«Bon soir et bienvenus.» The two tall men stepped back
And opened the heavy wooden doors, releasing them
like giant clams. A warm glow of orange light filters through.
We approached a heavy desk surrounded by red curtains.
Without looking up: «Avez vous une reservation?»
«Nous avons déjà diné, merci. Seulement pour boire un verre.»
«Bien sur.» The red curtains were opened, revealing the hall:
Soft white walls and marble floors.
Fez caps moved smoothly amongst the diners,
Pouring wine, taking orders.
Palm leaf shadows criss crossed the arched walls.
An ornate oriental lamp shade hung in the central atrium,
Spanning three stories of diners.
One of Gerschwin’s numbers played above the polite chatter.
A fine American man in a white blazer sat talking with his son,
over a glass of Kir Royale on the small round table.
Leaning forward, smiling, head tilted, hands interwoven, listening
to his son, who was no doubt an Ivy league student, listening
to him talk confidently in his clean, East Coast accent.
They must be asleep in New York.
It’s madness outside.
It was madness outside: Bedlam in semi darkness:
Beeping traffic gridlock, napkin sellers, wheelbarrows of parsley pushed
through puddles and potholes, arguments between old women and
fruit sellers wafting flies away from their cut dripping pomegranate
All while the sun set suddenly and prayers called to the Almighty.
A white blazer as clean as the napkin, I thought.
We sat ourselves at the bar.
I looked back at him.
The American glanced up at me. A caring smile.
I smiled back and turned to the bar man: