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    Яαgιи Яαvєи
    Cairo, Egypt
    Wanting people to listen, you can't just tap them on the shoulder anymore. You have to hit them with a sledgehammer, and then you'll notice you've got their strict attention.
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Tapping at my chamber door

Thursday, July 20, 2006

In the name of my country... we marched

I crouched deeper and deeper, hiding behind a trench that is now the grave of my fellow countrymen. I am the last of the remaining pawns that were sent as the first and apparently last line of defense aiming at scaring away the enemy. We marched as proud and glorious infantry, designated soldiers sent off to bring glory to a kingdom that I once called 'home'. We were patriots once, now we're just corpses lying in the mud holding banners that once stood for something meaningful, a worn out rifle, and one very, very scared man.

Two weeks ago, I was only a student. The future seemed worthy of my efforts. Everything was certain, from my point of view. I had a dream of holding a successful job, marrying a beautiful woman, raising my children in a white and happy home, but things change. When you think you're walking gracefully in the right direction, towards a better life; that's when your name gets called upon, when you hear voices in your head calling out for you, asking you for a favor… in the name of your country.

It was 11:35 pm. That's when the first of many pawns got shot at the border. That's when a state of war was declared. At midnight, I wore a uniform that replicates something dead and still, then I became a soldier. I enrolled into the army, running to the rescue of my countrymen, of my rook and my king; things that I fooled myself into believing were mine, worth protecting, worth dying for. On we marched with patriotism in our eyes, invincibility in our hearts, a loaded rifle on our shoulder, and a banner that held in a promise of a better future. Young we were to know that we should have carried our tombstones instead; they'd be heavier, but would have made far more sense.

And on we marched, with a promise in the background that we'd be backed with knights in shiny armors, prayers of elder bishops for us to be safe from harm, to return home with promised pride and glory, a rook we've left behind with snipers covering our asses from an enemy we can't see, guardian angels watching over. We were told we were only to march up ahead for a couple days, just to scare them off. A worst-case scenario was written in the form of a Greek epic poem before we left off that we’d only have to fight one battle with a couple one-eyed ogres… that we’d leave as men and return as legendary warriors and Olympic gods. Little did we know that the ancient Greeks only saw the making of gods when they’d burn inedible and useless green leaves that grew on mount Olympus, leaves later referred to as marijuana. My country must have smoked up one too many joints. We marched on, chasing a ghost of a Greek god of war that once existed in a dead man’s imagination, hallucination, self-delusion.

'Dream on, boys, gently down the stream. Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream', we chanted. Young and stupid we were.

The first lights of dawn broke in as we reached the border. We reported in our location through radio in a code believed to be unbreakable. We dug in a deep, long trench that we thought would remain as one. Evolution of perspective is a tricky, tricky thing. We camped behind the trench for days waiting for our war, our epic, not knowing that what we left behind as home has become a destroyed piece of land. In our long wait, each of us explored his life and his dreams with everyone. We fooled around, pretended we were the legendary heroes we were destined to be. We revived our reasons in joining the march. Some did it for mere recognition and self-gratification, but mostly we all marched for nothing more than an attempt to win back the respect our nation once had. We stood up for our culture and our religion, our dreams, notions that meant the world to us, simple rights that the world seemed to misunderstand. Basic rights never meant food and shelter. This is the purpose of our existence, the reason behind our creation. This freewill is everything that they fear; their racist acts, their secret terrorist group, their communist threat, their anti-west scheme, and their nuclear bomb. Our march was utterly a message we were to deliver whatever the consequences were to be.

