In the street markets of old Baghdad, light-fingered urchins often gave their victims the ironic courtesy of a brief smile before they melted back into the seething, swirling, cacophonous anonymity that enveloped these bazaars.
Any cry of “Stop thief!” from a victim would be futile. Nobody could hear. And nobody would care. After all, who would support these urchins if they did not exploit opportunities to support themselves? Victims all wanted to part with as little as possible—after all, wasn’t that the whole reason for bartering? And if a street kid could relieve any careless individual of a few coins or a bag of gold with no bargaining at all, the traders would be assured of their customers being more alert for their next purchase.
Baghdad’s bazaars were a university of cunning for these kids. Like Alibar, who tried to learn...
Yet though this may sound bizarre, he did not learn very well.
Alibar always promised more than he ever delivered to the crime family known as the Middle-East’s Ma’phia.
They tried to mentor him in serious crime, but their dismissal gave his name a disdainful addendum.
(But no, dear reader, he was no relation to the Barber of Seville, nor to his more infamous cousin—the barbarous Seville!)
Alibar recruited a motley crew of apprentice crooks, gaining some notoriety as Alibar-Bah and his Thirty-Eight Thieves!
His ill-fated gang had started out at forty thieves; but unfortunately two of them were stolen—a lasting summary of Alibar’s constant failure to even get things wrong.
One of the legends of Mesopotamia, the cradle of civilization, is the mystery of the harem; but Iraq my brain to try and work out why this is so.
Alibar acquired his own harem, a secret asset of all the female company he could ever desire. And no-one was ever to know exactly where it could be secreted.
Yet for Alibar’s harem there were no secrets – for the noise these females kept making was so constant that anyone could harem from miles away.
After the harem closed down, word quickly got back to the , whose scorn was mutual…
“That Alibar – Bah! He’s got to be the Black Sheik of our Family!”
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