Discover and follow our latest adventure,
The CatGPT Project


(Roof Cats is a novel in progress, based on a true story, written with the assistance of ChatGPT as part of a series of books experimenting with AI tools. If you want to participate and have a chance of getting published, see the rules and instructions here.)


In a Beirut neighbourhood, on the intersection of Hope Street and Colonel Street, a pocket of space contains three buildings: Petunia, Karam and Daoud. In their apartments, roofs, backyards, terraces, balconies, basements, stairs, elevators, utility rooms and abandoned furnaces, between February 2013 and February 2014, 32 cats of the same lineage saw the light. By the end of this period, seventeen had died, two had lost an eye, another had lost two legs, another his personality, three had been tortured, one had eaten hallucinogenic mushrooms, still another choice caviar, four had been devoured, another had brought a theatre actress to the brink of ecstasy, while the last had committed suicide after long months of struggle with depression.

The first meeting between our main culprit and one neighbourhood resident occurred in Apartment 2B of the Petunia building.

Petunia building, apartment 2B

As George opens his door, holding the pink smartphone cover he bought for Sana to celebrate Valentine’s Day, he turns his head – he has an acute sense of hearing – towards a sound coming from the living room.

He turns on the light, scrutinizes the corners of the room, but sees nothing. He walks towards the blue curtains, lifts them, then turns around towards another noise, one emanating from under the big leather couch. A black-and-white cat dashes out and runs towards the kitchen balcony… then, from the balcony, jumps unto the mural cornice… and then inside the building, through a small window leading to the stairs.

George’s eyes follow the cat until it disappears... He then bursts out laughing and keeps on smiling for the rest of the night.

The next day, after a romantic dinner, he comes back home with Sana and heads directly towards the couch; but before he even reaches the room, the cat is already on the balcony.

Sana, already in the bedroom, hasn’t noticed a thing.

The third day, before going to work, George opens a can of tuna and leaves it on the floor in the kitchen. That same night when he comes back, he sees that the tuna has disappeared. The cat is standing there, a meter away, but as soon as George stretches his hand to stroke it, the cat, with its feline reflexes, vanishes.

On the fourth night, the cat allows George to pet it. Smiling happily, George names it Tom. Three days later, Tom meets Sana, who came to spend the night at her fiancé’s house. The young woman instantly expresses her disgust:

“There’s a street cat in your house!”

George explains there’s nothing odd about it, that he’s quite familiar with the situation, and that the cat is really friendly. However, this falls on deaf ears. Sana threatens to leave unless the cat, a potential hotbed of parasites, is expelled. An embarrassed George acquiesces, opens the balcony door, and puts the cat’s tuna dinner outside, before shutting it the moment Tom is out.

“And by the way, it’s a female.”

“Oh? You’re sure?”

“Yeah, I know a few things about those pests.”

George turns his head towards the balcony, thoughtfully.

“Would you have any ideas for female cat names?”

“Nope. I’ll let you mull it over. I’ll be in the bedroom.”

Frowning, George leans his forehead against the glass door. The cat comes closer. George kneels, so he’s on eye-level with the cat, and they stare at each other through the glass door.

“Ticky! I’ll call you Ticky!”

He fearfully looks behind his shoulders, then opens the door to give one quick and furtive caress.

A week later, George hurriedly heads to the kitchen for his daily meet-up with Ticky and finds her with a wounded forehead. He panics and calls a veterinarian friend to inquire about the right thing to do. He tries to keep Ticky still, but the cat vanishes with feline speed, only to return ten days later.

Petunia building, apartment 5B

Mona’s first reaction upon seeing a black and white street cat, with a star-shaped mark on its forehead, browsing through the living room trashcan is to scream and lunge at it, brandishing the nearest frying pan as a weapon. The cat, with its feline reflexes, vanishes after jumping on the mural cornice, then inside the building through a small window leading to the stairs. Mona is left on her own, stewing in rage, still holding the frying pan.

When her husband returns in the evening, she’s still nagging about the damn cat that had the audacity to soil her house and disrupt her routine. Nabil looks at her empathically and promises to deal with that pesky cat if it ever comes back.

Three days later, Mona surprises the intruder again, this time feasting on fish remains. Livid upon seeing the state of the floor, she runs towards the cat, screaming, but the it vanishes. That night, Mona updates husband, who gravely shakes his head in sympathy.

When the unwelcome guest shows up again, it finds a meal of exquisite poultry liver at the kitchen door, and approaches it without paying heed to the bait under the wooden box decked out with nails and shards, and held in balance with a big tin can. Mona, standing guard, pulls the rope attached to the can, but her movement isn’t precise enough and the can rolls just a little instead of being pulled out immediately, thus limiting the fall of the wooden box to a few centimeters ­– just enough to hurt our cat’s forehead, but without causing further damage – and not enough to imprison it.

With great speed, the cat leaves apartment 5B of the Petunia building for the last time.

Petunia building, apartment 7A

On the 18th of February, Tarek finally returns home. As soon as he puts his suitcase down, he shivers. He frowns and heads straight to the living room and stares at the open glass door leading to the balcony. He walks to it and closes it. He then turns his head towards a sound behind him. Coming out from under the green couch, a black-and-white cat, with a star-shaped mark on its forehead, is staring at him… and at the now-blocked exit to the balcony.

Tarek makes a slight move, but the cat, with its feline reflexes, lunges towards the entrance door, which was left open, and disappears down the stairs.

Tarek bursts out laughing and keeps on smiling for the rest of the night.

As soon as he wakes up the next day, he opens a tuna can and places it on the balcony floor. That afternoon, the cat makes an appearance. Tarek approaches it carefully and the cat allows the young man to stroke him.

The two mammals instantly connect, and the cat’s visits become regular. A few days later, during one of their daily encounters, Tarek turns towards the cat and, with a big smile on his face, asks:

“Hey big guy, cat’s up?”

The cat answers with a meow, and Tarek’s smile widens.

“Yeah, you know cat is up in the hood. Haha… Cat’s up… Katsup!”

The cat meows then blinks.

“Yeah, that’s it! Katsup!”

Katsup, by then probably bored with the conversation, attacks his food bowl.

One day, the animal shows up with a wound on his forehead. When Tarek sees that, he frowns and worriedly calls a veterinarian friend for advice. After describing the predicament, he decides to leave it be and wait for time to run its course.

From then on, Katsup makes a habit of dropping by more frequently, sometimes even sitting on the couch next to Tarek, who lets him wholeheartedly, even during his video chats with the beautiful Adeline.

“Oh, I miss you so much… I’d do anything to be with you right now… I’d do anything just to lay my hand on your tummy to feel the kicks…”

“Soon my love, soon. But is that… Is that a cat behind you?”

“It’s a street cat who drops by from time to time. I present to you: Katsup!”

“He looks sweet. He’s a cutie.”

“I agree.”

A few days later, Tarek is packing his suitcase. He throws a few worried glances at the glass door. And, from time to time, goes out and calls “Katsup! Katsup!”, then comes back to his luggage, scratching his head, then looking out again.

Suddenly, his face lights up and he dials a number on his mobile phone:

“Mark? What’s up? Busy? Listen, you told me your shrink lives next door to my place, right? Awesome! Hear me out: there’s this cat who visits me every now and then, and I feed him… I’m leaving today for Paris to spend two weeks with Adeline… So, I’m just checking if you could show up every few days – according to your shrink appointments, of course – and put some crackers? …  Yeah, he comes in through the balcony; I’ll leave the door ajar… Yeah, on the seventh floor, it’s crazy, right? …  All right, brilliant, thanks a bunch, buddy. I’ll leave a set of keys for you with the janitor. Take care!”

Tarek hangs up and sees Katsup next to his empty bowl, looking up at him. The young man smiles:

“You’re in good hands now.”

Petunia building, apartment 2B

After a ten-day absence, Ticky decides to pay George a visit, and George believes this warrants opening the can of choice pâté that he bought for this special occasion.

“Hey, Ticky… We need to talk… Sana’s moving in pretty soon and she’s not a big fan of you, you know that… So, you need to raise your game, don’t mess things up, don’t tear stuff, don’t shed too much… You know, that sort of thing…”

Ticky allows himself to be petted, despite being a little tense.

“What do you know… Are you gaining weight? Looks like you’re being well-fed… Looks like you’re having lunch in every apartment in this building.”

A few days later, a horrified Sana explains, screaming, the reason behind Ticky’s physical transformation:

“Pregnant! It’s pregnant!! You kick it out right this instant, George! There’s no way it’s shitting us a litter in the closet! It’s either me or that cat, George, I’m warning you, me or that!”

George tries to negotiate, reason, beg… but Sana remains hysterically inflexible.

On Tuesday, the 28th of February, at 8pm, Ticky lands on George’s balcony and finds her bowl empty and the glass door closed. She meows and scratches the door persistently. George appears and walks to the glass door.

“Ticky… my little Ticky… I… I don’t know what to say… I’m sorry… I would’ve loved to keep you both… But she completely flipped out and you have to understand she brings me a lot… She’s a pain in the ass, true… But if she leaves me, I’ll be alone… So alone…”

Ticky keeps on meowing and scratching the door. George stands up and punches the wall. The cat is startled. But soon enough returns to her meowing and scratching at the base of the glass door. George leaves the room.

When he comes back half an hour later, Ticky hasn’t moved and is staring at him through the glass door. George looks back and shakes his head apologetically. Ticky continues to stare at George, who is the first to blink. Ticky proudly turns away and stealthily heads down the cornice through the window and to the stairs.