We held our positions and guarded our posts as we stood tall and proud. We waited a bit more with an unbeatable strategy in our minds, each knew his role. Chess pieces we were, each waiting for his objective to conclude, his chance to get picked up by the ever-invisible player we named freewill. It must have been two weeks. We've lost track of time. We've almost run out of food. We radioed in asking all sorts of questions that we needed answered, questions about food, the one-eyed ogre, the knights in shiny armor, but all we got was a promise, that's when the enemy made his move…

It began with an explosion. We looked ahead through our binoculars only to find a whole army ready to fight and willing to kill. The one-eyed ogre we had imagined is now a herd. The mission we were sent to do is no longer just an ordinary mission, it's suicide. The message we were drafted to deliver has lost its clarity. They're just too many and we're too few to fight, too weak to run. They marched towards us with Uzis and grenades and all we had were rifles. It started raining grenades. We started breathing all sorts of chemical gas. Green fumes and smoke blocked our destined heaven. Dust covered the air, rubbed off over my brain. I couldn't breath. I couldn't see. I began seeing visions, hallucinations of the Greeks. I stood still our ground, a scapegoat refusing to fall easy. Flames were everywhere, burning up a fellow countryman's flesh. As the enemy approached I felt so small. I felt betrayed, I felt like a pawn standing his square, by himself, on the other side of the chessboard. Homer forgot to include this stanza in his great epic, a stanza we were destined to write as we fall, and a piece of art it was. This war has turned into a game that freewill is no part of. It's always been politics on both sides of the board playing with the chess pieces that we had become. The knight rode off on his monkey. The queen was blinded by the teargas fumes along with the rest of us. All squares seemed gray now and we had nowhere else to go. Our great epic strategy has no place here anymore. The bishop lost his vision and his heart now turns to Satan. I felt fooled, tricked, betrayed. The king has sold us out. They knew our every move. In the far distance I feel my kingdom chanting 'Burn baby, burn'. My fellow soldiers and I had marched to make a difference, but as of this final moment I've been sitting here, lying on my back, crouching, praying not to be seen, exploring new meanings of the word regret. The cries mixed with prayers and explosions, deafening music I no longer wish to hear, bells tolling, calling my name, ironically asking me for a favor. My freewill is way off-key.

What was once a trench is now my savior, protecting me from hell. I lied behind it for what seemed like hours, with a worn out rifle and a banner of my country, a flag that means nothing to me now; and in this sleep of death what things can one learn. I learn that the two politicians playing this chess game would eventually collect their dead, shake hands, and go home. This move is referred to as castling. It's when the beloved king hides behind his mighty rook and sends his pawns off to soak in their own blood and die, with nothing but a promise of a safe return and a better tomorrow, a lie that's lived through the ages. As I lie there I can finally define the word treason with my own eyes. I wish to have a coaster for my blood ring not to stain on my land, my once called home. When I die, I wish to be exhumed and crowned king of the delusional patriots, the classical idiots. The epic poem now is writing itself, its final verses, verses about a king's treason to his soldiers, his children; verses about the enemy having memorized our every trick and every move and more, a verse that discusses hatred, defeat, and despair. I lie there in my trench, my newly discovered grave, exploring new meanings for words I had forever swallowed. Victory seemed like a fool's dream. Patriotism is a scar that darkened our way and led us into a hole we've fallen into before. One never learns. History ain't real. The monarchy I was deemed to die for is a lie. The only solidarity that survives is that in war, all pawns lose. What was once referred to as the tragedy of war is now a Greek Coliseum where gladiators can fall, where the world can watch and be entertained.

In my trench, I lied, fearing that if I look up I die. I cry in silence. I cover myself with my countrymen's bodies and I hide my face behind a flag, a flag that once stood for something deep…

… and the whole world is watching the graveyard, once a savior from harm, once an ordinary trench where pawns cheered and laughed as legendary heroes who believed, a hole where they died…

a place for me to hide… in the name of my country.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Underground and within

They found me at Central Park, half naked, beaten to death, with my arm stuck to some thorn sticking out of a wild bush. The police report said that I was probably resisting getting mugged by some bum on the run. Funny it rhymes. I never knew the police had a sense of humor. The real joke is that they're never there on time when shit happens; they'd be too busy writing some loser a speeding ticket or giving a drunk-while-driving hot babe a "warning". Nobody ever gave me a warning, but I think that point has already been obviously stated between the very thin lines. Of all the places I thought I would be found, I never thought I'd be at a park. I must have been out there walking, trying to figure out the point behind everyone's recognition of the "fresh air" cliché. I should have stayed home and learned cooking. I should have watched the World cup semi final. I should have stayed home on the internet chatting with strangers whom one of them might as well have been that mugger who made this final hour possible. I don't know if I was carried to the park or whether I was actually there, but, to sum up, they found my body at Central Park.

