Eight Minutes before.
Two hours after Midnight were declared by the upbeat sound of jazz music in the Purple Shades Pub & Comedy Club, where strangers meet and mingle in underground London, the wooden floor and the black walls built using Pharaonic stone grids meet with the purple neon and white shades of the light, to create a fine violet atmosphere, the jazz had a hard sad touch on everyone left. A Comedian sat on the bar drinking his usual beer and finishing off a very stressful week, celebrating a stand up show where the applauses and laughs made him horny, now, he can fuck people’s mouths with his jokes, but at the moment, he was ‘lost’ in a certain dates-colored girl sitting alone all covered in black under the purple light, he was listening to his bartender friend who was cleaning the glasses of customers that had just left either to go party or to go home.
The young comedian felt the sweet touch of success in the sourness of his Genius Black Beer, tonight, was his first time seeing someone fall off his chair from laughing, it was a special night, it was the first time he delivered a show that he was getting paid for, he earned good money for a first show, he wanted to celebrate, so he did:
- Hey Charlie, how about I order you an absinthe? My treat? He asked the bartender.
- I’m feeling the you’re generous today Bello!
- Tonight, we’re flying high Bro, Drink, Cheers!
- Cheers! Brother, Best Stand-up Comedian I’ve seen coming from the east!
- you know Charlie? Where I come from, “cursed” is thy drinker, cursed is thy bartender, waiter, buyer, seller, maker, even thy who sits in the vicinity of alcoholic beverages, I think it also cursed who dreamt of: Alcohol and success. He said feeling the burnt sourness reaches the throat.
- That’s why London is cursed.
- Cheers for the cursed!
The Bartender kept cleaning what’s left in the bar, while moving his body to the tunes of Louis Armstrong playing in the background, and by doing so, consciously setting the scene for the Eastern Comedian to get cozy with this special and strange girl under the purple lights, her black lipstick breaks him just like the cold winter wind of London, he was dreaming of smoking his good-night Libyan rolled joints.
– You did well tonight.
He listened to Charlie’s review of the show, but he only knows that he didn’t do that well, he remembered a moment during the stand up where he almost broke out and ruined the evening, yes he was doing good, until he suddenly stopped for moments, he just snapped, although he overcame his stage anxiety by drinking a glass of water and asking for bathroom break, he said to his audience: “ I have to do it, or else, I will flood you with urine instead of laughter”, saving his ass from the embarrassment.
Eighty Eight minutes before.
- Good Evening everybody, you all look familiar, you there in the corner, yes, the man with the big white round hat (He pointed his finger to a white lamb stand by the corner), you’re an Alien right? I’m going to need the space coordinates, I’m near Mars now, where do I go? My GBS doesn’t work and my iPhone is dead, damn it.
The young brown man’s spirit went up by the sound of laughter, he was clearly high, eyes red, his slow movement and slow talk shows that he smoked a full flower.
- Alright, I admit, I’m flying high with some weird looking aliens right now, but there was a time, when I used to smoke a joint, and feel like I’m in London, that’s what I was telling my friends when I get really high “ I’m in London now”, London was the furthest place that I can reach in my country, you only need to smoke what we call “Bufra” which is a medium sized rolled joint by yourself, let me ask you: Am I the only one here who loves this herb? I think I’m Romeo and Weed is Juliet, I’m The United Kingdom and it is the queen, Mom must have been a fuckin Vegan! Because I can live on Marijuana alone! You know how some people are born with a “silver spoon in their mouth”, well I was born with a big fat joint in my mouth.
He took a break, he could see in their eyes that they’re starting to fall in love with him, his mouth felt sour and dry, it felt like the feeling he felt when he was far away in the Sahara land.
