They live not far from me, in a multi-storeyed apartment building much like mine, except apparently their boab - a sort of maintenance man for the building, if you recall - is superhot.
Unfortunately for them, their hot boab is also a thief.
One of the main jobs of the boab is to monitor the fuel and water levels for each of the residents and to alert them when the levels are low so they can buy more.
Trixie and Tony were constantly running out of fuel and water, which annoyed them, no doubt, because the boab was supposed to be telling them before they turned on the water and discovered it was icy-cold and down to just a trickle. Eventually, though, they realized the problem was bigger than mere incompetence. It turns out hot boab was siphoning off their water and fuel and reselling it - reselling thousands of gallons of heating oil every month and assuming they'd be too dumb (those silly Americans!) to notice.
But notice they did, and they alerted the Embassy, which sent some folks to talk to the landlord. Clearly, the Embassy told the landlord, hot boab has to go.
The landlord was not convinced. I'll only fire the boab if all of the tenants agree, he said. But the tenants did not agree, and that is how it was determined that all of the tenants were joining forces to steal fuel from Trixie and Tony.
It's the not-so-little things like this that can drive a person crazy. I mean, seriously: they were all banding together to steal from the foreigners, the presumably rich Americans, and not one of them felt bad enough to say this is wrong. These people are not poor. If they live in this part of town, they have plenty of money and no need to steal to survive. And the boab! Taking his paycheck from them each month but stealing from them as well.
So now Trixie and Tony are moving to a new apartment, hopefully with an honest boab, and hopefully with honest neighbors as well. But in talking to them about the continuing saga of hot boab, I realized I'd never told you Chapter One in the boab story. And because I'm no longer worried about whether it is wrong to "out" hot boab and his neighbors, I'm going to tell this sordid little tale now.
Ramadan, 2012. Devout Muslims fast from sun-up til sundown for an entire month. They gather each evening as the sun sets to break their fasts, wishing one another Eid Mubarak - Blessed Holiday. One Ramadan evening, well after dark, my pal Tony decided to go up on the roof with a flashlight to check on the water level in the rooftop tank.
Now Tony, you'll recall, is kind of a scary guy at first glance. Not someone I'd necessarily want to try to steal from, or lie to. He's spent a lot of time in some of the not-so-nice parts of the world. He gives off a kind of don't-eff-with-me vibe. So up he goes to check on the tank, flashlight in hand. On his way back down, he hears a noise off in the corner somewhere, in the dark.
Tony shines his flashlight in the direction of the noise, expecting trouble. But there is no burgler, no murderer, not even a pickpocket. No: his beam of light catches the hot boab, who is - how can I put this delicately? - boinking the neighbor's daughter, and rather vigorously at that.
Tony is, of course, startled to find this happy couple locked in an embrace. He shines his flashlight on them - I was surprised at first, he told us later, because the girl covered her face, but didn't even try to cover her body. Of course, this makes sense here in the middle east, where it is entirely plausible that her dad would kill her - literally kill her - if he caught her screwing anybody at all, and the boab in particular.
Tony took in the scene: naked boab, naked girl, dark scary corner of building. And, being a man of few words, he said what anyone might say upon encountering such a scene late one Ramadan night.
Eid Mubarak, he told the amorous couple. Blessed Holiday. And he continued on his way, back to his cold, water-less apartment.