The International Writers Magazine
:Dreamscapes Fiction

Mustapha the Sheep
Sidi Benzahra

hen I was a kid I had many friends. Friends were as plentiful as the rocks in my neighborhood. And my neighborhood was sunny, dusty, and full of rocks. We had one road that ran through the neighborhood and only one car a week would use that road. Kids played soccer with cans on that road. Some kids were mean, back then, and if you didn’t pay attention, they would hit you with a rock, innocent or guilty. If they didn’t hit you, they would scare the almighty shit out of you. I was always surrounded by kids.

I had never been alone. When I was home the house would be full of kids, mostly brothers, sisters, and some members of the family; and when I went outside to play, I would find many kids outside too. If you wanted to be alone you would have to wake up at 2 o’clock in the morning, and if you did your mom would hit you hard on the head, because no kid was allowed to wake up at that time. You could get exempt from hitting only if you were sick or had to wake up early to prepare for an exam.

Some of my friends were regular, common friends; but some, God saves us, were weird. The weirdest of them was Mustapha the Sheep. We called him by that name because he had one spot of gray hair right in the front and the middle of his black head. All his family had that spot. It was like trade mark. Everybody in the family had that spot, except for their old, rugged dog. Nobody knew where that spot came from and nobody cared to know. Mustapha was a smart soccer player but he was lazy. He never ran in the field and he would only walk, and walk slowly. You would never see him running even if we were under attack. He would walk around the goalie and when somebody gave him the ball he would score. We never had a referee and any ball that got scored was counted as a goal. Mustapha had this knack for scoring that nobody had. He would always help us win and that’s why we had him in the team. We used to practice twice a week and he would never come for practice. He only came to play the game. We couldn’t apply our rules on him because he was the only scorer in our team. When he didn’t show up we would lose. We were actually a bad team. I played defense and I ran fast like a lightning, but I wasn’t talented. I was always hurting somebody. Kids were always avoiding playing on my side of the field, so they would go to score from the other side. It didn’t mean that I was a good defense player; it just means that I was dangerous, and if we had a referee I would get kicked out in no time. We only win because of Mustapha the Sheep.

If our game started at 8:00 in the morning he would come at 8:30 and we would be losing a big time, but when he would join us we would recuperate and finally win. After we figured that he was always late by half hour, we would lie and tell him that the game would start at 7:30. He came on time a couple of times but then he figured out the trick and he went back to coming late.

One day we decided to go to Rabat Beach and sleep over night. Back then, the city would allow you to erect a tent at the beach and sleep, cook, eat, and do whatever you want in the tent, or outside the tent, but now due to minor crimes, and serious crimes such as rape, it is forbidden. You can only go there during the day time and when the night came you would need to pack up and go home. We were seven of us or more, and we had a small tent. We got the provisions and we headed for Mustapha the Sheep’s house to pick him up. We knew he wouldn’t wake up that early and we knew it would take us at least a half hour to get him ready.
We knocked on his door and his little brother, Omar the Sheep, came out.
"Is Mustapha there?"
"Hold on," the little sheep said and disappeared.
After two minutes his sister, the little sheep, came out. Even though she had a long hair, she was spotted on the head like the rest.
"May I help you," his sister, the little sheep, said.
"Is Mustapha there?" I asked.
"Hold on," she said and disappeared.
After a moment, Mustapha’s mom came out. We kept on waiting until all the members of the family were asked, and then finally Mustapha came out with sleep in his eyes.
"I didn’t have breakfast," he said.
I stuck out my hand and gave him a rock of wheat bread. Mustapha sat on the curb tying his shoes and we all huddled over him. He was our scorer and we admired him for that.

