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December 7, 2002
The Iranian


Part 10

January 13
8:36 a.m.

Quietly, slowly, cautiously, I am creeping up the stairs up to the attic door. My heart is beating violently inside my chest. I am engulfed by fear. Yet an irresistible force bids me to go on. I place a dainty gloved hand on the door knob and reluctantly turn it. The poorly oiled door hinges emit a plaintive moan which makes all the hair on my skin stand up. The attic room inside is dark and menacing. I take one step forward, then another, until I am fully inside. The door cIoses behind me. That's when they choose to attack!

Uggghhhh... Birds... Birds everywhere! Their high-pitched shrieks, crying out for war against the human intruder, pierce my eardrums. The flutter of their wings as they descend upon me gives me too little time to adequately shield myself... especially my eyes. It's no use... There are too many against me. Their sharp claws have found me, and are mercilessly digging through my scalp. Uggghhhhhhhhh.... Help... Helllppppp!!!!!

Just then, I feel a human hand tugging at my sleeve, shaking me, in an effort to pull me out. But it's no use. I can't seem to move. Their claws are deep inside now, drawing blood.

--"Naz!" My savior cries out žNaz, are you okay??? Naz!... Naz!!!!"

I finally manage to turn around and see my friend Chloe looking at me with concern.

Suddenly, the birds have disappeared. I am not standing in an attic room. Rather I am lying in bed, in a strange room that I haven't seen before.

--"Naz, are you okay?" repeats my friend Chloe, žArtie and I heard you scream."

Sheepishly, I manage to whisper:

--"Sorry hon... I think... I was having a nightmare that... I was being attacked by birds...

--"You mean... you dreamt you were Tippi Hedren?" Chloe asks with amusement.

She is right! Leave it to me to dream in celluloid! Even my nightmares are not originals, only reenactments of my favorite films.

--"Yeah... come to think of it... It was exactly like The Birds... I can still feel their claws digging inside my head."

--"Umm... I think that's just your hang-over Naz."

Chloe and I look at each other and start laughing. But the moment of relief is short-lived. Sadly, this is not the first time I've had a nightmare involving monstrous creatures attacking me. I always tend to get these during periods of high stress. These animals preying on me, whether they are lions, birds, or spiders, represent the problems in my life, and my vulnerability to them. I have a pretty good idea who this latest incarnation of evil symbolizes in my life currently: She has green eyes, red hair, goes by the name žShohreh", and used to be married to my boyfriend.

My boyfriend! Eeessshhhhhh.... Speaking of him, where is he? Where the hell am I and how did I get here?

I try to get up and find out to my dismay that I am still wearing the black cocktail dress I had on last night when...Oh it's all coming back to me now...The party in Bev Hills!!!! Unfortunately, my mind is still groggy. I only remember snippets of it here and there.

--"Chloe... Do you mind telling me what the...?"

--"Hon!" replies Chloe, žYou were in no shape to drive home last night. So Artie and I put you up in Frances' old room for the night."

Seeing my face, Chloe sarcastically exclaims:"You're welcome!"

--"No...Chloe...Thank you, I mean it... but ... What is Ali going to say?"

--"Oh him? Don't worry, I talked to him."

--"When?"

--"I think he called you on your cell phone around 3 a.m. At that point, I believe you had climbed your way up to the chandelier, and were doing a tap number on the ceiling so...."

--"Please Chloe don't joke around!"

--"Okay, okay, but seriously, you were off somewhere either dancing or singing or whatever... You certainly looked like you were having the time of your life! So I just told him I would take care of you and not to worry."

--"What did he say?"

--"Nothing... Just thanked me very politely and hung up."

Arrrggghhhhh.... I am in soooo much trouble!!!

--"Chloe, I've GOT to get out of here, prompto..."

Within a few minutes, I manage to change into my own clothes, and run out the door. Soon I am on the 405, which is where I should have been last night instead of going to this stupid party... Oh my god, after everything that Ali told me, about his past, his fears, his insecurities... What do I do ? I just go and disappear for the night without so much as a phone call... I have displayed the same flakiness that he hated so much in... his ex-wife!

Luckily the traffic is light, and I am flooring it, so I manage to get home in about 45 minutes. Unfortunately, Ali is not here. The only sign of his existence is the faint scent of his Cigar in the air. As much as I hate the smell of stale nicotine, I love the smell of Ali's brand of Cigars. I like tasting it on his lips, smelling it on his favorite old sweater.

