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Posts Tagged ‘Omar Khayyam’

Vince arrived at the building that housed the same expensive, dark restaurant that he and LaGrande had eaten in. He had a more than vague hope that the evening would end much as that one did. He was early and a bit nervous. He checked around the street to see if he could spot his various shadows. He could not, but he assumed they were there. Somehow tonight that comforted him.

As he rode up in the elevator he tried to piece together what he wanted out of Isabella tonight beside sex. He gave up before arriving at the the restaurant floor, admitting to himself that he hadn’t the slightest idea what he was doing. He was ok with that.

He asked the maitre’d to be seated at a table in the darkened corner of the dining room, barely visible to the other diners. Although it was a little too near the doors to the kitchen, he felt that its remoteness was more romantic. He waited fidgeting with his tie, the napkin and the utensils. He ordered a glass of 2004 Cakebread Chardonnay and waited some more, sipping the wine instead of playing with the place settings. He began to sweat.
At exactly the precise moment they agreed upon, Isabella emerged from the elevator and swept across the floor toward him. She was wearing a bias cut shimmering silver mini dress. It looked like someone had taken a bolt of the material and draped it from one shoulder, under the other arm leaving that shoulder bare and back to where it began. The lower edge of the strip of fabric dipped to mid-thigh on the same side as the bare shoulder and swept upward passing no more than two inches bellow her crotch before continuing half way up the opposite hip then dropping down again to barely cover her rump and returning to the partially covered thigh. It was ever so slightly loose across her waist, but low and tight like spandex across her mostly exposed and bulging breasts and her ample hips. She carried a smallish purse in the same fabric on a strap slung over one shoulder. Her stiletto heels were the same color of the double strand of black pearls that gleamed darkly from around her neck. She looked like nothing else than the most beautiful bar girl imaginable inhabiting the dives of Bangkok.

As she neared her table Vince got an enormous boner forcing him to rise from his seat only part way and shake her hand slightly bent over. Embarrased he quickly sat down again. She took the seat opposite him, a slight smile on her face but the same calm expressionless eyes as always.

As she settled in, never taking her eyes from his, she said, “Just what the fuck do you think you are doing.”

Editor’s note: This was written as a serial in a publication called “This and that…” . The story skipped a post and the Author explained: “Now I know you are wondering what has Isabella’s shorts all in a knot and eager to know if Vince scores, but I am afraid this edition of ‘This and that…’ has gotten too long so you will just have to wait a few days.”

Vince’s smile evaporated. “What do you mean,” he responded, beginning to feel the anger rising within him from her challenge as well as the almost certain knowledge that he knew the answer?

“Agreeing to talk to the US Attorney for one thing.”

“Why should that bother you? They’re your people and both you and Russell know I do not know anything significant.”

Don’t be coy,” she responded moving her eyes from his and toward the waiter approaching the table. “You wanted to stir things up.

“You do not know what you’re doing,” she added just before the waiter arrived and asked her if she would like something to drink.
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She declined. He asked if they were ready to order. She stared at him for a surprisingly long time before answering him and responded for both of them that they were not. She continued staring at his back as he receded into the kitchen then turned back to Vince and continued, “And if I know about it, so does everyone else.”

“Ha,” he exclaimed smugly, “you think there is a leak in the US Attorney’s Office?”

She shook her head, “No in yours.”

“Bullshit, unless they were listening in on my telephone call there couldn’t be, not about this. I don’t think Ike would say anything.”

“There is little that goes on in your office that we do not know about, and if we do, then someone else can also. Your office has been bugged and not only by the US government at least not the agencies that we are aware of. Now let’s look at our menu and order before the waiter get’s even more nervous than he is already, shall we?”

“You bugged my office? What right do you have to do that,” he demanded as he glanced through the menu of only two pages with limited expensive options descried more like one would describe a piece of art rather than food?

“Someone else did too? How do you know,” he asked trying not to plead?

“More than one we guess,” she responded putting down the Menu.

The waiter suddenly appeared at the table. Vince wondered for a moment how he knew so quickly they were ready to order .

They ordered. She asked for some sparkling mineral water to accompany her meal. He chose a glass of Kendal-Jackson Cabernet that he always liked that he noticed they were serving by the glass this evening. As the waiter turned to return to the kitchen with their order Isabella noted her place setting was missing her salad fork and asked him to bring her a replacement.

