His short dreadlocks fell on either side of his face giving the impression that he was brisk, risqué – just the right amount of dangerous. He was talking on the phone looking at his watch. His face contorted perhaps from some form of irritation, he must have been waiting for someone who was running late. He hung up and sat down at the bar, three stools away from me and beckoned the bartender.
Something about him made me instinctively look at the overhead mirror to check that everything was in place. I crossed my legs. The bartender poured him a drink. Two fingers of whisky. Neat. The air conditioning sent a whiff of his scent my way. It was husky. I don’t know why but it made me think of those rooms with wooden floors, leather bound books on the walls and a ceramic chess set on the coffee table. He had a blue plaid shirt, khaki pants, a small black waist coat and brown sneaker- like shoes. He was well groomed and smelt charming. He took small deliberate sips from his glass without ever once wincing (I can’t stand that stuff). It seemed like a chore he enjoyed. He drank it because he should, because there was nothing else that could be drunk. His slightly darker lips curled a bit as he put the glass back down, they seemed like they could do a lot.
His skin was the colour of that fancy mocha coffee you get from Java or Kaldis or similarly stuffy establishments that have wi-fi and are frequented by yuppie Nairobians who are “upwardly mobile” and say things like “you guy”. Looking at him reminded me of taking a sweet treat – maybe because you add sugar to coffee? I don’t know. It seemed soft and supple and gave off a dim golden glow that made me feel what moths must feel when they see a light bulb. I feared that if I could touch him in that moment I would explode. He had lucked out on the genetic lottery. I am not entirely sure he knew this but in my head he didn’t and it only added to his quiet charm.
His phone vibrates violently on the bar counter. He looks at it and ignores it. Someone is trying to reach him but he clearly does not want to speak to them. I think to myself that the weight of rejection by such a being must be nothing short of crushing. Debilitating. Something about him made me want his approval – his acceptance. He was staring intently at the screen above the bar. It was some sports show or the other. The phone – a sleek black contraption that had a case with silver edges that made it look futuristic and expensive. (I liked that he didn’t have one of those book case covers. Those bloody ugly gigantic things that people use because they think their phones are the last thing technology will gift humanity. The only thing worse is low riding pants and long nails on a man).
The phone is vibrating intermittently now – messages, perhaps emails. He picks it up, he seems irritated. He raises the phone to his ear, he is calling someone. “Please do not waste my time,” he says in a smooth calm and husky voice. His clipped accent betrays his expensive education. The scowl and the arch of his left brow make him look intense and severe yet extremely sexy. He had the kind of look that compels nothing short of acquiescence, obedience and submission. I wouldn’t want to be the person on the other side of that call.
I wonder what he is doing here. I wonder what I would say to him if I had the mental fortitude one must have to speak to him – I knew I didn’t. I imagined he would shrug me off in that thinly veiled condescending yet polite way posh people are wont to do. I wondered whether he noticed that I could barely restrain myself from staring and whether or not he found it creepy. In my fantasy he found it cute but that’s just me feeding my vanity.
He took a swig of what remained in her glass and pulled out a wallet to pay for her drink. He was leaving dammit! It was a brown leather thing with the words “Gucci” carefully embroidered on it. The kind that tells you it always has money; the kind that doesn’t know what corners in the month are – because it’s used to being full. It’s used to constantly holding something. It does not understand what “brokeness” means. The same way a Tibetan monk doesn’t know what “githeri” means. Maybe I had drunk a little too much gin (and tonic mind you so stop judging) and I was hallucinating, conjuring him up from the ethos of my fantasies. He left a thousand shilling note for one drink. Yes, it was a swanky place but still, that was generous. It made me smile a little because to my mind this meant he was generous with a lot of other things. Wink.
He was walking my way towards the exit. He looks at me and our eyes meet. His are brown almost almond slightly dilated by Johnny Walker and mine barely holding their ground feeling like they have been arrested – unable to look away. Is that a smile? No. I am seeing things. What I want to see. Wait. No. It is a smile. A half smile on the corner of his mouth. As he walks past me his hand ever so gently brushes against the side of my leg. The feeling is other worldly. My eyes follow him to the door, his scent lingers and when he gets to the door so does he. I leave a thousand bob on the counter and walk to the exit too.
© Kemosabe 2015