In Exile : Part 3



Randy. His voice pierced my ears that I had to draw a distance between my cellphone and I. I told him I was on the way to Tripoli.

"Are you fucking crazy? How do you go there?"
"Car rental."
"So, are you saying you are driving alone?"
"Yes, can you hear my car is speeding now."

I hit the gas pedal and the engine's volume was maximised.

"And you are talking on the phone whilst driving in a country where safe driving is not a part of the culture."
"Relax." I said as I set my foot loose on the gas pedal.
"What will you be doing in Tripoli? It is far away."
"It is not. Only an hour and a half drive. It is a piece of cake."
"Turn back."
"No. I won't. I am entering a city called Byblos. You know how I always want to go Greece but I always do not have the money. Now, I can check one thing off of my bucketlist."
"Make sure you write a good feature on that."
"Sure will do. Anyway, Can I ask you about your friend Sameer?"
"What about him?"
"What's wrong with him man!" I shouted. "His guesthouse was full of stoners. I swore last night they had me drinking a muddy tea and I was definitely high. I was trying to race a Kuwaiti guy along the Hamra Street. The police was about to chase us. I ran and hid. I am not going back to that place again."
I heard a bang of laughter from across the line.
"What?!" I protested.
"I bet last night was pretty. Oh, I should be there."
"Nevermind. Okay, I am driving North. I am about to run my credits off. Talk to you soon."

Instead of driving north, I stopped by the corniche. Watching the stream of the open ocean smashing against giant rocks. This was nothing less like the pigeon rocks. It was equally beautiful. The city was preserved. With the old harbor guarded after coastline and the stone-bricked, orange-roofed buildings and houses that stood ageless.

I spent my time to walk around the city, visiting ruins to others. I was in love. Then I took water transport to wander around. Akbar, A young boy noticed this lost-yet-excited tourist and he offered me a ride. After fifteen minutes crossing the rich emerald ocean, we were back at the city again. As a good host, he took me to his seafood restaurant which was run by his parents, located nearby the ocean. I enjoyed my mounting bucket of fried fish and chips, prawn cocktail and a iced plate of my favorite nautical delicacies, fresh oyster. I devoured the tang as the flesh slips on my tongue, right off from the shell.

After lunch, I spent some hours to finish my articles by a borrowed vintage but reliable typewriter. It felt surreal and lifting - writing by the end of the land, facing the ocean. The annoying thing was only when the wind blew hard, it flew the papers away and I had to find a heavy pebble to sustain those stack of papers.

I finished my work at the early evening and joined Akbar's family for tea time. After that, I hit the road again, back to Beirut to pack up my clothes and changed my plan of stay. I'd rather be in Byblos instead. If I only was smart enough to anticipate this, I would have packed earlier.

Another hour of driving, and then I reached the surprisingly quiet Hamra street. It was 8 in the evening, I expected tourist sitting on diner table set outside restaurant or some locals smooking hookahs. But instead I found no one.

I parked my Nisan in a designated parking lot 100 meters away from my hostel, then I walked. I noticed there was a large SUV parked in front of the hostel. I bet Sameer was buying a new sports from his drug money. He better moved it somewhere else before the people starts harassing his new toys.

The power was cut, when I stepped inside the common room.

"Are you fucking kidding me?"I mumbled.

Then, I heard loud noise from upstairs. I sounded like a heavy-loaded thing fell on to the floor. The common room's ceiling shook. Or was it a human being?

"Hey, anybody here?"

I forgot one rule in horror or thriller movie, you never walked into to sound sources, because that was the time when the situation was getting intense. But when I walked upstair, there was nothing at all. Just a pitch black.

But then I saw lights coming from one of door that was open, and before I even quickly move my feet, something hard hit my shoulder from the front. It was large and it was launched at me. My body swayed to the side. I almost fell to the staircase. But luckily, I was perfectly hidden from what I witnessed. There was a 6 feet guy pounding over another guy, the one that was thrown at me incidentally, who was almost lifeless. The sound that he made was not even a voice. It sounded like a cry, drove by instinct. He was hurt so bad. Something watery drenched over my shoulder, then he must be bleeding. Carefully, I took steps backward and slowly leading myself down the staircase. I covered my mouth so they wouldn't hear me making noise.

Getting out from the hostel was pretty easy. I forgot about my clothes that I needed to bring. I ran for my life to my car. All I was thinking was staying to Byblos, and be back to Beirut only when I needed to depart this country.

Five meters when I was about to reached my car, something bonelike hit me in the throat. I was grasping on the ground. My hand was on my neck, comforting my sudden, hurtful, suffocation. What the hell was that?

Before, I barely even caught my breath. I saw him. A six feet tall white man with some facial hair covering his strong jawline. A brunette. He was wearing navy blue tank. He did not bother to cover his face nor his identity when he did harm again to me. I felt twice powerful kick against my stomach. My body lurched.

"Stop!" I begged him with my faint voice.

But he did not listen, in fact, he was about to throw the third kick at me. When his feet swung, I gather all my strength to my legs and twisted it. It was not strong enough to sprain him but it was enough to abort his assault. I saw him staggered as his feet harshly attacked the ground.

Neck or stomach, both were in pain and I hunched my body as a I ran towards the car. As if I was not strong enough, he grabbed me by the hair. For the first time, I saw the face of my assaulter. Brown eyes, thick eyebrows, frowning at me - He was not a local. He dove my face onto the warm upper snout of the car. Three times, with a gruesome growl force that wanted me to die. That told me I deserved to.  I was desperate. My temple cracked and I could feel blood covered my face. He held my head again by my hair, and I saw him again - full of indescribable wrath.

"Have I ever hurt you?" I asked him faintly. I was sure that he could not catch what I was saying. I did not get the answer because then everything turn black.


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