Just after sundown, a woman peeks into Room 209.
Fouad Wawieh and his family appraise her warily. The woman, a resident of this one-star motel on Pomona's rough north side, gestures sloppily for a cigarette. Fouad, who has been chain-smoking Egyptian cigarettes while chopping cucumbers for a salad, walks over and offers her one. His wife, who is preparing beef, rolls her eyes.
Safaa doesn't like this woman, who looks strung out on drugs. She doesn't like this kitchenette either, with gas burners so weak it takes hours to prepare a traditional Syrian stew.