Monday, January 7, 2008

Those Aren't Silhouettes, They Are Shadows

If I had the whiskey, I wouldn't need the tea. Isn't that what duty-free was created for? I am falling for rug shops in basements and getting robbed around every corner. My best move is to be to push the latch in on this Moroccan door and listen for the calls to prayer, wait for the sun to come up in the morning. The bread is hard and the soup cold. The only thing eatable is this roasted chicken and i'll the coke bottles found in the pharmacy. The medicine man tried to make me buy oil by rubbing it on my temples but I just pointed to the bucket of melted ice and held up two fingers. I'm sure I payed for the oil too. I cut my hand on the cap of the first one. No opener, just the edge of a windowsill and a hard palm. Any other hotel in the world would have kicked me out for the chip I left, but this one adds to the place. Mis-matched sheets and furniture. One light bulb over a stained sink. I wouldn't even call it a hotel if I had the choice. I cant remember any ones name. It doesn't matter. All they bang on about is my money. My best move is to sit here in the dark and wait for the sun to come up over the morning. I'd pack my things but the pen and paper is all I pulled out of my sack all day. My lonely light bulb is making me see silhouettes and the the lock rattles with every breath I take. The key is to keep my hood up and stay under these covers. My wallet stays in my jeans and my jeans stay on my body. They both dig into my hip. I'll loosen my belt and top button but I'll stay zipped up. My jeans get a fresh coat of blood on them each time I remember to wipe off my palm. The pillow gets its fair share too. I'll buy bandages in Spain tomorrow. Ah, Spain tomorrow. For now, I'll lay here, nursing my leaking hand, waiting for sun to come up in the morning.

I pray along with each call even though they make me jump. The sound is shouted out sinister. I turn my head. Mecca is bound to be just out my window. I don't ever get much past, "Dear, oh dear God -" before I dose back off. I guess it is hard for him to give an answer. I wonder if I should have been in church. Any church, old ladies and gospel hymns, death and redemption, a pass of the plate, even if I don't believe it. Maybe then I wouldn't be where I am now. Maybe I'd be home or in southern baptist schools like my brothers. Following father after grandfather. But tradition's not in my blood. Maybe I'd be with someone. Probably the green eyes with the curls. But I have always been better alone. What is it the old men always tell you in donut shops Easter morning? "Women are fine but what you need is adventure." I choke down warm coke and feel my mouth rot. Not only from sugar but from smoke. I miss the water that strengthens teeth. Cupping from my dripping sink only taunts my raw mouth and chapped lips. Still somehow digging out my toothbrush seems like far too much work. It's only six hours til sunrise as is and I've already spent eight here. No time for anything. The call to prayer will be shouted again violently any second now, as soon as I forget to brace myself for it. I'd time it but the light on my watch won't stay on long enough, and moving an inch under these sheets just embraces the cold. They threaten to freeze me to bleeding death. My only chance is to curl up here, try not to make a sound, and wait for the sun coming up in the morning.

I ask my self what Tangier was built on. European traders and horse riding bandits are all that come to mind. They now come to stand, blacking out the light from my persevering bulb, daring me to make my move. I weakly shout out, "Where are all your horses?" My breath only comes in half way and I hold onto it as long as I can before letting it out. The bandits want it but I have to give them as little as I can. I am running out of cash. I don't live in Africa and two weeks is long enough to be homeless. Why did I stretch it to four? I will bolt on the fastest ferry out as soon as the sun comes. If the door is locked I'll scream til it's broke open. If the guides are outside waiting with stories of their children and their promises of trips up the mountain I will jog down the the steep hill to the dirty pier. If they follow I will throw money at them as I have done at everything here. Swindlers in their cafe, the poisoners in the basement rug shops, the crooked guides with their walking sticks and questions; when I leave they will all get a piece of me. They can take it. They're already bleeding me dry. And all I want is off of this continent. But I know I have to fight that alone. Their silhouettes stand in front of the light, waiting for me to come, but the only fair way out is to sit here and watch the sun come up into this morning.


Jason said...

I love this story.

John said...

This painted a picture for me.

carrie g said...

"I weakly shout out, "Where are all your horses?" My breath only comes in half way and I hold onto it as long as I can before letting it out."

i love this.

loveOliver said...

080110 11:37 "Those Aren't Silhouettes, They Are Shadows"
Similar issue as found in "Three Dead Boys," I can't seem to get into the story until halfway 'til the end. It needs to start with the story, give me a sense of place, then move along with the action.
I found the perspective interesting and very American with an inherent misunderstanding of Moroccan market-style culture - aggressive salesman, high prices, and seemingly no place to hide. Not to be taken offensively, a good story teller accepts s/he has limited understanding of all things human and merely attempts to tell their story as best they see fit.
I was excited about the character leaving in such a hurry, but it seemed too quick to begin and end. It would help to introduce some sort of foreshadowing to lead to reader in the write path.

Anonymous said...

loved it, absolutely loved it.