Originally published in Gate37
Length: 4 pages.
“Butter knife, what a life, anyway, I’m building y’all a clock, stop. What am I? Hemingway?”
What a rip off, he thought. Never able to come up with his own lines, his own rhymes, but she had such fine thighs. With a gap. Just like he adored them. Was it over already? He couldn’t tell. She had been dancing all night like a wild girl in trance. He was barely moving his arms so she wouldn’t smell his armpit sweat. And the music so swell. And that roaring sound. She had a carnivore smile like a pretty dinosaur. She was lean, her eyes were green. And then a scream: “Get up! I need to clean up your room!”
But he was still floating. Was it her moon-like face or the housekeeper’s tight butt? His eyes finally opened. The room became brighter. The roaring sound louder. The housekeeper’s butt bigger. He slowly sat up, resting on the edge of the bed, mentally measuring the room temperature. No slippers. He stretched his neck, closed his eyes again. His hand reached out to the night table and grabbed a remote. A click. Music. Erik Satie on the piano. And he was now in the bathroom. His fingers on his cheekbones. Why can’t they be higher? But the rest was perfect. No pimples. Divine skin. Defined jaw line. A handful of hair. Sleek and reeking of smoke. And green eyes, just like her eyes.
The steam quickly took over. He just loved to stand still there. Thoughts and songs and faces and places. And sometimes a boner. What was her name? It was in London in the early 2000s. He did her in a public bathroom. Teenage vomit on the floor. What was her name? He had just gotten out of a long relationship. She was French. And thick. And she loved the Ramones. They jumped in a cab and went back to his home. What was her name? The water was dripping on his lips. Breathe in. Breathe out. Faster. Faster. What was her name? Who gives a fuck about her name! Breathe in. Breathe out. Faster. Faster. And for a few seconds the world was gone. No more light. No more sound. Just a simple touch.
He opened his eyes. Everything was back in order. The sound of the water. The steam in the mirror. And his heartbeat. And with the sole of his foot he brushed his cum down the drain. He remembered her name.
His loft had been vacated. He was now alone. The smell of cleaning products gave it an air of freshness, much like the freshness he felt getting out of the shower. He stood tall on the 50th floor of Sama Beirut. Glass walls everywhere. A 360 degree view of the sea, Ashrafieh and other less familiar parts of Beirut. The shiny concrete floor — heavily heated all year long — always seemed moist. The high ceiling and roominess made the place feel like constant cold weather. Even when the sun was beaming through the walls and onto his toned body, reflecting every line of every carefully sculpted muscle.
He lounged naked on a lonely Charlotte Perriand chaise-longue in his favorite corner facing the Mediterranean sea. There was something clinical about his posture. Like being at the mercy of a callous dentist. But there was never anyone around. And he loved it. Nothing but the numb feeling of floating in the skies. Above everything and everyone. Above the miserable lives of everyone. Above the pathetic weaknesses of everyone. Above the petty little businesses of everyone. He had worked hard all his life for this. To just be here. Envied by everyone. Detached from everyone.
Most of his time at home was spent on that chair. Like a tiny bubble in a vast wide-open space. It made him feel like an astronaut in exile. An out-of-body experience. Being alive in the quietness of death. And it was all barely furnished. Far on the other side, a dark grey Versace sofa facing a Noguchi coffee table. And nothing else. Not even a single carpet. A never-ending empty land with an indoor horizon. And then a kitchen that felt like a morgue. Stainless steel everything and grey marble tables. And white cupboards for necessary light. Terrified plants were scattered around, always alone and out of place. Trying to call out to each other, but the sound was lost in space. Like a piece of earth brought to another planet. Artificial air, artificial breath, artificial life.
The bedroom was the only area that felt inhabited. Separated by fake grey walls, there was a certain glow to it. A giant oval bed, Shaquille O’Neil size. And mirrors everywhere. Porn windows everywhere. On the wall behind the bed: missionary man. On the right side of the bed: doggy style. A giant one on the ceiling: ride, cowgirl. The mood was set by nonstop Fashion TV on a 65’’ Panasonic plasma screen. On mute. And a mini bar — Smirnoff raspberry, Perrier. Lime. And the unnecessary rest.
The warm leather creaked under his skin as he got up. A slow nonchalant walk towards the kitchen. He opened the fridge. Diet Cokes and red fruits. Strawberries. Raspberries. Pomegranate. Sometimes a banana or two. The housekeeper had left fresh grapefruit juice that he carefully poured into a wine glass. He was a slow drinker. Unhurriedly letting each sip get comfortable with his tongue. Methodically twisting it so the sour taste reaches the back of his mouth. The edge of his throat. Dangerously flirting with suffocation.
It was the first day of autumn. He looked down and realized he was still naked. Nature had been so generous to him. He smiled. It was already 1p.m. He decided to write for the next seven hours. The new novel he’d been working on was going to be another hit. Another love story. Another page-turner. Common people will be devouring it in the subway. On the train. In taxis. On lunch breaks. For Christmas. At the office. At bedtime. For birthdays. Twelve languages. On vacation. All over the world. He was remarkable at it. Digging deep into common people’s fears, common people’s desires, common people’s needs. Never taking any of them seriously. Not anymore. He mocked them. Spurned them. He pitied his characters — just like he pitied common people. He never related to any of them, he knew that common people did. Selling them a dream that wasn’t his own. He was good at it. He also knew how to sell himself: a friendly social mask, spurious smiles thrown around, telling women what they wanted to hear, faking interest in their boring lives. He mastered a variety of handshakes, voice tones, head tilts, eye squints. And a pout, well practiced and gorgeous, causing even mirrors to blush. His mind was constantly — almost literally — split in two: how he really felt, how the mask behaved.
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