struck Reagan underneath his left arm as Secret Service agents threw him into the limousine. The bullet lodged in the president’s left lung, missing his heart by only an inch.  Reagan was injured by a single bullet!  The agency allowed an unscreened group to stand within 15 ft (4.6 m) of him, behind a rope line.  As several hundred-people applauded Reagan, Reagan unexpectedly passed right in front of Hinckley. Reporters standing behind a rope barricade 20 feet away asked questions. As Mike Putzel of the Associated Press shouted “Mr. President—” Hinckley, believing he would never get a better chance, fired a Röhm RG-14 .22 LR blue steel revolver six times in 1.7 seconds, missing the president directly with all six shots. The first round hit White House Press Secretary James Brady in the head above his left eye, passing through underneath his brain and shattering his brain cavity; the small explosive charge in the round exploded on impact. District of Columbia police officer Thomas Delahanty recognized the sound as a gunshot and turned his head sharply to the left to identify the shooter. As he did so, he was struck in the back of his neck by the second shot, the bullet ricocheting off his spine. Delahanty fell on top of Brady, screaming “I am hit!”. Hinckley now had a clear shot at the president, but Alfred Antenucci, a Cleveland, Ohio, labor official who stood nearby him, and saw him fire the first two shots,hit Hinckley in the head and began to wrestle the shooter down to the ground. Upon hearing the shots, Special Agent in Charge Jerry Parr almost instantly grabbed Reagan by the shoulders and dove with him toward the open rear door of the limousine. Agent Ray Shaddick trailed just behind Parr to assist in throwing both men into the car. As a result of Antenucci spoiling Hinckley’s aim and Parr pushing the President, the third round overshot the president, instead hitting the window of a building across the street. Antenucci’s response and Parr’s prompt reaction had saved Reagan from being hit in the head. As Parr pushed Reagan into the limousine, Secret Service agent Tim McCarthy snapped his attention toward the sound of the gunfire, pivoted to his right, and put himself in the line of fire. McCarthy spread his arms and legs, taking a wide stance directly in front of Reagan and Parr to make himself a target. McCarthy was struck in the lower abdomen by the fourth round, the bullet traversing his right lung, diaphragm, and right lobe of the liver. The fifth round hit the bullet-resistant glass of the window on the open rear door of the limousine as Reagan and Parr were passing behind it. The sixth and final bullet ricocheted off the armored side of the limousine, passed between the space of the open rear door and vehicle frame, and hit the president in the left underarm. The round grazed a rib and lodged in his lung, causing it to partially collapse before stopping less than an inch (25 mm) from his heart.All six shots were fired in of 1.7 seconds.  Hinckley thought he could win the attention of a woman—Jodi Foster–with violence.  Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity.  I laid gently the tips of my fingers of my left hand against my chin, after taking my window seat in the plane. “Good evening, sir!” The flight attendant shouted. “Ready to order? Long-haul flights are one of the few situations in which it is socially acceptable to day-drink.  It’s been part of the culture since the Golden Days of flying and is a deeply ingrained ritual that eases the discomfort of being strapped to a narrow chair for a 10/14-hour slog from Amsterdam to South America. “Why not?” She said “Here’s the drinks menu.” “I’ll have a single-malt.” I said without reluctance. Was wearing some navy-blue trousers, a plain white shirt with suspenders on both sides, low-heeled shoes with double straps, a pair of thick socks in them.  “Jasmine?” I muttered as I read her name tag. “Do you like it?”  She asked. It took me exactly one second to respond with an ardent predisposition as I shifted my weight to allow more conversation.  I could smell the daffodils, the lilies, and the irises of Holland, and springtime in Bloembollenstreek, as I sat ready to take off. “Is it true that we get drunker faster at 37,000 feet? She smiled and walked away in silence. “Single Malt with no ice, for you sir.” I threw some glances in her direction.  She was impressed and approving.  I was ready.  She was free. I ended up meeting with Jasmine in a quiet place for a quick shag. The city of life! They called it. To my surprise it’s not only the women and the grass people fancied.  But sightseeing, cycling and Marathons.  I dragged a trickle of my single malt off the rim of my glass, let it warm behind my fencing teeth before swallowing.  She said: “You will keep having affairs and you will always justify yourself by saying what you always say to me: I’m in love! I’m in love.  You have intense emotions inside and this keeps you wanting to do it even more.  The more you do it, the more you want.  You are never around at home.  Your wife calls a million times a day.  I’m in it for completely different reasons.  I swing just like you between my marriage and my affairs. My partners as you call them.  This is what they are: Partners.  I admit to the pattern.  There is no escape from it, you have to devote yourself or the entire project will collapse. An affair means you are part of a triangle of death!” I interrupted her: “The point is to keep it going.”  Out of the main hall of Amsterdam Centraal, passengers walked in and out in a melodious fashion past information desks and lost Japanese tourists: Their walks, synchronized and deliberate.  A joyous-act. A lady in a dark coat, with a delicately embroidered chemise and a firmly crocheted red shawl that came down like a copper fall, all over her back, stood and stared out the windows at the majestic city that emerged before her.  A few minutes had passed when looking to my right I detected Nadia, who looked strikingly attractive.  Her shadow making a regal entrance as her hair raced the wind outside. She stood for a moment and searched immediately for a cigarette and a torch.  I contemplated her for a good minute in silence. She played it down by wearing no makeup, a loose-fitting vintage dress, and her regular flat green shoes.  She always wore green shoes.  She squashed a gum behind her front teeth. Her finger-nails in double-decker red.  She asked me to wait with her.  Both her earrings scintillated an assortment of a spectrum caused by the light diffused through the silver clouds, and bouncing off strategically located car handles in car doors.  I thought: Immaculate eyes!  As I pulled the metallic cold through my nostrils.   Her white thin fingers and the way she held that white plain cigarette achieved to connect the moment with another, and another with another and so on.  We waited the time it took for a cigarette of three to four inches in length to burn down onto a memory.  Nadia asked: “Have you ever heard that couples get more romantic when they travel, specially by train?” To which I did not reply! “Seriously” She said as she suppressed a sigh. We paced rapidly out of the Station, down the thin street, and all the way through to Dam Square.  We walked unscathed by memories of a war happening miles away and undetected all the way.  I always felt the city was the world’s.  It belonged to each and every bohemian. Not that I was one. But I always felt I belonged.  Amsterdam is a city equipped with an elaborate network of cycle-paths and lanes, so safe and comfortable that even the elderly used bikes as the easiest mode of passage. Cyclists reigned.  The Dutch took this for granted. They even tended to believe these cycle-paths had existed since the beginning of time.  There was a time, in the 1950s and 60s, when cyclists were under severe threat of being expelled from Dutch cities by the growing number of cars.  Bikes far outnumbered cars in Dutch cities and the bicycle was considered a respectable mode of transport for men and women. But when the Dutch economy began to boom in the post-war era, more and more people were able to afford cars, and urban policymakers came to view the car as the travel mode of the future.  Entire Amsterdam neighborhoods were destroyed to make way for motorized traffic. Parts of the city were torn down to make way for roads. The use of bikes decreased by 6% every year, and the general idea was that bicycles would eventually disappear altogether. It affected People’s lives.  The streets no longer belonged to the people who lived there, but to huge traffic flows. That made people very angry.  In the 1960s, Dutch cities were increasingly in thrall to motorists, with the car seen as the transport of the future. It took the intolerable toll of child traffic deaths – and fierce activism – to turn Amsterdam into the cycling nirvana of today.  Amsterdam became unquestionably The bicycle capital of the world.  A moment of truce is all I hoped to achieve with Nadia, as the trip lasted.  Her –busy with her own irrational idiosyncrasies zigzagging in her mind, my endless quest for control. And Me: Well, attempting to evade the next argument, her rage before a scream and her refusal to turn and fuck whenever I wanted to.  Relationships are the most difficult things in this life, I thought.  More than wars and betrayal or stray bullets and bullfrogs and raging bulls. All put together! No matter how hard I tried she always thrived to piss me off, unwillingly.  She was good at it! No matter how hard I tried to evade it, I always failed. Simply put: I was sick and tired of being sick and tired!  An old local man slept on a bench, unbothered.  A crowd came out of a random café, of hundreds that aligned the street, ahead, arguing in Dutch as one in particular fumbled in a familiar dialect:  –“Who threw the fucking sauce on me? Who did throw the fucking sauce on me?” He went mad! After he had been smeared out with ketchup all over his neat shirt, smart pants and newly-polished shoes.  A truc-macabre! Nadia couldn’t suppress a smile and shrugged.  We traversed the sight as one of his crew remarked:  “What the hell just happened? The image of Isabel, our black island maid, flashed before me: Cloaked in a new Sunday dress, with hair combed and nails flickering as she descended downstairs on her way out of the house probably to the movies, for the pleasure of a good film and the gratification of a good fuck. As far back as I can remember, I always ill-behaved when it came to Isabel, every time she called me out as her lover: “Mario, mi novio! ” She’d say!  I threw back several shots of angry looks at her and a bucket full of ice-water! In spite of my ever-lasting obsession with her pristine rack.  Nadia, just like myself, did not like being bound by parts of our past, constant motion provided me, her, me and her with the comfort I was after.  With the peace, she most required.  We both had heard stories of old family feuds and disagreements.  Our parents had a bumpy ride in all senses.  I guess war, was our karma.  Any-Kind. We had to pay for all the broken plates: The mistakes long forgotten.  We hid in some café, with large speakers emitting the sounds of a 1952-man-who-jumps-out-of-a-train-while-running-looking-for-a-screwball: Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker that is! A genius-act, that was coming out of the speakers that hung over the sidewalk, and drew a line of café-goers who stood outside.  They wanted pretty much to do the same.  They too rode paper planes and waited for the night to fall upon the quiet city. We sat comfortably, and happily assisted by a random French garcon who loved to fill the hours, and who talked in French about cats and furniture, architecture-design, and birthday presents.  We, on the other hand, whispered about oral sex, and butt-fucking with butter.  I will see to it that our child gets the proper care and education. I said with a firm attitude.  She reacted: My sister, Samantha, is taking good care of him.  She turns into an accomplished child-carer in his presence.  I never asked about Sam! How is she? I enquired.  She’s fine! Dating, working, mothering.  What else can she ask for? Her boyfriend is a dentist, and he is madly in love with her! She is A Rayyes! An iron-lady.  What now? She asked.  I want you and Roy to stay here.  This is home for now.  You are safe here. After a pause, she reacted:  I am ok, as long as you keep sending the cash. But where and when are we going to finally settle? I don’t’ know.  I said. We never will! And I don’t want you to take this the bad way.  This is what it is! We will always find a way. I don’t want you to worry about anything. I said. As customers walked past.  Nadia shouted: Look at me! This is not a life! Not a life! This is not a life! I want a life.  I am tired.  My past is suffocating me.  I thought I could start anew.  This is not over … I have nightmares!  But you never told me this before! I am telling you now. She said.  But you’re never around to see, to know, to ask, to fuck  …. We’re not going to start again! Are we? The waiter arrived at our table with tons of smiles and his French aura: Here you go! A nicely built cappuccino for the lady and for you sire: the best single malt I have! Nadia said: Mario! –The wait is unbearable.  I need a real man.  I need you. But you are never around.  So I don’t need you! We never speak about this! Do you think am just a medium-rare? Just a piece of meat for you? She shouted! You are like a ghost to me! She stood about to leave. I held her arm and said: Sit or you will end up in a hospital! She sat angrily. Not wanting to talk or listen.  You pretend life is ok.  It’s never ok.  War kills you inside and love takes care of the rest of ya’. Love dismembers you like a dummy made out of clay, mercilessly.  And it pours all over you a rainocalypse of bullfrogs and hammer-handles. And you melt and roll out with the water and you vanish and out of a sudden, you are part of something completely out of yourself.  Apparently: Over time, and within certain circumstances, you become an outsider in your life! The man you never thought you’d be.  And as you collect the pieces, the broken pieces of you, the explosion had left you, and you try to carry on with the remnants of someone who once was; and you pretend life is ok and you live the rituals of a life, that’s beautiful, so fucking beautiful! You begin to feel you are living on leftovers of a life that never was! Inside myself, in a remote corner where I could hide undetected for evermore, with my own anger, shame, my own indignation, I sat there, forced to recognize my failure! Alas, I was busted. Don’t I fucking know it! Looking at my own life, in tedious fragments, in tedious sections, as I peep through a zoetrope at the galloping horses with a neigh –A wooden zoetrope which consists of a cylinder with slits cut vertically in the sides. As the cylinder spins, I look through the slits at the pictures across. The scanning of the slits keeps the pictures from simply blurring together, and I see a rapid succession of images, producing the illusion of motion. The motion of the horses galloping, with a bray, greeting other horses: A strapping-neigh! Reminiscent of old days when I rode a broomstick wildly around the house and whinny.  You smoke too much! I said.  Nadia signaled to the waiter for the bill. I looked at her, in her grinding stillness, and said: I hope you’re not smoking in front of the baby! Are you crazy? She said. We ordered a cab. I was finally so content to sit in front of a large TV at the Grand and drink as much Single Malts as I wanted all night and kill the hours.  Nadia did not want me to go see our little Roy on arrival. I wanted to.  Nadia insisted many times, I don’t. She said we go tomorrow.  She rebuffed my timely request several times. I didn’t have the slightest idea why! I woke up the next morning, took a long shower, had my daily fix of coffee and read an English paper:  Ali Hassan Salameh, one of Yasser Arafat’s most trusted lieutenants, was blown up in his car as it passed a booby-trapped parked Volkswagen in West Beirut on Jan. 22, 1979. The Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service, tracked Salameh for months and assassinated him.  Abu Hassan, as the flamboyant Fatah chief was known, was the son of Sheik Hassan Salameh, a Palestinian warlord who died in 1948 fighting the emergence of Israel. The sheik’s son was no scruffy, unshaven gun toter but a sleek German-educated playboy who shortly before his death married a former Miss Universe, a Lebanese Christian named Georgina Rizk.  He was also one of the masterminds of Black September, the Fatah subgroup who kidnapped and killed 11 Israeli athletes during the Munich Olympics in 1972. As the boss of Squad 17, the Fatah security outfit, in charge of Arafat’s own security, he was Mr. Arafat’s contact with the United States Embassy in Beirut and the Central Intelligence Agency.  During Arafat’s persistent efforts to open a dialogue with the United States, Fatah took it on itself to protect American diplomats in chaotic West Beirut after civil war erupted in 1975.  Salameh’s men guarded Americans and other foreigners as they were evacuated from a West Beirut seaside swimming club by the United States Sixth Fleet on June 20, 1976.  As David Ignatius reported recently in The Wall Street Journal, Salameh was “a backdoor channel between the U.S. and the P.L.O.,” and he furnished senior American diplomats, including former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, with tips about assassination plots planned by radical Palestinian and other groups.   He is also said to have supplied similar information to security organizations in West Germany, Italy and Japan to demonstrate that Fatah had gone out of the terror business and become a valid diplomatic interlocutor.  One revealing and heretofore untold anecdote is that not long before Salameh’s death, a grateful C.I.A. took him to Florida’s Walt Disney World, a place he had always wanted to visit. This uniquely American gesture compounded Mr. Arafat’s bitterness and sense of betrayal when Salameh was slain. My failed and consecutive love-affairs and now my marriage on the brink of collapse, in the midst of chaos and uncertainty, made a faded figure out of me, behind the rainy windshield.  A dark, stark character from a Kafka novel.  Dark like a shadow without penumbra.  Trapped in the shadow of a shadow. Undetected. Jammed, perhaps on the outside of my life trying to break- in. At first, war seemed like the perfect method. A vivifying-routine! And yet I always arrived late when no longer my services were required. My own words I could not decipher anymore. They had become mere scraps of serpentine words, I could not recognize their precise meaning. I made no sense anymore.  That did not make sense to me.  Out of nowhere, a TV newscaster was throwing a cue at an expert in a random TV show as I turned the volume up.  I hardly could catch the last few words before an infomercial:   The significance of the size of the tits and their peculiarities, visa-vis their abundance and ..  the benefits they produce on the newly-born.   These words made me think to myself where do I find girls with big Bazookas. When I’m home, I try my best to do things right, and then for some reason am miserable and I get this immediate feeling that I will never be happy. With my partners, on the other hand, I am ecstatic, in spite of the guilt I feel all the time; specially that my wife is a super amazing lady, you know. I know I can’t stand it!  But I’m in it. I might as well enjoy it while it lasts. See? Jasmine said.  You keep going back home, back to her; but here is the thing: You can never be really happy unless you have an affair.  For you they go together. For me, at least, it’s a dance of insanity.  This will go on for years.  We will never stop.  You will always be a betrayer.  I will always be a cheater.  Once a cheater, always a cheater. You will never be able to make up your mind about what you are going to do: You want to stay married, you want to divorce.  I know you.  You will stay. Your feeling of guilt will keep you plugged to your marriage.  Particularly because of Julia and Layal.  Your two daughters.  Think in reverse: let’s say your wife is the unfaithful betrayer, having intense emotions/attraction for the other person, the partner, and she actually gets to believe that she is falling in love, she’s falling for him! Huh? And she feels powerless. And she gets to write all these love letters to her lover-accomplice in which she says stuff like:  My little one! I want you. I want you now, yesterday, and forever. Above all, I want you to want me. No matter where I am or where I go, I am never safe/free from your spell … You are talkin’ about marriage and betrayal as if this is a laundry list! I said.  Have some respect for the ladies! Anna Karenina loved the dashing Vronsky.  He loved her back, but eventually he got disappointed when their affair forced him to give up his dreams of career progression.  He is forced to choose! She becomes tormented and eventually a martyr for love! Unfaithful? Maybe; Obsessed? Perhaps.  But she can never be happy unless she is with the one she loves! It’s a long trip and takes two or three planes to get there. We make a homemade pizza bar by cutting the crust into four and we lay out all the cut-up peppers, tomatoes, onions, cheeses.  We spend the whole time between fucking and pizza! My wife and I can talk about anything.  But we don’t make pizza! I cannot tell her, this! I can’t simply tell her! It’s too private.  I cannot fuck up with the pendulum of my life. I simply cannot! Maybe one day I will be able to tell her everything.  But for now, I don’t think this will do me any good, specially that the kids are still young, you know! Yeah, but let’s assume, and for the sake of argument, let’s assume that you commit a crime, you’re angry, you’re upset, you’re in the middle of parole etc; who do you thing is going to stand by you? Your wife or your lover? Jasmine asked. I did not reply. We fucked for hours. And after causing so much hurt and pain, even after one admits to all his affairs and betrayal … she will eventually forgive me and most probably because of the kids, but most importantly because she loves me. Love kills the demons. Go back to her.  You always do! This is what matters most! I’m no saint, you know! Your wife can overlook once or twice, but she won’t put up with this for the rest of your lives, you know! I guess it’s the hurting that you will regret afterwards.  She will find out sooner or later. This betrayal game you think it has brought you closer together, it has brought you apart! It has made things worse.  You feel closer. Maybe.  But she will be forever distant, over time.  We smoked uninterruptedly.  I was on my own, a man in turmoil because I still loved my family.  A pain I later assessed, made more man of me. To tell you the truth:  A betrayer is always a betrayer.  And it’s not like every-time you talk about it, you’ve experienced it.  But when it happens, it just happens.  Everybody cheats if they have the chance to! My story goes: Once, she, and let’s keep she incognito, cheated on me.  At first, I didn’t know.  One day she came in, and looked me directly in the eye and admitted she was truly sorry and that she was wrong.  I did not hold any grudge, since she asked for forgiveness. I did forgive! Her ..  If you don’t move on, this can turn into a self-destructive pattern. It self-annihilates you! To ease your hurt she has to show remorse and ask for forgiveness, that’s it.  The point is: You don’t want to be a bitter person, pick up the pieces left of the broken relationship, amend them and carry on. Of course, that’s if you’re a relationship material.  If you are not, then you are damaged goods. It won’t do you any good to keep fighting.  But why do people cheat, in the first place? For different reasons! I’ll tell you, people cheat: One, because they are cheaters; they always like to start something on their own, something nobody knows nothings about; their own “thing,” you know. Something that makes them really happy, excited.  And yet they are able to keep some degree of freedom, of independence, they are still able to be free, mostly.  Not necessarily with bad intentions; it’s just part of their nature.  Two, they simply cannot bare to be with the same person all the time, maybe just that.  That’s mainly the men-cheating reasons.  Women, on the other hand, cheat mostly when it’s not working out with their guy, and they’re not happy, and because maybe they have fallen in love with someone else, out of nowhere, just like that.  Just because! Just because ..  they are getting what they want, what they need.  It’s the Whatever-it-takes, Baby, I’ll-do-it-for- you-kind of attitude.  You know, that’s the main reason.  Or maybe, after they have tried everything, they still have doubts; they try to sort things out, but it doesn’t work! They cheat as a way out, they need someone to help them out, for as long as this cheating last, you know. I mean, never heard of anyone cheating with no-one! It takes two to tango! Right? You need that someone, you know. Sometimes they are so upset from their partner, so upset, they seek some kind of revenge. As a way to get even. To want to make them feel hurt is an effective tactic.  Some, I think, cheat because they simply love the opposite sex, and cannot resist the very experience.  They simply yield to the temptation that looks irresistible.  And it looks even more thrilling when the sex is really good! You know … Women usually do it as a survival tactic. Unless, they are into sex and want someone to bang the shit out of them, and they happen not to want to stay with one person, only.  Which is a rare thing! The unquestionable thing is that there is something really obvious missing in the relationship; and they are both miserable, and they do it simply to breathe, to get out. Some others, cheat simply because they want to leave and they can’t leave; so, it’s a way out. Or they cheat, because it’s the easy way! I know a woman who cheats and she’s married, and she doesn’t have a good sex life with her husband; so, she’s been having this kind of life for a long time.  It’s part of her being! The lies are part of her daily life. It’s in her DNA. When she is with her husband, she looks madly in love with him and living La Dolce Vita! As if there’s no tomorrow.   If I had let’s say two girlfriends over the past three years; she probably had eight or nine! Boys! … And yet, she doesn’t come to leave her husband, because she loves him. But she tries to fill-in-the-blanc so as not to feel lonely bla bla bla bla. Ciao, bambino! A toast to all cheaters to stop all the cheating!  A toast to homemade pizza! Jasmine raised her glass of wine and said to me:  When I was young I cheated like a slot machine.  Non-stop.  Then one day I cheated on someone.  She cheated back on me. I got my Karma.  And you get used to it.  The first time I cheated, it was different, I was trying to leave someone, was trying to get out of a relationship; I fell for someone else. Loved her! Like crazy-love, you know.  I needed someone to get me out of it. She did! –This new love interest was after me for about 6 months.  She tried her very best! I gave-in. That’s Bizarre! The most difficult thing is to leave someone when you still love them!  But you get over it.  Up till now, I am still friends with her mother! As a matter of fact, we spoke on the phone a few hours ago.  The funny part though she had a sister, now the sister had a boyfriend: The boyfriend who was around nineteen at the time once was arrested after killing six of his mother’s chickens after demanding that she calls the parents of his girlfriend to repair the relationship.  The Police said the guy threatened to kill a chicken every 15 minutes until his mother made the call. He then allegedly sent pictures of the dead chickens every prescribed interval. He killed six before he was arrested.  He also threatened to burn his mother’s house down, kill police deputies, one every hour and himself!  I have no clue where he is! No clue! Where she is! In all cases, cheating, cheating, cheating is a word I don’t like! I cheated once.  It’s thrilling, sometimes to do it! it feels good, you feel powerful; no one has power over you.  You’re on your own ..  Own calls, own timing, own schedule. Sometimes it’s a way to feel ok.  And it’s ok to feel that way. To kill the bitterness in you!  To help you walk up the Stairway. To move from a state of unhappiness to maximum plenitude and exhilaration.  But it’s not meant to last.  It’s a selfish business. When you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired! You know. The famous Cuban dictator –Batista was a cheater! He was a slot machine! Once I had a girlfriend who had a boyfriend.  We had this concealed agreement.  No personal information between us whatsoever. Year later I saw her photo in the paper with a massive headline: Man arrested for murder after snapping shocking Polaroid pics of girlfriend’s corpse and pinning them against trunks of trees in Central Park.  I never knew if he knew of us.  But I stopped for a while.  I did not see people for quite some time.  It was quite shocking! He was Korean.  A Brutal act. It was all over the news. The gruesome images showed her lifeless body.  I could identify the body.  No one else did. The murder sparked a week-long manhunt for the suspect.  American media released the photos.  I could not sleep.  I loved her, you know. The police declined to discuss the murder in detail, I was angry! Pissed like hell! but did confirm that the killing was the result of a heated spat between the couple. Was it me? I hoped not.   Years later the puzzle of the story was completed.  The guy came to Manhattan and jumped in front of a subway train, possibly for mental reasons — Heard someone say he had killed his 49-year-old girlfriend with a machete in the driveway of her home in Midland Park.  He then went to the 163rd Street/Amsterdam Avenue station in Washington Heights and jumped in front of a train at about 4:30 p.m. Something like that! He was rushed to Harlem Hospital, a little too late.  He had confronted her when she returned home in her black Volkswagen about 3:30 p.m. and attacked her with a very large machete type of knife, striking her several times the prosecutor said. Cops responding to a 9-1-1 call found her dead in the car with the engine still running.  I left Cuba.  I had to!  I don’t know anything about guns and I don’t wanna know.  The rotten dictator murdered Twenty thousand Cubans in seven years! That’s what they say! I don’t know if this is true. But it’s over for me.  Over and done with! Finito. I was fed up with all this bullshit, you know.  We were in business.  What kind of business is this? To overlook murder for the sake of prosperity. I’d rather go back to selling clothes in suitcases and jumping from one door to another; from one town to another, as I did back in the early fifties when I first landed in that remote, torpid and distant place we called The Island.  Two blasted, boozy, unidentified and extremely busy silhouettes were dogging inside a yellow, rear-engined Fiat 500 with suicide doors, parked and running not far away from Michel’s –An iconic Boîte de Nuit, at 2:15 AM in East Beirut. Dire Straits’ Money for Nothing guitar intro was coming out of the car’s loudest radio ever, while at it.  The Fiat was shaking and swooshing like a washing-machine in the middle of the parking lot.  A nasty ride. Muslim bombs were falling around the corner and the sharp noises of machine-guns crackling did not evade extreme shadows that formed and detached on the surrounding structures, to appear Kafkaesque and ominous.  You could hear the mutter of a standing crowd not far apart, ready to board their paper planes, unceremoniously and see for yourself a big puff of thick white smoke plume coming out from the Fiat’s exhaust pipe.  A clear symptom of something sinister. Alors, Je veux une pipe.  Fais moi une pipe. You could hardly see the two-silhouettes, inside the smallest car you could ever picture. The noises they were making were as unusual. The commotions of the sexually-provoked twosome became hysterical.  The tempo and the clamors they made paced-up. The two-silhouettes hit their heads against the car hood, repeatedly.  A truc-macabre.  It became frantic. A bomb fell near-by to the echoes of: “Shu ya Dildo!” as some customer standing in line degraded another.  A two-door Lincoln Continental Mark VI coupe, with optional touring lights, fuel injected 5.0 L Windsor V-8 engine, four speed automatic transmission, in a black painted exterior with black vinyl top, power seats, and rear opera windows, that drives well, with some crazing in paint, body in fair condition with some small dents and scratches, signs of rust appearing in few typical areas, rushed in through narrow, dimly-lit, and stark streets.  Destination unmarked.  You could hardly identify any of its passengers. Big and asymmetrical shadows kept forming on tall and surrounding building walls as the vehicle drove through. Stray dogs were howling and a line of customers stood in cue with the incoherent slur of a crowd, under the influence, in the void. They began to speed-walk as the sudden drizzle turned into a rainocalypse of bullfrogs and hammer-handles. The car stopped.  Three dark suits came out. They were neatly dressed.  Their attire reminded me of my father’s old wedding photographs.  They walked down, rapidly, a large picturesque staircase that led downstairs into the Boîte.  They walked past the bouncers with knuckle-dusters you see first when you enter a bar or a pub, with their mood-setting faces. Large and strapping.  Act like an asshole, chances are you will wake up in an ally in a pool of your own blood with serious head trauma.  Most act in kind.  The underground grave-like Boîte was a bit small and could get crowded very quickly on a weekend.  The walls were masked with graphic posters from the sixties.  The DJ swung in a cage above, as wild crowds attempted to grab it.  The air was purple, the ceiling was open, the sky was the limit.  Haze covered-up the floor entirely and countless candles lit the hippest place in town: A temple of temporary insanity.  And fashioned like a stock market, where the drink prices went up and down depending on demand and consumption.  Still, you could hear: “See you later, Puto!” as you walked your way to the bar.  A central-plot.  To tell you truth, I was drawn by the refraction of light rays that added beauty to the gin glassware. That shook to each and every Muslim bomb falling.  I had to make my way past the blackout tray holding one vodka soda, two Sex on the Beach, two glasses of sangria, two tequila shots, two Sambuca shots and two Jägermeister shots. Madame Maude was ordering chupitos at the bar.  If you’re semi-new to Spanish, you probably did not know that that was shots “en Español.”  Most of these shots cost what most shots cost anywhere.  Madame Maude was a fashionista unlike any other.  Unmarried. Old school. A witch on wheels. She looked like the protagonist of Stairway to Heaven. The type of woman you wouldn’t want to bump into on any given Sunday. To walk her twenty-nine cats was holy. She was Mrs. Terror incarnate. The only way she’d stop a car is to slam it into a bridge wall in Karantina one good Sunday afternoon falling short of causing a misfortune. Not a very cool thing to do.  Drowsy, sluggish and dull. She raised her shot the highest she could as she looked at me. “Tchin-tchin.” I raised my gun.  She flinched. You could see through the infamous Slippery Nipple, the Slow Comfortable Screw Against The Wall, Amaretto Sour, B-52, Blue Lagoon, Between the Sheets, Dirty Banana, Fluffy Duck, a Screaming Orgasm, Piña Coladas, and the bar on fire, as a few customers roasted marshmallows as a chaser, you could see for yourself how loving these creatures performed inside. They did not let the random instances pass without socializing. Canned and smashed.  They were young men and young women, who happened to be there. In love or out of it. Socializing.  For reasons, you must know. They were young Lebanese of Phoenician roots, who had long forgotten the great legacy of their ancestors.  You could see, for yourself, how they socialized and maneuvered mechanically upon the dancing floor -almost with body-parts missing. Spinning to throwback tunes, in the midst of Lebanese hash and uncertainty.  The music and for some absurd reason was good.  A sonic roundup of the era.  From alternative rock to new wave.  In spite of rumors to contain backward Satanic messages. Lebanese, Please. I said. The bartender supplied me with a paper plane.  A coco spliff.  I called them Jimmies. He said: C’est à peu près pareil, c’est kif kif! I Lit my Jimmy, took a drag or two as the noise volume kept deafening my ears and the ethnically-ambiguous crowd kept rushing in, in the same manner they did, when they first entered that Boîte: Smashed, Pissed-drunk, sky-high, with zeppelins burning on their ordinary lips.  Sad.  Rotten. And forgotten.  And in a constant state of demonstration.  Everybody went crazy, out of a sudden, and started buying up drinks. A customer burnt down in an ashtray on the bar: What a fidiot!  A shameful kind of situation. Most of the customers, young men and young women in love or out of it, for reasons you must know, were loners, part-time humans, unromantic, selfish to a self-degrading state, enjoying the rights of citizenship they had acquired waking up every day in the Republic, and brushing their teeth in their stinking bathrooms, and pissing and shitting every single morning before going to work.  They were what we call regular-citizens.  Who had spent most of their lives mouthing their lines in the wings, hiding their faces with little pieces of the night which the night, in turn, never utilized. Most of them had survived a plane crash or lost everything in a fire.  Alas, they were stranded, unaided in a chamber of temporary immortality.  Full of pint and mortals.  A place you could easily roll up a dollar bill, bend over and suck up a few lines of blow coke via your nostrils, and repeat the act undisturbed.  The dealers wore tuxedos: Unusual characters who were sitting on their peculiar couches, smoking, drinking, trying desperately to keep up with the pace of the night that shone right above them. With their peculiar attires on. They were cokeheads:  Rich snowblowers.  They were tired.  And they were desperately in motion.  They could not help spilling their crazy-named shots all over the place.  They were, alas, in their final act of mockery in an elsewhere, so sad, so rotten, forgotten.  The crowd kept coming in and out, and the two-silhouettes were still fucking inside that tiny yellow Fiat not far away from where I was standing: In the middle of a Beiruti night with heavy rain and angry bombs pouring.    A mechanical undertaking.   Not much emotion/commotion at play except for their intense sexual collaboration.  A deliberate, indecent exposure.  It did not take me long to fathom that some angels happened to be standing not far from where I was. My feet did not hesitate to head their way.  I had to scream my name out as I greeted them.  Mario … my name is Mario! Mario was my Christian party-name.  I used it for suitability.  Of course, it took me at least an hour and a half to get up here! past the barricades, broken fences and the Christian check-points.  But I could not care less. I was finally here.  I was the King Mario, flying my paper plane in circles, and the night I could fit in my back-pocket.  The young men and women who happened to be there never saw Joy nor Titi– two tall, black maids standing monumental at the entrance of the W.C.  Proud and hallowed.  They were so wasted, they walked past them without even noticing the holy halos around them, nor could they shake the hands of two towering black women who had traveled more than God knows how many thousands of miles away from home, just to sit at the entrance of a W.C to wait for the crowd to depart so they could clean up the mess that was to be left behind on that evening.  For a moment I saw palm trees, the tide on the beach and children going to school in their eyes, in the mirror of the bathroom.  This place could not do without some hammered, loaded, expired-politicians, rolling out their stretched tongues and spitting out their mediocre achievements to random night partygoers.  Wasted-lawyers, dirty-butchers, and nurses waiting-for-a-fuck, ended up here.  Not to mention antediluvian TV producers who had made it, finally, living some sort of early retirement with their heads bent, a hunch-back, fat and filthy-rich like characters from a Botero painting, who had lost all their habits, their medals and their merits.  And no one had kissed them, really kissed them with affection, since the end of the Civil War. They were alas!  Pissed-drunk, sky-high, and long rotten, forgotten, socializing in their fake glasses of wine, champagne and happiness.  Their hearts -so torn to pieces, just like the end of a love affair, and their dreams, lying around corners, scattered, like wasted drunken-dogs, so long rotten, forgotten, dreadful and desperate, under the falling beams of light, in a yielded, defeated position. Everybody was so drunk, nobody could tell. Some customers, who had grown accustomed to the sting of the intense liquor, had to bounce out of their stools to get their flying tequilas back.  They had scolded the bartender, blaming her for sneezing blatantly, and causing such misfortune. They were engaged in a non-ending cycle of banal platitude.  The disco ball hung from the sky.  