Petunia building, apartment 7A

When Tarek opens the door of his apartment after a two-week absence, he puts his suitcase on the floor and hurriedly heads towards the balcony, looking around and calling: “Katsup! Katsup!”

But no cat answers his call. Tarek, disappointed, returns to unpack his luggage.

A few days later, on the 21st of February at 9pm, Katsup finally reappears.

“Hey, lil’ cat! Happy to see you! Sorry for not keeping my promise, but I gave the wrong keys to the janitor! Ha, what an appetite you have… You must have starved in my absence… You look like you’ve gained some weight, though… Anyway, listen, my place is your place, you can hang around as much as you like! After all, one of your kind will definitely not interrupt my routine.”


PART I: Katsup’s First Litter


Chapter One: Are You Certain It’s a Male? 

Petunia building, apartment 7A


Cohabitation between the human and the feline goes well until Katsup starts to look relentlessly for a dark and isolated shelter every time Tarek isn’t looking or is away. Yet, the young man remains vigilant, obstructing the cat’s every attempt with watchful eyes and swift interventions.
“You’re impossible, Katsup. Go and sit in an armchair or on a chair, or whatever. Just, please, stop roaming around! I swear, it’s unbearable.”
Looking frustrated, Katsup turns his head, slides in between Tarek’s legs, then trots towards the balcony.
“Right, go and roam on the roof.”
Then he adds a second later,
“Careful, though, don’t go near the edge.”
One day, he steps into his bedroom and discovers Katsup nestled deep inside his closet. Concerned, he gazes at the cat amidst his scattered clothes. He reaches in confidently, but, as his hand comes closer, Katsup recoils, eyes narrowed and ears flattened against his head. A sudden hiss escapes his lips, while his claws unsheathe in defense.
“Hey, what do you mean by ‘hiss’?! I thought we were friends!”

After a brief hesitation, his eyes fall upon a hanger. He unhooks it with determination and shoos Katsup out of the closet. The persistent cat emerges from his hiding place, hissing, and swiftly makes his way out of the room and into the corridor, with his ears erect. Observing his retreat, Tarek follows closely behind, looking concerned and curious. As they reach the corridor, he bends down, extends a hand and gently pets Katsup. The cat’s body instantly relaxes, and a purr emanates from his throat.

Tarek smiles with relief.

Katsup trots towards the balcony, which is high above the bustling city streets, and offers a commanding view of the adjacent building’s transformed rooftop. In Beirut, these spaces are often converted into inviting verandas, perfect for basking in the warm summer breeze.

The adjacent rooftop veranda boasts a charming ambiance; adorned with vibrant potted plants, whose verdant leaves reach towards the sun. A cozy seating ensemble, plush cushions and a quaint coffee table, invites guests to unwind and savor the tranquility of the surroundings.

However, amid this serene haven, an unexpected resident often disrupts the peace. A small, fiery-haired dog, resembling a mischievous polecat, frequently takes up residence on the neighboring rooftop, its yapping piercing the air, a constant reminder of its presence. This audacious canine often challenges Katsup, barking relentlessly from its lofty perch, yet never ventures close enough to pose a real threat.

Undeterred by the yapping interloper, Katsup navigates, with measured steps, the balcony’s edge, casting occasional glances towards the neighboring rooftop, then lies down and sleeps in the sun.

Tarek looks at him with a smile then leaves.

And comes back home very late at night, or rather very early in the morning, stumbles unsteadily along the walls, eyes blinking. He doesn’t take the time to check out Katsup’s whereabouts and goes straight to his bedroom.

A few hours later, as soon as he gets up, he spends almost two hours looking for Katsup everywhere, from the balcony to the closets, calling her several times.

“Katsup! Katsup! Fleabag!”

Suddenly, the meowing feline appears on the balcony and heads directly to his bowl. Tarek opens a can and, while watching the cat eat, he receives a call.

“Hello, Mark. How are you? Yes, it was a great evening, we should do it again. No, not really. Rather hungover and my throat is like an ashtray. Yeah, sure, come over.”

When Mark arrives, they settle in Tarek’s cozy living room, sharing a shisha as they engage in casual conversation. As Mark enquires about Tarek’s French girlfriend, Adeline, and her pregnancy, he reaches out to stroke Katsup sitting leisurely next to him on the couch, eliciting a contented purr from the feline.

Tarek reassures Mark with positive updates on Adeline’s pregnancy.

“What about you?” Marks asks, “How do you feel about becoming a father soon?”

“Don’t know. Leaving feelings aside for the moment. Focusing on the logistics.”

“No feelings at all?”

“Feelings would probably mean anxiety. So... as few feelings as possible.”

“And still not planning to move in together? After your long-distance relationship, you’re going to be a long-distance parent?”

Tarek smiles, “Why not? That’s unusual, but worth trying.”

His voice is tinted with a mixture of anticipation, uncertainty, and determination. His friend is amused.

Jumping from one subject to another, Mark, with a slight grin, raises the topic of Katsup’s presence in Tarek’s life, and asks if the feline has now taken up permanent residence.

“I don’t know, I think so. You should ask him, not me.”

Mark chuckles and comments about Katsup’s physical appearance, teasingly noting that the feline seems to have gained some weight since their last encounter.

When he’s gone, Tarek drops a quick look at the sleeping cat and shrugs.

The cat raises an eyebrow, jumps down from his couch, and starts meowing.

“I don’t know, Mark’s right. You’ve put on some weight.”


“There’s no meow that holds. You’re supposed to be a predator. I don’t want to spoil you and turn you into an overweight lounge cat.”


“I know this might not seem fair to you, but it’s for your own good. Trust me.”

He turns on his heels, leaving behind a disappointed pair of eyes.


“I said it’s for your own good.”

Two minutes later, he opens a fresh can of cat food.

“After all, you’re not eating that much. And you’re not going out anymore. Where is all that extra weight coming from?”

But the doorbell interrupts Tarek’s musings: the new neighbors, a young French couple, introduce themselves and ask if they can borrow a corkscrew. Smiling politely, Tarek quickly gives them one. They leave and he goes back to working on the latest commercial for a Lebanese beer brand.

In the following days, Tarek glances frequently at Katsup’s round belly, often hesitating before opening a new can of cat food. One evening, as he’s discussing the cat’s unusual weight gain over the phone, he suddenly falls silent.

“Well... yeah... I’m almost certain he’s a male.”

After a brief pause, he adds:

“No... No, I’ve never seen his balls. You’re right, maybe it is a pregnant female.”

He hangs up, agitated, suddenly stands up and walks over to the other couch where Katsup is sleeping peacefully. Conscientiously, he starts examining the animal to determine its gender, despite its uncooperative position.

“Katsup... Um... How can I put this...? Can I see your... your... private parts?”

Katsup looks at him while he tries to lift one of his/her legs. After a number of failed attempts, the cat grows annoyed and jumps off the couch. Tarek follows him/her purposefully, on all fours. Then, after a few minutes of this slow-motion chase, as Katsup settles in another spot, Tarek manages to see her crotch.

“You’re a female... I’m screwed.”


And she goes back to sleep.

Tarek’s behavior changes drastically from that moment on: he’s increasingly attentive and caring, takes extra measures to ensure Katsup’s comfort and well-being, even purchasing a cozy cat bed, which he places in a quiet corner of the living room.

And he puts Katsup on a special pregnancy diet he finds online.

He delves into various online articles and forums for guidance, learns about the stages of gestation, the signs of impending labor, and the necessary preparations to ensure a safe and comfortable birthing environment.

Katsup hardly goes out anymore, sleeping most of the time. As he’s having cheese and wine with Leyla, a close friend, Tarek asks:

“Is it because she’s pregnant that she sleeps all the time?”

“No, I think it’s normal for cats,”

For a whole week, Tarek’s conversation revolves mostly around the duration of a cat’s sleep.

“I can’t understand how they survived evolution with the time they spend sleeping!”

“Exactly,” Mark replies. “Now that they’ve survived evolution, they’re enjoying a well-deserved rest. By the way, when’s Adeline coming to Beirut?”

“Not until the baby’s born. I’m going to Paris around the 20th of April, and I’ll stay there for a couple of months. Until the birth.”

“And then you’ll welcome her here with a whole litter of kittens and a balcony full of old furniture,” Mark jokes.

“First, I love this couch, and I won’t get rid of it. And neither that nor Katsup is bothering anyone on the balcony. Now, what do you mean by a whole litter? Will there be more than one or two?”

Mark laughs. Then he answers, “It isn’t my decision, but to my knowledge, there are never fewer than four or five.”

Tarek opens wide and panicked eyes. For two days, he goes on asking people about the usual number of kittens in a litter, but never gets the answer he wants.

“Please let there be only one or two, Katsup. Please let there be just one or two,” he pleads.


The big day is drawing closer; thanks to his online research, Tarek establishes that Katsup should give birth around the 5th of April. His anxiety concerning the number of kittens grows with each passing day.

“If there are only one or two, I’ll keep them.”

“Tarek, that’s not going to happen.”

“I said ‘if’.”

One evening, as the sun is setting, Tarek arrives home accompanied by Leyla. They step inside the quiet apartment, their eyes scanning the familiar surroundings. Tarek’s brow furrows with concern.

“Katsup? Katsup?”

But there’s no sign of the pregnant feline. They embark on a thorough search of the apartment, checking every corner and under every table. But after ten minutes of fruitless exploration, they must face the fact that Katsup has disappeared. Tarek is disappointed she didn’t choose his home for this significant moment, and Leyla teases him.

