Fishing in Beirut

February 4, 2010

Part 3: Blue, July – Sept 2002 (scene 4)

Filed under: Character : Frank, Part 3 : Blue — fishinginbeirut @ 09:51

Frank and Sjal and Dev ate olives. It was another sweltering day. They were at an Alameda café, and a heroin addict who used to be a ballerina was floating about for change. Sjal gave her something. A child threw a tomato on the ground in a tantrum, and his parents weren’t overly concerned. He wanted chocolate instead.
Frank had a fair amount of chocolate in his back pocket, but not like the kid wanted, and himself and Dev smoked some discreetly. A stalling car engine burst up in flames. There were shouts of surprise from the driver, hurling himself from his vehicle, pleading in his eyes for someone to approach. Their waiter strolled over with an extinguisher.
The event aroused interest for about thirty seconds, and then everyone forgot and went back to whatever. Frank watched carefully. The burn smell was in the air, in the hot already burning air, and he ate another olive, and gazed at the poverty and dust. The man was thanking the waiter, “gracias, gracias,” and this in itself was unusual, because nobody in that city says thanks. “Vale,” said the waiter, and walked off.
“Is anybody hungry?” said Dev.
Sjal ate an olive.
“Hungrier than this I mean.” He swung back in his chair and yawned. “I’d love a big roast chicken and spuds. With gravy and peas and carrots.”
Sjal eyed him in amazement, and Frank laughed softly, bemused and amused at once.
“Feckin’ roast spuds as well,” said Dev. “And stuffing.” He made an exaggerated lip smacking sound, and then a moan of pleasure, and spat an olive stone back into the world.
“Spuds and stuffing and chicken. Ya can’t bate it.”
So they went for food, but sandwiches and crisps – Dev’s mind far bigger than his belly. Sjal didn’t eat meat. She told them she had lived in Paris, had seen a lot of great films there, and once found a key ring on the Boulevard Saint Michel. She took it out, and it was a pink bear that lit up if you pressed a button. They couldn’t see this very well, but she semi-covered it in her hand and it was better.
It was made of a glass-like plastic, and had a red dickie-bow. It looked somewhat the worse for wear. Frank and Dev held it. Handing it back, Frank thought he thought something, but then dismissed it. He turned away with a frown. She put it back in her pocket, and Dev stole one of her crisps.
That night there was a flamenco show, a cantankerous affair of wailing and death, and they sat there drinking, Frank rotating his ankle muscles again and again, a cracking sound audible. Today had been tough, and the pain was acute now. Sjal adored this music, was spellbound and moving and light, her duende eyes dancing also, both yearning and pulsing at once. She took a drink and ate a peanut.
Dev got up for beer. The music grew more intense, a cathartic clenched cacophony, and Frank watched in wonder, as Sjal shamanically swayed. She was there and not there also. Almond eyes, and a young face lined with faint anxiety, from thought upon thought upon thought. Her knuckles were tapping the table. She turned to look at him then, but he felt he couldn’t be seen, and maybe in her trance-state she detected the system breach. His hollowness in need. This was July and sweetness, the damage a year before, and Frank in Spanish night-time doesn’t know what is to come. He’s had the pain, the repair, the physical re-knitting of the cartilage and bone. But the thunder hasn’t rolled yet, the soul has not yet screamed, and the sense of dislocation has just begun to loom.


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