For the Love of the Bottle

So I was back at the local the other day. Not much has changed since March. The same type of music, still—solid reggae. The same old barmaids. Remember Wanja? She’s still here and she grew an ass when I was away, apparently. Maybe the only thing that’s changed is the tap and soap they’ve placed outside that nobody cares about. Yea, that’s about it. And, of course, Wanja’s ass. It’s H.U.G.E! I like the smoking zone. It’s dark and shady. And I can always watch a game of pool.

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Jack showed up. I wanted Wanja to serve me but his beer was as good as any so… plus I think she’s ignoring me because I haven’t been picking up any of her calls (she wanted 2k urgently). She can be such an ass. Anyway, she’s back at work at now, it shouldn’t be so bad now, right? Kikombe moja costs 40 bob now. That’s 5 shillings more than it used to. I’ll have one, just one, and then I’m out of here, I thought.

Jack pulled a seat. He was ecstatic to see me. “We ulipotelea wapi, man?”“Aah, mi niko tu. Nyinyi ndio mlifunga club.”“Wapi…Sisi tumekuanga on, ni ngoma tu haikua na tulikua tunajifungia ndani” I wasn’t surprised. A while back, a friend of mine got picked up by the police. He’d made it out of the bar and as far as a couple of blocks down the street before he was caught. He was drunk. And I would have been in there with him except that I happened to be in the washrooms. It was a close shave. Missed it by a few minutes. I’ve avoided bars ever since. I’m no teetotaler though; been drinking out of liquor stores (responsibly). It’s much safer. Trust me. Easy to know when my ass needs to be on the move too.

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But that’s all over now. The storm is over. Jack eventually left. He had other customers to serve. And tips to collect. He wasn’t squeezing a shilling out of me. That’s for damned sure. All this time I hadn’t recognized a single face. Not one. It’s like hanging on the corner again. There are always new kids on the block. Always. Then I saw him. He saw me too. He had a black cap on and a scar across his neck. That was new. What’s he been getting himself into? I didn’t have the guts to ask. Or pry. He quickly came over, grabbed my tumbler and drew a long wet sip. It happened so fast, I never saw it coming.

Wanja was close by. I told her to get me a fresh beer. She put on a fake smile and did as she was told. “Walai we ndio umefanya bar zifunguliwe.” He said, wiping beer froth of his lips by the back of his hand. I chuckled. Richie was a crazy football fanatic. He gabbled on and on about Manchester and its ‘prowess’ off and on the pitch. The nerve! But I went along anyway; it made for some nice conversation. Small talk. He whipped out his phone, just as Wanja’s ass came by again. I had to take a look. A rather long look. And before I knew it, he was using my charger. My phone was tossed aside. A classic narcissist.I gave him a long hard look “Maze iko 3%…Utategea kiasi.”

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Can you believe the nerve? I can’t believe I forgot how entitled people can be at the bar. If I had a girl, you know, a plump chic mwenye tumbo na mahaga zinafit kwa couch, I’m sure he’d want to grab her too. He had no shame. Some poor guy dozed off and poured most of his beer on the floor. His ancestors must have had a blast. The bouncer wasn’t impressed though. The poor guy was tossed outside, back to whatever reality he was trying to escape from. Could be his wife. It’s always the wife. What I would give to get Richie tossed out too. After a few (there is no such thing as ‘just one’), I started to see things a little better.

She was seated on his lap and they’d been at it for at least an hour now. She was in a jungle green silk scarf top. No bra. And I could see she had huge breasts. The guy was looking down between them. I know I would too. Some other guy was fondling his woman at the corner. This isn’t so bad after all, I thought. Don’t you just love the smoking zone? Richie had enough. He wanted out. Well, good riddance. Man, was I glad he wasn’t going to be a problem anymore. He’d asked for more beer all night but I wouldn’t budge. I couldn’t budge. Money doesn’t just fall off trees, you know. He left, eventually. I didn’t stay long either. It was 10:30 P.M and the boys in blue were on the prowl. Time to beat the curfew. I noticed the bar had a new paybill number too. Came back as Martha Distributors-depot 2.

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Martha was a rich woman. She drove a 5-litre engine, and she had several other ‘depots’ along the street. She hung out with the big boys. The bar money was just pocket money. Looks like I’ll have to show up a few more times. After six months of drinking out of liquor stores, I need a bar refresher course. I need to learn the ‘code’ again. Like not to let another man drink out my cup. It’s gross. Ain’t nobody gonna be tossing my phone aside either. That’s for sure. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Here is to learning how to drink in the bar again.

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