Suddenly, faint meows drift through the air, originating from somewhere nearby. The sound is elusive, like whispers carried by the wind. Tarek and Leyla exchange puzzled looks. But determined to find the source of this symphony of meows, they embark on a silent quest, their footsteps cautious as they search every nook and cranny.

They meticulously inspect every room, scan every inch of the balcony, and even cast a curious gaze towards the neighboring roof, listening intently for any clues. Confusion clouds their faces.

“We do agree it’s her voice, right?”

“I’m not familiar with cat inflections, but I can confirm it’s coming from somewhere close. It’s as if the cat were invisible.”

Their eyes sweep the balcony, trying to untangle the mystery. Curiously, the meowing stops every time they step outside.

“It fades every time we come out here,”

“I can’t believe you still didn’t get rid of this old couch!”

Returning inside, they settle back into their seats. Just as they do, the enigmatic cat sounds resurface.

“Okay, there must be a rational explanation.”

“Wow, Leyla mocks, we’ve really made progress.”

“It’s coming from outside, I’m certain now.”

Once again, they venture on the balcony. With perfect synchronization, their gazes shift between the old couch and each other.

“Look, she’s torn open the fabric to create a cozy spot inside the structure,”

“Err… it possibly was already torn,”

Tarek attempts to peer inside the couch, but after a few seconds, lifts his head, disappointed. Then, undaunted, brings a flashlight from his bedroom and illuminates the improvised maternity ward.


“Oh, okay, sorry,”

“So, what did you see?”

“A threatening pair of eyes.”

“We must have bothered her. Let’s leave her alone.”

“But I wanted to see the labor!”

“You’ll see your own in a couple of months.”

“That’s not the same.”

“You’re right. Yours will be better.”

As their debate lingers, Tarek playfully suggests popping open a bottle of Prosecco to commemorate the moment. Leyla interjects, reminding him the labor is not yet complete. But Tarek, undeterred by such formalities, dismisses his friend’s bureaucratic mindset and proceeds to uncork the bottle.

As the evening drifts slowly by, Leyla eventually succumbs to exhaustion and calls a cab. Tarek lingers on a little longer, informs Adeline of the joyous event, then finally retires to his room. A few moments after he settles in bed, he suddenly springs up, ventures out, and refills Katsup’s bowl before going back to bed.

The next morning, as soon as he wakes up, Tarek jumps out of bed and rushes to inspect the couch. He circles around it, carefully pulling up the torn piece of fabric. A faint “meow” greets his actions, but Katsup remains nestled inside her safe refuge.

“Still inside? Don’t want to come out?”

Tarek opens a can of food, but Katsup stays put.

“Okay, I must leave for work. I hope you’ll be out of here this evening,”

But neither that evening nor in the subsequent days does Katsup emerge from her secure sanctuary when Tarek’s around. And, even when he’s away, she only goes out to eat, or use the litter box, never straying further.

Tarek attempts reach into the depths of the couch several times, only to harvest a collection of claw marks. He tries snapping a photo with a flash, but to no avail. The image remains blank, while Katsup’s hisses grow louder with each failed attempt. Tarek shrugs off the disappointment, apologizes for the disruption he caused, and retreats back inside the apartment.

 Later that day, he goes out and returns with a roast chicken. As soon as he opens the door, Katsup cautiously pokes her shy head out from her hiding place.


“Yup… Delicious things over here. Come and get some if you wish.”

Tarek leaves a portion of chicken on the opposite balcony. He then makes his way to his room, which is also connected to the main balcony. Katsup hesitates a little then tentatively approaches the bowl. As soon as she starts eating, Tarek swiftly exits his room and shuts the door between the main balcony and the living room. Katsup, though quick as lightning, barely makes it to the door before Tarek locks it, and quickly crawls to the couch, on all fours, with a flashlight and a smile.

Despite Katsup’s hisses and menacing meows, Tarek takes his time to snap several photos with the flash on, this time pushing his forearm deep inside the couch. He then examines the results, and a broad smile spreads across his face.

 “There’s only one! I knew it!”

He then opens the door for the new mother, relief washing over his face, but gets a dark glance and a brief hiss from Katsup in return.

Chapter Two: Are You Certain There’s Only One?

Two days later, in the early morning, dark rainclouds are casting a gloomy shadow over the neighborhood. The relentless downpour intensifies, creating a rhythmic melody as raindrops pelt against the windows. Tarek, observing the spectacle in silence, is startled by a sudden movement. Katsup is emerging from inside the drenched structure of the old couch, cradling a tiny black kitten in her mouth.

Tarek watches as Katsup crosses from one side of the balcony to the other. Then stares at the kitten, frowning.

 “Ooh, poor you. Is he dead?” he asks, with a mix of worry and curiosity.

Katsup remains silent, her focus seemingly fixed on a determined purpose. Tarek stands up, heads to the balcony door, and opens it. In the blink of an eye, Katsup makes her way there, leaving wet paw-prints behind. With graceful agility, she enters the living room, swiftly crosses the corridor, and reaches Tarek’s bedroom. There, she gently places the kitten on the unmade bed, transforming it into an impromptu nest. Tarek’s initial reaction is to take out his phone and start filming the scene, his face a mixture of amusement and disbelief. But Katsup’s already scampering back to the balcony, where she retrieves another, white-and-black, kitten.

 “Okay, we’ve got two. I guess I can handle this.”

But another kitten follows, almost completely black like the first one.

 “Three… Katsup… What am I going to do with all these kittens?”

And finally, a fourth kitten, black and white.

Tarek’s still filming, but his face is now exhibiting genuine concern.

“Four… Ok… At least it looks like there are no more left.”

Katsup nestles herself among the kittens, and starts suckling them.

“Alright, I have to go to work. We’ll figure this out tonight. Have a good day!”


When he’s gone, Katsup explores the territory. She walks around the place again and again, goes back, then stops in front of a suitcase on the floor in a corner. She walks dutifully around it and manages to slip inside it through a small opening. She comes out a few minutes later, leaps onto the bed then brings down her kittens one after the other and places them inside the suitcase, then disappears inside it.

That evening, back from work, Tarek swiftly makes his way through the corridor. His steps are purposeful and tinged with anticipation. Then, as soon as he enters his bedroom, his eyebrows arch in surprise: the bed is empty.

Tarek embarks on an extensive search, meticulously exploring every room: the balcony, the living room, the kitchen, his own bedroom, and even the second one he uses as a storage space are all subjected to his unwavering scrutiny. He looks under every piece of furniture, opens drawers, wardrobes, and cabinets, checking each location at least twice.

Suddenly, he reaches for his phone, his fingers searching for Leyla’s name. But just as he starts recounting the turn of events, his eyes suddenly catch sight of something: in the storage room, one of the suitcases has a twenty-centimeter opening, its zipper agape.

With a wry smile and measured steps, Tarek approaches the suitcase, and, with careful precision, slowly eases the zipper open, revealing a sight that elicits a hearty laugh from him. Nestled inside is Katsup herself, surrounded by her brood of kittens and, obviously, moderately delighted by this unwelcome intrusion.

After a quick explanation to Leyla, Tarek hangs up, looking relieved and amused.

A little later, during their daily video call, Adeline requests a glimpse of the kittens, causing Katsup to be inconvenienced once again.


“Sorry, just passing by. See that big belly inside the screen? It’s my own personal kitten inside!”


In the following days, the suitcase becomes the center of Tarek’s focus, and a routine takes hold. Regularly, he unveils the “caternity ward,” revealing the nursing kittens inside. Katsup, apparently resigned to this recurring spectacle, seems to have adapted to the opening and closing of the suitcase. However, an underlying unease lingers in her demeanor every time Tarek’s friends express their desire to cradle the kittens. While Tarek himself refrains from actively partaking in these feline-carrying festivities, he doesn’t stop them. Katsup tolerates these interactions with her offspring, looking inconvenienced and tense. These reactions to the visitors become an integral part of the unfolding scenes.

In the presence of his amused companions, Tarek marvels at the gradual progress of the kittens’ mobility. Over phone conversations, and animated discussions during their visits, he expresses his genuine astonishment at the these little beings’ journey to master the art of walking.

“Alright, it seems that you little ones won’t be walking before my trip to France. I missed your birth, and now I’m going to miss your first steps. But I hope you’ll understand that I have more pressing matters to attend to.”


“Yes, Katsup, I know you understand. I was addressing the little ones.”

Tarek entrusts his friend Leyla with the responsibility of feeding the cats during his absence. Before he leaves, he carefully relocates the suitcase containing the small feline family from the storage room to his bedroom. He covers his mattress with a protective plastic sheet, leaves only the door leading to the balcony open, and closes the other doors to isolate that area from the rest of the apartment.

 The next day, Leyla comes over to feed the family, then works on reorganizing the living-room, placing candles and incense sticks, moving pieces of furniture around, and bringing in cushions from the bedroom. As agreed with Tarek, and because she lives with her conservative parents, she will use his apartment while he’s away, and more precisely the green couch in the living-room, for her sexual adventures.

The first night, she comes back with a wild brunette beauty and leads her by the hand to the living-room. There, slowly, they start to undress, and caress, each other.

“Er… By the way… Your friend’s cat is staring at us…”

“Her name is Katsup. Say hi to her.”

“It… It kinda feels weird…”

“Alright, let me pour her some food, she’ll leave us alone.”