- You know what’s great about being a pot head? Stories! When I was a “Londener” in Libya, I used to drive around listening to music smoking my joint in the high road, which was the safest place for a young man with very strict parents, militias’ security check points, and everyone in the country playing a staring game, they leave you with nowhere else to go to, when I finish my joint, after flying high, I begin to catch up on the staring game, I was not the very best at it, but I was an honorary combatant, this time while driving, looking happy, I was staring at an Old 1960’s 6 Passengers Peugeot driving in front of me in the highway, the driver looked like he just arrived from some rusty old planet far away in the galaxy, the car’s box was full of stuff: Old travelling luggage, some farming tools, a sheep, yes a big horned sheep stuck inside this mobile vintage vehicle, I think I also saw a man lying around there, so I was moved, I wanted to see this legendary driver, I picked up my speed and drove faster until I could see his face, he was an old man with big thick yellowed white mustache, and big black 80’s sunglasses, smoking his cigarette without holding it with his hands, just blowing the smoke in his mouth, he stared back at me, I smiled an absurd smile like the one you see now, I opened the window and said “ Yeah maaaaaaan! Coooooool”.
He enjoyed the screaming laughter of his crowd, it almost seemed to him that the purple visible light was a laughing Gas that makes everyone around crazy, he wanted to drink another cup of water, he tried to hold the cup while gazing to the shadows of the people around, a tea spoon of anxiety hit him by that moment, he searched between the faces for a familiar face, wondering what’s happening to him, until he recognized the source, it was a girl wearing all black staring at him, with shiny teeth that frightened him as they made him feel as if an entire nation was staring at him through her eyes. He moved to another member of the audience.
- Well, to tell you the truth, London is boring and I’m starting to regret the moment I moved here, don’t take it personal, yes it is the city where the Royal guard is planted like trees to the moment you can pee on them, here you can by great quality alcohol without imagining the face of the cop who is going to light the fire in your arse, London is also full of parties, cinemas, other drunk Libyans, and the girls! How beautiful and without Hijab they are! They don’t leave you the chance to guess the sizes of their tits and asses, you can eat what you want, life here is beautiful! Although the pound here weighs a pound! In Libya I can live for a day with one sterling pound, do you believe it? Coffee, cigarettes, fuel, bread, cheese, all with one pound! But that’s not what I’m regretting about living in London, what I hate is the weed man, I mean what the bloody hell are you smoking?!
- Why? Well because the Hash in Libya was just on another level, you don’t believe me? Let me tell you a story, I was with my friend, we call him Biggie, yes that’s his nick name, he was a fat ugly black man who looked just like Biggie Smalls, he always looked like a drug dealer, Biggie and I were in an apartment that belongs to a friend of his that left Biggie the keys of the place when he went travelling to another country looking for sex, I wasn’t comfortable in spending the night in the place but I said what the heck! We bought a good amount of Hashish and we planned our trip to London in one of those nights, we were smoking in the bathroom of an apartment in an extremely religious neighborhood, we didn’t want to drag any attention, so we were taking turns to the bathroom to smoke a joint, my turn came, I stood by the window nearly opened and lit my joint, I was gazing at the parking, when I saw 10 white Toyota pickups (Toyota 27’s) spreading around the parking, here I am smoking hashish looking at 10 Toyotas – now, this extremely important, the appearance of those car meant only one thing, an Islamic Militia is around!