As a guy I’d always assumed having a female stalk me would be kind of cool. Flattering, in a non-threatening kind of way. You know, good for my self-esteem, self-confidence increasing with each uninvited appearance. Each knock on the window at 2 o’clock in the morning giving me butterflies of enhanced ego, insecurities just pat-pat-pattering their wings as they disappeared, flying off into the Italian night.
I was wrong.
It all began innocently enough one night, as I imagine many stalker-stalkee relationships begin — with alcohol, poor life choices, and loud music, the part of the brain charged with making rational decisions saturated in ethanol and distorted techno music.
A month after graduating from the University of California I decided to return to Italy to get my degree to teach English as a second language (TESL) and try to stop doing drugs.
I know that sounds like an odd combination — teaching and getting off drugs — but it made perfect sense to me.
I thought I had a drug problem. I thought that I could simply remove drugs from my life and travel as far away from them as possible. If I did that, I told myself, I’d be happy. I’d be normal. All I needed was to be sent off to a land far, far away.
I was wrong about that too.
The pain I felt didn’t give a damn about my geographic location. In fact, it fed on the realization that I was just as fucked up as I was before I left, only now I was without friends and family for support. The hurt grew exponentially in anticipation of the hole I knew I’d feel inside once the newness of my surroundings wore off.
I was a twisted-wreck-of-a-human-fucked-up-mess inside, the type of mess the drugs used to take care of really, really well. They worked as advertised, numbing everything they came across. But now, sans narcotics, I could actually feel shit. I not only hated the things I felt — but I hated the act of feeling.
It was psychologically excruciating and to make matters worse I wasn’t even sure what “it” was, or where “it” came from. I wanted out of my skin so badly that between TESL classes I would take a razor blade to my inner-thigh, in a spot high up, where the seam of the pants would hide the blood, in the hopes that something — anything — would be released.
And no one knew.
It was the last day of the TESL course and my class decided to go out that night and celebrate. It was myself, a cute little Hawaiian girl named Kristin, an attractive, long-haired blonde from Texas whose name I don’t remember, and a pompous, “I’m smarter than everyone in the room” British asshole named David. Every time he opened his mouth I half-expected him to give us some “insight into the evolution of the market economy in the southern colonies…”
David liked to drop hints to everyone in our group that he had been sleeping with the Texan for the last month, while the Texan had the look of a girl who hadn’t been fucked well in about 30 days.
We were an eclectic group.
The group met at Shot Cafe on Via dei Pucci, just around the corner from the Duomo. We sat at a table in the back, just in front of the restrooms, beneath a television that alternated between soccer games and Baywatch reruns.
“More drinks?” asked David, standing up. He was in his early-20s — the same age as the rest of us — but somehow had endless amounts of money, probably the reason we put up with him.
“Sure,” I said, head down in the defeated tone of a man sacrificing dignity by trading shitty company for alcohol, “I’ll take another beer.”
As soon as David moved toward the bar, I saw her, staring directly at me, one table over from ours. She was stunning — absolutely gorgeous with a complexion that I couldn’t quite place. Not Italian or European, but not Arabic or Southeast Asian either. She had green eyes and soft features, dark hair pulled back, exposing a face that looked porcelain and a neck that couldn’t help but feed the imagination.
We made strong eye-contact, and just as I glanced toward the entrance, inviting her outside with a nod toward the door, her friend appeared, blocking my view. Her friend was broad. Like, linebacker broad. Her shoulders took up the space of at least two-and-a-half women, my attempts to see around her stifled by sheer girth and width, forcing me to stand up to maintain visual contact. As I did, I re-established eye-contact, ushering the two of us outside with a knowing glance and presumption that transcended verbal communication.
Walking past the long bar to my right, I watched her follow me in the mirror that ran along the wall to the left as I narrowed my way through the corridor of barstools and drunken ex-pats. Outside, I turned and leaned back against the stone wall off to the side of the entrance. When the girl stepped outside she turned, faced me, looked me in the eyes and kissed me on the mouth while running her right hand down the inside of my left leg, along the line I’d cut earlier that day.
