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    #1

    Strawberries, part four

    This is the fourth part of my short story, "Strawberries." Please would you correct my mistakes.

    When I finally came outside after the longest night of my life, I stood in the middle of the empty street and inhaled deeply the fresh air. What had happened a few hours before was the most unpleasant experience, which I would not want to go through again for all the money in the world. I was thinking about that bellicose man who was probably now sleeping off his drinks and conquering the world in his dream. It was frightening that he and his generals had so much power that they could destroy the whole world within a few minutes. He did not need a reason for his action. A bad hangover combined with a paranoid thought that the world was against him, could push humanity on the verge of extinction.

    I had almost forgotten the President and the unpleasant episode, when one night I came into the hotel and met Mr Goebbels, who was in a great distress. He had been expecting a VIP the whole day, a certain sheik, who, for some reason, had not turned up. Mr Goebbels paced the lobby, glanced at his watch every few seconds and muttered to himself. He was anxious that the sheik had changed his mind at the last minute, and instead of his, stayed at the hotel of one of his rivals. That would mean a devastating defeat for Mr Goebbels and the ignominy he would never forget. His exasperation grew with every second. He sat in an armchair, crossed and uncrossed his legs, stood up, gazed at the entrance expectantly, and when nobody appeared, paced the lobby again saying aloud, “I knew the Arabs are unreliable. The’re never on time. Why do I humiliate myself for a few paltry euros? Why can’t I tell them there are no vacant rooms?”
    I watched my boss and felt pity for him. Sheiks in this town are treated like a pot of gold, and now when the pot seemed to be slipping away it was heartbreaking to see him transforming into a wreck. I believed that before dawn he was going to suffer a heart attack or lose his mind. At a quarter to twelve, he looked at his watch and blanched. “My wife,” he groaned, “if I don’t return home before midnight she’ll apply for divorce.” He darted through the entrance and disappeared into the darkness, without a goodbye.

    The night was quiet and I concentrated on the book I was reading. I had decided to improve my German, and went into a library this week. The first book I saw was Albert Speer’s Inside the Third Reich. My mind had already become familiar with that name, so, I spontaneously took the book, but then I thought the manager Speer was going to believe I wanted to provoke him, and I borrowed instead Heinrich Böll’s short stories, which gave me a gloomy picture of Germany after the Second World War.
    I was completely immersed in the author’s world, when suddenly I heard the screech of brakes outside. I looked up and saw two silver metallic Mercedes pulled up close to the entrance. A middle-aged man climbed out of the first car, followed by a woman who held a little child by the hand. Out of the second car got out two strong men and a younger woman. They all came inside and the middle-aged man from the first car beamed at me and in perfect English apologized for being late. They had a problem with one of their cars, which needed an urgent repair but the replacement part had not arrived quickly.

    I was astounded. I expected to see a bearded man wearing a keffiyeh and thawb, accompanied by a harem of dozen of women in burqas, but in front of me stood a man in a dark pinstripe suit, whose face had been closely shaved. Both women wore western clothes, and their dark beautiful hair fell over their shoulders. The only outward signs of their wealth were expensive watches, necklaces, bracelets, bangles, and rings, which glinted under the lamplight. I gave them the keys of their rooms, and the sheik gave me the keys of their cars. I went outside and sat inside the car for a while without starting the engine. I breathed in deeply the scent of the black leather of the seats and delicate perfume. I thought how great it must be to be able to travel whenever and wherever you wanted and move from town to town, from continent to continent, like a migratory bird that never gets tired. Sheik was welcome everywhere, everyone smiled at him, shook hands with him longer than necessary and talked to him in the friendliest manner. People wanted to stay close to him as long as possible, to touch him, to look at him, and at least vicariously experience wealth.
    I parked the cars, went back into the hotel and took the lift to the fourth floor. I knocked softly at the door of the sheik’s suite and he opened it with a bright smile on his face. I gave him the keys and he reached into the inner pocket of his suit and pulled out two banknotes, and without giving them so much as a glance, put them in my hand. I thanked him and looked him in the eyes, fighting to hide my curiosity to see how much I got for a tip. When I stepped into the lift and the metal doors in front of me closed, I opened my hand and saw a tip which made my head spin. 200 euros was more than generous. I used to get a few euros from the people who looked at me with pity and waited for me to thank them gratefully as if they had made heavy sacrifices. The sheik’s generosity and style were a refreshing change, which made me ponder over human nature. Watching him lavishing money and gifts, many of the people must have felt enormous envy and secretly hoped for his downfall. I wondered if he had learnt to see through the masks humans wear. Does he despise the sycophants and the others who respect him only because of his wealth? Does he think pity of them or does he ignore them?
    To be continued

  1. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Strawberries, part four

    Quote Originally Posted by Bassim View Post

    When I finally came outside after the longest night of my life, I stood in the middle of the empty street and deeply inhaled the fresh air. What had happened a few hours before was the most unpleasant experience, which I would not want to go through again for all the money in the world. I was thinking about that bellicose man who was probably now sleeping off his drinks and conquering the world in his dreams. It was frightening that he and his generals had so much power that they could destroy the whole world within a few minutes. He did not need a reason for his action. A bad hangover combined with a paranoid thought that the world was against him, could push humanity to the verge of extinction.