Three days later, Leyla is once again on Tarek’s couch, though, this time, being made love to by a male in his thirties, with a nerdy air. They talk a lot, as they tenderly couple. She tells him about her job as a costume designer, of her traditionalist parents’ severity and that they will never accept her bisexuality, nor for her to have her own apartment. The nerd listens to her, seriously, as his lips, his tongue, his hands explore her body, and his eyes, stealthily, go over the curves and the nooks and crannies of the young woman. At 3 in the morning, at the most unexpected moment, the nerd asks her if he can have a look at the kittens.

Leyla and her conquests never arrive at the apartment at the same time, to avoid the neighbors’ gossip. She alternates sexes, looks, and personalities, with one and the same very gentle frenzy. And a sense of urgency, as if each union were her last.

On the other side of the apartment and day after day, Tarek’s bedroom is turning into a surreal den, where Katsup and her kittens reign supreme. To its feline occupants, the space becomes, among other things, a playground, a dormitory, a canteen, and latrines, with objects scattered around, constant chaos, and characteristic scents. Leyla comes to the apartment every day, and looks disapprovingly at the state of the room. Still, she dutifully fulfills her task, filling up the bowls with water and food. Her interactions with the feline family are filled with diligent affection and care, as she answers their needs with gentle gestures and appeasing words, with the same gentleness she shows her sexual partners/her lovers.

“Er… By the way… Your friend’s cat is…”

Katsup, perched on the windowsill, her pink nose pressed against the window pane of dubious cleanliness, is peering at the entwined naked bodies, lying on the couch, as Leyla herself, along with her partner of the day, stare back at her, though each with a different expression on their face.

“I’m going to pour her some food, she’ll leave us alone.”

Upon Tarek’s return, distress overwhelms his face as soon as his eyes take in the state of his bedroom. The sight provokes a temporary pause, a short intermission during which the whole situation seems to weigh down his shoulders. Then he takes a deep breath, prepares his shisha, and smokes slowly, seated in the midst of the chaos, eyes closed, surrounded with kittens who cautiously approach him, and start to smell him.

Once his last puff is inhaled and the water pipe put away, Tarek embarks on an epic game of hide-and-seek. He rummages through drawers, lifts cushions, overturns belongings, in pursuit of the elusive feline, spends half an hour looking for the second black kitten, only to find it hiding inside the front pocket of his backpack. By then, the three others have already returned to the room, each to a different corner, while Katsup watches the scene, not missing a single detail, sometimes meowing or even hissing, but with mild commitment.

Once again, Tarek navigates through the cluttered terrain, his efforts to corral the kittens occasionally hindered by their boundless energy and curiosity. Tarek’s expression oscillates between annoyance and amused giggling. The whole operation lasts more than an hour, accompanied by the non-stop barking of the small, fiery-haired, neighbors’ dog.

Finally, the kittens and their mother confined in the balcony, Tarek turns his attention to the daunting task of cleaning and disinfecting the room, cursing both the cats and his good heart.

The next evening, during his video call with Adeline, there’s a newborn baby in the woman’s arms.

“Chloe, this is Daddy. Do you remember Daddy? Da-ddy.”

“The kittens have started to walk!”

“Congratulations to the happy father,” Adeline playfully mocks.

In the following days, the kittens’ individual personalities start to emerge, much to Tarek’s delight; he regularly informs his friends by phone about the tribe’s psycho-affective development.

“There’s a shy one, always alone.”

Tarek and his friends can now discern between males and females, for some of the kittens. With this new data, Tarek decides it is time to give them official names.

The first to receive one is the shy kitten whose gender remains a mystery. Tarek decides to name it “Moustache”, because of the distinctive white moustache-shaped spot above its lip. A lively female kitten is temporarily named “Leyla” because Leyla has promised to adopt her and wants to take her home and get to know her better before choosing a permanent name. The toughest and most rambunctious kitten of the litter, a male whose playful antics and feisty nature make him stand out, is named “Popeye”. As for the last kitten, whose gender is also unidentified, a spirited debate ensues during a lively evening with friends. After a vote, the name “Vodka” is chosen.

As the days go by, Moustache, Leyla, Popeye, and Vodka grow, and explore their surroundings. They venture from one side of the balcony to the adjacent roof of the Karam building, and climb the wire netting, provoking the irritated barks of the ginger dog. On the other side, they use a small ledge to access the balcony of the French neighbors. Popeye and Vodka get along the best; they spend most of their time together, often playing football with the ping-pong balls Tarek gets them.

Apart from being the loner, Moustache also proves to be clumsy. Several times, Katsup ends up swatting him/her on the forehead with her paw, which always causes Moustache to sadly bow his/her head, with an instant expression of despair filling his/her eyes. The first time Tarek sees this, he is amazed. As soon as Leyla comes over for their Thursday night drink, he eagerly shares the feline updates.

“Did you know cats also discipline their kittens by swatting them?”

“Well, my parents never hit me under any circumstances!”

“Come on, you know what I mean! And besides, if your father knew about your numerous lovers, isn’t there a chance he will?”

Leyla chuckles. “Well, maybe not my father, but definitely my uncle, and my grandfather too. And all the cousins. You’re not totally wrong.”

As they continue their conversation, the doorbell rings. Tarek frowns.

“I usually never open when I’m not expecting someone, but with you here, it might feel awkward.”

When he opens the door, Anne, the French neighbor, is standing in front of him, with a perplexed expression. One meter behind her, a blue-eyed young man in old clothes appears to be waiting. Anne apologizes for bothering Tarek, then explains that she needs help. The man is a Syrian refugee who followed her on the street and asked her to marry him, hoping for a chance to live in Europe and have a better life. Taken aback, Tarek invites Anne to come inside and explains to the Syrian man that she’s already married. The man acknowledges this information and requests that Tarek ask Anne if she has a sister.

Finally, Tarek gets rid of the intruder, returns to the living room, and asks Anne what she’d like to drink. While he prepares her tea and Leyla comforts her, the kittens come out from their hiding spots and begin sniffing and prowling around her.

“Oh, they often visit our place. They’re adorable,”

“Not all the time,” Tarek interjects. “But I feel I’m in an Animal Channel documentary, and it’s fascinating.”

“What are their names? Jean-Luc and I…”

But her phone rings; she answers then explains that her partner’s home and that she must leave.

A few days later, another unexpected doorbell ring catches Tarek unawares. He opens the door and finds a young man who introduces himself as George, the neighbour living on the second floor. George asks politely to see the cats, explaining that he would’ve adopted the mother if his wife hadn’t stopped him. Understanding, Tarek allows George to meet the kittens, and “say hello” to Katsup who welcomes him with a hiss and a claw, but nevertheless lets him pet her offspring, while watching severely.

Before he leaves, George asks Tarek not to ever tell Sana about his visit, and even to pretend they don’t know each other.

One morning, Tarek awakens just as the kittens and their mother are returning from their daily expedition to the neighbors’ roof. He sees them and frowns: Vodka’s missing.

“Hey... Where’s Vodka? Did they fall?” he asks.

With determination, Tarek examines the wire netting between his balcony and the neighbors’ roof, provoking the barking of the little dog.

“Okay, it seems he/she isn’t stuck here. Let’s check the roof,”

Tarek leaves the apartment, and Katsup begins suckling the rest of the tribe. When the young man returns, looking both determined and sad, he approaches Katsup who’s done suckling and is now stretching on the couch.

“Are you sad? Show me your eyes,”

Katsup looks at him, and they both stare into each other’s eyes for a few moments.

“Oh my, you do look sad. Let’s take a look at the sidewalk around the building, the buildings, I mean.”

He goes out and only comes back an hour later, empty-handed, then embarks on a new round of research inside the apartment and on the balcony. Then, he calls Leyla and explains the situation. Katsup is now sleeping under the table.

 “You’re right. Let’s wait a couple of days, maybe they will reappear”

But the days pass, and nothing happens. After a week, he/she is officially declared deceased.

“The most frustrating thing is that we’ll never know if it was a he or a she,”

Leyla, present for their customary Thursday evening drink, smiles wrily.

“What about Moustache?”

“He’s definitely a male. I have seen… the proof. Oh, and about him…”

He tells her that after Popeye lost Vodka, his favorite playing partner, he instantly and carefreely replaced him/her with Moustache, who is now much happier and more playful, and less clumsy. Tarek also tells Human-Leyla how Kitten-Leyla is now closer to her mother.

“Males on one side and females on the other? Quite normal in our region, isn’t it?” Human-Leyla quips.

Their discussion is interrupted by a phone message Tarek receives: George, the neighbour, is asking to come and say hello to the cats. He arrives with a bottle of arak and special treats for the cats.

“George, Leyla. Leyla, George.”

“Nice to meet you.”

“Nice to meet you.”

They gaze at each other, a little longer than is customary.

A few days later, while Tarek is smoking his shisha on the balcony, a bald and bearded man in his forties appears on the neighbors’ roof, spots Tarek, and walks towards him. Tarek lets go of the water pipe, stands up, and goes towards the man.

Separated by the wire net, the two men smile at each other, and exchange greetings.

“My name is Tarek.”

“Nice to meet you, my name is Mansoor.”

The little ginger dog suddenly appears too and starts barking.

“Hush, Blackie! Sit!”

The ginger dog named Blackie sits instantly and stops barking.

“He’s yours?” asks Tarek.

“Yes, she’s mine. They’re yours?” he asks, showing the kittens, still smiling.


“They often come to our building. Frequently. Very frequently,” he says, smiling still.

