Monthly Archives: April 2013

Alcohol Below, Opium Above

 

“She’s asleep,” said Alex.

“It’s about time,” I replied. He walked over to the kitchen ever so gently, without making even the slightest sound and sat down across from me. I reached for the bottle of alcohol on the ground next to my ankle while keeping an eye on the closed door of my grandmother’s room.

“Pour me a light shot.” I handed him his glass and began to pour my own. We made eye contact as we took the first sip and I’m sure that neither of us was thinking that it was our first time drinking together. “It’s been a while,” he said and continued, “since I drank.”

“You haven’t changed a bit.”

“What do you mean?”

“You still look like you did ten years ago.”

“I always was a good looking kid!”

“Yeah, you were,” I laughed.

“Shh,” he whispered. “You don’t want to wake her up.”

“This is ridiculous,” I said, still loud and even made him press his finger to his lips. “I can’t even laugh? We’re just talking here. What is she gonna do?”

“She’ll kill you.”

“I doubt it,” I said, clearing my throat and taking a large sip.

“I’m pretty sure she has a shotgun under her bed!”

“Is she a good shot?”

“Oh, I’m positive she is.” We were both laughing now. Well, he was smiling and looking back and forth loosely at his drink and me.

“I’ve got to have a cigarette.”

“You can’t open the door,” he replied instantly, still carrying his smile, but with a distinct tone of voice, consumed by authority; dictating to me the law.

“You’ve got to be kidding me!” I replied.

“I only smoke cigars,” he said all of a sudden, raising his glass to me like a millionaire, or a prince; sitting up straight with wide shoulders and a head help up high.

“Do you have any?”

“No,” he replied, finishing his light shot while brushing his hair back with his hand.

“It’s nice to celebrate with cigars,” I said.

“Is that what people do over there?”

“Where?” I replied and added quickly, “In Canada?”

“Where else have you been?” he exclaimed, laughing silently.

“Well, no. A lot of people smoke grass.”

Alex, in one split moment, turned his head swiftly towards the hallway, stretching his arm in a panic with his index finger raised; straight like a pin but tall, with a long nail. “Put the glasses away,” he whispered, “and the bottle.” I looked over at the door for a moment and saw nothing. I turned to my drink. It was harsh as it lingered in the throat. I turned to look at my cigarettes on the counter as soon as I placed the drink back on the table. The glass was thin. For an instant, I had an urge to break it in my hand; somewhat similar to when some people come across cute babies, they feel like squeezing them. Lots of people may think it’s psychotic. I don’t know.

“She’s not awake,” I said confidently. “I figure her to be a deep sleeper.”

“Sasan, my dear cousin,” he said, to my surprise still smiling and added, “I used to live with her.”

“That’s right, but she’s an old woman. You start becoming a deep sleeper when you hit sixty.”

“Where’d you get that from?”

“I just made it up.”

“She sleeps with her eyes open. I mean really! Her eyes never close. She wears those silk eye patches from time to time. I remember once, I’d hung my clothes in her room. It was in the afternoon. Everybody was asleep and I crept inside her bedroom very casually; didn’t even look at her as I went over to the closet. Suddenly, like feeling someone’s motionless stare, I turned my head and found her lying on her side, facing me. Breathing with complete tranquility, her eyes were open, watching me. In the name of God, I couldn’t move! I was petrified and strangely couldn’t distinguish whether she was awake or dead!”

“Was she dead?” I muttered while pouring a drink for myself and stretching the bottle towards Alex. He refused and shook his hand calmly along with his head. I closed the bottle and smoothly returned it to the spot next to my ankle. “Alright, I’m going on the terrace,” I said in a hurry as I took a large sip.

“Try to be quiet,” he said.

 

Stray cats ruled over the city at that point, and many traffic lights continued to change purposelessly, or so it seemed. I took long and loving drags off the cigarette, staring at the trees and the dusty bushes by the gutters, where a dark stream of water made its way silently amongst the litter and the leaves. I couldn’t recognize the dust, or the smell that greeted me. For a moment I watched my cigarette burning, taking long breaths through my nose. It was heavy and somewhat thick. “Everything’s beginning to change,” I thought as I went back inside. Alex was lying on the ground with his hands locked together on his chest.

“You smoke fast,” he whispered. I knelt down to grab the bottle and stopped suddenly when I heard a thud and the sound of a glass breaking from upstairs. Even Alex sat up. “What was that?”