-, do you know what is the first thought I had in mind? Those sons of bitches, they came here to light fire in our asses, I saw myself in a small cell smelling my ass burnt just because I smoked pot! I tried to get rid of the bad thoughts, but it just stuck, it was getting bigger and bigger, I gave the cats another look, I threw my joint in the toilet – yes we use the same toilets you use, we don’t shit under palm trees-, I ran paranoid to Biggie and started mumbling some words “ Oh man! 10…cars, Toyota, in the parking, they are here for us”. Now, The Biggie is not like me when he smokes, he likes to just relax on the sofa and dive into watching a movie, I, on the other hand become very active, as you can see, he said to me: What the fuck? I’m shaking by this moment: The sons of bitches, they are here after us, one of the neighbors must have smelt the weed and told them, the motherfuckers! I told you I don’t trust this place. Biggie stood up slowly to check what I’m saying, I saw the crime evidence on the table in front of the sofa: rolling papers, a huge hashish stick, butts of cigarettes that were used for mixing, filters, everything, I ran around the apartment to see where I can hide them, I passed by my homeboy when he got out of the bathroom, I searched and searched, an old medicine box, an empty shampoo bottle, nothing felt safer than the toilet! I threw everything there, even the Hash, I looked at the evidence for a few moments floating with a piece of turd, I don’t know how, but my hand reached out to the piece of hash touching the big turd and fetched it out, and took it straight to my friend after drying it in my clothes, but do you know what’s really fucked up? While I’m waiting for the Militia to kick in the door looking at the extremely calm but angry face Biggie, He said to me “What the fuck happened man? You ruined the movie! There’s no one outside!!”, he started swearing and cursing until he finally calmed down to return to his movie, after 30 minutes, he said to me” Where are the rolling papers?”, I said “ I threw them”, he replied” where?”, I said” Well, the toilet”, he stared at me like he is threatening to kills me and said: “ Don’t tell me that you also threw the weed and then gave it to me?”, I said smiling “ No maaaaan! I might be a pussy but not disgusting!”, do you know what happened else that night? We continued smoking that nasty turd flavored hash!
He went on telling stories of his first Jamahirya, almost all of his stories revolved around the mystical plant, he joked about the million times he swore not to smoke weed ever again while throwing it away, he joked about the time when he was stoned and ordered a “coffee and an espresso”, and the one time he forgot his car’s engine on for two hours parked while he was enjoying playing cards in Café Larora with his friends, to come back and find it untouched, a lot of stories he said, and after each story he looked over to that girl in the corner, she seemed out of the scene, like she wasn’t there, every time he looked, he wanted to be sure.
Eight Seconds later.
– What’s your name? He sat on a chair besides her.
– Hamama Dhahab. She said in a tangled Arabic accent.
He listened to Jon Scofield unchaining his heart with his strong based coughing-like voice, with David’s Saxophone crying around the place and inside his mind, he looks amazed by her, she draws him into her beauty, she was wearing a black dress that makes the purple neon light look like stars from a faraway galaxy, her brown nipples were two kingdoms rising from underneath the black dress, her date colored body meant a lot to him, he felt that she came from home to trouble his heart, he moved to her face: Hamama! Just like an eastern belly dancer, he said to himself. But one thing struck him, one thing showing between her perfect aligned white teeth, a golden tooth. He remembered that he might have seen the exact tooth when he was on stage making people laugh, he remembered that she wasn’t laughing like everybody else, she just sat there in her corner like the angel of death drinking her vodka lemon and mint cocktail and staring at him.
- And I’m Bolbol. He said.
- A birdie too! So, I thought your name is El bello! She said.
- That’s what I tell everyone, do you ever think about what bolbol means? It doesn’t suit them.
- But I like it, Bolbol! My favorite bird, sings stories!
- Bolbol from Bilal.
- Oh Wow! Bilal was also a bolbol who sings the Athan. She said clapping with excitement.
- Hahahaha, do you know what bolbol means in my country? It is a slur for gays.
- Yes, bolbol, balbol, bufta, Dick eater, cake and many others is what people in Libya call the gays. He said it trying to make her laugh.
- I don’t find it funny. She said. It makes people feel bad.
- Yeah, yeah, I know, I meant that what they say there, in my home.
- Tell me about your home.
- Didn’t you listen to anything I said back there?
- I heard everything. She answered.
- So, what do you want me to say then?
He tried to break free from the spell she casted upon him, he searched for Charlie whom he found cleaning the tables leaving him to his business, he from all the people knew that he needed to hook up with a girl, Charlie understood that a great lad in his 24th year who never had sex needs to get laid properly, so it was natural for Charlie to leave him be with the girl he’s talking to.
