Kareem (part 10 of 10)

Continued from Part 9

kareem 10

Joe holds my hand.

“But Kareem… you have to quit it because I wanna be with you. And I can’t be with you and share you with other men”.

“I don’t know what to do. I wanna stop but I feel like I’m stuck”.

“We’ll figure it out. We’ll find another way for you to make money. There are other ways. You don’t have to live this life. Let me take care of you. No more lying”.

“I’m sorry for all the times I lied. I was just protecting you. I didn’t want you to know”.

“I know… It’s okay. I know everything now”, he says.

“We’ll figure it out, right?”, I ask him.

I really don’t know the answer. I want to believe we can.

He takes my hand. “We’ll figure it out. You have me”.

“I know I do”, I say.

We sit on the sofa with my head on his lap. We don’t talk. We sit silently through the night.

I’m so relieved that he wants to give us another shot. I feel safe, even if just for a night. Tonight, I don’t worry about the bills. About how I’m gonna manage. When I’m with him, I’m free from all that.

We slept on the sofa that night. Took off our shoes and got comfy. With a weird mix of love and doubt in the air. That feeling when you wanna believe something is possible… but you’re not sure how to get there.

Three weeks later, I think I have it all figured out.

I arrive to my apartment with a great smell coming from the kitchen. I walk in there and see Joe lookin so cute in the apron.

“Babyyy. What’re you doing?”, I ask.

“What’s it look like I’m doing? I’m devirginizing your oven! I know you’re stressed out cause of the exams. Just giving you a little treat”.

“Well, it smells great. I’ll be right back. I’m gonna go feed Bisi”.

“Don’t I get a kiss and a hug?”, he asks.

“I just dissected a frog. You sure you want that?”, I reply.

“No”.

“Okay then”. I blow him a kiss.

I go inside, feed Bisi then brush my teeth.

When I come back to the kitchen, I see Joe with a concerned look on his face.

“Babe what’s wrong?”, I ask.

Then I see what he’s holding in his hands. I come close to grab the book.

“Babe, don’t look through that”, I scream.

“All of these men? Four years worth of men”, he says.

He flips through the pages.

“December 1? On my birthday? How could you?”

I don’t know what to say.

“We talked about this. I’m done with all that”, I say.

He keeps flipping through the pages and lands on today’s date.

“Elie 12:30 pm Rawche. Is that where you were today?”.

“Baby, no! I wrote that a long time ago. Joe… it’s all in the past. You can’t be paranoid about this anymore. I’m done with it. I swear”.

I finally get a hold of that book and close it. I hug him as he cries.

“You have to believe me. You made a wonderful lunch. Let’s not ruin it”, I say.

He wipes his tears away.

“Okay”, he says.

I give him a kiss. “Okay”.

I take the book and throw it in the trash.

“There. Done”, I tell him. “I’ll pour us some wine”.

“Okay”, he says.

As I walk inside, I feel bad for making him feel the way he is now. For not trusting me. For always being paranoid. And I don’t blame him for it. I just wish he never thinks of that again. Never thinks of me that way again.

I go to my room to undress and get into something more comfortable.

I open the closet door and hang the jeans I just took off.

As I close the closet, I heard a weird sound. Like something falling. I open the closet and see them lying there.

A couple hundred dollar bills.

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Thank you for reading this story. You’ve been amazing.

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Special thanks to my amazing friend for taking the above pic of me. You being a ‘top’ and an ‘ass man’ came in very handy.

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Kareem (part 9 of 10)

Continued from Part 8

kareem 9

She instantly recognizes my voice.

“Kareem… Kareem…”, she turns around and sees me.

I walk towards her and hug her. I missed her smell.

“Happy birthday, mama”.

“Today’s my birthday?”, she asks.

“Yes. Didn’t you know? That’s why it’s such a nice weather outside. Because you hate the rain so much, don’t you?”

“Kifak? I missed you”, she tells me.