“I don’t know. Do you smell that?”

“Yeah,” said Alex.

It lingered all throughout the night, but we no longer heard a sound.

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Scattered Thoughts of a Nobody

Day One

 

Why do all the thoughts come rushing when I’m not where I’m supposed to be? Why do they like it when it’s crowded all around? Why can’t I commit everything by single specks to anything but this? Why am I no longer able to predict and pinpoint the moments? Everything seems to be falling where it’s needed. But smiles almost always carry wrinkles; tension of thought, waiting for the outcome. Some people carry on with the days, hand in hand while they suffer with their waiting. There are others that play the role, and pretend to know, making it harder to endure the pain. Empty handed, back and forth they crawl. People I know, people I love, and everyone it seems, is waiting for me to pack up and fade away my face. As odd as it may be, it all bears reality. The truth is that within, the path remains undisturbed. Blurry here and there with shades of doubt and fear at times, it still remains the ground familiar to my feet. To find another, to venture away entirely is not the simplest of tasks. The thought of it alone, much resembles the most natural fear of men.

I fall into pits when nothing tends to come. Rejected by papers and mocked by the pen, I greet the walls and fall asleep. Oh these walls! Such friendly walls that surround me! Sleep is the escape. Better yet, it is hope. What is man to do without it? Quite nerve racking is the experience of love. The whole scene within the relationship- man and woman, boy and girl- has repeated itself for me like a broken record, a dagger-like memory that comes and goes, jabbing the mind every so often. It is not for me. No, I have plenty daggers in the head and scars on the skin. I mustn’t show them anything. The pain is entirely mine.

What can one do when emptiness turns into liquid form and soaks into the skin and all around? Tell me, have you ever felt that sudden rush of rage that carries with it the invincibility of God? Yes, God. Only for a second it comes and it leaves when one starts to bleed. True shades commence, shadows appear and waves of smoke caress the air as I return to my human pain.

I come and go, greeting my neighbors with envy while gazing for a moment into their painless routines. I wouldn’t at all mind the cage. Let the hunger rise. Let the scream within shatter all that is said. Let regrets flood out all innocent yesterdays. Let the eyes of people seek the light and allow me laughter. Left alone to the sincere sound of seconds; let me hear nothing else. I wouldn’t at all mind.

Lonely visions understand well the delusion of need and the strolling back and forth. It isn’t pain. They understand well how open windows tend to befriend me and they fail to mention why it is so. Everything around moves slowly for a time, then fast and I drink to slow it down again. I drink for the time, and smoke for the drink and die for the smoke. I have friends. Distant are their eyes. They may worry every now and then and they may actually feel it when I cave. Nobody, almost nobody here, is willing to close their eyes. Nobody here tends to see the shapelessness of love and all else.

The hand of comfort is firm. Memories carry with them the scent of freedom. The skin trembles at times under the breeze of isolation. My papers would, if they could, burn themselves to save their lines from the weight of nonsense, but they are mine to kill. All reason fades within a moment of emotion and one becomes trapped and involved with things and people and crowded it becomes.

Let this liquid of hollow hope evaporate up and out of me. Let people’s hidden hate flood the cracks in sidewalks and street floors. Let it be seen and observed by strangers and tourists. Let it be caught like a disease by the young and the weak. Let us murder brutally the final few fragments of individuality left, and let us call it ‘art.’

If only the simplest of men could put an end to all waiting and burn the room and the chairs and the magazines. Perhaps then, religion would come to an end. I tend to believe only in what I see, and things that have enough courage to show themselves. That is all.

 

I’m in for a fall tonight. Nothing has come. So, much like always I shall greet the walls and fall asleep. Such friendly walls that surround me…

 

Day Two

 

Staying within a closed room, all alone, has nothing to do with solitude. It is merely an act of cleansing the moments with thought; watching time and the essence that drips and drifts so indifferently out of reach. I awaken to a pool of sweat and the sound of birds laughing. Oh, how I’ve come to understand the fear in their flight and the togetherness in their laughter. You can understand anything if you listen for a while. Many mornings, it seems as if I lift myself and rise merely to be greeted by a cup of coffee in the kitchen and the ashtray by the window. Many mornings, I question for a moment, where I am and where to go. Many mornings the birds don’t laugh, but there is always the sound of something.

The chain snaps with the ringing of the phone or the knocking at the door or the dropping of a star. Lousy mistakes and thoughtless fools! No one is to blame for the lack of rain or the beauty being forced to hide. I blame myself for the taste of the food I cannot cook. Slowly I shall turn into an egg and scramble my brain. Yellow I am.

