Chapter 11 – The Wheel of Fortune


Leo turned into Leonard Street. His hands were clammy and he proceeded to wipe them on his jacket. He was nervous, although he had a strong sense from within that there was nothing to be nervous about, and that everything was going to be just fine. In fact it was always going to be fine. All Leo, alongside his other half, needed to do was be in the moment. In the moment, there were never nerves, concerns, doubts or worries – just Leo’s inner being guiding him at every given moment.

Leo wanted to take Lima somewhere different for their “date night”. Nothing OTT, just somewhere simple where he knew they could both be themselves, their true selves. “None of that London pretence,” he had told his new colleague, Tarik earlier. Leo decided to take a gamble and go with a suggestion that Tarik had made. “East London’s best kept secret,” Tarik told Leo. “I’m telling ya bruv. This place is da lick baby! You get me?” Tarik was a young Bengali “geezer geezer” who knew a lot of people in east London. He was born there, grew up there, went to school there and did “a bit of business” there. Tarik was a smart, honest guy, who knew what he wanted out of life and followed his gut at any cost. He wanted a gig at Citizens of Humanity just short-term. He had a start-up business idea he wanted to get up and running. He knew Citizens of Humanity would be a good location for him to make contacts, or rather that’s what his inner being had guided him to do.

Tarik’s façade – the “Mr Lover Lover” vibe and even the Short Man Syndrome (SMS) – Leo believed, Tarik would drop some day soon and just be himself. That went for many people, Leo included. Leo was the Italian joker who could charm the pants off of anyone and would. Truth be known, he wasn’t that much of a sociable guy, and given half the chance, he’d prefer a behind the scenes type role where he could just get on with what he loved doing without having to deal with “people”. How many times had he walked into his job at Citizens of Humanity wanting to just not talk to anyone for the whole day? “Fat chance,” as Leo put it. One woman even complained to Graham about Leo being “moody” with her yet “pleasant” to the customer in front. Graham had a tete-a-tete with Leo, which involved him telling Leo he couldn’t “switch off the Italian charm offensive just because a fugly woman walked into the coffee shop”. Graham didn’t have a clue. He was full of prejudices, pre-conceived notions and as for his perception, it was as non-existent as his people skills. As for Graham’s façade, it was a whole lot less darker than his truth.

Leo’s new job offer working at The Magician’s could put an end to his need to deal with “humans”. Leo could finally be himself in the day job. Get on with what he loved doing with few dealings with the public as possible. That part he could leave to The Magician, his wife and their son.

Leo was fast approaching Brazilian Emporium. It was 6.10 pm. Ten minutes after the shop’s closing time, and the door was locked and the lights were off inside. Leo pressed his face up against the door to see if he could see any goings-on inside. Nobody was there. “Where could Lima be?” said Leo. There was no room in the pop up store for a secret back room. Leo’s hands were clammy again. He knew as his hands had left vapor marks on the door from having had his hands and face pressed up against it.

Calming his nerves, Leo decided to light a cigarette and sit on the step of the building next door. Five minutes had gone past when Leo heard the turning of a lock. He pushed himself up from the step and there emerged Lima and Estrellar.

First thing Leo noticed was that Lima wasn’t wearing the clothes she had on earlier. She had changed. She looked divine, Leo thought as he could feel a warm glow from within. He felt his body was on fire at the sheer contact with Lima again. In Leo’s eyes, Lima looked like a goddess. She was wearing a long black jersey maxi dress with a slit up to the knee on the left. It was sleeveless with a V-neck cut, which fortunately for Leo, showed off just the right amount of cleavage to get his “date night” off to a good start. She had on a rope belt, in a cobalt blue colour, hanging loosely from her waist and a long length denim gilet in a summer light blue. She teamed it up not with high heels but a pair of the “coolest” pair of dainty jazz shoes Leo had seen. A mock-croc white leather pair of finest Italian shoes with black soles and black laces. There were black spiral lines on the white leather as as if someone had strategically got a thin paint brush and hand painted them on. Her outfit was finished with a Slinky-style succession of silver bangles on her right arm, and a silver rope necklace that hung from her neck and in a knot just below her chest. Leo noticed a large beauty spot on Lima’s décolletage that had him transfixed.