- Tell me other things. She said.
- Well, there is the food, we have this amazing meal that’s basically the Sheep’s intestines stuffed with a mix of rice, meat and basil, we call it Usban, it is simply delicious but yet I imagine it to be disgusting for you.
- Anything else?
- There are some pretty nice archeological sites, the sea is great, the atmosphere is generally nice, air is clean, the sun is blazing hot, Winter is way warmer than here, I now can literarily go around naked in Tripoli. He tried to make her laugh again.
- Hmmm, What about your stories? Like that one with your friend what’s his name? when you were paranoid.
She dropped a bomb he feared to hear, she is now inside his mind, she is the piper and he is like a sheep following her through the sound of jazz music in the bar, following the violet light in the darkness, following her body, following her golden tooth, he wanted to run but he found himself following all the way, a certain memory passed his mind, like a buzzing fly, with his hands he tried to hush it away, however the annoying fly’s sound was getting closer and closer inside his mind, he then thought of all the stories that can convince her to have a cup of coffee with him the week after, but her golden tooth’s presence in his heart demanded one story.
– Well, I come from Busleem district in the south-west part of Tripoli, it is sometimes called the China of people due to its big population, in Busleem you can find all kinds of Libyans, and there were days when I was younger, when I loved pigeons, which were commonly domesticated on the roof tops of Busleem. my friend Biggie, who had been my friend since elementary school all the way till the end of Secondary school, at which point I continued my education through college while he abandoned education and focused on other things. Biggie’s neighborhood and mine were totally different, I lived in the Villas area of Busleem and he lived, well, in the slums, my life was way better than his, but what amazed me most about his life was the pigeon’s loft located on the rooftop of his building, that loft was filled with birds of all breeds, in school he always used to tell me about his big brother’s weird and colorful pigeons, and how he bought some birds and is planning to breed them inside his brother’s loft, I lived in envy each time he told me about them, after school he even made me see the birds, all of which made me wonder why I shouldn’t have my own pigeons and my own loft that I can just set and look at for hours in our house, why can’t I have pigeons to feed, clean and breed. My father, never understood that and never accepted it, he always looked down to those who bred pigeons, he told me that I will end up knowing people, bad people, people who don’t have jobs to attend to, watch girls and smoke cigarettes, their life is useless, but I kept my dream, all I wanted is one pigeon! Let it be the most beautiful, the weirdest, and the most amazing pigeon, a pigeon that no one ever had, I dreamt of the pigeon, I couldn’t take it anymore, looking at Biggie’s pigeons every day after school, I couldn’t take his stories without me having at least one pigeon story to share with him. That was it, it was a war of stories, that’s why, my childish wish led me to find my bird, I was looking all day at the birds flying in the sky, for days I tried to hunt one, set traps with no use, I prayed to God, let it be one, only one… five times a day I was praying, I was praying exclusively for him to give me my bird. In my sleep, all I could see was me playing with all the pigeons of the world, I lived for that dream, and somehow, I was sure that I will get my bird, but there was this time.
He stopped talking, he started to choke up in his throat, something was stealing his breath, he was looking for something to hold on to, here he is in front of this beautiful barbaric girl calling for him, but at the same time, he also wanted to get up and just leave. He was trapped.
- So? There was this time?