The bartender with big hair and bigger tits asked the three thugs approaching the bar: What are you having, big fellas? Maurice winced at the high-level earsplitting, metallic, shrill echoes bouncing off the walls of the Chamber and said Diablos! After a moment, Maurice asked: Where can we find Michel? The bartender shrugged. Michel, the owner of the boite, or Mr. Cash. The ladies’ man.  A crackhead, a zombie, who was perpetually on blow coke and a recreational manic-depressive by default, who favored holiday cycling in the Dutch capital, gripped his Foxy Julia to his side, and couldn’t hide forever the invasive truth buried under the surface, as he swirled the ice cubes in his glass with another hand.  Foxy Julia was an ex-spy, ex-painter, ex-piano player, ex-singer, ex-actress, ex-whatever talent you may think of.  She was Michel’s ex. But she was around. Maybe it’s the flowers and the chocolate, and a few lines of blow coke that kept her coming back. And all the thick memories we all shared ever since we were little, back at school, in the Island.   They were amongst friends. He said:  You know, the other day it occurred to me what if, what if Julia dies while making love to me?? Huh? What if she dies while making love to me? I couldn’t hide her body, full of kisses and sperms! But then, it occurred to me: I could stick my fifty pairs of shoes to her body, you know.  But how the hell could I?? Then, it occurred to me, I put her on a sidewalk, upside-down with a sign: For sale & rest in peace! Everybody just fucking laughed! And it was a huge moment!  Julia tossed him with a bold look, for making her the target of public pillory.  Michel, unabashed, said a moment later: I love you, habibte.  I wouldn’t do that to you, my Julia.  You know something: Every time we kiss, the earthquake kills fifteen thousand in India! Michel and Julia who subsequently walked away from the lineup, ended up locked-up in a graffiti-tagged bathroom, where they over-reacted sexually behind a closed door.  Michel did a line or two of blow.  Alors, Je veux une pipe.  Fais moi une pipe.  Julia delivered. He could only wait for some more.  She did a line or two and groaned in vibrato as Michel finger-blasted her from the rear end. A rushing-crowd came in, sniggering and hissing about them in their improvised intimacy, all the while, a loaded, stiff soloist was tuning his soprano pitched in C, fascinated perhaps by the reverb of the chamber, and throwing dissatisfied glances at a Novato who said: Nice clarinet! It is only fair that he did that! I mean everybody knew it was a soprano.  Even those who didn’t know.  It is only fair to say that a soprano consists of a straight conical tube with a flared bell at the end opposite the mouthpiece.  How could he miss that!  Unsurprisingly, every musician wants to do something of lasting quality, something which will hold up for a long time.  And I guess the soloist had initiated that in this very bathroom.  I knocked on the door. Michel opened it half-way as he enjoyed a slow blow job right behind it.  Foxy Julia was slurping on his throbbing sausage, as he took out an expensive Davidoff cigar-lighter and torched my expensive Cohiba cigar. One of those they call Lanceros. Speaking of Foxy, I remember a date with a foxy woman one night in Bogota: Everything was going really well until I looked her in the eyes, fucking-wasted, and said: Eres muy zorra! And she surprised me with a dry slap in the face.  Zorra means prostitute in Spanish.  I stared at my own image on the mirror, with the endless frustration of being stuck in one body, that inhabits one place at a time.  A vicious-act! I read countless deeds on the walls of that tiny chamber, which is like standing in front of the departure screen of a busy airport: I love Samantha.  Samantha loves Tonto (the dog) Tonto loves Julieta.  Julieta Loves Romeo. Romeo Hates the dog.  The dog’s name is Tonto.  I Just Shot John Lennon. I want to live a thousand years so fast so fast.  You gotta love your man, take him by the handle.  If you ever feel powerless, just remember that a single one of your pubic hairs can shut down an entire restaurant. Never quit lovin’ your clit …… The truth is Michel was a hell of a guy.  I liked him alright.  He was a cool guy. Everybody wanted to fuck him, alright.  They wanted to fuck him really bad.  Girls and boys all the same.  And they sure did this time.  The three thugs rushed in behind me and knocked both Michel and Julia down, pulled them out and took them away.  He had screwed-up.  He owed some folks back in Medellin, perhaps, big time dinero. But somehow, he kind of forgot to pay back. And so, some Colombian angels passed-by to collect.  He was desperately defeated. Ultimately forsaken! Drunk, waist-down-naked and ultimately busted.  It was judgment day for Michel.  The three suits put Michel and Julia in the trunk of their dark Lincoln Continental, their getaway car, mouth-folded them and mashed-out into the dark. Destination unmarked.  A Harley roared up as the car drove away. Night carousers were climbing up their paper planes, as I turned to Nadia and said: In your eyes, I see city streets crowded with women.  Nadia turned with a tall, broad bowl, Bordeaux glass, in hand: Where?” She asked.  In East or West Beirut? We both sniggered.  I’m serious.  I said. I see women walkin’ about in a haste.  Oh God, you spin all the dresses on sale, with the air that you inhale and exhale from your mouth.  Nadia El Rayyes was a charming girl. Not beautiful. Rather charming. She wore a picturesque dress that evening, and green flat shoes.  No Makeup.  Held a plain white cigarette between her fine-looking fingers.  Her bag at her side. She was unsurprisingly attentive. A young woman in her late twenties.  Outgoing and hazy.  Life and soul of the party.  A mixer. A social butterfly.  She had just lost her insurance job back in Amsterdam, and was trying to make ends meet in a futile Dutch society, ever since she had graduated from college and had made up her mind to stick around after picking up some Dutch and falling for a German spy in the city.  –“Just kidding!”  A college boy whose name I never learned to say from memory. That looked promising. Undaunted by my aspiring conquest, I struggled at conversation.  So, Mario! What have you been doing lately? Nadia asked.  Am a grasshopper.  Been around, you know. Always looking for new faces, in new places, everywhere I go. I’m always on the look-out for something fresh, exciting. I reacted. What are you looking for exactly? Well, I am looking for a peculiar kind of women.  The typical pretty-face-kind, of the bombshell variety, with bigger tits. You see, the project I am working on, is part of a public campaign to increase the percentage of breast-feeding in the population. We both laughed. The Lincoln Continental made its way through a foggy, forlorn street of a faded suburb.  It stopped. The driver’s door opened at once. The three-suits-wearing thugs came out and opened the trunk, and took out the two tied-bodies. They put them on the side-walk, dry-high, upside-down with a sign: For sale & rest in peace. Maurice drew his .45 Colt and pointed the pistol at them. Michel and Foxy Julia were so drunk they could not tell. The thug pulled that trigger several times.  Bang-bang-bang-bang.  Steadfast.  Michel and Julia did not fall.  Instead they bent over each other.  They are in love, that’s why they don’t fall. You can’t kill love! You know.  Unable to move, the two-lovers endured downhearted. Stock-still.  Mouth-folded. Over a wet sidewalk in the middle of nowhere.  Back at the Boite: My kisses bungee-jumped upon Nadia’s extraordinary lips.  Flamboyant! at the bar.  Alas! A glorious act. Glorious in spite of the bitterness I was feeling inside my mouth due to the high amount of tannins from the red wine I was having. In spite of the departing crowd so rotten, forgotten. The three suits got back in their car and drove it like they stole it.  Vartan Aslanyan, an Armenian truck-driver, in his fifties, happened to be driving back home. An apparent lonesome traveler who had paid his debts to society yet always believed life had wronged him, for some reason.  He was listening to a late-night radio talk-show.  A re-run of a bla-bla show that tried in vain to fix the global economy in times of a pandemic. The war itself! He caught sight of the two-lovers.  Mufid Salem, a distant cousin of mine, in the meantime, was inserting the key of his apartment’s door in the keyhole when it broke up in half, a few hundred meters ahead. He looked at the door, and uttered the ultimate words of disappointment: Shit! Vartan’s late night radio talk-show noise could be heard clearly through the empty streets of the faded space.  Mufid Salem scratched his head a few times and turned to his neighbor’s, as the latter opened the adjacent door.  The truck continued travelling the empty streets with constant speed, in isolation. Vartan Aslanyan was determined to solve the major issue discussed over the waves by acting fiercely at once.  I’ll show you how to fucking solve the problems of the fucking global economy! He yelled and drove backward through a nicely-lit bank’s façade, with security guard sleeping tenderly over a nicely-designed seat, at the entrance, smashing the whole exterior down with security guard included. A truc-macabre! Vartan rushed out of his truck, unzipped his pants, took a piss by the wall, went in, climbed counters and desks; grabbed as much money as he could from an apparent safe, left open, and walked out! Just like that! He then took off.  I broke my key in the keyhole. Can I use your balcony to get inside my house? Asked an unabashed Mufid Salem.  His veteran neighbor nodded affirmatively.  The young man jumped to the outer part of the balustrade, with self-assurance that life was holy, that life was precious. A lucid moment. Vartan, in the meantime, travelled through empty streets with Dollar bills flying out of an improvised bag.  Mufid’s feet slow-paced their way, and always sideways. Never doubting his existence. The truck kept going through the rainy, empty streets with Dollar bills flying all over. The young man kept walking sideways, only this time with feet, misleading. As the truck kept going, Mufid kept moving. He stopped for a last time. He thought life over. A titanic conflict. He let his hands off the balustrade, falling backwards, endlessly, and finally smashing his head on the pavement. Funnily, he did not make noise. The bombs and the cracks of machine-guns in the near distance were louder, more notorious. A few seconds later the truck drove past with Dollar bills flying all over him. Vartan Aslanyan was the happiest man alive. Mufid Salem was the most miserable. The street lamp-posts looked down on both of them, indifferent and desperately in silence. The night took some pretty wild turn.  I ended up facing him in the dumpsters.  I said to Mufid Salem: Mufid, you look fucking dead! It’s alright.  It’s alright to look dead as long as you don’t die.  Hey, don’t get upset my friend.  I’ve nowhere to go tonight.  I’m tired.  Dead tired. You smell like shit.  It’s alright .. it’s alright to smell like shit! Can I stay .. I mean .. just for the night .. I can tell you all my secrets .. I don’t mind .. when you guys decide to make love .. I shut my ears …. Then I sleep right away … when you’re about to cum …. I close my eyes ..  you don’t feel like sleeping ??? .. me neither … you know once .. a mouse invited a dog to her party .. Just picture this: All the mice looked ecstatic. The males wore their tiny tuxedos and the females wore lovely black gowns. The dog was a shy one .. he felt he didn’t belong right away .. A rabbit, hired as a waiter, offered him a glass of red wine. With tannins giving it character. He felt much better. Still, it wasn’t his environment .. you know.  He wasn’t ok with it … it wasn’t his kinda place! The truth is he was still out of place amid the gowns, embroidered shirts and heels of the female crowd.  A mouse wanted him to meet some important mice of their community! She thought he was darkly handsome.  And so, he was introduced to banker-mouse, the school-master mouse, the doctor-mouse, the inspector-mouse, and even Mickey Mouse, the famous actor. I don’t know why, but he was there! Later on, the band, made up of younger mice began to play a song: A mouse-song. And the poor dog, still couldn’t belong … don’t ask me why. What’s the matter with you?? Why aren’t you dancing? All the mice asked the poor dog. Well .. I don’t know how to dance.  The dog said. Come .. I’ll teach you. A mouse offered.  The poor dog was left with no other option .. one step forward .. one step backward .. . a few steps to the side .. Fucking hell!  The dog shouted.  He had smashed the poor mouse. All mice in shock, gathered around to see what just happened.  I knew it .. I knew it .. I shouldn’t have come in the first place.  The dog said. “I’m not dead .. I’m not dead .. I got you all scared .. I got you all scared!” shouted the mouse.  The dog couldn’t stand it. He got mad.  He looked at the mouse, enraged, and crushed her like a cockroach.  “Fuck you .. You die .. You die .. You die!” I concluded. “You know some,” I said, “ever since they’ve told me this shaggy-dog story .. I’m trying to figure out how the hell could a dog fit in a tiny little mice entry.  It’s utterly preposterous! Don’t you ever, ever do what the mouse did. It kills ya!”  It’s not like I was expecting Mufid Salem to say something back.  Something like: Do you expect me to believe this bullshit?  I was still relishing the flavor of dryness of the wine I had consumed, when a loud ambulance siren interrupted the stillness, making its way through the dark alley.  It finally stopped.  Three paramedics rushed out and opened the back door of the vehicle. They pulled a gurney out.  Put him upside-down with the sign: For sale & rest in peace!  And took him for hurt.  A little house with a red roof, grass all around it, a big green tree, a horse and a bull under it, a sun somehow human, a lonely bird below it, a little boy and a little girl holding hands, and yellow flowers. Lots of yellow flowers, yellow flowers.  I slept with clothes on and woke up in a white place. The light columns were white. Most likely a hospital room. The Hospital seemed deserted. As it turned out to be. Woke up gradually … eyes first … and found it difficult to understand what I was doing here. Unable to remember the night before, obviously. I walked towards the window.  It was a typical Lebanese Sunday Morning.  A lonesome figure shuffled his feet on the ground. Put both hands on my face.  I had the headache. A wine-induced headache due to the tannins and the high-alcohol content in the wine.  I walked out of the white room into the hall. A little less white.  I caught sight of a girl lying on a bed in an adjacent white room. She had peculiarly huge melons. I was perplexed. A lucid moment of my own. I walked to her reassured of my act.  I stood before her.  Victorious.  As I stared at her pristine rack, I thought to myself: Nice! She smiled back, and asked: Do you like them? What do you think? I replied.  She said: I think you do.  Can I … ? She interrupted me: Touch them? She nodded agreeably. As I came nearer and attempted to touch them, the girl laughed hysterically.  It was none other than stiff Julia, from the boite. Michel’s girl. Michel also stood next to her. Jolly-Green.  He also laughed uncontrollably.  I woke up suddenly. I woke up with the same headache. The hangover was over-whelming.  A typical Sunday Morning in Beirut.  I strolled down the sidewalk, trying to catch the slow rhythm of an 11:00 AM Sunday street that was almost deserted or rather forlorn, with little human presence at this time of the morning, after an intense, wild week of non-ending street battles and skirmishes.  Out of a sudden, TV sets started to plunge down on both the street and the sidewalk I was walking on.  It rained TV sets! They landed all over me, and around me like dogs and cats! I was perplexed! A truc-macabre! The falling became unbearable.  My walking hastier.  Many TV sets kept on falling as I walked through.  The situation became critical. I walked desperately like a fool without sense, without prospects. I arrived at a bus stop.  Street-empty. Desperately empty. I masturwaited for a bus that never arrived. A gorgeous-looking girl stood by. She was not embarrassed.  She gave me the look she wanted to join the party.  I looked up at her and I thought to myself: Small ones! As I walked empty Sunday lanes, up to my apartment building, two-nice looking girls were coming my opposite. Both laughing.  In a swift maneuver, I managed to scrutinize both, the size of their tits. And I kept thinking to myself: Not big enough .. Once home, I stripped-naked. Took a beer out of the fridge, saw big watermelons inside a crisper-drawer, and told myself: Where do I find boobs this big? Boobs of different sizes and shapes is all I could think of while shitting in the bathroom to the remote, vague refrains of Ron Carter’s The Shadow of Your Smile coming out of my great-looking, retro-style Marshall speakers in an adjacent space.  A space re-purposed for the occasion.  To tell you the truth I was more interested in the shadow of big tits than in the shadow of your smile.  Shitting is a noble act, you know, worthy of enjoying with a good book and superior music.  I read Gabo’s Memoria de mis Putas Tristes all afternoon. Had some wine. I waxed the carrot in the shower, after having some more wine. Came out, invincible, my legs propelled me through to the bedroom in a few strides.   Stood sideways in front of the mirror thinking about Foxy Julia. I checked my belly boundary, as I stood sideways in front of the mirror.  Strip-Naked.  I pulled my belly in and out. Are you talkin’ to me? I found myself replicating Travis Bickle’ memorable act in front of the mirror. Gratified.  Complete.  Not the way I wanted to, though.  But it was a happy complete moment for me. A Lacanian moment of plenitude, so to speak.  Exempted from all the residues of regret, immorality and shortcomings.  So .. proud of life, lived!  So ..  proud of life, yet to come!  Nadia looked grotesque through my door’s fisheye peephole.  I opened the door.  She said: Door-waiting reminds me of train-waiting and our random encounter in Utrecht station. I know I’ve been acting like a real bitch, lately.  Excuse my French! She said.  To which I did not utter a word.  We sat in the quiet of my room with two magnificent glasses of a 1er Grand Cru, Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1970 Bordeaux, mostly kissing like two proletarian amateurs, looking at my own version of Van Gogh’s Starry Night through my apartment window and ear-catching the quiet and solemn notes of the lullaby part of Stairway to Heaven, coming out of my sensual Marshall-speakers. The most-played song ever in the history of American FM radio. I was excited.  She was pregnant.  The muffled sounds of an old TV set on, did not prevent the swift quivering of a curling image to fluctuate endlessly, as we looked on and talked about old art and lubrication, both perched on my window ledge with feet dangling.  We did a line or two of blow coke. Bombs started to fall in our vicinity.  As we dimmed the lights and crawled upon the floor to the bedroom like combat soldiers, one idea lingered in my head, that made me feel vulnerable: –“In war, when you leave your home every day, you feel as if there is a bullet behind your head. And this bullet is always behind your head, following you wherever you go. You never know when it will pierce through your skull. And you’re finished! Michel and Julia, stood-still like two dummies of a window display.  In love.  They were also hit repeatedly by night-time snipers from both ends of a Beirut street around the clock: Oozing blood from their cracked heads, and their broken ears with the hope that one day life was going to be beautiful, oh yes! So beautiful, so fucking beautiful! The air was purple. The night was still young …. Nadia and I fucked like rabbits over my creaking bed, with metal springs in decay. It had definitely some structural damage. We could easily tell!  To tell you the truth we did not give a fuck, as the squeaking intensified, the bomb-falling echoes augmented, and the drum rolls of a climaxing Stairway to Heaven ricocheted off my window crystal.  We were in tune with the universe.  Nadia looked me in the eyes and whispered to my ear as she moaned: Bertolt Brecht once said war is like love.  It always finds a way! So find your way, Shakespeare! The next morning, I drove my two-door, rear-engine Lady Bug Volkswagen Type 1 past a maze of what-was-left-of standing structures that I could not call buildings anymore.  Street-aligned, empty, ransacked, warped and crooked as if they were made out of modelling clay.  The street façades were damaged beyond repair.  I drove numb. Stacks of car tires piled up on both sides of the road.  Hotel California was coming out of my car stereo in decay.  An old, blind woman in veil walked with a stick in hand, blinded on a cold winter night by Christian flying shrapnel thrown out by a car-bomb explosion next to her house in Sodeco, and another sat next to a vending hut selling Marlboro packs, wailing the loss of her husband, her brother and her only son in last week’s rampage.  The sun pierced the skin like a razor.  The truth is you needed a razor to cut your forehead open to ease the heat. A man with no legs made his way in the middle of the street.  Another strolled his wheelbarrow in the opposite direction, bare-chested.  The skeleton of a bus burned on one side of the road. I thought: Planet Beirut.  A corporate tragedy.  Odd, passive characters playing backgammon while blowing through the hoses of their hookas in a slanted road café, in a lifeless street, were striving desperately to keep up with the pace of the day in a haste.  A notorious, not-so-recent photo of an invincible Abdel Nasser endured on the wall.  Militarized, hard-bodied, loaded dopeheads, stood around corners, inside crooked houses, or dogging behind 6-feet high walls of stacked sandbags.  As I drove by, a firestorm of bullets unleashed, dispersed passers-by.  At the start of the war I was happy. There was war!  It was the thing for me, yet tragedy for the others.  In our profession, we come we take pictures and we leave people behind. It’s not the image.  It’s the war that’s ugly.  It’s a drug.  War is a drug. Once you start you never stop.  I have it under my skin.  It is a drug. The more you go, the more you want.  Because life in war is absolutely whimsical.  You live the eve of the end of the world. Every day.  And you get those eccentric addictions.  But you can’t get rid of flirting with death.  And everything is absolutely fantastic.  I mean sex is absolutely gorgeous in war because you’re living it at the extreme.  You don’t know what will happen tomorrow.  And then you come back, and you see around you, no meaning, people and problems around you have no meaning whatsoever, and life has no meaning.  Random characters stood by, and looked away, as I drove past Bruno Ganz, the lead actor on a random film set, who didn’t just have to focus on the script, but also had to make sure to crouch when passing through intersecting roads so he wouldn’t get hit by snipers, while shooting in the ruins of the down town.  Some dark smoke came out from the completely shattered Holiday Inn, which was heavily battered during the so-called Battle of the Hotels in the two-year war, a few years back.  One of the fiercest battles of the war. The hotel endured as a tower of death divided into little cells that face the interior and the exterior alike.  On top, there was a madman living his madness until one day he was captured and thrown down from the roof, naked.  The sniper used a long-range rifle for precise attacks or duck-shooting from a concealed position. The madman of the Holiday Inn was addled, badgered, bashed, blasted, blind, blitzed, bombed, boozy, canned, cockeyed, crocked, drunken, fried, gassed, hammered, high, impaired, inebriate, intoxicated, loaded, looped, oiled, pickled, pie-eyed, pished, pissed, plastered, potted, ripped, sloshed, smashed, sottish, soused, sozzled, squiffy, stewed, stiff, stinking, stoned, tanked, tiddly, tight, tipsy, wasted, wet, wiped out, zonked, sharpshooting tiny little silhouettes zigzagging the empty and thin streets below.  He was paid around 25 Lebanese pounds to do it! Twenty-five the head! What a shameful act.  Illicitly shameful.  The funny thing is that random characters kept shuffling in and out the barricades and the bullet-stoppers that provided cover.  Inside the lobby, some light bulbs hung down off the wall, chairs smashed up, and a piano that more or less survived was left untouched.  Out of a sudden, the war stopped:  An artistic ceasefire was called out.  The guns were silenced and the movie cameras positioned randomly on silent locations, replaced trucks of heavy artillery on both sides of the Green Line.  They even disassembled the mines that were embedded right there in No Man’s Zone.  Each faction knew the exact sites of the mines.  They came in and shattered them for production purposes.  This shows to what extent the different warring factions were collaborating. There was no one at the front line. Everybody took the time off.   There was a guard or so, maybe, who had nothing to do, except to shy off flies.  Every once in a while, someone would replace him.  There was total consent on ceasefire. The war junkies kept their word, except on one occasion when technicians tried to recover some equipment left behind from the previous day’s filming. Nobody thought to notify the local snipers on duty, who promptly opened fire on the unexpected intruders.  Fortunately, no one was injured and the gear was collected later –by appointment.  Several days later, crew members had a similar lucky escape when a passing Iraqi-embassy car was machine-gunned near them by an assassination squad.  Unsurprisingly, children who saw plastic body-parts lying around on the set brought real human remains as props the following day.  The Lebanese extras who were cast every morning insisted on real ammunition, and some of them were also among the ranks of various militia factions at nighttime.  For a moment, it got very confusing: Real actors who are fighters by default were playing the parts of militiamen of a war that is fake and yet as it happened.  In March 1976, PLO commandos and leftist militiamen seized the Holiday Inn, only to lose it a few hours later: the Muslims had celebrated their victory so heartily that the Phalangists were able to sneak back in and recapture the hotel the following morning.  I caught sight of Abou Louai as I stopped the car on an agreed spot.  He got in and said after a long lecture on how red wines with high tannin age better than those with lower tannin content and consequently are more expensive:  I have a part in the film.  I play myself! We drove down the green line, past barricades and roadblocks. Like a snail on a razor.  I asked: When are you shooting? Unreal act! I have a couple of scenes tomorrow. He said.  I know that character so well. I had acted that role before.  Right after Tal El Zaatar Massacre, and Hay’ el Ghawarne and the Dbayyeh camp, (The Palestinian camp,) the retaliation would be against the Damour.  My role is the Commander of the Palestinian factions who lead an attack on Damour to avenge these massacres.  That’s a clear reference to historical battles in the timeline of the Lebanese Civil War, and more so of the two-years war (February 1975-December 1976.)  The siege of Tal El Zaatar on January 5 (1976) by the Lebanese Front.  Soon after the Karantina Massacre that took place on January 18, when right-wing Christian forces like the Guardians of the Cedars, the Phalangists and the Tigers Militia took control of the Karantina district.  Hundreds of Palestinians were killed and the inhabitants fled before the shantytown was burned and bulldozed.  The Damour Massacre took place on January 20, when enraged and infuriated Palestinian guerillas and the National Movement attacked and destroyed the Christian populated town of Damour, south of Beirut. Hundreds of people were killed and thousands displaced.  Abou Louai said: I did not hurt anyone. And I did not take advantage of my post to impose anything on anyone.  I have Arab, Nasserist ideologies with a clear purpose.  At the same time, I am an actor.  Lots of people would be –let’s say baffled to see me in military uniform.  As if a secret was revealed.  Everybody took to the streets: There was no problem anymore ..  One day, I was in Shiyyah. Early on in the war. On Assaad El Assaad street. There was a counter-sniper in Ain El Remmaneh.  He shot down one of ours. I took my rifle and went up to the roof. It was my first reaction.  I just sat there waiting.  I could not see him.  I wanted to shoot someone back.  As an act of vengeance, you know.  I looked through the optical scope.  The street was empty.  Then, I saw a little boy. I tossed the rifle to one side and went down.  I couldn’t do it. Oh God! You send me a little boy? He sniggered.  This is the war! As I drove past jeeps full of militias in a vacant road, it appeared to me as if they all wanted to play the part of Robert Duval’s character in Apocalypse Now: Son! Nothing else in the world smells like that.  I love the smell of napalm in the morning.  You know, one time we had a hill bombed, for 12 hours.  Life in Beirut was mind-blowing.  The city was a big bare-stage on which damaged, shattered, hard-bodied men derived erotic ecstasy from combat under the influence.  We had so many Lieutenant Colonels that looked and sounded like William Bill Kilgore. As I drove my Lady Bug through the ravaged city streets, I stumbled upon tough men and cowboys hitting the slopes on their jeeps.  They looked like they were water-skiing. For all I know.  The bomb-shelling intensified.  Abou Louai and I were crammed with many other civilians into a suddenly-found and improvised shelter made out of stacking bags of sand in two rows, that could easily stop a 50-caliber round from harming those on the inside, providing everyone with peace of mind.  During pipe bursts and strong storms, troops use them to keep floodwaters at bay for as long as possible, which saves money and keeps people alive. A wall made from these bags can keep entire cities safe from what would otherwise destroy them in no time.  A single bag of sand is usually enough to stop most handgun rounds in their tracks. It will even stop some rifle rounds from reaching the other side. The sight of sandbags was a daily affair.  There were sandbags all over the city: To protect from skirmishes between different military groups, on every other street, to shield pharmacies and bakeries from the shrapnel of falling bombs, and to guard building entrances from mortar attacks. You name it! Sandbags here, sandbags there.  Sandbags everywhere!  A truc-macabre! My constant desire for a woman with bigger tits echoed my passion for the battle zone.  The Bigger Tits I was looking for were a daily war-triggering motivation.  The closer you are to death the more alive.  That’s my only viable explanation! We were trapped outside –You know, in a war we cannot escape to the inside.  Our anguish was inevitable. Punishment was the very stuff of the narrative of war: A daily life made-out of and for the violence that surrounded us, that stripped us from our real sense of space and time.  We were lost and yet happy to be alive! We saw a million pieces of ourselves in the shattered glass and debris after every explosion we survived.  In the shelter, I saw a young boy of about ten. The mother sat on the ground and her young son sat beside her. The young boy was placed on his mother’s lap. The young boy was slain. His head was cut off. The body remained on the lap of the mother.  Stray dogs were skidding around, sniffing impartially the mother’s shoes. Then the militia placed the head of the young boy on his blade and showed it to everyone.  A loud requiem.  Some dopeheads stabbed a pregnant woman in her stomach. Cut her open and took two small children out and then beat them to death on the ground.  Not far, and through a broken fence, I could see that there was another veiled woman with a small baby a few months old in a Service, that stopped at a Christian checkpoint. The militia told the mother that the child must stop crying. When the child did not stop crying, he snatched the child away and cut his throat.  The woman took her baby and ran barefoot in the empty street.  Massive pianos fell off the rooftops and angels made-out of glass got shattered as they fell off locked inside. The entire city was on the verge of lunacy.  She rubbed her strapless lid in a circular fashion with some Thai oil I had in store, using her left hand, and sitting back in the bunker of my bed, with her cherry-red lips squeezing a hard, spicy and fired-up Jimmy on the loose, that looked more like a German Hindenburg caught on fire attempting to dock on her scrumptious lips and she did all that with the elasticity of a gazelle in premonition of a fuck-up. Of an imminent death. A cruel act.  She looked me in the eyes and said: Last time I fucked six guys at the same time.  I don’t really know where does this obsession with sex come from.  I am talking about my own. I guess, and irrevocably, Freud was so right. Life was built round tension and pleasure. And all that build-up of libido I needed to discharge, somehow.  To release interminably. Curiously, she did not fuck me as much as I wanted to.  She was more of a mouth-inserter. Just like a baby who gets much satisfaction from putting all sorts of things in its mouth to satisfy her libido. For some reason, she used to come to my place famished: She got up.  Walked with a slow pace all the way to the fridge, and pulled the door open: Ate whatever she found in my tiny, little wagon with an engine.  She devoured ravenously and greedily what was left of a turkey and mashed potatoes I had saved for a lonesome afternoon and drank up all the beer cans standing proud and eerie in the deep of my light box. She did all that with the motivation of a fifteen-year old novice- cheerleader.  She sat back on my bunker of a bed and watched a silent black and white TV movie on an old TV set in decay, mute. A regal act.  Worthy of a pictorial endeavor a la Salvador Dali.  The TV set was an old artefact I found in that apartment when I first moved in three years ago. She was high.  I was drunk. The truth of the matter is she loved to sit back in the bunker of my bed and spit at her strawless lid, and scrub her strapless cap repeatedly, using her left hand, like there was no tomorrow, and drink wine all afternoon.  And she did all that not far away from the Demarcation Line in no-man zone.  She was 15 and I was the luckiest bastard in West Beirut. I still remember when he looked at me for the last time and said: Learn how to cook and spend less.  Save time and have sex more often. As for her:  She read the last couple of lines of a letter she kept in one of her emerald green coat’s inner pockets for the last time, folded the letter the way she was supposed to, placed the letter gently on the desk, took a pistol out of an upper drawer, put the pistol’s barrel inside her mouth and shot herself. She was six months pregnant. She came out of the android-Uber with a Latin flare, as we had agreed. Hard to explain if you didn’t have it in the first place.  I stood there. Earnest and ceremonial in my act. Looking at her royal-paced walk in euphoria. She walked my way the seventeen steps it took her to face me and kiss me on both cheeks and said: I missed you, my Pacino. Graceful and yet unpretentious. Her holy-halo leaked elements of light, spilling radiant and shiny bright as she moved forward.  That afternoon rushed in like a Belgian train in mid-voyage, that never made it on time.  We talked about flatbread pizza, her next mobile cinema project, in Dystopia. About her last, fast-paced failed love-affair and her attempt at piano lessons.  I listened, mostly.  For practical reasons. -A wisdom I had acquired in recent years, which had saved me plenty of time and effort and appetite. We had a couple of jumpy-chicken salads and local wine. Fresh and flavorsome. We laughed, as we talked about almost everything and nothing, and managed, gracefully, to kill the hour away. We both imagined moments-to-be, simultaneously. Mostly naked. For some strange reason, she loved to be touched on her forehead. A regal act of a woman on fire. On her eye-brows to be exact. She was the classic example of someone who knows what she wants and knows how to get it right away.  A negotiator, if you know what I mean. Willing to try new things –in private. My type of chick. Affectionate, and calm on the outside, and yet crazy and freaky on the inside. A mind-type. And believe it or not I was her perfect match. A sophisticated flirt in my own right: A wild and well-traveled and fearless Latino lover by birthright.  To tell you the truth I pretended I read more books than she presumed I did. A manly-affair.  I wrestled with my own thoughts and delusions as the afternoon got away. I concealed most of my inner feelings and idiosyncrasies -in the midst of our talk. A Gemini-kind-of-affair. I was after her strapless lid. What else.  One of the few remaining standard activities in Dystopia. The truth of the matter is we fucked for a while and I got kind of bored with her afterwards. I completely lost interest in her. A guy- thing –so to speak. But her healthy appetite for sex and her delightful fashion-style triggered my bacon bazooka, back. And the fuck-affair kept rolling for more than we both expected. She was the kind of a girl who would do anything to satisfy you.  I acted in kind. I used a proactive approach with her, for as long as it lasted.  She was predictable, but was worth the try, though. Worth every single sperm I spared on her lower and upper abdomen. And well, yeah often times on her tits and her cute, and funny face. I mean, why not. I had nothing to lose. I was a cowboy on the run.  She loved to be chased after -for sex. And after sex. She loved BJs as much, and she used to brag about it in public. A truc macabre.  A few weeks later, I found out she was sleeping with a couple of other guys from around the block, for subsistence, and with some big shot of sorts, as well.  A playboy –so to speak. Loaded with guns and green.  Good for her. She was a practical kid, with lots of love to spare. And lots of ambition. I fired up my gorgeous-looking Jimmy and made some smoke rings with my mouth, for my own amusement, that is. And that lasted for quite a while. She had a shower: Poured herself a drink, and walked slowly the seventeen steps, all the way to my bed, completely naked.  Next, she crawled my entire body like a wounded, and moaning soldier on the frontline. Once, fully on top and facing me, she said with her typical intense voice: Impress me with your brains. It occurred to me, and I played a VHS tape I had borrowed from an old chum, of Greta Garbo’s Anna Karenina 1935, in decay. Well, yeah, to try to impress her with my cultural backdrop and shit.  The perfect artefact for a late evening binge. A truc macabre, so to speak.  The glitches and hiccups of the shivering images of Greta Garbo on the old TV set screen, did not corrupt the actress’s royal flare. What a Dame! I thought. What an ass! I thought in sequence. As I took turns looking at both the screen and the Chiquita’s naked, greasy, and flattened body shimmering in the dark, and glowing like a sea-urchin in the deep. And I thought to myself: They don’t make round asses like this anymore. Sublime and holy. The truth of the matter is she was lying right before my own eyes to see: Face-down with a few hours to spare, and I was shit sex-hungry. Infinitely famished. I was after her strawless lid. Her strapless cap.  It was my turn to crawl all over her and once in position I slurped her strapless lid for hours. Out of a sudden, I decided to burn my bacon bazooka inside her fireplace. A regal act.  We fucked for hours. Like two little kids grounded inside their tiny, little school for the weekend, in solitary confinement.  Her final spark was her peculiar climax. Unequal. Unusual.  One of a kind.  Pristine and immaculate.  The street below, stretched, tall and empty, kept shifting shadows and light as the clock ticked and the seconds died forever. I took off.  Had to: I zigzagged my way to the Demarcation Line, past sandbags and burning silhouettes of cars, in fall-off. A conspicuous tactic that I deployed every time to avoid unleashed android-snipers on the loose.  Whether someone or something conforms to customary patterns or deviates from them depends on one’s point of view: Behind the concepts of normality and abnormality is the assumption that there is a single standard by which to judge everything. What may be normal to one group, however, may be unacceptable to another. I had the same Walkman on, with the same headphones arching the same epic oval head –of mine- I displayed for a thousand times at the frontline. Every time.  A truc macabre. I played Monk Live in Paris 1964 every time.  Every day. Every hour. Non-stop. It was more like a frontline pursuit, just for kicks. A Grotesque-act of reverie.  A snow-white 1979 Super-Beetle Cabriolet stopped right there in the middle of nowhere, just a few steps from the line.   I couldn’t identify any of its occupants –who wore ceremonial masks, just for kicks. The truth of the matter is they all looked like soul-reapers with scythes.  