“That siren brings us to an important point,  my talkative friend,” Wayne shifted to face Abbas full on and watch his reaction to what he was about to say. “What are we to do about that little gang of thugs that were about to torch you earlier?”

His effort gained no reward, Abbas remained implacable, his face set, emotions locked away. He offered no response.

“Seriously Abbas, son of whomever the great Emir, I’m not taking the mick. We must report them. Stupid little buggers might have really done it you know? I mean really set the place and you alight. Granted I don’t really think they actually meant to do it but it was darned close all the same and the point is, next time they might get that bit more drunk and take one more pill or whatever and whumph, bang, suddenly its done, before anyone realises what’s happening and some poor sod like you and probably one or more of them will be gone.”

Wayne’s words were passionate and heartfelt. When he had heard the ruckus he had known before he had seen the assailants, that they were young and nervous. Their drug filled voices had told him the story. It was one he could relate to, peer pressure, rivalry and teenage hormones all rolled into one. He’d arrived in the nick of time. One of the lads had opened the petrol can and actually splashed some around. Wayne’s shouts and the sound of him thundering toward them had been enough, in truth they were relieved to be disturbed and they had all fled.

Wayne had only really caught sight of fleeting images, a girl, he had registered that. Long dark wavy hair had streamed out behind her as she fled and she had turned her head back and looked straight at Wayne, her eyes brimming with tears and gratitude. Gracie, he’d heard one of the boys call after her. She had wanted out. Wayne sighed heavily again, suddenly tired, the whole thing was too much. He knew what the Arab’s response would be.

“So what do you say my friend? You and me gonna wander off down to the local guardia’s office and file a complaint huh? Cos I bet you don’t have a phone and I sure as heck don’t.”

Wayne watched Abbas as he sat staring into the embers of his fire. It was as if Wayne’s presence no longer held any interest to him.

“No, I didn’t think so somehow.” Wayne’s tone was resigned. “I didn’t figure on you and me trolling down the cop shop together arm in arm, maybe singing a ditty along the way,” he snickered at the image. “Not your style really mate, is it?”

“You don’t know love.” Abbas’ words cut through the night air as he continued staring at the fire and poking it with a stick. His voice was even, monotone but authoritative. “You think you do but you don’t. You haven’t even started to tell me your story, you cannot. You haven’t told it to yourself yet. But it is not one of love. Love has not graced you yet.”

The words sliced through the night air. Wayne reacted immediately the words piercing his heart. He leapt up kicking out at the fire in anger, his fists clenched, his face a mask of anger and hurt. He turned to the Arab grabbing his back pack and shouted in his face.

“What the hell do you know about it? Well come on what?” His face was wretched as he spat the word at Abbas. “Who in God’s name do you think you are? I save your life, share my water and try to be friendly and you sit there like some self-appointed guru or something and cast judgement on my life. How dare you?”

Wayne stormed round the man’s area of possessions kicking up the dry dirt as went, setting small stones flying into the night, he didn’t care, he really wanted to strike the Arab but something stopped him. Instead he violated the man’s space. Abbas sat there, neither flinching nor showing reaction.

“Not – one – word – of thanks, not one – just a sweeping statement about my ability to be loved and love. How dare you.”

As Wayne screamed this last Abbas finally raised his eyes from the fire and fixed him with a stare. Wayne stood his ground meeting the hard black stare eyeball to eyeball.

“I did not ask to be saved. I beseeched the one true God Allah to release me. It was my time to die. You did not save me,” his voice was low and menacing. Wayne heard the strength of the man’s desperation, for the first time he sensed the Arab’s emotions.

“You have imprisoned me, trapped me in this torture that you call life.”

Wayne stared. He was speechless, his thoughts and emotions were in turmoil. He opened his mouth to retort then closed it again. Abbas was once more staring at his fire, Wayne’s presence forgotten. Or so it seemed. But deep inside Wayne knew this wasn’t true yet he chose to ignore that inner voice, preferring the easier option of hurt pride.

“Whatever Matey. Whatever,” with that Wayne hitched his backpack, turned and walked away, leaving the strange Arab behind him.

Forever.

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