In this book, you will find love, forgiveness, faith, imagination, as well as critical thinking. The book contains stories from many parts of the world and presents love and forgiveness that are found in all faiths and cultures. But if you are looking for pure love and forgiveness, then you won't find them in this book; you will only find them in a mother's heart. You will read the story of Carol, from Iowa, whose friends set her on a discovery mission to find out about Sufi . In her travels, she meets many people who wish her well, and these newly acquired friends are eager to enlighten her in the ways of the Sufi s ... but first she must reveal her reasons for being who she is and why she had to come halfway around the world on her pilgrimage to peace and serenity.
Eli hides from life behind his beard and his beer. Not until he meets an ex-girlfriend who broke his heart many years before, does he really look at himself and his life. Her directness-"You look much older than your age ..." and the memories she stirs up make him realize he has to change if he wants to be happy.
The book also focuses our attention on what really matters, which is our behavior towards other
people. What we believe or don't believe is a matter of debate. But how we actually act? That makes a real difference in our lives and the lives of others.
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.37(d)|
Read an Excerpt
Breakfast With Satan8 Inspiring Stories
By AR Benali
BALBOA PRESSCopyright © 2012 AR Benali
All right reserved.
Chapter OneLove in Silicon Valley
There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love.
It was December 23, 1984. Eli woke up around noon, really hungry and miserable. He opened the fridge, and inside were leftover hummus, one boiled egg, and two pieces of small, round Arabic bread. On the door shelf, there was a one-liter Pepsi bottle filled with tap water. Eli thought, This will be enough for now. He arranged the food on a tray. Turned on the TV, but there was nothing exciting. The news was even more mind numbing and he decided to call some friends and chat while eating his breakfast ... but no one answered.
He decided to call Jeno, his bartender friend. He usually opens the Lucky Lion Club around 3:00 p.m.
"Hey, what's up dude?" he asked.
"Nothing much. Where are you, Eli?"
"At home, bored, cold, and broke."
"Come on over. I'm alone here!"
"How can I come? I'm broke and won't get my paycheck until next week," he answered with shame. He truly felt like throwing himself from the third-floor balcony.
"Don't you worry. You always pay back what you owe." There was silence for a moment, and he said louder, "Come on over. I need some company. The first two drinks are on the house. How about that?"
An hour later, Eli parked his 1973, light green Plymouth in the empty parking lot. When he entered the club, it was deserted, but Olivia Newton John's "Let's Get Physical" played loudly.
He looked around and did not see Jeno. He turned around, and there went Jeno — roller-skating by on the dancing platform. "Hey, man, what are doing? You know you're not supposed to do that," Eli shouted, a big smile on my face. "I'm going to tell Jerry, the club manager."
"Go grab a beer. Serve yourself. I am just practicing my roller-skating skills."
He finally stopped, took a deep breath, and asked Eli to throw him a towel. He excused himself and entered the women's washroom to change and clean up. That's the Jeno I knew! When the manager is not there, he always does silly things.
After he came out, he looked at Eli, laughed, and said, "You must have been dumped, as usual. How come you're alone?"
"Come on, Jeno, no one dumps me. Remember, I am a foreign student. My family is all back home, in Lebanon." He took a big sip from his cold, draft Bud mug.
After a few hours of chatting, Jeno suggested, "Why don't you come over to my parents' house tomorrow? We are going to have a family gathering for Christmas Eve. We would love to have you."
"I am honored, but I am not sure if I'll be free tomorrow evening." He said apologetically as he didn't want to obligate himself.
He insisted, "Come on. You'll enjoy my parents' company. My sister will be there, too. You'll be the guest of honor. I'm going to call Mom now and tell her you are coming."
"Okay. What should I wear? I mean what's the dress code."
That night was one of those unforgettable good times for Eli. Jeno's parents, Jane and Casella, were so kind and pleasant. His mom and his sister, Carol, took turns singing Christmas songs. Some of the songs stayed in Eli's memory for a long time, songs like The Twelve Days of Christmas
On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me A partridge in a pear tree. On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me Two turtledoves And a partridge in a pear tree....
The food was delicious. The turkey tasted yummy, so yummy ... for a hungry college boy. When Eli was about to leave, Jeno's sister came up to him and gave him a nicely wrapped gift. He impatiently unwrapped it right away, while they smiled and giggled at him. "Wow, it's a book." That was exactly what Eli needed to help pass the time and ease his loneliness during the holidays.
A couple of years later, Eli graduated from college with a degree in computer science and was recruited for a promising job in Silicon Valley. He had had a few not so serious relationships, mainly because of the long hours he committed to his work.
One day while grocery shopping, he met a nex-girlfriend who had previously dumped him to run away with her high school sweetheart. He hadn't seen her for years. She recognized his voice while he flirted with the cashier.
"Is that you, Eli?" she asked him.
He looked at her for few moments and thought, It is her. She is just as gorgeous as she always was.
"Yup, that's me, Eli. Who are you?" he asked pretending he didn't recognized her.
"I'm Tina. I didn't recognize you either. You look much older than your age, but your voice is still the same."