After he left, Vince feeling uncomfortable with how the conversation was going decided to lighten things up and asked, “If you are my body-guard where is your gun? You look great, but it doesn’t look like you can hide a gun somewhere under that outfit and the purse looks to small.”

“The purse is a gun,” she responded glancing down at it shimmering on the table by he right hand.

“Oh, a James Bond thing,” he tried to joke. It sounded lame even to him.

She grimaced and pulled the purse closer to her as though she feared that Vince would pick it up and play with it.

“Damn it Isabella, did you expect me to stand idly by and do nothing,” he asked?

“No,” she responded curtly, “but I expected you would think about the others you may have put in danger’”

That silenced him. He really hadn’t thought of anyone else. Now he wondered if Ike or Fat Al were at risk; or anyone else. Still he was not convinced that this was much more than government security paranoia.

Nevertheless, he blurted out, “I apologize, I did not think about that. It was inconceivable to me that my office would be bugged.”

“What else didn’t you think of,” she said sarcastically?

“I did not think I would find myself as attracted to you as I am,” he let slip and immediately regretted it.

Her eyes widened and she gazed at him until the door to the kitchen opened disgorging a waiter pushing a small food cart and her eyes slid over to study him.

She returned to look at him again.

“You do not know what you’re, talking about.”

“I know what I felt since the first time you walked into my office,” he responded.

“No, it is impossible,” she said while lowering her eyes and gripping her purse.

“Why, is there someone else? Is it because you are supposed to be my body-guard or we are on opposite sides,” he said raising his voice slightly in exasperation?

“No” she said in almost a whisper.

The waiter and cart arrived by their table and she turned to watch the waiter approach with the salad fork in his hand. Vince ignored the server and stared at her trying to think of a follow-up to his question.

The waiter placed the salad fork down on the table at the top of Isabella’s plate opposite her and turned, took a few steps over to the serving cart and bent down to retrieve something. Isabella stared at the fork for a moment then picked it up.

With mild curiosity, Vince watched Isabella pick up the salad fork. Out of the corner of his eye he saw the waiter bend down to retrieve something from the serving cart, straighten up and begin to turn around.

Suddenly, with what seemed to Vince like a single fluid motion, Isabella grabbed her purse in one hand, slid out of the booth, exploded towards the waiter and plunged the fork into his eye. As the waiter spasmed from her assault, he pulled the trigger of the gun emerging in his hand. An explosion assaulted Vince’s ears deafening him. The bullet pounded into the back of the booth a foot or two above Vince’s head. A fountain of blood shot out from the waiter’s eye spraying Isabella as she grabbed the falling man in what looked like a lovers embrace. Another discharge of fire and smoke erupted from the shadows near the kitchen, the hapless waiter-assassin Isabella was using as a shield jerked as the bullet struck him. She fired her own gun and the shadow lurched back, struck the wall and slid to the floor.

A long wail emerged from Vince’s mouth as he pressed himself into the back or the booth desperately trying to escape the violence erupting around him. The scene before him disappeared into a pinpoint of light as if a camera lens suddenly closed. He felt his sphincter and bladder give way and the wetness run down his legs. He could hear no sound except his own wailing while his consciousness like the light shrunk to only admit a flood of shame over his incontinence.

Suddenly, he felt a powerful tug on his arm. At first he feared he was under direct attack and desperately tried to escape further into the booth. A sharp pain from a slap to his face jolted him. The light appeared turned on again. It was Isabella. She seemed to be yelling something at him. He felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude with her being there, that quickly faded into embarrassment once more. Her surprisingly strong grip and tug extracted him from the booth. She pulled and pushed him across the room toward the kitchen. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry,” he mumbled over and over again.

Isabella dragged Vince across the dining room toward the doors leading into the kitchen. She thrust him against the wall, hard, pushed open one door with her foot, and with her gun pointed straight up toward the ceiling just like in the movies, gingerly peered inside. The shock of the impact from her shoving him into the wall hastened the return of Vince’s senses. Along with that came the realization of the precariousness of his situation. Before he could act on this dawning awareness and probably panic again, she grabbed his arm, pulled him through the door, pushed him ahead of her and yelled, “Go, go, go, go!”