“I know, I hope they’re not bothering anyone.”

“Oh, they don’t bother me, but you know people here,” the man answers, still smiling.

“What do you mean?” Tarek asks.

“Some of these cats are black, and people here don’t like black cats,” the man adds, smiling still.

“Oh…” says Tarek.

“Of course, I’m not talking about myself. But… you know people,” Mansoor says, still smiling.

But Tarek’s phone rings, showing Adeline’s name on the screen. He apologizes and goes inside to take the call. Mansoor’s still smiling kindly.

“Yes, honey, everything’s ready. And I called the travel agency: the special seat is reserved. Can’t wait to see you both!... Yes, I can’t believe how long it took to solve this passport issue!”

With a last look at the kittens, Mansoor turns and leaves the roof, followed by Blackie.

Chapter Three: Anyone Seen my Cats?

One week later, Tarek, his face beaming with a wide smile, is almost bouncing as he heads out of the apartment. Two hours later, he returns triumphantly, accompanied by a Western woman and a baby.

“Adeline, Chloe, welcome to your Lebanese home!”

In the following days, the apartment becomes a bustling hub of activity as a continuous flow of friends and family visit to meet the newborn and congratulate the new parents. The atmosphere is filled with warmth, laughter, chatter, and celebration.

But Katsup seems annoyed by the commotion, especially when children are there. While she tolerates the presence of grown-ups, she systematically hisses at any humans under 10. And even with adults, if their number exceeds 3 or 4, she starts hissing at the crowd and seeks refuge on the balcony.

Still, the kittens are reveling in the lively energy of the apartment. They joyfully weave between the guests’ legs, their tails playfully flicking as they seek affection. They find their way onto laps, curling up contentedly and purring with delight as they receive gentle strokes and attention from the visitors.

After a week in Beirut, the two parents start packing a small suitcase.

“Not too soon! Can’t wait to be in the mountains. Your friends and family are adorable, but Beirut’s heat is more than a woman from Northern France can stand!”

“Beirut’s heat? You haven’t seen anything yet, honey. Just wait until it’s August.”

Just before they leave, Tarek turns to Katsup with a serious expression.

“I entrust the house to you. Take care of it.”


The first two days after the human family’s departure, the feline family engage in their usual rituals, moving from one side of the balcony to the other, leaving, returning, vanishing on the left side, and reappearing on the right.

However, on the third day, while Katsup is roaming somewhere beyond the right end of Tarek’s balcony, the kittens vanish on the side of the wire netting and fail to return.

Over the next hour, Katsup makes numerous rounds, head down, sniffing the ground, sniffing everywhere. She makes over a hundred trips. Then disappears on the Karam building’s side and doesn’t come back. For the rest of the day, no feline sets paw on the balcony.

The next day passes cat-free as well.

The following days also come and go without a sign of their existence.

When Tarek, Adeline, and Chloe return, the house is feline-free.

After a couple hours of waiting, the search begins. While Adeline is breastfeeding, Tarek enters and exits the apartment, each time more perplexed and tense.

At sunset, Adeline suggests seeking help from the French neighbors.

The three humans leave the flat.

Petunia building, apartment 7B

The apartment next door to Tarek’s is smaller, with only one bedroom, a kitchen, a bathroom, and a living room. And a balcony with a similar, relatively unobstructed view of the city’s rooftops.

At the beginning of February, it remains vacant and is often used for napping by a black-and-white cat with a star-shaped mark on its forehead. One day, the owner comes, accompanied by a young French couple, to show them the place. As soon as the three humans enter the flat, the cat, with its feline reflexes, rushes to the apartment’s balcony and then to the adjacent one’s. The landlord follows with exaggerated hand gestures and colorful insults, while a delighted expression appears on the woman’s face.

“Look, Jean-Luc, isn’t he cute? He reminds me of Caligula, right?”

Jean-Luc smiles and agrees. The landlord returns from the balcony with a frown and an aggravated look, apologizes, and promises to take the necessary measures to prevent this from ever happening again. The French couple insists that it isn’t a problem, but he doesn’t seem to consider their response.

Then they discuss the renovations to be done in the apartment, shake hands, and leave.

The workmen arrive and a stark contrast appears between them: One, obviously the boss, loves cats, and always has, for this stray one, a few strokes and some leftovers, while the other worker openly expresses his deep and genuine hatred for all types of animals, especially cats.

“Ew... I swear to God, they are the Devil’s creatures,”

“Hey... Take it easy Saïd, and let’s leave God out of this. Aren’t we bothering him enough in this country? Where the heck do you see the Devil in that nice cat?”

Right then, the cat, who was being petted by the boss, suddenly hisses, unsheathes his claws, and bites the man before fleeing to the apartment’s balcony and then to the adjacent one’s.

Saïd laughs wickedly. “You see... Devil’s creatures, I told you.”

“It happened when I petted her belly. She’s probably a pregnant female. I should bring her more food,”

Saïd shrugs, his face full of disdain.

Two weeks later, the flat is ready to welcome the French couple.

“Cool, this is much nicer than where we were staying.”

“Can’t help but agree! The neighbors seem nicer too.”

Right then, the cat appears.

“Hey, look who’s here! Come on, kitty... come on...”

“Wait, I’ll bring a can of tuna.”

While the cat eats, the couple wonders if it’s an abandoned cat.

“I think she’s a pregnant female, look at her belly.”

“I think you’re right.”

“She has a Cleopatra look. Let’s name her Cleopatra!”

“Well, following Caligula, that would make sense...”

Cleopatra is now standing still in front of the emptied can.

“Do you think she wants a second one?”

“Well... she’s pregnant...”

A few days later, realizing they don’t have a corkscrew, Anne suggests they knock on the neighbor’s door to borrow one, and use this opportunity to ask him about the cat. Jean-Luc approves. But they come back just a couple of minutes later, complaining and incredulous about the way the neighbor blew them off in a matter of moments, almost closing the door in their face.

“That’s odd. Every single other person in this building has already had, in 72 hours, the time to question us about our most distant ancestors, and this guy doesn’t seem to care. Are you certain he’s Lebanese?”

“I have no clue. His face and features look Lebanese. He speaks perfect French, but that’s not an indicator here.”

At that moment, Cleopatra appears, empties a first can of tuna, and silently requests a second one. While Anne executes the command, Jean-Luc makes a remark about the money that cat is starting to cost them.

Halfway through the second tuna can, Cleopatra stops eating, looks around, seems to hesitate for a moment, then leaves.

“I’ll put the remains of the can in the fridge for next time.”

But Cleopatra doesn’t return for two weeks. And when she does...

“Oh, look! She gave birth, her belly’s disappeared!”

“The janitor told me it’s the neighbor’s cat. The occupant of the third floor often sees him buying cat food at the convenience store.”

Jean-Luc looks at his partner with surprise.

“I didn’t know you were such an expert at gossiping!”

“Well, I’m adapting to the region,” Anne answers with a loud laugh.

“That’s not a nice thing to say, you naughty racist,” Jean-Luc replies with a wink and a loud laugh.

In the following days, Jean-Luc becomes increasingly concerned about the price of tuna cans, comparing different brands, while Anne won’t stop talking about the kittens, wondering where they are and eagerly anticipating meeting them.

At the beginning of May, Cleopatra appears one day with two black kittens.

“Oh, look! Caesarion and Ptolemy!”

“No. Please don’t.”

But Anne insists, and the third kitten who appears, black-and-white like his/her mother, is named “Alexander”. As for the last one, with a mustache-shaped spot above his/her lip, Anne accepts to make an exception and names him/her “Moustache”.

One evening, Jean-Luc and Anne enter the flat, the young woman pale and shaking.

“Come on, you said yourself he seemed harmless, so why are you still shaking?”

“He seemed harmless but I was alone. If the neighbor hadn’t opened the door for me, what would I have done?”

“You would have knocked on another’s door, and they would have helped you,” Jean-Luc shrugs. “Come on, let’s forget about this Syrian guy.”

And he leads her to the bedroom.

Initially confident that this first contact would lead to further exchanges with their neighbor, the French couple soon realize he’s still as distant with them as he is with everyone else.

Shortly thereafter, they notice one of the black kittens is missing, but can’t determine if it’s Caesarion or Ptolemy. Eventually, they decide the survivor would be the one of the two historic figures who lived longer and, after a quick search, declare Ptolemy deceased, and Caesarion the survivor.

That evening, Anne, sitting on a plastic chair on the balcony, pours herself a glass of red wine and opens her laptop to look at the pictures of her childhood kittens, and ends up spending two hours browsing through such memories. From time to time, she runs to Jean-Luc who’s lounging in an armchair inside to show him a picture and, each time, he quickly looks at her with a polite smile, then goes back to his cellphone game.

“By the way, Anne suddenly says as she walks once again inside, it seems that when the neighbor was absent, he was in France, and guess what he was doing there?”

“How do you know he was in France?! He barely says a word to anyone!”

“It is the neighbor on the fourth floor (left side) who told me. He also told me that the landlord of our neighbor (who, by the way, is the brother of our landlord... it seems the whole building belongs to the same family), so his landlord told the landlord of the fourth left – who is also his brother – that...”

“Wait, what?”

“Our neighbor was in France to have a baby. And the mother and the baby are coming to Beirut this weekend.”

“And why would I care?”

Anne’s expression suddenly shifts.

“Sometimes, you’re really not a nice guy, you know.”

“Come on, honey, I was kidding, I’m sorry.”

And he stands up and hugs her.

