Nothing But Material


…So I’m sitting in this almost-full low-ceiling coffee shop. It’s the coffee shop that every city has; where all the artsy, pushover, nihilistic people hang out, trying as much as they can to take from a hippie bohemian movement they cannot understand anything of. Each of them thinking their cup of coffee is the best coffee anyone can ever have, desperately hoping for some camera to drive by and shoot them so that their image would be immortalized in a TV special cover story about the coffee shop that harbors much of the youthful talent. All of them wearing sandals, long necklaces, colorful garments: the graphic designer creating the next best selling graphic novel about Lebanese society and the discontents of its youth; the journalist who hopes on exposing the next scandal that may or may not spark a civil war; the countless people reading a book, placing it on their lap, hoping that someone would ask them about the text or just any other question, hoping to get laid tonight; the bearded philosopher with large glasses scribbling sideways on his copybook, writing in a coded language of his own creation to look extra eccentric. And all of them act as if they do not give a shit about money, but what they are all doing is wishing that their work of art would be considered the next can of Campbell soup. They will seize the one chance they will get to turn fleeting thoughts into gold.

I’m just sitting here waiting for him to come, for us to go out and flee whatever reminds us of this fake Lebanese society.

A hand grazes my shoulder and I look sideways. A guy wearing a hat looks at me.

“Hi,” he mumbles, barely articulating his words. A rough beard spreads across his face like a rug. I look away and say hi. On the inside I’m cursing my boyfriend for being so late and allowing that Lebanese cocksucker to talk to me and sit on the chair next to mine.

“My name is AJ.” His lips barely apart from each other, his eyes almost closed. I look at him from top to bottom. Very skinny legs are covered with tight jeans that shape out his balls. A belt with shiny buttons holds his pants to his waist, doing the job instead of his nonexistent ass. He wears a black shirt on his torso, folding its sleeves up to his elbow and undoing the first two buttons.

“AJ?” I ask, “like that Backstreet Boys singer?” Inside I laugh my heart out.

“I don’t know,” he seems a little thrown back, his words suddenly sharp and accentuated. “I’m actually called Sherif Jaroudy.” I laugh more on the inside but keep a blank face on the outside. “Dude, I’m so stoned.” His voice mumbles suddenly and I couldn’t care less. I nod.

“I’m so stoned, like to the point when you feel your eyes are gonna explode.” I nod

“Okay,” I say again. Right now wondering where the fuck my boyfriend is.

“Do you want me to get you anything?” he moves forward and looks me right in the eyes, so close his hat eclipses the light bulbs on the ceiling.

“No, I’m fine.”  I pull away. The Lebanese cocksucker, AJ, Sherif Jaroudy, he goes and orders something. That stoned poser. And finally my boyfriend comes. I don’t let him come inside the coffee shop. I quickly get my bag and leave that stoned cocksucker alone.

“Where were you?” I walk in front of him, expressing my anger.

“I got held up by a parade. They closed off the whole street.”

“Okay, well let’s go.” I wait a second for him to become near me and hold me close to his body.”

People would think that we had an actual place to go. Every time we meet like this, I wear a dress to make things easier. He wears loose baggy cloth pants. We do not really consider it a public act, no one has ever seen us yet, but it is a place where all can see. A veil of night darkness does not qualify as an opaque barrier that stops people from seeing the taboo and profane act we were doing.

We are young and we are in love and we do not give a shit about anything. Both of us. We have only each other because everyone else is turning themselves into an object and trying to turn the objects in their hands into something that speaks for them, like a Campbell soup can. Each one is creating his own gospel. But me and him, no names needed, no AJs, no drugs, barely any food, we only need each other, and we do not use each other as objects but as persons.  We are each other’s ends.

We arrive in that dark alley where a shop is abandoned. An empty shop with a “For Rent or Sale” sign on the outside. We go to the farthest point, stepping over Soda cans, junk food wrappings, soup cans, old worn out shoes and garbage bags. Sometimes we hear the quiet chirping of cockroaches, and nearly all the time, we see a rat-shaped rodent squirming through the debris in the bleak darkness. This barren land became a heaven for us.

We lean on the wall in the darkest corner. He lower his loose pants and I lower my underpants, just enough for him to put it in. I’d always be the one on the wall. I never made a sound, and if I had to, I just bit him on the shoulder. We could never ever be noticed by the few people who passed by the deserted shop uninterested in the trash and darkness inside. Those people had somewhere to go.

And then out of the darkness, we hear the swooshing of old potato chips wrappings against the dusty dirty ground, this time it’s not a rat. I look sideways and see a figure of a guy in a hat. That AJ Sherif Jaroudy, that Lebanese cocksucker. He followed me. Followed us.

He comes forward, getting something out of his pants and points a gun at my boyfriend.

“Don’t say a word or I’ll call the police and have them arrest both of you.”

We don’t say a word. AJ. Sherif. That cocksucker with a name. He comes closer to me, to us, keeping the gun pointed at my boyfriend. I pull my underpants up and try to bury myself in the wall. Trying to run away somehow. My boyfriend tries to cover me with his body. The cocksucker comes towards me. The gun pointed at my boyfriend’s head.

The cocksucker looks at me, at my legs, at my arms shaking holding on to my underwear from above my dress. Holding on, not wanting to let go. He points the gun to my head and tells me stand in the opposite corner of the room.

Still in silence, only the objects moving around our feet making little noise, I walk towards the other corner, leaving the cocksucker and my boyfriend in the pitch black darkness, barely seeing anything. My heart pounds in the darkness and I can hear it thud on my chest. Then suddenly I hear thumping, like thighs banging ass cheeks one time after the other in a patterned manner. Slowly I come closer. The shape of the thin cocksucker appearing better from the darkness. I start hearing a weeping whimper overdubbing the thigh thumps.

The image leaks into my brain, disturbing the very core of my existence. My boyfriend crying on the ground as the Lebanese Cocksucker rapes him from behind, penetrating him like a drill gun. Forcing his way through his asshole like a nail gun. For a whole minute and a half I stand transfixed like a baby holding her doll watching the boogeyman take her little brother away. I don’t dare to scream.

Finally the cocksucker sighs deeply and retreats backwards, then grazes my boyfriend’s anus with his tongue and licks it, tasting his cum like Campbell Soup. He buckles his pants and goes away.

I look at my boyfriend, humiliated below me, no warmth emanating from his helplessness, like a big particle of dust on the ground to get thrown around by the wind in any given direction. My boyfriend with no name reduced to nothing but material. A plaything. A statue. An example. Andy Warhol’s Campbell Soup painting. A person turned into an object.


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