Decisions in a Halo – Episode VI: Wandering

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Written by Alaa A. Rahman

Previously on “Decisions in a Halo”: Episode V – Best Friends?

Car horns were blasting in one of the busiest streets in the Mohandessin district, as a young man, barely able to walk, staggers his way along Syria St. He looks entirely wasted; his eyes droopy, red and completely out of focus. Pedestrians watch on the sidewalks, recording the weird “event” of a zombie-like creature walking down the street with a myriad of angry drivers behind him, blasting their horns and cursing at him. One man actually gets out of his car to shove the wasted walker out of the way, only to have the latter push him back, whilst blurting out incomprehensible sentences.

“How drunk are you?” shouts the angry man, as he watches the young man stumble a bit and fall on the sidewalk to his right side. Pedestrians gather around the fallen man, taking pictures and recording the drunken dude. Adam looks up through half-shut eyes and sees indistinct faces, distant voices laughing, chatting and fingers pointing at him. A louder, yet hazier voice resonates in the air as the faces and fingers fade one by one. Lights dance in front of Adam’s eyes and suddenly, he sees those lights rush past him as his body floats upwards. Only thing is, it is an older man who helps him up, brushes the dust off of him and looks him in the eyes.

“Nothing is worth you doing this to yourself, my boy. Whatever you’re going through, it’s not worth you humiliating yourself over, like this”, says the old man, with concern in his eyes. Adam’s tongue is so heavy that he doesn’t notice how slurred his speech is. He wants to say “fuck off!” but he can’t get the words out.

“Do you have a place to stay for the night? Do your parents know where you are?” asks the older man. Adam is staring at him, noticing his mouth move with no distinguishable sound coming out of it. At the mention of his parents, his eyes contract, his face contorts, he feels a lump in his throat and in a second, he weeps.

“Let’s get you somewhere calmer and safer”, says the man as he pats Adam on the shoulder and leads him to his house.

“Let’s get you somewhere calmer and safer”

 

***

I love shopping, I really do. I am quite possibly, the only guy in the whole of Egypt who doesn’t mind wandering the malls and shops for hours without getting bored. But with Mourad, something I enjoy has turned into something I despise and find to be so utterly boring that I wouldn’t mind shooting myself in the head instead. I would rather go to hell and play with Satan’s babies than shop with Mo Shark!

“We’ve looked at this store for the fifteenth time, Mourad!” I whine, as I take out my phone to check the time. It was 9:15 pm, two hours since it last read 9:10 pm; time was going by super slowly.

“Stop your annoying whining! Excuse me, ma’am, how much is this bag for?”

“It’s a Longchamp bag, you idiot! You can’t afford it!” I whisper into Mo’s ears, as the store clerk checks the price.

“So? Anything for Dana and besides, that’s why I have you with me…just in case!”

HOW did his fucking ignorant mind lead him to believe that I would have that kind of money to help him buy a super, overrated, overpriced bag for someone I barely know and who doesn’t even love him enough to actually call him to check on his father the time when he got a heart attack?!

“Are you fucking kidding me right now? I don’t have that kind of money, Mourad!” The phrase is barely audible through my gritted teeth and Mo pretends I was air and redirects his attention to the store clerk, who informs him the price of the bag…

… which is in the 4-digit range; it’s a Goddamn Longchamp bag!

“We’ll take it!” says Mourad, excitedly and his eyes beaming up as he takes out all the money from his wallet and asks me for an extra 400.

“No, I’m not giving you money to pay for it!” I protest as I make my way out of the store. Mourad quickly grabs my arm and through gritted teeth tells me to hand him the money or else with a “I-will-kick-your-ass-in-front-of-everyone” look in his eyes. I scoff, pull out my wallet, throw him a couple of 200 LE bills and leave the shop, mad at him but even more so at myself, for lacking the ability to decline his request.

“It’s a Longchamp bag, you idiot! You can’t afford it!”

***

“I mean he’s like…I don’t know, he’s so…am I making sense?” asks Salma, as she flops on her bed with Casper sleeping right next her (throwing shade like “Girl! You’re disturbing my element!”).

Why can I not get him out of my head? Why is it that hard? I mean he’s been hogging up my mind ever since this afternoon. Why!?

“No, you’re not!” Sarah answers, as she takes a bite out of her chicken sandwich. Sarah Al-Korayem is Salma’s long time best friend, confidante, advisor, mother, daughter, sister; she’s everything to Salma, quite literally.

Yes, sir! That’s exactly it! When I found myself still hooked on that Adam guy, – like mentally – I had to bring in reinforcement to swerve me back on track.

“I mean, you’re obviously going insane, girl!” says Sarah, as pieces of bread and chicken mayo fly out of her mouth.

Yep, the best of reinforcements ever!

“Come on, Sarah! I need more than just the “you’re insane” part! This is not normal and I hate it!” Salma says, walking up and down her room with Sarah now feeding a piece of chicken to Casper, who licks it, eats it and purrs in gratitude.

“Look, you still have time. I mean your so called “interview” is not for another day, right? I’ll pass by that information desk tomorrow with you, see what we’re dealing with and give you my two cents about him.”

Sounds like a plan!

“But…”

“No buts, Salma! It’s done!” says Sarah, sternly as she gets up from the foot of Salma’s bed, adjusts her geeky glasses and makes her way towards the bathroom. Salma stands in the middle of the room, her hair made into a bun, her hands on her waist, as she watches Casper clean himself up by the windowsill.

“I think this will work! I know it will!” exclaimed Salma.

“It will, Salma! Just shut up and walk me back home!”

“Why is your subconscious in my subconscious?”

“I don’t know. I guess it kind of wandered here. Anyway, I want to sleep otherwise I’ll get cranky, so come on!”

She’s the best.

“… as she watches Casper clean himself up by the windowsill.”

***

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