One evening, alone at home, Anne takes Moustache in her arms.

“Hey, little guy... Yup, you’re definitely a male. I noticed you’re a loner... I was a loner too when I was your age. Well, I mean, when I was...”


Cleopatra, standing in front of Anne, is watching the scene with a frown.

“Oh, look, Mommy’s here. Always there in a fraction of a second if someone holds one of her kittens. Don’t worry, I won’t harm your baby. I’m not that kind.”

Jean-Luc arrives at that moment and the feline family leaves the place.

“I saw the blue-eyed Syrian refugee again, roaming around the building,” Anne says.

“Did he try to talk to you? Did he follow you?


“Are you sure it was him?”

Anne doesn’t answer and stares at her companion with dazzled eyes.

A few days later, Anne notices the kittens haven’t passed by for 48 hours. Jean-Luc shrugs and says something about the savings in tuna consumption. And two more days later, while Anne is clearly more and more worried, their doorbell rings. They open the door and see the neighbor, Tarek, and a tall Western woman with a baby carrier and a tiny human inside. Tarek apologizes for bothering them and asks if they have recently seen the kittens.

At first happy to see their neighbor at the door, Anne and Jean-Luc’s expression quickly changes when they hear Tarek’s concern and, after Anne shares her part of the story, they decide to explore the roof.

Petunia building, rooftop

The roof of the Petunia building is typical of Beirut’s suburban rooftops: adorned with a cluster of rusty water tanks, with each of those relics being connected to every apartment. A medley of TV antennas sprout in every direction, resembling a haphazard bouquet, swaying in the capricious wind, all seemingly painted in shades of peeling grey.

Whenever rain graces this city, the ritual of unclogging the drains commences. A grumbling Sri-Lankan janitor, in his twenties, emerges to uncork the obstructed pipes and sewers, muttering a blend of Sri-Lankan and Lebanese expletives. And whenever his mission during a pause in the downpour, he shoots a long, deep look to the South-West, sighs, and, sometimes, his eyes moisten.

In mid-March, as the rain becomes scarcer and the sun more frequent, a black-and-white cat, with a star-shaped spot on its forehead and a big protruding belly, starts making regular visits to the rooftop, indulging in long naps in the golden rays.

Towards the end of the month, it abruptly ceases its visits for two weeks, then returns with a deflated belly and four kittens in tow. As the sun casts its warm glow upon the rooftop, the little quartet cautiously steps onto the wide expanse, their tiny paws gingerly navigating the unfamiliar territory.

While the two black kittens fearlessly explore every inch of the rooftop, climbing over flower pots, playfully navigating the antennas, and engaging in a lively game of hide-and-seek amidst the water tanks, the other two opt for a more cautious approach, staying close to their mother. With a playful bounce, one of the black kittens springs onto the highest antenna, teetering on the edge before regaining balance with a mischievous grin, and the second black one follows, their mother and siblings watching.

For more than an hour, the two adventurous kittens seem to defy gravity, swinging from one antenna’s extremity to another’s, exploring their reflections in the tranquil waters of the tanks. But then, at the distant sound of footsteps echoing up the stairs, a silent command is passed from mother to kittens. With wide eyes and erect tails, they leave the roof to jump on the balcony of the seventh floor, vanishing from sight in the blink of an eye, leaving no trace behind.

From that day on, whenever they’re on the roof, they vanish at the faintest sound of the janitor climbing up the stairs within seconds, leaving no trace behind.

One night, while the entire feline family is strolling along the rooftop’s cornice, distant fireworks unexpectedly ignite. Startled by the sudden burst of lights and sounds, one of the kittens, an entirely black one, loses its balance. It desperately clings to the ledge with one paw, but its effort is short-lived. It eventually lets go.

As the kitten falls, the large cat releases one single mournful meow that rises in the moonlit sky and overshadows the detonations, then turns around to the remaining kittens and starts licking them.

The following day, a man in his mid-thirties, wearing glasses and sporting curly hair, arrives on the rooftop. His expression is one of frustration and longing as he explores the area, shouting repeatedly, “Vodka? Vodka?”

On the adjacent rooftop, a ginger dog, apparently taking offense, unleashes a chorus of barks. Unperturbed by the dog’s protests, the young man persists, his pleas echoing: “Vodka? Vodka?”

On the second adjacent rooftop, on the perpendicular street, two workers are leisurely enjoying their sandwiches while casting fascinated and pitying glances towards the man.


The young man sits on a block of concrete, and watches the city roofs for long minutes. Then leaves.

In the subsequent days, the remaining kittens, accompanied by their mother, resume their exploration of the rooftop and its water tanks. But one day, none of them appear. And they don’t the following day either, or the day after. On the fourth day, two men and two women, one of them carrying a baby in a carrier, land on the rooftop, shoot a quick glance around, then embark on an exploration of the space, cluttered by rusty tanks and crisscrossed by a multitude of cables.

After a brief ten-minute venture, their sighs filling the air with disappointment, they depart. The rooftop is left in solitude.

Petunia building, apartment 6B

In apartment 6B of the Petunia building, live a widow named Raymonda and her daughter Maïssa. Maïssa is ten and has blond braids and big blue eyes. She often hangs out with Matteo, her next-door neighbor, who’s the same age. Matteo bears such a strong resemblance to Maïssa that people often think they’re brother and sister.

On a rainy February day, as they are playing cards, they notice the silhouette of a cat at the kitchen window.

“Is that a cat on the cornice?” Maïssa asks.

As soon as they stand up, the cat’s silhouette runs along the mural cornice... and then jumps inside the building through a small window leading to the stairs.

Matteo frowns, and Maïssa smiles.

They have no other encounters with cats until the day Matteo knocks on Maïssa’s door, holding a tiny black kitten. The kitten appears to be injured and in agony.

“Look what I’ve found,”

“Oh... Is it dead?”

“No,” the little boy replies with a sparkle in his eyes. “Is your mom here?”

“No,” the little girl answers, with a sadistic smile.

“Okay, I’ll bring the necessary supplies,” Matteo says, leaving then returning with a bag containing various objects.

When Maïssa takes a look inside the bag, she’s delighted.

“Cool, let’s have fun!”

When they’re done, they dispose of the kitten’s body in the trash.

“But let’s choose a distant trashcan. I think this was one of the kittens belonging to the strange man who lives on the seventh floor,”

“Are there other kittens?”

“Three more, I think.”

“Cool. Three more chances for a similar afternoon.”

But they don’t get another chance until a few days later; after ignoring a couple of rings on the doorbell, Maïssa responds to a distinctive pattern: two long rings, followed by a short one followed by two other long rings.

When she opens the door, Matteo is so excited he can’t stay still.

“The other kittens are missing. Let’s try to find them.”

“What are you talking about?”

“The guy from the seventh floor came with three other people and a baby, asking if we had seen the kittens. Did they come here?”

“You know I can’t open the door when Mom’s not home.”

“Okay, hurry, let’s go look for them. I feel a wonderful weekend awaits us.”

Chapter Four: Flat-hopping Continues

Petunia building, apartment 5A

Mona’s first reaction when she sees a tiny black-and-white kitten browsing through the living room trashcan, is to scream hysterically, then lunge at it, brandishing the nearest frying pan as a weapon. But the kitten escapes as Mona gets her feet tangled in the carpet at the kitchen door and falls flat on her face.

“Bloody rat. Just wait and see,” she mutters.

When Nabil, her husband, returns from work, Mona provides a narration of seventy-two minutes and ten seconds about this incident, while he nods patiently, and sympathetically.

“If that miscreant ever crosses my path again, I’ll make sure it regrets it. I promise you, Nabil.”

“I’ll prepare a better trap next time.”

But, to their surprise, the kitten doesn’t show up again.

“It looks like it has realized who it was up against,” Mona smirks, a hint of satisfaction in her voice.

“Yes, honey, it probably has,” Nabil chuckles in agreement.

From that day on, the topic of cats remains untouched in their conversations, until one day when two men, two women, and a baby in a carrier appear at their doorstep, inquiring about lost kittens.

As soon as the curly-haired man has finished his sentence, Mona starts summoning a barrage of grievances, some dating back two months.

After a series of apologies and futile attempts to depart, the beleaguered quintet is finally allowed to leave; their departure only granted when Nabil points out to Mona that there’s a smell of something burning coming from the kitchen.

Petunia building, apartment 2B

George opens his apartment door, holding the colourful bouquet he brought for Sana, then freezes and utters a curse. A tiny black-and-white kitten is honing his/her claws on the pristine leather couch in the living-room. Watching the kitten from outside, from behind the window and through the blue curtain, but at an angle where George can’t see her, a black-and-white cat with a spot on her forehead is standing still.

George runs towards the kitten.

“Hey! What the...! If Sana sees you here, I’m dead. Or you are.”

He starts chasing the kitten around the living-room, and the kitten playfully joins in the game.

“Hey, I’m not playing with you! Please! Sana will be here soon!”

George finally catches the kitten, but the jubilant smile on his face is abruptly interrupted: The large cat has jumped on George and is now violently unleashing a fury of bites and scratches.

“Oh, Ticky, it’s been a while! Ouch!”

Ticky is now firmly gripping George’s head.

“Ouch! Ok, Ticky, I got it. It’s your kitten, I let it go, see!”

With a few final gestures of annoyance, Ticky relinquishes her hold and gracefully exits the premises.

Moments later, Sana arrives, immediately taking in the situation.

“George! What did I tell you?”


“Take measures, George. Take measures. As if having this Syrian refugee roaming around and inside the building wasn’t enough!”

