Dedication for this write goes to SOFREP Sister Ms. Joy B
Read part one
Fate found me feckless and fez-less in Fez. Certainly, that must be against some city ordinance there, no doubt punishable by a night in the pokey. I fancied my skull crowned by my Taqiyah that I had purchased rather than the fez I had originally stolen cities ago. Some rat bastard had taken it from me while I was distracted—the nerve of the unbridled brigand!!
I jumped from the taxi that I had hailed once I “broke out” of the Medina. I felt a goon as I had just stiffed a nine-year-old kid of a few Dirham for guiding me out of that labyrinth of a lair, the Medina for Christ’s sake! I consoled myself with the whimsical prospect of: “What if that kid had turned and kicked my ass; wouldn’t I feel so much worse right now??”
And wouldn’t you know it, Goddamnit, in my zeal to get out of the cab I had him drop me off far short of my dorm for the night. I was livid, that’s right livid, with a capital L and that rhymes with… Christ, it doesn’t rhyme with Jack $hite does it…
When lost in Fez, grab a kid to show you the way. I was about to look for a kid when a kid was already upon me. This bloke was more so about 13-ish and a sukoshi more worldly than the lad from the Medina:
“Hey Mister, I show you around Fez; the best shops around; finest leather good in world!”
“Yeah, junior… just take me to the Souk Babou-Jaluud.”
And we were off on a trot to the Souk, the kid’s mouth taching out in the red the whole time such that I mused he might blow a gasket and his brains would start squirting out of his head. It was hot. I mean, it was the desert after all. I had taken to a grand bout of perspiring as we moved.
Finally at the doorstep of my dorm, where a woman was without apparent reason sitting and gawking at the boy guide and I. It was the moment of removing myself from my boy-guide’s presence. I didn’t plan on giving him one red Dirham since we didn’t barter any kind of deal. I was disenchanted with the entire country and just wanted him gone.
“Hey Mister, you give me five Dirham.”
“Hey you know Mister, this is a nice shirt; where I can get a nice shirt like this?” The tot teased as he felt the sleeve of my bad-boy T-shirt with: “Runs with Scissors” inked onto the front of it.
“You like this shirt? You want a shirt like this?? I’ll tell you what…” and I stripped the T-shirt off over my head. The woman sitting on the porch looked, then looked away as if she was suddenly seeing an unannounced porno video… then she looked again.
I winked at her in an unconcerned way as I handed the boy my sweaty wadded up shirt.
He looked at it with surprise and disgust. I shoved it into his chest and placed his right hand on the top of it inviting him to embrace the shirt to his bosom. I brushed past the porn monger woman and slammed the front door behind me. Yea, though I stood in the lobby blinking at the clerk, I harbored no shame for my nudity.
“Bon jour,” greeted the presumptuous clerk.
“Aselamu alekum,” I begrudgingly returned.
I sat in my room with absolutely nothing to do; I just didn’t want to be out of my room for awhile. I fanned myself the best I could with a motel pamphlet. There came a knock at the door, which turned out to be the main desk clerk. Ok, so I accepted that:
“Je m’excuse, monsieur… mais il y a quelqu’un a la port pour vous (excuse me, Sir, but there is someone at the door for you).
There now!! This is new; something big is about to go down, I was sure of it. I crept to the door and met… an old gentleman who shook my hand wildly and welcomed me to Fez. For the love of Allah, he was a long-since retired school teacher of English who just wanted to practice his English.
Did I mention I was in a foul mood? I humored the gent nonetheless. He handed me paper and a stubby pencil that he must have stolen from a psycho ward somewhere. I mean, that’s where I stole all my stubby pencils… just sayin’.
He was hell-bent on me copying down sentences that he spoke to me about a squirrel that ran along the grass and climbed up into a tree and circled round and round and ran back down the tree… there was a slow countdown from ten inside my head that portended when I was about to detonate and annihilate every living being in the Souk.
“Ok look, man,” I finally rebuffed, “I’m getting tired of this, and besides the pencil lead is going flat—I hate that!”
I shoved the paper and psycho pencil back at him and stormed off to my room again. Now I was mad all over again and couldn’t sit still in my room. A second knock came to the door. Again the clerk indicated there was someone at the door.
“Oh $hit, could you just please tell me who it is??”
“Le vieux, (the old man),” was the response and there was lift off. “Mother Effen son of a bitch!!” I announced as I plowed through the front door, passed le vieux seated on the porch, who reached his hand up to me and let out a pathetic groan as I fleeted past. I imbued a solemn vow upon myself to clock any kid that approached me offering himself up as a tour guide.
I made my scheduled contact at the Gate of the Winds and saluted the usual nothing and nobody with marked fervor. “Groundhog Day,” I muttered, “Why would today be any different.” I sulked my way to a cluster of taxis and grabbed one. I had already spent my breakfast and lunch Dirham on taxi rides, to the extent that my stomach announced my very being as an assholic jerk.
“To the Medina!” I announced rebelliously to the driver. Yes, I would visit the Medina on my own terms. It would be a gesture of victory on my part. I de-cabbed and entered the Medina afoot. I wandered up and down stone steps aimlessly parrying all the arms that reached out from a gantlet to clutch me into their leather shops to push their purses and pelts.
“I show you best shop in Median; best leather!” promised a sudden voice from my flank. “Wow, the best leather in alllll the Media? Fagettabowdit—you’re on!” I was led up and up and up some stone stairs to a lofty and airy shop that presumed in its aspect to be the highest shop in the Median. “This alone has got to be status,” I figured.
The owner was a nicely-kempt perfumed George Pickett of a man, who put me in mind squarely of the rug shop owner I met my first night in town. He lead me around his shop, gesturing to the many leather goods that adorned the stone walls, and finally to a large rectangular opening in the far wall of his store. I looked out and down and was stunned by the ineffable vision that I witnessed there.
Mesmerized fairly fully describes my affect at that moment, looking out over the dozens of stone vats of richly colored liquids. If I had a million dollars I would have spent a million and one dollars in that man’s shop. As it were I had zero Dirham to even eat a single meal that day. I contemplated that I would have to dip into my “reserve” soon.
There would be no meal today unless I stole something. I had inexplicably become for the first time in my life a measure of superstitious, an affliction that I wore on my sleeve. I was convinced that if I stole another thing I would meet with unspeakable peril.
I would refrain from the vice, though my scientific mind rebuked me at every turn. I was a fool, yes, but I was a Catholic fool, and if you stole you went straight to HELL!
Hell was at hand; Heaven could wait. There would be no involuntary relent of goods and quick sprint into an amorphous throng of a crowd. The Earth could belch forth a cavernous crevasse and swallow me later. Saint geo was in charge now; saintly and hungry.
By God and with honor,
All photos courtesy of Wikipedia and the author