THE MAN AT THE BAR

Man in suit sit at bar counter

 

 

He sits at the bar counter in silence. Head lowered, eyes staring straight at the cold hard bad floor, right hand holding a bottle of beer and the left holding onto an empty glass. He’s dressed in a suave fitting black suit, a tie with cute polka dots, and those multi-colored socks Larry Madowo wears. He looks deep in thought – or loss – like the burdens on his shoulder have finally outweighed him and he wants nothing to do with the world anymore. Like he has given up and surrendered his whole-being to his inner demons and they’re having a field day with it.He takes out an iPhone from his breast pocket, fiddles with it for a couple of seconds and shoves it back with a disappointed look on his face. Perhaps he was to meet up with someone and just realized he got stood up. Maybe he just got a work mail reminding him of that report the Boss needs on his/her desk by 8 a.m. the following day. Maybe, the wife had finally had enough of his broodiness and texted, “I can’t take it anymore. I’ll be at my sister’s place if you need me. I took the kids too.” Or, maybe, the mpango wa kando had gone through Huddah’s Instagram account and was now demanding her own line of lipstick as well. I don’t know, I’m just spit-balling here.

 

 

He lifts the bottle to his face, stares at it for a while, mumbles a quiet “Fuck It” (I assume) and in just one long swig, downs the whole goddamn beer. He then lets out a loud careless belch, summons the waiter and says, “Another one.” (Like he’s DJ Khaled or some shit) And as the waiter walks away to fetch his order, he summons him back and says, “You know what, bring me two more.”

 

 

It was a frosty Monday night, I was at The Alchemist Bar in Westlands (great place, their food is shitty, but great place). I was at the bar because, despite already being jobless and broke and single, I had just lost a gig that would have well set me up for at least five months’ rent and I needed something, something stiff, to get my mind off it. I was meeting a friend here but he left after the second double because he had to go in early for work the following morning. I joked that the missus had put a curfew on his ass and he said he was just tired. So he ordered me another double, called an Uber, and disappeared into the fickle night. Now I was alone; Angry, depressed, slightly drunk, and starting to wonder when Adelle was releasing her next album.

 

 

Usually, when I’m troubled, I always just get shit-faced drunk and then go sleep it off. But not that Monday. That felt different, I felt different. For the first time, I actually wanted to talk to someone about my shit. And, maybe, that was in some way connected to the two doubles working their way up my system but, I needed to talk to someone who was nearly as messed up as I was that night.  Or much more. And I wasn’t going to call the boys because they would think I’m just a sissy who needs to suckle his mother’s tits and calm down. My Counselor was out of the question because she once told me I wasn’t as tough as I pretended to be and that deep down my heart was just as soft as everyone else’s and I’d hate to make her feel like she was right. But, Mister-Polka-Dots over there at the counter seemed like just the right fit. So I grabbed my glass, walked over to the counter, sat a chair away from him, sighed and said, “One of those days, huh?”

 

 

He took a quick look around as if to ascertain he was the one being addressed and when he saw no one else within earshot, he hissed and said, “Yeah. Tell me about it.” I moved from my seat to the one next to him and chimed, “You look like you could use something stronger than a beer, brother. Name’s Ian.”

 

 

“Sam. The beer is just because I still have to drive home.The last time I drank whiskey and drove, I ran over my wife’s dog. You a fan?”

 

“Of what, whiskey? We’re practically in a relationship.” He lets out a quiet struggled laugh, sips his beer then shouts to the waiter, “Double of whatever my new friend here is having on my tab, please.” The waiter turns to me and I say, “Singleton, neat.” And that, ladies and gentlemen, is called breaking the ice.

 

 

“So, was she mad?” I ask. “Your wife, I mean, when you ran over her dog.”

 

“Mad is an understatement. She went bonkers. You know, sometimes I think she loved that thing more than she does me. Can you believe she bought the damned thing a casket, buried it at our backyard and had me read the bloody sermon?”

 

“Damn, that’s cold.”

 

“Yeah. She got over it eventually, though. At least that’s what she said. Methinks every time I do something wrong her mind still races back to that day, and then she gives me one of those looks…you know.”

