The Jinni's Woman

by Rawi Hage

Stories by Rawi Hage
The Jinni's Woman
The Little Boy and His Friend the Young Fighter
The Signora
 
© Rawi Hage -2021
I arrived at that doomed building on a wet, miserable September day.

My room number was eleven. My purpose was to get away from my house and go to a faraway place to write. Here I was, in a remote village, no more than few hundred inhabitants, in a damp room with a large window, where light came in as it pleased. Behind the three story building there is a backyard filled with junk, wheels and an old beaten rusty truck.

Underneath me is the landlord, who looked at me suspiciously upon my arrival. Dark skinned people do not come too often to distant, remote places like this.

To reassure him I paid two weeks in advance and smiled all the way to my room.

Above the room, on the third floor, there must be someone, I can hear the wood creaking and whistling under the weight of a creature's toes.

Rain started to fall in the afternoon. Little drops of water glued to the window and slipped down and fell and rushed and some joined each other to become even bigger drops, only to slide again at a faster speed.

The room was small with faded yellow walls, a bare lamp hung from its low roof. I stood at the window and gazed outside. A feeling of regret came over me. Maybe I should have stayed in my home back in the city, in my multiracial neighborhood, I thought to myself. But this is what I have decided to do, and the fresh air will do me good.

So who am I, my dear reader you ask.

A dark skinned, intellectual exile inspired to write a book. Not married, has a weakness for books, solitude, and white, silky-fleshed women.

Now I installed my PC on that wooden table. Hung my clothes in that spacious closet. Spread my books on the floor. Took off my shoes and listened to the sounds of the steps above. A woman, a white-fleshed, soft-thighed woman. It has to be. The graceful rhythm, the uninterrupted bounces, I can see her round white toes. It is a woman!

Restless like a hyena, I stood on the chair, climbed the table, and put my ear against the cold wall. My arms wide spread, my toes stretched, crucified and waiting for the tiniest sound of revelation from above. I heard a chair move and I rejoiced. Yes it has to be a woman. A villager, a bandit woman, I will settle for a farmer woman, a supermarket clerk, a nun, a traveling saleswoman, the daughter of a millionaire, a blond. I will settle for a waitress, a runaway junkie.

You see, I can only get inspired if there is a woman around me. It is their presence that interests me. I am a writer who fuels on the dripping of that soft, liquid substance that is released from their entrails after a long walk in the forest, after that intimate

complicity, after I make them laugh, or simply observe them from afar; I fuel upon and get inspired by women, that is the only way I can write. What is the relation? I have no idea. I cannot tell you really. I am willing to lie down on the longest shrink couch; I am willing to find out all about it. (Though the shrink, has to be female, white… yes you guessed it).

I heard a loud noise above; something must have dropped on her floor.

It must be her soap, yes, she is taking a shower, her pipes are whistling, her water is passing through my apartment; the clicks of expanding pipes are overwhelming the sound of the slippery foam caressing her skin. I opened the door and ran to the stairs and up to the higher floor. I walked slowly to her door and pressed my ear against it. A radio, I heard a radio, soft music. It has to be her. Calm music eh. The romantic kind, the sensual, dreamy type. Caresses, yes caresses and soft sheets. Yes, exactly what I need. Smooth voice. The water has stopped running. I ran down the stairs, opened my door and climbed back onto my desk. Yes, her towel is dropping by now. Her cottony underwear is being introduced gently to her toes, backward to her ankle, now it is brushing her luscious thighs, white and a many shade of white, there is the white of her thighs and the cotton white. Here it is in place. I stretched myself on my toes, I am crucified and expanded, above the floor, I am climbing the wall, now I am horizontal, glued to the ceiling, parallel to the bottom of her feet. My ear, creating suction like a pump, sustains me, it is holding the weight of my entire body. Great, that is better, now I can hear her little fingers lighting a cigarette, or flipping through the pages of a mystery book. Yes, I can see it all. Not yet, I won't knock at her door yet. I have to know more about her. I will listen some more before the air leaks and that pumping mechanism technique that is working so well fails me and the pop sound hurts my ear before I fall to the floor.

Now she is still, breathing of course, I hope.

She is in chapter two of a thriller book and the protagonist is facing the dead body in the kitchen, the inspector is here and so are the dogs… blood all over. It is a little chilly now, she slips under the quilt, adjust herself, holds the book between her fingers. She loves the character, he is curious and witty and polite.

Here it goes, the painful sound shatters my ear and I take a long fall. I miss my bed and land on a book, The Arabian Nights, which is incidentally open to one of the first few pages. I fall on the thighs of a Persian princess who is kept captive by a Jinni, who is now asleep under a tree.