“Leo,” said Estrellar. “Good to see you.” In the time that Leo and Lima had clocked each other, Estrellar had already locked the double locks on the door of Brazilian Emporium and was ready to head home, but thought she best break the silence given that the two love birds were as good as still and speechless at the sight of one another. Estrellar embraced Leo with a kiss on both cheeks.

“Hey Lima,” Leo said, as Estrellar moved towards his side. “You look really hot.”

Lima blushed as she thanked Leo.

Estrellar laughed. “Of course she does,” she said. “Aren’t you the lucky one Leo?”

“I am indeed,” Leo said. “To have two Goddesses on either side of me. Truly blessed.”

Estrellar sniggered as she walked to Lima to kiss her on both cheeks. She said something to Lima in Brazilian Portugese, before waving them both off.

Leo turned to face Lima. He wanted to take her hand but decided to tenderly place an arm on her lower back instead as they walked. “Hold on” Lima said. She stopped to remove her cross body bag, and put it over her left side so Leo could walk on her right. It was a birthday gift from Estrellar – a vintage leather envelope bag in an electric blue that had fringing which reached Lima’s ankles. Leo placed his arm back on her back as they walked along.

“So,” Leo said. “I hope you don’t mind but I took the liberty of choosing somewhere different tonight. I’ve not been before and I have a feeling you may not have either.”

“Oh,” Lima said. “I thought we could go to a pub or bar round here.”

“Ah come on,” said Leo. “Tonight’s special.”

“Is it?” she said, smiling as she looked at Leo.

“I see you made an effort for me,” he said. “You got out of your skater girl get-up and in to a knock’em dead dress instead. I like that,” Leo added, laughing cheekily.

Lima laughed and lightly slapped Leo on the chest, in jest, as they walked.

“I wouldn’t have said no to a pair of killer heels though, you know,” he said. “You know the kind I mean?”

“Oh,” proclaimed Lima. “You mean f**k me shoes?”

Leo gave a smirk. “I see we are getting off to a flying start,” he said.

“See I wasn’t sure if tonight was f**k me night, so I left them behind the counter at work,” Lima said, giving as good as she got.

“Well,” said Leo. “I hope you’ve got the keys to Brazilian Emporium, because I think a change of shoes may just be what we need for a Monday night.” Leo let out a loud laugh. Lima playfully slapped him on the chest again and laughed.

“So where are we going?” she said, noticing that they had now passed Boxpark and were walking into the top of Bethnal Green Road.

“I’d rather keep it a surprise,” Leo replied.

“If you insist,” Lima said. Lima already had a fair idea where they were heading to. She had already had an earlier conversation with Leo’s soul, and under the request of her own inner being, she asked his soul to find somewhere low-key where they could listen to music, eat and relax. Leo had been on it since he got the nudge from his own inner being, hence why his soul had directed him to have a chat with Tarik.

The couple walked down Brick Lane and off a side street. There did not seem to be much activity on said street, compared to the bustling Brick Lane, which was busy no matter what day of week it was. Just five-storey high buildings and studio spaces, just like nearby Spitalfields. Leo took out his iPhone to check the text that Tarik sent him with the address.

Once Leo had gotten over Tarik’s earlier “dicking around”, the pair had a civil chat over Tarik’s barista training. “Bruv,” Tarik had told Leo. “I got just the place for you to swan up to with ya missus. East London’s best kept secret, innit? Why pay to go to Ibiza and watch the sunset when you can go up the road to Bethnal Green like. Two fingaz to Balearic Beat, you can’t beat Bethnal Green Beat, you get me?”

