Outside the Cage

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A120 tunnel2

Two years have gone by since I left Ramallah for Abu Ghosh. No more papers. No more lines. My mother died shortly before I left and my brothers, well, I am a shame for them: a man who has chosen profession over people. Kahil kindly rents me a room in his family home in the village. Time is now marked by restaurant hours. Unlike most new restaurants that close before they can open, Kahil is successful. People flock to him, his food, his generosity, and it is Abu Ghosh, of course, his hummus.

And then, it happened. After entertaining American-Arab guests and taking them to the airport, I was riding the train in full Palestinian regalia: my normal work uniform switched to a white keffiyah. If only my brothers could see the nationalism hanging down my shoulders. I was standing over my seat, playing with my new iPhone, when I looked down and two seats away was a familiar shaved head. I leaned my body closer:

His legs were crossed. He wore a black and white check button down shirt and jeans, he was also playing with his iPhone. Those sunglasses covered his eyes even inside the train. The need for him to notice me overwhelmed me, brought me back to the days inside the cage… the days of waiting. “Faster,” I hear his voice in my head. But it’s not gruff this time, it is heavy. It is no longer in English. “As-ra” He groans in Arabic. “Ken” I whisper in Hebrew. “Maher?” I asked in Hebrew. “Arjuu-ka” Please, I’m begging you, he answers in Arabic.

Lost in fantasy, the train stops short and I lose my balance and somehow I end up on the ground next to him. Filled with shame. He looks down at me and my ridiculous keffiyah. I am burning red. He stares for a moment, lifts up his sunglasses and his blue eyes burn into my face.

“Basir? He questions. “Is that you?” He asks in perfect Arabic.

Chills run down my entire body. My toes curl. I can feel my heartbeat. I feel like a silly girl.

“Yes…” I look at him. I am still on the ground. It is awkward. I am holding my breath. The train starts moving again, and I attempt to stand up. He puts his hand down and helps me to my feet. I don’t know whether to concentrate on the warmth of his hand or my shame.

“I’m sorry,” he smiles, his eyes crinkle as Arabic flows again from his lips. “You probably don’t know my name. Amitz, Am.” Fully up, I shake his hand. “Please, sit down.” he says in Arabic pointing to the seat next to him.

Suddenly, I’m on a train with Am on my way to Jerusalem. He is speaking with kindness. No barking English. No cage, no glass between us.

“How do you remember me?”

He laughs, “ How could I not? You’re slow as the old ladies. Baruch Hashem, I am thankful to be out of that horrid job.”

“But you didn’t have to stand in line”

“I did sit behind glass.”

Silence fills the train car for a moment. I try to drink him in. He smells of expensive cologne and cigarettes. I wonder how soft his shirt is.

Soon our silence becomes conversation. He grew up in Ofer, a moshav south of Haifa to a Jewish-Indian Father and an Anglo mother. I tell him of leaving Ramalla and running the restaurant in Abu Ghosh. He tells me of finishing university after the army and teaching English to Arabs. He laughs, and quietly whispers in Hebrew, ”But I’m really a poet.”

When the train stops in Jerusalem, we get off together. We shake hands, and I try not to linger.

And then, he walks away.

A week goes by. Then two. The ebb and flow of people in the restaurant overtakes my mind and soon, I’ve almost forgotten about Am and the train. Then, one Saturday, between the Arab lunch crew and the American diners, I am the only one in the restaurant.

The door swings open and Am walks in like an American cowboy. His once-shaved head now curls. No sunglasses. Jeans and t-shirt reveal every muscle. “Nice place.” he smiles in Arabic

“It’s not really mine.” I pause shyly “Are you here for lunch?” I answer in Hebrew. He raises one eyebrow and smiles. “No,” he whispers in Arabic. “I’m here for you.”

My body drops. My heart is in my throat. I am silent. I simply stare. He smiles again and walks closer to me. I can feel his breath and smell his scent. “Do you think I really just remember you because you seemed slow?” He whispers again. His breath sends prickly shivers down my neck. I breathe him in again, but I cannot speak. “ He puts his mouth to my ear. “ I remember you because you are beautiful.” He kisses my ear slightly, grabs my hand and in American English, he barks, “Come with me…now.”

I follow him down the now familiar roads. We come to a small inn. I follow him to a room. He unlocks the door. I follow him in.

We face each other saying nothing. He puts his hands on my face, he runs one finger down my beard and the other one over my lips. He pulls me closer and kisses my mouth. My beard scratches against his smooth skin. He tastes like cigarettes and desire. He gently kisses my mouth and slowly licks my lips. My lips part and his tongue is inside. I slide my hands over his smooth face, down his neck, to his t-shirt.

Pulling away, he looks me in the eyes and smiles. “I’ve always wanted you,” he says in English. He pulls me close again kissing me roughly. My hands go back to his chest. I trace his muscles over his shirt and then move my hands under his t-shirt. I outline his stomach and his chest with my fingers. I bite his neck as I pull at his nipples. He moans. I pull off his t-shirt and then unbutton mine. I look down at his jeans and see his hard cock pushing through. I move my mouth down his body. I stop, taking off my shirt completely, then unbuttoning my jeans, I pull them off.

I am in front of him, in my boxers, my own cock pushing out. I look down at myself and then back into his eyes. I get down on my knees and start to unbutton his jeans with my teeth. Then quickly, I pull down his jeans, he steps out of them and I take his cock in my mouth. It is smooth and thick. I slowly lick the shaft and he moans. For a few moments, he lets my mouth travel back and forth over his cock. And then, he pushes me down, so I’m laying on the floor. He gets down next to me and pulls off my boxers, grabbing my erection. He wets his hand with his mouth, and runs his hand over my cock making it slick. He then wets his own cock and slowly rubs the tip of his cock from the tip of mine down to my balls. Taking my balls with his hands, he kisses me with his mouth. We are mouth to mouth, body to body, cock to cock. I’ve never wanted anything so badly in my life. The friction of our cocks takes my breath away.

“I’ve always wanted to fuck you. Can I fuck you?” He asks in Arabic. “Fuck me,” I beg in Hebrew. He flips me onto my stomach and runs his cock down my back, across my ass, then down my leg. I try to get on my knees, but he tells me to stay. So, as I lie on my stomach, his body covers mine and ever-so-slowly, he slips his cock into me.

Maashi?” He whispers in Arabic.

Beseder” I moan back in Hebrew.

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