Monday, April 2, 2012

To Love a Rat

Have a new short out, "To Love a Rat", on Amazon. It will be available through Kindle Select. A free promotion day will be coming up on Thursday April fifth. The story is about a man in Iraq who falls for one of his Iraqi workers. At first he is certain he's only using her. But his emotions get entangled. One day he is told that he must get rid of her. Torn between a nation and a woman he loves, he must soon decide what is more important. In a world where there is no wrong or right he finds that there is no one he can turn to for solace.

I wrote this story as part of a workshop in Columbia, though it was a fascinating story that I had thought of during my deployment in Iraq. Putting it to paper was no easy feat and I managed to do it within a few weeks. The rewrites that followed have only strengthened it. It is also a story that has a metaphorical value to it.

There is a friend who read it and loved it, and even thought it had a chilling effect on some of his views on life. That, in my opinion, is one of the highest compliments one can get from a reader. I think I have mentioned that my main goal for writing is (besides trying to make a living off it) to change the reader's angle on how they look at life or reality. In other words to lead to major cogitation. Anything less would be pointless. Thus my books may have some genre qualities to it, but I believe that they rise above that (that in fact they rise above what even contemporary literary books—that I have read—try to espouse... especially contemporary American lit).

Further news on my novels. The Logic of Morals is finished. The first draft at least. I will get the edits done soon and will be able to put up an electronic version soon after that. The print versions for either of these books will come out as one and will be available a week after. I hope that everyone will enjoy it. Trying to put a neat knot on a still messy situation was hard. But I believe that our hero (anti-hero?) Walid manages to make a good story. I definitely recommend the book to anyone who wants to know something about the current situation in Iraq.

The excerpt for "To Love a Rat" is as follows:

To Love a Rat
By Nelson Lowhim
Copyright 2012 Nelson Lowhim
This is a work of fiction. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real people, living or dead or otherwise, is purely coincidental.
The look she gave Joe moved him in an unexpected way. He shifted in his seat, coughed, and when he couldn't slow his heart down, he became angry.
Joe turned to the interpreter, George, his finger pointing at the short brown man. “Tell her that this is unacceptable, we don't pay her to do nothing.” His digit shifted to the woman as he finished the sentence.
George translated Joe's words into Arabic and the woman's face scrunched up for a split second—creases spreading, disappearing. Joe ignored her demeanor, pulled out half the usual money, and handed it over to her. She counted it then shot him a look of hatred. He felt a surge of pride at having defeated his weaker self.
“You really think I didn’t do enough this week?” she asked him in a heavy accent when George left to get the car. Joe looked at her; her veil wasn’t on yet, so he could see her face with all its imperfections. She had beautiful brown eyes, glimmering like just-discovered planets, and a set of fertile lips that begged to be bitten. The war, and the insurgency that followed, hadn’t done her any favors and a few scars broke across her smooth cheek. But it was those big brown eyes—flickering with a wisdom he felt he had never experienced—to which he now felt himself addicted.
Joe felt his throat tightening, and decided to sigh and shrug his shoulders. It didn't help. A feeling was tearing out from inside him; it told him that any distance from this woman was too much.
This was weak thinking. His boss, his teammates, would tear him apart if they thought for a second he was falling in love with some cum rag—an indigenous one at that.
The team, he had to remember the team.
And his woman.
He had a college girl back in North Carolina who fucked like a forty-year-old divorcee—emailed her here in Iraq whenever the Internet was up—and yet he had never fallen for her. But this Arab woman in front of him made the American girl seem like a bad memory. For a moment he imagined taking off her clothes and his nerves numbed. It was an odd sensation, one he welcomed. He wondered why when only skin was concerned he felt more like himself, like his military training no longer weighed him down. Was he just getting too horny this far into the deployment? It was her eyes he thought again; her eyes were doing him in, her eyes and the flight of her hips. She seemed to sense his thoughts and stepped away from him.
He coughed as the dust that permeated every inch of air in this god-forsaken country entered his lungs. “Why do you do this?” he asked; she was smart, she should have left when the insurgency got bad like all the other intelligent people from this country.
“Because…” She paused as she furrowed her brow at him. “Because this must be done, these people are bad.”
Was she that simple? He flashed a smirk as he remembered her file; she was doing it because her father had been killed, blown up to bits by a roadside bomb meant for American troops. A local Shiite militia leader had done it, apologized, but the damage was done. So she chose the American’s uncaring tanks and dollars over the right to local dignity through roadside bombs because of random luck. Joe had met her through one of their Iraqi workers, and had seen the venom in her eyes.
At that time her motivation had just been a fill in the box kind of thing for him, something to use. He could have cared less if the Shiite leader she was after, Ahmed, saw her talking to Americans, chased her down, drove her to a smelly Baghdad house, made her choose her death from a hat—lucky if she chooses a bullet to the head; unlucky if she chooses death by power drill, starting with her hands and working towards her face—and Joe found her body by the Tigris river some days later full of holes, her brains leaking a trail behind her in the polluted water.
No, Joe could have given a fuck less.

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