- There was this time, I woke up early, prayed to God that today be the day I get my pigeon, I got out of the house early heading to school, sitting by the school gate, there was that old school guard “ Albadoui” they called him, an old man who came straight from the desert sitting at the school gate every morning sipping his tea and smoking his cigarettes, he wore all traditional clothes with a white scarf around his face, he had a big mustache and a red-clay face, he was a little bit funny, but he also had this weird sense of kindness, especially towards the boys, he used to stop you and have a conversation with you “ whose son are you?” “ yes, your father is my friend”, in that time, I was stopped by Albadoui, I was pretty early, saw him sitting on his bench, I said “ Good morning Uncle Badoui”, he immediately replied “ Good morning son, don’t you think that it is pretty early for you to be in school?”, I replied “ Yes, but I have nothing to do at home”, he replied by wishing that all the kids could be as enthusiastic as I was, “ you are one of the few kids that I can see are doing really great, I will talk with the principle about you, I will tell him that you’re the best in school, I am sure that he will give you extra grades”, I said “ Honestly, I don’t want the grades, I want something else, and I hope God will give it to me”. “Oh, I am sure that God will give you what you want, let me ask God for you, Oh dear God, please give this kid…so what do you want?” he was praying for me. “A pigeon”, I said, he smiled and drank his tea, his teeth were old and yellow, they were painted with tea and cigarettes, but he had one tooth that was brighter and yellow-er that the others, it was a golden tooth. He cleaned his moustache with his face-scarf, and said to me “well, I believe that God has just answered your prayer, it turns out that I have a pigeon, a special one, a pigeon with a golden tooth, do you want to see it? I can give it to you, I’m already old and I cannot take care of it anymore” he said to me coughing. “Really? You will give it to me? Are you sure that it has a golden tooth?” I asked, feeling that the day that I win over Biggie had finally arrived, my pigeon story would be much greater and more interesting than his. He said “ Yes child, it is yours, I’m hiding it far away so nobody can take it from me, it is a very special pigeon as you might know, it once had two golden teeth, but it gave me the second one because I’m taking very great care of her, come tomorrow, earlier than today, and I will give it to you”, my heart jumped with joy after I heard his offer, a day passed and tomorrow came.
- So? She said excited.
He looked for his Charlie, where is he? He was cleaning the tables but he is now nowhere to be found, he knew that he needs to get up and run, he found Charline cleaning his glasses. “Damn you Charlie” he said to himself, Charlie was keeping them as comfortable as they needed to be “Stupid Charlie”, he felt the chair was tied to him.
- What happened? Tell me!
- Ahh…Tell me, about yourself.
He said, trying to get her off his back.
- Me? I told you that I am Hamama, a belly dancer, I will tell you about myself when this story ends, I want to know its’ ending. She said, her voice was so sweet that his heart was melting from pain.
- Really? You didn’t figure it out yet?
- The thing..that…happened.
- No! COME ON!
- Well, the old man did it, I came earlier like he told me to get my pigeon, he told me that it is in the guards room where he sleeps, I entered the room, he stood by the door, he told me that the pigeon is under his bed and asked me to go and get it, he wanted to stay guard so no one unwanted would enter the school, and then it happened.
- What? What happened? She asked him.
- You know…That thing. He said, he was out of breath.
- What thing?
- Hahahahaha, it was not a pigeon with a golden tooth alright, not even a pigeon, do you understand? There were no pigeons hahahaha.
- So what was it then?
- Hahahahaha, nothing! I bent down to look for the pigeon under the bed, and felt something moving inside me, didn’t you get it?
- What was it? Tell me please.
- His big old cock you dumb bitch! His cock, the old man fucked me, don’t you get it? Hahahahaha.
They both laughed hysterically, Charlie looked at them smiling, here he is finally won her over! The bartender told himself while listening to Diana Krall’s let’s fall in love, The Saxophone was adding a sentimental lullaby to the scene he is looking at, here they are, a brown 24 year old good man with a beautiful girl he can date, fall in love and have sex with, a scene that deserve to be an end of a romantic movie celebrating life, beauty and success.
She stopped laughing while he continued laughing, he wanted to say something:
- Hahahahahaha, you…you…you can say that I have a better pigeon story than Biggie. Hahahahahahahaha.
He couldn’t stop laughing, he was laughing tears, he couldn’t catch a breath, his laughter and the look of the old man inside him, his feeling of despair because he couldn’t find the golden tooth pigeon under the bed stuck in his mind, he couldn’t see nothing else, his hysterical laughter changed suddenly into weeping, he wept, and wept.