Amir spread his hands palms up, assumed an air of innocence and looked perplexed. He needed to get this right; else it was back to research.
“Up to? I’m up to writing, my friend, as I do. It’s a travel piece, but I need to add a little…well, romanticism, shall we say. You showed up and I remembered you were knowledgeable in these matters.”
“I see. Forgive my inquisitiveness, it’s just that you turned your back on…”
The look in Amir’s eyes told Boulos he should take another tack.
“What I mean to say is, your question is unusual. The Qu’ran speaks of them, as you know, what more could you want to know of them?”
“Oh, just what their nature is, I guess. In what ways they can interact with our realm and such. If you don’t want to discuss it, that’s alright.”
Boulos studied his friend a moment. Amir sipped his coffee with studied indifference.
“Forgive me, Amir, but why would you want to put such information in a travel piece? People are only familiar with them from the Arabian Nights stories, what more could interest anyone who is not an Islamic scholar?”
“Well, I’m not sure I actually want to go into detail, Boulos, I was merely curious. I can look it up at the library. Anyway, how is your business going these days my friend?”
“It’s going well enough. Allah blesses me as he sees fit, Amir.”
Yes another veiled reference to the eight hundred pound gorilla in the room. Amir decided that it was more trouble than it was worth, he would get what he needed elsewhere.
“Well that’s great, Boulos. Listen, I have some business of my own to attend to. Please excuse me. It was good to see you again.”
They shook hands and Boulos watched his old friend leave the cafe with what seemed undue haste. He finished his coffee, shook his head and left.
Amir walked awhile, thinking about the raven-haired beauty that he had engaged with for the second time. He had met her two days before at the same cafe, she had smiled at him as he walked in and he was immediately captivated. He wasted no time in introducing himself and she had invited him to sit. The conversation had an air of cat and mouse about it, which both took him by surprise and piqued his curiosity. Oman was still a conservative sultanate, and while there were westernised cafes in Muscat, it was still a far cry from Dubai, so her brazenness had taken him by surprise. Still, no one had cast a disapproving eye, and again today no one had seemed to notice them.
Going over the events of the afternoon he was disturbed by the thought that had entered his mind while they talked. He had renounced his faith, albeit quietly and without fanfare so as to bring minimal opprobrium on himself, and he was firm in his decision, so why did he think this intriguing woman might be a djinni? If he no longer believed in the tenets of Islam, then surely he didn’t believe there were creatures not of this realm? His was a very logical mind, and the discontinuity was bothersome.
Spotting a taxi stand ahead he made up his mind that he needed to do some research before he met with her again. After all, it was the logical thing to do.