Long Way from Home Chapters 1 & 2 Audio
Long Way from Home Chapters 1 & 2 Video
Getting back home that day took me way longer than I wanted. It should have been the same fifteen-minute walk I took every day from Rachidy Software Company, where I worked for the past five years.
I was rushing home to my projects and dreams after a long day full of nonsense and long meaningless late meetings. I fancied the road to be one of those in the countryside with trees on both sides to shade me from the scorching sun and the breeze passing through a tunnel-like road, and I was walking towards the bright unknown, but it was night, and I was walking like a robot on a street infested by too many cars parked everywhere on the road and sidewalk blocking the little green left.
I was half-way home when I realized I had left the one thing I would go back to the office for. My phone was still on the desk in my cubicle haven, the worst invention of the twenty-first century. Mine came no short of daydreaming and fantasizing; I even called it Polly.
I don’t remember seeing the grandeur of our office building at night because I almost always left on time never looking back. It was a grand, luxurious building as all software companies should look from the outside. The new lights they installed on the new logo sign last year looked great, but I still couldn’t tell the difference between the old logo and the new one. I was all about computer software, and I had no way to know the dramatic difference between serif and sans-serif.
I was reaching to my card in my jacket pocket, but the security guard saved me the trouble.
“The last thing I wanted was having to come back after a long day. I left my phone upstairs, Omar. How come you’re still here. Don’t you leave at five?”
Omar did not like my reminding him of having to stay late to cover for the other night guy, “Yeah, sir. I am replacing Fadi tonight. It’s seven-thirty, so I still have an hour and a half to leave.”
“How many times do I have to tell you not to call me sir? My name is George. Easy, just George.”
“OK, Mr. George.” Omar smiled and let me in.
I jumped three steps at a time up the stairs to the first floor where my cubicle was. My phone was right where I left it on my desk. There was nobody else in the office. Everybody had gone, and everything was dormant except for the red blinking light of my computer power button, and the faint sound of my squeaky hard drive still running.
I checked my phone for messages or emails as if I were waiting to receive anything significant other than the usual daily junk sent by the numerous mailing lists I subscribed to. As I slid my phone in my jacket pocket, I had covered the long corridor leading to the lobby that divided the floor into four wings, three technical and one administrative.
I opened the door to take the stairs back down, and I was in my usual rush, but the hustling sound of my outfit and shoes did not cover the bump I was sure I heard coming from the kitchenette side at the elevator’s end. I stopped and listened again to see if it was a figment of my imagination, but the sound turned to something more like a muted human voice, a female’s voice.
I started towards the kitchenette, and the voices got louder with every step; there was a man’s voice muttering some incomprehensible words. The voices seemed muffled as if coming from behind a closed door, but the kitchenette had no doors. I kept coming closer and thought for a second to call Omar, but I heard of some special jobs the administrative people would do after hours. I wanted to make sure first what I was getting myself into. I would leave them be if it was only after-hour games.
The kitchenette was dark when I leaned across to see if there was anybody inside, but by the time I reached the kitchenette, I knew where the voices were coming from, and I could tell who the man inside the ladies’ room was.
The ladies’ room was down the hall from the kitchenette, the door was closed, the bumping sounds among others and the muffled voices combined drew a clear picture in my head. It was not what I imagined; the other player did not seem to like the game at all. I was by the door, and I realized it was Mr. Rachidy’s voice, our revered company’s president and owner. However, it was not until I got close to the door when I realized the other voice was Pamela’s voice.
Pamela was Mr. Fawzi Rachidy’s secretary, but this was not Mr. Rachidy’s office where I would have acted as if I hadn’t seen or heard anything, and the words crystallized by the door to what made me bust the door open without Omar’s help,
“Let me go, please. I wouldn’t tell anybody, I swear, and I will never come back to work here again. You will never see me again. Just let me go, please.” Pamela’s tone was uncommon but unmistakable.
“Where would you go, my love? I have a life for you here. I will give you anything you want. You won’t need to work anymore. You can come and go anytime you want. Nobody will dare say anything to you. I will need you to stay late now and then, though. That shouldn’t be hard for the likes of you, should it? I am not a needy man, and don’t feel so special. You’re not the only one.”
