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The Curse of Khufu (part I) (1 Viewer)

OzzyShiraz

Senior Member
This is a true story. It may seem fantastic, but we mustn´t forget what sort of World we live in.

Just now I bought the shop-keeper´s special. I asked her for something unique and she produced a bottle of home-brew quick as a flash, telling me how rico it is, and all-natural. Course I asked her what´s in it and she starts in: 2 litres of grain alcohol, 12 litres of milk, sugar, instant coffee, cinammon---ya!ya!ya!, I tells her. I´ll try it.

This, of course, has nothing to do with the Curse of Khufu, so without further ado.....

Mid 90s. It was with the greatest sense of relief that I arrived alone in Cairo, Egypt. Someone had been following me, see, they´d tailed me successfully at New York, I thought I´d lost them in Athens, but really only shook them by fleeing to the Islands, Ios. I was really in a panic that they´d catch me en route to Cairo, but they didn´t, and so, as I say, feeling indescribably relieved the glowing Nile passed beneath our night flight and we touched down a giddy mob of foreigners breathing deeply the new African air. We all felt like 1900s explorers; one or two were even dressed that way.

Everything went smooth and by the numbers until I reached the passport inspectors. Mine was in horribly rough shape, tattered, practically falling apart with the lamination separating right at the edge of my photo, the most suspicious possible portion. The guy looked truly confused, flipped it over in his hands several times (I think he wanted to see if my photo would fall out) and motioned me to sit in a row of ugly blue plastic chairs before disappearing with my passport. I swaggered over and plopped myself down with confidence. I was just 22, suave, cleaned-up, and already a seasoned traveler. I´d blagged my way into England and Israel before: I was sure these Egyptians would be satisfactorily impressed with my worldly composure.

There was a large white billboard with black lettering on the wall in front of me detailing a long list of entry regulations. With nothing else to occupy myself in that little yellow corridor I began to casually read them. Boring stuff, mostly, large amounts of foreign currency (didn´t have), multiple passports (didn´t have), foreign flora or fauna (didn´t have), illegal drugs ---

Whoa. It said that the crime or attempting to import illegal drugs was punishable by life imprisonment or death. Death?!

Suddenly the little pocket in my jeans felt like it was on fire. There wasn´t much in there, a little Moroccan Specialty about the size of a thumbnail, but still, it felt suddenly as though I had an elephant tusk in that pocket, and the word ¨DEATH¨ seemed to be zooming in at me in 3-D from that sign. It´s hard, really hard, to fight against breaking into a sweat.

I sat in that chair focusing like a monk on the eucharist on advice I´d heard from Bruce Lee and Robert Nesta: keep cool, keep your head. It was the dumbest thing I´d ever done, not leaving that little brick back in Ios, and now the full gravity of the situation was sitting on my head like a great irate baboon taking swipes at my temples. Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!

I was so busy worrying and trying to stay nonchalant that I didn´t notice the official who´d walked up beside me. He held my ratty, wrinkled passport in front of my face.

¨Zissa passport?¨

I looked up. He was a dark Egyptian, balding, with a neat little moustache and beard, little paunchy, in a tan suit and red tie. He wore no expression whatsoever.

¨Yeah,¨ I said, sitting up straight, ¨That´s a passport.¨

He held the ridiculous, barely-in-one-piece document out, closer to me. ¨Ziss your passport?¨

I looked at it, ashamed and afraid, ¨Yes.¨

His face erupted like a hot gunpowder firework into one of the most beautiful smiles I´ve ever seen, and he beamed jovially, ¨Welcome Cairo!¨

O, sweet blessings under the Sun! Welcome Cairo, indeed! I flew through customs, and with a little scrap of paper covered in Arabic given to me by a friend in Boston I agreed on a price with a cabbie in a flowery shirt. We hit the highway, and nearly everything on the highway. Honking his horn and flashing his lights, my driver was thumbing his nose at Fate for the both of us, weaving in and out of traffic at full speed, new Egyptian sounds blaring like My Last Song out of his crackly speakers, missing a truck by centimeters, another cab by millimeters. I had to cover my eyes.

I kept them squeezed shut until I sensed we were slowing down, and finally stopped. The driver handed me my backpack and pointed to a marketplace full of sleeping and yawning vendors sprawled about their carts. It was around 3am.

The sign for the hostel, luckily, was clear enough and I made straight for it, through a vast dark corridor of 30 foot ceilings, started up a flight of stairs and stopped at the first open lit portal, 4th floor. Hotel Venice. I threw my bag down and leaned against the doorway, saying nothing. Just inside was a large black desk, and seated at the desk a tall, floppy, skinny man with glasses that magnified his eyes, looking at me.

We quickly organised the bed which was marvelously cheap; just over two bucks a night. The room had about 6 other beds in it, full of dozers. One, in the corner, I noticed had a mosquito net over it. Remarkably quietly the manager, Rushdie, laid boards and then a mattress on a frame for me, whispered ¨Welcome Cairo¨, and was gone. I laid down loving the way the moonlight poured in through the tall windows, and just as the first calls to the faithful I´d hear broke through the stillness of Egyptian night I caught sight of my bunk-neighbour. I thought, What an ugly man.

And the cries rang out from the minarets....


* * *


I hate to read on the puter, so I´ll break my story up. I want to share it with y´all. Gets downright mystical. I´ll finish it in no more than 5 parts, promise.
 

JohnN

Senior Member
Wow, brilliant, what an amazing story. You told it so well, the description and use of words was great. No unnecessary flamboyant language, simple yet real. Your lucky you didn't get caught with those drugs.

Looking forward to the next part....
 
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