“But you said yourself he has beautiful blue eyes?!”

“What does that have to do with anything, George? This is not the point!”

On several occasions, when the humans are absent, a kitten or two tentatively approach the window, but their mother always prevents their attempts to go inside.

One day though, they become braver and start disregarding their mother's dos and don’ts. Even in George’s presence.

“Don’t come here, I’ll come and see you myself. That way, I might also get the chance to see that lovely Leyla again,” he adds with a wink.

“Are you talking to yourself again, George?”

“I love you, dear!”

One day, as George is giving Sana a tender foot massage, they’re interrupted by the doorbell. George opens the door, and sees two couples and a baby in a carrier.

“No, I haven’t seen any kittens here. I’m so...” George begins, his voice trailing off.

“Is it about the cats?!” Sana catapults from the couch to the entrance door with the agility of a feline herself, instantly summoning a barrage of grievances, some dating back two months.

After a series of apologies and futile attempts to depart, the beleaguered quintet is finally allowed to leave, their departure only granted when Sana realizes it’s time to apply her coveted facial cream.

     Petunia building, ground floor

On the ground floor of the building, the janitor’s apartment consists of a single room, and is equipped with a basic kitchenette and a bathroom.

Adorning one of the walls is Sumit’s engineering diploma.

“So, you’re working as a janitor in Lebanon because you couldn’t find work as an engineer in your country?” asks the Italian resident of the third floor.

“Yes, Miss. Not only in engineering, but I couldn’t find work in any field,”

“I told you to please call me Laura, not Miss.”

 “Okay, Miss.”

Later that day, when Josepha, Sumit’s Filipino girlfriend, arrives, he recounts the conversation with Laura while Josepha is putting down supermarket bags on the square dining table.

“She’s definitely nicer than the locals. I can’t believe how racist some Lebanese people are,”

“And you’ve only been here for two months. Let me tell you a couple of stories; you won’t believe your ears,”

Their conversation is abruptly interrupted by a woman’s piercing scream.

“Sumit! There’s a street cat roaming freely in and out of the building! I don’t want to see it anymore! Do your job!”

“Yes, Miss Sana, understood,”

After Sana leaves, Sumit complains to Josepha about her and closes the main entrance door of the building. He then returns to the room and gives Josepha the trinket he bought her for Valentine’s.

A few weeks later, Amadi, the Ethiopian janitor of the adjacent building approaches Sumit, complaining about a black-and-white cat that has started infiltrating his domain. Sumit apologizes and explains that the cat is a stray. Amadi mutters a few words, including “poison,” leaving Sumit shocked and concerned. The Ethiopian man continues:

“It started coming more frequently right after Valentine’s Day. Any idea what might have happened?”

“No, no idea at all”.

From that day on, Sumit starts opening the main entrance door again.

“You’re opening the door again?” Josepha notices. “What about that woman on the second floor?”

“She hasn’t complained again.”

“By the way, I think that cat is a pregnant female. I saw her on the street the other day, and she has a pretty big belly.”

“Really? I didn’t notice. More trouble to come.”

In the following weeks, the cat disappears and never appears again, until one day, the resident from the apartment on the left, on the seventh-floor, accompanied by another man, two women, and a baby, come asking Sumit if he has seen any kittens.

Offering his congratulations for the birth of the kittens, Sumit apologizes and says he’s never seen them.

Karam building, sixth floor

The sixth and last floor of the Karam building, adjacent to the Petunia building, is home to a family of four: Mansoor, his wife Samar, and their two children, Noor and Miled. The day after Valentine’s Day, while her father is enjoying a six-egg omelet for breakfast, ten-year-old Noor sneaks up to him and whispers in his ear that her mother is upset because she didn’t receive a present for Valentine’s Day.

Mansoor’s eyes widen. “Valentine’s Day? Why? Since when?”

“It’s the day for lovers,”

“I know, I saw that bullshit on TV. Leave that trivia to the Westerners and let me finish my breakfast.”

Their conversation is interrupted by insistent barking coming from the roof.

“Blackie is barking much more lately,” Samar says as she enters the kitchen.

“There’s a street cat that often passes by,”

“A street cat on the roof?”

“Yes, I saw it. I have no idea why it’s here.”

A few days later, Miled, who’s eleven, reveals to the family that he saw the black-and-white cat (with a star-shaped mark on its forehead) climbing the wire netting separating their building’s roof from the neighbor’s balcony.

“Is it the neighbor’s cat?”

But no one has a clue, so Samar promises to investigate and soon discovers a crucial piece of information: the neighbor frequently buys cat food. And thus, the neighbor, with his curly hair and Western habits, becomes the main topic of the family’s conversations for a few days.

“I asked Mona about him; he’s been living here for over a year, and yet no one knows any details about his personal life, not even his occupation.”

“He looks gay. Do you think he’s gay?”

“Yes, definitely.”

“Screw the West and their debauchery.”

“Warf, warf, warf”

“And screw that damn cat.”

Then, after a brief silence, Mansoor adds, “Well, if the neighbor isn’t bothered by Blackie’s barking, that’s his problem,” and lets out an enormous burp.

As the days come and go, the family notice the absence of the feline intruder, and rejoice. Mansoor requests from Samar her traditional homemade celebration hamburgers, and the children are overjoyed.

However, a couple of weeks after the burger ritual, the black-and-white cat reappears, this time accompanied by kittens.

“Mommy, those kittens are so adorable! Can we keep one?” Noor pleads.

“Absolutely not! We already have Blackie, and those rodents are already causing enough trouble on our roof!”

The kids make several attempts to catch one of the kittens, but the feline family’s movements through the stairs and roof of the Karam building are always swift, fleeting, and synchronized with Blackie’s barking.

Then, on a Sunday morning, during the traditional casual Lebanese breakfast among neighbors, Elissa, a family friend, who tells fortunes from coffee grounds, delivers a startling statement.

 “There’s a black cat lurking around this house. If you don’t get rid of it, it will bring terrible misfortune.”

Samar and Mansoor exchange worried glances, their eyes filled with concern.

Stormy debates characterize the family’s life for a week; the children plead clemency for the kittens, with Noor even reminding her father of the promise he made three years ago: never again to kill a cat. As for Samar and Mansoor, they search for an adequate poison, while promising to think of other solutions.

 “I spoke to the neighbor,” Mansoor declares one day, “But he doesn’t seem to care. I did what I had to do.”

“At least spare those who aren’t black, please!” the kids beg.

Then Miled comes up with an idea: rather than resorting to poison, they could administer sleeping pills to the felines, allowing them to be relocated far away from the building. The motion is met with unanimous enthusiasm.

Samar takes it upon herself to gather information, from her gossiping circle, about the neighbor’s whereabouts. When she returns, she shares a surprising piece of news, her voice tinted with shock.

“It seems he’s not gay after all. He has a wife and a baby! And it appears she’s not even his wife. She’s French and they’re not married!”

“Screw the West and their debauchery.”

In the middle of the discussion, Samar receives a WhatsApp notification, and her smile widens.

“Hehe. Hehehe,” she just says.

“Err… Can you share a little more?” Her husband asks.

“It’s Um Najib. Her son had a conversation with the French woman. Fate is on our side in our attempt to get rid of those devilish black cats.”

She looks at the rest of the family and slowly, triumphantly, announces:

“They’re leaving tomorrow to spend a few days in the mountains. We’ll have time to get rid of the cats.”

The next day, Samar prepares meatballs and Mansoor stuffs them with the sleeping pills.

He locks Blackie inside the house.

Then comes back from the roof with a self-satisfied expression at a job well-done.

A couple of hours later, Noor, perched on a chair and peering through the small window looking out onto the roof, suddenly screams.

“Look, Daddy, the kittens are eating the meatballs!”

“Even the mother?” Samar asks with a sort of concern.

“She’s not here, they’re alone. But all the kittens are eating.”


“Everyone loves your meatballs, honey!”

“They’re done eating.”

“Are they leaving?”

“No. They’re staying.”

“Great. They’ll soon be sleeping deeply.”

When the kids inform their father that the felines are finally asleep, he takes a big bag, goes out of the apartment, and only returns two hours later, announcing he took the car to dump all the cats kilometers away, making sure to leave each one in a totally different and equally distant location from the others to guarantee they never find their way back to the neighborhood. Samar distributes the homemade burgers and everyone cheers happily.

However, a couple of days later, Noor starts crying at night.

“What if the little kittens starve without their mother?”

“Don’t worry honey,” her mother reassures her. “Beirut is a cat city: they’ll always find something to eat and survive.”

And when, the next day, the doorbell rings and a strange quintet appears, asking about the cats, Noor suddenly bursts into tears.

“Oh, what’s wrong with her?” the curly-haired young man asks.

“Nothing, Mansoor replies quickly, she’s probably worried about your cats. Sorry, we haven’t seen them for a few days.”

He closes the door.


Chapter Five: Cat Clans

Petunia building, apartment 7A

“So, Cleopatra’s name is Katsup. Interesting. But don’t you think she has an air of Cleopatra about her? Would you consider renaming her Cleopatra?”

While Anne advocates for the rechristening of Katsup, Tarek, his expression hard, mechanically invites the French couple into the living room.

As Chloe searches for her mother’s breast, the foursome begins to speculate on the cats’ disappearance. Tarek makes the connection with the discussion he had with Mansoor some time earlier, and Adeline agrees the man in question, the last neighbor they visited, seemed shady to her.

