PICK-ME-UP-@-GREEN-SUPREME-Vol. II

PICK-ME-UP-@-GREEN-SUPREME-Vol. II

A–R-A-N-D-Y—C-A-S-A-N-O-V-A—E-A-T-S—D-O-Z-E-N-S—O-F—O-Y-S-T-E-R-S—A-N-D—T-E-S-T-S—C-O-N-D-O-M-S—F-O-R—H-O-L-E-S—B-Y—I-N-F-L-A-T-I-N-G—T-H-E-M—B-E-F-O-R-E—A—L-O-N-G—S-U-N-D-A-Y—A-F-T-E-R-N-O-O-N—T-R-Y-S-T—I-N—B-E-I-R-U-T——-1-9-7-6

A-SHORT-LOOP-IN-ONE-ACT

TALAL CHAMI

© Birth of Venus, also called “Venus on the Half Shell” by Sandro Botticelli

I can’t overlook the fact that her strawless lid 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.  

Casanova tests his condom for holes by inflating it

©

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. Oysters contain eight times more zinc and three times more iron than the same size serving of beef.  Chiquita 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.

In this May 6, 1937 file photo, the German dirigible Hindenburg crashes to earth in flames after exploding at the U.S. Naval Station in Lakehurst, N.J. Only one person is left of the 62 passengers and crew who survived when the Hindenburg burst into flames 80 years ago Saturday, May 6, 2017. Werner Doehner was 8 years old when he boarded the zeppelin with his parents and older siblings after their vacation to Germany in 1937. The 88-year-old now living in Parachute, Colo., tells The Associated Press that the airship pitched as it tried to land in New Jersey and that “suddenly the air was on fire.” (AP Photo/Murray Becker, File)

©

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. 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. 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

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

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. Casanova was so right to power up with oysters before his lusty bedroom undertakings.

©

The Pick-Up Westy camper was swooshing like a washing-machine with me and Little Sunshine inside. A truc macabre. She sat on me for hours but looked at me in the eyes in one Trevi-Fountain second and said: Do you know that elephants have the best memory ever. That they are well-known for their intelligence, close family ties and social complexity, and they remember for years other individuals and places. I grinned. I jumped in and said:  Elephants travel miles back to their resting cave to die in peace. They live in a fluid fission-fusion society with relationships radiating out from the mother-offspring bond through families, bond groups, clans, independent males and beyond to strangers. The truth of the matter is African savanna elephants typically live in larger family groups than either of the two other elephant species, and they are more often found in large aggregations. As a consequence, it is possible that the number, variety and complexity of their interactions and relationships may be even greater than the two other elephant species. 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)

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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.

In this May 6, 1937 file photo, the German dirigible Hindenburg crashes to earth in flames after exploding at the U.S. Naval Station in Lakehurst, N.J. Only one person is left of the 62 passengers and crew who survived when the Hindenburg burst into flames 80 years ago Saturday, May 6, 2017. Werner Doehner was 8 years old when he boarded the zeppelin with his parents and older siblings after their vacation to Germany in 1937. The 88-year-old now living in Parachute, Colo., tells The Associated Press that the airship pitched as it tried to land in New Jersey and that “suddenly the air was on fire.” (AP Photo/Murray Becker, File)

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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

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

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.  

Casanova tests his condom for holes by inflating it

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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.

In this May 6, 1937 file photo, the German dirigible Hindenburg crashes to earth in flames after exploding at the U.S. Naval Station in Lakehurst, N.J. Only one person is left of the 62 passengers and crew who survived when the Hindenburg burst into flames 80 years ago Saturday, May 6, 2017. Werner Doehner was 8 years old when he boarded the zeppelin with his parents and older siblings after their vacation to Germany in 1937. The 88-year-old now living in Parachute, Colo., tells The Associated Press that the airship pitched as it tried to land in New Jersey and that “suddenly the air was on fire.” (AP Photo/Murray Becker, File)

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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. 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

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

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:

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

© https://scroll.in/field/979480/watch-diego-maradonas-goal-of-the-century-against-england-in-1986-world-cup

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. 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. I left like a tired animal with the hope that life and the next day were going to be beautiful.  So fucking and miraculously beautiful.