Next, they revealed their hidden and nasty-looking arms and fired up abruptly in all directions for at least seven random minutes. At the end of which, the snow-white Beetle stood-still in complete stillness. Suddenly, that tiny little wagon was showered and hammered countless times with all sorts of ammo. An RPG sealed its fate, turning them and the vehicle into a burning chunk of metal and flesh. A suicidal undertaking. An eccentric haze shrouded my eyesight. That day, I met the iconic Wesley Ruggles on the Demarcation Line in Downtown Beirut. A day-to-remember. I was surrounded by eccentric structures –which stood tall beholding my own state of incongruity. I stood almost mortified in the middle of the forlorn battleground, in quiet.  Out of a thick, almost-mythical mist, a machine gun re-surfaced and finally rested on my temple.  Pristine and Immaculate.  I stood-still.  Did not utter a word for an entire Trevi-Fountain second. I still remember that cowboy’s brimmed-shape-white-Panama-hat, silk shirt, striped pants and his green suspenders. A distinctive and manly act. He looked like an older fashion model from GQ magazine. I still remember when he looked at me for the last time and said: Learn how to cook and spend less, save time and have sex more often. The noise of my camera release bottom echoed and re-echoed in the stillness of that barren place, bouncing off the empty, worn-out, and shattered walls and streets around me. On that cool Winter-day and somewhere in another part of town, The Red Prince carried a pistol holstered in brown leather and worn on his hip a la Clint Eastwood. He was a playboy alright, on his way to his final rave. He was in a two-Chevi station wagons convoy heading from Georgina’s flat to his mother’s, for a birthday party. Chambers was on her balcony, graciously painting, and her sinister red Beetle was parked right below on Rue Verdun.  As Salameh’s convoy passed that red wagon at 3:35 pm and turned onto Rue Madam Curie, a hundred Kilos of explosives attached to the car by a Mossad agent was remotely detonated either by Chambers herself or on her signal to another Mossad agent. They did not mistake him this time. A truc macabre.  The blast left Salameh conscious, but severely wounded and in great pain, having pieces of steel shrapnel embedded in his head and throughout his body.  He was rushed to The American University of Beirut Hospital, where he died on the operating table at 4:03 pm. Salameh’s four bodyguards and four bystanders were also killed, and at least 16 people were injured.  I was on the other end of town, with Wesley Ruggles sipping some single malt whisky, in some random bar, surrounded by Frenchies at the moment of the blast.  The air had turned purple and a crowd rushed in on an empty street. You could feel the heat of the day in full armor.  “We’re out of condoms, sir” said a muffled voice behind the counter.  It had started to rain and I was already overtly provoked and ready for Yasmine, as she waited in the solitude of that apartment in Sodeco.  I was only nineteen at the time, had memorized the entire First Act of The Birthday Party for a purpose, was semi-high and had impressed my Mass Communication professor just that very morning on what made the news: The dog who bites the woman or the woman who bites the dog.  My wallet was emptied and as I reached for a lighter placed candidly on that rustic shelf, I remembered: Wine! The bottle of wine that she had ordered.  I was keen on bringing bottles of wine to my heated one-nights.  I knew that this was nothing but another hit and run and she was to turn into another of my victims.  I don’t feel sorry for her.  She had used me in the past and so it was my way of getting even.  It was a sort of payback.  Just like that time when my bestie fucked another bestie and I had to put up with it.  Only time brought me justice. When I fucked her ex-wife just for fun. And Am in no position to brag about it.  To tell you the truth, she was most probably under age, and I am talking about Yasmine, of course. But she had been impressed by my poor acting and most likely my Latin stage presence.  She would call me Pacino –for some weird, unstated reason. And I liked it. I used to call her Frenchie.  My immediate purpose was to make it to the car. That’s for sure.  You guessed it: My Rover. I was high.  I was drunk.  Beirut looked like a scrapyard and I was detained by a Danish lady who was looking for a bar. She wore a white dress and lime green, round hoop earrings. I am pretty sure I gave her the wrong route, while at it. Sorry to disappoint you, lady. I thought minutes later.  But for once I didn’t feel bad about it.  I was entitled to my foolish act.  I had someone waiting for me.  All alone, remember: Frenchie in Sodeco.  Most probably cold and most probably feeling melancholic as she waited for Pacino on his way. And perhaps, fuck-hungry. I had this wacko-concept: That it was a matter of national interest to satisfy lonesome women in a lonesome city for the night. To keep them warm and content. An Eastern-affair.  At least, I felt entitled due to my evident arrogance, primitive experience and to be honest: Well, I was desperate for a fuck! A truc macabre, so to speak. I was reduced to an android-Pacino on the run.  A mutant gorilla on the loose. I walked with a typical Latino swagger –That I had picked from remote days when I used to live in a trailer park peopled by exotic wackos and misfits. My own reflection on the adjacent window display –as I walked through, seemed to repeat Pacino motifs in my head and all around me. And it was all accentuated by my own motion and light and penumbra. I don’t know why but I always had this impression that Pacino was the epitome of manliness. And Yasmine’s impression of me –in turn, made it unblemished. I was about to become one, on a professional level. Distinct and sexual. A series of failed affairs, my constant agitation looking for a reason to be, to exist and my endless struggle in settling down, and trying constantly to find momentarily satisfaction in whatever I was doing at the time, made a serious vagabond out of me –but with good intentions. I landed jobs of all kinds.  Appropriate and suitable ones, and totally despicable and thorny.  But it was part of the bigger mosaic of shitless nonsense I was in, in a city that did not appreciate its most notable artists.  And this perhaps was one of the reasons I found solace in night encounters. I didn’t measure or anticipate the consequences.  I was a soldier of fortune playing his best hand every time, regardless of the fallout.  I found delight in loving women: Women of all walks of life.  A weekly-affair of enormous after-effect. Jazz and Booze adjusted the happenstances. I was a hero for a night, every other night: Hidden from the rays of shame and banality. Hidden from the rays of sun and dust in perpetuity.  I was alas! stuck in reverse in the cycle of my own propensity. Love affairs, in one way or another had destroyed me.  I was left with nothing but the nucleus of a man that once was! Alone, desperate and attempting to become the reflection of the Pacino who had just glimmered before him. I derived pleasure from ecstasy. And ecstasy from pleasure.  I was an android-Romeo equipped with apps and wine. The shine of the screen reminded me of Frenchie, dripping messages of small talk and nonsense every once in a while. Where are you? Why are you taking this long? Try not to be late and so on and so forth, with the typical French-English accent. This was a boring part.  I detested it. I had to put up with lots of shit. Birds, dogs, cats, and a gold-fish named Cookie Monkey.  And even a Parrot, that I taught Spanish. Oye, Puto: Chupame la Pinga. This was a daily punch line. It felt good, for a while.  But after that, the whole enterprise became mechanical, it turned hysterical and unemotional. Not my regular cup of coffee. Her sofa bed was remarkably enormous. Of course, some of her pets found sanctuary there.  I was happy to know that some had died a few months later only to gather she had replaced most of them to no avail. Let me be more honest: Yasmine was my playmate.  A pet of my own.  I don’t mean to sound wicked, but she had stripped me down to the ground. Of all my talent and my merits.  I had lost all my medals and my marvels since the end of the Civil war and no one had hugged me, like really hugged me ever since. It was a masterful act of her part. We were two gorilla mutants of intimacy.  She used to remind me that we were up for it only if we agreed that -that was going to be the only night together.  And of course, it wasn’t. We used to bang like rabbits every once in a while. She was high and I was drunk.  A perfect match.  A truc macabre. I was her pet.  Her Pluto – for all I know.  I drove my car to Sodeco.  The rain had stopped partially.  Some garbage cans were in flame around corners. A typical yet berserk Pacino scene in the making, unfolding before me.  I looked around me to see if some random passenger from a random passing vehicle would recognize me, from a random scene I was part of, the night before on a local TV network. An absurd act of vanity. A woman stood nearby.  She approached my half-open window.   The breeze coming in made the perfect match for my Monk –Live in Paris 1964.  She said: “Sodeco!” I said” “Yes!” She got in.  I said: “No. Not that way!” She looked at me as if I had slain her entire race or tribe.  I succumbed in silence. Did her the favor in utter quiet. I smiled a Mona Lisa smirk and drove in partial stillness, turned down Monk playing and closed the window entirely. How could I ruin the moment? We were both happy. In our driving act.   Me driving to my fuck and she, well, she was comfortably being driven to her random location in Sodeco. A night scene. I did not utter a word until we got there. She was about to pay the alleged taxi fare when another stranger said: “Hamra!” I had to open the door and step away from my Rover to inspect it.  It didn’t look at all like a taxi or cab –to sound more Pacino-like, if you know what I mean.  What is wrong with these people? I thought to my-self. The pale color of my car, the sudden rain and the smoke curling up in the air, in a New-York fashion, it prompted such reactions, most probably. At night, everything changes and a lie becomes the truth.  I got pissed.  I was going to be late. You don’t want to miss a fuck.  They say it’s bad luck. And now this: Taken or mistaken for a Travis Bickle in the middle of Beirut at 11 PM. A truc macabre. Let me just say that our friendship had lasted for over twenty years. Yasmine –or Frenchie as I used to call her, was a hell of a woman.  She was smart, tenacious, multi-talented and had an Italian flare, for all the time we were together.  She never lost it. I was amazed. But for some random reason I was at the end of the day -Her Pluto. Her pet-playmate.  Pluto is just a random name.  You can call me any pet name, if you want to.  I wouldn’t even know it.  I would be long gone.  Doing Yasmine or maybe slurping her strawless lid, her strapless cap for an eternity. The truth of the matter is our one-night stand lasted for seven years.  Tonight, was a random night.  Just like any other random night. Nothing special about it, except for the Danish lady with a white dress and lime green, round hoop earrings, and the random passengers who had mistaken me for a cabbie in a cab film. Often times I would turn violent on Yasmine. Like shit crazy. I lost control several times. I do regret that now. I used to hit, punch, strike, beat, slap, smack, hand-cuff her to her bed, so drunk that she wouldn’t even remember it, the next morning. She would laugh and kind of let go. I used to slam her against the closet like shit crazy. I –once, smashed her head with a Chinese vase just because she changed some random TV channel that I wasn’t even watching.  I was high.  She was drunk. I still remember when I smashed some window panels at her place, one day, by simply walking through.  It was so lucid, I didn’t even see them block my way.  That one time, a police patrol was called in but made no arrests. Her favorite part was the whipping we did.  It took months of self-adaptation and re-adjustments.  She got so used to it she said one time she was addicted to it. That she didn’t want to stop and that if we did, she’d probably kill herself. And I liked it. She didn’t want me to stop, alright. I kept going. It kept rolling. Her addiction was Freud-induced. Mine was cigar and booze. That’s what made matters worse. I had become ill-tempered.  Nothing could fix that. Out of nowhere I had this idea: To get drunk before I go up and see her. And so I did. Got wasted, went up and the first thing I did when I saw her was go down on her and eat her strawless lid for hours. I still remember when one night I went up to see her, and for some wacko reason she wouldn’t let me in.  She blocked my way in, like completely.  She said she had a friend inside and that she wasn’t feeling ok. That was an eye-opener for me. Her cat kept meowing at my foot. In a sudden act, I lifted that poor thing with my foot and threw him or her –You tell me, over the stairway.  I heard it still meow down there in the dark. For quite some time.   A truc macabre.  I still think about it. It makes me feel uneasy. It gives me the shivers. Just to think about it. Sometimes I dream of the poor little cat down there in the dark looking at me, waiting for the day to get even. I can still feel the spell of that cat all around me.  Well, if there’s any consolation, I am truly sorry for that. Guilt chased me and still chases me like a wounded dog and that time when I fucked this part-time actress and got her pregnant.  Well, it took years before she could show some mercy.  She never said it but I guess she did forgive me in the end.  As for Frenchie.  I see her from time to time, you know.  Am her Pluto. Her pet-playmate.  Pluto is just a random name.  You can call me any pet name, if you want to.  I wouldn’t even know it.  I would be long gone. Doing Yasmine or maybe slurping her strawless lid, her strapless cap for an eternity.  She came out of her apartment building in a haste, and as she opened my red Rover Mini Cooper door and got in, I threw out the window my half-way consumed zeppelin on the loose, I had lit a few minutes ago for convenience, as I listened to Monk Live in Paris, 1965.   She hated Jazz but budged in the middle of a speedy fuck.  As a matter of fact, she would turn the volume up and tell me that the music drove her nuts.  Little I knew, back then, that that zeppelin tail would plunge upon the bubbling sidewalk, that afternoon, like a Hindenburg in 1937, while its nose, rose into the air like a breaching whale. My mini-Hindenburg smashed what was left of a line of symmetrically-aligned ants on their way to an important meeting.  They were all in black and looked serious. My Chiquita threw herself onto her seat, tossed her bag onto the back seat, shifted her weight multiple times and finally sat straight up looking ahead like a sphinx.  She said: You can go now. I drove my Rover like I stole it -as my little serious victims were dispersing, in notable confusion, and in random fashion right outside my half-open window. The sandstorm I left behind grew taller than the lamp posts scattered along the street and above the noise of TV game shows poorly produced. The shadows of that afternoon street were eating up silhouettes and those silhouettes were in turn forming in surrounding walls and facades in a fatuitous manner. Chiquita and I knew each way back.  From school days when we were young and tall and vigorous.  She found pleasure in random talk, random acts. She once told me that it was more meaningful for her to justify her request of seeing me than to just say what she wanted right away.  A modus operandi, so to speak.  As I drove past flower shops and pharmacies, lingerie stores and sex toys swaying like giant bait worms on display, I thought I should get a dog and maybe a girlfriend, for all I know.  -A way of mending up my lonesome act, and one or two forlorn Beirut afternoons, while at it.   And maybe why not get a real job. And actually, do something for a living.  This business of random projects, and freelance writing was getting on my nerves. The job wasn’t but the pay was. A truc macabre. She was gorgeous-looking, the kind of a girl you want to hit on, and do from time and time and well yeah, like try to keep for a while.  The fact is she was unquenchable, hard to stop once in, and her demands grew more assiduous as our afternoon escapades became more regular. She said: Stop the car. We sat there in the middle of nowhere. Monk was a Devil in a state of total rapture. I kissed her soft lips with no bad intentions in mind. She slurped my bacon bazooka several times just for kicks.  On-lookers stood by. She grabbed my handle for reassurance, gave it a good brush and sat on me like she really had missed it.  She spat at it multiple times, my face was all over the ceiling and the windshield, and I was roaring like a wounded lion, like a man who had bet his life saving on second running-horse in the races. She was high on Blow. I was a jazz freak.  She loved History books and Italian cuisine: She was an expert at Pasta Carbonara. She’d cook the pasta in salted water, and cook some tomatoes in a large skillet over medium-high heat with olive oil and stirring often, until it slightly softened for around three minutes. She would then add some shallots and cook, stirring until the shallots and tomatoes softened for the same amount of time or so.  She would then add the garlic, some natural herbs and finally bring to a boil.  Once done, she would blend the mix using a hand blender –no wonder she was good at hand jobs.  Buon appetito!  è delizioso. That day she was draped like a mannequin in a display window. She wore a horrible, loose-fitting vintage dress, and no make-up. Stained with dark spots of coffee, that did not taste good, which she had, early in the morning. And her regular flat green shoes.  She always wore green shoes.  She squashed a gum behind her front teeth. Her finger-nails in double-decker red.  Both her earrings scintillated an assortment of a spectrum caused by the light diffused through the silver clouds, and bouncing off strategically located car handles in car doors.  I thought to myself: What a lucky bastard! I was the luckiest bastard in West Beirut.   As I pulled the metallic cold through my nostrils and a line or two of blow coke in a sporadic fashion while at it, a snow-white cigarette of three to four inches in length, resting between her fingers, burned down onto a memory. She squeezed my bacon bazooka with her free hand, thinking maybe she would make it spill by way of her magic. She was in her late thirties and I was assailed by a huge range of a regrets and shames and disappointments.  Assaulted by a series of failed relationshits. It was in that very instant, she tried desperately to project a cheerful air: I think am in love, with your dick.  Dogs and birds were leaping from one tree to another undetected. A truc macabre. She looked out the window and I pretended her say something in French like, “On a froid. On est seuls.  Mais au moins, on sait où trouver de la chaleur.” She looked back at me for an entire Trevi-Fountain second. Gallant and noble. The emotions she had stirred were exactly where we had left them. Undetected.  I was making a much-needed escape from my own trivial life, to try to reconnect back with it. It was a favorite pastime. The way of a dog, astray and awry, one afternoon in the city. Freud would have laughed, and probably join in. He would say some like I am in for the blow, man. Do what you want with her lid. Now that I come to think about it: The old man did flash in my memory a couple of times, while at it.  I pictured him in that coat, with the classic white beard, all cracked up coke-high and murmuring to himself: Turn that Monk shit up. A moment later I detected her stripping from waste down.  She looked strikingly beautiful. Her pristine shadow making a regal comeback as her hair swayed in all directions.  I was a bohemian in my final act, she was Lucifer desperate for more.  Stonie wore a Machiavellian smile and fashioned a Cobra Shades just like the ones Stallone wore as Marion Cobretti in Cobra, 1986.  The truth of the matter is this guy looked more like a train-ticket conductor or inspector with a twist, for all I know. He looked like a mutant gorilla on the run.  And not even close to what a member of an elite division called Zombie Squad looked like. A truc macabre.  After a moment, he panned his head appearing entirely as a more recent version of the black drummer in Youtube Bill Withers’ Ain’t No Sunshine, with a grin. He looked up from his tiny, half-open, smoke-twirling-window and said: Hello Mr. Ruggles, am Stonie.  Welcome to Lebanon. The Switzerland of the East. Wesley Ruggles – was an accomplished and prominent American photojournalist.  He got in the back seat of the white Peugeot 504 and smiled all the way to the Commodore Hotel in Hamra. Stonie looked at his customer adjusting himself in the back seat, as he got in, on the rear-view mirror and said: Our country is the best place if you wish to take on the challenge of surfing and skiing on the same day. There’s no particular way to do it – some prefer to hit the waves early in the morning and end the day with a cup of mulled wine after a great ski or snowboard session; others prefer to hit the slopes in the morning and watch the sunset from Ain El Mraisse on West End, after catching some waves. It’s really up to you, Mr. Ruggles. You decide.  I leave it up to you. Wesley Ruggles grinned.  He wasn’t much of a talker, if you know what I mean.  He nodded affirmatively to all the words Stonie shot at him.  Lester Young Stardust – 1952 was coming out of the radio. Soft and easy. Let me tell ya a story.  Stonie said:  Two families were arguing in a field about where the boundary between their lands lay.  The dispute dated back a long time and blood had been shed a number of times.  A boy, a child of some eight or nine years, picked up a stick and drew a line in the earth.  When asked what he was doing, he said he was marking the boundary as it had been agreed at the last round of negotiation, long before he was born.  His father asked him how he knew this, and the boy replied that he was the reincarnation of a man the father had killed in the feud.  When the child revealed details of the shooting that only the dead man and his killer could have known, his father embraced his former adversary who was now his son. Both families wanted the feud to end.  It had been costly in terms of lives, and all were seeking a way out of a resumption of hostilities. Wesley Ruggles said: Take to me to the Green Line. Now.  The war sound kept coming in and out of my head, and a couple was still banging inside a tiny yellow Fiat not far away from where I was standing.  A mechanical undertaking.  Not much emotion/commotion at play except for their intense sexual collaboration.  A deliberate, indecent exposure.  The gurl – a night-time frontline-regular took turns shifting her rear-end from East to West in a regal act. A line up of militiamen stood in queue on both of ends of the line to shag her. A surreal act. A moment of truce.  Both the gurl and the city were completely naked, shattered and decrepit. Partly broken, partly rotten, and partly forgotten. For years, I was a war junkie in Beirut. A crowded jeep of militiamen stopped and disembarked on a random sidewalk of a deserted, and smashed street on the other end of the city.  They all looked like knights subpoenaed by the monarch who was pissed and drunk and tired. For a moment, they all looked irritated and pissed off. A sort of a fashion insignia they all displayed just for kicks. A war-affair. Hip and ceremonial. Then, they began to disperse along the sidewalk in zigzag, with machine guns and RPGs pointing upward.  Their beards, long and unpleasant, pointing downward.  And their self-esteem half-way in between. They all came for the cut.  The King’s cut. The truth of the matter is the King Salon was the hippest place in town. A classic spot. A royal den.  The cosmopolitan centre of Beirut. So, to speak.  Everybody was there.  A meeting place for spies, including Kim Philby and Archie Roosevelt, and CIA men such as Miles Copeland as well as journalists of the caliber of John Chancellor and Sulzberger. Numerous diplomats and politicians, business tycoons and oil Sheikhs, they all mixed with oil and banking tycoons of the day molding the clientele of this classic establishment.  A royal place.  During the 50’s and even early 70’s the plots, the deals, and the stories that came out of this famous barbershop in Beirut were gripping. Plots and counter-plots, stretching over a quarter of a century echoed and re-echoed inside, every time.   Rumor has it, many incidents which helped to shape and re-shape Middle Eastern history are associated with the Salon: The attempt to overthrow King Hussein of Jordan, for instance. It was partially destroyed in the Two-Year war, but it was totally re-erected and managed to preserve its heyday reputation for a while.   I used to come here when I was little. A place to chill. A room where you could conduct business as usual without the hassle of the real workplace. A place you didn’t call a café for prestige and yet it was almost one. The tea they served was splendid and kingly. And ladies used to stay out on the sidewalk just for thrills, with the hope to catch heartthrobs on the loose. I went out with a new hair-cut. The King’s cut. I was the King’s Knight for the night.  I kick-started my bike and cruised for a while. A poet on tour.  Roaming the city.  Looking for a one-night stand. Or at least what appears to be.  I saw a solitary figure standing on a random spot.  A black woman with an Afro.  It was just perfect.  She jumped me on the highway the time it took me to give her a ride home.  A truc macabre. I pressed the number nine button inside the elevator of my apartment building.  I was tired and wired. As the elevator began to go up it suddenly stopped.  I was alone. And forgotten for a while.  Dangling by a cord. Forsaken.  Maybe.  I masturwaited the hour. Power was restored and I made it to my apartment safely. Minutes later the phone rang. She said: Baby, are you craving me tonight.  The next thing I know I have couple of Lesbians over slurping my bacon bazooka just for kicks. A royal act. Worthy of enjoyment with what I called decent music: I used to play Stevie Wonder’s Superstition really loud on my Marshall speakers in decay, while at it. A ritual of old fun-days when I was young, full of sperms, and needs and itches. The funny part –though, is that I always experienced something peculiar in that very moment of sorts. Hard to explain but I saw the trailer of my own life lived, projected on the facing wall. A broken wall.  I reminisced about past affairs and was transfixed by the lingering memory of a blow job as well as a highly visual fuck-climax. Vivid and highly pictorial.  Cheers! They both said. As they both poured all the wine content, glittering in penumbra, upon my bacon bazooka.  It looked like a copper fall unleashing. Unceasing. A truc macabre.   A royal act. Three was company.  Beirut was a junkyard of scrap metal and waste back then.  A place for sub-humans and android-machines on the run. BB 62 opened fire and hit some targets on the outskirts of the city. I was an android-cowboy in disguise.  Rumors had it the bomb shells were all empty. As the American destroyer showered guerilla positions in Souk el Gharb, I was firing my own cannon all over the Lesbians scattered along enemy lines inside my dim room, not far away from the Demarcation Line in Beirut.  A supreme act. A simultaneous-affair. Many years later, I had a similar experience when I was shagging this Pilipino gurl -in a random hotel in Jounieh, just for kicks, while watching the final of the World Cup in 2010. I still remember cumming inside her mouth at the exact moment Iniesta was kicking the ball inside the Netherland finish line.  A glorious-act of sorts.  The two Lesbians just loved the feeling of a revolver barrel inside them. A truc macabre. A regal tactic of enormous after-effect.  For some reason, they used to revere the freshly fired metal tube with both frame and cylinder inside. I never understood why.  I stood there. Earnest and ceremonial in my act.  Viewing the trailer of my own life on the facing wall of that dim room, and watching my bacon bazooka in constant spa-treatment mode. Graceful and yet unpretentious. The afternoon rushed in like a Belgian train in mid-voyage, that never made it on time. I dreamed of flatbread pizza, in the wasteland. Reminisced about my last, fast-paced failed love-affair and my futile attempt at piano lessons. We laughed, as we talked and killed the hours away. We imagined moments-to-be. Mostly naked. For some strange reason, they both loved to be touched on their forehead. A women-thing.  On their eye-brows to be exact.  The truth of the matter is that they both were willing to try new things –in private. My type of women.  Alone and crazy. A mind-type. Affectionate, and calm on the outside, and yet crazy and freaky on the inside. To tell you the truth I pretended I read more books than they both presumed I did. I wrestled with my own thoughts and delusions.  Concealed my deeper feelings and idiosyncrasies -in the midst of our talk. In the middle of a futile war with no ending.  A Gemini-kind-of-thing with a thrill.   I was after their strapless lid. What else do you expect: One of the few remaining standard activities in Dystopia, at the time. I fucked them both for a while and I got kind of bored afterwards.  The truth of the matter is I completely lost interest in them.  Soon after, I found my next victim. A young, fresh psychology graduate with a healthy appetite for sex and a delightful fashion-style that managed to trigger my bacon bazooka, back. This next fuck-affair with Luciana kept rolling for more than we both expected. She was the kind of girl who would do anything to satisfy you.  I acted in kind. I used a proactive approach with her, for as long as it lasted. She was worth the try: Worth every single sperm I spared on her lower and upper abdomen. And well, yeah often times on her breasts and her cute, funny face.  A truc macabre. She loved to be chased after -for sex. She loved BJs as much. And she used to brag about it in public.  A few weeks later, I found out she was sleeping with a couple of other guys from around the block, for subsistence, and with some big shot of sorts, as well.  A playboy –so to speak. Loaded with guns and green.  Good for her. She was a practical kid, with lots of love to spare.  And lots of ambition. I fired up my gorgeous-looking Jimmy and made some smoke rings with my mouth, for my own amusement, that is. And that lasted for quite a while. She had a shower: Poured herself a drink, and walked slowly the seventeen steps, all the way to my bed, completely naked.  Next, she crawled my entire body like a wounded, and moaning soldier on the frontline. Once, fully on top and facing me, she said with her typical intense voice: Impress me with your brains. It occurred to me, and I played a VHS tape I had borrowed from an old chum, of Greta Garbo’s Anna Karenina 1935, in decay. Well, yeah, to try to impress her with my cultural backdrop and shit.  The perfect artefact for a late evening binge. A truc macabre, so to speak.  The glitches and hiccups of the shivering images of Greta Garbo on the TV screen, did not corrupt the actress’s royal flare. What a Dame! I thought. What an ass! I thought in sequence. As I took turns looking at both the screen and the new chick’s naked, greasy, and flattened body shimmering in the dark, and glowing like a sea-urchin in the deep. And I thought to myself: They don’t make them like this anymore. Sublime and Holy. A Regal act.  I was talking about the chick’s ass. What else. I mean, the truth of the matter is she was lying right before my own eyes to see: Face-down with a few hours to spare. And I was fuck-hungry. Endlessly famished. I was after her strawless lid. Strapless cap. Flavorsome and scrumptious like shit crazy.  I crawled all over her on the bed and -once in position, I slurped her strapless lid for hours. I grinned. Placed my half-consumed Jimmy on the loose on the Buddha-ashtray I had in store from my old days in Kamasutra-training in New Delhi. I decided to burn my bacon bazooka inside her fire place. We fucked for hours.  Her spark was her unusual climax.  Pristine and immaculate.  The streets below and around me were dim and vacant. Cold and bare. I took off.  Had to: I zigzagged my way to the Demarcation Line, past sandbags and burning silhouettes of cars, in fall-off. A conspicuous tactic that I deployed every time to avoid unleashed android-snipers on the loose. Or mutant gorillas on the run –as I used to call them.  Whether someone or something conforms to customary patterns or deviates from them depends on one’s point of view: Behind the concepts of normality and abnormality is the assumption that there is a single standard by which to judge everything. What may be normal to one group, however, may be unacceptable to another. I had the same Walkman on, with the same headphones arching the same oval head I displayed for a thousand times at the frontline. A truc macabre. I played Monk Live in Paris 1964 every time.  Every day. Non-stop. It was more like a frontline pursuit, just for kicks. A Grotesque affair.  Stories of love and madness is all I heard on both ends of the Demarcation Line. A snow-white 1979 Super-Beetle Cabriolet stopped right there in the middle of nowhere. Just a few steps from the Line. I could not identify any of its occupants, who wore ceremonial masks, just for kicks. The truth of the matter is they all looked like soul-reapers with scythes. They then revealed their hidden arms abruptly, and opened fire in all directions for at least seven random minutes. At the end of which, the snow-white Beetle stood-still in complete silence. Out of a sudden, that tiny little wagon, was showered and hammered countless times with all sorts of ammo.  An RPG sealed its fate, turning them into a burning chunk of metal and flesh.  A suicidal undertaking. An eccentric haze shrouded my eyesight. That day, I met the iconic Wesley Ruggles on the Demarcation Line in Down Town Beirut. A day-to-remember.  A strange haze shrouded my eyesight. I still remember that android-cowboy with rifle still pointing at me, and with his brimmed-shape-white-Panama-hat, silk shirt, striped pants and his green suspenders. A distinctive and manly act.  I still remember when he looked at me for the last time and said: Learn how to cook and spend less, save time and have sex more often.  He was in a chill mood. He grinned at the end of his act and said: Hasta La Vista, Baby.  As for her:  She read the last couple of lines of a letter she kept in one of her emerald green coat’s inner pockets for the last time, folded the letter the way she was supposed to, placed the letter gently on the desk, took a pistol out of an upper drawer, put the pistol’s barrel inside her mouth and shot herself. She was six months pregnant. —

THE-QUIET-SIDE-OF-THE ROOM VOL. 1

THE-QUIET-SIDE-OF-THE ROOM VOL. 1

A—LOOP—IN—ONE—ACT

A-rare-case-of-a-man-who-reports-the-news-from-the-battle-zone-gets-hit-by-snipers-bleeds-to-death-and-shows-up-on-the-next-random-location-in-Beirut-1986

TALAL CHAMI

© Annie Leibovitz

I usually don’t but for some reason I was tempted to peep through the peephole to see first if it was her –not some Toters delivery bubblehead named Stonie just for kicks, and second to feel a certain rush, you only feel when you look – all sidled-up at your woman, all dressed up and everything and coming for a tryst.  It didn’t take long before she went down on me -with the evident exhilaration of a soldier in the haste of an on-going battle and she started slurping my bacon bazooka. A morning entr’acte. I looked down at her and she seemed involved for a moment. Like fully-devoted to her a.m. affair. Rapid and swift. My head was spinning like a windmill, with flying cards and shots and funk tune notes striking the walls around me.  I could still hear the drum roll of the climax of Stairway to Heaven inside my oval head and little devils were still crossing inside from one end to another.  To tell you the truth it looked romantic for a while, and I wasn’t unhappy about it. As a matter of fact, it was kind of fun for as long as it lasted. I only hoped she didn’t mind whatsoever the obnoxious and fetid odours of my Peter Johnson as they spurted across the air and made it even more putrid. I was standing A la Superman, with cape and everything, in a decrepit room of one window and one door.  Meanwhile: Atoush el Balanti sat on a rusty wheelchair, left to rotten, by a patient-carer from Deir El Salib, and shielded by spider web and thick dust, with his head bent, his left eye half-shut, his nose semi-broken, and his lower lip in stitches caused by a tryst and a brawl. His lower lip looked like a structure held in place by the scaffold of wire in decay. The unrelenting screw rotated outward in an almost-mechanical fashion in spite of the predominant rift in the middle of the tiny lens, caused by a deliberate blow to the peephole of my door, a few months earlier. The entire artefact managed to come out unscathed.  To tell you the truth this was a temporary solution to stop curious by-standers to keep snooping on me. I had to unscrew the artefact and seal it with tape until further notice. A deliberate-act. My door was majestic. It stood out.   In cherry red. Glowing out, under a piercing sun, in our all-white-painted-houses neighborhood, in the outskirts of the city, that grew dimmer and hazier before me all the time. My house had two windows: A front-view one that looked on the main street, where Chiquitas and tape-vendors spent their languid Saturdays afternoon.  And a rear-view one where all the action happened.  My fav spot. Shortly before mid-night a man with a pair of handcuffs dangling from one wrist took a drag from his zeppelin by a half-open window on Hamra street. His name was Atoush El Balanti. He said after a few drags: I dreamt about you nearly every night this week with a lollipop stuck in your mouth and a hot gun barrel swinging in and out inside your strawless lid.  A morbid affair. I know.  She hung up the phone and 7 minutes and 47 seconds later she was knocking on my door. As randy as a smoking gun.  I used to masturwait for hours on that spot. Amin, the locksmith, said: Your peephole is ready to serve. I looked through.  I said: no good. I can’t see a thing. It’s all blurry.  Everything on the other side looks blurry and revolting. He said: Step aside, sir. I did. He looked through it with a peculiar grin.  Moved back. Looked at me and said: “This is the only model we have.” I said: “No good. No-go! Am a photographer.  You can’t fool a photographer. For fucks sakes.” He budged. All the while Lucia was on her way out to her spacious balcony for some sun-bath.  The sun rays pierced her golden body like sewing pins on dungaree cloth. Istez Issam was on his way back home when some kids from the hood came his way and made fun of his bulging wig. He was the subject of daily pillory. He was in love, though, with Cecilia – an old Palestinian widow from the hood, who never went out. She had barricaded herself after her husband’s passing and swore never to see sun light again.  Ever. She used to say that her land had sunken like a ship and it was harder to find now. She stepped out of the shower and onto a random bar soap left on that random floor almost unhidden. She slipped and hit the back of her head on the bath tub ceramic edge side, as her forearm hooked the dangling cord of a random iron on her way, dropping the iron, which in turn smashed onto the hot water, electrocuting her hair first. A truc macabre. She shook like an Oriental belly-dancer in a frenzy on stage at the Parisiana.  Nawal was a stripper of a local breed -who did not find any purpose after the war. She was a big fan of karaoke nights and ice cream specially when feeling randy and on the look-out for some mutant gorilla on the loose, in the Jounieh Bay area. One of her fav pastimes was going to the Luna Park –a trendy amusement park at the time. That day she met Alejandro Jimenez, A Colombian diplomat of sorts on a mission in Beirut.  He had an Italian flare and wore green socks just for kicks.  This Alejo guy was a Bip-Bip of sorts. Always on the run.  And always late. He got in the back seat of the cab, dropped his sunglass in his jacket’s upper left side pocket and they in turn slipped through a sudden rip inside the jacket itself.  A truc macabre.  He spent the next fifteen minutes trying to get the specs back up and out. In vain.  He said: Stop the car! Stop the car! Came out and attempted on several occasions. Nothing. He fixed his stare at Im Elie -a lady having a double cheese burger inside a burger joint just across the street. Out of a sudden, her teeth came off as she took a bite. Shit! He thought. Am outta here. Paganini’s Devil Violinist was playing on the old car audio-stereo in decay. He had a line or two of blow as he left his warm apartment just an hour ago. Some folks around the corner were strumming an improvised version of Bob Dylan’s Knocking on Heaven’s Door in Arabic. A truc macabre.  Stonie was a hell of a guy: A cabbie like no other in Beirut.  He was obsessed with films and music of all genres and kinds. Owned a pug named Rambo just for kicks. And woke up to the Orchestral Suite of the Godfather-The Dream Part he had dubbed a few years ago via a friend who was a sound recordist. He puffed a Cuban cigar on Saturdays afternoon.  He had an adulation for Greta Garbo and Oum Kalsoum. Atoush Al Balanti -a random pax whom Stonie called Good-for-nothing, who was a regular take-me-to-lunch-kinda-guy, was either going to or from one. He was a talented mechanic, though, who owned a peacock named Stopyra and had two cats: One black and one white, who never spoke again, after Brazil lost to France in the quarter finals of 1986.  