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The Dervish

*This story is based on a prompt from r/writingprompts which can be found HERE.

THE DERVISH

Ishmael breathed into his hands to warm them by the fire. For all the lofty talk of freedom he had heard, all he could say for sure was that it entailed a great deal of discomfort. If only he’d escaped from MECCA-CITY 01 -at least then he’d be in the desert. True the desert lacked abundant water, but seeing as he wasn’t particularly thirsty at this moment that seemed a reasonable trade-off.


(DAYZ Forest Campfire by Kaelakov)

He was suddenly distracted by a giggle from Fatima.

“What’s so funny?” he asked.

“I don’t wanna tell you.”

“Why not?”

“Because you’ll make fun of me.”

“Pfft, I’ll make fun of your dumb-ass ass anyway.” At this, he lunged and attacked her. They wrestled for a moment until he pinned her loosely underneath him. She looked up at him and smiled. Without her head-scarf, her thick, brown hair fell in cascading locks that were quite lovely.

“You should be wearing your head-scarf,” he said, admonishingly.

Fatima’s expression soured. “Oh what, are you gonna be the religious police now that we’ve escaped the city?”

“No….it’s just that it’s cold and if you get sick I’m gonna have to be the one to take care of you.”

She weighed this and nodded. “You know ‘ll get sick even quicker if you keep me pinned on the ground like this.”

“What were you giggling at?” he inquired again? Without waiting for her to respond he grabbed her wrist and gently twisted it so he could see the image on the smartphone’s screen. It was a picture of the prophet engaged in immoral acts with a camel.

“What the fuck?” he exclaimed and got off her, registering mild, though still exaggerated, disgust and disappointment.

“See, I knew you’d think I was stupid for looking at memes.”

“I don’t care that you’re looking at memes, but that’s disrespectful.”

He resumed sitting on the log he had leapt from moments ago. and took on a brooding demenaour.

“It’s a fucking joke, ” Fatima protested. “Have a look. Now, that we’re outside the mosque we’re picking up all kinds of signals from parish and synagogue satellites. I find the parish memes funnier so far…”

But Ishmael drifted off into his own thoughts. There had of course been speculation that the infidels had their own networks and advanced technology, but he’d never been very much interested in that notion; he wasn’t one to spend much time online anyhow. But now, seeing firsthand that the ‘barbarians at the gate’ were actually sophisticated societies…well, it was all a little sobering. Fatima on the other hand, always had her nose in her phone and took it for granted that the infidels must have the internet because what else would they do with their time? She was so far past the shock Ishmael was feeling that she was already doing a comparative analysis of various infidel cultures.

“Why do you think that is?” asked Ishmael slowly and deliberately.

Fatima neither looked up from her phone nor missed a beat as she answered: “Well it seems that the Jews are more afraid of us and the Christians are more disgusted with us, so they’re less overall respectful and therefore make funnier content.”

“No, not that. Why do you think we’re picking up these signals?” he asked, already knowing the answer. “Why couldn’t we receive them in BAKU?”

“Duh! The men who control everything control EVERYTHING!”

That was it. He still wasn’t sure why he found this so shocking. Perhaps it was because it was final, irrefutable confirmation that he -they- had lived a lifetime of betrayal.

“You look surprised.” Fatima observed with as much compassion as she could muster, even looking up from her phone and trying to penetrate his sullen state with her eyes.”

“It’s just…”

“Just what?”

Ishmael took in a deep breath and unconsciously straightened in his posture while turning to Fatima. “Look, we both wanted a way out, but we both knew we wanted it for different reasons.” Fatima unconsciously turned herself toward him and let her hand with her phone in it fall to the side.

He continued: “You have always felt trapped by every aspect of society. You were always a rebel, since we were kids even. I don’t think anyone will be surprised to find you’re gone tomorrow. The elders will probably make a gestural condemnation of you but I don’t think it will go past that. To their credit, they’re pretty liberal in the periphery. Even the men of the desert -most came this far to escape Meccan stricture.”

“So then why did you want to leave if they were so understanding?” she asked with a touch more condescension than she had intended.