Forward didn’t begin to describe this girl, but impulsive captured my mindset perfectly, dripping with the type of indiscretion that only youth, inebriation, emptiness, and relocation can properly explain.
As she pulled her head back from mine, I held my hand out, inserting appropriate formalities more out of habit than necessity.
“Ciao, sono Jason,” I said, as if she gave a shit what my name was.
“Hallo Jason,” she said, taking my hand. “I am Yalda.”
“Where are you from?” I asked.
“Iran?” I asked, surprised.
“Yes,” she smiled. “Iran.”
Having managed to do what no presidential administration since 1979 had been able to do — re-establish diplomatic relations with an Iranian — I could only hope I wasn’t violating some ridiculous sanction.
“Where from are you?” she asked.
“California,” I said, her looks the only thing making her bad English cute.
“Oceanside?” She asked.
“Oceanside?” I replied, confused. “What? No. I live in northern California.”
“Where Oceanside is?” she persisted.
“No,” I explained. “Oceanside is in southern California.”
“Oh,” she said, sounding disappointed.
Putting her head down, I couldn’t tell if Yalda was thinking or looking at something. She just stared at a fixed point somewhere between the sidewalk and me. I backed up and looked down, trying to find what in the hell this girl was looking at when she suddenly looked at me and blurted out, “We go to your apartment?”
I’m neither proud nor ashamed of what came out of my mouth next.
“Yes,” I said, pausing long enough to allow the fantasy of what was about to happen overrule a better judgement that was screaming for attention but being ignored mightily. “Yes, that sounds like a fantastic idea.”
If I couldn’t do drugs to change the way I felt, then sex would have to suffice.
Just as we began the long walk to my apartment in Piazza Santa Croce, her broad-shouldered friend burst through the door of the bar, in the same way a football player breaks through a banner held by cheerleaders before a game. Spotting us, she began yelling at Yalda in a way that seemed almost abusive.
I had no idea what was said, but it was a scolding in Farsi. She put her hands in Yalda’s face, pointing, pounding, pleading for Yalda not to do whatever it was she was about to do. There was something at play here that I wasn’t aware of, that I should have simply walked away from, ignored, cut out of my life at its inset and laughed about later.
But there was something about Yalda.
Yalda put her arms toward the ground, pouting like a small child and walked away with the broad-shouldered friend into the night without saying a word.
This should have been the last time I ever saw Yalda.
It was not.
A week after completing my TESL course, I lined up job interviews across the Italian peninsula. The teaching market in Florence overflowed with teachers, so I decided to branch out. Southern Italy, maybe. Up north, perhaps. The world was my blank canvas and yet something still felt off.
I needed help. But help with what?
How do you describe the feeling of not wanting to feel? How do you explain not wanting to die, but not being too keen on this “life” thing either? How do you rationalize cutting yourself so that you hurt just enough to not hurt anymore? What do you do when the only help you know comes in chemical form, with a toxic byproduct of self-destruction, misery, and overdose?
How do you describe wanting to feel like anything but yourself?
After swinging by my school to grab a copy of my TESL certificate, I began my walk home. It should have been a beautiful walk. Through Piazza dellar Signoria, stopping for a caffè, then the bakery for some bread, the butcher for meat. I gave up trying to pick out cheese, so the lady at the cheese shop would just hook me up with samples as I passed through. The smells of the city, the cars, the people. It was beautiful and it was alive. The city was breathing and I was a part of it.
Yet it wasn’t enough. It never was.
I walked to the rhythm of 50 Cent’s debut album pushing its way through my headphones. As I approached my apartment, I saw what looked to be somebody waiting for a taxi. Normally this wouldn’t be something that warranted a mental bookmark, but as I got closer, I saw that this person had all of their belongings. Two suitcases and a backpack. Just standing there. Right outside of my apartment. Waiting for me. To come home.