Stonie drove that cab past checkpoints and falling bombs. A war macabre. I was on the other end of the city blowing my Hubbly Bubbly and watching Alo Hayete on TV. The sound of the vacuum cleaner was so loud I had to yell at Fouad to stop it. He hoovered like a fencer.  She, on the other hand, was only fifteen at the time and had the tallest legs to stroll with. A walking Twin-Towers. She was the most ravishing kid around the hood. The truth of the matter is she was a yo-yo with a deep groove, and attached to my index with a see-through, transpicuous, and thin string a la Mario Puzo. Only she spun alternately forward and backward –instead of downward and upward. I used to unwind and rewind the string with a flick of my wrist –as it pleased me.  And I did all that often. I called it the yo-yo affair. To tell you the truth she was a fuck-prospect, for all I know. She was a bitch on the run. And I was a mutant gorilla on the loose. There was something peculiar about her cheeks.  Her buttocks that it: Oven-hot and almost as if freshly made. Oven-fresh. I used to love her tasty arm on my face and lips when she slept over. Her unusual recipe of the Pao de Queijo was my all-time favorite and she was a master-chef of the cheese bread par excellence. A love-affair. And she had an unusual and sporadic sex-appetite, that was uncommon and rare. The least I can say about her now is that she was rude and insolent with a whole array of bad manners to account for.  A spoiled-brat, so to speak.  She always got what she wanted. Her daily impertinence and rude behavior was a daily affair. A daily-act. Typical of her on a Monday morning and salient of her on a Friday afternoon. A week-long attitude backed by the long-lasting reputation of a business family she belonged to -with a reputation for impertinence, impudence and effrontery of their own. “He’s got a lot of cheek to say that to me!” She said.  The Westy camper was swooshing like a washing-machine with me and Little Sunshine inside. She sat on me for hours but looked at me in the eyes in one Trevi-Fountain second and said: A female elephant may physically encounter hundreds of other individuals in the course of her daily range. The individuals she meets will be related to her by different degrees, and known to her based on the frequency and the quality of their previous meetings and these factors will shape the nature and define the form of the relationship. An adult male, too, may meet and interact with hundreds of different individuals in the course of a day, though the type and nature of his relationships may be tempered by on his age and sexual state.  Some of the calls used by elephants are powerful low frequency vocalizations that carry over long distances. Elephant can recognize the voices of hundreds of other elephants from up to 2 kilometers away. That elephant-man had come back to his resting cave when he entered that hospital’s elevator in decay and pressed the second floor.  As he went up he pointed the gun’s barrel to his chest and shot himself to death.  A truc macabre. The elevator gradually came to a stand-still.  A random nurse with a random smirk directed her left arm slowly towards that shattered door and opened it in an abrupt fashion as the man slid on the back mirror leaving a red-velvet blood stain mark-patent on the surface, which reminded me when I was little I used to love sliding on the living room polished marble floor in my socks and fall over -head first, and crack my head open while at it.  The smell of blood gave me the shivers, back then. And still does.   I was a mutant gorilla on the loose. I was a cowboy on the run.   A brutal memory. A few paramedics rushed into the scene. The truth of the matter is I was waiting for a cousin of mine –who had broken what was left of his already broken nose, an hour earlier, trying to fix his TV antenna on top of his apartment building top floor, and skipping random sharp-shooters while at it. The poor chap fell head first and smashed his broken nose on the pavement. All the while, he was busy trying to impress some foxy nurse with a gorgeous-looking rack, and with an absurd, made-up argument: That the blasting noise of the trembling bullets that hit his and other apartment building rooftops, reminded him of Monk-Live-In-Paris-1965.  A repertoire-macabre. He never liked Jazz, for all I know. This old chap was a movie-theatre ticket clerk with no real purpose in life except to collect tickets and to pick up randy whores on the loose whenever he could afford it. He had no style.  No swagger. Let alone Mojo or some.  He was a random man.  A Beirut bastard. So, to speak.  Of many, the city despised and abhorred.  I parked my rover not far away from that Volkswagen camper of 1966 with a highly flashy neon light on top that read: Hot Prices in a fire ball and a front-side plate that read: I love sex, just for kicks. You could not miss other highly visual signs/stickers such as: Relax, sit on my face, motherfucker! Or Eat-Sleep-Kamasutra-Repeat, or my preferred-choice: Sex is like snow, you never know how long it will last, or how many inches. I Michael-Jacksoned my way to the half-way open camper door in penumbra. A cool-act. I wore my hair a la Capone just for kicks. A manly-act in 1976. It was more like a fashion statement, if you know what I mean. Then I thought to my-self:  What a sexy-looking machine that was. A Pick-up Westy of at least 11-windows or some that you could easily call a Bully. Little Sunshine-Vanessa-Fay-Rebecca-Carmen-Amar-Sam-Gina-Tala-Nina-Toya-Orly and Tracy were all inside with legs spread-open. “Spread, a little more love! Come on! And don’t be shy about it!” Joujou, the camper-pimp said.  Of course, he meant ladies it’s time you show off your strapless cap.  Your strawless lid. A truc macabre.   A queue of late movie-goers and militiamen of sorts shuffled in and out of the line to smoke some Jimmies, on an adjacent sidewalk, just for kicks. For a Trevi-Fountain second, that Bully of a camper looked more like the Holiday Inn in flames, when first hit, early on, on the eve of the Civil War. A conflict-landmark.  Some chap in green was swaying by the rear hatch: Blow jobs were a standing-affair. And expensive ones too. He had his bacon bazooka inserted through the hatch and a gorgeous-looking Chiquita was taking good care of it.  If you know what I mean. A manly-act.  “Check the menu, man.” A voice behind me said. To tell you the truth, I was randy and so I did. I ordered a Doggy, The Om, A G-Whiz, a couple of Magic Mountains and topped them all with the Pinball Wizard. Wine-a-Go-Go was on the house and so it sounded like a good plan to save the night. Little Sunshine –my night-pick, was all I could afford that eve. She reminded me of Natasha, an old fuck-buddy from the college days, and so, all played down well. She mostly sat with legs bent or leaning back on her hand and forearms. My starter-act was The Chairman: A grinding position if you were after deep and abysmal penetration. Having your Chiquita kiss your shoulders and your neck all the while you played with her nipples was a cool act.  I did that on multiple occasions. She looked me in the eyes and said: Comeme, Puto. She loved to speak Spanish while at it.  A sexy-act. It made her randy. Of course, a sex toy made the whole experience worth the try. I loved manual stimulation. And so she did use one. Sex on wheels was electrifying. Unlike any other mobile experience: Now, don’t ask me why do it. Sometimes a man gotta do what he gotta do.  And gotta go where he gotta go. There is no point in arguing. That simple. I was a Rambo on the run: with a sex pistol on the loose. What a sexy looking machine that was. I mean look at that: I heard someone say that Volkswagen made nearly 3 million Type 2 models during the 51-year production lifespan. The Type 24 had a dashboard that included a speedometer, warning lights for oil pressure, main headlight beam and indicators. The fuel gauge was an option. There is a release knob that activates 1.1 gallons of reserve fuel to be added to the tank. That one in particular had a middle seat which is rather rare as most were removed to carry additional cargo.  She rubbed her strapless lid in a circular fashion with some Thai oil I had in store, using her left hand, and sitting back in the bunker of her bed, with her cherry-red lips squeezing a hard, spicy and fired-up Jimmy on the loose, that looked more like a German Hindenburg caught on fire attempting to dock on her scrumptious lips and she did all that with the elasticity of a gazelle in premonition of a fuck-up. Of an imminent death. A cruel act.  She looked me in the eyes and said: Last time I fucked six guys at the same time.  I don’t really know where does this obsession with sex come from.  I am talking about my own. I guess, and irrevocably, Freud was so right. Life was built round tension and pleasure. And all that build-up of libido I needed to discharge, somehow.  To release interminably. Curiously, she did not fuck me as much as I wanted to.  She was more of a mouth-inserter. Just like a baby who gets much satisfaction from putting all sorts of things in its mouth to satisfy her libido. She used to come to my place famished: And eat whatever she found in my tiny, little wagon with an engine.  She devoured ravenously and greedily what was left of a turkey and mashed potatoes I had saved for a lonesome afternoon and drank up all the beer cans standing proud and eerie in the deep of my light box. She did all that with the motivation of a fifteen-year old novice-cheerleader.  She sat back on my bunker of her bed and watched a silent black and white TV movie on an old TV set in decay, mute. A regal act.  Worthy of a pictorial endeavor a la Salvador Dali.  She was high.  I was drunk. The truth of the matter is she loved to sit back in the bunker of her bed and spit at her strawless lid, and scrub her strapless cap repeatedly, using her left hand, like there was no tomorrow, and drink wine all afternoon and part of the night.  And she did all that not far away from the Demarcation Line in no-man zone.  She was 15 and I was the luckiest bastard in West Beirut. The memory of that fuck-up kept bouncing off the walls of my place like a stress ball in distress. Marlon Brando once couldn’t get it up. It was shameful and everything but I guess it was ok. She loved the feeling of a revolver barrel inside her. She used to revere the freshly fired metal tube with both frame and cylinder inside.  A regal tactic of enormous after-effect. One day and out of the blue, we decided to meet: In other words, to go out for a change. Greta Garbo’s was a warm and cozy brasserie outside Beirut, which had turned into a scrapyard. It was the perfect meeting-place for a Saturday afternoon wine A-Go-Go. The place was not crowded, as we expected. She came out of the android-Uber with a Latin flare, as we had agreed. Hard to explain if you didn’t have it in the first place.  I stood there. Earnest and ceremonial in my act. Looking at her royal-paced walk in euphoria. She walked my way the seventeen steps it took her to face me and kiss me on both cheeks and said: I missed you, my Pacino. Graceful and yet unpretentious. Her holy-halo leaked elements of light, spilling radiant and shiny bright as she moved forward.  That afternoon rushed in like a Belgian train in mid-voyage, that never made it on time.  We talked about flatbread pizza, her next mobile cinema project, in Dystopia. About her last, fast-paced failed love-affair and her attempt at piano lessons.  I listened, mostly.  For practical reasons. -A wisdom I had acquired in recent years, which had saved me plenty of time and effort and appetite. We had a couple of jumpy-chicken salads and local wine. Fresh and flavorsome. We laughed, as we talked about almost everything and nothing, and managed, gracefully, to kill the hour away. We both imagined moments-to-be, simultaneously. Mostly naked. For some strange reason, she loved to be touched on her forehead. A regal act of a woman on fire. On her eye-brows to be exact. She was the classic example of someone who knows what she wants and knows how to get it right away.  A negotiator, if you know what I mean. Willing to try new things –in private. My type of chick. Affectionate, and calm on the outside, and yet crazy and freaky on the inside. A mind-type. And believe it or not I was her perfect match. A sophisticated flirt in my own right: A wild and well-traveled and fearless Latino lover by birthright.  To tell you the truth I pretended I read more books than she presumed I did. A manly-affair.  I wrestled with my own thoughts and delusions as the afternoon got away. I concealed most of my inner feelings and idiosyncrasies -in the midst of our talk. A Gemini-kind-of-affair. I was after her strapless lid. What else.  One of the few remaining standard activities in Dystopia. The truth of the matter is we fucked for a while and I got kind of bored with her afterwards. I completely lost interest in her. A guy- thing –so to speak. But her healthy appetite for sex and her delightful fashion-style triggered my bacon bazooka, back. And the fuck-affair kept rolling for more than we both expected. She was the kind of a girl who would do anything to satisfy you.  I acted in kind. I used a proactive approach with her, for as long as it lasted.  She was predictable, but was worth the try, though. Worth every single sperm I spared on her lower and upper abdomen. And well, yeah often times on her tits and her cute, and funny face. I mean, why not. I had nothing to lose. I was a cowboy on the run.  She loved to be chased after -for sex. And after sex. She loved BJs as much, and she used to brag about it in public. A truc macabre.  A few weeks later, I found out she was sleeping with a couple of other guys from around the block, for subsistence, and with some big shot of sorts, as well.  A playboy –so to speak. Loaded with guns and green.  Good for her. She was a practical kid, with lots of love to spare. And lots of ambition. I fired up my gorgeous-looking Jimmy and made some smoke rings with my mouth, for my own amusement, that is. And that lasted for quite a while. She had a shower: Poured herself a drink, and walked slowly the seventeen steps, all the way to my bed, completely naked.  Next, she crawled my entire body like a wounded, and moaning soldier on the frontline. Once, fully on top and facing me, she said with her typical intense voice: Impress me with your brains. It occurred to me, and I played a VHS tape I had borrowed from an old chum, of Greta Garbo’s Anna Karenina 1935, in decay. Well, yeah, to try to impress her with my cultural backdrop and shit.  The perfect artefact for a late evening binge. A truc macabre, so to speak.  The glitches and hiccups of the shivering images of Greta Garbo on the old TV set screen, did not corrupt the actress’s royal flare. What a Dame! I thought. What an ass! I thought in sequence. As I took turns looking at both the screen and the Chiquita’s naked, greasy, and flattened body shimmering in the dark, and glowing like a sea-urchin in the deep. And I thought to myself: They don’t make round asses like this anymore. Sublime and holy. The truth of the matter is she was lying right before my own eyes to see: Face-down with a few hours to spare, and I was shit sex-hungry. Infinitely famished. I was after her strawless lid. Her strapless cap.  It was my turn to crawl all over her and once in position I slurped her strapless lid for hours. Out of a sudden, I decided to burn my bacon bazooka inside her fireplace. A regal act.  We fucked for hours. Like two little kids grounded inside their tiny, little school for the weekend, in solitary confinement.  Her final spark was her peculiar climax. Unequal. Unusual.  One of a kind.  Pristine and immaculate.  The street below, stretched, tall and empty, kept shifting shadows and light as the clock ticked and the seconds died forever. I took off.  Had to: I zigzagged my way to the Demarcation Line, past sandbags and burning silhouettes of cars, in fall-off. A conspicuous tactic that I deployed every time to avoid unleashed android-snipers on the loose.  Whether someone or something conforms to customary patterns or deviates from them depends on one’s point of view: Behind the concepts of normality and abnormality is the assumption that there is a single standard by which to judge everything. What may be normal to one group, however, may be unacceptable to another. I had the same Walkman on, with the same headphones arching the same epic oval head –of mine- I displayed for a thousand times at the frontline. Every time.  A truc macabre. I played Monk Live in Paris 1964 every time.  Every day. Every hour. Non-stop. It was more like a frontline pursuit, just for kicks. A Grotesque-act of reverie.  A snow-white 1979 Super-Beetle Cabriolet stopped right there in the middle of nowhere, just a few steps from the line.   I couldn’t identify any of its occupants –who wore ceremonial masks, just for kicks. The truth of the matter is they all looked like soul-reapers with scythes.  Next, they revealed their hidden and nasty-looking arms and fired up abruptly in all directions for at least seven random minutes. At the end of which, the snow-white Beetle stood-still in complete stillness. Suddenly, that tiny little wagon was showered and hammered countless times with all sorts of ammo. An RPG sealed its fate, turning them and the vehicle into a burning chunk of metal and flesh. A suicidal undertaking. An eccentric haze shrouded my eyesight. That day, I met the iconic Wesley Ruggles on the Demarcation Line in Downtown Beirut. A day-to-remember. I was surrounded by eccentric structures –which stood tall beholding my own state of incongruity. I stood almost mortified in the middle of the forlorn battleground, in quiet.  Out of a thick, almost-mythical mist, a machine gun re-surfaced and finally rested on my temple.  Pristine and Immaculate.  I stood-still.  Did not utter a word for an entire Trevi-Fountain second. I still remember that cowboy’s brimmed-shape-white-Panama-hat, silk shirt, striped pants and his green suspenders. A distinctive and manly act. He looked like an older fashion model from GQ magazine. I still remember when he looked at me for the last time and said: Learn how to cook and spend less, save time and have sex more often. The noise of my camera release bottom echoed and re-echoed in the stillness of that barren place, bouncing off the empty, worn-out, and shattered walls and streets around me. On that cool Winter-day and somewhere in another part of town, The Red Prince carried a pistol holstered in brown leather and worn on his hip a la Clint Eastwood. He was a playboy alright, on his way to his final rave. He was in a two-Chevi station wagons convoy heading from Georgina’s flat to his mother’s, for a birthday party. Chambers was on her balcony, graciously painting, and her sinister red Beetle was parked right below on Rue Verdun.  As Salameh’s convoy passed that red wagon at 3:35 pm and turned onto Rue Madam Curie, a hundred Kilos of explosives attached to the car by a Mossad agent was remotely detonated either by Chambers herself or on her signal to another Mossad agent. They did not mistake him this time. A truc macabre.  The blast left Salameh conscious, but severely wounded and in great pain, having pieces of steel shrapnel embedded in his head and throughout his body.  He was rushed to The American University of Beirut Hospital, where he died on the operating table at 4:03 pm. Salameh’s four bodyguards and four bystanders were also killed, and at least 16 people were injured.  I was on the other end of town, with Wesley Ruggles sipping some single malt whisky, in some random bar, surrounded by Frenchies at the moment of the blast.  The air had turned purple and a crowd rushed in on an empty street. You could feel the heat of the day in full armor.  “We’re out of condoms, sir” said a muffled voice behind the counter.  It had started to rain and I was already overtly provoked and ready for Yasmine, as she waited in the solitude of that apartment in Sodeco.  I was only nineteen at the time, had memorized the entire First Act of The Birthday Party for a purpose, was semi-high and had impressed my Mass Communication professor just that very morning on what made the news: The dog who bites the woman or the woman who bites the dog.  My wallet was emptied and as I reached for a lighter placed candidly on that rustic shelf, I remembered: Wine! The bottle of wine that she had ordered.  I was keen on bringing bottles of wine to my heated one-nights.  I knew that this was nothing but another hit and run and she was to turn into another of my victims.  I don’t feel sorry for her.  She had used me in the past and so it was my way of getting even.  It was a sort of payback.  Just like that time when my bestie fucked another bestie and I had to put up with it.  Only time brought me justice. When I fucked her ex-wife just for fun. And Am in no position to brag about it.  To tell you the truth, she was most probably under age, and I am talking about Yasmine, of course. But she had been impressed by my poor acting and most likely my Latin stage presence.  She would call me Pacino –for some weird, unstated reason. And I liked it. I used to call her Frenchie.  My immediate purpose was to make it to the car. That’s for sure.  You guessed it: My Rover. I was high.  I was drunk.  Beirut looked like a scrapyard and I was detained by a Danish lady who was looking for a bar. She wore a white dress and lime green, round hoop earrings. I am pretty sure I gave her the wrong route, while at it. Sorry to disappoint you, lady. I thought minutes later.  But for once I didn’t feel bad about it.  I was entitled to my foolish act.  I had someone waiting for me.  All alone, remember: Frenchie in Sodeco.  Most probably cold and most probably feeling melancholic as she waited for Pacino on his way. And perhaps, fuck-hungry. I had this wacko-concept: That it was a matter of national interest to satisfy lonesome women in a lonesome city for the night. To keep them warm and content. An Eastern-affair.  At least, I felt entitled due to my evident arrogance, primitive experience and to be honest: Well, I was desperate for a fuck! A truc macabre, so to speak. I was reduced to an android-Pacino on the run.  A mutant gorilla on the loose. I walked with a typical Latino swagger –That I had picked from remote days when I used to live in a trailer park peopled by exotic wackos and misfits. My own reflection on the adjacent window display –as I walked through, seemed to repeat Pacino motifs in my head and all around me. And it was all accentuated by my own motion and light and penumbra. I don’t know why but I always had this impression that Pacino was the epitome of manliness. And Yasmine’s impression of me –in turn, made it unblemished. I was about to become one, on a professional level. Distinct and sexual. A series of failed affairs, my constant agitation looking for a reason to be, to exist and my endless struggle in settling down, and trying constantly to find momentarily satisfaction in whatever I was doing at the time, made a serious vagabond out of me –but with good intentions. I landed jobs of all kinds.  Appropriate and suitable ones, and totally despicable and thorny.  But it was part of the bigger mosaic of shitless nonsense I was in, in a city that did not appreciate its most notable artists.  And this perhaps was one of the reasons I found solace in night encounters. I didn’t measure or anticipate the consequences.  I was a soldier of fortune playing his best hand every time, regardless of the fallout.  I found delight in loving women: Women of all walks of life.  A weekly-affair of enormous after-effect. Jazz and Booze adjusted the happenstances. I was a hero for a night, every other night: Hidden from the rays of shame and banality. Hidden from the rays of sun and dust in perpetuity.  I was alas! stuck in reverse in the cycle of my own propensity. Love affairs, in one way or another had destroyed me.  I was left with nothing but the nucleus of a man that once was! Alone, desperate and attempting to become the reflection of the Pacino who had just glimmered before him. I derived pleasure from ecstasy. And ecstasy from pleasure.  I was an android-Romeo equipped with apps and wine. The shine of the screen reminded me of Frenchie, dripping messages of small talk and nonsense every once in a while. Where are you? Why are you taking this long? Try not to be late and so on and so forth, with the typical French-English accent. This was a boring part.  I detested it. I had to put up with lots of shit. Birds, dogs, cats, and a gold-fish named Cookie Monkey.  And even a Parrot, that I taught Spanish. Oye, Puto: Chupame la Pinga. This was a daily punch line. It felt good, for a while.  But after that, the whole enterprise became mechanical, it turned hysterical and unemotional. Not my regular cup of coffee. Her sofa bed was remarkably enormous. Of course, some of her pets found sanctuary there.  I was happy to know that some had died a few months later only to gather she had replaced most of them to no avail. Let me be more honest: Yasmine was my playmate.  A pet of my own.  I don’t mean to sound wicked, but she had stripped me down to the ground. Of all my talent and my merits.  I had lost all my medals and my marvels since the end of the Civil war and no one had hugged me, like really hugged me ever since. It was a masterful act of her part. We were two gorilla mutants of intimacy.  She used to remind me that we were up for it only if we agreed that -that was going to be the only night together.  And of course, it wasn’t. We used to bang like rabbits every once in a while. She was high and I was drunk.  A perfect match.  A truc macabre. I was her pet.  Her Pluto – for all I know.  I drove my car to Sodeco.  The rain had stopped partially.  Some garbage cans were in flame around corners. A typical yet berserk Pacino scene in the making, unfolding before me.  I looked around me to see if some random passenger from a random passing vehicle would recognize me, from a random scene I was part of, the night before on a local TV network. An absurd act of vanity. A woman stood nearby.  She approached my half-open window.   The breeze coming in made the perfect match for my Monk –Live in Paris 1964.  She said: “Sodeco!” I said” “Yes!” She got in.  I said: “No. Not that way!” She looked at me as if I had slain her entire race or tribe.  I succumbed in silence. Did her the favor in utter quiet. I smiled a Mona Lisa smirk and drove in partial stillness, turned down Monk playing and closed the window entirely. How could I ruin the moment? We were both happy. In our driving act.   Me driving to my fuck and she, well, she was comfortably being driven to her random location in Sodeco. A night scene. I did not utter a word until we got there. She was about to pay the alleged taxi fare when another stranger said: “Hamra!” I had to open the door and step away from my Rover to inspect it.  It didn’t look at all like a taxi or cab –to sound more Pacino-like, if you know what I mean.  What is wrong with these people? I thought to my-self. The pale color of my car, the sudden rain and the smoke curling up in the air, in a New-York fashion, it prompted such reactions, most probably. At night, everything changes and a lie becomes the truth.  I got pissed.  I was going to be late. You don’t want to miss a fuck.  They say it’s bad luck. And now this: Taken or mistaken for a Travis Bickle in the middle of Beirut at 11 PM. A truc macabre. Let me just say that our friendship had lasted for over twenty years. Yasmine –or Frenchie as I used to call her, was a hell of a woman.  She was smart, tenacious, multi-talented and had an Italian flare, for all the time we were together.  She never lost it. I was amazed. But for some random reason I was at the end of the day -Her Pluto. Her pet-playmate.  Pluto is just a random name.  You can call me any pet name, if you want to.  I wouldn’t even know it.  I would be long gone.  Doing Yasmine or maybe slurping her strawless lid, her strapless cap for an eternity. The truth of the matter is our one-night stand lasted for seven years.  Tonight, was a random night.  Just like any other random night. Nothing special about it, except for the Danish lady with a white dress and lime green, round hoop earrings, and the random passengers who had mistaken me for a cabbie in a cab film. Often times I would turn violent on Yasmine. Like shit crazy. I lost control several times. I do regret that now. I used to hit, punch, strike, beat, slap, smack, hand-cuff her to her bed, so drunk that she wouldn’t even remember it, the next morning. She would laugh and kind of let go. I used to slam her against the closet like shit crazy. I –once, smashed her head with a Chinese vase just because she changed some random TV channel that I wasn’t even watching.  I was high.  She was drunk. I still remember when I smashed some window panels at her place, one day, by simply walking through.  It was so lucid, I didn’t even see them block my way.  That one time, a police patrol was called in but made no arrests. Her favorite part was the whipping we did.  It took months of self-adaptation and re-adjustments.  She got so used to it she said one time she was addicted to it. That she didn’t want to stop and that if we did, she’d probably kill herself. And I liked it. She didn’t want me to stop, alright. I kept going. It kept rolling. Her addiction was Freud-induced. Mine was cigar and booze. That’s what made matters worse. I had become ill-tempered.  Nothing could fix that. Out of nowhere I had this idea: To get drunk before I go up and see her. And so I did. Got wasted, went up and the first thing I did when I saw her was go down on her and eat her strawless lid for hours. I still remember when one night I went up to see her, and for some wacko reason she wouldn’t let me in.  She blocked my way in, like completely.  She said she had a friend inside and that she wasn’t feeling ok. That was an eye-opener for me. Her cat kept meowing at my foot. In a sudden act, I lifted that poor thing with my foot and threw him or her –You tell me, over the stairway.  I heard it still meow down there in the dark. For quite some time.   A truc macabre.  I still think about it. It makes me feel uneasy. It gives me the shivers. Just to think about it. Sometimes I dream of the poor little cat down there in the dark looking at me, waiting for the day to get even. I can still feel the spell of that cat all around me.  Well, if there’s any consolation, I am truly sorry for that. Guilt chased me and still chases me like a wounded dog and that time when I fucked this part-time actress and got her pregnant.  Well, it took years before she could show some mercy.  She never said it but I guess she did forgive me in the end.  As for Frenchie.  I see her from time to time, you know.  Am her Pluto. Her pet-playmate.  Pluto is just a random name.  You can call me any pet name, if you want to.  I wouldn’t even know it.  I would be long gone. Doing Yasmine or maybe slurping her strawless lid, her strapless cap for an eternity.  She came out of her apartment building in a haste, and as she opened my red Rover Mini Cooper door and got in, I threw out the window my half-way consumed zeppelin on the loose, I had lit a few minutes ago for convenience, as I listened to Monk Live in Paris, 1965.   She hated Jazz but budged in the middle of a speedy fuck.  As a matter of fact, she would turn the volume up and tell me that the music drove her nuts.  Little I knew, back then, that that zeppelin tail would plunge upon the bubbling sidewalk, that afternoon, like a Hindenburg in 1937, while its nose, rose into the air like a breaching whale. My mini-Hindenburg smashed what was left of a line of symmetrically-aligned ants on their way to an important meeting.  They were all in black and looked serious. My Chiquita threw herself onto her seat, tossed her bag onto the back seat, shifted her weight multiple times and finally sat straight up looking ahead like a sphinx.  She said: You can go now. I drove my Rover like I stole it -as my little serious victims were dispersing, in notable confusion, and in random fashion right outside my half-open window. The sandstorm I left behind grew taller than the lamp posts scattered along the street and above the noise of TV game shows poorly produced. The shadows of that afternoon street were eating up silhouettes and those silhouettes were in turn forming in surrounding walls and facades in a fatuitous manner. Chiquita and I knew each way back.  From school days when we were young and tall and vigorous.  She found pleasure in random talk, random acts. She once told me that it was more meaningful for her to justify her request of seeing me than to just say what she wanted right away.  A modus operandi, so to speak.  As I drove past flower shops and pharmacies, lingerie stores and sex toys swaying like giant bait worms on display, I thought I should get a dog and maybe a girlfriend, for all I know.  -A way of mending up my lonesome act, and one or two forlorn Beirut afternoons, while at it.   And maybe why not get a real job. And actually, do something for a living.  This business of random projects, and freelance writing was getting on my nerves. The job wasn’t but the pay was. A truc macabre. She was gorgeous-looking, the kind of a girl you want to hit on, and do from time and time and well yeah, like try to keep for a while.  The fact is she was unquenchable, hard to stop once in, and her demands grew more assiduous as our afternoon escapades became more regular. She said: Stop the car. We sat there in the middle of nowhere. Monk was a Devil in a state of total rapture. I kissed her soft lips with no bad intentions in mind. She slurped my bacon bazooka several times just for kicks.  On-lookers stood by. She grabbed my handle for reassurance, gave it a good brush and sat on me like she really had missed it.  She spat at it multiple times, my face was all over the ceiling and the windshield, and I was roaring like a wounded lion, like a man who had bet his life saving on second running-horse in the races. She was high on Blow. I was a jazz freak.  She loved History books and Italian cuisine: She was an expert at Pasta Carbonara. She’d cook the pasta in salted water, and cook some tomatoes in a large skillet over medium-high heat with olive oil and stirring often, until it slightly softened for around three minutes. She would then add some shallots and cook, stirring until the shallots and tomatoes softened for the same amount of time or so.  She would then add the garlic, some natural herbs and finally bring to a boil.  Once done, she would blend the mix using a hand blender –no wonder she was good at hand jobs.  Buon appetito!  è delizioso. That day she was draped like a mannequin in a display window. She wore a horrible, loose-fitting vintage dress, and no make-up. Stained with dark spots of coffee, that did not taste good, which she had, early in the morning. And her regular flat green shoes.  She always wore green shoes.  She squashed a gum behind her front teeth. Her finger-nails in double-decker red.  Both her earrings scintillated an assortment of a spectrum caused by the light diffused through the silver clouds, and bouncing off strategically located car handles in car doors.  I thought to myself: What a lucky bastard! I was the luckiest bastard in West Beirut.   As I pulled the metallic cold through my nostrils and a line or two of blow coke in a sporadic fashion while at it, a snow-white cigarette of three to four inches in length, resting between her fingers, burned down onto a memory. She squeezed my bacon bazooka with her free hand, thinking maybe she would make it spill by way of her magic. She was in her late thirties and I was assailed by a huge range of a regrets and shames and disappointments.  Assaulted by a series of failed relationshits. It was in that very instant, she tried desperately to project a cheerful air: I think am in love, with your dick.  Dogs and birds were leaping from one tree to another undetected. A truc macabre. She looked out the window and I pretended her say something in French like, “On a froid. On est seuls.  Mais au moins, on sait où trouver de la chaleur.” She looked back at me for an entire Trevi-Fountain second. Gallant and noble. The emotions she had stirred were exactly where we had left them. Undetected.  I was making a much-needed escape from my own trivial life, to try to reconnect back with it. It was a favorite pastime. The way of a dog, astray and awry, one afternoon in the city. Freud would have laughed, and probably join in. He would say some like I am in for the blow, man. Do what you want with her lid. Now that I come to think about it: The old man did flash in my memory a couple of times, while at it.  I pictured him in that coat, with the classic white beard, all cracked up coke-high and murmuring to himself: Turn that Monk shit up. A moment later I detected her stripping from waste down.  She looked strikingly beautiful. Her pristine shadow making a regal comeback as her hair swayed in all directions.  I was a bohemian in my final act, she was Lucifer desperate for more.  Stonie wore a Machiavellian smile and fashioned a Cobra Shades just like the ones Stallone wore as Marion Cobretti in Cobra, 1986.  The truth of the matter is this guy looked more like a train-ticket conductor or inspector with a twist, for all I know. He looked like a mutant gorilla on the run.  And not even close to what a member of an elite division called Zombie Squad looked like. A truc macabre.  After a moment, he panned his head appearing entirely as a more recent version of the black drummer in Youtube Bill Withers’ Ain’t No Sunshine, with a grin. He looked up from his tiny, half-open, smoke-twirling-window and said: Hello Mr. Ruggles, am Stonie.  Welcome to Lebanon. The Switzerland of the East. Wesley Ruggles – was an accomplished and prominent American photojournalist.  He got in the back seat of the white Peugeot 504 and smiled all the way to the Commodore Hotel in Hamra. Stonie looked at his customer adjusting himself in the back seat, as he got in, on the rear-view mirror and said: Our country is the best place if you wish to take on the challenge of surfing and skiing on the same day. There’s no particular way to do it – some prefer to hit the waves early in the morning and end the day with a cup of mulled wine after a great ski or snowboard session; others prefer to hit the slopes in the morning and watch the sunset from Ain El Mraisse on West End, after catching some waves. It’s really up to you, Mr. Ruggles. You decide.  I leave it up to you. Wesley Ruggles grinned.  He wasn’t much of a talker, if you know what I mean.  He nodded affirmatively to all the words Stonie shot at him.  Lester Young Stardust – 1952 was coming out of the radio. Soft and easy. Let me tell ya a story.  Stonie said:  Two families were arguing in a field about where the boundary between their lands lay.  The dispute dated back a long time and blood had been shed a number of times.  A boy, a child of some eight or nine years, picked up a stick and drew a line in the earth.  When asked what he was doing, he said he was marking the boundary as it had been agreed at the last round of negotiation, long before he was born.  His father asked him how he knew this, and the boy replied that he was the reincarnation of a man the father had killed in the feud.  When the child revealed details of the shooting that only the dead man and his killer could have known, his father embraced his former adversary who was now his son. Both families wanted the feud to end.  It had been costly in terms of lives, and all were seeking a way out of a resumption of hostilities. Wesley Ruggles said: Take to me to the Green Line. Now.  The war sound kept coming in and out of my head, and a couple was still banging inside a tiny yellow Fiat not far away from where I was standing.  A mechanical undertaking.  Not much emotion/commotion at play except for their intense sexual collaboration.  A deliberate, indecent exposure.  The gurl – a night-time frontline-regular took turns shifting her rear-end from East to West in a regal act. A line up of militiamen stood in queue on both of ends of the line to shag her. A surreal act. A moment of truce.  Both the gurl and the city were completely naked, shattered and decrepit. Partly broken, partly rotten, and partly forgotten. For years, I was a war junkie in Beirut. A crowded jeep of militiamen stopped and disembarked on a random sidewalk of a deserted, and smashed street on the other end of the city.  They all looked like knights subpoenaed by the monarch who was pissed and drunk and tired. For a moment, they all looked irritated and pissed off. A sort of a fashion insignia they all displayed just for kicks. A war-affair. Hip and ceremonial. Then, they began to disperse along the sidewalk in zigzag, with machine guns and RPGs pointing upward.  Their beards, long and unpleasant, pointing downward.  And their self-esteem half-way in between. They all came for the cut.  The King’s cut. The truth of the matter is the King Salon was the hippest place in town. A classic spot. A royal den.  The cosmopolitan centre of Beirut. So, to speak.  Everybody was there.  A meeting place for spies, including Kim Philby and Archie Roosevelt, and CIA men such as Miles Copeland as well as journalists of the caliber of John Chancellor and Sulzberger. Numerous diplomats and politicians, business tycoons and oil Sheikhs, they all mixed with oil and banking tycoons of the day molding the clientele of this classic establishment.  A royal place.  During the 50’s and even early 70’s the plots, the deals, and the stories that came out of this famous barbershop in Beirut were gripping. Plots and counter-plots, stretching over a quarter of a century echoed and re-echoed inside, every time.   