 

“Women, huh? Can’t live with them, can’t live without them.”

 

“Don’t I know it. So, what about you, son. Why are you here on a Monday? Girlfriend troubles?”

 

“Little bit of that, but mainly work problems. I lost a major deal today, can’t think straight.”

 

“Don’t sweat it, you’ll get another one. Believe that.”

 

“Amen.”

 

“What exactly is it you do?”

 

“Oh, I write. Anything. Everything.”

 

“Hmm. Good for you mate. Me I’m in Real Estate. And, between you and me, I hate every second of it.”[Sips beer.]

 

“Why? Real Estate seems fun.”

 

“Yeah…from the outside.”

 

“Well, what do you want to do then?”

 

“I have absolutely no idea, that’s why I’m drinking. All I know is I hate that shit, but I can’t really quit because I have baby shoes to buy, salon and reckless shopping expenses as well as rent to pay. Whatever settles the bills, son; A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.”

 

“You plan on talking to your wife about this?”

 

“Been there, done that. Says if I quit I’ll find divorce papers on the table when I get home. The nerve. And the sex is not even eti that good anymore.”

 

“Hahahah. What do you mean?”

 

“She gives pathetic head and won’t let me bang her doggy style bana. Says she wants to make love, not just fuck. The hell does that shit even mean?”

 

[Still laughing.] “So it’s just missionary, huh? Yeah, that doesn’t sound any good.”

 

“It’s shitty, I tell you. I mean, I don’t want to look at the pimples on your face when I’m climaxing bana. Psht. Anyway, enough about me, what about your girlfriend troubles?”

 

“Oh, yeah, that. Well, it’s not really girlfriend troubles per se, but…I think I screwed it up with this girl, man. She was there for me, I wasn’t there for her, one thing led to another and now we’re complete strangers. And you know what pisses me off in all this? Chic could make kick ass Chapos, man.”

 

[Laughs.] “Ouch! You don’t leave a chic that can make kick ass Chapos, my friend. Those are rare these days. Lord knows my wife has a stick far up her ass but the one thing I can always look up to are her Sunday evening Chapos. Makes everything better. You gotta get that chic back, son.”

 

“Yeah, I’m not so sure I wanna do that.”

 

“Why not? You’re here drinking over her, aren’t you?”

 

“It’s complicated.”

 

“Two words said by every loser I know.”

 

 

Sam checks his watch and says, “It’s running towards midnight now, gotta get home.” He then beckons to the waiter, settles his bill, pats me on the shoulder and says, “You’re still way too young to be having lady troubles, son, so I have no advice for you on that end. But as far as work goes, if you love what you do then keep holding on tight; something will always come along eventually. And when it’s time for marriage, don’t marry a woman with a stick up her ass; otherwise you’ll be served your food cold when you get home past midnight. Warm night, son.”

 

 

As he walked out, I remember thinking to myself, “Lord, if the woman I marry ever chooses to bring a dog home, in as much as I will want to, please prevent me from running over it.”

HER PLACE

3

 

 

You are with three of your boys at some swanky joint in Westlands. One of these joints where they ask you for I.D at the entrance and, if you’re below 25 years of age, they tell you to go back home and suckle your Mummy’s breasts, do your homework, watch a Mexican Soap or something. It is packed, the DJ is playing some Wizkid song [something to do with bending down and pausing], ladies – with their already short skirts pulled way up to their thighs – are breaking sweat on the dance floor; shaking their asses with all their might, shaking so hard you’d think they were auditioning for a Konshens video, shaking and grinding their butts against the loins of pathetic lazy men just standing and making foolish grins behind them. I’ll admit it, like every man, I sugua too [mostly because people insist I’m a  buzz kill, so they’ll send some bold mami to come sit on my lap and dare me to a dance and I’ll be forced to prove I have balls too]. But I will never understand the obsession with twerking and grinding. How do people enjoy that shit? I will never understand why everything has to be explicit with this current generation. Why can’t people just dance the good old fashioned way our grandfathers – and theirs before them – taught us? Face the lady, lose yourself in her eyes, put your hands round her waist and her arms over your neck, move slowly – to the left, then to the right – and engage in a simple conversation. Talk about how much you love her necklace [even if you don’t], let her tell you how firm your grip is and ask you if you’ve been working out. Nowadays people don’t even talk while dancing; you just walk to the dance floor and jump behind any random lady you find, without as much as a “Hi”or a “What’s your name?” Nowadays women are bitches and men are…well…bitches too [going by the whining on social media]

 

 

There is a bottle of Jameson Whiskey [because everyone wants to be seen drinking Jameson these days] on your table, and three bottles of Kingfisher – for one of your boys’ cat. Normally, it’s just the boys, but she insisted on tagging along tonight. She said she wanted to see what ‘Boys Night’ was all about. That she wanted to witness the tomfoolery men engage in away from their women. Your boy – her boyfriend – had asked her if she’d be OK sitting in the midst of all the idiocy and she said, “Sure, Honey, I’ll be fine. You just have fun, do whatever you want.” When a woman says she’s fine, she’s not; especially when she says it with a smile, worse when she touches you on the arm while saying it. When she says, “Do whatever you want,” it’s a setup. Don’t you even think about looking at some fine piece of ass walking by, because when you get home and you try to get some, your hand will be slapped off and you will be given that look of “Go touch that bitch you were looking at.” So sit tight, hold your liquor to your chest, look only at her, stroke her gently on the thigh,tell her, “Have I ever told you how lucky I am to have you?”and watch her gloat and say, “I know.” Sip your Whiskey, refill her glass, and – every once in a while -recite the ‘Hail Mary’. Maybe then you’ll get lucky.

 

 

You like your Whiskey neat. If you have to drop something in your glass of Whiskey, maybe just a couple ice cubes. You consider men who add soft drinks to their Whiskey to be pussies.Pussies who watch ‘Jane The Virgin’ and ‘Real Housewives of Atlanta’. Pussies who secretly wish to rock skinny jeans and Mohawks. Pussies who call their Mummies twice a day.Pussies who follow Sauti Sol and Nick Mutuma on Instagram. Pussies who suckle on PinPops and call their girlfriends ‘Bae’. Pussies who bring their women to the club on bloody ‘Boys Night’.

 

 

Three or so glasses in and the Whiskey is beginning to kick in. You know because your eyes are blurry, your head is going round in circles, and you feel like telling the DJ to play you some Drake. You also feel like dipping your face into a pair of boobs; a pair of firm, perky, beautiful boobs.  Two of your boys are at the dance floor by now. They have shitty moves, they couldn’t dance if it was the last thing remaining to save humanity, but because we have Jameson on our table – and women love men with Jameson on their table – they’ve already scored some mamis, who are now busy groping and making out with them like their rents depend on it. It’s pitiful, and disgusting; sort of like listening to Octopizzo’s music while driving.

 

 

You get up and head towards the Gents to do your business. It smells like shit – because it’s where people shit anyway. There is some chap being told to cool off in there. Blue cap, hairy knuckles, red eyes, crappy shoes. He looks mad at something, or someone. These guys are telling him, “Hatuwezi pigana hapa na sisi ni maboyz maze. Kesho bado tutakunywa tu pamoja.” He looks like those guys who really like starting fights but don’t even know how to fight. Those chaps who just want to appear vexed so they can be pulled back and sweet talked; it gives them some sense of authority, it massages their ego, it makes them feel important. Mimi I never start a fight because I don’t know how to fight. I talk big, a lot, but when shit hits the fan, I get my ass the hell out of there. Real quick.

 

 

“So what do you guys normally do anyway? Do you just drink and make fun of people and dance like robots all night?” Your boy’s cat asks when you get back to your seat. She’s alone at the table, Frank must have followed you to the loo, or gone outside to pick a call, or finally decided to hit the dance floor regardless of the consequences, Whatever. Now, because you’re drunk and you’re feeling like a smart ass [also because you never liked her ass from the get-go and have just been waiting for an opportunity to embarrass her], you say, “Nothing much. We usually just walk around the club tickling all the ladies’ nipples.”