“Jason,” she yelled out, “You are home. Help. Please.”
“Wai.. what?” I asked, shaking my head and squinting my eyes. “Yalda, why do you have all of your stuff?”
“I want to come to Oceanside.”
I looked at her while I tried to comprehend what in the hell was happening. She had two full suitcases, was wearing blue jeans and a button-up blouse with her hair down. She had freckles that I didn’t remember her having at the bar.
“Wha-what,” I asked, still squinting. “Yalda, why are you here? What are you talking about?”
“I want to come to Oceanside,” she said, like a child whining for an ice cream.
I was getting angry. “Yalda,” I tried to reason, looking her in the eyes which seemed somehow disconnected from reality, “I don’t live in Oceanside. What in God’s-fuck-sake are you talking about?”
“Please, I come in, we talk,” she begged.
My neighbors were gathering around, watching the commotion. I figured I would let Yalda in and try to gain a grasp of what in the hell was going through this girl’s mind. I didn’t know what else to do.
“Ok,” I agreed, “you can come in. But you can’t stay.”
I watched for her to acknowledge what I said, but instead, just as I turned my key in the lock, she pushed her way inside of the apartment, setting her bags down and walking toward the couch like she owned the place.
As she walked, she slid her shoes off, leaving them right in the middle of the room. She then unbuttoned her pants, bent over, and slid them around her ankles, kicking her jeans into an area between the living room and kitchen.
The distance she kicked the jeans, in fact, was quite impressive.
Still facing away from me, she bent over, slid her panties down her thighs, past her knees, and around her ankles, leaving them on the floor.
Finally reaching the couch, she sat down, unbuttoned her blouse and left it open, exposing bare skin, no bra.
She sat down and stared at me, head tilted down slightly, smiling. It wasn’t a sexy smile. Or a seductive smile. Or an erotic smile. It was a psychotic smile, slides from Full Metal Jacket projected across the backs of my eyelids every time I blinked. I looked on from my entryway dumbfounded, afraid, surprised, and aroused.
Yalda sat wearing a white blouse, unbuttoned and all the way open, and socks. Nothing more. She sat on the couch, hugging her right knee which was up against her chest, left foot on the floor, toes tapping to a beat that only she could hear.
My 23-year-old brain was so confused.
Here was this beautiful girl, sexy as hell, stunningly attractive, sitting naked on my couch. I couldn’t stop looking at her naked body any more than I could stop thinking that she might just be crazy enough to hurt me.
The situation scared the hell out of me. Yalda had tracked me down, found where I lived, packed up all her shit into two suitcases and made a conscious decision to move with me to a town I didn’t live in.
“Yalda,” I said, forcefully, “What the fuck are you doing? Put your clothes on. You gotta go.”
“No,” she said with a smirk that pissed me off.
We had one of those stare-downs that you see in Western movies right before a gunfight.
“Ok, seriously, like, you need to get dressed. You…”
“No,” she interrupted, cutting me off in my own apartment.
I looked at her, hard, as if trying to stare through her.
“I’ll call the police,” I threatened.
She started laughing, pushing buttons I didn’t know I had.
“What in the fuck, Yalda?” I whispered to myself as I began gathering her clothing off of the floor.
Picking up Yalda’s panties and jeans, I threw them toward her on the couch but she pushed them off immediately with her right foot. Yalda now sat naked-spread-eagle on the couch — all blouse, skin, and neatly-trimmed pubic hair — staring directly at me.
Her actions pissed me off on one level, while my getting turned on by all of this pissed me off on another, confusing me and demonstrating a level of perversion that I’ve since come to terms with.
Taking my phone out, I threatened one more time to call the police. Again, she just laughed.
“Alright, fuck it,” I said, shrugging my shoulders and shaking my head while dialing the police. I held the phone out for her to see that I was really calling 112, the Italian equivalent of 911. “You see this shit? I’m really calling.”
