I'm sleepless in Beirut.
Lumière put out his cigarette.
"Should I turn off the music iza 3am tisma3e taba3ik? Ana feyit shower."
I can hear the water running and shampoo bottle lid popping. I occupy half the space of the sofa with my incorrect lotus position. And then I hear humming…who could guess that it's only been eight days?
Formalities, details, background checks, we skipped all that and got to the good part.
"If I park here, I'll have to wake up at 09:00 to pay the parking fee."
"Eh, bass, I wasn't sure…"
"That's why I was late, I was collecting my things."
Just to clarify, the woooo is the good part. It's a very good part. The sound of him brushing his teeth, the sticky kisses on the cheek, the bottle of Balkis orange juice I bought last night in his fridge, those too are included. That damn bottle of juice…
After dinner and the walking off of dinner around Hamra, in circles, in dizzying circles, I asked him whether I could spend the night at his place.
"Akid. You'll follow me?"
"Khallas, we'll just meet at your place."
"If you're hungry, get something now, I have nothing at home."
We got into our cars. On my way, I felt thirsty, so I decided to pass by MEDCO and buy some orange juice. I couldn't find my car keys (he's staring at me now as I type), I was only going in for a minute, so I locked the other three doors and ran inside. Nasee7a mini? Orange juice kills thirst and wets the anxious tongue that has begun to pulsate with the anticipation of a first kiss.
"Merci. Bonne soirée."
I pulled on the door handle of my car. Thuk. Nothing. The door doesn't budge. Somehow, the fact that the lock key locks all the four doors escaped me. Some kind of wonderful retarded 02:30:00 logic.
"Laaaa2! Shoo 7mara!"
The staff approached me to ask what was wrong. Embarrassed, but without a better alternative, I told them that I had locked myself out of the car.
"Bi baiti. W il moufta7 el beit bi sayara."
"Ma3ndik 7adan bil beit?"
Luckily, I had managed to memorize Lumière's phone number and asked for the man's phone to call him. Yes, my phone too was in the car.
"Just come to MEDCO. I'll tell you when you get here."
He arrived within minutes.
"You should have seen how fast I was driving!"
"I'm sorry, I was too embarrassed to tell you over the phone…"
I explained what had happened with bites on the lip and guilty little girl glances. The only solution I could think of was to break the window. It wouldn't be the first time I'd file for that particular insurance claim…
Fortunately, even a contemporary damsel in distress is able to evoke the male hero. The teller had an idea. He made a phone call to someone who knew someone who knew someone who would know what to do.
While we were lingering beneath the white neon lights of the station, a white Tiida pulled over. Two oober-suspicious looking men climbed out, looked our way, exchanged a couple of comments that smelled of mockery and walked to the back of their car. From the trunk, they pulled out a metal pipe with a hooked end and started to move towards us.
"Moukhabarat", muttered Lumière under his breath.
The dude with a shaved head and hoody pulled out a set of keys from his pocket with his good hand – the other one was bandaged.
"Mara fete7 el Chevy fi", he proudly showed off a neat looking key in the light.
It didn't work and I let out a sigh of relief. I didn't want no multi-purpose key opening my car!
It had to be the pipe. For the next half-hour my car was rammed and fisted until it finally succumbed. No details of how-to-break-into-a-car will be posted here. Sincerest apologies.
Contrary to the urban myth, and thanks to my shorts, they wouldn't take any money. Must have been nice to do something good for a change. Jokes aside, I owe these guys! Jokes aside, I would not want to cross paths with them again because as soon as their heads had popped out, I had a flashback from the movie "Eastern Promises".
Finally, we went back to his place. It felt a little like walking into a movie set for a second rehearsal. He sat down in the same chair and I sat down on the same sofa, but the quality of the space between us had changed. There was too much of it between us. The mutual awareness of something special knitting itself around us weaved us in with it, like a wool sweater tumbling and sighing in hot water for a week.
Beneath the warm covers and the warmth collecting in the pocket of air between neck and shoulder blade, we sunk into a deep sleep ignorant of the coming morning that was to become an Achilles' heel.