"Bert The Builder" by Hussein Husseini, January 2013

Disclaimer: All characters presented here are product of fiction. Any resemblances to real characters are of a pure coincidence. No intention was made to insult anyone for any reason.

AN: This story is an act of fiction. No one should attempt to act in the same manner as described.

AN2: None.

Summary: Egypt's National Council for Women has appealed to the Islamist-dominated parliament not to approve two controversial laws on the minimum age of marriage and allowing a husband to have sex with his dead wife within six hours of her death according to a report in an Egyptian newspaper.

Bert The Builder

After I woke up, I realized that I was in an ambulance carrying me from the hospital in small provincial town towards the big hospital in the capital. Suddenly it all came back to me clearly. I knew that I had bad pneumonia which was not responding well to oral antibiotics doctors were giving me. In the ambulance I was choking, unable to breathe from a pint of fluids accumulated in my lungs. The ambulance was jolting, I was short of breath, and next thing I remember was I felt SEVERE blow that kicked me out of my body.

As I "stood" in the middle of the road, I could clearly "see" the very ambulance leaving, probably with my "physical body" inside. Strangely enough, I had no urge to run after it, shout for help or anything else. I simply felt … renewed.

At that moment I didn't care whether I was really dead or was dreaming it all. All I knew was that I should get to some place where I knew someone. Anyone. The urge of being seen, wanted and desired was so strong that my "body-less" soul flew at an amazing speed to my older brother's party.

Passing unnoticed through the door was no problem. In fact, I even somehow "relished" that superior feeling of watching it all, yet not able to influence any physical objects.

My senses were hyperactive and I was immediately drawn to a conversation led by tall David Davis. He was holding some dry gin in one hand and gesticulating with the other to Andy Neiman who always wore colorful glasses and Jimmy Savage who was shorter but well built.

"A man who used to dig up bodies of recently deceased women and defile them was arrested from a graveyard in at Yobong Kura in the Tain District on Saturday."

"Really?" Andy giggled in some girlish manner.

"Yes. And the suspected necrophiliac, …" David paused as I swung by. I wasn't sure if he could feel me, but I was certain that he could not see me. "… The caretaker of the graveyard, was responsible for watering the graves."

They drank in silence for a while, some music playing in the background.

"And?" Jimmy seemed eager to hear more of it.

"Well … according to complaints received by the police, some people had been dishonoring corpses of recently buried women."

"No way?" Andy chuckled, barely able to hold his glass.

"In fact, a police officer at the Yobong Kura's police station said the detainee has admitted raping at least forty two dead women in the past few months."

"Jesus!" Jimmy whistled, noticing a sexy blonde passing by.

"Police have registered the First Information Report against the suspect as well."

"Was that really necessary?" Andy whined and twisted as he talked.

"What? The Report?" David seemed perplexed a bit.

"No … the consecration ..." Andy placed a hand on Jimmy's shoulder and laughed in some macabre manner. David pretended he was not seeing it.

"So …" Jimmy wanted to shake of Andy's hand in some polite manner so that the others won't notice it. "What did the police say?"

"One of the police officer said that they were all speechless."

"Speechless? And that was all?" Andy was still resting his hand on Jimmy's shoulder, sipping his drink, looking towards the bar.

"Well … this sort of case was the first one for them."

I realized that in my new "state of being" I felt no pain or any other discomfort. It was a privilege but also a minus since it was extremely dehumanizing.

"The man has confessed his crimes, of course …" Two black African women passed them by, smiling. "… And the police are in the process of investigating the matter, you see."

David rocked to and fro on his heels.

"In fact …" He continued as if wishing to rectify some error. "… The police said they were suspicious that something strange was going on at the Sanetomo's graveyard."

Some teenage girls were leaving the party early, still pretending they were older.

"Locals had also complained about dug graves appearing suddenly in the past couple of months as well."

"No way!?" Any finally dropped his hand and Jimmy snorted as if not being relieved by his act.

"Oh, yes." David sipped more of his drink. "… Neighbors started keeping vigil on the activities of the people visiting the graveyard, you know."

Andy started to giggle again, spilling bits of his drink on a carpet underneath. David seemed shocked but hid it well.

I could "see" their emotions clearly. Also their thoughts and any other human aspect of life was so clear that made me amazed of how much I missed it all in my "physical body" that was probably still unconscious in the back of that ambulance car.

"They also received a phone call from one of the neighbors who said he had witnessed a lot of activity in the graveyard, you know."

"No fukkin' way!" Andy cringed and jerked as he started to laugh some more, Jimmy taking his glass, wishing to save the carpet from stains.