Ironically, my "burial" was a loner, so was I prior to October 28, 2014. I wouldn't have been surprised if the priest hadn't shown up, but he did, and now I die on wondering... Am I forgiven now? If that is all it takes then hallelujah, it is but death that I welcome with arms open wide... but I wouldn't bet on it to be true. I reckon it's only human to live on betting on things to be real. The make-believe, monkey say monkey do push that we need in order to pull ourselves together and move on. We're just a bunch of gambling monkeys surfing against the waves leading to the same island called death. Nothing that we do can make it alright, not even confession; especially confession.

My ex was there with nothing but tears for comfort. I've always liked her. Too bad shit went down the drain. We both flushed out our toilets way too fast, but I guess I always had a thing for her still. I forgot to pull the toilet seat down after it was all over. She's carrying a little baby with no father around. The baby's got my nose. With my death, the baby's earned its excuse for becoming a total fuck up. My death is its alibi. The baby's screwed, so is my last name. I hope it gets hers.

My best friend carried my coffin, my shipment box, my expired milk carton. He placed me in it and carried me down there, where the dead await their hour. I'm going to miss you and I'd bet on my life all over again that you will miss me too. I'll make sure I come back and haunt you or something if I find out that it's possible. We'll just have to wait and see, smiled the invisible ghost.

I look ahead only to find a lot of unexpected guests. Friends I haven't spoken to in a decade, friends whom I've avoided, my favorite college professor. People whom I've unknowingly challenged into severe games of psych-poker, or sick poker for all that matters. If life is basically a forever long Olympics tournament where we live to challenge ourselves with all sorts of mind twisting games, then my game is solitaire, I have excelled at that, and the gold medal I was buried with is a not-so-living proof of that. It's a shame how I've lived my life avoiding those beautiful creatures and spent my days waiting for weekends to claim my rest from a dead-end job. Well, I did get my rest now, my unrestrained gratification. Touché!

I look further into the crowds to find my mother standing there all silent. She's either stoned, shocked, or still has no idea what's going on. We never got along, my mom and I. A manipulative bitch is how I've always referred to her in my journal and I'm taking this nickname to my grave, effectively instantly. She deserved much better of a son. I should have gone to war instead of my brother. He returned safe but I wouldn't mind having died there just to make her proud, to make her treat us the same way. I often wonder whether my brother feels the same way. My life was no rollercoaster ride. It was too normal to be true, too smooth to be noticed. My death was the exit I needed to make a stand for myself, to make them know that I woz there. I often told myself that if I had a shorter leg, if I was born blind, if I had brought a million grandchildren into my mother's world, if I died defending my country that I would be loved... but I guess I was wrong. She deserved a John. Kennedy, Lennon, Wayne... they all died for something. They would have made her proud. I've worked the same dead end job, never called, never cared, and been in and out of relationships forever and eventually was described on my death certificate as the remains of a dead single man. To my surprise, with my death I realized that I might just be missed.

It's ironic how people react when they're faced with the slight possibility of death, when everything will be no more, when it's just them and the Al Mighty, the utmost hour of regret and unheard redemption. You regret letting go of certain things. You regret caring less for things that really should have mattered. You regret not looking more into life, appreciating green sceneries. Not learning more about physics and biology in an attempt to praise the lord a little. And the list keeps growing and growing, getting longer and longer until it's long enough to go around my coffin twice and have a little knot tied at the corner to make it look sweet and pretty right before dust covers my final milk carton.