“At least those two kids on the sixth floor seem really eager to help, and motivated!”

“Yes, they’re adorable! Do they live in the apartment on the left, or the one on the right?”

“Each one on one side. They’re not related, just neighbors.”

“Oh, wow! I thought they were siblings, they look so much alike!”

Tarek suddenly freezes and his gaze sweeps around the room.

“The flat is so empty without the cats… I… I really…”

And his voice breaks, and he swallows.

During the following 48 hours, the flat becomes an anxious, silent place. Occasionally, concerned neighbors, especially Anne and Jean-Luc, drop by to inquire about the cats.

When they come for their now-daily visit to the baby – separately – Mark and Leyla, who both want kids – separately – express, separately, their deep concern about the fate of the kittens, and undertake individual rounds of research.

Then, on the morning of the third day, Katsup returns, emaciated, covered in dirt, with her head held low. She enters, then retreats to her usual corner, showing no interest in eating. Forlorn, Tarek grabs his phone and promptly orders a tin of premium pâté.

“Isn’t it incredible, this Beirut thing, being able to order anything at any time? We don’t have that luxury in France! And why do you have that smile when I say that, it’s not a national pride either!”

When the pâté arrives, Tarek opens the tin, and Katsup suddenly raises one eyebrow first, then the other, sniffing the air around her head, then leaps to her paws.

“Merowowowow!” she vocalizes with urgency.

“Yes, yes, Katsup, I know. It’s all for you. But understand this is a special treat. Only because you lost your kids. We won’t make it a regular thing,”

Adeline chuckles.

Over the next few days, Maïssa and Matteo visit frequently to report their fruitless search updates, while Katsup, still wearing a mournful expression, barely leaves the flat. Tarek schedules an appointment for her neutering three days later.

Seven days after the kittens’ disappearance, Tarek, back from yet another unsuccessful search, reluctantly announces his loss of hope.

However, the next morning, as the first rays of sunlight spread on the bed, Tarek wakes up and finds a skeletal Moustache standing motionless in front of him.

“Honey! Honey! Wake up!”

“Huh? What?! Chloe? What’s wrong with her?”

“Moustache is here!”

“Screw you, my love. And your cats,”

Celebrations for the kitten’s return include early-morning wake-ups and text messages to favorite neighbors, plus of course the opening of a can of tuna. But when Tarek comes, kitten in arms, to announce to Katsup the happy news, she starts spitting in her little one’s face.

In a fraction of a second, Moustache is back to his/her melancholy air, the expression of having all the misfortunes of the world on his little kitten’s back.

“She doesn’t recognise her own kitten anymore. This often happens.”

Then, after a silence and turning her face to Chloe and smiling to her, Adeline adds:

“This will never happen to us, my little angel!”

Chloe smiles in return.

“Katsup, Tarek tries pedagogically, it’s only been a week; make an effort and try to…”

“Sssss! Ffft!”

Moustache remains silent, his eyes and lids sinking in sorrow. That night, Tarek gives the kitten a cautious bath, monitored by his veterinarian friend. During the whole operation, Moustache doesn’t move or make a sound.

“Poor guy. I think I’ll let him sleep next to me tonight.”

“Yes, Chloe, I promise you: If Daddy continues to take care of the kittens more than he does of you, I’ll find you another daddy, that’s a promise.”

In the middle of the night, Adeline suddenly opens her eyes and looks down at her feet.

“Hey, Moustache, what are you… Oh. It’s not Moustache. Honey… Your turn.”

“Huh, what, Chloe?! What…? Oh… Hey! Popeye! How are you doing, my boy?”

Standing next to his brother, Moustache is rubbing against him.

Despite Tarek’s optimistic expectations and his unwavering belief that Popeye’s return would reignite Katsup’s memory, she reserves the same treatment to her black progeny as she did to the other one. But unlike Moustache, careless Popeye appears entirely unperturbed, turning his back to his mother once and for all, and diving straight into a lively football game with Moustache, with one of the ping-pong balls Tarek brought them. Moustache gets back a glimmer of his joie de vivre, yet deep within his eyes, an immeasurable distress still lingers.

On the day of the appointment for the neutering, Tarek attempts to coax Katsup into the cat carrier borrowed from Human-Leyla, but the cat unleashes a furious, outraged, and untamable attack. The ferocious resistance of the feline is too much for Tarek to handle, and leaves him with a puzzled expression and scratched arms. He promptly schedules another appointment with his veterinarian friend and conspires to utilize sleeping pills on the day of the new attempt set for the following week.

In Tarek’s apartment, the cats have now clearly formed two distinct enemy clans. On one side, the brotherly duo reigns supreme, playful, energetic, and good-humored, jumping around in every permitted room. On the other, Katsup, grumpy, unpleasant, constantly spitting in the face of every living creature except for Tarek, and increasingly demanding and capricious when it comes to the contents of her bowl.

“Katsup, I warned you that day, we can’t afford that kind of food all the time. There’s an economic crisis, you know.”

“Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow.”

“Ok, ok, just this time, but, please, shut up.”

And he calls the delivery convenience store.

The next day, Adeline points out that more than two weeks have passed since the disappearance,  and so Leyla, the last missing kitten, is officially declared lost for good, or deceased.

Chloe’s smiles are more and more frequent, to the unbridled delight of her parents.

Adeline complains more and more about the heat.

All the neighbors in the building often try to visit, but ever since the return of the two kittens, Tarek went back to his old habits of setting strict boundaries with everyone. When Adeline questions him about his behavior, he explains that in this country, people feel they are allowed to meddle in everyone’s private life and give their unsolicited opinions on anything and everything, so he prefers to cut it short right from the start. Adeline nods understandingly but confides she senses Anne, their neighbor, may be unhappy with her boyfriend and would like to talk to them about it. Tarek frowns and suspends his playtime with Moustache and Popeye, who instantly climb each on one of his shoulders. He stands still for a minute, then shrugs, briefly destabilizing the two kittens, and promises Adeline he’ll be more open next time he sees the French woman.

The day of the second neutering attempt, Tarek mixes the sleeping pills with choice pâté and watches with satisfaction Katsup finish her bowl. As soon as the feline starts acting groggy, he coaxes and pushes her into the carrier, then leaves the apartment with a triumphant smile.

Upon his return, two hours later, Adeline is in the bathroom, bathing Chloe.

“Pregnant again?! Seriously, Katsup?! You know that anyone else but me would’ve made you abort and had you neutered once and for all?”


“Yes, you can be ashamed of yourself and…”

Right then, a loud explosion erupts in the North-West, shattering one of the apartment’s windows, scattering shards all over the living room. Katsup quickly hides under a couch and Tarek takes a deep breath.

In the bathroom, Chloe raises a surprised eyebrow, then bursts into panicked cries.

Adeline looks at the window with a terrified expression on her face.

On the balcony, Moustache and Popeye freeze.

Petunia building, ground floor

“Hiss! Hiss!”

In the building’s lobby, Sumit is chasing a gray cat, brandishing his broom to shoo it outside. Once the cat is on the street, the janitor goes back inside the building. Tarek emerges from the elevator, a cat carrier in his hand.

“Hello Sumit, how are you?”

“Fine, Mister, and you?”

“Sumit, please, call me Tarek, not Mister.”

“Yes, Mister.”

“Was that the cat that’s leaving... its smell is all over the place?”

“Yes, Mister, this is why I was chasing him out. Everyone’s complaining in the building.”

“Ok, thank you… ‘Mister’ Sumit, Tarek says with a puckish smile. I’m going to neuter my cat. Have a nice day.”

When Sumit goes back inside his studio, Josepha is waiting for him. She hugs him tenderly.

“Hey, I never saw you as angry as when you were chasing that cat. Relax. You’d usually die for animals.”

Sumit smiles.

“That bloody cat is an exception. He pees everywhere and that smell is... is... is like nothing I’ve ever smelled... Ever.”

“Yeah, I agree. Definitely a male. It is males that pee everywhere. Just like humans,” she adds with a loud laugh.

Sumit puffs, and Josepha hugs him stronger. They start kissing passionately but, suddenly, their embrace is interrupted by the explosion, coming from the North-West, that blows the light dining table against the wall.

“Oh no, not again!” Sumit exclaims.

Petunia building, apartment 6B

With excitement dancing in his eyes, Matteo bursts into Maïssa’s room.

“Guess what? I met the cats’ neighbor in the elevator... He wanted to neuter his cat today but... but... guess what?”

“What?” Maïssa mumbles with annoyance.

“He wasn’t able to. It’s pregnant again. And he didn’t make it abort.”

Maïssa grins, and bounces off the bed.

“Hey, cool, Matteo tempers. It won’t be before several weeks.”

Maïssa shrugs.

“I know. It’s just…”

Suddenly, there’s a big explosion in the North-West. The two kids look in the direction of the sound as their hands instantly go towards and tightly clasp each other.

Inner courtyard of Karam and Daoud buildings

In the courtyard between the Karam and Daoud buildings, hidden behind an old and abandoned water tank, a blue-eyed man in old clothes is feeding a gray cat the remains of a greasy sandwich.

Suddenly, an explosion shakes the air.

While the cat is startled, the man just closes his eyes for long minutes, his face pained.

Petunia building, rooftop

On the rooftop of the Petunia building, two dogs are mating.

Suddenly, a big explosion breaks the silence.

The two dogs, startled, quickly go each his own way, in opposite directions, their heads down.

Several silent minutes later, sirens resonate in the Beirutian sky.


End of Part I

To be continued…


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