A metal box swings with burning charcoal; he stacks the embers and covers the glow with apple tobacco; he sucks deeply and exhales the first pungent puff.
Narghile connoisseurs would sigh, ‘fruity, mellow.’ But, to me, it is an odor, rank and putrescent.
A moment on smoke swirls the malodorous scent that throws me back into a dank and stuffy room…
three steps down…
I’m told to sit next to him, he can’t hear me. The narghile mouth piece dangles from the side of his mouth. His yellow, stubble chin quivers; the acrid smoke envelops his head.
“Kiss him, kiss him,” they instruct. Twenty-one years old and in an unfamiliar country, I obey.
Bending forward, a slight smile moves across his face. I meet the distinct odor of decomposing breath intoxicated with rancid syrupy smoke, the concentrated scent of death.
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