With the return of his reason, Vince’s male pride also swarmed into his consciousness, almost overwhelming it. He felt furious at her shouting and pushing him around. But before he could react, she shouted “down” and spun around to get off two shots back at the door they just passed through.

That was enough. Vince, wounded pride forgotten, replaced by self-preservation, hunched over bending himself almost in half, scrambled toward the door at the back in the kitchen, as fast as that contorted posture allowed. He stumbled through the door and on to the stairwell landing. Isabella, followed on his heels, shouting, “downstairs, go!” Vince flew down the stairs, lost his footing and clumsily fell against the wall.

Isabella grabbed his arm again and by alternating pushing and shoving him managed to drive them both down the next two flights.

On the third landing they hesitated. He to catch his breath and she to check into the stairwell below and above her. Above the door appeared to open. She fired another couple of shot. The door slammed shut again. Leaning back against the wall, she extracted a magazine from her magic purse, ejected the now empty one and slammed in the new.

Then they were off again down the stairs until they arrived at the bottom, a small alcove with two doors. One marked with the word “Lobby” in large red letters, the other obviously leading to the alley at the side of the building.

“Which one,” Vince shouted reduced once again to near hysterics as he heard the thud from the footfalls of their pursuers racing down the stairs above them?

Authors note: Since it is yearʼs end and I am experimenting with this format, we will leave Vince, until next year, trembling in the stairwell, in mortal danger and on the verge of shitting his pants again

Alas, poor Vince, he will have to remain trembling in that stairwell for a few more days

Realizing that escape through the lobby might put innocent people at risk, Isabella chose the door to the alley. Pushing on the pressure lock with her back she swung into a crouch as she followed the door into the alley. She saw no one. Motioning for Vince to follow, she began to run toward the street. She had only gone a few feet when a car screeched to a halt blocking their way. Isabella dropped to one knee, gun outstretched prepared to fire. Vince trying to stop slipped and fell onto his already damp backside uttering the unnecessary and redundant expletive, “shit.”

Before Isabella could fire the vehicle’s window descended revealing a smiling face waving at them.

“Ray!” exclaimed Isabella. She stood up and reached down to pull Vince to his feet. They ran to the car. She opened the rear door, pushed Vince in and followed.

Ray, carefully avoiding bringing additional attention to them by screeching the tires in a cinematic escape, drove carefully toward Market Street.

“Where to? Everyone OK? How you doing boss?” he asked in quick succession.

Vince, seething with resentment from his embarrassment and Isabella’s manhandling, just glared.

“Were ok. Drive to my place. I have security there. Thereʼs probably none at Vince’s apartment,” Isabella responded.

“I need to change,” Vince interjected.

“I’m sure you can do it at my place and it is safer there.”

They could hear the police sirens as they converged at the hotel. It reminded Vince of the law firm shooting at the high-rise nearby. He had lost several friends there. It also took the cops a long time to get there then he thought bleakly.

They arrived at the plush high-rise condo hotel in which Isabella lived.

“Hold on to me as we cross the lobby, as though we are a little drunk,” Isabella directed. “It will help disguise why we look the way we do,” she added while wiping as much of the blood off her face with the tissues Ray handed to he when they entered the car.

Vince remained sullenly silent, but has he got out of the vehicle he, hesitated turned to Ray and said with the hint of a smile, “How come I seem to run into you everywhere?”

Arm and arm, Vince and Isabella rushed from the car across the sidewalk, past the casually saluting doorman and into the buildings. Another police vehicle soon followed by an ambulance, their lights and sirens blaring raced past the building toward the sirens and flickering lights in the distance.

They quickly crossed the lobby. Got into an empty elevator. Isabella produced from somewhere a plastic key card and swiped it past a flashing red light. The elevator rose, stopped and its doors opened on to a small lobby with four doors ranged along the wall opposite. There was a small round table in the center of the lobby supporting a large vase containing freshly cut flowers. On the wall a large oval mirror hung in the center between the doors and on each of the side walls was hung above two small low dark wood cabinets a large abstract painting in red, black and yellow.

Just to the right of the oval table stood a man and a woman, both casually dressed in jeans and tee shirts and both armed with small pistols in holsters hung at their waist.

“Carlos,” said Isabella upon exiting the elevator, “check downstairs.”

The man nodded, picked a jacket off a coat tree standing next to the door on the right and walked into the elevator.