“I missed you too. Ana mnee7 mama. Meshta2lik ktir ktir”.

“How’s university? Kif AUB? You’re number one in the class, eh?”.

The nurse laughs. “Typical mother, isn’t she?”, she says.

“Sure is…”, I reply.

“It’s all great mama. Bisi misses you.”

“Bisi…”.

It takes her a second to remember her.

“Bisi…Bisi…habibti. Are you taking care of her?”.

“Yes, mama. Don’t worry about her”, I assure her.

I love how she’s remembering stuff. How she’s lucid.

Then she asks: “How’s your dad?”.

I look at the nurse. We’re both thinking the same thing. We lost her.

“Mama… dad’s gone. He’s been gone for ten years. Remember?”

She looks away… at the window. Confused. Then she remembers what she did when he died. To herself. To us.

“He’s gone. You’re right. I shot myself…but I didn’t die…”.

She looks at me. It all came back to her.

“I’m sorry”, she holds my hand.

“It’s okay. I’m alright”. I wipe the tears off her face and smile at her. “Now let’s eat some cake”.

On my way back home, I think of how my life would have been different.

What if my dad didn’t die when I was so young? What if my mother had coped with his death? What if I wasn’t forced to look after myself since I was a teenager? Would things have been different? But isn’t it such a waste of time wondering “what if”?

I feel empowered after the visit to my mother. People might not like my choices but they’re my choices. I did what I have to do to survive and I have no shame about it. I owe Joe the truth. But if he can’t understand why I am who I am… it’s not on me.

I call him for the 15th time. No reply.

I send him a message. “Please answer your phone. We need to talk. I’ll tell you everything”.

I call after 5 minutes. He picks up.

“Hi…”, I say.

He doesn’t answer.

“Kifak?”.

No answer. But I know he’s listening.

“Can you meet me at my place in an hour?”, I ask him.

I can hear him breathing on the phone.

He hangs up. I take his silence as a sign of confirmation.

I go and get ready for him to come.

I wait for three hours. He’s not showing up. Was I a fool to expect him to come?

Then I hear knocking on the door.

My heart drops… I run to the door and open it.

“Thank you for coming”, I say.

“I’ve been walking around the block for two hours. Trying to decide whether to go up or not”, he says.

“I’m glad you did”.

He enters and sits on the chair. The chair means I’m not off the hook yet.

I grab a chair and sit next to him.

I start off by saying: “There’s a reason why you haven’t met my mom and dad. When my dad died when I was a kid, my mom couldn’t take it. She tried to commit suicide. She didn’t die but in many ways she did”.

Joe leans closer to me.

I continue: “She wasn’t able to take care of me so I lived with my aunt for a couple of years. I was left with nothing. I was all I got. Well, I had Bisi, but she couldn’t exactly pay for med school”.

I point at things around the house. “This… my house… AUB… my bed… what I’m wearing… it was all possible because I do what I do. This is how I survive”.

“But…”, he says. “You lied to me this entire time”.

“I couldn’t let you in. Because if I let you in, I might have to change. And Joe… I can’t change. I’m working hard to be a doctor. That’s my dream”.

“But we can’t be together if you don’t quit this”, he asks.

“I can’t quit it now.”

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Read The Finale here.

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Kareem (part 8 of 10)

Continued from Part 7

kareem 8

“What?”, Joe is in disbelief.

“He… He paid me for sex”, I repeat. And I start crying.

“I don’t understand… When did that happen?”.

“I don’t remember. Maybe two or three years ago”.

“Well, is he the only one you’ve fucked for money?”, he asks.

My crying intensifies.

“Kareem, are you still fucking guys for money?”, he screams.

I don’t reply.

“Oh my God…”, he says. “Oh my God… Kareem, you’re a fucking whore?”.

“I didn’t want you to know… I’m sorry I kept this from you for so long”, I tell him.