Rumor has it, many incidents which helped to shape and re-shape Middle Eastern history are associated with the Salon: The attempt to overthrow King Hussein of Jordan, for instance. It was partially destroyed in the Two-Year war, but it was totally re-erected and managed to preserve its heyday reputation for a while.   I used to come here when I was little. A place to chill. A room where you could conduct business as usual without the hassle of the real workplace. A place you didn’t call a café for prestige and yet it was almost one. The tea they served was splendid and kingly. And ladies used to stay out on the sidewalk just for thrills, with the hope to catch heartthrobs on the loose. I went out with a new hair-cut. The King’s cut. I was the King’s Knight for the night.  I kick-started my bike and cruised for a while. A poet on tour.  Roaming the city.  Looking for a one-night stand. Or at least what appears to be.  I saw a solitary figure standing on a random spot.  A black woman with an Afro.  It was just perfect.  She jumped me on the highway the time it took me to give her a ride home.  A truc macabre. I pressed the number nine button inside the elevator of my apartment building.  I was tired and wired. As the elevator began to go up it suddenly stopped.  I was alone. And forgotten for a while.  Dangling by a cord. Forsaken.  Maybe.  I masturwaited the hour. Power was restored and I made it to my apartment safely. Minutes later the phone rang. She said: Baby, are you craving me tonight.  The next thing I know I have couple of Lesbians over slurping my bacon bazooka just for kicks. A royal act. Worthy of enjoyment with what I called decent music: I used to play Stevie Wonder’s Superstition really loud on my Marshall speakers in decay, while at it. A ritual of old fun-days when I was young, full of sperms, and needs and itches. The funny part –though, is that I always experienced something peculiar in that very moment of sorts. Hard to explain but I saw the trailer of my own life lived, projected on the facing wall. A broken wall.  I reminisced about past affairs and was transfixed by the lingering memory of a blow job as well as a highly visual fuck-climax. Vivid and highly pictorial.  Cheers! They both said. As they both poured all the wine content, glittering in penumbra, upon my bacon bazooka.  It looked like a copper fall unleashing. Unceasing. A truc macabre.   A royal act. Three was company.  Beirut was a junkyard of scrap metal and waste back then.  A place for sub-humans and android-machines on the run. BB 62 opened fire and hit some targets on the outskirts of the city. I was an android-cowboy in disguise.  Rumors had it the bomb shells were all empty. As the American destroyer showered guerilla positions in Souk el Gharb, I was firing my own cannon all over the Lesbians scattered along enemy lines inside my dim room, not far away from the Demarcation Line in Beirut.  A supreme act. A simultaneous-affair. Many years later, I had a similar experience when I was shagging this Pilipino gurl -in a random hotel in Jounieh, just for kicks, while watching the final of the World Cup in 2010. I still remember cumming inside her mouth at the exact moment Iniesta was kicking the ball inside the Netherland finish line.  A glorious-act of sorts.  The two Lesbians just loved the feeling of a revolver barrel inside them. A truc macabre. A regal tactic of enormous after-effect.  For some reason, they used to revere the freshly fired metal tube with both frame and cylinder inside. I never understood why.  I stood there. Earnest and ceremonial in my act.  Viewing the trailer of my own life on the facing wall of that dim room, and watching my bacon bazooka in constant spa-treatment mode. Graceful and yet unpretentious. The afternoon rushed in like a Belgian train in mid-voyage, that never made it on time. I dreamed of flatbread pizza, in the wasteland. Reminisced about my last, fast-paced failed love-affair and my futile attempt at piano lessons. We laughed, as we talked and killed the hours away. We imagined moments-to-be. Mostly naked. For some strange reason, they both loved to be touched on their forehead. A women-thing.  On their eye-brows to be exact.  The truth of the matter is that they both were willing to try new things –in private. My type of women.  Alone and crazy. A mind-type. Affectionate, and calm on the outside, and yet crazy and freaky on the inside. To tell you the truth I pretended I read more books than they both presumed I did. I wrestled with my own thoughts and delusions.  Concealed my deeper feelings and idiosyncrasies -in the midst of our talk. In the middle of a futile war with no ending.  A Gemini-kind-of-thing with a thrill.   I was after their strapless lid. What else do you expect: One of the few remaining standard activities in Dystopia, at the time. I fucked them both for a while and I got kind of bored afterwards.  The truth of the matter is I completely lost interest in them.  Soon after, I found my next victim. A young, fresh psychology graduate with a healthy appetite for sex and a delightful fashion-style that managed to trigger my bacon bazooka, back. This next fuck-affair with Luciana kept rolling for more than we both expected. She was the kind of girl who would do anything to satisfy you.  I acted in kind. I used a proactive approach with her, for as long as it lasted. She was worth the try: Worth every single sperm I spared on her lower and upper abdomen. And well, yeah often times on her breasts and her cute, funny face.  A truc macabre. She loved to be chased after -for sex. She loved BJs as much. And she used to brag about it in public.  A few weeks later, I found out she was sleeping with a couple of other guys from around the block, for subsistence, and with some big shot of sorts, as well.  A playboy –so to speak. Loaded with guns and green.  Good for her. She was a practical kid, with lots of love to spare.  And lots of ambition. I fired up my gorgeous-looking Jimmy and made some smoke rings with my mouth, for my own amusement, that is. And that lasted for quite a while. She had a shower: Poured herself a drink, and walked slowly the seventeen steps, all the way to my bed, completely naked.  Next, she crawled my entire body like a wounded, and moaning soldier on the frontline. Once, fully on top and facing me, she said with her typical intense voice: Impress me with your brains. It occurred to me, and I played a VHS tape I had borrowed from an old chum, of Greta Garbo’s Anna Karenina 1935, in decay. Well, yeah, to try to impress her with my cultural backdrop and shit.  The perfect artefact for a late evening binge. A truc macabre, so to speak.  The glitches and hiccups of the shivering images of Greta Garbo on the TV screen, did not corrupt the actress’s royal flare. What a Dame! I thought. What an ass! I thought in sequence. As I took turns looking at both the screen and the new chick’s naked, greasy, and flattened body shimmering in the dark, and glowing like a sea-urchin in the deep. And I thought to myself: They don’t make them like this anymore. Sublime and Holy. A Regal act.  I was talking about the chick’s ass. What else. I mean, the truth of the matter is she was lying right before my own eyes to see: Face-down with a few hours to spare. And I was fuck-hungry. Endlessly famished. I was after her strawless lid. Strapless cap. Flavorsome and scrumptious like shit crazy.  I crawled all over her on the bed and -once in position, I slurped her strapless lid for hours. I grinned. Placed my half-consumed Jimmy on the loose on the Buddha-ashtray I had in store from my old days in Kamasutra-training in New Delhi. I decided to burn my bacon bazooka inside her fire place. We fucked for hours.  Her spark was her unusual climax.  Pristine and immaculate.  The streets below and around me were dim and vacant. Cold and bare. I took off.  Had to: I zigzagged my way to the Demarcation Line, past sandbags and burning silhouettes of cars, in fall-off. A conspicuous tactic that I deployed every time to avoid unleashed android-snipers on the loose. Or mutant gorillas on the run –as I used to call them.  Whether someone or something conforms to customary patterns or deviates from them depends on one’s point of view: Behind the concepts of normality and abnormality is the assumption that there is a single standard by which to judge everything. What may be normal to one group, however, may be unacceptable to another. I had the same Walkman on, with the same headphones arching the same oval head I displayed for a thousand times at the frontline. A truc macabre. I played Monk Live in Paris 1964 every time.  Every day. Non-stop. It was more like a frontline pursuit, just for kicks. A Grotesque affair.  Stories of love and madness is all I heard on both ends of the Demarcation Line. A snow-white 1979 Super-Beetle Cabriolet stopped right there in the middle of nowhere. Just a few steps from the Line. I could not identify any of its occupants, who wore ceremonial masks, just for kicks. The truth of the matter is they all looked like soul-reapers with scythes. They then revealed their hidden arms abruptly, and opened fire in all directions for at least seven random minutes. At the end of which, the snow-white Beetle stood-still in complete silence. Out of a sudden, that tiny little wagon, was showered and hammered countless times with all sorts of ammo.  An RPG sealed its fate, turning them into a burning chunk of metal and flesh.  A suicidal undertaking. An eccentric haze shrouded my eyesight. That day, I met the iconic Wesley Ruggles on the Demarcation Line in Down Town Beirut. On that taciturn Winter-day, and somewhere in town, The Red Prince carried a pistol holstered in brown leather and worn on his hip a la Clint Eastwood. He was a playboy alright, on his final rave. He was in a convoy of two Chevi station wagons heading from Georgina’s flat to his mother’s, for a birthday party. Chambers was on her balcony painting, and her red Beetle parked below on Rue Verdun.  As Salameh’s convoy passed that red wagon at 3:35 pm and turned onto Rue Madam Curie, a hundred Kilos of explosives attached to the car by a Mossad agent was remotely detonated either by Chambers herself or on her signal to another Mossad agent. They did not mistake him this time. A truc macabre.  The blast left Salameh conscious, but severely wounded and in great pain, having pieces of steel shrapnel embedded in his head and throughout his body.  He was rushed to The American University of Beirut Hospital, where he died on the operating table at 4:03 pm. I was surrounded by eccentric structures –which stood tall beholding my own state of incongruity. I stood almost mortified in the middle of the battleground, in silence.  Out of a thick, almost-mythical mist, a machine gun emerged and finally rested on my temple: I stood-still. I did not utter a word for an entire minute. A strange haze shrouded my eyesight. I still remember that android-cowboy with rifle still pointing at me, and with his brimmed-shape-white-Panama-hat, silk shirt, striped pants and his green suspenders. A distinctive and manly act.  I still remember when he looked at me for the last time and said: Learn how to cook and spend less, save time and have sex more often.  He was in a chill mood. He grinned at the end of his act and said: Hasta La Vista, Baby.  As for her:  She read the last couple of lines of a letter she kept in one of her emerald green coat’s inner pockets for the last time, folded the letter the way she was supposed to, placed the letter gently on the desk, took a pistol out of an upper drawer, put the pistol’s barrel inside her mouth and shot herself. She was six months pregnant. Stonie wore a Machiavellian smile and fashioned a Cobra Shades just like the ones Stallone wore as Marion Cobretti in Cobra, 1986.  The truth of the matter is this guy looked more like a train-ticket conductor or inspector with a twist, for all I know. He looked like a mutant gorilla on the run.  And not even close to what a member of an elite division called Zombie Squad looked like. A truc macabre.  After a moment, he panned his head appearing entirely as a more recent version of the black drummer in Youtube Bill Withers’ Ain’t No Sunshine, with a grin. He looked up from his tiny, half-open, smoke-twirling-window and said: Hello Mr. Ruggles, am Stonie.  Welcome to Lebanon. The Switzerland of the East. Wesley Ruggles – was an accomplished and prominent American photojournalist.  He got in the back seat of the white Peugeot 504 and smiled all the way to the Commodore Hotel in Hamra. Stonie looked at his customer adjusting himself in the back seat, as he got in, on the rear-view mirror and said: Our country is the best place if you wish to take on the challenge of surfing and skiing on the same day. There’s no particular way to do it – some prefer to hit the waves early in the morning and end the day with a cup of mulled wine after a great ski or snowboard session; others prefer to hit the slopes in the morning and watch the sunset from Ain El Mraisse on West End, after catching some waves. It’s really up to you, Mr. Ruggles. You decide.  I leave it up to you. Wesley Ruggles grinned.  He wasn’t much of a talker, if you know what I mean.  He nodded affirmatively to all the words Stonie shot at him.  Lester Young Stardust – 1952 was coming out of the radio. Soft and easy. Let me tell ya a story.  Stonie said:  Two families were arguing in a field about where the boundary between their lands lay.  The dispute dated back a long time and blood had been shed a number of times.  A boy, a child of some eight or nine years, picked up a stick and drew a line in the earth.  When asked what he was doing, he said he was marking the boundary as it had been agreed at the last round of negotiation, long before he was born.  His father asked him how he knew this, and the boy replied that he was the reincarnation of a man the father had killed in the feud.  When the child revealed details of the shooting that only the dead man and his killer could have known, his father embraced his former adversary who was now his son. Both families wanted the feud to end.  It had been costly in terms of lives, and all were seeking a way out of a resumption of hostilities.  After a long drive and a prolonged silence, Wesley Ruggles said: Take to me to the Green Line. Now.  Militias around West Beirut were a spectacle not to be missed.  A daily-affair. They rode Jeeps as if they were riding horses. Ski-nautique, once heard someone say. Their rituals comprised life as it happened on the eve of the end of the world. For all I know.  Ruggles was a modern-times Dziga Vertov, with a movie camera.  He was a prompt man.  Never late to a meeting or a date and had a subtle way of complaining to chefs about mediocre meals at restaurants. He was an homme d’affaires. He was a lean, mean fighting-machine that would not have anything be used to his disadvantage.  And for some unknown reason always wore black.  From head to bottom. No matter what. He was a distinctive soul with an Italian flare. A lady’s man. No doubt about it.  The Lebanese Rambo –or the subject of his piece, was in place in the smashed part of the city.  Surely on the demarcation line in Down Town. Pre-disposed and ready.  He was a robust, broad-shouldered and extremely serious fella. A War-Junkie. A visual spectacle par excellence, so to speak.  A local hero of sorts.  A Stallone-look-a-like, whose physical transformation was evident and clear indication that Post-Vietnam American War films and more specifically Rambo films of the 1980s, made a huge impression on him, to the extent he -and possibly others, eventually transmuted into Rambo himself. That prompted folks like Wesley Ruggles and others to come to Beirut to have a closer look. A truc macabre. The truth of the matter is the local Rambo did not like or fancy Rambo.  He became Rambo: The man himself.  A rare case of a man who becomes another.  A copy of an original, so to speak -who is eventually rejected! Wesley Ruggles told the local Rambo to look away as he took pictures of him. The others did just the same. But these two worked as an ensemble-together:  A photo session followed by a video session.  The whole spectacle ensued in a surreal war-inspired open-air studio, in the heart of the city. A war-triggered art installation under the piercing sun for hours: The local Rambo loved to be photographed and Ruggles, well, yeah consequently, loved to be the producer of the images. A love-affair of sort. Zeina Salem –A gorgeous-looking local news producer –they all look gorgeous at the times- stood near-by.  She took some photos of her own. There is something arrogant about him. She thought. Ruggles spent hours with his subjects. He was a war-junkie himself. Up until February 6, 1984 greater Beirut was under the control of the government. On that day, the Lebanese army was forced to withdraw from the West side of the city, which again came under the control of militias and political groups opposed to the government.  The truth of the matter is that these men in the framework of war seemed wired to invade and conquer with glory being the primary objective. The key takeaway is that none of these displays bear any significance if there is no audience to play to. Some folks stood by. Some others from a far stared and marveled.  The Lebanese Rambo had this funny approach: Rambo fights in the films, I, on the other hand, am real.  I drove my Rover with my two dazzling companions:  Zeina Salem by my side and well, yeah Paul Desmond and his Quartet-1954 coming out of the radio.  Soft and easy. The meeting with Ruggles was set at the demarcation line just for kicks.  Part of the war-thrill encounters he was after.  We compromised. I still remember the first time I met Wesley Ruggles. He gave the impression he was a temperamental actor having to do retakes.  Non-stop. But Rambo was not the real reason for Ruggles to fly down here. Rambo was inconsequential.  A slight- story.  Wesley Ruggles was in Beirut for completely different reasons: The Plugged-Sniper of Beirut. Random boys stood-still as a lady-photographer took some pictures of a random Palestinian commander who sat between two low-ranking officers close-by. Sit-still! She said -as she released her film camera’s release button.  They all look like ancillaries. The main character was wearing black shades. A la Marion Cobretti.  And a black beret crowned his head, which provided him with immediate identifying qualities, in addition to his physical position in relation to the others which emphasized his authority.  His face seemed expressionless due to various props it displayed. Masculinized by his obvious mustache.  A gendering-trope.  We had Peaches, prosciutto, burrata, mint, pistachios with honey and white balsamic vinegar drizzle on top with white wine all afternoon.  Zeina Salem said “The commander looks older than the back-standing militiamen.  They are all in uniform in a near-battle field/zone position.  They are dressed for war. But not enacting it.  They look masculine and yet the kitten adds that softness touch to Brando’s character in this specific re-interpretation which is by no means intended.” She paused for a second and then resumed “I have the perception that the producer of the image herself did not know whether the commander was trying to imitate “The Godfather” character or not.”  The focal point of the mise-en-scene was a white kitten the commander held with his right hand, which he didn’t seem to care for.  He held it with cool passiveness.  The photographer was able to frame the kitten occupying a lower position.  His bodyguard stood on both sides: The one who stood to his right looked away. Showing disinterest or confusion.  He carried a machine-gun pointing upward.  He wore a military uniform with magazine holders strapped all around him.  His flexed right arm differed from the left arm that rested by his standing body.  On the opposite left side of the commander, there sat another militiaman who gazed straight at him.  He was more interested it seems on the commander’s next act than on the photographer’s consequent actions. I thought to myself.  The cat in hand was very significant.  The way the main combatant held the kitten was domineering, almost like a chokehold, a threat. This served the purpose of making him seem uncaring and hardened by the war. A power move that was even more amplified by the presence of his goons at his sides. Then I thought: He appears to be copying Marlon Brando’s opening scene in Godfather, 1972. A truc macabre.  Zeina Salem was a ravishing Capricorn -unleashed.  I was entangled immediately.  I tried to keep up with her interpretation and responded in kind: “The house in the background reflects the living conditions of its inhabitants.  If any, at all.  It is a relaxed moment. I think.   A break from the exhaustive instants of combat.  They are all facing the camera somehow.  The commander is surrounded by his guards. They look at him or the people around him for security reasons.  The commander’s unintentional pursuit of conflating his military might with that of a mafia boss is evident.  He pretends to demystify him somehow by acting out a “real” version of a representational power.” After a long silence, she looked at me and said: “Rumor has it that the cat held by Brando, in the opening scene of Godfather was a stray, the actor found while on the lot at Paramount, and was not originally called for in the script.  So content was the cat, that its purring muffled some of Brando’s dialogue, and, as a result, most of his lines had to be looped.” We both sniggered and had a toast. To tell you the truth, the Palestinian commander, being the main mantelpiece of this scene, deserves more attention.  His face is cold and gives nothing away which is mostly attributed to his dark tinted glasses. As the eyes are the windows to the soul, this accessory is a very strategic affront on the mere possibility of conveying emotion. This skipper has taken all of the precautions to shield himself from being perceived as anything but masculine. He is a lean, mean fighting-machine that will not have anything be used to his disadvantage. The truth of the matter is that the three-armed war veterans whose placements clearly exemplify the power dynamics at play, looked invincible. The one in the center is decidedly the head of the group surrounded by two subordinate officers who, while authoritative, rank lower than him or at least submit to him. One is looking vacantly into the far left of the camera in slight amusement. The other henchman is seated on the bottom right of the frame looking directly at the head of the leader as if awaiting his signal, his every beck and call. The hierarchy is very blatant here. Zeina said: “These images remind me of Nick Ut’s “Accidental Napalm” photograph as the defining image of the Vietnam War because that little girl will not go away, despite many attempts at forgetting. War photographs are frozen moments in war-time. I freeze what I see.  It’s not what you see.  It’s what I see.  It’s my truth.  It’s not the truth.  It’s my eye.  It’s the way I saw it with a specific lens, with a specific light.  You wouldn’t have seen it the same way.” The Vietnam war ended in the same month, the Lebanese Civil war had started.  A clear dissolve. Beirut, once a hide-out, where coup d’états, political assaults, espionage and even felony could be planned, where financial deals, bank transactions, and international trade could be brokered, was alas! a ravaged city. Disfigured and ultimately forsaken. During a shelling of the town, an almost wasted, Wesley Ruggles raised a glass of Bordeaux and said: “You’re Lebanese? You’re lucky! You have a war, you have something to live for! We have nothing back home.” I think that hadn’t we had a war; we would have died slowly. War had renewed us. The war sound kept coming in and out of my head, and a couple was still fucking inside a tiny yellow Fiat not far away from where I was standing.  A mechanical undertaking.  Not much emotion/commotion at play except for their intense sexual collaboration.  A deliberate, indecent exposure.   It did not take me long to realize that angels were standing in cue at the entrance of a crumbling city: Dilapidated and decrepit. Partly broken, partly rotten, and partly forgotten. For years, I was a war junkie in Beirut.  Out of nowhere, a crowded jeep of militiamen stopped and disembarked.  They all looked like Knights subpoenaed by the monarch who was pissed and drunk and tired. For a moment, they all looked irritated and pissed off. A sort of a fashion insignia they all displayed just for kicks. A war-affair. Hip and ceremonial. Then, they began to disperse along the sidewalk in zigzag, with machine guns and RPGs pointing upward.  Their beards, long and unpleasant, pointing downward.  And their self-esteem half-way in between. They all came for the cut.  The King’s cut. The truth of the matter is the King Salon was the hippest place in town. A classic spot. A royal den.  The cosmopolitan centre of Beirut. So, to speak.  Everybody was there.  A meeting place for spies, including Kim Philby and Archie Roosevelt, and CIA men such as Miles Copeland as well as journalists of the caliber of John Chancellor and Sulzberger. Numerous diplomats and politicians, business tycoons and oil Sheikhs, they all mixed with oil and banking tycoons of the day molding the clientele of this classic establishment.  A royal place.  During the 50’s and even early 70’s the plots, the deals, and the stories that came out of this famous barbershop in Beirut were gripping. Plots and counter-plots, stretching over a quarter of a century echoed and re-echoed inside, every time.   Rumor has it, many incidents which helped to shape and re-shape Middle Eastern history are associated with the Salon: The attempt to overthrow King Hussein of Jordan, for instance. It was partially destroyed in the Two-Year war, but it was totally re-erected and managed to preserve its heyday reputation for a while.   I used to come here when I was little.  My dad was a big fan of this room.  He used to call it his part-time office. A place to chill. A room where you could conduct business as usual without the hassle of the real workplace. A place you didn’t call a café for prestige and yet it was almost one. The tea they served was splendid and kingly. And ladies used to stay out on the sidewalk just for thrills, with the hope to catch heartthrobs on the loose. I went out with a new hair-cut. The King’s cut. I was the King’s Knight for the night.  I kick-started my bike and cruised for a while. A poet on tour.  Roaming the city.  Looking for a one-night stand. Or at least what appears to be.  I saw a solitary figure standing on a random spot.  A black woman with an Afro.  It was perfect.  She jumped me on the highway the time it took me to give her a ride home.  A truc macabre. I pressed the number nine inside the elevator of my apartment building.  I was tired and wired. As the elevator began to go up it suddenly stopped.  I was alone. And forgotten for a while.  Dangling by a cord. Forsaken.  Maybe.  I masturwaited the hour. Power was restored and I made it to my apartment safely. Minutes later the phone rang.  It was her.  She said: Baby, are you craving me tonight.  The next thing I know I have couple of Lesbians over slurping my bacon bazooka just for kicks. A royal act. Worthy of enjoyment with what I called decent music: I used to play Stevie Wonder’s Superstition really loud on my Marshall speakers in decay. A ritual of old fun-days when I was young, full of sperms, and needs and itches. The funny part –though, is that I always experienced something peculiar in that very moment. Hard to explain and yet I saw the trailer of my own life lived, projected on the facing wall.  I reminisced about past affairs and was transfixed by a lingering memory of a blow job as well as a highly visual fuck-climax. Vivid and highly pictorial.  Cheers! They both said. As they both poured all the wine content glittering in penumbra upon my bacon bazooka.  It looked like a copper fall unleashing. Unceasing. A truc macabre.   A royal act. Three was company.  Beirut was a junkyard of scrap metal and waste back then.  A place for sub-humans and android-machines on the run. BB 62 opened fire and hit some targets on the outskirts of the city. Rumors has it the bomb shells were all empty. As the American destroyer showered guerilla positions in Souk el Gharb, I was firing my own cannon all over the Lesbians scattered along enemy lines inside my dim room. A supreme act. A simultaneous-affair. Many years later, I had a similar experience when I was shagging this Pilipino –gurl- in a random hotel in Jounieh, just for kicks, while watching the final of the World Cup in 2010. I still remember cumming inside her mouth at the exact moment Iniesta was kicking the ball inside the Netherland finish line.  A glorious-victorious moment.  The Lesbians just loved the feeling of a revolver barrel inside them. A truc macabre. A regal tactic of enormous after-effect.  For some reason, they used to revere the freshly fired metal tube with both frame and cylinder inside. I stood there. Earnest and ceremonial in my act.  Viewing the trailer of my life on the facing wall of my dim room, and watching my bacon bazooka in constant spa-treatment mode. Graceful and yet unpretentious. The afternoon rushed in like a Belgian train in mid-voyage, that never made it on time. I dreamed of flatbread pizza, in the wasteland. Reminisced about my last, fast-paced failed love-affair and my futile attempt at piano lessons. We laughed, as we talked and killed the hours away. We imagined moments-to-be. Mostly naked. For some strange reason, they both loved to be touched on their forehead. A women-thing.  On their eye-brows to be exact.  The truth of the matter is that they both were willing to try new things –in private. My type of women.  Alone and crazy. A mind-type. Affectionate, and calm on the outside, and yet crazy and freaky on the inside. To tell you the truth I pretended I read more books than they both presumed I did. I wrestled with my own thoughts and delusions.  Concealed my deeper feelings and idiosyncrasies -in the midst of our talk. A Gemini-kind-of-thing.   I was after their strapless lid. What else do you expect: One of the few remaining standard activities in Dystopia.  I fucked them both for a while and I got kind of bored afterwards.  The truth of the matter is I completely lost interest in them.  Soon after, I found my next victim. A young, fresh psychology graduate with a healthy appetite for sex and a delightful fashion-style that managed to trigger my bacon bazooka, back. This next fuck-affair kept rolling for more than we both expected. She was the kind of girl who would do anything to satisfy you.  I acted in kind. I used a proactive approach with her, for as long as it lasted. She was worth the try: Worth every single sperm I spared on her lower and upper abdomen. And well, yeah often times on her breasts and her cute, funny face.  A truc macabre. She loved to be chased after -for sex. She loved BJs as much. And she used to brag about it in public.  A few weeks later, I found out she was sleeping with a couple of other guys from around the block, for subsistence. Good for her. She was a practical kid, with lots of love to spare. I lit my Jimmy and made some smoke rings with my mouth, for my own amusement, that is. She showered.  Poured herself a drink. Walked all the way to my bed, completely naked.  She, then, army-crawled my entire body without a word.  Once, fully up and facing me, she said with her typical intense voice: Impress me with your brains. I played a VHS tape I had borrowed from an old pal, of Greta Garbo’s Anna Karenina -1935- in decay. Well, yeah, to try to impress her with my cultural background and shit.  The perfect artefact for a late evening binge. A truc macabre. The glitches and hiccups of the shivering images of Greta Garbo on the TV screen, did not corrupt the actress’s royal flare. What a Dame! I thought. What an ass! I thought in sequence. As I took turns looking at both the screen and the new chick’s naked, flattened body shimmering in the dark, and glowing like a sea-urchin in the deep. And I thought to myself: They don’t make them like this anymore. Sublime and Heavenly. A Regal act. Of course, I was talking about the chick’s ass. What else. I mean, the truth of the matter is she was lying right before my own eyes to see: Face down with a few hours to spare. And I was hungry. Endlessly famished. I was after her strawless lid.  I crawled on the bed and once in position I sucked her strapless lid for hours. I grinned. Placed my half-consumed Jimmy on the Buddha-ashtray I had from my old days in Kamasutra-training in New Delhi. I decided to burn my bacon bazooka inside her fire place. We fucked the night away.  Like two little kids grounded in confinement.  Her spark was her climax. Unequal. Pristine and immaculate.  The e-streets below and around me were dim and vacant. Cold and bare. I took off.  Had to: I zigzagged my way to the Demarcation Line, past sandbags and burning silhouettes of e-cars, in falloff. A conspicuous tactic that I deployed every time to avoid unleashed android-snipers on the loose.  Whether someone or something conforms to customary patterns or deviates from them depends on one’s point of view: Behind the concepts of normality and abnormality is the assumption that there is a single standard by which to judge everything. What may be normal to one group, however, may be unacceptable to another. I had the same Walkman on, with the same headphones arching the same oval head I displayed for a thousand times at the frontline. A truc macabre. I played Monk Live in Paris 1964 every time.  Every day. Non-stop. It was more like a frontline pursuit for kicks. A Grotesque business. A reel replayed the same white 1979 Super-Beetle Cabriolet stopping right there in the middle of nowhere, over and over again.  A loop in one act.  Its occupiers looked like soul reapers with scythes, when out of a sudden, they revealed their hidden arms and fired in all directions. At the end of which, the white Beetle stood-still, in complete stillness. Technically, a malware. Once at the frontline, in total stillness, and in complete silence/quiet: I heard the remote air of a lullaby looping the same word stuck in reverse. I was surrounded by eccentric structures –which stood tall beholding my own state of incongruity. I stood almost mortified in the middle of the battleground, in silence.  Out of a thick, almost-mythical mist, a machine gun emerged and finally rested on my forehead. I stood-still.  Did not utter a word for an entire minute. A strange haze shrouded my eyesight. I still remember my counter-part’s brimmed-shape, white Panama hat, silk shirt, striped pants and his green suspenders. A distinctive act. He looked like a model taken out of a GQ magazine. I still remember when he looked at me for the last time and said: Learn how to cook and spend less.  Save time and have sex more often. The sound of my camera release bottom re-echoed in the stillness of that barren place, bouncing off the empty, worn-out, and shattered walls around me. On that crispy autumn day, and somewhere in town, The Red Prince carried a pistol holstered in brown leather and worn on his hip a la Clint Eastwood. He was a playboy alright, on his final rave. He was in a convoy of two Chevi station wagons heading from Georgina’s flat to his mother’s, for a birthday party. Chambers was on her balcony painting, and her red Beetle parked below on Rue Verdun.  As Salameh’s convoy passed that red wagon at 3:35 pm and turned onto Rue Madam Curie, a hundred Kilos of explosives attached to the car by a Mossad agent was remotely detonated either by Chambers herself or on her signal to another Mossad agent. They did not mistake him this time. A truc macabre.  The blast left Salameh conscious, but severely wounded and in great pain, having pieces of steel shrapnel embedded in his head and throughout his body.  He was rushed to The American University of Beirut Hospital, where he died on the operating table at 4:03 pm. Salameh’s four bodyguards and four bystanders were also killed, and at least 16 people were injured.  I was on the other end of town, with Mario Garcia having some Single malt whisky, in some random bar, surrounded by Frenchies at the moment of the blast.  The air turned purple and crowds rushed in to get the latest news from an old, dusty radio inside. You could feel the heat of the day in full armor. Hours later, I was sitting at my fav round table in the kitchen back at home when the telephone reechoed.  A voice –on the other end of the line said: I miss you, my baby. Shall I come over? I grinned.  I said: No.  I’m tired. We read countless pages of Gabo’s Hundred Years of Solitude, in Spanish, together, and ended up shagging a couple of times before going to bed.  We massacred solitude.  A masterful act. Luciana stayed way into the night.  She had a special homemade flatbread pizza formula for kicks, which she experimented with, when over. The fun part: I improvised most of the toppings from leftovers and a sauce I had on the side for the occasion. We had some slices of pizza, with red wine. I concede she did all the maintenance required and left before sunrise. A ballerina in her finest hour. Next morning, I drove my e-Rover to the frontline -like a student in love, on his second day of school.  Out of nowhere, A fighter pointed his machine gun to my temple, and said: Do not move. That day, I met Mario Garcia on the frontline. He came with cash to burn – a fleet of airplanes and a keen eye for French-speaking ladies. He had a crowd of bodyguards with him, just for kicks.  A business man of some sort looking for some prospects in the middle of a farcical war with no-end.  He was a bit of a ghost down here.  Nobody saw him.  Nobody knew him. He stayed in the prominent Achrafieh area for convenience.  “The safest part of Beirut,” he’d say. The sound of my camera release bottom re-echoed over and over again in the stillness of that barren place, bouncing off the empty, worn-out, and shattered walls around me. Chambers was on her balcony painting, and her red Beetle parked below on Rue Verdun.  As Salameh’s convoy passed that red wagon at 3:35 pm and turned onto Rue Madam Curie, a hundred Kilos of explosives attached to the car by a Mossad agent was remotely detonated either by Chambers herself or on her signal to another Mossad agent. They did not mistake him this time. A truc macabre.  The blast left Salameh conscious, but severely wounded and in great pain, having pieces of steel shrapnel embedded in his head and throughout his body. He was rushed to The American University of Beirut Hospital, where he died on the operating table at 4:03 pm. Salameh’s four bodyguards and four bystanders were also killed, and at least 16 people were injured.  I was on the other end of town, with Wesley Ruggles and Zeina Salem taking countless shots of The Plugged-Sniper of Beirut -who walked no more than thirty steps to his rifle.  Fired some shots at random crossers –who crossed from one side to the other every time and walked back to his seat to smoke cigars and drink single malt whisky all day. A Chaplin-like puppet of sorts.  A war junkie. A mutant gorilla on the run. A member of an elite division called the Zombie Squad. Why do you do it ? Ruggles asked him. The Plugged-Sniper of Beirut looked back at him after a long pause and said: I’m shooting people.  Ruggles perplexed asked: But why? The Plugged-Sniper of Beirut said: They pay me twenty five Lebanese Pounds (for the head) for every person I kill. Ruggles asked again: How do they know how many you’ve killed?  At that point, The Plugged-Sniper of Beirut got pissed because of Ruggles disrespectful remarks. Dropped his rifle and said: Ain’t I an honest man? The air turned purple and crowds rushed in to get the latest news from an old, dusty radio inside. You could feel the heat of the day in full armor.  My counter-part –still pointing his machine gun at my temple, was in a chill mood. He grinned at the end of his act and said: Hasta La Vista, Baby.  I can’t overlook the fact that her vagina was once snipped by a randy horn-eyed ghost crab confusing her fleshy bits for an open oyster on the beach, in spite of the fact that it was illegal to lie down there, naked. A foolish-act. The truth of the matter is some of her intimate friends were woken up by her screaming that somethin’ had bitten her and they were shocked to see a crab hanging off her privates. A morbid-act.  They had no choice but to release the pinchers open and free her from his grip. The recollection of that sinister incident turned me on every time she narrated it. Lustful and lecherous.  I guess her secret weapon was the knockout garlic-herb butter she used to brush each oyster with arranged in a single-layer on the grill. And subsequently, cook out uncovered for seven minutes or at least until the edges curled. The truth of the matter is eating oysters and sex merged well.  A magic-twist. I guess the salty juice and soft flesh of the oyster had the power to excite.  In both, eating oysters and sex, one used all five senses just for kicks. Casanova was so right to power up with oysters before his lusty bedroom undertakings. Chiquita loved to cook oysters for me, and she went randy when we cooked oysters together on Sunday afternoons.  A sexy-act. A night involving lubricants and oysters was a weekend-thrill. I love oysters.  She said.  It’s like kissing the sea on the lips. Casanova puts it like this: I put the shell to her mouth, I told her to suck in the liquid and keep the oyster between her lips. She performed the feat to the letter after laughing heartily, and I took the oyster by pressing my lips to hers with the greatest decency. She was delighted by the delicacy with which I took the oyster from her lips.  