I've allowed myself to be a part of some people's lives and I'm hoping to have left some good memories there. A lot of people who deserved more appreciation are standing there all silent, remembering sweet days that we've shared hopefully. They're way more than the number of contacts with an assigned ring tone on my cell phone. For a dead man, I think I indulge people too far.

Some man pulls a lever now and its sucking my box into the ground. I can only see the clear and blue sky with eternity in its horizons, that I should have appreciated, that I will miss. They're shoveling dust into my hole now and it's become my final material wish to have that act last forever because after they're done you're technically and literally alone, and it's all downhill from there. The shoveling act that probably lasted for a while only lasts for five seconds from where I was lying. David Fincher must have been directing their moves...

And now it's all over. I can hear their footsteps walking away from me, my ending credits soundtrack. Their footsteps are the final sound I should hear right before worms start consuming my leftovers. Their footsteps leave me behind like I'm a dead man that technically I am, their footsteps that will forever echo in my grave. I cry out for them to comeback but I'm deep down there and it's too late for me to pray. Underground, I realized my true fears, my true self. Underground, I started rating things and giving out late, late priorities for people and things. Underground, everything started mattering, everything finally made sense. I'm not the hot shot cowboy I always thought I was. That mugger proved me wrong.

Underground, I found myself.


Alone, I was. Rocking in my chair; with my cool cigar and my Godfather stare. I raged in silence. I turned to Loran Speck's Onion and said, 'It's us against them, my tear leaking friend. Like it's always been.'

My Name is not important, not anymore, it isn't. Here, with no one else around to breathe all the extra purified air that I own, you can call me Spot if it makes you happy. It's funny how I've worked so hard all my life for my name to be a part of history, such as Ghandi's and Adolph Hitler's, and now the only thing that comes closest to calling my name out is a leafless tree that stands alone outside this country house that I've held myself in for two whole weeks. Right now, I'd like to think of myself as the only breather on the face of this planet. Right now, you can call me God's greatest creation. I am respiration, I am photosynthesis. For the hell of it, you can also call me Mother Nature, and today's my first day of total exile.

Two weeks of solitude; a long time to spend all by myself with no one else around to see me strike against all that's unfair and cruel about this world. A very, very long time for me to be banned out of work, to be casted out of the theater for a very long intermission, when the film was still playing inside; to be banished away from all that really ever mattered. They do not know what it takes to run a household, a company, a society. They have no idea what it takes to run a country. It takes more than just guts to stand your ground. They've overlooked all of that and finger-pointed all of my sins. It's always easier to point out the scapegoat and have it slaughtered; that's how you get its attention. That's also how you make a name for yourself. I opened my eyes one morning and embraced all of their fingers, pointing me out, pulling me down. They knew that once they give you the finger, that's when you feel violated and panic. They think you'd fall down to your knees and confess, 'I did it. I'm guilty. Help me out of this misery. Hear me confess those crimes you've made me see.', but it ain't happening. They know that once somebody points you out as the source of world famine or as Hitler's fifth grade teacher, that you'd definitely run for cover. And that is exactly what I did. Life's taught me that revenge is a sweet, sweet feeling; the sweetest of them all. I know I should just sit back and rock away in my chair while I plan my history altering comeback, but I just can't take it anymore. I will go back out there, right now, and clear my name. I will show them and their fingers that they've been wrong. I will stand my ground the way a king should.

I'll call my lawyer and best friend and ask him to drive back and pick me up before he reaches the city gates. He was never a fast driver. He always abided by the speed limits, never bent any rules. Maybe that's why he's my best friend. Maybe that's why he's my lawyer and I'm not his.

The phone line is out. It's funny how you wish you could call in the telephone phone company and ask them to send someone over to fix it. It's at times like this when you wish you've learned smoke signals. Email might be the answer, but I've left my laptop back home. I thought it'd take me two weeks to figure my next move out, but it didn't. It took me an hour of self-realization to see it all. Maybe I'll just walk back to the city. Yeah, that should do it. I'll plan while I walk.