To the woman, Isabella said as she continued toward the door to the farthest left, “Lina, please something warm. Your relaxing drink will do,” “ Stronger for him,” she added with a smile, nodding over her shoulder at Vince who was following her across the lobby.

She again swiped the card and opened the door. They passed through a small vestibule with doors one each side and then through a short hallway into a large room with floor to ceiling glass along one wall. The furniture, in balloon like plump modern was mostly a few dashes of grey and brown less than blazing white.

The windows faced east across downtown towards the Bay. Even at this height the flashing lights of the prowl cars and emergency vehicles could be seen far below.

Isabella threw herself down on one of the overstuffed sofaʼs, kicked off her shoes, observed for a moment Vince standing there clearly undecided and uncomfortable and said, “OK you can take off those clothes now.”

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It is interesting that in the iconography of the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) death is most often imagined as a demon; “Lucifer Light Bringer” being the arch-demon.

Lucifer Light Bringer was a demigod (angel) who like Prometheus (another demigod) committed the universally unforgivable sin of gods everywhere for bringing knowledge to the human race. For this they were to be punished for all eternity; Prometheus by being chained to a rock and having his liver clawed out daily by an eagle; and Lucifer by having his light put out and being forced to live with that monstrous big boobed bitch Lilith while spending the rest eternity dipping the souls of the damned, head down into barrels of boiling piss.

It seems that what the gods intend us to learn is that on earth as it is in heaven, no good deed goes unpunished.

This is probably why so many of our Abrahamic brethren suffer so:

The Jews with their unreasonable sense of guilt, probably for inventing the insane god that they did. But cheer up my circumcised brethren, the pagan gods were no better, except that they were superior at multi-tasking; being able to drink wine and laugh, while roasting humanity on the rotisseries of life.

The Christians with their utter terror of their totally insane and vindictive god

Muslims with their hatred of anyone not forced to suffer like them under the not so benevolent hand of Allah.

The history of the Catholic Church and Christianity can be summed up as the battle between those who believe that god intended the spoils of life to go to those whose lives most demonstrate a willingness to do almost anything to achieve success in this life (e.g. Augustine and Jerome who believed, it is not the good you do that makes one blessed but the strength of your blind fervor.) and those who now and then actually do a good deed or two. Unfortunately, that dank cesspool referred to as the Catholic hierarchy all too often gave lip-service to the latter but idolized the former.

The Gnostics understood the truth behind the symbolism when they maintained that the Abrahamic god was the prince of evil and that Lucifer Light Bringer and Prometheus were the avatars of the God of Light destined to ultimately end the dread reign of this spawn of Loki.

Of course there are always exceptions, Maimonides, Hillel, Francis of Assisi, Rumi are some. I would like to add one of my favorites Omar Khayyam to the list. After all he did say that the primary goal of life is “…a loaf of bread, a glass of wine and thou beneath the bough…” but that is going too far I think.

By the way, what is it about Islam and alcohol (they invented the word for god’s sake)? After all, their history is filled with alcoholic poets and drunken califs and sultans.

Did you know, that there once was an Ottoman sultan so distressed that his supply of favorite wine in his cellar was running out, he allowed himself to be persuaded to begin a war to conquer the country (Cyprus) that made his beloved vintage, after the Cypriots, egged on by the Pope (of course), threatened to sell no more of their wine to the islamic heathens.

The good Christian nations, fearing that these vines would be lost to the true church should the sultan achieve his goal, united, as they had almost never been able to before in history for anything, and kicked the Sultan’s ass at the battle of Lepanto, beginning the slow steady decline of the Ottoman Empire and of Islamic civilization that continues today.

It was just about at this same time, back in old Europe, recently recovered from the plague, that a few priests, among them Luther, Calvin and Wycliffe, decided to take the lunatic god at his word. Recognizing that the fruits of life seemed to inure to those most willing to climb over the corpses of anyone who stood in their way, these divines declared that since that is what usually happens in life anyway, it therefore must be the will of God.They also maintained that such success must be some indication of favor from the Most High and therefore as long as he (and it most assuredly must be a he) took the psychotic god into his heart, he would also be first among the elect when he, to the relief of his victims, finally died.