Leo warmed to Tarik. He was a gifted storyteller with a unique delivery that made Leo laugh a lot, something he had never done before whilst working at Citizens of Humanity. Tarik explained the story of how he had pulled some “hijabi bird” when he had last visited what he referred to as “Paradise”. “Them ninjas bruv….they just love up the Tarik,” he cheekily told Leo. Leo wasn’t quite sure what to expect given Tarik’s encounter with Paradise, but he just had a knowing it was the right place for him and Lima to be. Tarik explained how he met a couple of local girls from the area. “Part time ninjas,” he called them. Wore the hijab in the morning as they waved goodbye to abbu and ammi, then at night they would “tear off the Zorro mask” and “get fresh with some man’dem, innit?” “They not slaggy hijabis though,” he told Leo. “Just wanna meet a guy on their terms. Someone they want to love rather then be forced into marrying by their parents. Me and me Hijabi Harem were giving it some bellydancing action up there in Paradise. Heaven sent da Tarik to please ‘em, innit?”

The rooftop bar, Paradise, was run by Tarik’s older brother and a few friends. They were still waiting to get a drinks license, so while they could serve food, they weren’t able to serve alcohol the last time Tarik had visited. “Not just out of respect for the part time ninjas and the bros, but more of a legal ting innit? But sneak a bottle in if you want Leo. BYO like and tell my bruv, Ahmed, his little bro sent you.”

Leo was intrigued as Tarik went into more detail about Paradise, describing the place and what it looked like. Musicians, young and old, congregated in the joint, jamming for free. All sorts of musicians showed up there – Qawali singers, sufi musicians, MCs, DJs, reggae artists and session singers. It was a free for all, and on some nights you would hear Qawali singers jamming with a reggae band. Paradise was unique like that. All genres, all cultures, no boundaries – just an eclectic jam. Tarik even showed Leo pictures of the venue, including one of him snogging said “part time ninja”. It looked like a charming place – laidback with some feel good vibes.

Leo pressed the buzzer on the blue door. He looked up at a tall building and could hear noise and the smell of a barbecue. “Nice one,” Leo said as he got a sense of the vibes.

“’ello,” a man with a gruff voice said on the intercom. “Hi, I’m Tarik’s mate, Leo. He told me to tell you I’m Ahmed’s guests.”

“What’s the password?” the man asked. “Marrakech suite,” Leo replied.

“Jeez, Leo,” Lima said as the door buzzed and they walked in. “You taking me to some drug pick up on our first date?” she added, laughing.

Leo laughed too. “Wow Lima, what must you think of me?”

“That’s ok,” she replied. “I’m sure you got this.”

“You’re very trusting,” said Leo. “I’m hoping we hit the jackpot with this one.”

“I know a good thing when I see one,” she said, looking right into Leo’s eyes.

Leo felt his heart chakra glow. She knew all the right things to say to him.

They walked up the steep marble stairs. It had a 70s vibe to the interiors, and the wooden bannisters were starting to wear. “Maybe it is a bit of Marrakech down in the East End,” Leo said.

“Well,” said Lima. “If it isn’t, you owe me a holiday to the real Marrakech.”

“You are on,” said Leo.

As they walked up the stairs, they crossed paths with an Asian couple in their 20s walking down the stairs. The woman had poker straight hair dyed chocolate brown with blonde highlights. She wore a long length T-shirt, jeans and stiletto- heeled black shoe boots. She had on ruby red lipstick and her lips were pursed together in a pout that resembled a “fat lip” to Leo. She had a scarf tied in a knot around her bag. Leo smiled as he recalled Tarik’s tales about the part time ninjas. Leo moved behind Lima to allow the couple to pass by, and nodded to the man as he said “awight?” to Leo.

Lima had clocked Leo smirking as he moved behind her earlier. “What you laughing at?” she said. “Her f**k me shoes?”

“No,” said Leo. “I’ll tell you once we have sat down and recovered after this bootcamp walk up the stairs.”

“Over a drink, beautiful,” Leo added.

Lima glanced at Leo and grinned. “Sure,” she said. For the first time, Leo had clapped eyes on Lima’s slit in her dress. The fringing on her bag had covered up her bare leg. Leo was most pleased with the “bit of leg” that he saw. You are one hot mama, Lima, Leo thought. Lima grinned again as she telepathically clocked Leo’s higher mind’s thought.