“Well as liberal as they are, there were certain things which were beyond questioning. I was fortunate to learn under Mullah Enoch. At times I asked him questions which others may have had me flogged for. But he would just laugh understandingly and say, ‘This isn’t the place to ask such things.’

“Where was the place to ask such things?”

“I didn’t know…at least at first. Then I started to think that perhaps I should approach him outside of the mosque hidden in plain view where noone would be particularly interested in a student and teacher’s conversation, but whenever I approached him he was evasive or just told me that we could talk the following day in the mosque, which of course was ‘not the place to ask such things.’ So I started thinking perhaps he wasn’t talking about the mosque, but the city itself. Perhaps it wasn’t that he couldn’t talk about what I wanted to know, but that he didn’t have the answers to my questions.”

“So you’re gonna gonna look for a mosque in the wild?” Fatima interrupted with some derision.

“I don’t know!” Ismael responded defensively. “But I’m certain that Mullah Enoch was trying to tell me to leave the city.”

Fatima laughed unexpectedly which startled him. “What? Another clever picture of one our faith fucking an animal? What is it -a pig this time?” he asked, disapprovingly.

“No, I’m laughing at you, dumb shit. All this time I thought you wanted to escape the faith and now I found that you want to go deeper.” She brought her phone back into her lap. “That’s so ridiculuous -you’re finally free and you want to imprison yourself even more.” Her eyes traveled down toward her phone.

Fatima’s words didn’t bother Ishmael so much as he realized his story may have been a touch melodramatic, but he had enjoyed having her complete attention. He felt a tinge of panic when he saw it go back to her phone so he decided to tease her to get it back.

“Well, I can’t let you become a godless heathen,” he said matter-of-factly, casting her a sidelong glance. “We’re still going to pray several times a day and read the word of the prophet.”

“Oh really?” Fatima said, not looking up. “Maybe I just abandon you in the middle of the night.”

“I wouldn’t recommend it.”

She looked up from her phone, amusedly challenging him. “Why’s that?”

He looked at her phone. “The battery won’t last forever. Who you gonna talk to when it’s dead?”

“Congratulations! The one reason for staying with you that I can’t refute,” she said as she looked up at him and put her phone to sleep.

His confidence regained by his triumph over her phone, Ishmael relaxed a little and the conversation began to flow a little more freely from his end. “Yeah well when it comes down t it, it’s our crippling fear of being alone with no one to talk to that truly gave birth to civil society.” Fatima smirked at this. “If nothing else, it kept my parents’ marriage from falling apart.”

“Wow, that’s a pretty cynical view of the social contract.” Fatima observed. ” ‘We are both completely inadequate -so let’s be somewhat less cumulatively inadequate together.’ ”

“You could at least give me a ring before you make a proposal like that,” he said, feigning haughty indignance.

Fatima stood up and got one one knee in front of him, looking him in the eye. “I’m just a young apostate kneeling in front of a young heretic asking him to complement her shortcomings with his his own in a co-dependent, probably destructive way.”

“I hear apostate chicks go all the way…

“Till they stone me or burn me with acid.”

“Wow. You just gave me the weirdest boner.”

“And at that, the condemned young female’s vagina dried up and she rediscovered the faith. Allah hu Akbar!”

They both laughed and Fatima propelled herself by pushing against Ishmael’s chest, causing him to fall off the log.

“Lucky for you it’s cold out here so we’ll have to spoon to keep warm.” she said, giving him an accusing smirk.

Ishmael hadn’t bothered to get up from the ground after she’d pushed him. Instead he laid there and cast her seductive eyes., dragging his finger slowly across the ground. “I feel so tiny wrapped up in your big, strong arms,” he said in a smoky, sultry voice.

“Ha, nice try -I’m little spoon.”

“Dath coo!” He got up and began brushing his clothes of while singing, ‘Ain’t nothin’ but a dry-hump par-tyyyyy…’

“Just keep your weird boner away from my butt-crack and we won’t have any problems.”

Ishmael rolled out a blanket on the ground near their fire while Fatima gathered some more sticks and wood for their fire.

“Should we stay awake in shifts?” she asked.

“Probably the most prudent thing to do. You wanna take first or second shift?”

