Thursday, April 5, 2012

Belly Dancing and a Choke Hold

I opened the door. It had black streaks and stains on the outside panel. Security must not have been a worry here. The handle was unlocked and the brass coating was chipped off in places. It felt like ice in my hand even with mittens on. I clamored inside to find everyone taking shots. My bright pink snow coat seamed out of place in the mist of tank tops and torn jeans. I was the second female in this party. College men were joking around in Arabic. Of course I only had learned curse words and picked out a couple here and there as the conversations grew louder with Vodka and Red Bull for fuel. The guy I sort of knew was no where to be found. Standing awkwardly in the door way, I slipped off my black ballet flats. I had on bright pink slip socks that just covered my toes. The other girl there laughed at my feet. "What the heck are those!?" She shouted across the living room. I went to explain the socks but none was needed. I was being beckoned towards the kitchen for shots.

Tiny ceramic tea bowls were being filled to the brim with Grey Goose. The guys swarmed the opening to the kitchen to watch us. There had to have been at least twenty Saudi Arabians watching me hook arm in arm with this other girl. We downed the first shot wedding style and poured another. My eyes burned and I ached for relief. The second shot was downed. The girl tore away and reached into the mini refrigerator. She popped open a can. It made a cool crisp break in the top and sprayed out ready for me to sip away my scorched throat.

My body was unbalanced. I leaned on people and walls to make it around the room. More men had showed up and were playing cards on the floor. Losers were to take the shot in the middle and down it before the next round began. Smoke filled the air and turned it to a heavy smog. I plopped down next to them and asked to join in English. A Saudi responded in Arabic. I had no idea what he was telling me. "How do you play this?" I shouted at him drunkenly. "He says no women allowed to play this game" another answered me. "What?!" I responded aghast, "Teach me". No one made a sound and kept playing. The other girl had heard me upset from the kitchen and came to grab me off the floor. More shots. The several men who had watched us take shots were back. Some had cameras. Arm in arm we downed another shot. Bright lights flashed over my closed eyelids. Everyone was laughing and cheering at us.

The other girl and I started dancing and jumping around the living room. Music filled my head and clouded out the shouts of Arabic. The music didn't have any lyrics I could understand. A woman's voice wailed to the flute and stringed instruments. Bass bumped in my bones. Saudi men filled in the space around us so we were encircled by strong incenses and foreign cologne. They were clapping their hands above their heads to the beat at us. I closed my eyes and just danced in circles hand in hand with this other girl. I tried to block out the idea that I was a piece of meat on a string dangling above a pit of hungry wolves. Screw the world I thought. I'm just going to dance for once in my life without care. I was a drunk blow up air balloon flailing and bending in the wind. I had no idea how to dance to this foreign music.

A Saudi appeared through the cloud of cigarette smoke. He had long curly hair that poofed out to the sides of his head. The jeans he had on were torn at the knees. "Let's see your dance jameelah" he said slyly. The other girl and I pretended to belly dance at this tall dark figure. "I'll give you forty dollars to flash your tits or ass". Butterflies filled my entire body. "What?" I looked at the other girl for reassurance. "He wants to see that ass" she grabbed at my waist jokingly. Standing back arms crossed I asked for proof of the money. A black wallet came through the air. I caught the leather between bother hands and pulled open the new folds. A fifty dollar bill and two twenty dollar bills were in the wallet. I threw it back with confidence. This was not part of the plan when I set out to come to this party. I turned around and slipped down my jeans half way off my bottom. Hot pink boy shorts peaked over the top of the denim pockets. "There!" I shouted. "Now give me the money!" He stood up and said "No." The other girl pulled my jeans down the rest of the way leaving me gripping at my knees to pull them back up. She slapped my ass hard. I turned around and grabbed the two twenties he was waving in the air. The stairs were a couple feet to the left. I ran hard towards them. I took each one two by two grabbing the banister for stability.