They finally made it up to the top floor. Leo knocked on the door and a man opened the wooden double doors. They had to go up one more flight of stairs to get to the rooftop hideaway. As they reached their destination, the couple smiled in tandem. It was as much a rooftop paradise as you could possibly get in London.

It was like the rooftops of Marrakech. They had built a wooden bench that lined one side of the rooftop. Purple and red velveteen cushions were laid down on the bench to make it comfortable to sit. There were poufs on the floor and they had created tables from large, industrial sized ghee containers. And they had huge evergreen plants planted in recycled metal containers. There was a mix and match of Moroccan and Brick Lane artifacts in the joint. On the floor laid coloured bamboo mats akin to the brights you would see in Moroccan tanneries.

On one corner of the rooftop was a barbecue where a chubby Bengali man was grilling meats including sheekh kebabs, chicken tikka and tandoori chicken.

“Evening” said a tall Asian man who greeted Leo and Lima as they waited by the entrance. “Two of you? Dinner and drinks?”

“Yep,” said Leo. The man took Leo and Lima to a part of the wooden bench and sat them down. “Just to let you know,” he said. “We are now serving alcohol, so here’s the drinks list.” The waiter pointed to a handwritten list on a piece of paper placed under a silver can that was now being used to house cutlery. “Cool,” said Leo.

“By the way,” the waiter asked. “How did you hear about us?”

“Tarik told me,” Leo replied, as he took off his jacket.

The guy laughed and said: “My little bro is the best bit of marketing this side of social media. The old school way…word of mouth still works wonders.”

“Oh, so you are Tarik’s brother?” Leo asked.

“Yes, Ahmed. Nice to meet you and your lady friend,” he said putting both his hands out to shake Leo’s and Lima’s hands simultaneously. “You are both more than welcome. I hope you enjoy your evening and relax, we’ve got live music coming later too.”

Lima looked delighted. Food, drinks and music…but most importantly, the love of her life right by her side. She couldn’t have asked for a better Monday night.

“What can I get you, Lima?” Leo asked, pointing to the drinks menu.

Lima picked up the handwritten drinks menu. She loved the vibe at this rooftop joint – there was something edgy but down-to-earth about it. Kind of kitsch, but cool at the same time. But most of all, it was real. There weren’t many places in London like it. And the best thing about it, it was low-key as not many people knew about it. It looked like Tarik’s inner being was pretty selective about who he sent to the joint, making sure that the place had just the right vibes. Bringing a bit of balance to the nearby chaos amidst London’s skyline that you could see from this rooftop terrace.

Lima and Leo had a perfect view of the stage, albeit empty from the time they sat down. In the corner next to them was two old airline seats where a young couple sat. Tarik had told Leo how his brother and his mates had pulled in favours from the people they knew who gave them all kinds of bits and pieces to use as furnishings. Most of it recycled. Just before they opened Tarik and Ahmed had rented a van to pick up some of the furnishings, including the airline seats which they got from a former pilot who lived in Osterley, near Heathrow Airport. The Moroccan bits and pieces were all donated by the parents of Ahmed’s business partner, Lafoui. Originally from Morocco, Lafoui’s parents ran a shop selling Moroccan furnishings in north London’s Holloway Road. They had donated poufs, mint tea glasses and the lanterns that had been placed around the joint, wherever there was a place to hang them it appeared. Lafoui was also able to get a good deal through a friend of his parents to buy shisha pipes. “Mates rates,” as Lafoui called it.

Even the people downstairs preparing the food and the chef by the BBQ were all poached from Brick Lane restaurants that Tarik and Ahmed knew. It didn’t take that much persuasion as Tarik and Ahmed were well known, likeable guys from the area. Tarik payed them a fair wage than the guys they poached them from. Tarik even let his workers chill at Paradise after closing time. It would often turn into a playground with the staff playing cards, drinking whiskey and even sleeping on the terrace on a warm summer’s night. The morning call to prayer coming from the local mosque would jolt the bleery-eyed workers. Their other bosses had been strict Muslims so gambling and whiskey after hours weren’t part of the deal.