 

 

“Uhmmm, Excuse me?”

 

“Okay. Well, we also spank them on the ass and kiss a few but I didn’t think you’d wanna know all that.”

 

“Are you serious right now?”

 

“It’s Boys Night. What do you think we do? Braid each other’s hair, drink Chardonnay and watch The Good Wife?”

 

“I thought maybe you guys just played FIFA and talked trash about women or something.”

 

“Oh, Yeah, We did that too. Before coming to the club.”

 

“What? Why wasn’t I invited to that?”

 

“Technically, you weren’t even invited here, you just bloody showed up. Secondly, you’re not a Boy. And thirdly, invite you so you can hear all the complaints Frank has about you? Hells to the No.”

 

“Complaints? What complaints? What bloody complaints?”

 

“Well, for starters, your food tastes like ass, that weave on your head stinks, and you don’t even know how to give head.”

 

“The Fuck? But he says my food is perfect.”

 

“Every man says that because they don’t want to sleep on the couch.”

 

“I’ll have you know, nobody gives head like I do.”

 

“Well, do you want to try it on me? I could be the judge, from neutral grounds, you know”

 

“You wish.”

 

“The only thing I wish for in this world is a lap dance from Rihanna. Naked.”

 

“Oh, grow a pair.”

 

“Already did. Wanna see those too?”

 

“You’re disgusting you guy.”

 

“I know, right? I wonder what women see in me.”

 

“They don’t see anything in you. Something’s just not right with their heads.”

 

“Something’s not right with Frank’s head either.”

 

“Why? Because he sees something in me?”

 

“No. Because he’s been seeing that thing in you for two whole years. I dont know how he does it.”

 

“I hate you, Ian.”

 

“Oh, I hate me too.”

 

“You know, when I first met you, Frank told me you were a nice guy.” [She’s beginning to get mad. Which means you’re succeeding.]

 

“But why would he misinform you like that? I’m a total ass.”

 

 

Frank comes back to the table. “Take me home, Babe. Take me home,” she says. Frank turns to you and goes, “Chief, what did you do this time?” You say, “Nothing, man. I only said her hair looks amazing.” They walk out. And that’s when you lock eyes with her.

 

 

Over by the counter, seated alone, drinking something – wine, presumably -from those really long glasses, dressed in a classy blue dress that transcends to just above her thighs when she sits. You notice each other almost at the same time. She smiles, then shifts focus back to her glass. She looks beautiful. She looks happy. She looks free. You grab your glass and walk up to her and say, “Excuse me, is this seat taken?” She smiles, again. “Well, it is now,” she says.

 

 

“I’m Ian. Can I buy you a drink?”

 

“Lisa. And that line only works in movies cutie-pie.”

 

“Oh, you think I’m cute?”

 

“I think flowers and puppies are cute. I don’t know about you.”


“But you just called me cutie pie?”

 

“Who says that necessarily means cute?”

 

“The Urban Dictionary.”

 

“The Urban Dictionary was written by a human being, just like the Bible.”

 

“What, you don’t believe in The Bible too?”

 

“I believe there is a God. I just don’t believe someone gave birth without getting down and dirty under the sheets.”

 

“The Lord works in mysterious ways.”

 

“So does the government.”

 

“What’d the government do now?”

 

“What didn’t they do? Have you been living in ice?”

 

“Okay. How about I buy you that drink and we talk about something other than the government and the Bible and puppies, aye?”

 

“Like, what, crappy pick-up lines?”

 

“Maybe. That could be a start.”

 

 

Three tequilas later, we’re talking like old pals. She’s telling me about her stubborn folks and her brother – he’s a rapper – and her schooling – she’s in Medical school, she hates it – and how her ex-boyfriend left her for some top government official’s daughter. She’s yapping on and on about how the world is twisted and she’s pissed that Ben Carson endorsed Donald Trump and all the things she would do if she were President for just a day. You hate people who talk too much after a couple of drinks, but you just sit there and listen, because it feels like it’s going to be a good night.