“Carabinieri, pronto,” said the voice on the other end.
“Ciao, uhhh, Inglese?” I asked. I spoke Italian but I did not want to fuck this up, so I figured English would be the safest option.
“Un’attimo,” said the voice, asking me to wait.
“Yalda, I ain’t fucking around,” I said, growing angrier by the moment.
She smiled and laughed once more.
“Si, pronto, hello?” said the male voice in a thick accent.
“Yes, I have a problem,” I explained. “My name is Jason and I think I need a police officer.”
“Ok, what eez problem?” asked the man.
“I have this girl in my house, you see,” I continued, “ and she won’t leave.” I paused before continuing. “And she’s naked.”
There was a long pause.
“You have naked girl in dee house,” he said, slowly, as if trying to comprehend my phone call, “and what eez problem?”
The man on the line began laughing, talking loud enough for whoever was sitting around him to hear. I could sense the group of Italian officers huddling closely and mocking my situation.
“Listen man,” I begged, “this girl is not right. I’m telling you, something is wrong and I need her out of my house.”
I could hear a discussion happening away from the phone, with talking and faint laughter.
“Ahh si, signore, uhh meezter Jay-zone, deez girl you say have no clothes?”
“That’s correct,” I told him while Yalda looked on, smiling, well-under my skin by this point.
“And she sitting in you house?” he continued.
“And, meezter Jay-zone, in fact I have many men in police who will like very much to come to deez problem,” he said, laughter erupting in the background.
Now both Yalda and the police were laughing at me.
“Never mind,” I said, hanging up.
Yalda sat, smirking an ‘I told you so’ glance.
Right then it hit me.
“Ok, Yalda, I’m sorry,” I told her. “You’re right. I think this could work. You can come to Oceanside with me.”
Her whole demeanor changed.
“Yes?” she asked.
She lit up, excited and anxious. “Yes?” she repeated, making sure.
“Yes,” I told her once more. “Put your clothes on and we’ll go to dinner and discuss your coming to Oceanside.”
She jumped up, gave me a hug, and gathered her clothes, walking to the bathroom to get dressed, demonstrating a modesty that made absolutely zero sense. While she got dressed, I picked up her suitcases and placed them outside of the door.
As she emerged from the bathroom, dressed, I stood in the doorway. In all the commotion I’d forgotten how pretty she was. As I opened the door, she continued on toward the exit. Opening the door, I placed my hand on her back and pushed her outside, closing the door and locking it with every lock I could find while remaining inside. I could feel Yalda trying to open the door from the other side while screaming something at me in Farsi.
“Yalda,” I begged from the safety of my side of the door, “go home. Just go home.”
“Jason,” she demanded, “open this door!”
“Fuck no,” I told her. “You need to leave. Go home.”
“I hate him,” she cried. “My father. I hate my father.”
Sitting on the ground with my back against the door, I could feel Yalda on the other side in the same position as me, occasionally banging the back of her head against the wood as she screamed. I heard a mixture of shrieking and crying, stirring up something inside of me that I didn’t like. This girl scared me, but I could also relate to her. In a way, I was her.
Different languages, different cultures, different religions, different upbringings on different continents. Same hurt, both wanting to be anywhere but where we were. Anyone but who we were.
The pain she felt inside was connecting with the pain inside of me, and it was fucking killing me. A dreadfully debilitating hurt connected us and it came out of nowhere into a world that neither of us particularly cared for. We were lost. Hearing her screams from the other side of the door forced me to acknowledge my own pain, and I began hating her for it.
“My father,” she continued. “I can’t go. Please. I hate him.”
I listened to Yalda cry for hours, our heads separated by a single piece of wood. Sometimes the sounds would die down, leaving me thinking that maybe she was done and had moved on, only to hear the screams begin again.
Still sitting, I slid my pants down and pulled the wallet out of my half-crumpled jeans. Finding the razorblade, I took it and cut deep, lacerating the inside of my leg until it was dripping blood onto the floor of my entryway.