The door wouldn't open. For some reason, the metal key just wouldn't turn, my current wheel of fortune's replica. Oh well, I'll just lay back and watch some bad television. CNN, Jazeera, BBC News, a soap opera that's been playing for the past fifty years where the characters never leave the show; not unless their dead or getting trialed in Belgium. If I watch long enough maybe they'd report something about me and my current intermission situation. The might even report something about a non-rotating key epidemic. If only life was that fair.

Cable's out. I can't get any channels. All I'm getting is an out of signal message and the ever amusing black and white dots that some very sick people, myself included , seem to enjoy. Stare long enough at that and you might as well get a personal birthday card from outer space. Some people claim they've intercepted visions from God through similar sick manic depressive broadcasts.

'Bring me news of my political demise, o holy one'

I stared and I stared, assumingly, for a very long time. My wristwatch and all of the other surrounding clocks, of which I have so many, seem to have fixated at 4 pm. Time moves slower than ever when your cable's out.

I walked towards the locked door, closer and closer. The closer I got the more certain I was that it just wouldn't open. It wouldn't let me out. Not me. I deserve this exile, so I've been told by the black and white dots.

The key wouldn't turn.

'Turn you arrogant piece of steel. Let me out. I have a city to rule'.

It just wouldn't turn.

Some idiot said once that in order to find a dog you have to think like a dog, and since I wasn't in the process of finding any dogs, am out of cable, and locked in for the night as it seems, I might as well go fix something to quench this hunger I have inside, this lust for revenge, this appetite for power over all, this gluttony for a hotdog.

I walked towards the kitchen and I turn the light switch on, but it wouldn't work. It's getting dark now in this exile I've chosen to lure myself into. Self-rebellion is what it must be. My head hurts. I need to wake up.

The fridge is empty. All there is that is edible is a very stale loaf of bread and an ice tray that the maid figured she'd fill up, thinking I'd overlook all the food elements she's chosen to steal. I sure will have her fired, once I get the phone to work.

From a far distance, I can still see those holy black and white dots, staring at me, staring with a mighty grin that reads Victory. I guess television is not all that anymore.

The headache's killing me. Good thing I found some coffee, enough to fix me a couple java shots, but I choose to wait until I've eaten. A man in my position can not risk getting stomach erosions, not when he's got enough worries to create an ulcer at the center of the earth.

'So what will it be? Ice or stale bread? Hmm… that's a tricky one'.

If I have the bread toasted, maybe it wouldn't taste so bad, maybe the heat would kill all the bacteria. If I believe in heat, maybe I wouldn't die of food poisoning.

'Oh great toaster, I salute you', I said, before I bowed humbly to the toaster.

I took the stinky bread out of the plastic bag and turned the toaster on.

Not surprisingly, it wouldn't work either. The dual red lights were on, but it just wouldn't heat up.

The revolution of domestic appliances. Everything's rebelling against me. This so felt like home, where my country men just wouldn't get how much effort I put to their comfort. Nothing comes easy, not even toast. The toaster sat there quietly with a piece of bread inside its slot, sitting there all stinking and wet.

'Heat it up goddamn it. Fear Me.', I said with what seemed to be a baseball bat in my hand.

It just wouldn't stop staring with its furious red eyes, all lit up with absolute rage, the ever silent kind of rage. This is what revenge is all about.

'I envy you, o wicked toaster. You should have told me that I would in the manual'.

I went back to my key and stared at it for a minute, commanding it, ruling over. It just wouldn't turn. I must have lost it.

With nothing to do, with nothing planned, nothing seems more viable and publicly approved of than to rock away in my chair. And so alone, I sat there, rocking away this exile, wishing I could go back to the time I was 19 and reconsider joining the army. I should have stayed in med school. I should have joined band camp. Politics ain't easy, especially when your own world's been planning their revolution against you for the past twenty years. They say that revenge is a dish best served cold, and no matter what the substance is, observe it for twenty years and sieze the desired cool effect with your life. That's what the ice age was all about. Twenty long years; that's how long it takes for everything that really matters to die.