He thought, That was mean. Then again, she was being direct and forward as always.
He took few steps toward her, hugged her carefully and whispered in her ears. "What happened to you? I thought you were gone forever. What brought you back?"
"It's a long story. Maybe sometime we can meet for coffee and talk."
While driving home Eli thought, She might be right about the age thing. I haven't shaved regularly, in years. I haven't laughed or done any exercise. All I've been doing is working, smoking and drinking. He attributed the wakening shock to the visit with the past that the meeting had forced on him.
When he got home, he stared in the mirror for a long time. It felt like the first time he had truly seen himself for what he was. He thought, Who in hell is this fat, beer-bellied man with dark half-moons under his eyes? Who is that balding man with the thick, tangled gray beard? In the end, he could not deny it — that man was he and his looks disgusted him. His memories took him back to the days when he was with Tina. He remembered how athletic and joyful he used to be.
The next morning, Eli called work and requested two weeks' leave. The makeover has begun, he thought. It's never too late to start living your life free from the chains of narcotics and alcohol.
One day, as he was re-arranging his books, Eli came across a book that was given to him twenty-seven years ago titled, How to Be Young Again. He thought, What a coincidence!
Eli hired a few helpers to clean up his house full of junk. His hording was not a compulsive disorder, just laziness and lack of motivation. Now however, his outlook had been changed by a memory from the past and Eli was determined to change and become a different man. He was determined to transform his life ... without seeking help from anyone.
Next was a visit to the neighborhood barber where he hadn't been in years.
At the barbershop, while he waited he read How to Be Young Again. Joe, the nicely dressed, gay stylist looked at him and said. "Is that you, Eli? I can't believe it. Come on, I don't want to miss the chance. Come on, if you get in the chair I'll cut your hair right now."
As Eli sat down, he placed the book on the marble counter. Joe took quick glance at the book and commented, "Way to go man. That is an interesting book. I read it last year." Then he turned to face Eli, inspecting the wild growth on Eli's face. "Where have you been all these years, caveman?"
Eli replied, "Work, work and work. That is all I do."
"OK, but the real question is, 'What you want to do today?'"
"Do what you think is best, Joe, but when I leave your place, I want to look good. Just make sure to shave my face clean — beard and mustache. Make whatever hair I have left short and clean."
Joe kindly asked Eli to step over to the washbasin. As Joe started with the shampoo, he asked, "Have you just started that book?"
"Yes and no. I have read it before a long time ago, but I hardly remember what's in it so I started reading it again last night," Eli answered with his eyes closed.
Joe hesitated, knowing Eli was at the beginning of his journey, but then thought he might need some help. "The book actually gives us ten tips to keep young and healthy inside and out. It advises the reader to be a child again — to laugh, be crazy, be spontaneous, exercise, relax whenever possible, fall in love, have fantasies, sleep well, meditate, and eat healthy food."
Eli replied, "That's nine, what's the tenth tip?"
"Oh, sorry," Joe said. The tenth and most important tip is to be you — to look carefully at each decision you make and ask yourself, 'Is this really what I want to be doing? Is this really what is right for me?' Begin to understand the intention behind every action you take and make a conscious decision to do only what is right for you. By making sure your actions stay in alignment with your true intentions and are focused on the attainment of your dreams, you will begin to feel good about yourself. When you feel good about yourself, you will soon gather the courage for those moments when you need to say 'no' to anything or anyone that doesn't allow you to be yourself."
This was the longest speech Eli had ever heard from Joe ... and he paid attention. When Joe finished, he reached for a soft, white towel and dried Eli's hair. Eli got up and walked to the cutting chair. As he climbed up into the chair, Eli said with a smile, "I didn't know it until now, Joe, but you are not only a reader, your also a philosopher!"
"I write too." Joe replied, and then he was finished. "It is all done, Eli, you look smart and ten years younger now." Joe said as he handed Eli a small, round mirror.
Eli's formerly wrinkled and pale cheeks had come back to life and you could see the shine and glow from his eyes. He had been exercising regularly for a few weeks and ate good healthy food. There were occasional sojourns to the bar to drink a few beers with his pals but his purpose in doing so had changed. He was not after the beer to drown his sarcasm or to avoid looking at himself; the beer was secondary. It was the friends he wanted to see and speak to find out what was going on in their lives, as he was genuinely interested.
Things changed at work too. Abha the smart, slim, middle-aged Indian woman who always avoided him and gossiped about him behind his back, began to give him pleasing looks and surreptitious glances. Previously, he was so wrapped up in his own world, that he never thought of her, as if she never existed. To his amazement, she approached him one day while he was mixing cream and sweetener in his coffee mug and said, "Hi, I'm going to get lunch. Would you like to come?"
"No, thanks, I just had an avocado sandwich." He uttered with kneejerk reflex while walking back to his office, but he thought about it later and realized this approach was a huge change from before when she would avoid him as if afraid he might bite her. He didn't blame her. He looked like such an animal back then.