“Yalda, please,” I begged. “Just stop.” Burying my head in my hands, I lifted it only to speak. “Please, Yalda, please,” I yelled, angry but pleading. “Stop.”
“Jason,” she cried, “Please open the door.”
“Yalda,” I told her, “that’s not going to happen.”
Reaching once more into my wallet I pulled out a 20 Euro note and slid it under the door. “Take this, get a taxi, and go home.”
I went to my bedroom and closed the door so I wouldn’t have to hear her yell or cry or scream, but it was of no use. In silence her screams were louder than they were with my back to the door.
I checked on Yalda hourly to see if she was still outside, afraid to leave my apartment. At one point I dropped a bottle of water ouside the window, just in case she got thirsty from crying. At one o’clock in the morning, nine hours later, she was still there. I finally closed my eyes for two hours, and when I opened them at three o’clock, she was gone. The 20 Euro note was still there but the water was gone.
“Dude, I’m telling you,” I explained to Kristin, my Hawaiian classmate as we walked through Piazza della Republica, “it was crazy.”
Events in the life of someone struggling at the depths I was struggling are always deeper and much more complex than what appears on the surface. The surface, however, is all we choose to share with others.
“I don’t believe you,” she said. “When did this happen?”
“The day before yesterday,” I told her. “After they gave us our TESL certificates.”
“No way,” she said, shaking her head. “No way.”
Out of nowhere I was blindsided by a linebacker-sized blur, a wide object, sheer girth and width, pushing me sideways and knocking me to the ground.
“Where is Yalda?” the object demanded. “Where is Yalda?”
“Whoa, what the — huh?” was all I could muster as I tried to stand back up.
“Yalda. Where is she?” she demanded, pushing me back to the ground every time I tried to stand.
“I have no fucking cl- she’s gone?” After collecting myself, I noticed a large handprint on the girl’s face. I ignored it for as long as I could before finally blurting out, “What happened to your face?”
“Yalda’s father asked where is she. I say I don’t know and he hit me,” she said, frantically. “He slap me.”
“He hit you? Ok, fuck, man, what the hell, ok, he hit you? Really? Ok, shit. So she’s missing?”
“Yes, she take all her things and leave. She tell me she go to Oceanside with you.”
“Man, what in the fuck is up with you guys and Oceanside? I don’t live in Oceanside!” I yelled loud enough for people around us to take notice. “She came to my house two days ago and I told her to leave.”
“You make sex with her?” she asked. “She is my cousin. I must know.”
“No, fuck no, thank God, no. No. Absolutely not,” I yelled, the scene’s absurdity increasing while Kristin looked on, finally believing my story.
“You know she virgin?” asked her Cousin.
“A virgin? You’re out of your fu — you know what, that’s none of my business. I don’t really give a shit,” I said, throwing up my hands. “That’s not my problem because I never fucked her.”
“She say she go to make sex with you and live in Oceanside,” said the cousin, struggling to keep up with the story. “I try and stop her but she don’t listen.”
Thinking back to the night I met Yalda, I realized what these two had been arguing about outside, when the cousin screamed at her, begging her not to do whatever it was she was setting out to do. Suddenly, everything made sense. I realized I had been set up, that Yalda had planned this whole thing out, the only thing foiling her plot being my unwillingness to have sex with her at my apartment two days prior, and her cousin’s stopping her from coming home with me the night we met.
“Well,” I said, “that never happened.” Looking up, I thought out loud, for all to hear. “Oh thank God I didn’t sleep with her. Oh, thank God.”
“You must help us find her,” begged the cousin.
“Youuuu…” I replied, dragging out the word and pointing in her direction, “must be out of your fucking mind. I don’t want any part of this.”
I wanted Yalda gone from my life, to deal with the situation the way I dealt with anything that was painful or traumatic — by pretending it never happened.
“Please,” she asked. “Please help.”