The guy I was looking for was in a bedroom with the door open. I flung myself onto the bed next to him. "Hey! I just won myself forty bucks for showing my undies". He didn't respond to me. "Hey!" I jumped up and down on the bed. "We can go out for a dinner date or something now". He rolled over and grabbed me down from my jumping and smothered me with kissing on my neck and chest. "Hey! See". I threw the money down at him. His breath smelled sweet and smokey. "I'm too high for this". He mumbled and put his hands over his face. My harassment was useless. I ran back down the stairs.

" Give me back my money". The Saudi stopped me at the bottom of the stairs. "NO" I hollered drunkenly back at him and continued to push past him towards the other girl in the living room. "Give, me, back, my money." He grew taller and pulled his poofy hair back with a pony tail tie that was strapped to his wrist. "What for? I did what you asked and you made a deal". My mind started to sober with adrenaline. "You are not worth even ten dollars". My heart beat violently and I began to have that moment where in school they talk about fleeing a situation or standing ground to fight. I have always ran from fear or coward ready to ball up and be impenetrable. Never once had I shown the tenacity to defend myself or stand up to anyone. I typically work on the notion of quick make everyone happy so we don't fight. Recalling all of my previous health ed classes none of the options were give up and give them what they want. The alcohol must have been coursing through my veins and limiting my ability to size this man up because my right hand, unbeknownst to me, rose up above my head. My eyes squinted tight and I struck the Saudi, who was much larger than me, square in the side of the face with a strong flat hand. It stung my skin on impact and no sooner did my nervous system pick up what had just happened, I was grabbed by the throat. Tight, hot, hands were wrapped around my trachea. My breath was coming in gasps and I could feel myself being lifted from the ground. Loud shouts of Arabic filled the room as it closed in on me. My arms went up towards his to pull down and release the vice. Several men grabbed at this Saudi's arms and yelled angrily in his face. His eyes were dark and full of hate. My body was thrown hard into the wall and I crumbled down in the middle of the card game. Shot glass and vodka crushed under the weight of my foot. It burned for a moment. "RUN!" The other girl screamed.

Running up the stairs, I fell. He grabbed at my ankles to pull me back down. I held tight to the banister and pulled myself away. I made it to the room full of marijuana smoke again. A wimpy wooden door kept me inside. I pressed my weight against it. "Help me!" I screamed at the top of my lungs at the guy high in the bed. He laid there staring at me. Knock, Knock came the knuckles of the other girl against the wood. "Let me in, Let us in!" She stammered. I cracked the door to see her face and three other Saudi men ready to fall into the room. Behind them running up the stairs, was the Saudi I slapped.

Tears poured out my eyes in the other girls arms. We curled up on the bed together next to the idiot who couldn't tell what was reality. She held me tight and told me it was going to be okay. The three men pressed their weight against the door and groaned in agony to keep me from being murdered. Each bang on the door was thunder inside my chest. This Saudi must have been on steroids. I had never known any of them to be this aggressive or have such a beast stature. He kept attacking at the door and pressing his whole body weight into the fortress.

The window was right behind me. The air coming through the screen gave my arms goosebumps. I jolted away from the nervous grip of the other girl trying to hold me calm. Remembering how my parents had taught us how to press out the screen in the second story bedroom in case of a fire, I punched hard at the corners. Out it went onto the roof in a clamor. The Saudi's were cursing at each other through the door. Their strength was giving up and I had to leave somehow. Not saying a word I jumped up and out of the window. The tiles were like sandpaper on my feet. They stuck to my socks and marked me with black dirt. I crawled towards the top most point on the roof. It was dark out and there was only the sound of a madman perusing me through the window. I could hear him break free through the door. More Arabic. I held the roof tight and shivered. Waiting. Silence took over my head. I buried my face in my knees and held onto my legs tightly. "Take your money back!" The girl screamed.

His car was a black BMW with lights underneath. The bass of his stereo thumbed when they turned the car on. Cursing in Arabic a group of them got in and I could see them drive away. Silence again. My heart rate was coming down some and I realized, Holy shit I'm on a their roof! My body wanted to whimper and cry but adrenaline kept me from releasing my emotions.

A familiar face peaked out from below the steepest portion of the roof. The guy who was too high to help me was now offering a hand down. For a moment I hesitated. I tried to think how am I supposed to trust this pot head to get me down. Nothing mattered now. I just wanted to go home.

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