Alcohol sings, and the echo is the intoxication when the stomach is empty. The rest is all a thought of wanting to be drunk. Yes, friend, fool, my love, I think I want to be.

Someone, anyone, you, me, could see the idiotic shadows, walking and talking, their overcoats hanging by their knees and the smoke rising from their mouths and dying. We can laugh, and stare and laugh again and leave them to their path. I don’t mean to mock. Let us just laugh for the sake of laughing. They say it helps to house a healthy heart. They say it prolongs the life. They say a whole lot of other things as well. I would love to meet them, only to show them how well I can laugh.

 

‘Get in the room and shut the door. Listen. Breathe gently and listen. Leave the window open and exhale entirely everything. You can feel the hate, I know. It is useless now. Remember the mountains, remember your friends. Cry, if only it comforts the air. You can see them still, be with them, speak, smile and let it repeat itself. Forget your notebook for now. Travel back to the serene sands of the sound of silence and discover your footsteps. Remind yourself of the holes of hunger, the passion of pain and say, “This is nothing.” Think with patience. Take breaths with care. Listen. Can you hear them talking? Don’t worry. It will come. Think about that distant balcony; the twenty first floor’s scent of solitude, the grasp of acceptance. You can resurrect the very last handshake, the final hug and all the smiles. What about the birds? Have you forgotten them? Remember the thieving sparrows, the cocky robins and the pairs of crows. Dance again to the music from every room. Invite the intoxication with open arms. Gently squeeze the hand of comfort, before letting go. Taste the food. Smell the rain. Laugh once again at past jokes. Cry if it helps. You don’t need to sleep. You don’t need a smoke. All you need is to breathe. Let it all come to you, as slowly as it may. Tiresome it is, yet this is where you are. Welcome it as you breathe. Come to terms with the nothingness within. Accept the silence of your phone. Kill all expectations. Think and breathe and listen. Can you hear the love? You must hear it before you die.’

 

 

Day Three

 

            This wavy city rises and falls, and sways in an abundance of feet, and eyes and ears. The transformation of roads and buildings, however slow, takes place at a constant level. It lives without being spotted by the majority of the mass. At times the streets tend to narrow down any possibility of flight. Dirt roads and dirt walls remain satisfied with slow decay. It is here, where the most miniature of all stars shines along with the sun, and the puniest speck of any emotion bears the weight of absolute truth; even though, there exists no such thing. My country; oh familiar land of scales and time, I adore you. You never seem to repeat yourself. Maybe I’m wrong. That’s just how I see it. It comes to me; all the changes in extended waves of colors. Oh uneven sands and mountains under the sun! I probably come from some village. The root I mean. Most likely from the north…a breed of a violent pride with veins housed by Turkish blood; I remain underneath a question mark as it rains. Sheltered by ignorance, I am usually calm. Carelessness cannot be acted out.

The streets take me to their crowded refuge. It happens everywhere, from Tehran to Isfahan and the faces come and go, some of which appear to have always been there. I feel the same sometimes. It’s too difficult to get into it with words. It must be lived and not heard. So why bother?

Plenty nights I’ve spent, consuming the hours early in the evening, with purposeless walks, empty of any destination; nobody calling me, nobody sitting alone waiting with worry and wanting. I walk; better yet, I drift for hours on end and return home. Oh the people I see! Inspiration arouses even the laziest of men. Women are usually our inspirations. I feel this now and I am no longer inspired by anything. I am driven towards it. Nothing is aroused anymore. A whole lot was born, and breathes and just grows. At one point, I came to believe that everything revolves due to the genuine love which exists, no matter how scarce it may be. I remember believing, but I’m not so sure anymore. Whatever it is, I think it’s a nice thought.

I would never harm the outside world. Maybe I have, but never intentionally. It has become my sanctuary. It is a haven with a horizon stretched far beyond routine; sidewalks and alleys, completely distant to the hands of predictive thoughts. These sidewalks resemble a university for some. Crowded they become at times. Dreaded by a minority, the streets keep living, dictating the direction of the current of change.

This is not a story.

