With a mighty sigh of relief, which he did not quite understand, he hurried to his car and drove the short distance to Toni’s apartment. It was past one in the morning, and he had expected to find her there waiting up for him, but no, her flat was dark, and assuming she’d gone to bed, he made himself a drink and went out on the terrace to cool off. His clothes were damp from the heat. He stripped down and sprayed himself with the garden hose. Then he dried himself and went inside and opened Toni’s bedroom door, but she was not there. Where was she? Ah yes, YES, with the architect of course, the young architect she was having dinner with... but so late? He stretched out on a thick Berber carpet. He’d been worried about getting back to Toni and now, well, there were certainly many other places he’d rather be; even sleeping on the roof with his father, or down in riad Zitoun with his orphan. He never got enough sleep - for years now grabbing it when he could.
‘Darling, it’s me... Radi? habibi? Wake up, I’m home. Sorry, darling...’
It was Toni’s voice calling to him in a dream in which he’d been making love with someone - not her. He opened his eyes, blinked, smiled, and pulled her down on top of him. ‘What time is it?’ he asked.
‘Nearly three-thirty. I’m afraid...I’m sorry but I had no control over what happened.’
‘The architect raped you! I can tell by your eyes!’ He sat up and held her tightly. ‘Now I’m going to have to knock you. I’ve told you many times...’
‘Stop ... you’re half-asleep, you’re hurting me. STOP! We had dinner at Trattoria. One of the King’s sisters was there... brought her own musicians...the most wonderful music. But no one could leave until she left and she was having such a good time she stayed and stayed and I was trapped.’
‘You could have called me.’
‘I kept thinking she’d leave... the architect’s cell phone was dead and I didn’t have mine. At one point the owner came by and said he’d find me a phone but he disappeared. I’m sorry, darling, can you forgive me?’
‘Tell me another story.’
‘Call him... call him right now if you don’t believe me… the owner… I forget his name.’
‘Je suis fatigue...’ Radouan sighed, ‘hard negotiating session over this business deal I’m in. Made me nervous and now I must go to the mosque in a few hours to pray because day after tomorrow is the Feast of the Sacrifice, Aid Kabir, in case you forgot, and today I’ll be busy buyin’ sheep. Go to bed. I’ll wake you up around nine when I get back from praying, now I mus' sleep.’ He turned away from her and assumed the foetal position.
‘Can’t you just come into the bedroom; she said petulantly, ‘it’s only a few steps?’
Radouan was almost asleep again. ‘Take your clothes off and lie down here beside me, look...’ he guided her hand down between his legs. She took off her clothes and lay down with him.
‘You’re hot,” he said, ‘you aren’t usually this way. Admit it; you’ve been shaggin’ that architect.’
‘You’re imagining things...’
‘I’m not imagining things... I don’t smoke so my sense of smell is...’
They rolled around on the floor.
‘Darling, you’re hurting me, STOP. And you’re drunk too, I can smell THAT.’
‘I was drunk before but now I’m MAD! I want to cum but I won’t put it in there with your architect’s sperm.’
With great difficulty she extricated herself from his arms. ‘I think you’re awful. Really! If I’m excited, it’s from thinking of you... wanting to get back here and not being able. Come to bed and I’ll set the alarm. COME! You... you keep me waiting all the time but if you have to wait for one moment you go crazy! YOU MUST LEARN TO BE PATIENT!’
‘WAITIN’ AROUND TO TAKE ORDERS FROM YOU,’ he yelled, ‘I’ve never had time to be patient! You know that.’
‘I do know... I know very well. But now you’re going to have plenty of time. As soon as we’re married you’ll have all the time in the world.’
‘When we’re married you will try to STEAL MY TIME... I know it.’
‘But you won’t have to do all these other things to make money so you’ll have plenty of time....’
‘For what?’ he said stubbornly.
‘For whatever: your friends, polo, reading, travel, thinking, SLEEP! Really darling, I can see you’re exhausted, please come to bed, we don't have to do anything but sleep... I’ll wake you at five.’
‘Why won’t I need money?’
‘Money. You said I wouldn’t need to make money if we’re married’
‘I’ve told you this before.’ she closed her eyes and gritted her teeth. ‘As soon as we are married I will make over a large sum of money in your name.’
‘Why can’t you do it right now? What does marriage have to do with it?’
‘A married man must have money of his own.’
‘That’s not the reason. You’re thinkin’ if you give me money before we’re married I might run off and leave you.’ His eyes widened, ‘After all these years you still don’t trus' me... that you have to bribe me to marry you, or buy me... something like THAT! He laughed menacingly. This is why I must make my own money, habibti...’ he yawned. ‘Now get you to bed and I’ll wake you up around nine...’
Toni was now wide-awake: ‘At great expense, of both time and money, I have divorced Rupert and now you say you are not interested in getting married!’ she said angrily.
‘But I don’t see the reason for it. What is the reason? I know you want some stupid legal ceremony somewhere, but what does it mean? It means nothin... real love doesn’t need marriage.’
‘Don’t be so exhausting' she murmured, 'I feel drained. I want us to be married under British Law... at the Consulate in Rabat or in England itself. It’s for your own sake, my darling, you’ll be a British resident and soon after that a British subject.’
Radouan stared at her in disbelief. ‘Why should I want to be a British subject when I’m already a subject of King Hassan II... his devoted subject, believe me. For me, really, such a marriage is not one I can accept. For us to be really married you must marry me according to Islamic law... Sharia... tha’s the only way I will really feel married to you.’
‘Can you imagine what they’d say if I did something like that! They’ve said enough already. They’d say I’ve gone mad.’
‘MY FAMILY. And the press of course... paparazzi... the media ... whatever!’
‘I think tha's your problem, darlin’. Everything you do, you’re always thinkin’ of what people will say about you...can’t you jus' forget being someone people talk about?’
. ‘Look,’ she said furiously, ‘I’m breaking all the rules having this relationship with you and it hasn’t been easy for me, I can tell you… dangerous financially too...’
‘Move into the modern age, habibti. Plenty of women break rules all the time and don’t worry about it. You think I’m not breakin’ the rules of my people by having a relationship with you? I’m not exactly a nobody here in Marrakech and I come from a tribe that really hates foreigners... exterminated quite a few of them in the past too!’
‘No. I really don’t think you are breaking any rules. I know your people consider me a trophy - just a trophy that’s all. Having sex with a Kafir like me is Jihad... a form of Jihad... Religious conquest... I know that...’
‘Let me finish, damn it! I know these things and really I don’t mind... I don’t... being a trophy that is, believe me I understand it. But I also want to be married according to the laws of MY people...’
‘If I married you in Britain you would agree to be married here according to our laws and customs?’
‘I believe as a Moslem man you are allowed to marry an unconverted non Moslem woman with no problem...’
‘Tha’s right. But it’s me who would like you to convert... not any law… ME, your lover - The one who loves you and always will.’
©Elwyn Chamberlain 2006