She orders me to make love to her. I ask her if the Jinni would mind; she says that he is asleep and if I do not comply with her request she will rouse the Ifrit up and he will slay my miserable writer's head. In a mixture of fear and excitement, I hold her thighs, position my self and proceed to take her quickly, all the time looking at the Jinni sleeping pleasantly and snoring away.

The rain outside stopped and I decided to go out in front of the house and look at her window. The ground was muddy, with little patches of water, forming a series of miniature islands and lakes. I walked through them, wetting my urban shoes; tiptoeing meticulously, slowly. My heart is beating now. What if she is at her window reading her book, topless, with her little cotton underwear that smells of fresh soap and perfume. I turned and faced the house. I looked and I saw the light of her room on. There was no shadow, no movement, only the sounds of late drops of water descending from the branches of the farmer's trees to join the little pools steadily spreading underneath my feet.

You are looking at the roof!

The landlord shouted from his porch, an ax in his hand. I was terrified; I thought I had awakened the Jinni.

No, I am looking at the sky, I said. I am wondering if it will rain more. I was thinking of taking a walk.

Heh. He went inside, with the glittering ax in his hand. He slammed the door and I could hear him cursing my race.

I had to walk to appease his suspicion. I am sure he did not believe a word I said. So I walked just to keep my words. Another short story was brewing in my head. A story of war, the civil war, the story of Alba, who stayed in the shelter for months after the bombardment had stopped and weeks after the cease-fire was declared. Fine, I said. That's what I will write about. Now all I have to do is see her, the one above with white thighs and pinky toes.

Along the empty road I passed other houses. Large and small dogs barked at me. It seemed as if each house had a truck, maybe somewhere also a rifle, garden tools for sure; some had pink flamingoes, and others had all sort of unfriendly signs and warnings.

Do not copulate with the Jinni's woman, was one of them. I reached the border of a lake. I sat and looked at it. On the surface of the lake the invisible palm of a foreign wind caressed its gray water, which turned into feeble harmless waves that rushed towards me dying at my feet. A few birds flew over my head, shouted over the mountains, landed and melted their black colors in the forest shadows.

Now I was horny again, I wondered if the Jinni was awake. I should have cut off his head and kept the princess for myself. I heard that this particular Ifrit was fond of good poetry, and wrote some poems of his own. The few people who read it all had the same reaction and fate. They all shouted Allah, and fell dead in the river. With a woman like the princess to inspire him, I was sure the poems were to die for. I headed back to the place. I stopped at the door. I looked up. The light was still on. A rush ran through my spine. I was standing right in the middle of a puddle, my head gazing at her window and hoping for a glimpse of her bosom. Still looking at the sky? The landlord asked , spat, growled and shifted the ax from one hand to the other. I fixed my glasses and belied to my room without saying a word.

Soaking, I took off my clothes and threw them on the wooden chair. I grabbed my towel and dried my hair and my moist body. She is now in the fifth chapter and the protagonist still has not solved the murder puzzle, the idiot has no clue. I am hungry now. I opened the bag of bread, and let my lips and teeth snatch a little piece. I pasted some peanut butter on one side and ate again. I picked up a book, opened it to page 160, and read some lines.

The bed was made of loose springs that screamed in agony every time I changed position. Now I can even hear her move. Excellent, I thought, she must have the same kind of bed. Excellent! So I bounced up from my bed and crawled up the wall to the ceiling again.

Yes! She is masturbating; the hero is suave, gentle, and attentive. He listens to every word she says. When he calls and asks her if he can pass by to ask a few questions about the murder on the first floor, she could not resist his British accent, his choice of words, that calm gentle pause between phrases. He sounds nice, she murmurs, playing with her hair.

When he shows up at the door, she blushes, she asks him in to have a seat, and she turns up the light. Twice she asks him to sit, looking at his handsome, suave, erect figure.

He walks slowly, in confidence; firmly and eloquently he thanks her for her invitation. He assertively took his seat and asks her if he can smoke. She rushes to open a crack in the window and smiles and releases a flowery, Sure you can smoke. And anything else you'd like to do is latent in her heart, from her rosy lips, and on the tip of her tongue.

He asks her if she knew the victim. She says they occasionally passed each other in the hallway. At times he would nod his head in a brief salute, at times he would just listen, I thought he was a little weird, she continues, but quiet and discreet. Hmm, he says, nodding and writing in his little book, with metal spirals and white pages that look tiny in his large masculine hands.

Did he have any visitors and so forth…But he interrupts her and steps over to her glass menagerie full of little figurines and a photo of Lady D on top. He is inquisitive and compliments her on her collection, and she begins a non-stop monologue about each one and how she has been collecting them and how her grandmother gave her this and that.