I was a randy horn-eyed ghost crab myself. On the look-out for thrill-driven trysts round the clock.  Beirut was a massive bed of lust and smoke and violence. A tower of sexual escapades and rendezvous. She used to sleep on her side, naked. I used to sleep on my back, full of sperms.  She was an open and naked oyster on the beach of my waterbed and I was a randy, horny ghost crab on her oyster-resembling genitalia:  The flavorsome local white wine added the ultimate aroma to our scrumptious encounter.  I once read that the Greeks believed that the semen was white because it was made of foam.  Semen was similar to the salty foam of the ocean.  Add to this the belief that the soft milky texture of oysters was like semen and thus eating them would generate more semen in a male.  The legend goes that Cronos, Zeus father, overthrew his own –Uranus. It was a brutal fight.  In the end, Cronos chopped his father’s bacon bazooka off with his sickle. Everywhere Uranus golden blood landed, new organisms appeared.  Blood on the rocks turned into winged demons called Furies, and blood on fertile soil turned into nymphs and satyrs. Cronos threw the bacon bazooka into the ocean.  Sperm came out of it and made foam.  The foam, in turn, mixed with the sea and created none other but Aphrodite.  A truc-macabre. As a matter of fact, Botticelli’s Birth of Venus painting shows her arriving in Cyprus in a giant shell. The connection between shellfish and Aphrodite is more than clear. A grim and complicated-plot. A la Giacomo Casanova.The famous lover ate at least fifty slippery oysters a day and he used assurance caps to prevent impregnating his mistresses.  I didn’t. Words of love must be implied. He used to say.  Not boldly proclaimed. I never used words. My bacon bazooka needed no introduction. He was a man of far-ranging intellect and curiosity. A true adventurer, traveling across Europe from end to end in search of fortune.  He was a lawyer, clergyman, military officer, violinist, con man, pimp, gourmand, dancer, businessman, diplomat, spy, politician, mathematician, social philosopher, playwright, and writer. I, on the other hand, was a fucker on the run. An android-lover on the loose. A sybarite seeking the perpetual euphoria of a new fuck-affair, every time.  And always looking for Chiquitas around the city-bed of lust and smoke and violence. She looked me in the eyes and said: Eat your oysters naked first.   Rumor has it Casanova purchased a twelve-year old girl in St. Petersburg as a sexual slave in 1765, when he was my age. Around forty years old.  A cruel-act.  She was emphatically prepubescent: Her breasts had still not finished budding. She was in her thirteenth year.  She had nowhere the definitive mark of puberty.  Born of actors, he had a passion for the theater and for an improvised, theatrical life, but with all his talents he frequently succumbed to the quest for pleasure and sex.  His true occupation was living largely on his quick wits, steely nerves, luck, social charm, and the money given to him in gratitude and by trickery.  There is nothing in the world of which he wasn’t capable of.  Oysters were more of an-agent provocateur for the famous lover – An initiator, so to speak.  And part of their sensual reputation might have come from the fact that oysters are hermaphrodites: Can be both males and females at different points in their life cycle. Like in all good myths, there’s an element of truth in the oysters-make-you-randy story. Spawning occurs in spring and summer. External fertilization of the eggs with the sperm occurs in the water. The fertilized eggs drift away as free-floating larvae. When they settle on an optimal bottom, they affix themselves to it and are called spat.  They remain there for the rest of their lives. It typically takes a two-three year to reach adulthood. Their magical allure may spring from their liminal life–free floating larvae which are transformed into a shelled organism fixed in one place and forming the foundation for future generations.  Oyster habitat is brackish water: A mixture of fresh and salt water like one finds in estuaries. They settle on hard surfaces like reefs, older shells, piers, and rocks. Their shells grow on top of each other and form reefs.  Oysters contain eight times more zinc and three times more iron than the same size serving of beef.  That Little Sunshine Chiquita rubbed her strapless lid in a circular fashion with some Thai oil she had in store, using her left hand, and sitting back in the bunker of her bed, with her cherry-red lips squeezing a hard, spicy and fired-up Jimmy on the loose, that looked more like a German Hindenburg caught on fire attempting to dock on her scrumptious lips and she did all that with the elasticity of a gazelle in premonition of a fuck-up. Of an imminent death. A cruel act.  She looked me in the eyes and said: Last time I fucked six guys at the same time right here!  I don’t really know where does this obsession with sex come from.  I am talking about my own.  Hers.  The city’s. I guess, and irrevocably, Freud was so right. Life was built round tension and pleasure. And all that build-up of libido I needed to discharge, somehow.  To release interminably. Curiously, the war did the rest.  Little Sunsine did not fuck me as much as I wanted to that eve.  She was more of a mouth-inserter. Just like a baby who gets much satisfaction from putting all sorts of things in its mouth to satisfy her libido. For some reason, she used to come to my place famished: She got up.  Walked with a slow pace all the way to the fridge, and pulled the door open: Ate whatever she found in my tiny, little wagon with an engine.  She devoured ravenously and greedily what was left of a turkey and mashed potatoes I had saved for a lonesome afternoon and drank up all the beer cans standing proud and eerie in the deep of my light box. She did all that with the motivation of a fifteen-year old novice- cheerleader.  She sat back on her bunker of a bed and watched a silent black and white TV movie on an old TV set in decay, mute. A regal act.  Worthy of a pictorial endeavor a la Salvador Dali. Or some other random artist that I don’t know nothing about.   The TV set was an old artefact I found in that apartment when I first moved in three years ago. She was high.  I was drunk. The truth of the matter is she loved to sit back in the bunker of her bed –just like she used to, in the old days, and spit at her strawless lid, and scrub her strapless cap repeatedly, using her left hand, like there was no tomorrow, and drink wine all afternoon.  And she did all that not far away from the Demarcation Line in no-man zone.  She was 15 and I was the luckiest bastard in West Beirut. The memory of that fuck-up kept bouncing off the walls of my place like a stress ball in distress. Marlon Brando once couldn’t get it up. It was shameful and everything but I guess it was ok. She loved the feeling of a revolver barrel inside her. She used to revere the freshly fired metal tube with both frame and cylinder inside.  A regal tactic of enormous after-effect. One day and out of the blue, we decided to meet: In other words, to go out for a change. Greta Garbo’s was a warm and cozy brasserie outside Beirut, which had turned into a scrapyard. It was the perfect meeting-place for a Saturday afternoon wine A-Go-Go. The place was not crowded, as we expected. She came out of the android-Uber with a Latin flare, as we had agreed. Hard to explain if you didn’t have it in the first place.  I stood there. Earnest and ceremonial in my act. Looking at her royal-paced walk in euphoria. She walked my way the seventeen steps it took her to face me and kiss me on both cheeks and said: I missed you, my Pacino. Graceful and yet unpretentious. Her holy-halo leaked elements of light, spilling radiant and shiny bright as she moved forward.  That afternoon rushed in like a Belgian train in mid-voyage, that never made it on time.  We talked about flatbread pizza, her next mobile cinema project, in Dystopia. About her last, fast-paced failed love-affair and her attempt at piano lessons.  I listened, mostly.  For practical reasons. -A wisdom I had acquired in recent years, which had saved me plenty of time and effort and appetite. We had a couple of jumpy-chicken salads and local wine. Fresh and flavorsome. We laughed, as we talked about almost everything and nothing, and managed, gracefully, to kill the hour away. We both imagined moments-to-be, simultaneously. Mostly naked. For some strange reason, she loved to be touched on her forehead. A regal act of a woman on fire. On her eye-brows to be exact. She was the classic example of someone who knows what she wants and knows how to get it right away.  A negotiator, if you know what I mean. Willing to try new things –in private. My type of chick. Affectionate, and calm on the outside, and yet crazy and freaky on the inside. A mind-type. And believe it or not I was her perfect match. A sophisticated flirt in my own right: A wild and well-traveled and fearless Latino lover by birthright.  To tell you the truth I pretended I read more books than she presumed I did. A manly-affair.  I wrestled with my own thoughts and delusions as the afternoon got away. I concealed most of my inner feelings and idiosyncrasies -in the midst of our talk. A Gemini-kind-of-affair. I was after her strapless lid. What else.  One of the few remaining standard activities in Dystopia. The truth of the matter is we fucked for a while and I got kind of bored with her afterwards. I completely lost interest in her. A guy- thing –so to speak. But her healthy appetite for sex and her delightful fashion-style triggered my bacon bazooka, back. And the fuck-affair kept rolling for more than we both expected. She was the kind of a girl who would do anything to satisfy you.  I acted in kind. I used a proactive approach with her, for as long as it lasted.  She was predictable, but was worth the try, though. Worth every single sperm I spared on her lower and upper abdomen. And well, yeah often times on her tits and her cute, and funny face. I mean, why not. I had nothing to lose. I was a cowboy on the run.  She loved to be chased after -for sex. And after sex. She loved BJs as much, and she used to brag about it in public. A truc macabre. Utterly gallivant. A few weeks later, I found out she was sleeping with a couple of other guys from around the block, for subsistence, and with some big shot of sorts, as well.  A playboy –so to speak. Loaded with guns and green.  Good for her. She was a practical kid, with lots of love to spare. And lots of ambition. I fired up my gorgeous-looking Jimmy and made some smoke rings with my mouth, for my own amusement, that is. And that lasted for quite a while. She had a shower: Poured herself a drink, and walked slowly the seventeen steps, all the way to my bed, completely naked.  Next, she crawled my entire body like a wounded, and moaning soldier on the frontline. Once, fully on top and facing me, she said with her typical intense voice: Impress me with your brains. It occurred to me, and I played a VHS tape I had borrowed from an old chum, of Greta Garbo’s Anna Karenina 1935, in decay. Well, yeah, to try to impress her with my cultural backdrop and shit.  The perfect artefact for a late evening binge. A truc macabre, so to speak.  The glitches and hiccups of the shivering images of Greta Garbo on the old TV set screen, did not corrupt the actress’s royal flare. What a Dame! I thought. What an ass! I thought in sequence. As I took turns looking at both the screen and the Chiquita’s naked, greasy, and flattened body shimmering in the dark, and glowing like a sea-urchin in the deep. And I thought to myself: They don’t make round asses like this anymore. Sublime and holy. The truth of the matter is she was lying right before my own eyes to see: Face-down with a few hours to spare, and I was shit sex-hungry. Infinitely famished. I was after her strawless lid. Her strapless cap.  It was my turn to crawl all over her and once in position I slurped her strapless lid for hours. Out of a sudden, I decided to burn my bacon bazooka inside her fireplace. A regal act.  We fucked for hours. Like two little kids grounded inside their tiny, little school for the weekend, in solitary confinement.  Her final spark was her peculiar climax. Unequal. Unusual.  One of a kind.  Pristine and immaculate.  The street below, stretched, tall and empty, kept shifting shadows and light as the clock ticked and the seconds died forever. I took off.  Had to: I zigzagged my way to the Demarcation Line, past sandbags and burning silhouettes of cars, in fall-off. A conspicuous tactic that I deployed every time to avoid unleashed android-snipers on the loose.  Whether someone or something conforms to customary patterns or deviates from them depends on one’s point of view: Behind the concepts of normality and abnormality is the assumption that there is a single standard by which to judge everything. What may be normal to one group, however, may be unacceptable to another. I had the same Walkman on, with the same headphones arching the same epic oval head –of mine- I displayed for a thousand times at the frontline. Every time.  A truc macabre. I played Monk Live in Paris 1964 every time. Non-stop. It was more like a frontline pursuit, just for kicks. A grotesque-act of reverie.  A snow-white 1979 Super-Beetle Cabriolet stopped right there in the middle of nowhere, just a few steps from the line.   I couldn’t identify any of its occupants –who wore ceremonial masks, just for kicks. The truth of the matter is they all looked like soul-reapers with scythes.  Next, they revealed their hidden and nasty-looking arms and fired up abruptly in all directions for at least seven random minutes. At the end of which, the snow-white Beetle stood-still in complete stillness. Suddenly, that tiny little wagon was showered and hammered countless times with all sorts of ammo. An RPG sealed its fate, turning them and the vehicle into a burning chunk of metal and flesh. A suicidal undertaking. An eccentric haze shrouded my eyesight. That day, I met the iconic Wesley Ruggles on the Demarcation Line in Downtown Beirut. A day-to-remember. I was surrounded by eccentric structures –which stood tall beholding my own state of incongruity. I stood almost mortified in the middle of the forlorn battleground, in quiet.  Out of a thick, almost-mythical mist, a machine gun re-surfaced and finally rested on my temple.  Pristine and Immaculate.  I stood-still.  Did not utter a word for an entire Trevi-Fountain second. I still remember that cowboy’s brimmed-shape-white-Panama-hat, silk shirt, striped pants and his green suspenders. A distinctive and manly act. He looked like an older fashion model from GQ magazine. I still remember when he looked at me for the last time and said: Learn how to cook and spend less, save time and have sex more often. The noise of my camera release bottom echoed and re-echoed in the stillness of that barren place, bouncing off the empty, worn-out, and shattered walls and streets around me. On that cool Winter-day and somewhere in another part of town, The Red Prince carried a pistol holstered in brown leather and worn on his hip a la Clint Eastwood. He was a playboy alright, on his way to his final rave. He was in a two-Chevi station wagons convoy heading from Georgina’s flat to his mother’s, for a birthday party. Chambers was on her balcony, graciously painting, and her sinister red Beetle was parked right below on Rue Verdun.  As Salameh’s convoy passed that red wagon at 3:35 pm and turned onto Rue Madam Curie, a hundred Kilos of explosives attached to the car by a Mossad agent was remotely detonated either by Chambers herself or on her signal to another Mossad agent. They did not mistake him this time. A truc macabre.  The blast left Salameh conscious, but severely wounded and in great pain, having pieces of steel shrapnel embedded in his head and throughout his body.  He was rushed to The American University of Beirut Hospital, where he died on the operating table at 4:03 pm. Salameh’s four bodyguards and four bystanders were also killed, and at least 16 people were injured.  I was on the other end of town, with Wesley Ruggles sipping some single malt whisky, in some random bar, surrounded by Frenchies at the moment of the blast.  The air had turned purple and a crowd rushed in on an empty street. You could feel the heat of the day in full armor.  “We’re out of condoms, sir” said a muffled voice behind the counter.  It had started to rain and I was already overtly provoked and ready for Yasmine, as she waited in the solitude of that apartment in Sodeco.  I was only nineteen at the time, had memorized the entire First Act of The Birthday Party for a purpose, was semi-high and had impressed my Mass Communication professor just that very morning on what made the news as concept: The dog who bites the woman or the woman who bites the dog.  My wallet was emptied and as I reached for a lighter placed candidly on that rustic shelf, I remembered: Wine! The bottle of wine that she had ordered.  I was keen on bringing bottles of wine to my heated one-nights.  I knew that this was nothing but another hit and run and she was to turn into another of my victims.  I don’t feel sorry for her.  She had used me in the past and so it was my way of getting even.  It was a sort of payback.  Just like that time when my bestie fucked another bestie and I had to put up with it.  Only time brought me justice. When I fucked her ex-wife just for fun. And Am in no position to brag about it.  To tell you the truth, she was most probably under age, and I am talking about Yasmine, of course. But she had been impressed by my poor acting and most likely my Latin stage presence.  She would call me Pacino –for some weird, unstated reason. And I liked it. I used to call her Frenchie.  My immediate purpose was to make it to the car. That’s for sure.  You guessed it: My Rover. I was high.  I was drunk.  Beirut looked like a scrapyard and I was detained by a Danish lady who was looking for a bar. She wore a white dress and lime green, round hoop earrings. I am pretty sure I gave her the wrong route, while at it. Sorry to disappoint you, lady. I thought minutes later.  But for once I didn’t feel bad about it.  I was entitled to my foolish act.  I had someone waiting for me.  All alone, remember: Frenchie in Sodeco.  Most probably cold and most probably feeling melancholic as she waited for Pacino on his way. And perhaps, fuck-hungry. I had this wacko-concept: That it was a matter of national interest to satisfy lonesome women in a lonesome city for the night. To keep them warm and content. An Eastern-affair.  At least, I felt entitled due to my evident arrogance, primitive experience and to be honest: Well, I was desperate for a fuck! A truc macabre, so to speak. I was reduced to an android-Pacino on the run.  A mutant gorilla on the loose. I walked with a typical Latino swagger –That I had picked from remote days when I used to live in a trailer park peopled by exotic wackos and misfits. My own reflection on the adjacent window display –as I walked through, seemed to repeat Pacino motifs in my head and all around me. And it was all accentuated by my own motion and light and penumbra. I don’t know why but I always had this impression that Pacino was the epitome of manliness. And Yasmine’s impression of me –in turn, made it unblemished. I was about to become one, on a professional level. Distinct and sexual. A series of failed affairs, my constant agitation looking for a reason to be, to exist and my endless struggle in settling down, and trying constantly to find momentarily satisfaction in whatever I was doing at the time, made a serious vagabond out of me –but with good intentions. I landed jobs of all kinds.  Appropriate and suitable ones, and totally despicable and thorny.  But it was part of the bigger mosaic of shitless nonsense I was in, in a city that did not appreciate its most notable artists.  And this perhaps was one of the reasons I found solace in night encounters. I didn’t measure or anticipate the consequences.  I was a soldier of fortune playing his best hand every time, regardless of the fallout.  I found delight in loving women: Women of all walks of life.  A weekly-affair of enormous after-effect. Jazz and Booze adjusted the happenstances. I was a hero for a night, every other night: Hidden from the rays of shame and banality. Hidden from the rays of sun and dust in perpetuity.  I was alas! stuck in reverse in the cycle of my own propensity. Love affairs, in one way or another had destroyed me.  I was left with nothing but the nucleus of a man that once was! Alone, desperate and attempting to become the reflection of the Pacino who had just glimmered before him. I derived pleasure from ecstasy. And ecstasy from pleasure.  I was an android-Romeo equipped with apps and wine. The shine of the screen reminded me of Frenchie, dripping messages of small talk and nonsense every once in a while. Where are you? Why are you taking this long? Try not to be late and so on and so forth, with the typical French-English accent. This was a boring part.  I detested it. I had to put up with lots of shit. Birds, dogs, cats, and a gold-fish named Cookie Monkey.  And even a Parrot, that I taught Spanish. Oye, Puto: Chupame la Pinga. This was a daily punch line. It felt good, for a while.  But after that, the whole enterprise became mechanical, it turned hysterical and unemotional. Not my regular cup of coffee. Her sofa bed was remarkably enormous. Of course, some of her pets found sanctuary there.  I was happy to know that some had died a few months later only to gather she had replaced most of them to no avail. Let me be more honest: Yasmine was my playmate.  A pet of my own.  I don’t mean to sound wicked, but she had stripped me down to the ground. Of all my talent and my merits.  I had lost all my medals and my marvels since the end of the Civil war and no one had hugged me, like really hugged me ever since. It was a masterful act of her part. We were two gorilla mutants of intimacy.  She used to remind me that we were up for it only if we agreed that -that was going to be the only night together.  And of course, it wasn’t. We used to bang like rabbits every once in a while. She was high and I was drunk.  A perfect match.  A truc macabre. I was her pet.  Her Pluto – for all I know.  I drove my car to Sodeco.  The rain had stopped partially.  Some garbage cans were in flame around corners. A typical yet berserk Pacino scene in the making, unfolding before me.  I looked around me to see if some random passenger from a random passing vehicle would recognize me, from a random scene I was part of, the night before on a local TV network. An absurd act of vanity. A woman stood nearby.  She approached my half-open window.   The breeze coming in made the perfect match for my Monk –Live in Paris 1964.  She said: “Sodeco!” I said” “Yes!” She got in.  I said: “No. Not that way!” She looked at me as if I had slain her entire race or tribe.  I succumbed in silence. Did her the favor in utter quiet. I smiled a Mona Lisa smirk and drove in partial stillness, turned down Monk playing and closed the window entirely. How could I ruin the moment? We were both happy. In our driving act.   Me driving to my fuck and she, well, she was comfortably being driven to her random location in Sodeco. A night scene. I did not utter a word until we got there. She was about to pay the alleged taxi fare when another stranger said: “Hamra!” I had to open the door and step away from my Rover to inspect it.  It didn’t look at all like a taxi or cab –to sound more Pacino-like, if you know what I mean.  What is wrong with these people? I thought to my-self. The pale color of my car, the sudden rain and the smoke curling up in the air, in a New-York fashion, it prompted such reactions, most probably. At night, everything changes and a lie becomes the truth.  I got pissed.  I was going to be late. You don’t want to miss a fuck.  They say it’s bad luck. And now this: Taken or mistaken for a Travis Bickle in the middle of Beirut at 11 PM. A truc macabre. Let me just say that our friendship had lasted for over twenty years. Yasmine –or Frenchie as I used to call her, was a hell of a woman.  She was smart, tenacious, multi-talented and had an Italian flare, for all the time we were together.  She never lost it. I was amazed. But for some random reason I was at the end of the day -Her Pluto. Her pet-playmate.  Pluto is just a random name.  You can call me any pet name, if you want to.  I wouldn’t even know it.  I would be long gone.  Doing Yasmine or maybe slurping her strawless lid, her strapless cap for an eternity. The truth of the matter is our one-night stand lasted for seven years.  Tonight, was a random night.  Just like any other random night. Nothing special about it, except for the Danish lady with a white dress and lime green, round hoop earrings, and the random passengers who had mistaken me for a cabbie in a cab film. Often times I would turn violent on Yasmine. Like shit crazy. I lost control several times. I do regret that now. I used to hit, punch, strike, beat, slap, smack, hand-cuff her to her bed, so drunk that she wouldn’t even remember it, the next morning. She would laugh and kind of let go. I used to slam her against the closet like shit crazy. I –once, smashed her head with a Chinese vase just because she changed some random TV channel that I wasn’t even watching.  I was high.  She was drunk. I still remember when I smashed some window panels at her place, one day, by simply walking through.  It was so lucid, I didn’t even see them block my way.  That one time, a police patrol was called in but made no arrests. Her favorite part was the whipping we did.  It took months of self-adaptation and re-adjustments.  She got so used to it she said one time she was addicted to it. That she didn’t want to stop and that if we did, she’d probably kill herself. And I liked it. She didn’t want me to stop, alright. I kept going. It kept rolling. Her addiction was Freud-induced. Mine was cigar and booze. That’s what made matters worse. I had become ill-tempered.  Nothing could fix that. Out of nowhere I had this idea: To get drunk before I go up and see her. And so I did. Got wasted, went up and the first thing I did when I saw her was go down on her and eat her strawless lid for hours. I still remember when one night I went up to see her, and for some wacko reason she wouldn’t let me in.  She blocked my way in, like completely.  She said she had a friend inside and that she wasn’t feeling ok. That was an eye-opener for me. Her cat kept meowing at my foot. In a sudden act, I lifted that poor thing with my foot and threw him or her –You tell me, over the stairway.  I heard it still meow down there in the dark. For quite some time.   A truc macabre.  I still think about it. It makes me feel uneasy. It gives me the shivers. Just to think about it. Sometimes I dream of the poor little cat down there in the dark looking at me, waiting for the day to get even. I can still feel the spell of that cat all around me.  Well, if there’s any consolation, I am truly sorry for that. Guilt chased me and still chases me like a wounded dog and that time when I fucked this part-time actress and got her pregnant.  Well, it took years before she could show some mercy.  She never said it but I guess she did forgive me in the end.  As for Frenchie.  I see her from time to time, you know.  Am her Pluto. Her pet-playmate.  Pluto is just a random name.  You can call me any pet name, if you want to.  I wouldn’t even know it.  I would be long gone. Doing Yasmine or maybe slurping her strawless lid, her strapless cap for an eternity.  She came out of her apartment building in a haste, and as she opened my red Rover Mini Cooper door and got in, I threw out the window my half-way consumed zeppelin on the loose, I had lit a few minutes ago for convenience, as I listened to Monk Live in Paris, 1965.   She hated Jazz but budged in the middle of a speedy fuck.  As a matter of fact, she would turn the volume up and tell me that the music drove her nuts.  Little I knew, back then, that that zeppelin tail would plunge upon the bubbling sidewalk, that afternoon, like a Hindenburg in 1937, while its nose, rose into the air like a breaching whale. My mini-Hindenburg smashed what was left of a line of symmetrically-aligned ants on their way to an important meeting.  They were all in black and looked serious. Chiquita threw herself onto her seat, tossed her bag onto the back seat, shifted her weight multiple times and finally sat straight up looking ahead like a sphinx.  She said: You can go now. I drove my Rover like I stole it -as my little serious victims were dispersing, in notable confusion, and in random fashion right outside my half-open window. The sandstorm I left behind grew taller than the lamp posts scattered along the street and above the noise of TV game shows poorly produced. The shadows of that afternoon street were eating up silhouettes and those silhouettes were in turn forming in surrounding walls and facades in a fatuitous manner. Chiquita and I knew each way back.  From school days when we were young and tall and vigorous.  She found pleasure in random talk, random acts. She once told me that it was more meaningful for her to justify her request of seeing me than to just say what she wanted right away.  A modus operandi, so to speak.  As I drove past flower shops and pharmacies, lingerie stores and sex toys swaying like giant bait worms on display, I thought I should get a dog and maybe a girlfriend, for all I know.  -A way of mending up my lonesome act, and one or two forlorn Beirut afternoons, while at it.   And maybe why not get a real job. And actually, do something for a living.  This business of random projects, and freelance writing was getting on my nerves. The job wasn’t but the pay was. A truc macabre. She was gorgeous-looking, the kind of a girl you want to hit on, and do from time and time and well yeah, like try to keep for a while.  The fact is she was unquenchable, hard to stop once in, and her demands grew more assiduous as our afternoon escapades became more regular. She said: Stop the car. We sat there in the middle of nowhere. Monk was a Devil in a state of total rapture. I kissed her soft lips with no bad intentions in mind. She slurped my bacon bazooka several times just for kicks.  On-lookers stood by. She grabbed my handle for reassurance, gave it a good brush and sat on me like she really had missed it.  She spat at it multiple times, my face was all over the ceiling and the windshield, and I was roaring like a wounded lion, like a man who had bet his life saving on second running-horse in the races. She was high on Blow. I was a jazz freak.  She loved History books and Italian cuisine: She was an expert at Pasta Carbonara. She’d cook the pasta in salted water, and cook some tomatoes in a large skillet over medium-high heat with olive oil and stirring often, until it slightly softened for around three minutes. She would then add some shallots and cook, stirring until the shallots and tomatoes softened for the same amount of time or so.  She would then add the garlic, some natural herbs and finally bring to a boil.  Once done, she would blend the mix using a hand blender –no wonder she was good at hand jobs.  Buon appetito!  è delizioso. That day she was draped like a mannequin in a display window. She wore a horrible, loose-fitting vintage dress, and no make-up. Stained with dark spots of coffee, that did not taste good, which she had, early in the morning. And her regular flat green shoes.  She always wore green shoes.  She squashed a gum behind her front teeth. Her finger-nails in double-decker red.  Both her earrings scintillated an assortment of a spectrum caused by the light diffused through the silver clouds, and bouncing off strategically located car handles in car doors.  I thought to myself: What a lucky bastard! I was the luckiest bastard in West Beirut.   As I pulled the metallic cold through my nostrils and a line or two of blow coke in a sporadic fashion while at it, a snow-white cigarette of three to four inches in length, resting between her fingers, burned down onto a memory. She squeezed my bacon bazooka with her free hand, thinking maybe she would make it spill by way of her magic. She was in her late thirties and I was assailed by a huge range of a regrets and shames and disappointments.  Assaulted by a series of failed relationshits. It was in that very instant, she tried desperately to project a cheerful air: I think am in love, with your dick.  Dogs and birds were leaping from one tree to another undetected. A truc macabre. She looked out the window and I pretended her say something in French like: On a froid. On est seuls.  Mais au moins, on sait où trouver de la chaleur. She looked back at me for an entire Trevi-Fountain second. Gallant and noble. The emotions she had stirred were exactly where we had left them. Undetected.  I was making a much-needed escape from my own trivial life, to try to reconnect back with it. It was a favorite pastime. The way of a dog, astray and awry, one afternoon in the city. Freud would have laughed, and probably join in. He would say some like I am in for the blow, man. Do what you want with her lid. Now that I come to think about it: The old man did flash in my memory a couple of times, while at it.  I pictured him in that coat, with the classic white beard, all cracked up coke-high and murmuring to himself: Turn that Monk shit up. A moment later I detected her stripping from waste down.  She looked strikingly beautiful. Her pristine shadow making a regal comeback as her hair swayed in all directions.  I was a bohemian in my final act, she was Lucifer desperate for more.  Stonie wore a Machiavellian smile and fashioned a Cobra Shades just like the ones Stallone wore as Marion Cobretti in Cobra, 1986.  The truth of the matter is this guy looked more like a train-ticket conductor or inspector with a twist, for all I know. He looked like a mutant gorilla on the run.  And not even close to what a member of an elite division called Zombie Squad looked like. A truc macabre.  After a moment, he panned his head appearing entirely as a more recent version of the black drummer in Youtube Bill Withers’ Ain’t No Sunshine, with a grin. He looked up from his tiny, half-open, smoke-twirling-window and said: Hello Mr. Ruggles, am Stonie.  Welcome to Lebanon. The Switzerland of the East. Wesley Ruggles – was an accomplished and prominent American photojournalist.  He got in the back seat of the white Peugeot 504 and smiled all the way to the Commodore Hotel in Hamra. Stonie looked at his customer adjusting himself in the back seat, as he got in, on the rear-view mirror and said: Our country is the best place if you wish to take on the challenge of surfing and skiing on the same day. There’s no particular way to do it – some prefer to hit the waves early in the morning and end the day with a cup of mulled wine after a great ski or snowboard session; others prefer to hit the slopes in the morning and watch the sunset from Ain El Mraisse on West End, after catching some waves. It’s really up to you, Mr. Ruggles. You decide.  I leave it up to you. Wesley Ruggles grinned.  He wasn’t much of a talker, if you know what I mean.  He nodded affirmatively to all the words Stonie shot at him.  Lester Young Stardust – 1952 was coming out of the radio. Soft and easy. Let me tell ya a story.  Stonie said:  Two families were arguing in a field about where the boundary between their lands lay.  The dispute dated back a long time and blood had been shed a number of times.  A boy, a child of some eight or nine years, picked up a stick and drew a line in the earth.  When asked what he was doing, he said he was marking the boundary as it had been agreed at the last round of negotiation, long before he was born.  His father asked him how he knew this, and the boy replied that he was the reincarnation of a man the father had killed in the feud.  When the child revealed details of the shooting that only the dead man and his killer could have known, his father embraced his former adversary who was now his son. Both families wanted the feud to end.  It had been costly in terms of lives, and all were seeking a way out of a resumption of hostilities. Wesley Ruggles said: Take to me to the Green Line. Now.  The war sound kept coming in and out of my head, and a couple was still banging inside a tiny yellow Fiat not far away from where I was standing.  A mechanical undertaking.  Not much emotion/commotion at play except for their intense sexual collaboration.  A deliberate, indecent exposure.  The gurl – a night-time frontline-regular took turns shifting her rear-end from East to West in a regal act. A line up of militiamen stood in queue on both of ends of the line to shag her. A surreal act. A moment of truce.  Both the gurl and the city were completely naked, shattered and decrepit. Partly broken, partly rotten, and partly forgotten. For years, I was a war junkie in Beirut. A crowded jeep of militiamen stopped and disembarked on a random sidewalk of a deserted, and smashed street on the other end of the city.  They all looked like knights subpoenaed by the monarch who was pissed and drunk and tired. For a moment, they all looked irritated and pissed off. A sort of a fashion insignia they all displayed just for kicks. A war-affair. Hip and ceremonial. Then, they began to disperse along the sidewalk in zigzag, with machine guns and RPGs pointing upward.  Their beards, long and unpleasant, pointing downward.  And their self-esteem half-way in between. They all came for the cut.  The King’s cut. The truth of the matter is the King Salon was the hippest place in town. A classic spot. A royal den.  The cosmopolitan centre of Beirut. So, to speak.  Everybody was there.  A meeting place for spies, including Kim Philby and Archie Roosevelt, and CIA men such as Miles Copeland as well as journalists of the caliber of John Chancellor and Sulzberger. Numerous diplomats and politicians, business tycoons and oil Sheikhs, they all mixed with oil and banking tycoons of the day molding the clientele of this classic establishment.  A royal place.  During the 50’s and even early 70’s the plots, the deals, and the stories that came out of this famous barbershop in Beirut were gripping. Plots and counter-plots, stretching over a quarter of a century echoed and re-echoed inside, every time.   Rumor has it, many incidents which helped to shape and re-shape Middle Eastern history are associated with the Salon: The attempt to overthrow King Hussein of Jordan, for instance. It was partially destroyed in the Two-Year war, but it was totally re-erected and managed to preserve its heyday reputation for a while.   I used to come here when I was little. A place to chill. A room where you could conduct business as usual without the hassle of the real workplace. A place you didn’t call a café for prestige and yet it was almost one. The tea they served was splendid and kingly. And ladies used to stay out on the sidewalk just for thrills, with the hope to catch heartthrobs on the loose. I went out with a new hair-cut. The King’s cut. I was the King’s Knight for the night.  I kick-started my bike and cruised for a while. A poet on tour.  Roaming the city.  Looking for a one-night stand. Or at least what appears to be.  I saw a solitary figure standing on a random spot.  A black woman with an Afro.  It was just perfect.  She jumped me on the highway the time it took me to give her a ride home.  A truc macabre. I pressed the number nine button inside the elevator of my apartment building.  I was tired and wired. As the elevator began to go up it suddenly stopped.  I was alone. And forgotten for a while.  Dangling by a cord. Forsaken.  Maybe.  I masturwaited the hour. Power was restored and I made it to my apartment safely. Minutes later the phone rang. She said: Baby, are you craving me tonight.  The next thing I know I have couple of Lesbians over slurping my bacon bazooka just for kicks. A royal act. Worthy of enjoyment with what I called decent music: I used to play Stevie Wonder’s Superstition really loud on my Marshall speakers in decay, while at it. A ritual of old fun-days when I was young, full of sperms, and needs and itches. The funny part –though, is that I always experienced something peculiar in that very moment of sorts. Hard to explain but I saw the trailer of my own life lived, projected on the facing wall. A broken wall.  I reminisced about past affairs and was transfixed by the lingering memory of a blow job as well as a highly visual fuck-climax. Vivid and highly pictorial.  Cheers! They both said. As they both poured all the wine content, glittering in penumbra, upon my bacon bazooka.  It looked like a copper fall unleashing. Unceasing. A truc macabre.   A royal act. Three was company.  Beirut was a junkyard of scrap metal and waste back then.  A place for sub-humans and android-machines on the run. BB 62 opened fire and hit some targets on the outskirts of the city. I was an android-cowboy in disguise.  Rumors had it the bomb shells were all empty. As the American destroyer showered guerilla positions in Souk el Gharb, I was firing my own cannon all over the Lesbians scattered along enemy lines inside my dim room, not far away from the Demarcation Line in Beirut.  A supreme act. A simultaneous-affair. Many years later, I had a similar experience when I was shagging this Pilipino gurl -in a random hotel in Jounieh, just for kicks, while watching the final of the World Cup in 2010. I still remember cumming inside her mouth at the exact moment Iniesta was kicking the ball inside the Netherland finish line.  