"And …" David chuckled lightly, watching Andy with some petty enthusiasm. "… According to that neighbor, …" He chuckled some more as Andy was in a spasm of insincere laughter. "… Hardly anybody was present at the graveyard at that time and yet there was a lot of commotion."

"So … how can this be then?" Jimmy wanted to be part of their "group", others watching them since they were among the few Caucasians around.

"You know …" David finally finished his drink and placed the empty glass on small, round table in the corner. "… A small packet containing five grams of hashish was also recovered from the accused man."

"Ah! There you go …" Jimmy glanced around skirmishly, sipping his drink like some church lady.

As they made a pause, I went upstairs to watch some bathroom sex. It was Gordon, my brother's good friend, banging a ticket sales woman. I couldn't believe it. She must have been at least thirteen years older than him!

Disgusted by the scene, still not finding my brother, I somehow "descended" back to that old trio click.

"Necrophilia is when an individual achieves sexual gratification by viewing or having intercourse with a corpse, basically." David was explaining the term to Jimmy while Andy was still laughing in some silent movie manner. "... This type of behavior is very rare and usually men engage in this activity. These men usually suffer severe emotional disorders and are very hateful and frightened towards women."

"I see." It was obvious that Jimmy felt embarrassed by Andy's erratic behavior.

"Also called thanatophilia or necrolagnia, …" Someone tossed David's elbow and apologized, brushing him off a bit, passing by. "… Necrophilia is classified as a paraphilia by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association, you see." Andy finally regained his semi-normal posture, red stripes alongside his mouth indicating muscle straining. "… The word is artificially derived from the ancient Greek words nekros which denotes the 'dead' and philia which means 'love'."

They watched as some large woman sang by the piano, her large mouth able to swallow a duck. I laughed, being amused by the scene.

"There is in fact a ten-tier classification of necrophilia."

"No … way?" Andy placed his hand at David's shoulder now, Jimmy's eyes narrowing in some selfish pleasure, monitoring David's reactions in secret.

"Yes." David's voice thinned out a bit. "… There are … role players … romantic necrophiles, then …" David sighed as Andy bowed, trying to hide his silent laughter. "… Then there are people having a necrophilic fantasy …"

"Ah! Necrophilic fantasizers?" Jimmy burst into a nervous laughter, David nodding like some professor, his head slightly tilted up.

"Then there are tactile necrophiles, … people having a sexual fetish for the dead …"

"Oh!" Andy brought himself back, stuttering with words. "… Fetishistic necrophiles?" Andy glanced at Jimmy and then continued to laugh. Those around the large woman thought they were mocking her singing in some way.

"Also ... people having a necromutilomania … necromutilomaniacs, right? …" David placed an arm on Andy's shoulder and Jimmy felt even more embarrassed, feeling like some surplus.

"Go on …" Jimmy tried to "reattach" himself back to them.

"Then there are …" David's eyes glistened in some excited fashion as he looked at Jimmy below. "... Opportunistic necrophiles … regular necrophiles …"

"Re … regular ones …" Andy brought his arm down again, laughing at Jimmy. Jimmy felt better.

Large lady stopped singing and there was a moment of relative silence as if mourning someone.

"Then there are … homicidal necrophiles, … exclusive necrophiles …" David continued in some semi-whisper, raising his eyebrow at Andy who chuckled, ignoring other prying eyes that were set on him.

Suddenly I was briefly back at the ambulance car and remembering, somehow, where I was an instant later, I "died" again, bringing myself in the other room.

I could not tell how much time passed. All I could see was that David Davis was now sitting on a sofa with Christina Ehrenburg-Staffung.

"A prostitute who had a gun pulled on her for refusing to have unprotected sex?"

Christina nodded and David giggled, watching some men playing cards in the other room.

"And you know what?" She placed her hand on David's arm.

"What?"

"She even plans to sue a suburban brothel for failing to protect her!"

"Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! No way!?" David watched Christina though semi-closed eyes, laughing as if having a broken jaw bone or something. For some reason I seemed to be "stuck" with him for some reason. Perhaps I was intrigued by the topic?

"Oh. She said …" Christina looked up, closing slightly one eye. "… Although other brothels provided excellent security for their workers, 'Sundance Sundown' had allowed workers to charge extra for unprotected sex, creating an impression that clients could get whatever they wanted!"

She laughed in some simpering way as if drawing breath with each new wave. David, on the other hand, indulged himself heftily.

"And …" David was recuperating from his laughter, wiping his forehead with a napkin. "… What did she finally do then?"