On his way out he shakes her hand, disappears down the somber hallway, and then comes back again and rings the bell because he has forgotten his coat. She rushes to the living room, with him following close behind her; she hands him the coat and he holds her hand, presses her fingers, kisses her cheeks, and now they are on her grandmother's quilt, compressing the stitched flowers, suffocating the peacock, oblivious to all the hunters and their English dogs in the quilt scene, her thighs in the air, his organ pointing downward toward my ear. Free fall! Free fall! I landed on my bed this time, felt every little spring in my back. The landlord knocked at my door and asked me about the noise. I fell, I mutter. He shook his head and closed his fist as if he held his ax in it. Damn people, he said.

I sat on my desk and let my exquisite fingers do the writing. So I wrote all night, and here are some extracts:

Alba was terrified, with every falling bomb she would start to babble and pray for the Virgin Mary and hum. Everybody from the building was hiding in that shelter, there were ten families at least, those who stayed in Beirut. The rest had fled the war to another country, except the Balooty family who decided to stay in their home. I would rather die in my house than live with the rats, the father was heard to say. I, on the other hand, was always pleased to be next to the neighbor's daughter; every time a bomb fell she would get closer to me. Fall baby! Fall!

Now I was dying to see her. I ran down the stairs and looked across at the landlord's house. It was lit. From behind the small bush that I crawled under I could see him devouring some meat. Pig, he eats like a pig. I crawled back, all the way to her door. I knocked gently. She opened, yes she. A beautiful she, indeed. She was in her pajamas, young, with blue eyes, glasses, and a book in her hand. I was dumbfounded. I knew my book would be finished now and become a hit in no time.

I am your neighbor downstairs, I heard a noise, I am just wondering if all is well. She smiled, Yes all is well, you are the writer, Well yes, I have some tea would you like some, Yes, Come in, Yes, You are all wet and filled with mud, Yes, Were you crawling on the floor, No, No? Well eh kind of. She giggled and poured tea. I cleaned my glasses from the mud now I could see her white thighs, her fingers and her book.

We sat on the floor and she whispered to me, Listen the man downstairs would kill us both if he see us, let us talk quietly I am sure by now he has had his meat and soon he will go to sleep. Is he your lover, More like a master, Are you his captive, Yes he is an evil man, Like a Jinni?, Like a Jinni, she said and sobbed. Her tears were falling, I lay my hand on her cheeks and wet my fingers, I tasted it, and she gave me some more.

Are you still in love with that detective, I inquired. He never called me back, the brute downstairs cut off his head. I have to save you, Would you, Yes I would, there were more tears and I drank of them more. We have to put back the Jinni in the bottle, how about the ax; he will only die if you use his own ax, Hm, Yes, and more sobbing. I stayed in her bed naked, her white thighs…well let us not get graphic here.

Next day I woke up early and went downstairs, he was there chopping wood.

Nice day, I said. He just waved his ax. I am off to the village, I said, he nodded. Is there a liquor store in the village, he nodded, walked towards me, smiled and showed me his chopped teeth, Yeah, I smiled, They must have good whisky. Yeah, he smiled again.

I walked to town. The butcher sold the liquor and the perfume. He was chopping some goat to pieces, behind him on the shelves were some books and health products for sale.

I bought two large bottles of whisky and headed back. I thought about her all the way.

When I got there I saw the brute fixing his truck.

That night I went down to his place and offered him a drink. He was all excited.

He invited me in, his hands were rough and he growled when he was happy.

The place was filthy. We poured the liquid in metal cups, we sat in the kitchen and he started to talk about his voyages, on cargo ships, he worked as a ship mechanic, he slept with all kind of prostitutes, fought in all kind of bars. I listened, while at the same time I was looking for his ax. He cursed the Blacks and all those Turks. Then he talked about his niece, and how all she did was read those damn books.

I went to the bathroom; I saw the ax leaning at the door on the outside porch. I went straight to it and came back with it in my hand.

I faced the brute; he smiled, and said to me, So you found it eh.

We both laughed and I killed him.

I went upstairs. She had her baggage ready. I drove his truck, she sang all the way to Cliff Crete town. I finished the book, it was a success. At the end a bomb fell and everyone died except me and the neighbor's girl.

In Cliff Crete she met and fell in love with a handsome detective. He was investigating her uncle's murder. They both tried to frame me but I escaped the law and walked into the book, confessed to the Jinni and asked him to hand me his poems.

Rawi Hage is a writer and a visual artist, born in Beirut, Lebanon. After having experienced nine years of the Lebanese civil war, in 1984 he left Beirut to New York City where he held various jobs in restaurants, warehouses and stores. In 1992 he crossed the border to Montreal and he's been living in the city ever since.

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