Friday, September 09, 2016
Down In Smoke
“Women! You can’t live with them. You can’t live without ‘em.”
“So true! They’re like popcorn.” I ruminated and took a slow drag. Smoke descended on the table like chemical mist.
“What do you mean?” He asked, “Women are tasty, ephemeral and frail?”
I hadn’t put any thought behind my words. They were the bastards of a threesome of beer cans.
“Precisely.” I crushed my cigarette and lit another.
Leaving in twelve hours, I had resigned myself to be molested on both sides of the great divide by people, mere people, who held absolute power over my destiny. I had to pass, with poised docility, the obnoxiousness of sunburnt, potbellied men whose armpits stunk down to seventh hell before the crossing, and then, twenty-four hours after the travail of travel, the scrutiny of uniformed inquisitors with swollen egos and a worldly empathy smaller than a pinhead.
“Ask not what you can do for your country but what your country can do for you,” I blurted, savoring the misquotation.
“Cheers, buddy. Kassak! May you go and return safely.”
“Damn this rotten place. It’s but a grotesque mutation of those who reign over it. JFK wasn’t more important than America. Was he?”
“No, but Hitler, the little shit, was bigger than Germany. Stalin's mustache thicker than Russia. Idi Amin fatter than all of Africa. And we, here, in this goddamned place, eat, sleep, fornicate and ultimately die beneath the feet of tyrants who are larger than life.” He gulped down his fifth or sixth. I lost count. “And you know what? All of the third-world dictators were propped into their chairs by the Americans.” He burped. “Yet, and here’s the irony, this is where you’re going. America!”
“For once, I wanna live the life of the blissfully ignorant. I don’t wanna give a shit anymore about Middle East politics or the massacre of Muslims in Myanmar. I might even get a dog and feed it better than these children of a lesser god. I’ll post pictures of Rex, that’s my Lab, lying in bed and sticking its tongue out on Facebook.
“You’ll get hundreds of Likes!”
“I’m gonna miss you.” I looked away and smoked.
“I’m gonna miss you too, man. And, I’ll join you as soon as I close shop here. We’ll start a Hummus joint together. We’ll call it Hummus Tartous.”
“Hey, we can hang a copper plaque on the wall and write in cursive that Hummus started in Tartous, spread to Mesopotamia, and eventually inundated the whole world. Americans like this sort of shit. And they’ll buy it, eh!”
“Millions of them support Trump and the others turned Bernie Sanders down. They’ll buy anything.”
“I think I’ll change into a white racist bigot once there. Trump is Great!”
“Yeah, damn it!”
I was glad the night had fallen. I avoided his eyes but when I looked, there was nothing to see except two dark pits in the infinite blackness of this place.