I come closer to him and try to touch him but he walks away.

“Please don’t go. Please. Lemme explain”, I beg him.

“You’ve been cheating on me this whole time. Fucking guys and getting paid for it. How can you explain yourself? You heartless son of a fucking bitch. Leave me alone”.

He whistles to a taxi and it pulls over. He grabs his wallet, takes out a $20 bill, and throws it in my face. “Here’s for tonight”, he says with tears in his eyes.

There it was. The truth was out there. The truth I’ve been trying for four years to hide. And this is why I’ve been hiding it for so long. I know people won’t understand. They don’t get that you have to do what you have to do. That it’s just sex. That it’s a means for survival.

I walk home and as soon as I open the door, Bisi runs into my lap. I cry all over that furry little thing.

“I still have you, don’t I?”.

I grab Bisi and lay on the bed with her.

He definitely won’t be calling me ever. The only guy I’ve ever loved. I fucked it up.

He’s right. Why would he want to be with someone who allows other men to fuck him for cash. It’s my prerogative to do what I have to do, but it’s also his not to want anything to do with me. I just feel bad I dragged him into this mess to begin with.

I look at the pic he held in his hand yesterday. That day on the snow. I wish we can have that back.

Right next to the pic is a calendar. Yep, March 2013. Officially one of the worst months of my life.

Then it hits me.

“Wait… March 16? Bisi…It’s her birthday tomorrow”.

I totally forgot!

“I have to see her”.

It’s always a hassle to do so. I have to wake up really early if I wanna make it on time with all the traffic. But it’s worth it. I feel better when I see her. And the nurses always tell me she lights up for at least a week after I’m gone.

I arrive there and the people who work there recognize me.

“I’m here to see Youmna”.

“Come with me”.

“Is it okay if I bring those with me? It’s her birthday.”

The nurse at the psychiatric facility looks at the cake and the balloon and smiles.

“Akid, no problem”.

I enter the room and she’s looking out the window.

“Mama… habibte”.

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Read Part 9 here.

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Kareem (part 6 of 10)

Continued from Part 5

kareem 6

“Hi”.

I’m shocked. I don’t know what else to say.

He doesn’t say anything back. He looks at the floor for a while.

Then he looks up at me. “Hey”.

“Come in.”

“I…I don’t know if I should”.

“Just come in. We’ll talk inside”.

“We’ve done this a million times. I don’t know”.

“Then why are you here?”, I ask.

Silence.

“Get inside. Please”.

He enters. Reluctantly. Slowly. Dead man walking. He sits on the sofa.

“I’ll get you something to drink. One sec.”

I go into the kitchen, lean against the wall and breathe a sigh of relief.

He’s here. He’s here! I thought he didn’t want anything to do with me but… he’s here.

That means something. I better not fuck this up.

I go back inside.

“Here’s some ice tea. Your favorite”.

“Fun day, wasn’t it?”

I look at him. He’s holding one of the frames I’ve put on the table.

A picture of us acting goofy during a trip to the snow.

“I didn’t know you had this”, he continues.

“I do”. I nod.

“Why?”, he puts it back on the table.

“What do you mean why?”.

He answers: “You know in the year and a half that we’ve been together, I’ve only been to your place four times? This included. I’ve never met your mom or dad. So yeah… why? Why do you have that picture? Why do you do this to me? I feel like I know you but not really.”

I go sit next to him. “You do know me.”

He looks away. I put my hand on his shoulders which he’s trying to move away.

“You know me better than anyone I know”, I continue.

“How? You never let me in. I feel like you’re hiding a part of your life from me. I’ve waited so long for you to open up. I’m sick of trying.”

“Babe, if this is about me not seeing you enough, I’m sorry. I have my…”

“Studies”, he interrupts me.

“Yes, studies. University is very important to me”.

“Right… Don’t lie to me. Remember last time when I asked you where you were… you told me you were studying for a “big ass” exam. Ten minutes later I see you on the fucking street. Why would you lie to me. Why would you do that?”