"Well … the woman recently won a work-cover claim to have her medical expenses covered and to be paid $1000 a week …" David dropped his jaw low as if testing her. Christina nodded, her lips smiling. "… It's true! That was her average weekly earnings before … before 'the incident'." David resembled himself on Andy as he laughed silently. "… She is also applying for compensation for permanent impairment through the WorkClover Authority's 'no fault scheme' and plans to sue the brothel for failing to provide a safe workplace!"

"Jesus Christ!"

David got up and went into the corner, covering himself as he laughed, shaking all over. Men from the poker game table chuckled at the unusual scene.

"So …" David apologized, still red in the face, taking back his seat by Christina. "… So having consensual sex with a prostitute … and then not paying her is … analogous to shoplifting?" He paused, twisting his head at an angle and then adding another salvo of laughter, making those guys at the table laugh as well.

"Exactly!" Christina laughed, placing her hand on David's arm.

He bowed, almost placing his head into her lap as he laughed, shaking head as if not believing what he just heard.

Suddenly I was attracted to another conversation on the upper floor.

Fatima Bin Assam was complaining to her relative, Abed Al-Bari Al-Adzuki.

"But … think about it, …" She watched worriedly Abed into his eyes. "… Would you want to have children with a haemophiliac, … a person with Huntington's victim or, or … or Down's syndrome perhaps?"

Abed shook his head slowly, watching sideways.

"Of course you wouldn't, … and not because you hate the person with the disease, …" I realized that I could understand even foreign languages now! It was as if they were talking fluent English! "… But because you love your future children too much to put them through such torment."

Abed looked briefly at her and then nodded in a slow consent. I felt sorry for him.

Not wishing to spoil the unusual moment, I "drifted" back downstairs.

Jimmy and Andy were talking with another man who, for some reason, had a hazy, if not blurred face! I could not see his face! No matter at what angle I tried, I could not see his facial contours! It was a shockingly new experience!

"These are people who are afraid of their violent desires for live women and vent their violence on dead bodies that are unable to put up any resistance." Andy was explaining in his feministic way. "… They want to achieve complete dominance and think that in fact they will not commit a serious criminal offense …"

Man with a blurred face nodded in some grave fashion.

"You know …" He giggled suddenly. It made me nervous for not being to see his face clearly. "… I heard a case where a young girl was locked in a small cage in a basement with a dog." Andy already started to laugh, taking hold of Jimmy's arm for support. "… The dog was her only companion, or … a friend." Someone dropped metal platter on the marble floor. "… I mean … she knew barely anything about other people." There was a dog barking in the distance and Andy looked at Jimmy, ready to burst into laughter. "… As this was her only source of companionship, … she mostly could only bond with dogs for the rest of her life and formed unusual relationships with … dogs."

Andy started to laugh in some silent manner, man with a blurred face laughing as well, watching Jimmy as if surprised at reaction his story had.

Then all of a sudden, I was taken in some kind of whirlpool of fast movements, overhearing conversations at random. I was not sure whether I was about to "wake up" in the hospital or something, but I was eager to hear more of the people. To be "alive" and "feel" others just like when I had my "physical body".

"Paternity may be determined upon the petition of the mother, or father, the child or any public authority chargeable by law with the support of the child."

"Provided that such an adjudication after the death of the defendant must be made only upon clear and convincing evidence, of course."

Giggles.

"If paternity has been lawfully determined, … or has been acknowledged in writing according to the laws of this state, … the liabilities of the non-custodial parent may be enforced in the same or other proceedings by the custodial parent, the child, … or any public authority which has furnished or may furnish the reasonable expenses of pregnancy, confinement, education, necessary support and maintenance, and medical or funeral expenses for the custodial parent or the child."

Nods and artificial smiles.

Moving towards the priest.

"'And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in'. John 20:5."

I liked that one.

The invisible "Force" moved me to the next group.

"I used to have bad issues with myself as well. I had braces, … I was short, … I didn't have ANY curves whatsoever, … I felt like no boys liked me, despite the fact I had no enemies and a lot of friends."

Sighs. Condolences from friends around.

"What I did was ignore myself every once in a while. I would worry about the dumbest things like my hair looking perfect. Sometimes I had to tell myself, no self!" If I had a body, I would have probably smirked at the thought.

"But … you look fine! You don't need to redo your hair today either."

Nods and agreements.

"It looks fine! That probably sounds dumb but anyways ..."

Then I was rushing out of the house, passed by the sleeping bull, watched some night birds and then the whirl took me all over, making me feel dizzy and light.

Next thing I remember was opening my eyes at the hospital table. The emergency medical crew seemed pleased.

I could breathe, but with difficulty.

One thing I was sure of … it was GOOD to be alive!