After a quick perusal of the food and drinks menu, Lima and Leo had decided on what to order. The food was a mix of Indian/Bengali and Moroccan, a reflection of the owners’ heritage. There were tagines and couscous, Tandoori-style meats, birianis and samosas. Simple yet wholesome foods. Lima wanted a kebab roll in naan bread with chips. And Leo was going for the chicken and olive tagine with cous cous, and samosas for starters to share.

As Ahmed came over to take their order, he held two drinks in beer glasses in his hands – each of the drinks had cocktail unbrellas with a glace cherry on the ends of the sticks. “Leo, my friend,” he said. “These are on the house. Mango lassis laced with rum.”

“Thanks Ahmed,” Leo said. “We were actually gonna order drinks but I guess we’ll wait till we finish these.”

“Cool,” replied Ahmed, as he hurriedly walked off to greet more people at the entrance. “I’ll get someone to take your food order,” he shouted back at Leo and Lima. The couple clinked glasses and said a toast. “To one night in Paradise,” Leo said laughing. “Sounds like a porn movie.”

Lima laughed. “Yeh a 70s style porn movie with cocktails served with cocktail umbrellas and glace cherries.” Leo sniggered. “Bit tacky innit? But I love the kitsch-ness of it and this is a darn good drink,” he said taking long , hard sips through his straw.

A waiter came to take their food order then Leo leaned back and started to relax. “I just wanted to say Lima….you lit up my morning when you came to the coffee shop,” Leo said.

Lima looked up having just taken a sip of her drink, and said: “I know”.

“Yeeeh,” Leo said, seeming a bit lean having rapidly got through his alcoholic mango lassi. “My Lima knows everything.”

Lima smiled as she took another sip of her drink. “I do,” she replied, dribbling a bit of mango lassi around the corner of her mouth as she spoke. But before she could lick it, Leo had taken his thumb to the corner of her mouth and wiped it off.

“Thanks,” she said.

“Anytime,” he said. “I’m always there to pick up the pieces if you dribble.”

Lima laughed as she nudged Leo’s leg with hers. The conversation throughout the night between the pair would be light and tongue-in-cheek. They didn’t really have to get to know each other. Their souls had known each other for years – thousands of years in fact – what more did they need to know about each other, for they were one and the same, they were two parts of the same soul. There were moments throughout the night when the pair didn’t talk to one another – they weren’t awkward silences. Far from it, in fact the soul’s were in communication telepathically whilst sat next to each other in the physical. Banter aside, be it on a soul level or in the physical, just being in one another’s presence was enough for the souls.

This was a partnership based on true love, love in its purest sense. Not an emotional love – far from it. The love between the souls was based on a commitment to one another with love being a choice, a decision and an action – something that you wake up everyday and choose to do.

Leo and Lima sat in Paradise for hours. They chatted about Lima’s work, Estrellar, Marcelo and Leo’s job offer. Lima didn’t hesitate to tell Leo to quit Citizens of Coffee and accept Mr Parker’s offer. Leo would call Mr Parker in the morning and let him know his decision.

It was a warm summer’s evening and there was a gentle breeze of cooler albeit polluted London air. It was mixed with the smell of barbecued meats but a fruity smell too, thanks to the shisha pipes which the couple sitting on the airline seats were happily chomping away on. Leo could see Lima’s arms were getting goose pimples. He put his arm round her and rubbed her shoulder to keep her warm.

“Lima, do you want to wear my jacket?” Leo asked.

“I’m good,” she replied. “I’ll let you keep me warm instead.”

“With pleasure,” said Leo, giggling like a teenager, giving Lima a gentle tug to draw her closer to him. Ahmed approached the pair and said: “You guys good for drinks? Can I get you anything else?”

“Actually,” said Leo. “Lima, would you like to smoke shisha?”

“Sure,” she said. “Which flavours do you have?” she asked Ahmed. But before Ahmed could list off the flavours available, she said: “do you have mint?”

“This lady knows exactly what she wants,” he said, looking at Leo. “We sure do. You’ve got very good taste,” he replied to Lima.