“Please, Mr. Rachidy. I don’t want this. Please, let me go.”
“You will love it, come on, give it a go. You’ve never been with a Rachidy before; you won’t regret it…”
The old man was on the floor when I busted the door open as he was blocking it to hold poor Pamela inside.
Pamela ran behind me, and Mr. Rachidy was getting up on his feet when I saw his zipper was open, and judging by his age, the old man must have taken a pill, or two.
“We will leave, sir. I am taking Pamela with me. Stay calm and do not do anything we will both regret.” I said with one arm around Pamela who stuck herself to my back, and the other hand telling the old man to stop.
“Who the fuck are you to lecture me, it’s none of your business. Leave the girl and be on your way or kiss your job goodbye.”
“Do you think I care about the job or working for you, you old fuck. I am leaving with the girl, and you’d better stay still.” My fist tightened, and I was ready to punch that old scum.
“Don’t you know who I am, and what I can do to you both. If you step out of this door, your lives are over, especially yours, George. And don’t think you can say a word about what you saw here that people will believe. You do not understand what I will do to you and to your family.” Mr. Rachidy turned one side to the wall as he was talking, but I noticed he was reaching out to something tucked in his pants.
I didn’t want to wait and see what he must have grasped in his other hand by then. I jumped at him and pushed him back as hard as I could. Everything was so quick, and I did not mean for him to hit the wrong part of the wall where the protruding metallic joint was at the corner. The blood that flowed and the motionless old man on the floor brought my breath to a dead halt. The first thing I did after what seemed to be ages of motionlessness was trying to breathe again.
It must have been a minute or two before I stepped closer to the old man lying on the floor in a big pool of his own blood to check if he was still breathing. I was sure I would not find any life left in him; the sound of his head bashing against the wall was too loud to hospitalize the man, but I wished for some miracle.
He was not breathing, and as I checked his pulse, there was nothing to give me any hope, but I could see what he was trying to reach out to as his right hand still had a grip on that gun I was right to believe he had.
I turned around and there was Pamela mesmerized with horror overcoming her eyes, and she looked at me in disbelief. It all happened too fast for either of us to try and understand what happened.
“Calm down, Pam,” I said as I wrapped my arms around her expecting to carry her at any moment. She was so pale, and I could feel her slim body weighing a lot more than it should in my arms.
“Pam, stay with me. We have done nothing wrong. You have done nothing wrong. Calm down. But we have to think and do something about this. Just calm down.” I could feel her whole body shaking in my arms.
I saw my hands shake, but I had to think of a way out of all of this, and I knew what calling the police in my country meant. The people I could not trust the most were the police, not with a man like Fawzi Rachidy. I killed the man whose least influential friend could piss at the police chief’s face and had him convinced it was raining.
“Come on Pamela. We cannot stay here. We need to leave now.”
“Let’s call the police.” She took a long time and a significant effort to say that, but I was sure she could see the look in my eyes telling her we could not do that.
I sighed and stood there with both my hands placed on her shoulders, and said, “You know we cannot do that. Who will believe us? Don’t you know who that man was?”
Pamela did not say a word. I didn’t know if it were because she knew I was right or if she was thinking of a way out of this whole mess, but she was still pale, and the expressionless face she had did not reveal what was going on in her mind.
“Listen, I will get you some water. Stay here. I’ll be right back.”
“Don’t leave me here alone with him.” She was horror-stricken looking at the motionless body on the floor and the expanding pool of blood.
“Let me check if anyone heard this. Stay where you are.” I didn’t want her to move as I knew she would pass out, and now that my sense started to come back to me, I wanted to see if there was anybody outside.
I opened the door and closed it as quietly as I could. I turned around to go to the kitchenette to get Pamela a glass of water when I could see nothing. The flashlight was pointed right into my eyes.
I pulled my hand in front of my face trying to see who was holding the flashlight.
“What are you doing here, George?” Omar’s voice sounded in my ears calling me with my name with no titles for the first time.
