I'm sleepless in Dictateur.
Some time after midday, the urge grew so strong that I thought I was having a panic attack. I didn't even need to close my eyes, all it took was a prolonged gaze away from the day's work to see the two of us tempting fire, to feel it lick my sore neck, wring me free from that suffocating chair and send blood down my sleeping limbs. I bit my lip to keep it from betraying me in this cold interior. I would have to wait it through.
"What time do you finish?"
As the clock struck leave, I was out of there like a wrong number and in and between the taillights like a criminal, polluting the neighbourhoods with the trashiest, loudest songs I kept for such breaches.
In his driveway, it was dead silent. He buzzed me through and came out to meet me.
"Do you like it here better?"
"More than before."
It looked like it had been modeled after him. The lighting was more dramatic and the effect reminded me of the pair of lions that stood at the gates of ancient cities, intimidating the aimless wanderers, warning them to steer clear. But it stood alone and him beside me.
"Let's have dinner. I'm starving."
I was late, again, but my lack of punctuality would soon be forgotten. We carried the plates of sliced avocado, turkey sausage, thin leaves of batarekh and few pieces of fatayerto the table.
"I am having vodka. I don't know why I am so stressed today. What can I get you?"
I lingered for a moment, never having been one to go for strong drinks, but there was no wine, only red, and I didn't need my teeth grinning scarlet.
"Just add some ice and orange juice."
I gave it a taste only to choke on it. He glanced at me with a look of surprise reserved for little kids caught doing grown up things. At that particular moment, I felt the age gap stretch like an accordion – the resurfacing of delicate mathematics is inevitable.
It was quiet, too contained. He asked me about the pronounced veins on either side of his forehead, "This has never happened before, what do you think it is?"
And instead of assigning it to stress and fatigue, I let slip the possibility that it was something that could pressure him for time, that it could ignite a state of emergency to sign off a deal before he…
"I'm leaving after tomorrow. For a few weeks."
Seductive Europe, once again, will devour yet another. This affair of take aways and leftovers was beginning to seem deliberate - a diet imposed, a rationing miscalculated, a full course meal to dream of. Will a moment ever shift into linger?
His imminent departure, though earlier than expected, would serve as a conveniently raised rug under which we could sweep the bout of foolishness that was about to and bound to happen.
We went downstairs to "watch a movie". I had never been so deep in his lair; the difference between the private and public halves of the house was quite tangible. The walls above spoke of majesty, depth and sophistication, yet the guts below were digesting loneliness in front of a large TV screen that lit the barren walls with ghostly light. There were hints of the upper floor, hints of good intentions, but it was easy to tell that the supposed family room had not witnessed much joy or laughter since its journey from paper to four walls.
There was not much to choose from in his DVD collection, so I indulged in metaphor for backdrop: a BBC documentary on wild nature.
Fast forward. Pause. A still of mountain goats wrestling.Play. The TV cast my shadow large over him.
"Look at me. Look at me."
They were both strong, two throbbing masses in tight lock, both trying to break free from the other to launch a final blow.
Play speed x0.5. A close-up of muscles growing, the skin taut around them and the ribcage holding everything in from total explosion with all its might.
The tall redwood trees crashed into the grass. It was loud,beautiful and tragic. The last chapter of the Kavinskychronicles was nearing full punctuation. I left him be in the empty parcel spotted with stumped limbs and tree trunks. Though it's hard to admit, I left him be not without limping.