Set in con­tem­po­rary Beirut, A Road to Damascus is a faux-thriller about a reclu­sive botanist who wit­ness­es a polit­i­cal mur­der and is drawn into a per­son­al inves­ti­ga­tion.

From the Archives: Fuse/Burn.

It takes Nancy all of five min­utes to fall into a dream­less sleep, the motion of her back coun­ter­point­ing the caged growl of my Volvo. Both had a long and event­ful day and have earned their rest. I shift the car into fourth gear as its engine hums a sigh of grat­i­tude.

But my day isn’t over yet. In fact, it’s just start­ed. At this timid rate, we’re still a good fif­teen min­utes from Beirut, so I roll up my win­dow and rel­ish my alone-time in com­plete silence.

But as it turns out, those moments are short-lived. Nancy mum­bles and shifts in her seat, then wipes her face with the back of her hand. “How long was I down for?”

A cou­ple of min­utes,” I say, then to myself, “That’s all the alone-time I get.” She turns to look ahead and I see her face bright­en with an orange hue.

Look,” she says point­ing ahead and for an instant I think she’s caught in anoth­er thriller-movie attack of fear. But no, her eyes are wide with won­der, like a prophet look­ing at a burn­ing bush.

I look ahead too and see I’m not far off: The Beirut sky­line glows with flames under a cloud of thick black smoke. “Reports of peace have been great­ly exag­ger­at­ed,” she wise­cracks, and she’s right.

From our insu­lat­ed Volvo-cocoon we watch the city we left this morn­ing loom clos­er, a much-changed land­scape of fire reds and char­coal blacks. We dri­ve into the Ring Area onto Selim Seleim Bridge, its sides lined with burn­ing tires and men of all ages spilling oil into the flames. Even with our win­dows rolled shut, the sounds and smells of revolt fill our car.

I wor­ry Nancy might be fright­ened again, but no, she’s exhil­a­rat­ed. “Let her burn,” she mut­ters. Then her voice ris­ing she sings, “Down, down, down. Weed the coun­try out,” lips trem­bling, flames flick­er­ing in her trans­fixed eyes.

This is an excerpt from Meedo’s upcom­ing nov­el, A Road to Damascus. Read Chapter One or con­tact us to learn more.

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