Written by Alaa (aka Lols)
It was almost 7:00 am when Fady arrived at his apartment in Mohandessin before the traffic jam started to build up. It was an unusually warm day for winter. He parked his car where he always did (lucky for him that his spot wasn’t taken as is custom on the streets of Cairo), rode the elevator up to the last floor where he currently resided and then entered his lonely rented apartment. Fady had procured it when he decided to come back to Cairo and fix whatever was left of his life.
He couldn’t risk going back to his parents’ house. After all, they did kick him out and cut him off. However, his brother left him a message a while back telling him that they’re going off to Europe for a couple of months. That was one of the reasons that encouraged Fady out of hiding, but it wasn’t enough to let him go back and live there. Another reason for going against his staying at Dokki was that it would be the first place his friends would go looking for him at – at least those who still called him a friend. He didn’t want anyone to find him; he wanted to find them! Fady knew after he made that call to Ibrahim a couple of months back that the search parties will start the hunt and once found, the third degree would start and he wouldn’t hear the end of it. Fady noticed Ibrahim lurking around his parents’ house a few times before which proved his theory. He smiled at the thought; contrary to popular belief, Fady knew his friends well.
His apartment was rather small. It had very little furniture; a small couch in front of a TV with a few books next to it (probably the previous owner’s). A portrait of old Cairo hung on the wall behind the chair and a rugged carpet covered the floor. The kitchen was messy though, with a lot of pizza boxes and Chinese food littering the counter. Fady went straight for a shower. He’d been out all night keeping his end of the deal in check and he felt like a nice shower was due. He stayed a long time under the warm water, trying to restore relaxation to every tense fiber and nerve in his body. The running water drowned the sounds of his thoughts, his past mistakes, his future concerns and his Frankenstein of a present. However, one memory resisted; it was resonating in his mind…
“Salma?” said Fady, surprised.
Salma Al-Maleb sighed, “We need to talk. Meet me tomorrow morning for breakfast. I’ll text you the location. Good Night.” And she hung up. On his way back home, after Samir’s refusal to help him find Salma, Fady couldn’t help but feel elated, anxious, worried and happy all at the same time. He was finally going to see the person he loved the most, the person he most regrets letting go of, but would she feel the same way? Does she even know the story of how everything turned out the way it is? He couldn’t sleep that night, thinking of what Salma could possibly want from him, how she’ll receive him and what he’ll say when he sees her. A million scenarios and situations went through his head and in the end, a couple of hours before the sun came up, Fady gave in and slept.
The next day, Fady went to Grizzly Restaurant in Zamalek, just as the text from Salma said. It was 11 am. Fady shaved, put on his best outfit and chose a table by the Nile. He smoked a cigarette while waiting for Salma who was 20 minutes late but he couldn’t care less as long as she showed up.
“Sorry, I’m late,” said Salma, taking the seat opposite her ex-fiancé. She was still radiantly beautiful, just as he recalled her. Big black shades covered her eyes, he still remembered those dark almond shaped eyes. Her hair – black as night – was tied in a ponytail, like she always wore it. His heart skipped a beat.
“Umm…it’s okay. Never mind,” smiled Fady as he put out his cigarette, “how are you?”
“I’m fine, thank you but we’re not here to chit chat, Fady. I need your help,” said Salma through pursed lips, her shades still covering half her face. Fady’s smile vanished and was replaced with a hurt expression. It’s bad enough that he got the cold shoulder from his best friend, but from his fiancée was just too much to bear.
Taking his silence as an indication to go on, Salma went straight into the topic. “I need you to spy on my husband.”
“Excuse me?” Fady was taken aback.
“You heard me. I need you to spy on my husband, give me a full report on his movements, whereabouts…everything about him.” said Salma, casually.
Fady took out another cigarette.
“So? Will you help me or not?”
“I just…Salma, you can’t just ask me to do that, I mean…we haven’t even dealt with the elephant in the room and now you want me to spy on your husband?”
“There is nothing to deal with and if you won’t help me, then I’ll go find myself someone who will. Sorry to bother you” Salma picked up her bag and was about to leave when Fady grabbed her arm and asked her – almost begged her – to sit back down. He didn’t want her to leave just yet. He finally got to sit with her and see her after all this time (even if she hated his guts).He missed her so much.
“I’ll help you, Salma; whatever you want. But can I ask why you want me to spy on Karim?”
“How did you…?”
“Doesn’t matter how I know; I just do. Now, tell me” said Fady as puffed away the smoke.
“Well, Mr. Ibrosen, it’s very simple. I want to bring my husband down.”