A glorious-act of sorts.  The two Lesbians just loved the feeling of a revolver barrel inside them. A truc macabre. A regal tactic of enormous after-effect.  For some reason, they used to revere the freshly fired metal tube with both frame and cylinder inside. I never understood why.  I stood there. Earnest and ceremonial in my act.  Viewing the trailer of my own life on the facing wall of that dim room, and watching my bacon bazooka in constant spa-treatment mode. Graceful and yet unpretentious. The afternoon rushed in like a Belgian train in mid-voyage, that never made it on time. I dreamed of flatbread pizza, in the wasteland. Reminisced about my last, fast-paced failed love-affair and my futile attempt at piano lessons. We laughed, as we talked and killed the hours away. We imagined moments-to-be. Mostly naked. For some strange reason, they both loved to be touched on their forehead. A women-thing.  On their eye-brows to be exact.  The truth of the matter is that they both were willing to try new things –in private. My type of women.  Alone and crazy. A mind-type. Affectionate, and calm on the outside, and yet crazy and freaky on the inside. To tell you the truth I pretended I read more books than they both presumed I did. I wrestled with my own thoughts and delusions.  Concealed my deeper feelings and idiosyncrasies -in the midst of our talk. In the middle of a futile war with no ending.  A Gemini-kind-of-thing with a thrill.   I was after their strapless lid. What else do you expect: One of the few remaining standard activities in Dystopia, at the time. I fucked them both for a while and I got kind of bored afterwards.  The truth of the matter is I completely lost interest in them.  Soon after, I found my next victim. A young, fresh psychology graduate with a healthy appetite for sex and a delightful fashion-style that managed to trigger my bacon bazooka, back. This next fuck-affair with Luciana kept rolling for more than we both expected. She was the kind of girl who would do anything to satisfy you.  I acted in kind. I used a proactive approach with her, for as long as it lasted. She was worth the try: Worth every single sperm I spared on her lower and upper abdomen. And well, yeah often times on her breasts and her cute, funny face.  A truc macabre. She loved to be chased after -for sex. She loved BJs as much. And she used to brag about it in public.  A few weeks later, I found out she was sleeping with a couple of other guys from around the block, for subsistence, and with some big shot of sorts, as well.  A playboy –so to speak. Loaded with guns and green.  Good for her. She was a practical kid, with lots of love to spare.  And lots of ambition. I fired up my gorgeous-looking Jimmy and made some smoke rings with my mouth, for my own amusement, that is. And that lasted for quite a while. She had a shower: Poured herself a drink, and walked slowly the seventeen steps, all the way to my bed, completely naked.  Next, she crawled my entire body like a wounded, and moaning soldier on the frontline. Once, fully on top and facing me, she said with her typical intense voice: Impress me with your brains. It occurred to me, and I played a VHS tape I had borrowed from an old chum, of Greta Garbo’s Anna Karenina 1935, in decay. Well, yeah, to try to impress her with my cultural backdrop and shit.  The perfect artefact for a late evening binge. A truc macabre, so to speak.  The glitches and hiccups of the shivering images of Greta Garbo on the TV screen, did not corrupt the actress’s royal flare. What a Dame! I thought. What an ass! I thought in sequence. As I took turns looking at both the screen and the new chick’s naked, greasy, and flattened body shimmering in the dark, and glowing like a sea-urchin in the deep. And I thought to myself: They don’t make them like this anymore. Sublime and Holy. A Regal act.  I was talking about the chick’s ass. What else. I mean, the truth of the matter is she was lying right before my own eyes to see: Face-down with a few hours to spare. And I was fuck-hungry. Endlessly famished. I was after her strawless lid. Strapless cap. Flavorsome and scrumptious like shit crazy.  I crawled all over her on the bed and -once in position, I slurped her strapless lid for hours. I grinned. Placed my half-consumed Jimmy on the loose on the Buddha-ashtray I had in store from my old days in Kamasutra-training in New Delhi. I decided to burn my bacon bazooka inside her fire place. We fucked for hours.  Her spark was her unusual climax.  Pristine and immaculate.  The streets below and around me were dim and vacant. Cold and bare. I took off.  Had to: I zigzagged my way to the Demarcation Line, past sandbags and burning silhouettes of cars, in fall-off. A conspicuous tactic that I deployed every time to avoid unleashed android-snipers on the loose. Or mutant gorillas on the run –as I used to call them.  Whether someone or something conforms to customary patterns or deviates from them depends on one’s point of view: Behind the concepts of normality and abnormality is the assumption that there is a single standard by which to judge everything. What may be normal to one group, however, may be unacceptable to another. I had the same Walkman on, with the same headphones arching the same oval head I displayed for a thousand times at the frontline. A truc macabre. I played Monk Live in Paris 1964 every time.  Every day. Non-stop. It was more like a frontline pursuit, just for kicks. A Grotesque affair.  Stories of love and madness is all I heard on both ends of the Demarcation Line. A snow-white 1979 Super-Beetle Cabriolet stopped right there in the middle of nowhere. Just a few steps from the Line. I could not identify any of its occupants, who wore ceremonial masks, just for kicks. The truth of the matter is they all looked like soul-reapers with scythes. They then revealed their hidden arms abruptly, and opened fire in all directions for at least seven random minutes. At the end of which, the snow-white Beetle stood-still in complete silence. Out of a sudden, that tiny little wagon, was showered and hammered countless times with all sorts of ammo.  An RPG sealed its fate, turning them into a burning chunk of metal and flesh.  A suicidal undertaking. An eccentric haze shrouded my eyesight. That day, I met the iconic Wesley Ruggles on the Demarcation Line in Down Town Beirut. On that taciturn Winter-day, and somewhere in town, The Red Prince carried a pistol holstered in brown leather and worn on his hip a la Clint Eastwood. He was a playboy alright, on his final rave. He was in a convoy of two Chevi station wagons heading from Georgina’s flat to his mother’s, for a birthday party. Chambers was on her balcony painting, and her red Beetle parked below on Rue Verdun.  As Salameh’s convoy passed that red wagon at 3:35 pm and turned onto Rue Madam Curie, a hundred Kilos of explosives attached to the car by a Mossad agent was remotely detonated either by Chambers herself or on her signal to another Mossad agent. They did not mistake him this time. A truc macabre.  The blast left Salameh conscious, but severely wounded and in great pain, having pieces of steel shrapnel embedded in his head and throughout his body.  He was rushed to The American University of Beirut Hospital, where he died on the operating table at 4:03 pm. I was surrounded by eccentric structures –which stood tall beholding my own state of incongruity. I stood almost mortified in the middle of the battleground, in silence.  Out of a thick, almost-mythical mist, a machine gun emerged and finally rested on my temple: I stood-still. I did not utter a word for an entire minute. A strange haze shrouded my eyesight. I still remember that android-cowboy with rifle still pointing at me, and with his brimmed-shape-white-Panama-hat, silk shirt, striped pants and his green suspenders. A distinctive and manly act.  I still remember when he looked at me for the last time and said: Learn how to cook and spend less, save time and have sex more often.  He was in a chill mood. He grinned at the end of his act and said: Hasta La Vista, Baby.  As for her:  She read the last couple of lines of a letter she kept in one of her emerald green coat’s inner pockets for the last time, folded the letter the way she was supposed to, placed the letter gently on the desk, took a pistol out of an upper drawer, put the pistol’s barrel inside her mouth and shot herself. She was six months pregnant. I can’t overlook the fact that her vagina was once snipped by a randy horn-eyed ghost crab confusing her fleshy bits for an open oyster on the beach, in spite of the fact that it was illegal to lie down there, naked. A foolish-act. The truth of the matter is some of her intimate friends were woken up by her screaming that somethin’ had bitten her and they were shocked to see a crab hanging off her privates. A morbid-act.  They had no choice but to release the pinchers open and free her from his grip. The recollection of that sinister incident turned me on every time she narrated it. Lustful and lecherous.  I guess her secret weapon was the knockout garlic-herb butter she used to brush each oyster with arranged in a single-layer on the grill. And subsequently, cook out uncovered for seven minutes or at least until the edges curled. The truth of the matter is eating oysters and sex merged well.  A magic-twist. I guess the salty juice and soft flesh of the oyster had the power to excite.  In both, eating oysters and sex, one used all five senses just for kicks. I fell in love with Maria at around 23:09 -a shy drizzle was splashing in part the dimly-lit sidewalk, sideways, under her timid window, on a shady and tall street, on the darkest side of the city. Beirut looked like a ghost town.  Monk Live in Paris 1965 was coming out of my antique and antediluvian car audio-stereo in decay.  My rover was in fractional dimness shrouded under some dusty and grim almond tree leaves in fall-off. She was on her knees –slurping my bacon bazooka just for kicks and I was, well, yeah, a Superman with a red cap on and shit, standing in supremacy over her and all the glittering windows of a city that stood-tall and away: Distant, grim and in total silence. A morbid-act. I was a cowboy on the run.  I was a mutant gorilla on the loose. Out of a sudden, a crowd jumped up and down in total hysteria: At precisely 16:09 local time Diego Armando Maradona kicked the ball over the English line and hit the net in Aztec Stadium on June 22. I was in and came inside Maria’s strapless lid at that precise instant. It was perfect. A Sunday like no other. Diego’s solo goal was the greatest ever scored after a mazy run. I was a Diego of my own.  Diego scored twice on that day.  I –on the other hand, scored multiple times.  And with no assurance cap on whatsoever. The crowd all around chanted Goal! The chant was for me.  A shy drizzle was splashing in part the dimly-lit sidewalk, sideways, under her timid window, on a shady and tall street, on the darkest side of the city. Beirut looked like a ghost town.  Monk Live in Paris 1965 was coming out of my antique and antediluvian car audio-stereo in decay.  My rover was in fractional dimness shrouded under some dusty and grim almond tree leaves in fall-off. She was back on her knees –slurping my bacon bazooka once and for all and just for kicks and I was, well, yeah, a Superman with a red cap on and shit, standing in supremacy over her and all the glittering windows of a city that stood-tall and away: Distant, grim and in total silence. The least I can say about her now is that she was rude and insolent with a whole array of bad manners to account for.  A spoiled-brat, so to speak.  She always got what she wanted. Her daily impertinence and rude behavior was a daily affair. A daily-act. Typical of her on a Monday morning and salient of her on a Friday afternoon. A week-long attitude backed by the long-lasting reputation of a business family she belonged to -with a reputation for impertinence, impudence and effrontery of their own. “He’s got a lot of cheek to say that to me!” She said. The previous customer left mad. He left some angry words behind as well. He left for some random elevator at a random hospital and shot himself on the chest. I heard someone say it was Atoush Al Balanti –who could not take the loss of Brazil in 1986. The funny thing is that random characters kept shuffling in and out the barricades and the bullet-stoppers that provided cover.  Inside the lobby of the Holiday Inn hotel, some light bulbs hung down off the wall, chairs smashed up, and a piano that more or less survived was left untouched.  I was making a much-needed escape from my own trivial life, to try to reconnect with it. The way of a Japanese, dog, astray and awry, one afternoon in the city.  I don’t know why but for some strange reason, I always pictured a laughing-Freud around me.  It’s funny, but now that I come to think about it, the old man did flash in my memory a couple of times this time: In that dark coat, with the classic white beard, all cracked up coke-high and murmuring to himself: Turn up that Monk shit, you shit-head. Out of a sudden, I detected her stripping down naked.  She looked pretty in the penumbra.  Her nipple-shadow making a regal comeback as her hair swayed in all directions.  I was a bohemian in my final act.  She was Lucifer desperate for more.  Out of a thick, almost-mythical mist, a machine gun emerged and finally rested on my temple: I stood-still. I did not utter a word for an entire minute. A strange haze shrouded my eyesight. I still remember that android-cowboy with rifle still pointing at me, and with his brimmed-shape-white-Panama-hat, silk shirt, striped pants and his green suspenders. A distinctive and manly act.  I still remember when he looked at me for the last time and said: Learn how to cook and spend less, save time and have sex more often.  He was in a chill mood. He grinned at the end of his act and said: Hasta La Vista, Baby.  As for her:  She read the last couple of lines of a letter she kept in one of her emerald green coat’s inner pockets for the last time, folded the letter the way she was supposed to, placed the letter gently on the desk, took a pistol out of an upper drawer, put the pistol’s barrel inside her mouth and shot herself. She was six months pregnant. She was sweet sixteen and I was a fuckhead. All I could think of, all day, was how to stick my stick in that mouth-watering, vagina-shaped, oyster-like masterpiece of hers that protruded intimately between her legs. Her scrumptious, strawless lid. The truth of the matter is it always smelled like fresh butter. And for some weird reason I always obsessed about it.  She once asked to slow-dance with her at a party around the corner in the hood. And ever since I have been obsessing about it.  Saw a couple of doctors twice. Fucked a few of my ex’s several times but the obsession persisted. I even had a night and a day-time shifts for it. To tell you the truth: She was totally oblivious of my act. All I wanted was get in her pants and all I did was daydream about her Fallopian tubes. She had a cat called Lasagna. I had a fish called Monk. The cool thing about obsessing with Eva Salem’s strawless lid was the fact that it proved once and for all that I wasn’t gay.  A relief for all I know. My penis was changing all the time and her nipples were growing and getting more and more gorgeous. I thought they could be a perfect match.    There I was waiting at the dentist’s clinic, waiting for one of the two gorgeous-looking dentist assistants to call my name and I was obsessing about Eva’s Fallopian Tubes. For some weird reason my dentist had two gorgeous-looking assistants: A black hair and a red hair.Out of nowhere: they walked my way and came down on me. Like hell-loose crazy.  Then I heard my name and snapped out of my daydream threesome. I made sure nobody noticed my Chinese-tomato-red-turned face, as I walked in.  The instant I was asked to lie on my back at the dental chair, I traveled in time to the day I met Eva Salem.  “Pardon can you say that again?” Eva Salem said.  I was like “uh?” Totally flabbergasted by her charming looks.  I said: “Sorry ..” She asked again: “ Can you tell me how do I get to the shoemakers place? If you please .. “  I was standing at the corner of Bliss and Jeanne D’arc. It was summer of 79. I said: You walk down this way, you go left then right … then you keep walking until you get to the intersection. Then you go right, then right again and you should be there in let’ say twelve minutes. “She said: Thanks! Gotta go.  I’ve got my period.  Can’t be late.” I was looking at her Boops –all the time. Like all the time.  Did not even blink for a sec, while giving her directions. I did not notice my dentist at all. He was busy looking deep into my mouth as I was roving in a submarine up Eva Salem’s Fallopian Tubes, humming The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine. I stood there just like the Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius, without the horse, though, with hand extended and everything and eyesight transfixed on her back and black hair as she walked away. Just like a ship sailing off never to return.  An old man watching over the scene yelled at me.  He said in a contemptuous fashion: Go! What are you waiting for? They all bleed from time to time! It’s fine. Just go.” I watched gay porn most of the afternoon just for kicks. Had a line or two of blow. And went out that night for a beer. That night I called the Night of the Pussy.  A truc macabre. She stepped out of the shower and onto a random bar soap left on that random floor almost unhidden. She slipped on that bathroom floor and hit the back of her head on the bath tub ceramic edge side, as her forearm hooked the dangling cord of a random iron on her way, dropping the iron, which in turn smashed onto the hot water, electrocuting her hair first. A truc macabre. She shook like an Oriental belly-dancer in a frenzy on stage at the Parisiana. Nawal was a stripper of a local breed -who did not find any purpose after the war. She was a big fan of karaoke nights and ice cream specially when feeling randy and on the look-out for some mutant gorilla on the loose, in the Jounieh Bay area. One of her fav pastimes was going to the Luna Park –a trendy amusement park at the time. That day she met Alejandro Jimenez, A Colombian diplomat of sorts on a mission in Beirut.  He had an Italian flare and wore green socks just for kicks.  This Alejo guy was a Bip-Bip of sorts. Always on the run.  And always late. He got in the back seat of the cab, dropped his sunglass in his jacket’s upper left side pocket and they in turn slipped through a sudden rip inside the jacket itself.  A truc macabre.  He spent the next fifteen minutes trying to get the specs back up and out. In vain.  He said: Stop the car! Stop the car! Came out and attempted on several occasions. Nothing. He fixed his stare at a lady having a double cheese burger inside a burger joint just across the street. Out of a sudden, her teeth came off as she took a bite. Shit! He thought. Am outta here. Paganini’s Devil Violinist was playing on the old car audio-stereo in decay. He had a line or two of blow as he left his warm apartment just an hour ago. Some folks around the corner were strumming an improvised version of Bob Dylan’s Knocking on Heaven’s Door in Arabic. A truc macabre.Stonie was a hell of a guy: A cabbie like no other in Beirut in 1979. He was obsessed with films and music of all genres and kinds. Owned a pug named Rambo just for kicks. And woke up to the Orchestral Suite of the Godfather-The Dream Part he had dubbed a few years ago via a friend who was a sound recordist. He puffed a Cuban cigar on Saturdays afternoon.  He had an adulation for both Greta Garbo and Oum Kalsoum at the same time.  A random pax whom Stonie called Good-for-nothing who was a regular Take-me-to-lunch-kinda-guy, was either going to or from one. The four characters were inside that cab as it drove past checkpoints and falling bombs. A war macabre. I was on the other end of the city blowing my Hubbly Bubbly and watching Alo Hayete on TV. The sound of the vacuum cleaner was so loud I had to yell at Fouad to stop it. He hoovered like a fencer. Eva Salem, on the other hand, was only sweet sixteen at the time and had the tallest legs to stroll with. A walking Twin-Towers. She was the most ravishing kid around the hood. The truth of the matter is she was a yo-yo with a deep groove, and attached to my index with a see-through, transpicuous, and thin string a la Mario Puzo. Only she spun alternately forward and backward –instead of downward and upward. I used to unwind and rewind the string with a flick of my wrist –as it pleased me.  And I did all that often. I called it the yo-yo affair. To tell you the truth she was a fuck-prospect, for all I know. She was a bitch on the run. And I was a mutant gorilla on the loose. There was something peculiar about her cheeks.  Her buttocks that it: Oven-hot and almost as if freshly made. Oven-fresh. I used to love her tasty arm on my face and lips when she slept over. Her unusual recipe of the Pao de Queijo was my all-time favorite and she was a master-chef of the cheese bread par excellence. A love-affair. And she had an unusual and sporadic sex-appetite, that was uncommon and rare.  The least I can say about her now is that she was rude and insolent with a whole array of bad manners to account for.  A spoiled-brat, so to speak.  She always got what she wanted. Her daily impertinence and rude behavior was a daily affair. A daily-act. Typical of her on a Monday morning and salient of her on a Friday afternoon. A week-long attitude backed by the long-lasting reputation of a business family she belonged to -with a reputation for impertinence, impudence and effrontery of their own. “He’s got a lot of cheek to say that to me!” She said.  The Westy camper was swooshing like a washing-machine with me and Little Sunshine inside. She sat on me for hours but looked at me in the eyes in one Trevi-Fountain second and said: A female elephant may physically encounter hundreds of other individuals in the course of her daily range. The individuals she meets will be related to her by different degrees, and known to her based on the frequency and the quality of their previous meetings and these factors will shape the nature and define the form of the relationship. An adult male, too, may meet and interact with hundreds of different individuals in the course of a day, though the type and nature of his relationships may be tempered by on his age and sexual state.  Some of the calls used by elephants are powerful low frequency vocalizations that carry over long distances. Elephant can recognize the voices of hundreds of other elephants from up to 2 kilometers away. Atoush el Balanti or the elephant-man had come back to his resting cave when he entered that hospital’s elevator in decay and pressed the second floor.  As he went up he pointed the gun’s barrel to his chest and shot himself to death.  A truc macabre. The elevator gradually came to a stand-still.  A random nurse with a random smirk directed her left arm slowly towards that shattered door and opened it in an abrupt fashion as the man slid on the back mirror leaving a red-velvet blood stain mark-patent on the surface, which reminded me when I was little I used to love sliding on the living room polished marble floor in my socks and fall over -head first, and crack my head open while at it.  The smell of blood gave me the shivers, back then. And still does.   I was a mutant gorilla on the loose. I was a cowboy on the run.   A brutal memory. A few paramedics rushed into the scene. The truth of the matter is I was waiting for a cousin of mine –who had broken what was left of his already broken nose, an hour earlier, trying to fix his TV antenna on top of his apartment building top floor, and skipping random sharp-shooters while at it. The poor chap fell head first and smashed his broken nose on the pavement. All the while, he was busy trying to impress some foxy nurse with a gorgeous-looking rack, and with an absurd, made-up argument: That the blasting noise of the trembling bullets that hit his and other apartment building rooftops, reminded him of Monk-Live-In-Paris-1965.  A repertoire-macabre. He never liked Jazz, for all I know. This old chap was a movie-theatre ticket clerk with no real purpose in life except to collect tickets and to pick up randy whores on the loose whenever he could afford it. He had no style.  No swagger. Let alone Mojo or some.  He was a random man.  A Beirut bastard. So, to speak.  Of many, the city despised and abhorred.  I parked my rover not far away from that Volkswagen camper of 1966 with a highly flashy neon light on top that read: Hot Prices in a fire ball and a front-side plate that read: I love sex, just for kicks. You could not miss other highly visual signs/stickers such as: Relax, sit on my face, motherfucker! Or Eat-Sleep-Kamasutra-Repeat, or my preferred-choice: Sex is like snow, you never know how long it will last, or how many inches. I Michael-Jacksoned my way to the half-way open camper door in penumbra. A cool-act. I wore my hair a la Capone just for kicks. A manly-act in 1986. It was more like a fashion statement, if you know what I mean. Then I thought to my-self:  What a sexy-looking machine that was. A Pick-up Westy of at least 11-windows or some that you could easily call a Bully. Eva Salem- Little Sunshine-Vanessa-Fay-Rebecca-Carmen-Amar-Sam-Gina-Tala-Nina-Toya-Orly and Tracy were all inside with legs spread-open. “Spread, a little more love! Come on! And don’t be shy about it!” Joujou, the camper-pimp said.  Of course, he meant ladies it’s time you show off your strapless cap.  Your strawless lid. A truc macabre.   A queue of late movie-goers and militiamen of sorts shuffled in and out of the line to smoke some Jimmies, on an adjacent sidewalk, just for kicks. For a Trevi-Fountain second, that Bully of a camper looked more like the Holiday Inn in flames, when first hit, early on, on the eve of the Civil War. A conflict-landmark. Some chap in green was swaying by the rear hatch: Blow jobs were a standing-affair. And expensive ones too. He had his bacon bazooka inserted through the hatch and a gorgeous-looking Chiquita was taking good care of it.  If you know what I mean. A manly-act.  “Check the menu, man.” A voice behind me said. To tell you the truth, I was randy and so I did. I ordered a Doggy, The Om, A G-Whiz, a couple of Magic Mountains and topped them all with the Pinball Wizard. Wine-a-Go-Go was on the house and so it sounded like a good plan to save the night. Little Sunshine –my night-pick, was all I could afford that eve. She reminded me of Natasha, an old fuck-buddy from the college days, and so, all played down well. She mostly sat with legs bent or leaning back on her hand and forearms. My starter-act was The Chairman: A grinding position if you were after deep and abysmal penetration. Having your Chiquita kiss your shoulders and your neck all the while you played with her nipples was a cool act.  I did that on multiple occasions. She looked me in the eyes and said: Comeme, Puto. She loved to speak Spanish while at it.  A sexy-act. It made her randy. Of course, a sex toy made the whole experience worth the try. I loved manual stimulation. And so she did use one. Sex on wheels was electrifying. Unlike any other mobile experience: Now, don’t ask me why do it. Sometimes a man gotta do what he gotta do.  And gotta go where he gotta go. There is no point in arguing. That simple. I was a Rambo on the run: with a sex pistol on the loose. What a sexy looking machine that was. I mean look at that: I heard someone say that Volkswagen made nearly 3 million Type 2 models during the 51-year production lifespan. The Type 24 had a dashboard that included a speedometer, warning lights for oil pressure, main headlight beam and indicators. The fuel gauge was an option. There is a release knob that activates 1.1 gallons of reserve fuel to be added to the tank. That one in particular had a middle seat which is rather rare as most were removed to carry additional cargo.  She rubbed her strapless lid in a circular fashion with some Thai oil I had in store, using her left hand, and sitting back in the bunker of her bed, with her cherry-red lips squeezing a hard, spicy and fired-up Jimmy on the loose, that looked more like a German Hindenburg caught on fire attempting to dock on her scrumptious lips and she did all that with the elasticity of a gazelle in premonition of a fuck-up. Of an imminent death. A cruel act.  She looked me in the eyes and said: Last time I fucked six guys at the same time.  I don’t really know where does this obsession with sex come from.  I am talking about my own. I guess, and irrevocably, Freud was so right. Life was built round tension and pleasure. And all that build-up of libido I needed to discharge, somehow.  To release interminably. Curiously, she did not fuck me as much as I wanted to.  She was more of a mouth-inserter. Just like a baby who gets much satisfaction from putting all sorts of things in its mouth to satisfy her libido. She used to come to my place famished: And eat whatever she found in my tiny, little wagon with an engine.  She devoured ravenously and greedily what was left of a turkey and mashed potatoes I had saved for a lonesome afternoon and drank up all the beer cans standing proud and eerie in the deep of my light box. She did all that with the motivation of a fifteen-year old novice-cheerleader.  She sat back on my bunker of her bed and watched a silent black and white TV movie on an old TV set in decay, mute. A regal act.  Worthy of a pictorial endeavor a la Salvador Dali.  She was high.  I was drunk. The truth of the matter is she loved to sit back in the bunker of her bed and spit at her strawless lid, and scrub her strapless cap repeatedly, using her left hand, like there was no tomorrow, and drink wine all afternoon and part of the night.  And she did all that not far away from the Demarcation Line in no-man zone.  She was 15 and I was the luckiest bastard in West Beirut. The memory of that fuck-up kept bouncing off the walls of my place like a stress ball in distress. Marlon Brando once couldn’t get it up. It was shameful and everything but I guess it was ok. She loved the feeling of a revolver barrel inside her. She used to revere the freshly fired metal tube with both frame and cylinder inside.  A regal tactic of enormous after-effect. One day and out of the blue, we decided to meet: In other words, to go out for a change. Greta Garbo’s was a warm and cozy brasserie outside Beirut, which had turned into a scrapyard. It was the perfect meeting-place for a Saturday afternoon wine A-Go-Go. The place was not crowded, as we expected. She came out of the android-Uber with a Latin flare, as we had agreed. Hard to explain if you didn’t have it in the first place.  I stood there. Earnest and ceremonial in my act. Looking at her royal-paced walk in euphoria. She walked my way the seventeen steps it took her to face me and kiss me on both cheeks and said: I missed you, my Pacino. Graceful and yet unpretentious. Her holy-halo leaked elements of light, spilling radiant and shiny bright as she moved forward.  That afternoon rushed in like a Belgian train in mid-voyage, that never made it on time.  We talked about flatbread pizza, her next mobile cinema project, in Dystopia. About her last, fast-paced failed love-affair and her attempt at piano lessons.  I listened, mostly.  For practical reasons. -A wisdom I had acquired in recent years, which had saved me plenty of time and effort and appetite. We had a couple of jumpy-chicken salads and local wine. Fresh and flavorsome. We laughed, as we talked about almost everything and nothing, and managed, gracefully, to kill the hour away. We both imagined moments-to-be, simultaneously. Mostly naked. For some strange reason, she loved to be touched on her forehead. A regal act of a woman on fire. On her eye-brows to be exact. She was the classic example of someone who knows what she wants and knows how to get it right away.  A negotiator, if you know what I mean. Willing to try new things –in private. My type of chick. Affectionate, and calm on the outside, and yet crazy and freaky on the inside. A mind-type. And believe it or not I was her perfect match. A sophisticated flirt in my own right: A wild and well-traveled and fearless Latino lover by birthright.  To tell you the truth I pretended I read more books than she presumed I did. A manly-affair.  I wrestled with my own thoughts and delusions as the afternoon got away. I concealed most of my inner feelings and idiosyncrasies -in the midst of our talk. A Gemini-kind-of-affair. I was after her strapless lid. What else.  One of the few remaining standard activities in Dystopia. The truth of the matter is we fucked for a while and I got kind of bored with her afterwards. I completely lost interest in her. A guy- thing –so to speak. But her healthy appetite for sex and her delightful fashion-style triggered my bacon bazooka, back. And the fuck-affair kept rolling for more than we both expected. She was the kind of a girl who would do anything to satisfy you.  I acted in kind. I used a proactive approach with her, for as long as it lasted.  She was predictable, but was worth the try, though. Worth every single sperm I spared on her lower and upper abdomen. And well, yeah often times on her tits and her cute, and funny face. I mean, why not. I had nothing to lose. I was a cowboy on the run.  She loved to be chased after -for sex. And after sex. She loved BJs as much, and she used to brag about it in public. A truc macabre.  A few weeks later, I found out she was sleeping with a couple of other guys from around the block, for subsistence, and with some big shot of sorts, as well.  A playboy –so to speak. Loaded with guns and green.  Good for her. She was a practical kid, with lots of love to spare. And lots of ambition. I fired up my gorgeous-looking Jimmy and made some smoke rings with my mouth, for my own amusement, that is. And that lasted for quite a while. She had a shower: Poured herself a drink, and walked slowly the seventeen steps, all the way to my bed, completely naked.  Next, she crawled my entire body like a wounded, and moaning soldier on the frontline. Once, fully on top and facing me, she said with her typical intense voice: Impress me with your brains. It occurred to me, and I played a VHS tape I had borrowed from an old chum, of Greta Garbo’s Anna Karenina 1935, in decay. Well, yeah, to try to impress her with my cultural backdrop and shit.  The perfect artefact for a late evening binge. A truc macabre, so to speak.  The glitches and hiccups of the shivering images of Greta Garbo on the old TV set screen, did not corrupt the actress’s royal flare. What a Dame! I thought. What an ass! I thought in sequence. As I took turns looking at both the screen and the Chiquita’s naked, greasy, and flattened body shimmering in the dark, and glowing like a sea-urchin in the deep. And I thought to myself: They don’t make round asses like this anymore. Sublime and holy. The truth of the matter is she was lying right before my own eyes to see: Face-down with a few hours to spare, and I was shit sex-hungry. Infinitely famished. I was after her strawless lid. Her strapless cap.  It was my turn to crawl all over her and once in position I slurped her strapless lid for hours. Out of a sudden, I decided to burn my bacon bazooka inside her fireplace. A regal act.  We fucked for hours. Like two little kids grounded inside their tiny, little school for the weekend, in solitary confinement.  Her final spark was her peculiar climax. Unequal. Unusual.  One of a kind.  Pristine and immaculate.  The street below, stretched, tall and empty, kept shifting shadows and light as the clock ticked and the seconds died forever. I took off.  Had to: I zigzagged my way to the Demarcation Line, past sandbags and burning silhouettes of cars, in fall-off. A conspicuous tactic that I deployed every time to avoid unleashed android-snipers on the loose.  Whether someone or something conforms to customary patterns or deviates from them depends on one’s point of view: Behind the concepts of normality and abnormality is the assumption that there is a single standard by which to judge everything. What may be normal to one group, however, may be unacceptable to another. I had the same Walkman on, with the same headphones arching the same epic oval head –of mine- I displayed for a thousand times at the frontline. Every time.  A truc macabre. I played Monk Live in Paris 1964 every time.  Every day. Every hour. Non-stop. It was more like a frontline pursuit, just for kicks. A Grotesque-act of reverie.  A snow-white 1979 Super-Beetle Cabriolet stopped right there in the middle of nowhere, just a few steps from the line.   I couldn’t identify any of its occupants –who wore ceremonial masks, just for kicks. The truth of the matter is they all looked like soul-reapers with scythes.  Next, they revealed their hidden and nasty-looking arms and fired up abruptly in all directions for at least seven random minutes. At the end of which, the snow-white Beetle stood-still in complete stillness. Suddenly, that tiny little wagon was showered and hammered countless times with all sorts of ammo. An RPG sealed its fate, turning them and the vehicle into a burning chunk of metal and flesh. A suicidal undertaking. An eccentric haze shrouded my eyesight. That day, I met the iconic Wesley Ruggles on the Demarcation Line in Downtown Beirut. A day-to-remember. I was surrounded by eccentric structures –which stood tall beholding my own state of incongruity. I stood almost mortified in the middle of the forlorn battleground, in quiet.  Out of a thick, almost-mythical mist, a machine gun re-surfaced and finally rested on my temple.  Pristine and Immaculate.  I stood-still.  Did not utter a word for an entire Trevi-Fountain second. I still remember that cowboy’s brimmed-shape-white-Panama-hat, silk shirt, striped pants and his green suspenders. A distinctive and manly act. He looked like an older fashion model from GQ magazine. I still remember when he looked at me for the last time and said: Learn how to cook and spend less, save time and have sex more often. The noise of my camera release bottom echoed and re-echoed in the stillness of that barren place, bouncing off the empty, worn-out, and shattered walls and streets around me. On that cool Winter-day and somewhere in another part of town, The Red Prince carried a pistol holstered in brown leather and worn on his hip a la Clint Eastwood. He was a playboy alright, on his way to his final rave. He was in a two-Chevi station wagons convoy heading from Georgina’s flat to his mother’s, for a birthday party. Chambers was on her balcony, graciously painting, and her sinister red Beetle was parked right below on Rue Verdun.  As Salameh’s convoy passed that red wagon at 3:35 pm and turned onto Rue Madam Curie, a hundred Kilos of explosives attached to the car by a Mossad agent was remotely detonated either by Chambers herself or on her signal to another Mossad agent. They did not mistake him this time. A truc macabre.  The blast left Salameh conscious, but severely wounded and in great pain, having pieces of steel shrapnel embedded in his head and throughout his body.  He was rushed to The American University of Beirut Hospital, where he died on the operating table at 4:03 pm. Salameh’s four bodyguards and four bystanders were also killed, and at least 16 people were injured.  I was on the other end of town, with Wesley Ruggles sipping some single malt whisky, in some random bar, surrounded by Frenchies at the moment of the blast.  The air had turned purple and a crowd rushed in on an empty street. You could feel the heat of the day in full armor.  “We’re out of condoms, sir” said a muffled voice behind the counter.  It had started to rain and I was already overtly provoked and ready for Yasmine, as she waited in the solitude of that apartment in Sodeco.  I was only nineteen at the time, had memorized the entire First Act of The Birthday Party for a purpose, was semi-high and had impressed my Mass Communication professor just that very morning on what made the news: The dog who bites the woman or the woman who bites the dog.  My wallet was emptied and as I reached for a lighter placed candidly on that rustic shelf, I remembered: Wine! The bottle of wine that she had ordered.  I was keen on bringing bottles of wine to my heated one-nights.  I knew that this was nothing but another hit and run and she was to turn into another of my victims.  I don’t feel sorry for her.  She had used me in the past and so it was my way of getting even.  It was a sort of payback.  Just like that time when my bestie fucked another bestie and I had to put up with it.  Only time brought me justice. When I fucked her ex-wife just for fun. And Am in no position to brag about it.  To tell you the truth, she was most probably under age, and I am talking about Yasmine, of course. But she had been impressed by my poor acting and most likely my Latin stage presence.  She would call me Pacino –for some weird, unstated reason. And I liked it. I used to call her Frenchie.  My immediate purpose was to make it to the car. That’s for sure.  You guessed it: My Rover. I was high.  I was drunk.  Beirut looked like a scrapyard and I was detained by a Danish lady who was looking for a bar. She wore a white dress and lime green, round hoop earrings. I am pretty sure I gave her the wrong route, while at it. Sorry to disappoint you, lady. I thought minutes later.  But for once I didn’t feel bad about it.  I was entitled to my foolish act.  I had someone waiting for me.  All alone, remember: Frenchie in Sodeco.  