    I had almost forgotten the President and the unpleasant episode, when one night I came into the hotel and met Mr Goebbels, who was in a great distress. He had been expecting a VIP the whole day, a certain sheik, who, for some reason, had not turned up. Mr Goebbels paced the lobby, glanced at his watch every few seconds and muttered to himself. He was worried that the sheik had changed his mind at the last minute, and and decided to stay at the hotel of one of his rivals. That would mean a devastating defeat for Mr Goebbels and he would never forget the ignominy . His exasperation grew with every second. He sat in an armchair, crossed and uncrossed his legs, stood up, gazed at the entrance expectantly, and when nobody appeared, paced the lobby again saying aloud, “I knew the Arabs are unreliable. The’re never on time. Why do I humiliate myself for a few paltry euros? Why can’t I tell them there are no vacant rooms?”

    I watched my boss and felt pity for him. Sheiks in this town are treated like a pot of gold, and now when the pot seemed to be slipping away it was heartbreaking to see him transforming himself into a wreck. I believed that before dawn he was going to suffer a heart attack or lose his mind. At a quarter to twelve, he looked at his watch and blanched. “My wife,” he groaned, “if I don’t return home before midnight she’ll apply for divorce.” He darted through the entrance and disappeared into the darkness, without a goodbye.
    Excellent!

  2. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Strawberries, part four

    Quote Originally Posted by Bassim View Post
    The night was quiet and I concentrated on the book I was reading. I had decided to improve my German, and went into a library this week. The first book I saw was Albert Speer’s Inside the Third Reich. I was familiar with that name, so, I impulsively took the book, but then I thought the manager Speer was going to believe I wanted to provoke him, and I borrowed instead Heinrich Böll’s short stories, which gave me a gloomy picture of Germany after the Second World War.

    I was completely immersed in the author’s world, when suddenly I heard the screech of brakes outside. I looked up and saw two silver metallic Mercedes pulled up close to the entrance. A middle-aged man climbed out of the first car, followed by a woman who held a little child by the hand. Out of the second car got out two strong men and a younger woman. They all came inside and the middle-aged man from the first car beamed at me and in perfect English apologized for being late. They had a problem with one of their cars, which needed an urgent repair but the replacement part had not arrived quickly.

    I was astounded. had expected to see a bearded man wearing a keffiyeh and thawb, accompanied by a harem of a dozen of women in burqas, but in front of me stood a man in a dark pinstripe suit, whose face had been closely shaved. Both women wore western clothes, and their dark beautiful hair fell over their shoulders. The only outward signs of their wealth were expensive watches, necklaces, bracelets, bangles, and rings, which glinted under the lamplight. I gave them the keys to their rooms, and the sheik gave me the keys to their cars. I went outside and sat inside the car for a while without starting the engine. I breathed in deeply the scent of the black leather of the seats and delicate perfume. I thought how great it must be to be able to travel whenever and wherever you wanted and move from town to town, from continent to continent, like a migratory bird that never gets tired. Sheik was welcome everywhere, everyone smiled at him, shook hands with him longer than necessary and talked to him in the friendliest manner. People wanted to stay close to him as long as possible, to touch him, to look at him, and at least vicariously experience wealth.

    I parked the cars, went back into the hotel and took the lift to the fourth floor. I knocked softly at the door of the sheik’s suite and he opened it with a bright smile on his face. I gave him the keys and he reached into the inner pocket of his suit and pulled out two banknotes, and without giving them so much as a glance, put them in my hand. I thanked him and looked him in the eyes, fighting to hide my curiosity to see how much I got for a tip. When I stepped into the lift and the metal doors in front of me closed, I opened my hand and saw a tip which made my head spin. 200 euros was more than generous. I was used to getting a few euros from the people who looked at me with pity and waited for me to thank them gratefully as if they had made heavy sacrifices. The sheik’s generosity and style were a refreshing change, which made me ponder over human nature. Watching him lavishing money and gifts, many of the people must have felt enormous envy and secretly hoped for his downfall. I wondered if he had learnt to see through the masks people wear. Does he despise the sycophants and the others who respect him only because of his wealth? Does he take pity on them or does he ignore them?
    That's the common English expression: take pity on.

    Excellent!

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    #4

    Re: Strawberries, part four

    Hello Bassim,

    I am an English student currently looking for material to edit for school. I need the experience of working with clients outside of the academic arena. I found a couple of your short stories, "Strawberries" and "The Captain" on the writing forum of this website and would like to edit them. It would be for class, but rest assure I would not use the stories without your permission. Send me a private email if that sounds okay. As a new member of the this writing community, I 'm not sure what free privileges I have, so I will try to send you a private message, if the site allows me. Thanks.

    All the best,

    Zach

  3. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Strawberries, part four

    You can send PMs after you have ten posts on the forum. As for Strawberries, how would you end it differently?

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