Stories by genre, location
Sign up
This form does not yet contain any fields.
    « Take It From a Soldier: On Kevin Powers's "Yellow Birds" | Main | Swimming Upstream: A Memoir in Pools »

    Election 2012. Location: In Hamra, Beirut…


    It’s election day and there’s a tarantula in the bathroom. Ominous signs are piling up. After lunch, my daughter has trouble getting to sleep. She says the prayer wakes her up. In a darkened bedroom, my wife is hoping to nap, too tired to take off her shoes. She just returned from Aleppo, where at least one commander says he would vote for Romney, assuming a President Mitt would give the guys with guns some better guns, maybe some surface-to-air missiles, and perhaps even a no-fly zone.

    I’m thinking about Syria, when I pass the local offices of the Red Cross, where a fleet of SUVs is waiting. Out front are pallets of humanitarian aid. There’s Surgical Drainage Material and Dressing for Burns. At the day care next door, I watch a father bound up the stairs to the front door, a big smile of anticipation on his face. He just wants to pick up his kid. I’d like to get a giant wad of cash — always a safe bet to be prepared, here in Beirut — but I can’t go the ATM today. We’re waiting for some money to clear. Today, everyone’s waiting for something.

    At the dead man’s house the guard shack is empty. Seniors in dirty pants sit on plastic chairs, smoking cigarettes down to the filter. Sunflower seeds litter the ground and women I’m pretty sure are prostitutes peek from behind curtains. I am nearly killed as a scooter zooms past, roaring down the sidewalk, thinking of only himself. The girls at the cosmetic store look bored. They have shirts that say Beauty Expert. I’m so far from the United States today, but my vote was in the mail weeks ago. At the cafe, beggars want money, that sad woman I always see is still reading poetry, and I order my usual, waiting for whatever comes next.


    This piece was published by Roads & Kingdoms, as part of its Election 2012 coverage, which featured 25 reporters in 24 countries. Read full coverage here