After all, God must be displeased (as he was displeased with the children of Israel once they stopped winning their wars of extermination) with the miserable of the earth and the poor as he was with the Southern Eastern European migrants to the US during the last century and the South American and Africans of the past few decades, since he made their lives so unbearably wretched.

Our fundamentalist brethren,( and if truth be known, the Catholic hierarchy) cheer this insight to this day.

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All my life I have often taken voyages of the mind as I have pursued some research thread or another. Anyway, the internet is a marvelous vehicle for anyone who enjoys traveling without leaving one’s bed.

In my most recent voyage, I had been traveling north escaping from the devastation of Ninth Century Southern Italy with some Jewish merchants and settled with them in the Rhine Valley only to be forced to move eastward into the Pale, when the armies of Western Christendom had made that land too dangerous for my Hebrew brethren.

Shortly thereafter, I was at the home of the local Rabbi in a shtetl deep within the Pale somewhere in eastern Poland when that good man began to become quite emotional and upset about a radical Sephardic Rabbi named Maimonides who lived among the Muslims and was obviously corrupted by them. According to the Rabbi, this Maimonides was attempting, in his erroneous writings on sacred subjects, to humanize the faith of their fathers.

I decided to visit Maimonides at his family home in Egypt where he was working as the physician to the Sultan Saladin. One evening shortly after I arrived, I asked the honorable doctor-rabbi to instruct me in his teachings. He responded to my request by saying “Pookie, before embarking on a voyage into Hebrew esoterica, you should first travel to Persia and stay a few evenings in a caravansary called ‘The Perfumed Garden’.”

I did so and one evening while relaxing in the hot tub after the day’s debauch, I met a fellow traveler who introduced himself to me as Mercury Ali. We got to talking about this and that and after swapping some tales of our respective voyages, he suggested that that evening we attend the salon of the well-known Hori, Scheherazade,  where he assured me that the finest stories in all of Persia could be heard. “Be careful,” he warned me, “the tales are so beguiling they can  become addictive.” It has been rumored that some of the attendees at the salon had become so besotted that they remained there for over 1000 nights.

Assuring him that I will take his warning seriously, I accompanied him to the salon. I admit I soon began to find myself becoming hooked on the conversation. After a few nights with Haroun al-Rashid, Delilah the Crafty, and any number of men named Sinbad (Aladdin and Ali Baba, to my regret, were off on some adventure or another), I met up with another attendee, the besotted tent-maker, mathematician and astrologer Omar Khayyam. He invited me to spend the next few days with him and a couple of Horis, and a few bottles of Napa Valley’s finest jug wine under some trees in the desert somewhere.

One morning, having finished off the jugs of wine, I found myself with Omar banging on the door of a local tavern demanding the proprietor open the premises so that we could resume our drinking.

After a downing a few cups of chardonnay in the cool common room of the tavern, I fell asleep on the table and woke up in the early part of the Twentieth Century in  Greenwich Village in New York City at the house of two hippies who were dancing with each other while reciting Omar’s verses.

It seems that Bob Babbitt and his wife, Jessie were having a party to celebrate the end of their short unhappy experiment with sobriety. Among the guests was a gentleman who went by the obvious alias of O Henry. I was later to learn that he was a convicted embezzler, ex-con and drunken pharmacist from North Carolina who was hiding out in New York in the witness protection program under an assumed name.

He suggested that since the current party was winding down, that I join him at another get-together in the Bitterroot Valley of Montana hosted by a friend of his called Idaho. It was a reception in honor of the newest residents of the valley, Homer K. M. and, his girlfriend Ruby Ott.

The following morning, we joined Rocky and Bullwinkle on Bullwinkle’s boat the “Ruby Yacht”  and traveled down the Bitterroot to Veronica Lake where we spent the day.

[P.S.    1. If you read this far, here is the connection to the complete collection of O Henry’s tales: (http://www.gutenberg.org/author/O._Henry), You can read his short stories, “The Rubaiyat of a Scotch Highball” and “The Handbook of Hymen” should you want to take my voyage in reverse.
2. Omar (who was previously a member of the Taliban) and Scheherazade now are living together in an apartment in North Beach San Francisco with another illegal alien couple from Guatemala who formerly served in the Sandinista army. Omar and Sherry (the name she goes by now) are strong supporters of Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Barbara Boxer when they are not out campaigning for the “Green Party”.]

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