©

https://www.collectura.com/en/bendyfig-dc-comic-superman.html

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

© https://scroll.in/field/979480/watch-diego-maradonas-goal-of-the-century-against-england-in-1986-world-cup

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 stylist fashioned a Sigmund Freud beard panache to the rhythm of Stevie Wonder’s Superstition while a line of dark silhouettes stood in cue outside ready to come in. I don’t know where this panache

came from: A Sean Connery film, perhaps. Or one of those old Spaghetti Westerns, for all I know.  I saw myself shattered into a thousand pieces inside that tiny/little place as I was having the cut: A myriad of mirrors was splashed on the ceiling and the floor and everything in between. Of course, massive posters of Sean Penn shielded the salon window display from obtrusive on-looking intruders trying to bargain the latest, local hair-style trends.  A salon of sorts. A two-seat barbershop for men named three times: Fashionista-New-Look– and King-Salon. A name for all seasons. A truc macabre.  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.  All the war-rumors that I have ever heard, were manufactured inside.  Only if they could whisper what they heard, murmur what they saw. The names! The names! My best part of the day: The Jazz.  Miles Davis and John Coltrane took turns to turn heads inside. A sublime jazzy love-affair like no other. 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 cruise, roaming the city.  Looking for a one-night stand. 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 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 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.

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He entered the 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.

In this May 6, 1937 file photo, the German dirigible Hindenburg crashes to earth in flames after exploding at the U.S. Naval Station in Lakehurst, N.J. Only one person is left of the 62 passengers and crew who survived when the Hindenburg burst into flames 80 years ago Saturday, May 6, 2017. Werner Doehner was 8 years old when he boarded the zeppelin with his parents and older siblings after their vacation to Germany in 1937. The 88-year-old now living in Parachute, Colo., tells The Associated Press that the airship pitched as it tried to land in New Jersey and that “suddenly the air was on fire.” (AP Photo/Murray Becker, File)

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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

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

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.  

Casanova tests his condom for holes by inflating it

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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.  Chiquita 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.

In this May 6, 1937 file photo, the German dirigible Hindenburg crashes to earth in flames after exploding at the U.S. Naval Station in Lakehurst, N.J. Only one person is left of the 62 passengers and crew who survived when the Hindenburg burst into flames 80 years ago Saturday, May 6, 2017. Werner Doehner was 8 years old when he boarded the zeppelin with his parents and older siblings after their vacation to Germany in 1937. The 88-year-old now living in Parachute, Colo., tells The Associated Press that the airship pitched as it tried to land in New Jersey and that “suddenly the air was on fire.” (AP Photo/Murray Becker, File)

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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. 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. 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

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

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:

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

© https://scroll.in/field/979480/watch-diego-maradonas-goal-of-the-century-against-england-in-1986-world-cup

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.

©

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)

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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.

In this May 6, 1937 file photo, the German dirigible Hindenburg crashes to earth in flames after exploding at the U.S. Naval Station in Lakehurst, N.J. Only one person is left of the 62 passengers and crew who survived when the Hindenburg burst into flames 80 years ago Saturday, May 6, 2017. Werner Doehner was 8 years old when he boarded the zeppelin with his parents and older siblings after their vacation to Germany in 1937. The 88-year-old now living in Parachute, Colo., tells The Associated Press that the airship pitched as it tried to land in New Jersey and that “suddenly the air was on fire.” (AP Photo/Murray Becker, File)

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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.

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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

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

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.

©

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.

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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. 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. 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)

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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.

In this May 6, 1937 file photo, the German dirigible Hindenburg crashes to earth in flames after exploding at the U.S. Naval Station in Lakehurst, N.J. Only one person is left of the 62 passengers and crew who survived when the Hindenburg burst into flames 80 years ago Saturday, May 6, 2017. Werner Doehner was 8 years old when he boarded the zeppelin with his parents and older siblings after their vacation to Germany in 1937. The 88-year-old now living in Parachute, Colo., tells The Associated Press that the airship pitched as it tried to land in New Jersey and that “suddenly the air was on fire.” (AP Photo/Murray Becker, File)

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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

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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.  

Casanova tests his condom for holes by inflating it

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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. 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.

In this May 6, 1937 file photo, the German dirigible Hindenburg crashes to earth in flames after exploding at the U.S. Naval Station in Lakehurst, N.J. Only one person is left of the 62 passengers and crew who survived when the Hindenburg burst into flames 80 years ago Saturday, May 6, 2017. Werner Doehner was 8 years old when he boarded the zeppelin with his parents and older siblings after their vacation to Germany in 1937. The 88-year-old now living in Parachute, Colo., tells The Associated Press that the airship pitched as it tried to land in New Jersey and that “suddenly the air was on fire.” (AP Photo/Murray Becker, File)

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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. 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

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

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:

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

© https://scroll.in/field/979480/watch-diego-maradonas-goal-of-the-century-against-england-in-1986-world-cup

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.   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. —

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