The Ministry of Culture

A Novel

James P. Mullaney

Thomas Dunne Books

Outside the room gunfire has erupted into small explosions. The night has lifted into a state of heightened activity.  Sirens soon follow and fill the streets of this ancient place. This is the sixth night in a row. There is a shutdown and curfew in effect that lasts until late morning. Daniella will have to sneak out like a Gypsy, a reference she despises, if she decides not to stay the night.
            But I am far away and safe. I am lost in the aroma of perfume off her bare neck. Its scent is like opium and triggers a familiarity I am now playing out along the edges of her dark lips with my fingers. Bombs go off close to the city’s limits and their flickering light falls like drops of rain across her body.
            It is Iraq. The year is 1984.