First I felt, then I heard, the pain in Yalda’s voice outside of my door that day. Or perhaps it was my own pain. I was no longer able to distinguish between the two.
I wanted this whole goddamn fiasco to be over with, but I also wanted Yalda to get the help she needed. Maybe if they fixed her, they could fix me, whoever the fuck “they” were.
Plus, I’d watched enough Dateline to know that when you’re the last guy to see a female who’s missing, and there’s blood in your entryway, shit tends to go south rather quickly.
“What would you need from me?” I asked, entertaining the thought.
“If you call, she will answer,” explained the cousin, whose name I never got. “You tell her to meet you. We come to get her and give her help.”
I pulled out the phone and dialed as the cousin yelled out numbers.
It rang only once. “Hallo, Jason?”
“Hi Yalda, yeah it’s me.”
“Jason!” she yelled.
“Yeah, hi, it’s Jason. Listen, Yalda, can we meet?”
The excitement in her voice hurt my soul.
“You and me meet?”
“Yeah, just you and me,” I lied. I’d say it killed me, but I was already dead by this point.
“Yes, yes, yes! I come now. Where?”
“Meet me at the train station, Binario 18.”
The Santa Maria Novella Station in Florence is always bustling. Travelers coming and going, businessmen, students, families, hustlers looking to rip each of them off.
It’s a beautiful sight.
In the corner of the train station is the requisite McDonald’s, the place you go when you’re traveling and you want to eat something familiar. Despite denials, every traveler has at one point gone to a McDonald’s in a foreign country for no other reason than the fact they knew good and goddamn well what the Big Mac they ordered was going to taste like.
Conveniently, sitting in the McDonald’s gave me a clear view of Binario 18, where I could see Yalda waiting for me with all of her luggage. I chose this location because it was public and I was afraid of what her father would do to her. He’d already left a hand print on the cousin‘s face.
Watching Yalda wait for me hurt more than I’d anticipated, and knowing all I needed to stop the pain was right next door in the train station pharmacy wasn’t making things any easier. She needed help as she scanned the station for me; I needed help as I obsessed over the drugs next door. Help, supposedly, was on its way.
The first person to approach Yalda was her cousin. The moment Yalda saw her, she stood up and ran the opposite direction, right into the arms of a family member who was waiting for her in a blood-red Puma sweat suit. They planned it perfectly, impressive enough to make me wonder if whoever set this up had planned an abduction before.
The guy in the Puma suit held her while the rest of the family converged. In all there were five of them: the cousin, Puma suit, a brother, her father, and some guy wearing a cheap gold chain who I’m not even sure was part of their family.
The father began verbally abusing her, screaming with both his voice and hands while completely-not-giving-a-shit about the scene he was causing in the station. Without warning, Yalda looked directly at me, tucked like a coward in a McDonald’s, with a confused glare that begged saving. I’m not sure what my plan was, or what I intended, but seeing Yalda struggle, I quickly walked upon the scene.
Dashing toward me, Yalda got away from the guy in the Puma suit when her brother yanked her by the hair, pulling her back with force into his grip. Yalda shrieked in pain, a different kind of pain than I heard that day at my apartment. A physical pain that triggered in both of us an anger and hatred toward her brother that I could see in her eyes, and feel in my stomach.
“Aye man, what the fuck are you doing, pulling her hair like that?” I yelled, stomping his direction. “What the fuck is wrong with you?” As I got closer, he pulled Yalda in front of himself, hoping that would deter me. I pushed him backward where he tripped over one of the suitcases Yalda had packed for Oceanside. He maintained his grip on Yalda as he fell to the ground, refusing to let her go. The father began screaming at me in Farsi while the cousin, who knew better than get involved, slowly backed away, exiting stage right. The guy in the Puma suit pulled me backward, and I didn’t fight back. Standing up, I gathered myself and my thoughts and looked toward the father, pointing directly at him.