Most probably cold and most probably feeling melancholic as she waited for Pacino on his way. And perhaps, fuck-hungry. I had this wacko-concept: That it was a matter of national interest to satisfy lonesome women in a lonesome city for the night. To keep them warm and content. An Eastern-affair.  At least, I felt entitled due to my evident arrogance, primitive experience and to be honest: Well, I was desperate for a fuck! A truc macabre, so to speak. I was reduced to an android-Pacino on the run.  A mutant gorilla on the loose. I walked with a typical Latino swagger –That I had picked from remote days when I used to live in a trailer park peopled by exotic wackos and misfits. My own reflection on the adjacent window display –as I walked through, seemed to repeat Pacino motifs in my head and all around me. And it was all accentuated by my own motion and light and penumbra. I don’t know why but I always had this impression that Pacino was the epitome of manliness. And Yasmine’s impression of me –in turn, made it unblemished. I was about to become one, on a professional level. Distinct and sexual. A series of failed affairs, my constant agitation looking for a reason to be, to exist and my endless struggle in settling down, and trying constantly to find momentarily satisfaction in whatever I was doing at the time, made a serious vagabond out of me –but with good intentions. I landed jobs of all kinds.  Appropriate and suitable ones, and totally despicable and thorny.  But it was part of the bigger mosaic of shitless nonsense I was in, in a city that did not appreciate its most notable artists.  And this perhaps was one of the reasons I found solace in night encounters. I didn’t measure or anticipate the consequences.  I was a soldier of fortune playing his best hand every time, regardless of the fallout.  I found delight in loving women: Women of all walks of life.  A weekly-affair of enormous after-effect. Jazz and Booze adjusted the happenstances. I was a hero for a night, every other night: Hidden from the rays of shame and banality. Hidden from the rays of sun and dust in perpetuity.  I was alas! stuck in reverse in the cycle of my own propensity. Love affairs, in one way or another had destroyed me.  I was left with nothing but the nucleus of a man that once was! Alone, desperate and attempting to become the reflection of the Pacino who had just glimmered before him. I derived pleasure from ecstasy. And ecstasy from pleasure.  I was an android-Romeo equipped with apps and wine. The shine of the screen reminded me of Frenchie, dripping messages of small talk and nonsense every once in a while. Where are you? Why are you taking this long? Try not to be late and so on and so forth, with the typical French-English accent. This was a boring part.  I detested it. I had to put up with lots of shit. Birds, dogs, cats, and a gold-fish named Cookie Monkey.  And even a Parrot, that I taught Spanish. Oye, Puto: Chupame la Pinga. This was a daily punch line. It felt good, for a while.  But after that, the whole enterprise became mechanical, it turned hysterical and unemotional. Not my regular cup of coffee. Her sofa bed was remarkably enormous. Of course, some of her pets found sanctuary there.  I was happy to know that some had died a few months later only to gather she had replaced most of them to no avail. Let me be more honest: Yasmine was my playmate.  A pet of my own.  I don’t mean to sound wicked, but she had stripped me down to the ground. Of all my talent and my merits.  I had lost all my medals and my marvels since the end of the Civil war and no one had hugged me, like really hugged me ever since. It was a masterful act of her part. We were two gorilla mutants of intimacy.  She used to remind me that we were up for it only if we agreed that -that was going to be the only night together.  And of course, it wasn’t. We used to bang like rabbits every once in a while. She was high and I was drunk.  A perfect match.  A truc macabre. I was her pet.  Her Pluto – for all I know.  I drove my car to Sodeco.  The rain had stopped partially.  Some garbage cans were in flame around corners. A typical yet berserk Pacino scene in the making, unfolding before me.  I looked around me to see if some random passenger from a random passing vehicle would recognize me, from a random scene I was part of, the night before on a local TV network. An absurd act of vanity. A woman stood nearby.  She approached my half-open window.   The breeze coming in made the perfect match for my Monk –Live in Paris 1964.  She said: “Sodeco!” I said” “Yes!” She got in.  I said: “No. Not that way!” She looked at me as if I had slain her entire race or tribe.  I succumbed in silence. Did her the favor in utter quiet. I smiled a Mona Lisa smirk and drove in partial stillness, turned down Monk playing and closed the window entirely. How could I ruin the moment? We were both happy. In our driving act.   Me driving to my fuck and she, well, she was comfortably being driven to her random location in Sodeco. A night scene. I did not utter a word until we got there. She was about to pay the alleged taxi fare when another stranger said: “Hamra!” I had to open the door and step away from my Rover to inspect it.  It didn’t look at all like a taxi or cab –to sound more Pacino-like, if you know what I mean.  What is wrong with these people? I thought to my-self. The pale color of my car, the sudden rain and the smoke curling up in the air, in a New-York fashion, it prompted such reactions, most probably. At night, everything changes and a lie becomes the truth.  I got pissed.  I was going to be late. You don’t want to miss a fuck.  They say it’s bad luck. And now this: Taken or mistaken for a Travis Bickle in the middle of Beirut at 11 PM. A truc macabre. Let me just say that our friendship had lasted for over twenty years. Yasmine –or Frenchie as I used to call her, was a hell of a woman.  She was smart, tenacious, multi-talented and had an Italian flare, for all the time we were together.  She never lost it. I was amazed. But for some random reason I was at the end of the day -Her Pluto. Her pet-playmate.  Pluto is just a random name.  You can call me any pet name, if you want to.  I wouldn’t even know it.  I would be long gone.  Doing Yasmine or maybe slurping her strawless lid, her strapless cap for an eternity. The truth of the matter is our one-night stand lasted for seven years.  Tonight, was a random night.  Just like any other random night. Nothing special about it, except for the Danish lady with a white dress and lime green, round hoop earrings, and the random passengers who had mistaken me for a cabbie in a cab film. Often times I would turn violent on Yasmine. Like shit crazy. I lost control several times. I do regret that now. I used to hit, punch, strike, beat, slap, smack, hand-cuff her to her bed, so drunk that she wouldn’t even remember it, the next morning. She would laugh and kind of let go. I used to slam her against the closet like shit crazy. I –once, smashed her head with a Chinese vase just because she changed some random TV channel that I wasn’t even watching.  I was high.  She was drunk. I still remember when I smashed some window panels at her place, one day, by simply walking through.  It was so lucid, I didn’t even see them block my way.  That one time, a police patrol was called in but made no arrests. Her favorite part was the whipping we did.  It took months of self-adaptation and re-adjustments.  She got so used to it she said one time she was addicted to it. That she didn’t want to stop and that if we did, she’d probably kill herself. And I liked it. She didn’t want me to stop, alright. I kept going. It kept rolling. Her addiction was Freud-induced. Mine was cigar and booze. That’s what made matters worse. I had become ill-tempered.  Nothing could fix that. Out of nowhere I had this idea: To get drunk before I go up and see her. And so I did. Got wasted, went up and the first thing I did when I saw her was go down on her and eat her strawless lid for hours. I still remember when one night I went up to see her, and for some wacko reason she wouldn’t let me in.  She blocked my way in, like completely.  She said she had a friend inside and that she wasn’t feeling ok. That was an eye-opener for me. Her cat kept meowing at my foot. In a sudden act, I lifted that poor thing with my foot and threw him or her –You tell me, over the stairway.  I heard it still meow down there in the dark. For quite some time.   A truc macabre.  I still think about it. It makes me feel uneasy. It gives me the shivers. Just to think about it. Sometimes I dream of the poor little cat down there in the dark looking at me, waiting for the day to get even. I can still feel the spell of that cat all around me.  Well, if there’s any consolation, I am truly sorry for that. Guilt chased me and still chases me like a wounded dog and that time when I fucked this part-time actress and got her pregnant.  Well, it took years before she could show some mercy.  She never said it but I guess she did forgive me in the end.  As for Frenchie.  I see her from time to time, you know.  Am her Pluto. Her pet-playmate.  Pluto is just a random name.  You can call me any pet name, if you want to.  I wouldn’t even know it.  I would be long gone. Doing Yasmine or maybe slurping her strawless lid, her strapless cap for an eternity.  She came out of her apartment building in a haste, and as she opened my red Rover Mini Cooper door and got in, I threw out the window my half-way consumed zeppelin on the loose, I had lit a few minutes ago for convenience, as I listened to Monk Live in Paris, 1965.   She hated Jazz but budged in the middle of a speedy fuck.  As a matter of fact, she would turn the volume up and tell me that the music drove her nuts.  Little I knew, back then, that that zeppelin tail would plunge upon the bubbling sidewalk, that afternoon, like a Hindenburg in 1937, while its nose, rose into the air like a breaching whale. My mini-Hindenburg smashed what was left of a line of symmetrically-aligned ants on their way to an important meeting.  They were all in black and looked serious. My Chiquita threw herself onto her seat, tossed her bag onto the back seat, shifted her weight multiple times and finally sat straight up looking ahead like a sphinx.  She said: You can go now. I drove my Rover like I stole it -as my little serious victims were dispersing, in notable confusion, and in random fashion right outside my half-open window. The sandstorm I left behind grew taller than the lamp posts scattered along the street and above the noise of TV game shows poorly produced. The shadows of that afternoon street were eating up silhouettes and those silhouettes were in turn forming in surrounding walls and facades in a fatuitous manner. Chiquita and I knew each way back.  From school days when we were young and tall and vigorous.  She found pleasure in random talk, random acts. She once told me that it was more meaningful for her to justify her request of seeing me than to just say what she wanted right away.  A modus operandi, so to speak.  As I drove past flower shops and pharmacies, lingerie stores and sex toys swaying like giant bait worms on display, I thought I should get a dog and maybe a girlfriend, for all I know.  -A way of mending up my lonesome act, and one or two forlorn Beirut afternoons, while at it.   And maybe why not get a real job. And actually, do something for a living.  This business of random projects, and freelance writing was getting on my nerves. The job wasn’t but the pay was. A truc macabre. She was gorgeous-looking, the kind of a girl you want to hit on, and do from time and time and well yeah, like try to keep for a while.  The fact is she was unquenchable, hard to stop once in, and her demands grew more assiduous as our afternoon escapades became more regular. She said: Stop the car. We sat there in the middle of nowhere. Monk was a Devil in a state of total rapture. I kissed her soft lips with no bad intentions in mind. She slurped my bacon bazooka several times just for kicks.  On-lookers stood by. She grabbed my handle for reassurance, gave it a good brush and sat on me like she really had missed it.  She spat at it multiple times, my face was all over the ceiling and the windshield, and I was roaring like a wounded lion, like a man who had bet his life saving on second running-horse in the races. She was high on Blow. I was a jazz freak.  She loved History books and Italian cuisine: She was an expert at Pasta Carbonara. She’d cook the pasta in salted water, and cook some tomatoes in a large skillet over medium-high heat with olive oil and stirring often, until it slightly softened for around three minutes. She would then add some shallots and cook, stirring until the shallots and tomatoes softened for the same amount of time or so.  She would then add the garlic, some natural herbs and finally bring to a boil.  Once done, she would blend the mix using a hand blender –no wonder she was good at hand jobs.  Buon appetito!  è delizioso. That day she was draped like a mannequin in a display window. She wore a horrible, loose-fitting vintage dress, and no make-up. Stained with dark spots of coffee, that did not taste good, which she had, early in the morning. And her regular flat green shoes.  She always wore green shoes.  She squashed a gum behind her front teeth. Her finger-nails in double-decker red.  Both her earrings scintillated an assortment of a spectrum caused by the light diffused through the silver clouds, and bouncing off strategically located car handles in car doors.  I thought to myself: What a lucky bastard! I was the luckiest bastard in West Beirut.   As I pulled the metallic cold through my nostrils and a line or two of blow coke in a sporadic fashion while at it, a snow-white cigarette of three to four inches in length, resting between her fingers, burned down onto a memory. She squeezed my bacon bazooka with her free hand, thinking maybe she would make it spill by way of her magic. She was in her late thirties and I was assailed by a huge range of a regrets and shames and disappointments.  Assaulted by a series of failed relationshits. It was in that very instant, she tried desperately to project a cheerful air: I think am in love, with your dick.  Dogs and birds were leaping from one tree to another undetected. A truc macabre. She looked out the window and I pretended her say something in French like, “On a froid. On est seuls.  Mais au moins, on sait où trouver de la chaleur.” She looked back at me for an entire Trevi-Fountain second. Gallant and noble. The emotions she had stirred were exactly where we had left them. Undetected.  I was making a much-needed escape from my own trivial life, to try to reconnect back with it. It was a favorite pastime. The way of a dog, astray and awry, one afternoon in the city. Freud would have laughed, and probably join in. He would say some like I am in for the blow, man. Do what you want with her lid. Now that I come to think about it: The old man did flash in my memory a couple of times, while at it.  I pictured him in that coat, with the classic white beard, all cracked up coke-high and murmuring to himself: Turn that Monk shit up. A moment later I detected her stripping from waste down.  She looked strikingly beautiful. Her pristine shadow making a regal comeback as her hair swayed in all directions.  I was a bohemian in my final act, she was Lucifer desperate for more.  Stonie wore a Machiavellian smile and fashioned a Cobra Shades just like the ones Stallone wore as Marion Cobretti in Cobra, 1986.  The truth of the matter is this guy looked more like a train-ticket conductor or inspector with a twist, for all I know. He looked like a mutant gorilla on the run.  And not even close to what a member of an elite division called Zombie Squad looked like. A truc macabre.  After a moment, he panned his head appearing entirely as a more recent version of the black drummer in Youtube Bill Withers’ Ain’t No Sunshine, with a grin. He looked up from his tiny, half-open, smoke-twirling-window and said: Hello Mr. Ruggles, am Stonie.  Welcome to Lebanon. The Switzerland of the East. Wesley Ruggles – was an accomplished and prominent American photojournalist.  He got in the back seat of the white Peugeot 504 and smiled all the way to the Commodore Hotel in Hamra. Stonie looked at his customer adjusting himself in the back seat, as he got in, on the rear-view mirror and said: Our country is the best place if you wish to take on the challenge of surfing and skiing on the same day. There’s no particular way to do it – some prefer to hit the waves early in the morning and end the day with a cup of mulled wine after a great ski or snowboard session; others prefer to hit the slopes in the morning and watch the sunset from Ain El Mraisse on West End, after catching some waves. It’s really up to you, Mr. Ruggles. You decide.  I leave it up to you. Wesley Ruggles grinned.  He wasn’t much of a talker, if you know what I mean.  He nodded affirmatively to all the words Stonie shot at him.  Lester Young Stardust – 1952 was coming out of the radio. Soft and easy. Let me tell ya a story.  Stonie said:  Two families were arguing in a field about where the boundary between their lands lay.  The dispute dated back a long time and blood had been shed a number of times.  A boy, a child of some eight or nine years, picked up a stick and drew a line in the earth.  When asked what he was doing, he said he was marking the boundary as it had been agreed at the last round of negotiation, long before he was born.  His father asked him how he knew this, and the boy replied that he was the reincarnation of a man the father had killed in the feud.  When the child revealed details of the shooting that only the dead man and his killer could have known, his father embraced his former adversary who was now his son. Both families wanted the feud to end.  It had been costly in terms of lives, and all were seeking a way out of a resumption of hostilities. Wesley Ruggles said: Take to me to the Green Line. Now.  The war sound kept coming in and out of my head, and a couple was still banging inside a tiny yellow Fiat not far away from where I was standing.  A mechanical undertaking.  Not much emotion/commotion at play except for their intense sexual collaboration.  A deliberate, indecent exposure.  The gurl – a night-time frontline-regular took turns shifting her rear-end from East to West in a regal act. A line up of militiamen stood in queue on both of ends of the line to shag her. A surreal act. A moment of truce.  Both the gurl and the city were completely naked, shattered and decrepit. Partly broken, partly rotten, and partly forgotten. For years, I was a war junkie in Beirut. A crowded jeep of militiamen stopped and disembarked on a random sidewalk of a deserted, and smashed street on the other end of the city.  They all looked like knights subpoenaed by the monarch who was pissed and drunk and tired. For a moment, they all looked irritated and pissed off. A sort of a fashion insignia they all displayed just for kicks. A war-affair. Hip and ceremonial. Then, they began to disperse along the sidewalk in zigzag, with machine guns and RPGs pointing upward.  Their beards, long and unpleasant, pointing downward.  And their self-esteem half-way in between. They all came for the cut.  The King’s cut. The truth of the matter is the King Salon was the hippest place in town. A classic spot. A royal den.  The cosmopolitan centre of Beirut. So, to speak.  Everybody was there.  A meeting place for spies, including Kim Philby and Archie Roosevelt, and CIA men such as Miles Copeland as well as journalists of the caliber of John Chancellor and Sulzberger. Numerous diplomats and politicians, business tycoons and oil Sheikhs, they all mixed with oil and banking tycoons of the day molding the clientele of this classic establishment.  A royal place.  During the 50’s and even early 70’s the plots, the deals, and the stories that came out of this famous barbershop in Beirut were gripping. Plots and counter-plots, stretching over a quarter of a century echoed and re-echoed inside, every time.   Rumor has it, many incidents which helped to shape and re-shape Middle Eastern history are associated with the Salon: The attempt to overthrow King Hussein of Jordan, for instance. It was partially destroyed in the Two-Year war, but it was totally re-erected and managed to preserve its heyday reputation for a while.   I used to come here when I was little. A place to chill. A room where you could conduct business as usual without the hassle of the real workplace. A place you didn’t call a café for prestige and yet it was almost one. The tea they served was splendid and kingly. And ladies used to stay out on the sidewalk just for thrills, with the hope to catch heartthrobs on the loose. I went out with a new hair-cut. The King’s cut. I was the King’s Knight for the night.  I kick-started my bike and cruised for a while. A poet on tour.  Roaming the city.  Looking for a one-night stand. Or at least what appears to be.  I saw a solitary figure standing on a random spot.  A black woman with an Afro.  It was just perfect.  She jumped me on the highway the time it took me to give her a ride home.  A truc macabre. I pressed the number nine button inside the elevator of my apartment building.  I was tired and wired. As the elevator began to go up it suddenly stopped.  I was alone. And forgotten for a while.  Dangling by a cord. Forsaken.  Maybe.  I masturwaited the hour. Power was restored and I made it to my apartment safely. Minutes later the phone rang. She said: Baby, are you craving me tonight.  The next thing I know I have couple of Lesbians over slurping my bacon bazooka just for kicks. A royal act. Worthy of enjoyment with what I called decent music: I used to play Stevie Wonder’s Superstition really loud on my Marshall speakers in decay, while at it. A ritual of old fun-days when I was young, full of sperms, and needs and itches. The funny part –though, is that I always experienced something peculiar in that very moment of sorts. Hard to explain but I saw the trailer of my own life lived, projected on the facing wall. A broken wall.  I reminisced about past affairs and was transfixed by the lingering memory of a blow job as well as a highly visual fuck-climax. Vivid and highly pictorial.  Cheers! They both said. As they both poured all the wine content, glittering in penumbra, upon my bacon bazooka.  It looked like a copper fall unleashing. Unceasing. A truc macabre.   A royal act. Three was company.  Beirut was a junkyard of scrap metal and waste back then.  A place for sub-humans and android-machines on the run. BB 62 opened fire and hit some targets on the outskirts of the city. I was an android-cowboy in disguise.  Rumors had it the bomb shells were all empty. As the American destroyer showered guerilla positions in Souk el Gharb, I was firing my own cannon all over the Lesbians scattered along enemy lines inside my dim room, not far away from the Demarcation Line in Beirut.  A supreme act. A simultaneous-affair. Many years later, I had a similar experience when I was shagging this Pilipino gurl -in a random hotel in Jounieh, just for kicks, while watching the final of the World Cup in 2010. I still remember cumming inside her mouth at the exact moment Iniesta was kicking the ball inside the Netherland finish line.  A glorious-act of sorts.  The two Lesbians just loved the feeling of a revolver barrel inside them. A truc macabre. A regal tactic of enormous after-effect.  For some reason, they used to revere the freshly fired metal tube with both frame and cylinder inside. I never understood why.  I stood there. Earnest and ceremonial in my act.  Viewing the trailer of my own life on the facing wall of that dim room, and watching my bacon bazooka in constant spa-treatment mode. Graceful and yet unpretentious. The afternoon rushed in like a Belgian train in mid-voyage, that never made it on time. I dreamed of flatbread pizza, in the wasteland. Reminisced about my last, fast-paced failed love-affair and my futile attempt at piano lessons. We laughed, as we talked and killed the hours away. We imagined moments-to-be. Mostly naked. For some strange reason, they both loved to be touched on their forehead. A women-thing.  On their eye-brows to be exact.  The truth of the matter is that they both were willing to try new things –in private. My type of women.  Alone and crazy. A mind-type. Affectionate, and calm on the outside, and yet crazy and freaky on the inside. To tell you the truth I pretended I read more books than they both presumed I did. I wrestled with my own thoughts and delusions.  Concealed my deeper feelings and idiosyncrasies -in the midst of our talk. In the middle of a futile war with no ending.  A Gemini-kind-of-thing with a thrill.   I was after their strapless lid. What else do you expect: One of the few remaining standard activities in Dystopia, at the time. I fucked them both for a while and I got kind of bored afterwards.  The truth of the matter is I completely lost interest in them.  Soon after, I found my next victim. A young, fresh psychology graduate with a healthy appetite for sex and a delightful fashion-style that managed to trigger my bacon bazooka, back. This next fuck-affair with Luciana kept rolling for more than we both expected. She was the kind of girl who would do anything to satisfy you.  I acted in kind. I used a proactive approach with her, for as long as it lasted. She was worth the try: Worth every single sperm I spared on her lower and upper abdomen. And well, yeah often times on her breasts and her cute, funny face.  A truc macabre. She loved to be chased after -for sex. She loved BJs as much. And she used to brag about it in public.  A few weeks later, I found out she was sleeping with a couple of other guys from around the block, for subsistence, and with some big shot of sorts, as well.  A playboy –so to speak. Loaded with guns and green.  Good for her. She was a practical kid, with lots of love to spare.  And lots of ambition. I fired up my gorgeous-looking Jimmy and made some smoke rings with my mouth, for my own amusement, that is. And that lasted for quite a while. She had a shower: Poured herself a drink, and walked slowly the seventeen steps, all the way to my bed, completely naked.  Next, she crawled my entire body like a wounded, and moaning soldier on the frontline. Once, fully on top and facing me, she said with her typical intense voice: Impress me with your brains. It occurred to me, and I played a VHS tape I had borrowed from an old chum, of Greta Garbo’s Anna Karenina 1935, in decay. Well, yeah, to try to impress her with my cultural backdrop and shit.  The perfect artefact for a late evening binge. A truc macabre, so to speak.  The glitches and hiccups of the shivering images of Greta Garbo on the TV screen, did not corrupt the actress’s royal flare. What a Dame! I thought. What an ass! I thought in sequence. As I took turns looking at both the screen and the new chick’s naked, greasy, and flattened body shimmering in the dark, and glowing like a sea-urchin in the deep. And I thought to myself: They don’t make them like this anymore. Sublime and Holy. A Regal act.  I was talking about the chick’s ass. What else. I mean, the truth of the matter is she was lying right before my own eyes to see: Face-down with a few hours to spare. And I was fuck-hungry. Endlessly famished. I was after her strawless lid. Strapless cap. Flavorsome and scrumptious like shit crazy.  I crawled all over her on the bed and -once in position, I slurped her strapless lid for hours. I grinned. Placed my half-consumed Jimmy on the loose on the Buddha-ashtray I had in store from my old days in Kamasutra-training in New Delhi. I decided to burn my bacon bazooka inside her fire place. We fucked for hours.  Her spark was her unusual climax.  Pristine and immaculate.  The streets below and around me were dim and vacant. Cold and bare. I took off.  Had to: I zigzagged my way to the Demarcation Line, past sandbags and burning silhouettes of cars, in fall-off. A conspicuous tactic that I deployed every time to avoid unleashed android-snipers on the loose. Or mutant gorillas on the run –as I used to call them.  Whether someone or something conforms to customary patterns or deviates from them depends on one’s point of view: Behind the concepts of normality and abnormality is the assumption that there is a single standard by which to judge everything. What may be normal to one group, however, may be unacceptable to another. I had the same Walkman on, with the same headphones arching the same oval head I displayed for a thousand times at the frontline. A truc macabre. I played Monk Live in Paris 1964 every time.  Every day. Non-stop. It was more like a frontline pursuit, just for kicks. A Grotesque affair.  Stories of love and madness is all I heard on both ends of the Demarcation Line. A snow-white 1979 Super-Beetle Cabriolet stopped right there in the middle of nowhere. Just a few steps from the Line. I could not identify any of its occupants, who wore ceremonial masks, just for kicks. The truth of the matter is they all looked like soul-reapers with scythes. They then revealed their hidden arms abruptly, and opened fire in all directions for at least seven random minutes. At the end of which, the snow-white Beetle stood-still in complete silence. Out of a sudden, that tiny little wagon, was showered and hammered countless times with all sorts of ammo.  An RPG sealed its fate, turning them into a burning chunk of metal and flesh.  A suicidal undertaking. An eccentric haze shrouded my eyesight. That day, I met the iconic Wesley Ruggles on the Demarcation Line in Down Town Beirut. A day-to-remember.  On that taciturn Winter-day, and somewhere in town, The Red Prince carried a pistol holstered in brown leather and worn on his hip a la Clint Eastwood. He was a playboy alright, on his final rave. He was in a convoy of two Chevi station wagons heading from Georgina’s flat to his mother’s, for a birthday party. Chambers was on her balcony painting, and her red Beetle parked below on Rue Verdun.  As Salameh’s convoy passed that red wagon at 3:35 pm and turned onto Rue Madam Curie, a hundred Kilos of explosives attached to the car by a Mossad agent was remotely detonated either by Chambers herself or on her signal to another Mossad agent. They did not mistake him this time. A truc macabre.  The blast left Salameh conscious, but severely wounded and in great pain, having pieces of steel shrapnel embedded in his head and throughout his body.  He was rushed to The American University of Beirut Hospital, where he died on the operating table at 4:03 pm. I was surrounded by eccentric structures –which stood tall beholding my own state of incongruity. I stood almost mortified in the middle of the battleground, in silence.  Out of a thick, almost-mythical mist, a machine gun emerged and finally rested on my temple: I stood-still. I did not utter a word for an entire minute. A strange haze shrouded my eyesight. I still remember that android-cowboy with rifle still pointing at me, and with his brimmed-shape-white-Panama-hat, silk shirt, striped pants and his green suspenders. A distinctive and manly act.  I still remember when he looked at me for the last time and said: Learn how to cook and spend less, save time and have sex more often.  He was in a chill mood. He grinned at the end of his act and said: Hasta La Vista, Baby.  As for her:  She read the last couple of lines of a letter she kept in one of her emerald green coat’s inner pockets for the last time, folded the letter the way she was supposed to, placed the letter gently on the desk, took a pistol out of an upper drawer, put the pistol’s barrel inside her mouth and shot herself. She was six months pregnant. Stonie wore a Machiavellian smile and fashioned a Cobra Shades just like the ones Stallone wore as Marion Cobretti in Cobra, 1986.  The truth of the matter is this guy looked more like a train-ticket conductor or inspector with a twist, for all I know. He looked like a mutant gorilla on the run.  And not even close to what a member of an elite division called Zombie Squad looked like. A truc macabre.  After a moment, he panned his head appearing entirely as a more recent version of the black drummer in Youtube Bill Withers’ Ain’t No Sunshine, with a grin. He looked up from his tiny, half-open, smoke-twirling-window and said: Hello Mr. Ruggles, am Stonie.  Welcome to Lebanon. The Switzerland of the East. Wesley Ruggles – was an accomplished and prominent American photojournalist.  He got in the back seat of the white Peugeot 504 and smiled all the way to the Commodore Hotel in Hamra. Stonie looked at his customer adjusting himself in the back seat, as he got in, on the rear-view mirror and said: Our country is the best place if you wish to take on the challenge of surfing and skiing on the same day. There’s no particular way to do it – some prefer to hit the waves early in the morning and end the day with a cup of mulled wine after a great ski or snowboard session; others prefer to hit the slopes in the morning and watch the sunset from Ain El Mraisse on West End, after catching some waves. It’s really up to you, Mr. Ruggles. You decide.  I leave it up to you. Wesley Ruggles grinned.  He wasn’t much of a talker, if you know what I mean.  He nodded affirmatively to all the words Stonie shot at him.  Lester Young Stardust – 1952 was coming out of the radio. Soft and easy. Let me tell ya a story.  Stonie said:  Two families were arguing in a field about where the boundary between their lands lay.  The dispute dated back a long time and blood had been shed a number of times.  A boy, a child of some eight or nine years, picked up a stick and drew a line in the earth.  When asked what he was doing, he said he was marking the boundary as it had been agreed at the last round of negotiation, long before he was born.  His father asked him how he knew this, and the boy replied that he was the reincarnation of a man the father had killed in the feud.  When the child revealed details of the shooting that only the dead man and his killer could have known, his father embraced his former adversary who was now his son. Both families wanted the feud to end.  It had been costly in terms of lives, and all were seeking a way out of a resumption of hostilities.  After a long drive and a prolonged silence, Wesley Ruggles said: Take to me to the Green Line. Now.  Militias around West Beirut were a spectacle not to be missed.  A daily-affair. They rode Jeeps as if they were riding horses. Ski-nautique, once heard someone say. Their rituals comprised life as it happened on the eve of the end of the world. For all I know.  Ruggles was a modern-times Dziga Vertov, with a movie camera.  He was a prompt man.  Never late to a meeting or a date and had a subtle way of complaining to chefs about mediocre meals at restaurants. He was an homme d’affaires. He was a lean, mean fighting-machine that would not have anything be used to his disadvantage.  And for some unknown reason always wore black.  From head to bottom. No matter what. He was a distinctive soul with an Italian flare. A lady’s man. No doubt about it.  The Lebanese Rambo –or the subject of his piece, was in place in the smashed part of the city.  Surely on the demarcation line in Down Town. Pre-disposed and ready.  He was a robust, broad-shouldered and extremely serious fella. A War-Junkie. A visual spectacle par excellence, so to speak.  A local hero of sorts.  A Stallone-look-a-like, whose physical transformation was evident and clear indication that Post-Vietnam American War films and more specifically Rambo films of the 1980s, made a huge impression on him, to the extent he -and possibly others, eventually transmuted into Rambo himself. That prompted folks like Wesley Ruggles and others to come to Beirut to have a closer look. A truc macabre. The truth of the matter is the local Rambo did not like or fancy Rambo.  He became Rambo: The man himself.  A rare case of a man who becomes another.  A copy of an original, so to speak -who is eventually rejected! Wesley Ruggles told the local Rambo to look away as he took pictures of him. The others did just the same. But these two worked as an ensemble-together:  A photo session followed by a video session.  The whole spectacle ensued in a surreal war-inspired open-air studio, in the heart of the city. A war-triggered art installation under the piercing sun for hours: The local Rambo loved to be photographed and Ruggles, well, yeah consequently, loved to be the producer of the images. A love-affair of sort. Zeina Salem –A gorgeous-looking local news producer –they all look gorgeous at the times- stood near-by.  She took some photos of her own. There is something arrogant about him. She thought. Ruggles spent hours with his subjects. He was a war-junkie himself. Up until February 6, 1984 greater Beirut was under the control of the government. On that day, the Lebanese army was forced to withdraw from the West side of the city, which again came under the control of militias and political groups opposed to the government.  The truth of the matter is that these men in the framework of war seemed wired to invade and conquer with glory being the primary objective. The key takeaway is that none of these displays bear any significance if there is no audience to play to. Some folks stood by. Some others from a far stared and marveled.  The Lebanese Rambo had this funny approach: Rambo fights in the films, I, on the other hand, am real.  I drove my Rover with my two dazzling companions:  Zeina Salem by my side and well, yeah Paul Desmond and his Quartet-1954 coming out of the radio.  Soft and easy. The meeting with Ruggles was set at the demarcation line just for kicks.  Part of the war-thrill encounters he was after.  We compromised. I still remember the first time I met Wesley Ruggles. He gave the impression he was a temperamental actor having to do retakes.  Non-stop. But Rambo was not the real reason for Ruggles to fly down here. Rambo was inconsequential.  A slight- story.  Wesley Ruggles was in Beirut for completely different reasons: The Plugged-Sniper of Beirut. Random boys stood-still as a lady-photographer took some pictures of a random Palestinian commander who sat between two low-ranking officers close-by. Sit-still! She said -as she released her film camera’s release button.  They all look like ancillaries. The main character was wearing black shades. A la Marion Cobretti.  And a black beret crowned his head, which provided him with immediate identifying qualities, in addition to his physical position in relation to the others which emphasized his authority.  His face seemed expressionless due to various props it displayed. Masculinized by his obvious mustache.  A gendering-trope.  We had Peaches, prosciutto, burrata, mint, pistachios with honey and white balsamic vinegar drizzle on top with white wine all afternoon.  Zeina Salem said “The commander looks older than the back-standing militiamen.  They are all in uniform in a near-battle field/zone position.  They are dressed for war. But not enacting it.  They look masculine and yet the kitten adds that softness touch to Brando’s character in this specific re-interpretation which is by no means intended.” She paused for a second and then resumed “I have the perception that the producer of the image herself did not know whether the commander was trying to imitate “The Godfather” character or not.”  The focal point of the mise-en-scene was a white kitten the commander held with his right hand, which he didn’t seem to care for.  He held it with cool passiveness.  The photographer was able to frame the kitten occupying a lower position.  His bodyguard stood on both sides: The one who stood to his right looked away. Showing disinterest or confusion.  He carried a machine-gun pointing upward.  He wore a military uniform with magazine holders strapped all around him.  His flexed right arm differed from the left arm that rested by his standing body.  On the opposite left side of the commander, there sat another militiaman who gazed straight at him.  He was more interested it seems on the commander’s next act than on the photographer’s consequent actions. I thought to myself.  The cat in hand was very significant.  The way the main combatant held the kitten was domineering, almost like a chokehold, a threat. This served the purpose of making him seem uncaring and hardened by the war. A power move that was even more amplified by the presence of his goons at his sides. Then I thought: He appears to be copying Marlon Brando’s opening scene in Godfather, 1972. A truc macabre.  Zeina Salem was a ravishing Capricorn -unleashed.  I was entangled immediately.  I tried to keep up with her interpretation and responded in kind: “The house in the background reflects the living conditions of its inhabitants.  If any, at all.  It is a relaxed moment. I think.   A break from the exhaustive instants of combat.  They are all facing the camera somehow.  The commander is surrounded by his guards. They look at him or the people around him for security reasons.  The commander’s unintentional pursuit of conflating his military might with that of a mafia boss is evident.  He pretends to demystify him somehow by acting out a “real” version of a representational power.” After a long silence, she looked at me and said: “Rumor has it that the cat held by Brando, in the opening scene of Godfather was a stray, the actor found while on the lot at Paramount, and was not originally called for in the script.  So content was the cat, that its purring muffled some of Brando’s dialogue, and, as a result, most of his lines had to be looped.” We both sniggered and had a toast. To tell you the truth, the Palestinian commander, being the main mantelpiece of this scene, deserves more attention.  His face is cold and gives nothing away which is mostly attributed to his dark tinted glasses. As the