Friday, December 1, 2006

I only give to beggars

when I’m good and pissed, and they’re doing pretty good these days.

Rolled through the door and bellyed up to the keyboard here—squint eyed desperate. Bled white by the night, stinking of paint thinner Scotch. Clutching at door handles. Horeya, Stella Bar, the Port Tawfik. The Greek Club? Who knows. Piled back home through this sprawled out busted city in a flat tire taxi, seat spring fucking me from behind and the dashboard trying to sit in my lap. Across a bridge, sodium streetlight necklaces glowing in the black of the Nile, cars parked half up on the curb and guys fishing. Rods balanced on the green railings.

And someone in the back singing Jerry Lee.

“…drunk drunk drunk keep a’screaming for more,” singing for the mullet-cut Imbaba boys in their Chinese made acid-wash jeans and the middle aged fishermen. The offal sellers and the taxi drivers on their smoke break. At three startled teenagers, who yell something at us that makes the driver wince.

“The thing is—you know what the thing is?” This was Terence talking, jammed into the middle of the back seat, arms spread wide like he’s going to wrap them around the whole car. “The thing isn’t that this country lacks democracy. Thing is that it has too fucking much democracy.” He folded his hands neatly in his lap. Laced his fingers together. “Needs a leader who can lead. Kick these fuckheads into shape. Organize.” Terence has a huge white mustache that sticks out beyond his cheeks. We do not, as a general rule, listen to what Terence has to say.

We were sitting at an intersection in Zamalek, gridlocked into stasis there. Everyone honking. Fretting. Going exactly no place.

“Can’t organize a fucking intersection, let alone a country. Jesus.” Terence was wanking at his mustache.

There’s old woman there who sells Kleenex. She’s got these big google-goggle glasses and a cane. She was knocking on the window. Face pressed against the glass staring in at us like we’re a bunch of fish in bowl. Drunk fish, cavorting sweaty in our over-warm little tank, banging against the glass and knocking over the little plastic diver guy.

I rolled down the window and paid over the odds for a pack. Seemed the least I could do given the state of the traffic.