"I dream of a hard and brutal mysticism in which the naked self merges with the nonhuman world and somehow survives...Paradox and bedrock."-Edward Abbey

04 February 2011

Marrakech Cafe

When the afternoon call to prayer came, he would sometimes walk to the sidewalk cafe for a cup. Though his beliefs were farther to the four directions than the land of Mohammad, but he always liked hearing the sound. It was then, he would go to the cafe, sometimes seeking out other infidels and heretics to engage in a game of chess. Sometimes, he would just read a book.

The old, old clerics were there, drinking minted tea, and making quiet note of his passing. Alla knew of their love, faith, and service, and no longer expected them submit in the mosques. It was simply understood.

There were unspoken greetings as he walked by, because they did sometimes talk to him. Although, they found him odd. His skin was the color of chalk, beaten copper, and faded olives. Upon his body was a mark, which might have denoted him as one of the dark ones that bled smoke, but no one was ever brave enough to ask or find out. When he spoke, his accent was unlike any other anyone had ever heard. He wore no cologne, but carried the scent of another world entirely. His eyes, the color of flawed jade, seemed to take in a devour everything. When he wasn't talking, playing chess, or reading, he was writing in black India ink in alien symbols on what may have been paper in handsomely bound notebooks. Some of the cafe patrons wondered what it was he saw with those strange eyes. Others wondered what he wrote in those strange books.

With his cup of coffee and a hand-rolled cigarette, he sat down, taking in the cafe. Young lovers and students, sneaking away whilst their parents prayed. Non-believers and travelers, relaxing in the afternoon quiet, when the devoted went to mosque and the music was turned whisper low. The old, old clerics, retired and exhausted now, talking quietly amongst themselves, sometimes joined by old, old priests and rabbis- people of the book-at which time they would discuss the ten-thousand names of their god, silently wondering if he really was the true one.

There was no one to play chess with and he wasn't in the mood to read. A handsomely bound notebook and pen filled with black India ink rested inside his satchel, eager to come to their master's hands if he so beckoned. He waited. Listened. Watched.

As he sipped his coffee and took in the cafe, it's sights, smells, and muted sounds during the call to prayer, he contented himself to the moment. Sometimes, when not reading, writing, or playing chess, he might engage a patron or stranger in conversation, but that was not the case this day. This day, it was enough to listen. This day, it was enough to watch.


  1. Robbie, this is simply brilliant. I love your way of writing and I really enjoy reading your stories. And every one of them is wonderfully written.

  2. I second everything Starlight said. You always leave me wanting to know much more about your characters.

  3. Very evocative, Robbie, really nicely done. You conjured a distant land.

    I agree the call of the muezzin is very beautiful. Sometimes it is easy to see how places and cultures had such a firm belief in a divine presence, isn't it? It sounds otherworldly and as it the sound hails from a better place. Human beings are capable of doing some truly beautiful things.

    Be nice if it was more of our go-to in terms of actions and deeds, of course.

  4. Thank you. I've often felt a dysfunctional form of envy for those so devoted. How faith can be so easy for them, and I've always had questions. Of course, seeing the dark side of such unwavering faith, it might come across as cliche, but I find myself grateful for the questions.