“I’m sorry…”

“No, I don’t wanna hear your sorries, Kareem. Seriously… I hate that I give you second chances and third chances. And still, you keep doing the same shit.”

“Listen. I know… I know how you feel. You just have to understand… I fucking swear… I never meant to hurt you. You’ll probably never understand but you have to believe me… there are some things you shouldn’t know.”

“Why? What are you hiding? I wanna know. I’m your fucking boyfriend!”. He tears up. So immediately I start tearing up. I hate seeing him cry.

“Joe…You’ll know what I mean someday. Please. Just believe in me. When I keep stuff away from you and when I lie, and I know it’s bad and it’s unfair… but I do it for your own sake. You just have to believe me”.

I start crying. He comes closer and hugs me. We’re both sobbing.

“I’m sorry… I really wanna change… I do…You have to believe me”, I beg him.

I can feel his tears dropping on my back as we hug. I move back and hold his face with my hands and say “I love you”.

“Of course you do”.

We both smile with tears glimmering on our faces. I wipe his tears away.

“So…what now?”, I ask.

“Just try harder this time, okay?”, he says.

“I will”.

I hope this time, I can keep my promise.

“Listen… you should sleep here tonight. You’ve never slept over before…”

“No…it’s fine.”

“No… you should. I want you to”.

“Okay…”.

That night, Joe takes a shower at my house for the first time. We cuddle in my bed for the first time. We make love on my sheets for the first time. And he sleeps in my bed for the first time. And for the first time in months… I sleep like a baby.

I’m woken up by an alarm at 7 am.

A phone reminder that reads: “Charbel Sodeco 3 pm”.

I have 8 hours to decide if I wanna do this.

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Read Part 7 here.

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Kareem (part 5 of 10)

Continued from Part 4

kareem 5

You know that feeling when you’re really asleep, but you feel awake? Halfway between sleeping and waking? You feel paralyzed. And you’re begging for someone to kick you so you wake up cause you don’t have the strength to do it on your own. You try moving your mouth. Your lips. You scream on the inside. You want to wake up. But nothing you do seems to work.

That’s what’s happening to me right now.

I can feel it coming. It’s right on time. The nightmare I have every other week.

Blood on the kitchen floor. A gun in her hand. My 13 year old self screaming at the top of my lungs. Calling for help. Knocking on the neighbors’ doors so they can do something to help me. Leaving bloody footsteps behind me. Grabbing the phone with my shaky hands and calling dad. Only to realize that he’s dead.

That was the day I lost all my innocence. I went from 13 to 20 in a gunshot. Taking care of her. Being the parent. Until I could it no more. Until it was just too much.

It’s weird. This nightmare I’m having is actually better than the crippling feeling I have right before it. It’s actually soothing. I’ve seen this nightmare so many times before that it feels normal. I know exactly what’s gonna happen. I’ve seen it all before. How can it be a nightmare if I’ve lived it before?

I can feel something on my leg. Must be Bisi. She can probably hear my meaningless mumblings and is trying to wake me up. It works. I wake up all sweaty, with my right leg cramped, and I look at her. She knows I’m in pain.

“Yep. Her again”.

Bisi was there that day. She probably saw more of it than I did. I wonder if she has nightmares about it too. Do animals dream anyway?

I take a sip of water from the cup I always keep next to my bed and realize it’s only 7 pm. Weird, it’s so dark outside. I was so tired after I came home from the HIV test that I slept all afternoon. Now I have to study and get some homework out of the way. That is if I can focus; Joe is still not replying to my messages and isn’t pickin up the phone. But I have to.

I take a hot long shower to refocus my energy.

As I dry myself, the door rings. It’s the electricity man coming to collect his bill.

“67,000 Liras”.

“Yalla, one second”.

