Those were the last words that man uttered. The leader unsheathed his sword once more and cut off his head.
You should not have killed him, another cried. It is not right that you go first. We should let Sitt Fatima decide. She is the expert, not you. She should decide on the order. Since I have the biggest penis, I believe I should go first.
You do not have the biggest, argued another. I do. He lifted his desert robe. Look here, Sitt Fatima. I have the biggest, and I promise you I am not a bad lover. You must pick me.
Put that tiny thing away, the leader said. I am the leader and I go first.
It is thickness that matters, not length.
I still want the boy. I just want the boy.
Your member is no bigger than a thimble.
You take that back. Admit that mine is bigger than yours or prepare to die.
And the men fought till death. The leader was left standingthe leader and the boy lover, who had remained out of the fray. The best of all men awaits you, your ladyship. The leader puffed up like a pigeon. Let us begin.
Let us, she said. Undress and show me my prize.
Come to me, he said once he was nude. Look. I really have the biggest one.
No, Fatima said. Mine is bigger. From under her dress, she took out her knife and cut his penis off and slit his throat.
Pack everything back into the caravan, Fatima told Jawad. We have some ways to go before we settle for the night. Gather these dead mens horses. I will go through their things. We will leave this arid wilderness richer than we arrived.
But what shall we do with this man? Jawad gestured toward his admirer.
By your leave, I would like to invite the boy into my tent, Khayal said.
The boy is neither captured nor a slave, Fatima said. Since he has free will, you must convince him, charm him into your tent. We have seven nights before we reach my home city, Alexandria. You have seven nights to seduce him. You may begin tomorrow.
And Fatima looked up at the sky and its stars and thanked the moon for his help.
And Fatima, Jawad, Khayal, led their numerous horses, camels, and mules into the night.
Excerpted from The Hakawati by Rabih Alameddine Copyright © 2008 by Rabih Alameddine. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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