Let’s say your buddy tells you that his friend is throwing a birthday party for his wife’s 35th. He asks if you want to go. “It will be an Italian Job,” He says. “We won’t stay.” You don’t really do parties, much less parties of people you don’t know. You met this guy once in a bar, through your buddy. He seemed like a decent fellow. A guy whose wife’s party you wouldn’t mind attending.
Your buddy picks you up outside your gate. You turn in your seat and see a wrapped gift on the backseat.
“What’d you get?”
“A humidifier.” He says.
Lying between your legs is a bottle of wine. You don’t know shit about wine, but chose it purely on the merit of the price and the design of the label. His friend lives along Mombasa Road, in a maisonette with heavily grilled windows. Children scuttle about in the front yard. A few people sit laughing from white plastic chairs on a patch of grass. Nobody has a mask on because this is pre-Covid, so you can see the honesty or the reverse from the corner of their mouths.
The man of the house hugs and affectionately slaps your buddy on the back.
Your buddy turns to point at you with the wrapped box. “You remember [insert your name here], don’t you?”
“Of course.” The guy says. He could be lying but he’s polite. You don’t remember him having a moustache. He’s wearing a shirt you can only see in the Narcos series. You call it the Shirt Of Guilt. It’s untucked. He doesn’t hug you, that would be awkward. He grabs your hand firmly in handshake. “Karibu sana, boss.” He says. “Here, this way.” He leads the way into the digs. Parquet floors. One red-bricked wall, or it could be wallpaper, you never know – a wall could be a cake. There is a big, proud framed picture of his family. Everybody looks happy and centered. And then there is a picture of him on graduation day. You never understand why people put up graduation pictures on their walls. Oh, and that was me, with a degree in animal husbandry. I love poultry. Did you know that a chicken can remember 100 faces? Would you like more ice on that?
The few people in the sitting room who kept time all turn to look at you guys. Some try to smile. A man rattles ice cubes in his glass. Your buddy dashes off to the washroom because he was pressed the whole time. There is a loud knock on the gate and the man of the house excuses himself to go look. You stand there not knowing where to sit. The burden of that decision is soon taken away from you when the lady of the house shows up.
She’s very warm and homely and welcoming. She has a bunched up kitchen cloth in her hand, so she might have been polishing drinking glasses. Or plates. You hand her the wine, holding it like a newborn baby. If you can hold a newborn with one hand like a pair of pliers. “Happy 21st birthday.” You say and she beams. “Awww, you are so kind. I’m [insert her name].”
“I’m [insert your name]” You say.
“Please, come sit here.” She sits you on a chair on the dining table, a sturdy mahogany with wooden chairs. “Can I get you a drink?”
“Might you have some whisky?”
“Of course. Although I know nothing about whisky – that’s [insert the man of the house’s name] thing.”
“Oh don’t stress. I will drink whatever you pour.”
When you look up you see a child, a boy of about 7, just standing at the entrance of the corridor just staring at you. He isn’t even blinking. He looks pissed off. Maybe you sat on his favourite chair, you think to yourself. If he wants his chair he will have to come and drag you out of it kicking and screaming.
Your buddy comes from the washrooms. He doesn’t look like he washed his hands. A good number of men don’t wash their hands after peeing. You have a responsible man who tithes and all but they won’t bother washing their hands after peeing.
“Time for a drink?” He says looking around.
Across the room that damn child is still staring at you. Now he’s beginning to spook you but you ignore him as the lady of the house brings your whisky and goes back for your buddy’s. As he pulls a chair next to you a curvaceous and attractive lady walks past in those things that look like dungarees but are shorts. You wear them like trousers then you zip them at the back. You know what I’m talking about. Are they bodysuits? Anyway, she looks very nice in them. We follow her with your eyes. We think we are being discreet but someone looking at you might just see two ex-jailbirds who just got out. You look at each other when she’s gone and without saying a word you both know exactly the same word you are both thinking; Jeesus! With a double ‘e’.
“Why didn’t you tell me, man.” You lean in and whisper to your friend.
“That your pal’s wife is one-legged.”
“Oh, yeah..” He says shrugs.
“I wish you would have told me.”
“Why the hell for?!”
“I don’t know man,” you say. “I mean, I would have mentioned it. It just seems like something you don’t omit.”
“Because you would have brought her a new leg for her birthday.”
Before you say anything the man of the house shows up and they catch up with your pal for a bit; business, work, things. He says, “feel free guys, let me run around a bit. Gas has kwishad, I need to organise for it.”
“I hope I didn’t look shocked!” You say.
“How did she lose her leg?” You whisper after he leaves.
“She works for some NGO. I think she lost it in Syria or Iraq, I can’t remember. A landmine.”
“Damn.” You say. “That’s shit.”
“Yeah, but it’s been many years. She normally has a prosthetic but I think it had a problem that’s why she isn’t using one today. Normally she does. Do you find that whisky too smoky? I can smell it from here.”
“Yeah, sana.” You bring the glass to your nose. “That leg thing has shocked me. I still think you should have mentioned that she has one leg.”
“It’s no biggie.”
“Do you know why the hell that kid is staring at me?” You ask him. He turns to look at the kid who is still standing there staring at you. “He’s been staring at me since I sat here. I think he has beef with me.”
He chuckles. “That’s [insert man of the house’s name] kid.”
“Is he a hundred?”
“Gary, come…come Gary” He calls out to the kid who reluctantly walks over to your table, a wary eye on you. Your buddy pulls him into a tight playful hug. “What’s wrong?”
“He stepped on my toy!” Gary pouts pointing a small fish-finger like finger at you.
“I did, Oh, no, where?” You are genuinely taken back.
“Outside there,” Gary points at the entrance.
“Oh crap, I did?? I…I….I haven’t stepped on anything.”
“You did!” he says.
That little weasel is lying.
Your buddy looks. You know you didn’t step on a toy. You would have felt it surely. But it’s Gary’s house, and he’s 7, surely, who will believe you. Your buddy tells him to bring the toy and Gary doesn’t, instead he just goes and sits in the living room and stares at you.
You want to go home. The party is no longer fun; Gary over there is setting you up, the whisky is too smoky and you can’t stop thinking about the fact that your pal forgot to tell you that the birthday girl had one leg. Suddenly, a promising party now seems like a bad idea. This is exactly why you don’t do parties; conniving kids will accuse you of grave ills and the people you trust will leave an important detail out; like a missing leg! Who doesn’t give you a heads up on something like that? After an hour, you will abandon the party. You will call an Uber and sneak out.
That’s what happened to my story for this week. I abandoned it. I liked it at the beginning but halfway through I just lost the heart for it, so I stopped writing it. Maybe I will revisit it next week. Maybe I will write another one.
This is my long explanation for no post today. I guess sometimes it’s easier to just say the dog ate my homework, huh?
I have been writing this thing since Saturday. It seemed like a good idea.