She yawned. “Umm…neither…”

“Then it’s settled. Let’s go to ground.”

They both laid down on their right sides and Fatima curled herself into Ishmael’s embrace. After a few minutes of fidgeting and getting comfortable they finally settled and began drifting off.

“Fatima”

“Yeah?”

“I love you.”

A moment passed.

“I’m all you have.”

“You’re all I want.”

They both began tearing up as the knowledge of how alone they were set in. A few moments passed then Fatima spoke:

“I love you.”

Ishmael squeezed her tighter and kissed her on the back of the head and they, at length, drifted off to sleep.

THE END

 

 

 

 

 

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The Spectacle: Breivik’s Sanity

***As of when I posted this article, Anders had been deemed sane.***

My Friends,
   The latest media debacle to catch my eye is the trial of Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian O.G. who shot/blew up 77 people, including children, because he hates Islam.

Looks like my friend, Nick

The debacular (sic.) aspect in this instance is that the prosecution is trying to argue that Anders was sane when he committed those actions and remains sane today, while his defence claims he was insane.  Now I will preface this by saying I understand that the prosecution would like him deemed sane so they can push for jail-time/harsher sentences, but really, how do you argue that a man who massacred several people is sane?
   You don’t.  That motherfucker is crazy.  I mean have we really set the bar for crazy so high that mass murder isn’t an instant qualification?  Is crazy an exclusive club now?  The way I see it, if you wanna call him crazy but also label him the Norwegian equivalent of a Dangerous Offender so he can be locked up indefinitely/executed,* do that.  But please, whatever you do, don’t insult the families of the victims and their memories by trying to prove this man was sane when he went on a killing spree.

On the other hand….


   Now I have been wrong before, and now that I think about it perhaps the prosecution is on to something.  Nobody does anything without seeing potential gain in it, And perhaps after examining Anders’ testimony and statements they saw that he was acting as one who was/is of sound mind and body and simply trying to achieve a goal.  Anders himself is a proponent of this view:

   “Breivik himself has insisited he is mentally stable and demanded that the
   attacks be judged as a political act rather than the work of a deranged man.”

Certainly a diagnosis of sane, though it would carry a harsher penalty, would render the man a tad more credible.  If deemed insane we could dismiss him as an aberration,** ignore his cause and go about our lives.  However, if we deem him sane we should examine his motives and try to understand him: it is a serious cause indeed that would drive a sane man to massacre people.  We probably won’t do this.  Instead, Norwegian society will want to have the best of both worlds: punish him as a sane man but dismiss him as a crazy one.  This is a mistake in my opinion.  Certainly most people would be reluctant to give Anders a forum to spread his views in light of his crime, as it presumably sends the message “if you commit atrocities you get to have a voice.”  There is merit to this view and I don’t think bad behaviour should be rewarded, but it occurs to me that Anders probably felt voiceless long before he committed his crime.  People like him (“terrorist” is what they are calling him) are screaming to be heard and when no one listens they might start to feel like they have to make a big noise to get people’s attention.  Or 77 big noises.
Stay Thirsty,
-Andre Guantanamo

*I’m not sure what Norway’s laws are on capital punishment, and I’m too lazy to google them.  Please don’t take my casual allusion to the death penalty as a cavalier attitude toward life.  I will explain myself in good time, but that will be another entry.

**I don’t believe crazy people should be wholly dismissed either, but that also is another entry.

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Be Vewy Qwiet … I’m Hunting Hezbowwah …

   “There is a river in the south of Lebanon that Israel occupied.  Then they went through the nearby villages and abducted every male above the age of 18.  They locked them up for days maltreating and torturing them.  They would even stomp them with combat boots in the testicles in some cases to prevent them from having children.  After days of this they would come through and distribute copies of the Quran to the captives, in the ultimate hope that the Lebanese men would find justification in its pages for a jihad against Israel and the occupation.  The logic was that with such jihadis at the gates, Israel would then be justified in taking overt action against Lebanon, including but not limited to annexation of its lands, regardless of the the actual danger posed by these rag-tag paramilitaries.  Thus Hezbollah was born”

