Author's Note: Published at in 2003: write this because I love Egypt, its history, its people, and its unique sense of sensibilities. This was fun to write.

Camels and mules weave in and out of the mingling traffic with the smoky black Ford automobiles so popular with the rich of Cairo. The screams of ruddy-cheeked children echo among the sunlight alleys, the very filth lying in open sewers along the smaller streets. A hot breeze blows among the date palms, causing a row of old women sitting in identical doorframes to wave their paper fans and mutter about the thrice-blasted heat. A muezzin calls the faithful to prayer in the distance, his own voice almost swallowed up in the afternoon bustle. Old men sit in front of shops smoking the thick and cloying hash-hish, their white brows moving up and down, giving a running commentary on the sorts of people moving up and down the road, and shaking their heads sadly at the sight of Western technology that was to improve Cairo. At one point, when the overheated hood of a Ford automobile popped up and starting to send hissing steam in every direction, the gnarled men could only chuckle, chiding the harried man in the business suit that leapt had out of the contraption, and uttered curses. The curses were returned much more violently by those blocked by his Ford.

Not much further down the street, a man dressed in black from head to toe, preached the passer-byes about the end of the world, and how one must confess their sins to the Redeemer. His voice, grown hoarse over the hours, was replaced by the lively flute-playing and tambourines of two little boys, sitting in the shade, a young girl twirling to the music in front of them. Her garish red robes that shifted and shimmered in the harsh unblinking light of afternoon drew disapproving glances from the older women that walked by, or they stopped to stare at her public display of ridicule. The young girl's eyes were closed, as she twisted her hands skyward, moving her feet in serpentine patterns. The gold bangles she wore on her ankles clacked as she stomped her heels into the dusty ground, dancing to her own musical tune. Her belly shone bronze as she continued to dance in her sinuous way, a smile playing across her face. Back near the broken down Ford, a seething and angry crowd pursued the well-dressed young man past the street dancer, pelting him with rotten vegetables and small pebbles. The rush of the crowd warranted the ancient men smoking hash-hish, to watch them, chuckling to themselves.

Not long after the sun had turned its blaze to a mere warm, shimmering body in the heavens as the shadows grew longer, a man with a fringe of graying hair, wearing a tweed suit, walks by slowly, holding a conversation with himself, intently staring at a piece of ratty brown paper covered in scratchy handwriting and rough hieroglyphs. His steps are erratic, not moving in a straight line, obviously in deep thought. Over the flutes, he says " . . . if this hieroglyph means tomb, and this soldier, then the message becomes clear. Clear-of course! I must have been blind not to s-" A young boy runs past him, and snatches his satchel, laughing at his good fortune. The tweed-suited man stumbles and falls, cursing in a curious British accent. "Come back here you scoundrel!"

The dancer continued to move to the tambourine snaps, throwing her head back and lifting her leg high, spinning around, her melancholic smile still spread across her face.

The dancer continued to dance into the twilight, the music never failing, as lamps were placed in windows, the streets started to empty, and the muezzin called once again for the last prayer. The girl's skirt continuing to shimmer and swirl, wheeling as the stars high above her, the flute notes rising in sweet melody among the empty alleyways.