“I am back to get my… you know,”
“Do you usually leave your phone in the ladies’, George?”
“What are you doing here, anyway? Aren’t you supposed to be at the main gate?” I was trying to know if Omar had heard anything or if it were his regular patrol.
“You know it’s my job to patrol the whole empty building, George. Is there anyone else with you searching for the phone with you in there? I can hear the water running. Maybe, somebody who needs a little cleaning up.” Omar was pointing at the ladies’ room with a stupid smile on his face, but that was a relief. He didn’t know what needed cleaning in the ladies’. However, I didn’t know what to say or do for I also could hear the water running. Omar came closer, but fortunately, security guards in our company did not carry weapons.
“Stay where you are. Don’t come any closer, Omar. You have no business to know who is inside the bathroom.” I was pulling a threatening tone, or that was what I hoped. I could see fear striking in the eyes of the poor guard who stopped at his tracks and moved back. Not with the meager salary the security company gave him would he risk anything at all.
“George,” my heart stopped when I heard Pamela calling my name from the ladies’. I turned around and saw her head sticking out from the door capturing the focus of Omar’s spotlight.
“What are you doing here, Omar? Go now, and I won’t tell Mr. Rachidy that you have followed me here to the ladies’.” Pamela said with her usual firm condescending tone she used with almost everybody in the office.
“I am sorry, Miss. I didn’t mean to bother you.” Omar got the message.
“Forget what you have seen. I will appreciate it.” I whispered in Omar’s ear.
“Anything you say, Mr. George.” Omar was smiling with hopes of getting a fair price for his silence, and judging by the look he gave to Pamela, maybe a shot with the hottest lady in the company.
“Finish your patrol and go back to the main gate. We’ll finish in no time.”
“Whatever you say, Mr. George.” Well, I became Mr. George again.
Omar took the stairs back down, and I went to the window to see if he got back to his station at the main gate. The man did not disappoint.
“Why did you do this, Pam?”
“What do you mean why I did this? The man was about to come in and see that old bastard on the floor.”
“But now, it will look as if…”
“As if what?”
“It will look as if we did this together; as if we were planning to do this.”
“What? Are you blaming me now? What was I supposed to do, let you kill another man?” Pam’s tone was not friendly, but neither was mine.
“What? Do you think I am…”?
“I am sorry. I didn’t mean it. I can’t think straight. What are we going to do?” Pam interrupted.
“Do you think I should have left? Do you think I shouldn’t have killed him?”
“Listen, George. You killed no one. Well, not on purpose. I was standing there at the corner helpless. I thought you would leave me with that monster. I will never forget what you have done.” Pam cried, and she threw her head on my chest.
That was one time a woman’s head was on my chest, and I could not feel the weight of a stranger, friend, lover, female or a human being’s. Nothing could have outweighed the world I felt on my shoulders. Pictures of my wife and children flashing past my eyes as if they were shooting away like dying stars never to come back. If only I could go back one hour in time, but wouldn’t I have done the same?
Pamela interrupted my being lost in thoughts; she must have raised her head back up for some time looking at me before she said,
“You are right. Now we’re both involved. Should we go to the police? I will tell them everything. I will tell them how you came in trying to defend me, and…”
“You know we can’t do that. Nobody will believe us. Omar has seen us coming out of the ladies’ together, and you didn’t make things easier by threatening him to leave. But even if they do, you know who the man I killed was. If you tell me we stand a chance against all his influence and political power, I might believe you, stay here and call the police.”
Pamela followed me down the stairs as every camera in our way caught us going out. We passed the main gate where Omar was sitting in his booth peeping towards us with a cheeky smile on his face. I didn’t know why I smiled back at him and raised my thumb as if to tell him we understood each other.
“We need to get in your car. My car is at home. You know I…”
“Yes, I know you walk home every day. I have known you long enough, George,” Pamela wasn’t even looking at me. She had reached for the keys in her purse and grabbed my arm leading me to her car, which was the only one parked at the far end of the parking lot in front of the main gate. I didn’t have to look, but I knew Omar was still watching.