I get my wallet and start lookin for money. Then my wallet falls on the floor. Also flying to the floor are three 500 lira coins and two condoms. The poor 60 year old bends over and helps me pick up my shit, only to realize they’re condoms.

I grab my wallet. “Here’s 70,000”.

“So you need 3,000 from me”, he replies.

“No need”. The man’s been through enough already. “Thank you”, I say.

He calls the elevator, wait for him to get in, then go back inside and wear some socks.

Then the door knocks again. Who could it be? Is it the electricity man wanting to borrow a condom?

I walk to the door and open it.

I wasn’t expecting him.

Joe.

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Read Part 6 here.

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Kareem (part 4 of 10)

Continued from Part 3

kareem 4

I hop into a cab at 8 in the morning and go back to my house.

I open the door and there’s Bisi. I bend down to the floor and carry her. Missed her smell.

“How was your night?”

No reply.

“Missed me?”. I give her a kiss.

No reply.

“Wli Kess emmik”.

She meows.

I give her another kiss and put her back down and make her breakfast.

Gotta take a long shower. He wasn’t that awful. But I just want his smell off of me. Smelling him reminds me of what I’ve done.

After I’m done showering, I hop in bed. I didn’t even have a proper breakfast. Not if you call the protein shake breakfast. Just want to sleep so I can fully focus when I study in the afternoon.

An hour into it, I hear my phone ring. But why would it? It’s on Silent. It’s a reminder: “Test at Skoun 2 pm”.

Fuckkkk, I totally forgot. Has it been a month already?

40 minutes later, I’m at Skoun, a Lebanese addiction center which also does free HIV tests.

I don’t have to wait a lot in the reception area. The guy who does the test knows I show up on time.

At exactly 2 pm, he enters the reception area and looks around for me.

“I’m here”. I get up and shake his hand.

“Kifak? Come inside”, he says.

I’ve done these tests so much I’ve memorized them. If you’re a beginner, he sits you down, explains about the HIV test, its accuracy, asks you questions about yourself and your sex life, does the test, then gives you the result. Well, I just want the last part, but still… he has to do all of the above.

He gets to the questions part.

“How old are you?”

“23”.

“What’s your field of study?”

“Medicine”.

“When was your last sexual encounter?”.

He’s gonna love this.

“Ummm… 5 hours ago”.

He looks at me. Smiles.

“Don’t worry… I washed my hands”.

He laughs. “It’s all good. In the past year, how many sexual partners have you had?”.

I know the real number. I have a black book. With the names, addresses and other important info if you know what I mean. So whatever the real number is, I divide it by four.

“Twenty five”, I reply.

“Okay”, he says. Poker face.

Wait, there’s also Joe.

“Six. Twenty six.”

“Okay.”

“Why do you want to do the test?”

Because I suck so many cocks and if I pass something on to my boyfriend, who hasn’t talked to me in over 72 hours, I might just die?

Instead I say: “Because if I’m positive, I’d wanna know.”

“Okay. Let’s do the test.”

I stand up.

He grabs my finger, pricks it with a needle, and drops my blood into the sample well.

We wait for 5 minutes… the longest 5 minutes of my life.

It never gets easier. You can always be safe. Put 5 condoms on the dick before sitting on it. You can be a virgin. A girl who’s never even kissed a guy before and still…they’d be the longest 5 minutes of your life.

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Read Part 5 here.

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Minus One (part 4 of 7)

CONTINUED FROM PART 3

Today’s the day.

I keep looking for that right moment where I can ask Fadi to see me alone.

It’s not that I don’t have the balls to confront him. I mean I’ve beat the living daylights out of the kid before, but I don’t want anyone else to hear what I’m about to say to him. No one can hear.

The school bell rings and our 3rd class ends, it’s time for the first recess. My classmates start getting out of class to the courtyard. Everyone except Fadi. He always eats his sandwich on his desk.