We now walked down the dirt road under the morning sun. The sun was shining and warming our cold bodies for the morning was crispy and cold. We scrambled down the cemetery where my grandfather is buried and we got to the beach. The tide was low and the hours of the tides change each day with the moon. There were only a couple of erected tents on the beach and three seagulls on the wet sand. When we got to the dry sand we dropped our load and started to take off our clothes. My friend, Keeker, was a gymnast so he ran to the wet sand and did a couple of somersaults. He always jumped around to impress the girls, but this time I had no idea why he did those impressive somersaults, because no girls were around. Everybody was happy and excited. We knew we would have a long exciting day ahead of us.

The hot sun came down to the beach and the blue sky stretched over to the horizon. I walked to the wet sand and many crabs started to run sideways to their holes. That was the first time I saw a seagull eating a dead crab. Later on I saw two seagulls working on him too. Two of us, Mufti and Tounsi, walked to the large boulders that separated the ocean from the beach and sat down on one flat stone to soak the sun.
After an hour or two people started to come down from the old city that overlooked the beach and the beach began to fill. I took a towel and went to sit down in an isolated spot where I could think and enjoy some privacy. I looked around in the distance and saw an old strange bus getting parked in a far out road that led to the old city. I knew that bus belonged to the Russians, because I saw a bus similar to that parked in the parking lot of the Soviet Center, downtown Rabat. I used to go there to learn Russian. The bus emptied now and a bunch of Russians gathered by the bus and finally began to walk towards the beach. A young girl, about sixteen, walked ahead of the group and now approached me. She was as sexy as hell. I saw her and my heart went banana. I knew on that night I would have something to think about.
I said, "te kracivia devoushka!" which means you are a beautiful girl in Russian. The girl smiled and walked back to the group of Russians who were approaching and said something to them. The Russian group came and surrounded me. Some of them were big and their men had big arms. I thought they were going to beat me up. It turned out to be the opposite. They were amazed they found a Moroccan kid who spoke Russian in Africa. Only a few people spoke Russian in Africa and I was one of them. I sat there in the middle of the circle answering their questions in Russian. They were smiling and laughing as we kept on talking about stupid things such where did you learn Russian and what kind of food do you like to eat and all that horseshit. Brahim looked at me from far and walked towards us. After a minute or two the Russians left and Brahim came and sat next to me on the warm sand.

After a moment, we ran to the tent and joined our group. We had a lot of fun on that day. We played on the sand, we swam against the crashing waves, we ate, we told jokes, but when the night came strange things were about to happen.

The tent was too small for everybody to sleep in, so some of us had to sleep out. I preferred to sleep outside so I could watch the moon, talk to the stars in my mind, and clearly hear the little waves crashing in the beach. Brahim, Khayyat, Aziz, and Mustapha the sheep went to sleep inside. Mufti, Alif, and I planned to sleep outside. One of us suggested we tell stories, and if we ran out we would make them up as we go. We told stories and we laughed and we had a good time. Deep into the night I started to hear somebody getting punched on the face and loud screaming were coming from the tent. People were moving inside and the tent was moving about and about to collapse. The screams were getting louder.
"What’s going on?" I said from outside the tent.
"I don’t know," Mufti said.
Suddenly the tent collapsed and khayyat and Mustapha the Sheep stuck out and I could see Khayyat punching Mustapha the Sheep.
"Stop!" I yelled.
"He was trying to fuck me," Khayyat said. "Fuck!" and he punched Mustapha the Sheep on the face.
Mustapha the Sheep was stupid. He chose to rape the strongest kid in the group. Khayyat was very strong and had solid, thick bones and a lot of twisted muscles. He was an athlete and he always dreamed of the Olympics. Khayyat kept on beating on Mustapha like he was drinking water. I didn’t want to intervene because I knew Mustapha the Sheep would do such a thing. He was weird to the extreme. Finally Mustapha the Sheep managed to free himself and ran in the beach, crying from pain. Khayyat chased him but then he changed his mind and came back. I will never forget that night. It was a night of an event that can only occur once in a lifetime.
© Sidi Benzahra
San Luis Obispo, California 2006
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