I wake up and there is a crow sitting on the windowsill, staring at me. Our acquaintance doesn’t last very long. As I begin to roll over slightly, I hear its wings followed by its laughter. The sun is setting and I have no recollection of falling asleep. I’m not tired or drowsy with puffy eyes and a headache. There isn’t even the need to wash my face with cold water. I sit down in the kitchen with a cigarette, staring blankly at the remains of the night before. The smoke sits well upon diluted thoughts. Weakened by habit, I stare blankly at everything before getting up and deciding to go out.

Welcomed by the air, I enter the noise and the pollution. Strangely enough, I’ve left the house in search of some place to sit down and someone to stare at; some place simple and somebody not so much. Does it fit into sense? I’m in need of a face that will mark the hours and help me remember this day. Everyday I need a new pair of eyes and a voice. Everyday I go out, seeking desperately another personality, or just a summarized and compressed copy of a stranger’s soul out on the street.

Lots of people look the same and act alike. The women here are beautiful. It takes a while to stumble upon the fact, but once you do, you just keep falling. This is true, because they’re forced to be. I figured it out and I know deep down inside that it most probably isn’t what it is.

I’m one for the winter and frozen sidewalks and steaming cups of coffee. I’m one for the silence known to be uncomfortable. I’m one for writing and doing nothing whether it is a Sunday or not. I’m one for walking, clueless, from home to home and curb to curb. I’m a fan of girls who pour chaos into a soul every now and then. I’m one for the carelessness that belongs to no place and no one. I’m one for moments left alone and I also need the streets.

 

When he sits down, he knows.

When he gets up, he forgets.

“Got to keep moving” is what he thinks.

In and out he strives, and struggles back and forth.

Never constant are his eyes,

Never seeking the stillness lost,

He hovers into hallucinations.

The day begs of him to read,

The night takes the form of a bottle or a woman,

And much later on he falls asleep inside his ashtray.

Moving on,

Hand in hand with habit,

Weakened by the rivers on his window,

Faces drift along,

And smiles are thrown at him from time to time,

And his country remains the place that he carries in his bag,

And “got to keep moving” is what he thinks.

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City With No Walls

I could hear him calling me in the dark, whispering my name. I was lying on my side on the ground and there was a slight pain in my throat. He kept calling me but for about a minute or two I said nothing.

“Bobby? Wake up. Hey Bobby, you awake?”

“What?”

“Are you awake?”

“I was in the middle of something.”

“You’re still asleep. Wake up Bobby.”

“I’m awake. What do you want?”

“I’m sorry.”

“What is it Sean?”

“I heard something. I just remembered I forgot to lock the top lock.”

“Oh yeah, don’t worry about it.”

“Bobby please, I have to work tomorrow. I can’t sleep.”

“There’s nobody there. It’s late. Just go to sleep.”

“Please Bobby. Please go and lock the door. I know I heard something.”

“Alright Sean, take it easy,” I said, sitting up slowly and giving him a look of disgust that I knew he wouldn’t see in all that darkness.

“Thank you.”

I got up and left the room grunting and clearing my throat and pretending to yawn. It was raining out, I think. Maybe it had stopped. I don’t quite remember. It was windy as always and I knew all too well that wind can sound almost like anything. I stood in front of the door and before looking through the peephole I kicked Sean’s shoes out of my way. “Thought you heard something huh?”

It wasn’t long before I heard something too. Right when I’d put my hand on the lock, I heard something like a whimper. It was so low of a cry that I had to place my ear against the door just to make sure it was there. I looked through the peephole again but couldn’t see anything except for the door across the hall. I couldn’t help but wonder how the hell it was that Sean had heard this silent sob from inside our room with the door closed and the wind constantly howling. I guess his ears were just as sharp as my eyes, maybe even sharper.

I opened the door and saw this girl sitting in the hallway with her head in between her knees and her hands in her hair, which at that point resembled a light brown waterfall with narrow streaks of gold. I cleared my throat and she jumped up nervously and it was then that I recognized her.

“Jane? What’s going on?”

“I-I’ve been trying to call Mary, b-b-but…”

“She isn’t home. What’s wrong Jane?”

“I’ve b-been…”

“Come inside. Come inside,” I said, coming out into the hallway and putting my arm around her. She was shaking like crazy and her clothes were wet. The poor girl was all over the place. I led her inside and locked the door. “What’s wrong? Are you okay?” It was a stupid question to ask once I’d already seen her. “Forget it,” I said. “Come sit down.”

“Where’s Mary?”

