I stole my mother’s gold bracelets, gold rings, gold pendants; her diamond earrings and diamond necklaces which I had no idea she had until I opened the safe inside her closet. I snatched my father’s white gold rings, all of which were handed down to him by his father. Kamal took anything he could sell and did away with them: novels, old school books, new university books—he read so much about everything he’d be called a polymath if he cared to give an image of himself to the world—leather wallets, gold-plated Zippo lighters, his father’s Rolex, an original painting by some famous Lebanese abstract painter. I managed to sneak a silver tray out of the house.
We needed the money and there was no other way. You’re just going to have to believe me.
In previous times I used to resort to prostitution, but every time I did, we picked a fight with each other, Kamal and I. They weren’t the usual fights about foreign woodpeckers invading the territory of his woodpecker. Kamal didn’t have these insecurities, he believed in his ability to please me better than anyone—any random stranger I pleased—and he had good reason to believe so. “I know you better than anyone,” he’d say. But even during our first fuck, which was just four hours after we’d met, he blew my inner core out of any conceivable dimension, like I just had an atomic explosion within me. No, Kamal did not mind the woodpeckers, the small, the round, the big, the thin. Kamal was just worried about me catching one of them diseases that just get to you and kill you. “I couldn’t bear losing you,” he’d say, “no I couldn’t bear one hour without you,” so sweet and delightful in his worry. Sometimes he’d be paid to do research essays for spoiled university students, but that was never a guarantee. Prostitution was much more lucrative.
So we had to pay the rent at one point—both of us were unemployed youths, living for no other moment than the moment of unity; that was our sole ambition for that was the only ambition that could be achieved; the only painless passion, and we sacrificed and cut a lot of roots to reach it—we visited our home; home is where the money is and there is no place like home.
After a full day of negotiating and selling—we were so good at it we managed to get three times the amount of the rent—we decided to celebrate. We paid two months worth of rent and bought necessities with part of the money left: Vodka bottles, Whisky Bottles, Plastic cups, Soda bottles, Wine, Potato Chips, nuts, cigarettes, candles, matches, incense, yogurt and most importantly, toilet paper. We lit the candles at night. We liked to think of ourselves as environment friendly people, but if you as much as catch a glimpse of our own space you would see that we were not even close to being environment friendly.
Our place was one level away from attracting the far reaching sensors of radiation detectors. But we loved that little one room-one bathroom-kitchen apartment. It was our Eden—without a parent or a God to plant a serpent in—in which we put a lot of effort into getting together.
We got our first couch before we rented the place. The couch was what pushed us into moving in to that space which would be ours and ours alone, our desires unfolding and displaying themselves for us like censored works of erotic fiction.
We found the couch while we were walking in the streets in the middle of the night. It was stranded next to the green Sukleen dumpsters. We sat on it alone in the middle of the night, as if the whole city belonged to us, as if every whispering word we said to each other could be shouted and still count as a whisper within the enormous vacancy of the night. So we shouted that we were going to live with each other under the same roof, using the same bathroom, cooking for each other and sleeping on the same couch (a bed was not in mind at all).
Each one of us held the brown flower-patterned couch from one side and we kept on dragging it along all throughout the night, searching for a place to rent, a place with a reasonable price. Three hours of serious searching and laborious lifting amounted to nothing, until a taxi driver passed and asked, a bit curiously, a bit sarcastically, why we were dragging the couch with us. We told him and he smiled widely. He had a place for us to rent, for a good price in an okay neighborhood.
So we get the rent and celebrate it together in our small space of privacy drinking shots of vodka in large plastic cups, naked, the candles around us warming our flesh; the smoke of the incense sticks trickling on our bodies lightly, accentuating our sense of smell. We kiss endless kisses that lead us to a hazy tomorrow and away from a perfect past. We connect and form an hourglass with our connected lips, controlling time through our heavy full tight breaths. Without a care. We kiss the night away and a new morning takes sway.