Derek and Khalid

by Lewis

The sun beamed. Derek however was not smiling. Hot sweat stung his eyes, already strained from the sunlight. Just a few miles he had been told, by another smiling son, this one from the last town. His shirt cling to him desperately. To the climate, he had not adjusted. But Khalid was waiting. Patiently. Hopefully.

They had met in Fez, terrifying city packed full and still bursting, in one of the bars you could actually get alcohol in. And he had. They had. What the next day felt like most of it in the city. Wakening together to the drone of the call to prayer. Echoing around the empty hotel room, as he shyly got dressed and Khalid had, for some reason to Derek's surprise, prayed. Over breakfast he'd awkwardly mumbled about it and Khakid had smiled his ear to ear grin and said.

“Every Secret in your mind and heart Allah knows it all and nothing you can hide from Allah.” Derek still didn't know if it was a quote or he'd just made it up. But it had sounded good.

That day Khalid had taken him around the stunning city, through ancient narrow paths, brazenly tiled walls looming. Street food he wouldn't normally have dared to touch, or known to ask for for. Then Khalid had taken his arm, and for a moment he was just afraid. Until he realised it was common place for Muslim men to walk like this, so it didn't mean anything. And then they were going their separate ways. Khalid on to Marrakesh and Derek to the desert with the promise of meeting again.

That was 6 days ago and they were due to meet yesterday, but typically of Moroccan public transportation he had missed a connection due to the bus being late. Swiftly followed by someone stealing his rucksack. It had been a bad 24 hours.

He had eventually ended up in a dusty town a few miles outside of the city proper and had decided, somewhat foolishly to walk in. Derek wasn't gay. At least he didn't think he was. Well he thought he hadn't started off this trip gay. But, well he wasn't even sure about that. One thing he was sure of was he wanted to see Khalid. More than he wanted a beer. Or his rucksack back. Or to go home. In fact more than he'd wanted anything for a long, long time.

Eventually the road had got busier and he flagged down a taxi. He had an address scribbled, somewhat clichedly on a napkin. The taxi pulled up and he paid gratefully and generously. But now he was here. And now he wasn't sure what to do.

Khalid would have left already. He had missed his connection. So why was he even still here. But a feeling had started to grow. One that made his heart race when he thought of that night. That made his palms sweat when he thought of that smile. That made his toes curl tight when he thought of those eyes.

He took a breath and knocked the door.