After everyone gets out, I walk up to Fadi. I’ve never talked to him in class before. Ever. So he’s nervous. He doesn’t know what I’m going to do or say. Will I hit him? Will I punch him? Will I curse at him? After that “I have pictures and I’m going to tell her” shit he said last time, he has the right to be scared.

“Hey…”, I tell him.

He’s relieved I didn’t strike a punch, but doesn’t reply.

“Listen, I need to talk to you”.

“About what?”, he asks.

“About us”, I answer him. My tone is very luvvy duvvy. Tfeh.

Even thought he was putting on a mean face, I know he was excited that there was hope of us being together.

“I’m sorry about last time. Can we be alone and talk?”, I continue.

“Now?”, he asks.

“Ummm, no. As soon as the second recess starts, head to the rooftop. The door’s never locked and no one checks for students there anyway. Wait for me there and I’ll come up to see you”.

He nods. “Okay, I’ll be there”.

“Tayyib, I’ll see you then”, I smile at him and head to the door to get out.

“Jad…”, he calls out.

“Yes?”, I reply.

“Nothing. I…I’ll see you”, he smiles back.

I’m sure what he meant to say was ‘I love you’. I smile back and head out.

The next 2 hours fly by so fast. After another two back to back Arabic classes the bell suddenly rings. It’s time for the second recess. I snap out from my mini blackout and look over to my right to see Fadi. He’s already staring at me. He smiles and heads out of class. Alright, this is it.

I stay in class, wait for everyone to get out, and start pacing back and forth anxiously. I want to do it. I can’t not do it. But there’s no time for second guessing. I grab my backpack and get out.

As I’m walking up the stairs leading to the last floor, I’m hoping I don’t get busted by a teacher or the recess monitor. But the coast is clear and I’m finally there. The door is closed. I turn the old door handle which makes this awfully loud noise, turn around to double check if anyone was there, and push the rusty old door open.

I take a step outside and see Fadi with his back against me, leaning on the edge of the rooftop, with his arms on the concrete railing. He hears the door open so he turns his head around and winks at me. “Come see Beirut. Who knew this good-for-nothing school could have this awesome view”, he tells me.

“Yalla, coming”. I put my bag on the floor, slide its zipper open, and stick my hand inside it.

I look over to Fadi. Good! He’s turned his head around and he’s looking at the view. I get a hold of the butcher knife I took from the kitchen, take it out, hide it behind my back.

“I can’t believe it’s been two months since we…Now all we need is some rain right?”, he says as he looks at the view.

At this point I can barely hear what he’s saying cause my heart’s beating out of my chest!

I slowly walk up to him and stand right behind him. As I hold the knife with my right hand, I put my left hand on his shoulder and he melts. He sighs and tilts his head to caress my hand. “I’ve missed you Jad. I’ve missed you every day”, he says.

I push the knife into his back and he screams. He didn’t see that one coming.

I never thought stabbing someone with a knife could feel so good. The fact that he was a faggot made this all taste even better. I take the knife out of his back and he falls to the ground, screaming. I quickly lie on top of him, hold his right hand down, and slash his throat so that he stops screaming. I then stab him in the heart, in the chest, in his arm. I slash his ugly face without blinking.

He finally stops screaming. He stops resisting. I stab him in the mouth, in the eyes, until he’s unrecognizable.

Who knew it only took 27 seconds to mutilate someone?

It’s over. He’s dead.

Nothing can be heard except the noise of the students in the courtyard. I was happy. This was it. New chapter. New life.

I stand up and look down to see what’s supposed to be Foufou Fadi. That’s what happens to people like him. That’s what happens if I was a gay boy like him. Thank God I’m not like that. Thank God I didn’t end up like that…

I take my blood-soaked shirt off, take out the bottle of water and towel from my bag, and clean myself up. I wear another fresh shirt, put the knife back in the bag and go back to class like nothing happened.

Because really, nothing happened.

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READ Part 5 HERE

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Image by: Robert