Portrait: Charbel

Charbel. Charbel is a gentleman, no, really, he is and woe betides he who tries and say the contrary. All these nasty rumours, he’d crush them in a second if those were still the blessed times of the war. 

Truth be told, Charbel was kind of involved in some militias or another during the Civil War (why do you think you’ve never seen his arms? Too many tatoos that’d make you cringe, that’s why) and he kind of enjoyed it. There was a little smuggling here, a little torturing there, some good old fighting, then everyone would make friends again in one of the many brothels the city hosted in these halcyon days. There he and his fellow militiamen would drink themselves into oblivion, one hand on Sameera’s boobs and the other trying to draft the next attack on some camps or another, drowning in the vapours and hallucinations of the many drugs they had access to. Charbel still thinks of these moment with misty eyes. 

Then, just as business was flourishing, these fools had to to go and meet in Taef and ruin it. Ah, nevermind, he still managed to make a good bucketload of money over the course of the war, and thanks to that Amnesty, no one was ever going to ask him anything about all the times he had fun driving his car with one or two guys attached to it. Bliss. 

But Charbel had to be cautious about all this and not start showering his money right, left and center. He needed a good cover, so he started opening shops. And restaurants. And shopping malls. Who said anything about money laundering? Ya3ni ma ma3oul, people have to make a living, it’s not a laundering of any kind, nothing’s dirty. Yalla, take that ridiculous amount and go, 7el 3anneh! Yes, Charbel had to bribe (what a strong word! Those were just gifts!) a fair amount of people to get away with it, but he managed, and if the money wasn’t sufficient, he would send over one or two of his best men for a little nightly visit. 

Now Charbel is considered a prosperous business man, and loves showing off his external signs of wealth: (armoured, let’s not forget he might still have one or two enemies in the shadows) Hummer that his driver launches at full speed on the autostrade, honking like there’s not tomorrow as if to say “Make Way! VVVVVVIP Coming! Move, You Low Life Mollusc!, trophy wife, overweight children and platinum watch. 

But as Charbel enters his 800 square meter residence over Kaslik, he can’t help but feel a little bored. He misses the days of militia camaraderie, the drunked nights, the sense of dangers. So he pours himself some Courvoisier, and dials the number of one of his many mistresses that his wife pretends she doesn’t know about. 

With a sigh of pleasure, he’ll kick back and relax, waiting for Sandy to come over and entertain him. Ah, That life ain’t half bad after all. 

Not bad, he’ll think, from militia vermin to business tycoon. He wonders who could play him in a movie. 

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