A few days later while coming out of work, he spotted Abha standing by her car waving frantically at him. He approached her and said, "Is there something I can help you with?" "I have a flat tire, but I don't have spare. Even if I did, I wouldn't know how to change it." She replied with frustration clear in her voice.
"Without a spare, you will have to have it towed. Leave your car. I'll drive you home and you can phone the tow truck from there."
"Oh, you don't have to do that. I can call a cab." She replied shyly.
"Come on. Let me drive you home." Once they got on the road, he took several glances at her sitting in the passenger seat. Eli had never paid much attention to her before, but now, with his new outlook, he could see she was pretty, polite and a pleasure to be with. He interrupted the silence and said, "Sorry for the other day. I had already eaten my lunch at my desk and had work through lunch on an urgent project."
"I know how hard you work," she said. You're the project manager, and your responsibilities are huge." She complimented him. She hesitated before continuing, "My motives for asking you to lunch were twofold. I really wanted to tell you that your new look and the way you dress is ... well, smart and stylish and it is a good change for you, but I also simply wanted to talk to you. I have known you for a long time, but we know nothing of each other."
To Eli, this was all new and it seemed strange to be talking this way to someone he really didn't know that well. As they parked by her three-story apartment building, she looked at him and asked, "Do you want to come in?"
"No, I have got to go," Eli replied with his kneejerk response learned from many years of practiced avoidance of any situation that might be emotionally risky. "I want to see my 6:00 o'clock comedy show," he said lamely.
Abha recognized the shyness and fear in him like it was a mirrored reflection of her own emotional map of years ago. "Please come in," she encouraged. "My mom sent me a nice tea from India. We can have some tea and watch the show together."
Eli thought carefully this time. He didn't want to turn her down as he had done with the lunch invitation. Suddenly, he knew he liked this woman and would enjoy having tea with her in her place. In fact, with his newfound ability to see within himself, he realized he desperately wanted to have tea with her. "Ok, thank you. I'll come up, but just for a little while," he said still clinging to his old reticence.
That little while turned into hours of love and harmony — the tea turned into wine, the comedy show as forgotten and their bodies melted and became one. Their souls seemed to know each other from long ago and hugged with joy at being joined again. As they lay in bed listening to romantic Indian music, Eli spoke, "You are kind and warm. I guess I have been blind all these years we have worked together."
She replied with laughter, "No, you weren't blind. You were an ugly, hairy, smelly caveman. Even the blind wouldn't dare look at you." Her infectious laughter took the edge off the truth she spoke.
Their relationship grew stronger and tighter, as if they were made for each other. The Love that hadn't touched their hearts for such a long time was now the bond they counted on.
One day, Abha showed up at his office during lunchtime with a small gift of men's cologne and said hurriedly, "I really need to talk to you, serious talk, but not here though. I'll to come to your place tonight." She handed him the perfume, gave him a flying kiss, and scurried away.
The rest of the afternoon, Eli was excited with curiosity and the anticipation of being with Abha after work. When he finally put the phone down for the last time that day, Eli rushed to the store, bought a bottle of wine, roses and some groceries. At home, he took off his clothes and vacuumed the carpet in his underwear. He fixed the bed, picked up the clothes from the floor and then went downstairs to wash the dishes he had not had time for that morning.
When all was done, he literally bounced up the stairs with happiness while walking to the shower. The sound of the water drops pattering against the tile the orchestra to his singing and whistling, a new skill that seemed to come from his heart and not his head — he simply tried whistling one day and found out instantly that he could.
He rushed to the door when the doorbell rang. "Come in. Make yourself at home."
"Your place is neat and tidy today. You are so organized ... for a single man." She complemented.
After dinner, while they were cleaning up, he leaned his head toward her for a kiss, but she put her hand up and said, "Not yet. I have something serious to tell you."
"Whatever it is go ahead and say it, sweetheart."
"I'm pregnant. I think it happened that first night that we made love." She said it unblinking, with her wide open eyes pointing at him. She wiped her hands, walked to the dining table and sat down waiting for him.
He followed her, kissed her on the forehead and asked, "Are you sure?"
"Yes. The test was positive."
There was no hesitation in Eli's words as he spoke excitedly, "That's great! Why are you worried?"
"You don't understand. If my family knew, they would kill me. How can I be pregnant without being married?"
"So be it," he responded and quickly knelt down and spoke seriously, but with a smile on his face, "Would you take me as your husband, my dear Abha?"
She was surprised but pleased. "Are you sure you want to marry me?"
"Of course I'm sure! Where would I find a wife as kind, loving and beautiful as you? Please say 'Yes'," he begged, while still on his knees.
Excerpted from Breakfast With Satan by AR Benali Copyright © 2012 by AR Benali. Excerpted by permission of BALBOA PRESS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Story I Love in Silicon Valley....................1
Story II Proud To Be a Woman....................15
Story III Dialogue Above the Clouds....................31
Story IV Guess What, Mom! I Found Love!....................51
Story V Jasmine and the Lady Saint....................63
Story VI The Ordinary and the Atheist....................77
Story VII Out into the Desert....................109
Story VIII Breakfast with Satan....................123