“She’s staying at Paul’s house tonight,” I said and my answer seemed to trigger a lot more tears to flow and she let out a desperate moan. I took her over to the sofa and she dropped herself like a corpse that cried and whose face would shake uncontrollably. I heard the creaking of Sean’s bed and knew that he was getting up. “Listen; just sit tight for a sec.”

He was sitting up in bed when I walked into the room. “What happened? What’s Jane doing here?”

“Yeah, listen, don’t worry about it. I found her in the hallway. Don’t worry about it, alright?”

“What the hell are you talking about? What do you mean ‘don’t worry?’ What’s wrong with her?”

“I don’t know. Like I said, don’t worry about it. I’m gonna talk to her.”

“I still…”

“Listen; just try to get some sleep. She’s breaking down like crazy.”

Sean gave me a look that was empty of a whole lot of things. I disregarded his confusion and went over to the corner of the room and grabbed my cigarettes off the table. “She was in the hallway?”

“Yeah, I’m gonna talk to her just now and see what’s going on,” I said as I went back towards the door.

“I knew I heard something.”

 

“Please don’t turn the light on,” she said. It seemed that her throat had cleared up a bit.

“Okay, I won’t.” I sat down across from her on the next sofa. Her eyes were closed and her lips were dry and trembling. Her brown complexion had turned abnormally white. I grabbed a blanket that almost always sat idle on the sofa and placed it gently on top of her in a way that only her neck and head could be seen. “Your clothes are wet. I was gonna give you some of Mary’s clothes but her door is locked. She locks it whenever she leaves the house. I can give you some of mine if you like.”

“I’ll be fine.”

I sat back down again and stared at her attentively. She opened her eyes for a moment and closed them again once she knew where I was. The living room didn’t possess the same darkness. “Is it still raining out?” she opened her eyes again and closed them and this time she did it much quicker than before. “It’s probably still raining,” I said, cursing myself and my stupid questions. Suddenly I remembered the thought I was wrapped in before all of this had occurred; before Sean had started to call my name. I was thinking about a city with no walls; better yet a place that certain words were never created, certain emotions never came to be. I was wondering whether there is a place out there with no attachments, where you carry nothing but yourself. I don’t know how this thought suddenly came rushing back to me, but I tried to brush it away back where it’d come from.

“Do you have a cigarette?”

“Of course, I was gonna go have one soon enough.”

“Go where?” she asked.

“The balcony,” I said. “We can’t smoke in the house. You don’t mind do you?” She said nothing and just pushed the blanket away and it fell onto the floor and she got up. Her eyes were open now and she followed me out onto the balcony. I gave her a cigarette and held my lighter out towards her and quickly after I lit my own. I only had four cigarettes left. I remember this precisely because four is my favorite number and I always remember when I have four of anything, or anything with four in it.

Jane smoked her cigarette like any other true girl of innocence. I couldn’t stop staring at her. She seemed calm now, even if just a little bit. But it started again. Tears began to burst. She threw her half smoked cigarette off the balcony. Her hands trembled like twigs in the spring when storms bring about winds of awakening, and her neck seemed as if it no longer could bear the weight.

“Oh Jane, what’s wrong?” I quickly grabbed a small stool from behind me and made her sit down. It was better to talk, or cry or scream on the balcony with the wind. She said nothing and only covered her face with her tiny trembling hands. I hesitated but soon enough my hand was moving gently up and down her back.

“Don’t. P-Please don’t Bobby.” My hand fell idle once again as I stared down at her.

“I’m sorry.”

“It’s not your fault.”

“Are you cold?”

“No.”

“Do you want a drink?”

“Is there any liquor?” she said as she looked up at me. Damn was she beautiful!

“I think so.”

I opened up every cupboard in the kitchen but couldn’t find anything. I hurriedly made my way to the storage room and was greeted by a bunch of shoes, rows of records, boxes and boxes of junk and a bottle of Brandy. It was half full. Standing there, I was reading the label on the bottle when I heard it again. I could feel my hands trembling and I felt as if I’d swallowed a brick. She was crying again when I went back onto the balcony. I poured her a drink and she downed it. I gave her a cigarette and her crying stopped.

“Jane?”

“Yes…”

“Do you want to talk about it?”

“About what?” she said.

“Is there anything you want to talk about?”

“Nothing important,” she said and closed her eyes.

I don’t remember what time it was. The wind was ferocious still, and the Brandy seemed to sit well on the brick in my throat. It wasn’t me at all. It was the taste that carries courage. It was that one glass that made me say, “Sweetheart, he doesn’t deserve you.”

 

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