Ali Eskandarian

Golden Years 1 (a serialized novel)

Their plane landed around six in the evening and it took a few hours for them to reach our apartment but by then the new arrivals already had the look of free men.“How about a beer gentlemen?” I asked in Persian after helping with their luggage. They sat around the kitchen table while I grabbed a few cold ones out of the refrigerator for us.

“Your first beers in America!” I shouted.

We drank a couple then smoked a joint before they relaxed enough to talk. I remember the shell shock of arriving in the States all those years ago, remember it like it was yesterday. Our new friends were here now and not returning to Iran, we’d make sure of that. These guys, like a few before them, had risked their lives for their art.

“You came to the right place,” Koli assured them. “Now let’s have some fun.”

We took them on a short walk around our neighborhood in Brooklyn talking all the while about their trip over. The night was warm and breezy. The streets were alive with people. Their escape was not an easy one from what I was able to gather. Somehow the guys were thrown in jail then released in time to leave.

“That’s good… jail is good. Makes it easier for your asylum case,” I said as we walked into a bar.


White van parked outside our window. On it’s side is written, IGLESIA CHRISTINA REHOBOTH. I don’t know who this Christina Rehoboth was or is just yet. All answers lie inside and will surface in conjunction with the correct external stimuli. Sometimes the answers come while you’re standing at the mouth of a great canyon, other times the catalyst could be the smell of a cab driver’s cheap cologne while he squawks away about Mohammed and his prophecies; they never want to talk about his forty wives or why we should believe God came to him through an intermediary in the cave and handed him the old testament plus the bible and said, “Here you go sonny, now it’s your turn, go get ‘em!” Alison says she has a cousin named Christina who went to jail for child neglect. Christina’s son was nine months old and weighed eight pounds. What a lady, eh?

“Not a good carrier worthy of a name painted on a white van parked outside our window, ha honey?” I ask.

“Not at all,” says Allison as she goes on chopping her jalapeños. She loves spicy peppers of all kinds. Her mouth is capable of chewing lava. She was born in a volcano on Easter Island, it was a Saturday and everyone was out statue watching. She’s an Aries like my dear Maman. It’s Sunday and Allison is cooking our favorite breakfast: sautéed kale with garlic, onion, and mushrooms. Also grits with butter and fresh jalapeños, veggie sausage links and sliced whole grain French sourdough.

Our new apartment smells like a home. The sun is shining through the wooden blinds and the window unit AC is blowing cold. Duke Ellington’s on the radio. I feel like a whole man. It’s my second day of sobriety and this time I’m quitting for good.

“I love you baby,” she says to me smiling, her blue eyes radiant and fully alive.

The ground beneath shakes and rattles as the express train plows up or down 4th Avenue. I slide over to where she’s standing by the stove and grab her waist from behind, pull her close to me, and kiss her on the neck. She moans with delight and melts into me for a moment while turning the heat down on the kale. I move my hands down and squeeze her ass with intent. She’s stirring the grits. Her short shorts are exposing her long smooth legs. I want to lay her down on the wooden kitchen floor and examine her from head to toe but my hunger gets the better of me. We’re happy today, have been for a couple of weeks. Before that we had a couple of miserable weeks with no sex, no love making at all. I was mostly getting drunk after work so by the time she got home from the restaurant late at night I was done for. When the loving is good it’s the best.

When we met we were both lurking in the dark corners of the night, swimming in the frigid waters of single life in New York City. I fell for her the moment she walked in the door with a roommate of mine and a bunch of other people. It turned into a party pretty quickly. I had to have her but needed to be careful. You don’t take a girl away from a roommate/friend without a little bit of tact and skillful maneuvering. We were both coked up within an hour of that first meeting and working on getting drunk. She played all the right songs, just sat down and asked if she could take over the music.

“Do you know who this is?” she asked me slyly.

“Sure, it’s 13th Floor Elevators. Great choice,” I answered.

“What do you want to hear?”

“Whatever you say.”

We shared a cigarette, passed it back and forth like we’d known one another for years. Stayed up until way after dawn. Then she left with my friend and I had to wait a while to see her again.

From: Golden Years (uncorrected text)

Photograph: Sot

Ali Eskandarian is a musician and author of the novel Golden Years, which will be serialized on his medium page. Eskandarian’s transnational upbringing makes him a prescient voice for our era. The Iranian-American troubadour draws upon influences as discrete as American folk, rock and traditional Persian music to craft songs about love, travel, politics and loneliness. The results have earned him comparisons to greats like Bob Dylan and Jeff Buckley. Ali was born in Pensacola, FL, on September 11, 1978. Growing up in Tehran, during the Iranian Revolution, Ali found strength in music and the arts. The family left Iran and was granted political asylum in Germany before relocating to Dallas, Texas, where Ali experienced an arts-filled adolescence. Ali has been living in New York since 2003. His debut album, Nothing to Say, was released on Judy Collins’ Wildflower Records, he has toured the States several times including as opener for Peter Murphy (Bauhaus) and with fellow Iranians The Yellow Dogs. Golden Years is his first novel, and describes the lives of young (artistic) Iranians in Brooklyn, New York.