***
   “Hezbollah started as a movement to take back these occupied lands in the south and was granted authorization to carry weapons.  As things calmed down and efforts were made to revoke this authorization, Hezbollah was unwilling to give up their power.”
***
   “So you plan on going to see the southern part of Beirut?  There is a lot of Hezbollah there…”
-A Lebanese Perspective
   This morning as I dozed before breakfast I had the most wonderful dream that I stumbled upon a pep-rally of sorts being conducted in a warehouse in South Beirut.  I entered the building and stood quietly in a corner while the MC shouted things in Arabic and English.  However I could not remain incognito and I got caught up in the group effervescence.  I began cheering as the guest of honor, the head of Hezbollah incidentally, ascended the dais.  One of the ushers indicated that it was my section’s turn to approach the dais, dancing exultantly for review by the supreme Hezbollah commander.  I remember dancing my monkey ass off for fear that if I didn’t my foreignness would become clear.  Still, I remember thinking as we approached the platform in a conga line of sorts, “Goddamn, I got a bad case of the white boy rhythm today!.”  Still, what I lacked in rhythm, I made up for with enthusiasm. 
   As I passed the dais I looked into the eyes of this man who had all of these people exultant and he looked a lot like Russell Peters,
“Some Israelis gonna get a’hurt real bad”
…or even my friend, Sammy Kunty.
Kunty, you got some ‘splainin to do…
I woke up from these visions of jihad which danced in my head, resolved to head to ‘souf-side’ Beirut and see what was really good.
My Friends,
   I apologize for the lengthy pre-amble, but I felt it necessary to contextualize the mission I set upon today: I wanted to find me some Hezbollah.  Not a lot of Hezbollah mind you, just enough.  Thats it, thats about as far as my plans went.


