The glass panes shudder as the ancient air conditioning unit on the roof of the building next-door rumbles to life below your window. You are lying in your bed again on a summer night, studying the cracked paint above your pillow, counting in your mind the money in the pocket of your jeans slung over a metal folding chair in the corner. More in there than in the bank.

Your roll off your back and place your face in the pillow.

You think about how nice it would be to slip into the cool waves of an ocean somewhere. The sand running through your toes as you wade in before gliding into the salty-relaxing bliss. Then scampering as a child from the cool and moist to the dry and brittle sand by your parent’s blanket and chairs. Lying in the sun-scorched sand, each grain sticking and singeing your skin as the sweat begins to break on your brow. You roll over again, letting your chest cool for a moment as your back is freshly charred. Your eyes open to see yourself rising no longer as a child from the sand and trudging across the dunes in your meeting-day clothes. In the distance is an oasis. Cool water, shade, fruit trees, a bounty of food and enticements. You fumble along the hot sand, stumbling and crawling the last meters until you dip your head in the shade, a cool breeze rumbling across the water through the trees as you do. You look up to see a wood-frame wagon covered in silks and brightly painted gourds. By its door, a horse draped in sashes and bells, ribbon braided into its mane, stands idly nibbling grass from the edge of the spring.

You hear the first strains of music and then it is evening and the campfire is circled by dancers surrounded by old men playing gourds, mandolins, goat-skin drums, bean-shakers and tambourines. You float into this glowing festival, inhaling the ash filtering down from the smoke plume, tracing the shadows of the dancing girls as they play across the musicians leaning against the outer ring of wagons. They swirl and dip and lunge, kicking clouds of dust into the spark filled sky. At times they let out yelps, like wild pups to the moon, at times they moan sweet long notes into the night sky.

The mandolin tumbles in the background relentlessly, almost a drone, while the drumbeat starts and stops and starts again, jerkily moving from one time to the next. The shakers and tambourines flutter in and out like waves, humming from near silence to a roar before subsiding only to rise again. But, on this night the gourds are the stars, honking and squeaking in time with the shakers. The girls moving around the fire seem to be in conversation with them, trading howls, squeals, beeps and cackles endlessly in a pulsating contra-rhythm.

Languishing in the heat of the fire, listening to the gourds honking away, you feel the logs beneath you crumble and hear the drums shudder to a halt and swing your feet to the floor and scurry to the bathroom. As you close the door a taxi honks to a screeching halt in the street below down the alley below your window.

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