I look in his study. Papers are scattered all over the floor. The remains of a cigar are ashing slowly besides his old-fashioned typewriter. With great guilt, I realize I haven't asked him about his novel in days. I've been too caught up in my own drama to care about his problems. Suddenly become horrified at my self-centeredness. Ali's been making all the efforts at patching up our relationship. And I just keep retreating into my passive-aggressive dungeon.

I call his cell phone but it goes straight into his answering machine. I leave him a half-stuttering message full of remorse, apologies, and pleas for him to come home.

I go into the bathroom and for the first time, catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. Which is very unlucky for the mirror. I am staring back at the creature from the swamp. My eyes look like racoons, what with all the mascara and smudged eyeliner running under them. And half of my face is still marked with the weird patterns of the blanket I slept on, branding my skin with exotic triangle and circle shapes, as if I just went through some sort of aboriginal initiation rite. As for my hair, I am sure a few barnyard animals could be nesting there and I wouldn't notice, so tangled and messy it has become.

Time to run some hot, steamy water in the bathtub, and fill it my strawberry-kiwi bath bubbles. The radio is set on classical. Only a few minutes and I am ready to literally let my hair down.

Aaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh... The birds have momentarily stopped digging at my brain. Vivaldi's four seasons is playing faintly in the background. I close my eyes and dip my head back into the water. My nostrils are drunk with the aromatic scent of exotic fruits. Hmmm.... Speaking of being drunk, the scenes from last night party's are becoming clearer in my head.

Last night, Chloe took me to my first ever žIndustry" party here in La-La Land. It was at her boss' mansion in Bev Hills somewhere. The place was huge, with these Buckingham Palace type gates around it. When we arrived, the valets were already swamped with all the guest cars taking over the driveway. Ferrari. Porsche. Lamborguinis. The valets took one look at my Honda Accord and actually sneered in contempt.

Mr. Piggy's palace was one of those horrendous examples of Hell-Ay architecture, with influences from every corner of the world imaginable. The grounds surrounding the place seemed to be a replica from the most ostentatious French chateaux circa the Sun-King. And while the outside of the house was designed like a Mediterranean style villa, once inside, it was as if you entered the world of Kama Sutra, what with all the mosaics, inside fountains, and expensive statues of Hindu Gods and Goddesses engaged in various carnal rites, illegal in most states.

As soon as you entered, a narrow hallway led you to a dance floor, complete with DJ booth, a stage fit for a band, and strobe lights. It was essentially a nightclub! This was not a home. Rather, an entertainment center purchased with the sole purpose of throwing lavish parties. I didn't see any family pictures anywhere. Rather, the walls were covered with framed pictures of Mr. Piggy standing next to a wide array of A-list stars. Which was odd considering that I didn't really recognize anyone famous at the party itself. Sure there were beautiful women here, looking like they had just stepped out of the pages of Playboy. Mostly porn stars, and B movie actresses, Chloe whispered to me. They all looked the same, as if they had gone to the same boob doctor, and stylist. Live, human-size barbie dolls.

As for the men, there were a few types. First, there were the Suits. These were studio executives, usually young punks who were full of themselves and liked to flaunt it. Wearing Prada suits and more gel in their hair than Charlie Sheen in the mid-80s, they were mostly carrying on conversations on their cells, roaring with laughter and chomping on expensive Cuban cigars.

Then, there were the Leeches. These were the usual hanger-ons, losers, has-beens or never-weres, acting as lapdogs to anyone with power. For them, their ambition did not run further than getting a free meal and fun evening, and gathering more invitations for the next shin-dig.

That left a few handsome young men, too broke to wear anything above Banana Republic uniforms, hovering near the bar, ogling the Playmate bunnies. These were young up and comers, waiting for their big break, mostly acting in soaps, or, gasp, the theater, which in L.A. is not nearly as prestigious as tending the coffee bar at Fred Segal.

--"Chloe, don't you dare leave me alone... I feel so on the out..." I hissed to my friend between my teeth while managing to keep a dazzling smile on.

--"Oh, don't worry hon!" Chloe reassured me.

Five minutes later, I was standing alone, cornered by an inebriated Mr. Piggy, while my friend had disappeared somewhere, in search of an impressionable young director with a five picture deal at Miramax, who would be willing to cast her in his next picture.

--"Errr... How do you do?" I awkwardly offered to the short, fat man, panting before me like a pig in front of his trough.