I’m a dog chasing cars; I wouldn’t know what to do with one if I caught it!!”
I knew what I wouldn’t do though: I wasn’t looking to infiltrate the group or anything, and I certainly wasn’t looking to argue the merits of an inclusive and tolerant Middle East.  I just wanted some evidence that one of the big, bad names I heard on the news actually existed in real people land.  I remember drinking at a bar in Hamilton one time and I got to talking to this old guy who said he used to be IRA during “the Troubles.”  That is the kind of off-hand boast I would have settled for.  It could have been a guy talking shit at a bar to pick up chicks and I would have been happy, regardless of whether or not I suspected he was lying.
   So I set out south around 11:30 am.  I left my passport, notebeook with addresses, and credit cards at the apartment and only took the equivalent of around $40 USD.  I figured there was no point in losing all of my documents (again) if I got abducted for asking too many questions.  But then, asking questions wasn’t really my strategy: My strategy, such as it was, was to find a south-side watering hole with a television screen, wait until something about Israel came up on the news then feign utter and voluminous disgust, potentially ingratiating myself to anti-Zionists.  We would talk from there I assumed and I would mostly listen, satisfying my curiosity in the process.  It had all the makings of a successful venture.  But first I had to find said watering-hole…
   There is a major east-west thoroughfare one block from the apartment I am staying at, and although I don’t know if it bisects the city into northern and southern halves, I certainly felt like I was crossing the Rubicon when I sauntered south across it.  Since I had no notebook, I scrawled observations on the back of some song lyrics I had printed off.  They observations were a little excited and veered slightly into the realm of paranoia:
11:45 – crossing the street into South Beirut
-people looking at me
-barber giving a straight-razor shave OR concealable-weapon melee practice?
-guy working under the hood of a car OR installing a bomb?
-two guys sitting out enjoying a Sunday afternoon OR plotting death to Israel?
-shop selling air rifles OR shop selling air rifles for jihad?
-children’s playground OR paramilitary obstacle training course for youth indoctrination?
I made eye-contact with some guy at this point and he said something to me in Arabic while he opened his shop.  I explained that I spoke only English and he asked me what I wanted.  I said I was just looking around and he responded, “Good luck, sir.”
-“Good luck, sir” OR “Try not to get killed white-boy?”
   As is evident I was seeing things that probably weren’t there.  I kept walking south and west and came across a large cemetery.  I decided to pass through it because after all of this intrigue I needed a rest and cemeteries are statistically the safest places in the world, everyone being dead and such.  I got an uneasy feeling in this cemetery though, as my scraawlings reflect:
11:56
-cemetery OR Burial site of the martyrs in the struggle against Israel?
All the headstones were written in Arabic after all, so it must have have been a terrorist cemetery.  I got out, still in possession of my life, and against my better judgment, kept heading south.  Winding my way through the alleyways and side-streets I came to an open-air market on a broad, north-south avenue.  I proceeded down it and was overwhelmed by what a claustrophobic affair it was: not only were there people everywhere and loud noises, but unlike most open-air markets I have been to, traffic was not blocked off.  There were scooters buzzing around everywhere, sidewalks included, and even the occasional car passing through the fray.  The people of Beirut truly have a freestyle, make-it-up-as-you-go-along style of driving (more erratic than Turkey or Italy I can assure you) and it was a bit much.
   Sadly, my scrawlings at this point reflect a sobering observation made during all of this bustle.
12:15 – stumbled upon market in street
12:30 – little girl with a black eye and her friends sifting through garbage dumped in empty lot
Fuck!  This is the sorta shit I hate to see.  In a country where there is already a dearth of opportunities and social mobility, you get little urchins like this young girl (doubly-fucked for being poor AND female) poking through garbage and obviously getting rough usage at home.  And in the midst of all of this poverty and misery I come through all starry-eyed and enthusiastic about the adventures I am having and eager to find danger so I can give it a “mushroom-slap”in the face.  I felt guilty for being out there in grand pursuit of whimsy and exploits while this young-girl was getting beaten and living below susbsistence-level.
   Then I thought, “Tough-break, nigga. Thats what you get for fuckin’ with a rough set like Hezbollah,” and I felt better.  Kept south and came to the appropriately-named “Cafe Bob;” a wretched hive of scum and villainy if ever there was one.
12:50 – smokehouse SW of market => lots of green (colour of Islam) and militant-looking posters
I ordered a water-pipe and a cha and just sat back taking it all in.  There was a poster on the wall of a bearded old Arab dude and I asked the proprietor (didn’t get his name, lets call him “Bob”) who it was.  The “Hez-bells” (Hezbollah bells) were ringing in my head but the guy explained that the bearded dude was a Lebanese guy who had been imprisoned in Libya by Qaddafi.  At least thats what I think he said.  I got Bob to write the name down so I could google it later.  Bob asked me a little about myself and I learned that he was Syrian.  In fact, he had a much more intriguing picture of Asad Jr. up in the cafe as well but I didn’t notice it because Asad didnt look as menacing as the first guy did (no head-scarf).  I thought this was interesting but things got a little busy in the cafe and I didnt get a chance to ask Bob his feelings about Asad.  Also, the TV was playing American movies and soccer alternately so I didnt get a chance to react to Israeli aggression in the news in a theatrical manner as per the strategy.  I just kinda sat there smoking and eventually pulled out my book, “The Return of Sherlock Holmes.”
   The excitement of the book helped maintain the excitement of the quest I was on when things had obviously took a turn for the boring.  In fact, the excitement of the book was such that I almost jumped when Bob tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I wanted some food.  I said no thanks and kept reading.  Half an hour later though, Bob’s nephew Ali tapped me and said “come eat with us…bring your chair.” Oh shit, son!  I was being invited into the inner circle to break bread with made men.  Except we didnt talk business (business being death to the Zionist scourge); I just kinda talked to Ali about travel and Canada and stuff.  Then it occurred to me that perhaps this wasn’t an invitation to the inner circle but my last meal.  But it didnt taste like poison, and they were eating it too.  No no no, this was all wrong!  I had gone looking for trouble and found only goodwill and friendship.  Story of my fucking life!!
   When the food was done I resumed smoking and talked more with Ali.  I got his contact info and we may hang out before I peace out to Egypt.  It was on the walk home that I got my only sign of any political extremism, and that was just some faded posters of Yasser Arafat stuck to the wall of an empty lot.  It wasnt Hezbollah but it would have to do.  I hadnt found the wild jackalope I was looking for but I made some new friends and had gotten a good meal.  A day well well spent.
Stay Thisty
-Andre Guantanamo


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