Alone, I sat there, rocking away, watching the non-ticking grandfather clock that I've failed to wind back to life, pretty similar to my career at politics, I suppose, even more similar to my social life now. It's still 4 o'clock. It's like the earth stopped spinning, my earth only. In my earth, everything stopped turning, the clock, the keys. My world stands still, observing, waiting for my next move, while I sit there, rocking away, silently raging, evidently plotting. I lit up my fruit flavored aroma cigar and I just raged. This is as close as I get to smoke signals. This is my crying out for help. I pour some wine in my glass. They say that gin is the answer to everything, or so I've been fooled into believing. The anger, the Godfather stare, the cigar, the political stand, the beautiful, shiny wine glass, all those fool no one anymore. This is as low as it gets. This is when you wish you were that leafless, very old tree standing quietly in the backyard, waiting forever for its angel of death.

I turned to Loran Speck's Onion and said, 'It's us against them, my tear leaking friend, like it's always been.' And since staring has been the only sane thing for me to do, I did. I stared at the Onion and through the Onion. Stared long enough to see my reflection in the glass protecting the Onion from dust and evil spirits; long enough to see how low I have become of a human being. It's not about money or fame and fortune anymore. I already have those. It's power that I'm addicted to. It's power that keeps me there, on my throne, fooling them all.

I'm fooling everybody. Is this really me? Just another politician? Another scam? Another Onion, perhaps? A vegetable that one can peel its layer off only to find another layer wrapping it there, another face to peel off. One layer after the other you peel, until you realize that there's nothing inside and all that remains is salty water running down your face, your fake vegetable face.

'This?! This can't be me.'

That man I see in the Onion's reflection, he's living my life to the fullest. He's selling out my every last bit of human decency. Right now, I am filled with the intent to be lost. I have managed to fool my very self.

I look closer through and that raging maniac moves closer to stare back at me with the same Victory grin living there in the painting, breathing my very same breath. I drop the wine glass and so it shatters on the floor. I look down to see that man again grinning in every shattered piece of what once was a wine glass and now is my eternal hell. This is what the drunken refer to as a moment of clarity.

'I tried to set an example for my people, for my children. I've lost track of things', I say as I kneel down on my knees to stare back at the shattered community I have managed to create. 'I've lost track of myself'.

I look around to see my furniture watching me in hatred, blaming me for the things that I've done. Blaming me for killing the cowboy that my son believed he had for a father.

'I've tried'.

Now I know the reason behind me buying this country house. This is where the fog clears away. This exile is where the chains break loose.

'I can still fix it. I can be a better man.', I cried to the furniture. Begging for it to look away. That's when the black and white dots transformed into what's been commonly known as CNN, breaking the news of my money laundering schemes, and my evil world domination plans. If this was a movie, I'd ask for a refund for the ticket, but I can't. This is as real as it gets.

I'd bet the toaster's good and running now.

I got up in tears and scanned that Onion one last time.

'Oh I hate you.'

I threw my cigar on the Arabian carpet and watched it bring flames into my oblivion. It's a slow way to end it all. It's a spineless way to make it alright.

I crawled into my bedroom and opened my top drawer, liberating my potential savior, the Jesus of the masses. I got up to perform my final stare at myself. Into the mirror I stared as I pointed the gun to my head.

'Dear God, forgive me.'

I pulled the trigger, then the mirror got painted with beautiful shades of red, my favorite color.

The sole comfort in my death is knowing that my son will live in a world that got a little better with my demise.

I was a cowboy once, then I met my angels of death in the forms of domestic appliances. Things that I owned. Objects that I've ruled. I'll die now knowing that the key's probably turning, now that I can't get to it. I can hear the clocks ticking again, striking another number, marking my final hour. The hour where everything switches back to normal mode.

Alone, I lied on my back, facing my sins getting washed away by the blood stains on the mirror, grinning at me in Victory amidst beautiful shades from the past.

Quote This

October 25, 2006
I said after hearing Hassan el Asmar singing 'Olly Eih. Olly Ah.':
Howa da elle mebawaz el balad!

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