--"Right... You don't look like one of Hef's girls... Are you with Vivid? Or Hustler?"

--"... Ummmm... noooo...."

I took a step back. He took one forward.

--"Honey, I don't know who you are but I like your look... real exotic... Wait, I know where I've seen you. Weren't you the nurse in Saving Ryan's Privates?"

Couldn't believe this guy! What exactly was he a producer of?

I took two steps backwards. But he just kept getting closer.

We continued like this for a few minutes. He kept insisting he had seen me among his obviously vast porn collection. Suddenly, the Return of the Attack of the Killer Tomatos didn't look so bad for resume purposes.

I kept backing up. Three steps back. Then two steps back. But je just kept advancing. His whiskey-filled breath was starting to suffocate me. I took one more step backwards but this time I bumped into someone. Before I could turn around and apologize, I felt myself and the stranger behind me losing our standing. We both fell backwards and the next thing I knew....

SPPPPLLLLAAAAASSSSSHHHH...

We had fallen into the swimming pool.

For a second, every sound came to a standstill. The band stopped playing, The suits stopped yapping into their cell phones. The leeches stopped gorging themselves at the buffet table. Everyone was staring at us.

--"Oh my god... I am so so so so sorry!!!!" I managed to utter to my unfortunate victim.

I was suddenly face to face with a pair of blue eyes, a mop of dirty blonde hair, and the most engaging smile I had seen all night. The young man floating before me still had his glass in his hand when he said to me in a charming British accent:

--"No problem, luv! My martini was too dry anyway."

Before I could respond, I heard a loud shriek from the onlookers. Apparently, one of the bunnies had taken our mishap for some sort of signal. Faster than you could say žgrotto", she started running towards the diving board, shedding every piece of her (very little) clothing on the way. She then executed a perfect summersault in the air before splashing into the water. The band started playing again with more gusto than before, and before long, the whole party had joined us in the water.

I was mortified. Gavin (that was the name of my cute victim) helped me out of the swimming pool before Mr. Piggy could grope his way towards me.

That treacherous Chloe finally re-appeared. I could have strangled her but fortunately, she had the presence of mind to bring towels with which we could dry ourselves.

I was so embarrassed that I wanted to leave right away but Chloe and Gavin pleaded with me to stay. A couple of Voxx on the Rocks sealed the deal. After that, I vaguely remember dancing and music, and some more drinking. And next thing I knew, it was morning and I was not home yet! Ali would never forgive me!

I looked at the clock. An hour had passed and still no phone call from him. He was obviously giving me the cold shoulder. Screening my calls, I thought, my heart sinking. Where would all this miscommunication lead us?

After my bath, I felt a whole lot better physically but my mind was worried with thoughts of Ali's reaction. Where was he? Had he left me for good?

I walked into our bedroom and my heart leaped. There, on my pillow, lay a sheet of paper folded in two. Ali used to leave me love notes all the time, but this was the first time since New Year's Eve that I had found one.

I eagerly opened it.

Paris at Night

Naz, do you remember Paris at Night?
I see you there every time I close my eyes.
Your eyes were full of hope, and
Your lips were full of love.
Your face was the moon that lit
The path back to my heart.
I thought I had lost it forever.
Do you remember it Naz ?
Do you remember Paris at Night?
I see you there every time I close my eyes.


Love,

Ali

I sat down on the floor, leaning against the bed, and reread his words, my eyes full of tears. I didn't need to close my eyes. Instantly, I was transported back to last summer, when Ali and I had found our way towards each other in the City of Lights. It was without a doubt the happiest time of my life. He was right. I was full of hope then, as I had been all the time with him since.

And to think all this time, I worried that we would have a big fight. Instead of being rightfully mad at me, he had written me this beautiful love note. He was a wonderful man who was too good for me. I was so stupid to let our relationship be ruined by my immature actions. I went to the phone to try him again, thinking now that he may have simply missed my call. At that precise moment, the phone rang. I instantly knew it was him! Another one of our žNaz/Ali" moments, when our minds were so in synch and we could predict each other's wishes and thoughts without one word being spoken.

I picked up the receiver and greeted him lovingly:

--"Hi Azizam..."

There was a second's hesitation before he responded.

Finally, I heard:

--"Ummm... Hello Cherie... I hope I'm not disturbing you... But I thought we needed to talk..."

I froze. The voice on the other line was Shohreh's.

TO BE CONTINUED.



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