To my surprise he didn’t say anything to me, but instead spoke directly to the brother who had since picked himself up, still maintaining his hold of Yalda. Before the father had even finished whatever it was he was saying, the brother had Yalda by the arm, who was strangely silent, dragging her toward a train on the other side of the station.
“Where is she going?” I asked the cousin, who just looked down in silence. “Hey!” I pressed, “where the fuck are they taking her?”
“They send her back to Iran,” the cousin said.
My mind went black with anger, a temper I thought I’d lost with puberty. “Iran? What the fuck? Iran? You said she was going to get help,” I yelled, not really giving a damn about the gathering crowd. “You didn’t say they were sending her back to Iran!”
“She need Islam. The west is not good for her,” the cousin told me. “Jason, this is not your business. You should go.”
“What? Fuck you and fuck him,” I said, pointing to the father. Now I was looking right at Yalda’s father, feeling only a piece of the hatred for him that she must have felt. “You have a problem with your daughter so you send her to fucking Iran? What kind of shit is that, you fucking coward! She needs help, not a fucking location change. Are you fucking serious?”
“Iran is healthy,” said the guy in the Puma suit.
I shot him a sideways, hateful glance. “Who the fuck is talking to you?” I asked, incredulous. “Healthy?” I asked, so angry by this point I’m spitting, “so healthy that you decided to not live there? Fuck you too, man, and your fucking sweat suit. Goddamn hypocrite.”
On cue, the train station polizia arrived in a group of three, asking questions in both Italian in English. When I turned to point out Yalda’s location, she was gone. I had no idea what train they got onto or if they even got onto a train.
Everything got quiet as the whole family stared me down.
The father said something in Farsi, and as he finished the man in the cheap gold chain began translating:
“Death to America,” he explained. “He say he think you are pig for making sex with his daughter.”
“And death to America.”
Looking at the old man, I could actually see Yalda’s eyes.
“Look, man,” I tried to say calmly, “I didn’t have sex with your daughter.”
“Death to America,” said the translator. “He say he don’t believe you. He say his daughter was virgin.”
“And Death to America.”
“Ok,” I said, getting annoyed, “first off, she’s still a virgin because I didn’t touch her.” The more I spoke, the louder I got, feeling like a combination Denzel at the end of Training Day and Bill Clinton at a press conference. “I did not fuck your daughter,” I told him.
The translator hesitated, forcing me to nod forcefully in his direction. “Tell him,” I demanded. “Tell him I didn’t fuck his daughter, and I want you to use those exact words.” The father responded, and the translator began again.
“He say death to Am-”
“Man, you know what?” I said, cutting him off, “I’m done with this shit. Fuck all of you.” I took one last look at the father. “And you. You might be the craziest motherfucker out of all of us, and that’s saying something,” I said, pointing, “because your daughter was beautiful. She just needs help.” I paused while the statement hung in the air. “I know you understand that much English, asshole. BEA-U-TI-FUL,” I said, articulating each syllable. “And you didn’t even know it. And you just fucked her life up.”
As the polizia watched on, I turned my back on the family and walked away. Passing by the pharmacy, I made a conscious decision to score prescription narcotics the following day, preferably Fentanyl, because I wanted the feeling of melting away, and I knew that’d do the trick. The drugs always worked as advertised, byproducts, be damned.
Turning right into the McDonald’s, I stood in line and waited my turn. When I finally got to the register I took out the 20 Euro note I’d tried to leave Yalda for a taxi two days earlier. It had blood smeared on it from resting next to the razorblade in my wallet. I ordered a Big Mac and a bottle of water. I ordered a bottle of water because my throat hurt from all the yelling. I ordered a Big Mac because sometimes, you just want to know what something is going to taste like.
Jason’s memoir The Bitter Taste of Dying comes out July 6, with pre-orders available now. Order yours today!
Jason Smith is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, whose work has been published extensively in both online and print media. His eclectic style ranges from personal essays to investigative reporting, drawing on his own personal travels and experiences. He can be contacted through his website here.
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