“She certainly does,” said Leo. “I mean, one only has to look at me to see she has flippin’ fine taste,” he continued, laughing hard at his funnies. Lima gave him another playful nudge with her leg, as she giggled at her other half’s jokes. Ahmed looked at the pair and said: “Right then, I’ll leave you two lovebirds to it. I’ll bring your shisha over shortly.”

Lima could hear the beating of drums. She looked over at the stage, and a man wearing a Hawaiian shirt and a brown trilby hat had taken to the stage and was playing the congas in rhythm with the chill out music they had on in the background. “This is heaven,” she said, as she started to tap her legs in tune with the congo beats. “Yes it is heaven,” said Leo. “I’ve often been likened to a God many a time.”

Lima burst out laughing and said: “you are the funniest guy alive”. She leaned over to Leo and kissed him on the lips and said: “thank you for tonight”, but before Leo could take a lunge – hands, tongues et al – Ahmed walked over with the shisha. “Ok guys, here’s your shisha,” he said, placing it on the floor by Leo. “The band’s gonna start shortly, so can I get you anything?”

“Yes,” said Leo. “Two more of ‘em lassi lacers or whatever they are called?”

Ahmed laughed and said: “You know what? I just may call them Lassi Lacers on the menu.” He handed over the shisha pipe to Leo alongside a plastic wrapper.

Lima laughed. “He’s good with the words is Leo?” she said. “He writes in his spare time.”

Leo looked at Lima. “There’s nothing you don’t know about me, Lima,” he said, tearing open the plastic wrapper with his teeth. Leo took out the plastic mouthpiece from the wrapper and placed it on the pipe. “Here you go darling?” he said, handing the shisha pipe to Lima. “Mint shisha for my baby girl.” As Lima took the pipe, Leo sat back again and placed his arm around Lima, this time giving her a protective squeeze. Lima rested her head on his shoulder, and as she took drags on the shisha, Leo tenderly stroked her hair. Lima rested her left hand on Leo’s leg, giving it a gentle squeeze. That warm glow in Leo’s heart chakra started to amplify. Lima’s too. The pair sat there in near silence for 20 minutes, just enjoying each other’s touch whilst smoking shisha.

The band had made an entrance and were starting to warm up. It was a fusion of Indo-Moroccan with Columbian Cumbia thrown into the mix. London had nothing on Paradise right now. The rooftop quickly started to fill up. Lima and Leo no longer had a birdseye view of the stage. Thirty minutes later and the place was jammed. Lima had gone to the bathroom and on her return, she raised her hand to Leo’s and said. “Come on,” she said. “Grab, your things and let’s go dance over there.” She had spotted a vacant space on her way back from the bathroom, which was near the side of the stage. Lima held Leo’s hand and pulled him to the spot.

He rested his backpack and jacket on a corner of the stage. Lima followed suit, taking off her denim gilet and bag, and laying them on top of Leo’s things.

Lima and Leo danced together. Lima appeared a little giddy – not so much with the alcohol she had consumed, but the company as well as the music had propelled her to a different dimension. More people started to come in and there was little room to move. Leo and Lima were pressed up against each other. Lima put his hands on Lima’s waist as she faced the stage and started moving her hips and thrusting her booty seductively into Leo in time with the music. She raised her right arm back towards Leo to touch his face tenderly. Leo had discovered the slit on the left side of her leg, and put his hand inside her thigh.

Suddenly the music stopped and the lights went out. The fuse had blown. The crowd cheered and the congo player continued to play his drums.

There was no light other than the moonlight, and the lights coming from the nearby city skyscrapers. Leo took out his lighter from his pocket and lit it. Lima turned round to face Leo. He had a cheeky grin on his face. She grabbed his face and they kissed. Lima wrapped her leg round her man like a flamenco dancer, and Leo took a hand to her bare leg and tightly grabbed it. There was no way he was letting go of her – not in this moment, not in the next moment, not ever!

All characters and events in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.


Twins At Work are a writing duo. ‘Tarot Tales: The Mirror’ is their latest book. 


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