On one ecliptic evening, a man appeared to me out of a celebratory well-dressed men-to-think crowd. He approached me with a kind smile and welcoming begging eyes, with a cigarette switching nonstop between his fingers and his mouth.
He continued to appear and disappear to me for some time. There was something awkward about him, annoyingly mysterious, dragging me in and out as if he desperately needed me to accompany him to his huge, almost empty cold castle, but hesitant how he will get rid of me soon after.
He lived in that castle-like house on a hilltop in Jerusalem. His house is hidden with the full buildings that filled the area over the years. It is not easy to notice it, but the moment you spot it, you cannot miss again. It seems like a part of a different time, and yet it is here standing in the middle of all those newly built houses with no taste or design. Everything inside Jerusalem is like this, out of proportion and taste. But the house stands there as if trying to tell a story of something that neither belongs to the time or the place.
We heard many stories when we were young about that huge castle. Houses around were less, close .and yet we would never dared to get close. My friends used to say it belonged to the last Sultan of the Ottoman Empire and that one of his wives lived in it in isolation and was always heard screaming. People thought she was a crazy woman who was left to die away from the Sultanate to avoid embarrassment to the court.
I always drew some stories in my head about that poor woman locked in that castle, and I thought that it wouldn’t be so bad to live in such a huge place with a garden that can serve our whole neighborhood as a playground. As I grew up, I forgot about that castle, and my plans to make it our neighborhood community center.
One day he invited me for an afternoon tea in his house. I was excited to go there. I actually couldn’t realize the house until I was driving towards that hilltop. It is amazing how our heads work and how memories switch in different locations without our own awareness.
I followed….obediently with the spirit of the holiness of this place..after all, we are in the holy land, the protection of the ultimate power is strong in a poor spirit like mine …I thought helping a desperately needing man is a redemption that I needed to enhance myself with ……
Each time I looked through that man’s warm icy eyes, I thought a suppressed cry for help was breaking through his eyes… I entered his lonely, huge, empty, freezing castle, and an enormous feeling of loneliness invaded me, and yet so cold, and so unmeaningful.. something strange was surrounding that emptiness and firey wall colors that only made the coldness icy.
Something inside me insisted that this man was suffering, but how would I know? He doesn’t talk; he only smokes; he looks at me once admiringly, and once suspiciously, and yet keeps dragging me back and forth.
I tried to touch something inside him to dissolve the ice surrounding him, but it was fruitless.
Back and forth for days and nights, months and maybe years, I decided to give up .. and suddenly, the ice melted. Somehow he brought me closer to his world, yet the strange uncomfortable mysterious world remained. But again, the closer I entered, the further he would send me away ….
One night he asked me to stay …. Curiosity and empathy made me remain. As I laid down under his cold, freezing sheets, trying to grasp some warmth our bodies could make; he suddenly fell asleep. I couldn’t close my eyes, surrounded by the coldness of a night, and a place. As I relaxingly closed my eyes for some rest, I felt him moving out of the bed, quietly disappearing in the dark.
I couldn’t hear any voice; I was terrified to move, too cold to get up. I waited and waited, and after a long, irritating quietness, he quietly sneaked back under the sheets.
After that night he invited me again. And this time I decided to investigate. As he made sure I was closing my eyes after the long sleep, he quietly sneaked out to the darkness of his castle. I followed the noise, down to the lower floor, below to the cellar, my heart was racing, the noise was louder yet a voice was whispering, not a voice voices were whispering …..a woman was standing inside a wooden box that I thought was for his old belongings. She was normally dressed, but her eyes were sharp and iced. She was looking at him, murmuring in a language I couldn’t actualize. She was sharply looking at him, pointing for him to come to her with a wide stretched smile filling her face. He hesitates in coming, looked like a child afraid from his mother , murmurs something back, his hesitation becomes resistance, and her sharp-looking eyes start firing with anger , and suddenly something reveals from her over-stretching smiling face , four ugly canines pop out her mouth , her eyes are more firing and her hands are stressed with exploding veins, she tears up her clothes and starts to call him with seductive anxious looks , still murmuring with her eyes concentrating on him with their fire . He approaches cowardly, and then withdraw hesitantly. She continues to move her body with seductive moves and cries. As he tries to take another step backward, not approaching her she pulls her veiny hands that extend like a tree branch with her fingers tossing in his arm and grabbing him in one quick move towards her, inside that wooden box, and sucks her tongue in his mouth .He resists, but not for too long, until he falls down obediently. She lies on top of him, and close the cover of the box.
I ran away in a nowhere direction. The silence was back and helpful. I had no place to go, and didn’t know how to get out. I didn’t know how to leave that place. I was afraid to make any move. I had to wait for the first rays of light to come out. I went back to bed. Still cold, but I was so horrified, I was sweating. I was afraid to make any noise. I wanted to think that I was dreaming. But he was not next to me. I tried to pretend that I sleep again. that I dream. That I wake up from a nightmare. My mind was racing; my heart was pounding; I wanted to eliminate what I saw from the existence of my memory. I wanted to go home. But I stayed shivering in that bed for hours. Until suddenly he appeared again, sneaking quietly under the sheets.
Suddenly I realized, I was chosen to be their redemption. I was the chosen sacrifice. He was sucking my heart, and she was sucking his blood. That’s how they made a living. And it didn’t matter for him if I realized … he already sucked my soul out, and I no longer had chances of survival.