 

 

An hour later, she says, “Let’s get out of here. I stay not so far away.” And you let out a silent sigh of relief. So you call an Uber and, about 20 minutes later, you’re pulling up in Desai, Ngara. A neighborhood so shitty it looks like one of those places that receive relief food from the West. Ngara doesn’t move an inch at night, it just stays still, like a month old piece of dog shit. She walks you across some corridors and into some building that looks like government housing for the homeless. She fumbles with her keys and when she finally opens her door and turns on the lights, you want to scream for help.

 

 

You walk in and you wonder if this is where Hitler plotted his moves during the World War. The place is a mess. There are clothes tossed all over, all manner of dirty dishes are piled up in the sink, the floor looks like it was last cleaned when Museveni was a teenager, hell, there’s a family of roaches on the wall. What kind of woman lives like this? I’ll tell you what kind of woman, the kind that harvests balls and armpit hair and ships them off to Timboroa for auction. That’s what kind of woman lives with a family of roaches. Lisa disappears into the bathroom and comes back with only her bra and undies on. You want to ask her if she’s homeless, but that sounds offensive even in your head. So, instead, you ask if she shares the room with someone else [like a freaking vampire, maybe]. She chuckles and she says, “No, I stay alone. Don’t worry.”

 

 

“You’re not a serial killer though, are you?”

 

“Excuse me?”

 

“Forget it. The roaches, they don’t get on your nerves?”

 

“You’re scared of roaches?”

 

“I’m scared of snakes and my mother. Roaches? I just don’t think it’s healthy sharing walls with them.”

 

“I don’t mind them. There’s probably even a rat here somewhere, eats all my bloody food, but it’s nice having them around.”

 

“A rat? You stay with roaches and a rat and you’re cool with that? I wonder what’s under that bed, a bloody zoo?”

 

“I didn’t say it was cool, I just said I didn’t mind.”

 

“Well, you should.”

 

“Fine. I’ll do something about it tomorrow. For now, just come closer.” [She’s taking off her bra, slowly, seductively.]

 

“No. I think you should take care of this now.”

 

“Now? It’s the middle of the fucking night. What do you want me to do, call the police?”

 

“I have a guy.”

 

“You have a guy? I’m taking off my bra, getting ready to have sex with you, and you’re telling me you have a guy? Well, what the hell were you flirting with me for?”

 

“No, Shit, I didn’t mean it in that way. I’m straight. I meant I have a guy for this sort of thing. Pest problems.”

 

“Oh. Can’t that wait till morning?”

 

“No, I want you to call him now.”

 

“Jesus Christ. Well, do you have a bloody card or something?”

 

“Not really, but I have his details. Just take out your phone and punch them in.” [Puts bra back on. Takes phone out from her purse.]

 

“Okay, Shoot.”

 

“His name is Thomas Chacha, but – when you ring him – call him Tom, he likes that better. He runs this company that deals in cleaning and pest control, it’s called Imagine Care. Their email address is imaginecarekenya@gmail.com

 

“Too much information. Just give me his bloody phone number damn it!”

 

“Right. 0734 912 982 . That’s 0-7-3-4-9-1-2-9-8-2…….”

 

“I heard you the first time, Idiot. So, taking care of pests, that’s all they do?”

 

No, actually, they also do indoor cleaning. Say, you had a party and you’re tired of doing the dishes, call them. You spilled food or wine [or blood from one of your victims, hehe] on your couch or sofa or car seat, call them. Bedbugs keep you up late at night, call them. Or, maybe, rats keep running around in your office when you’re trying to work, call them.”

 

“Okay. Oh, and just so we’re clear, I’m not interested anymore. You can go sleep with the moon tonight for all I care.”

 

“I texted my Taxi guy the second I walked in here.”

 

“You’re an asshole.”

 

“Funny thing, I’ve been told that twice tonight only. But, hey, at least I care for your well-being. Now, you promise me you’ll call that Pest Control guy tomorrow, aye?”

 

“Whatever. Get out.”

 

Why do people always have to be so mean even when you’re just trying to be helpful? Ama she was just angry she wasn’t getting my balls and armpit hair tonight? Hehe.