Landlord (part 1)
In this chapter, the Norwegians show up unexpectedly at Dublin’s house in Togo and ask if they can stay for a couple weeks. They give him money for 4 bottles of vodka to get them through the night.
The two doors of Dublin’s metal gate gonged together in pain. They had been struck, and Dublin scurried to the edge of his rooftop patio to get a glimpse of what could only be attackers. His eyes took a moment to focus on the gate, moving first through his neighbors walking up and down the street, then to the leaves of his fruit tree, through shadows of hanging clothes and broken bottle wall tops, until they finally rested upon the front bumper of a Peugeot 504 snuggling up to the gate. It strained against itself, futilely trying to convince the tires to move the car and the car to move the gate. Dublin figured they had hoped to open it with the car without having to get out and do it themselves. A broken gate leads to a broken friendship, so Dublin hurried down to let them in before they pissed him off.
David leaned out the window. “God damn, college boy! If you knew we were coming, you think you would have been ready! Now I have a dent in my lovely French piece of shit car!”
Dublin smiled. “I didn’t know you were coming.”
“Of course you did. I sent you mental signals through a rum haze two nights ago from Ghana. You should have received them yesterday.”
“The alcohol slows them down,” Vegard explained.
“I’m sure it’s my fault. I’ll let you in.” They backed up and Dublin swung open the gates and moved aside. David pulled the car in and bumped up against the fruit tree.
“Damn! This beast won’t respond. What kind of vodka do you have?”
“French. It’s in the freezer.”
“That’ll never do. Here’s a million francs. Go find some things to stock us up. We’re here for at least two weeks. Two at the most. We have things to do before Norway cruelly calls us back to what everybody else does.” He handed Dublin money.
“What are you going to do until I get back?”
“Shower, of course. I suspect you have facilities befitting a white man here. Then I’ll wait on the sofa for you to bring me drinks.” Dublin stood there for a second before walking through the gate to run his errand. “Hurry back now!” David called out to him.
The sun fell slowly, melting below rooftop clotheslines as the three men talked over glasses of vodka. Dublin had brought back four bottles, one of which sat between the two Norwegians anxiously, its entire life flashing before its eyes. The end was near.
The conversation had gotten sloshy. Vegard was trying to convince Dublin and David that he’d been attacked by a lion in South Africa and survived by kissing it on the nose.
“Was this a boy lion or a woman lion?” David asked him.
“It was a girl. Big mane. Big mane.”
“Hah! Boy lions don’t have girls!”
“Girl boys have names…boy lions…girl lions don’t have manes!”
“Of course not! Why would you think such a thing?”
“I don’t know. I don’t remember. Let’s have a drink.” Dublin shook his head. “Drink, Landlord, feel better!” David raised his glass and belched.
“We call you Landlord now because we stay with you,” Vegard explained.
“As a sign of dignity and respect befitting a white man in these parts,” David continued.
“Does that mean you’re going to pay rent?”
The two Norwegians looked at each other. “Well, no, not cash. But you will drink on the credit card. And hookers.”
Dublin filled his glass. “I don’t think hookers are necessary.”
“Why? Hookers are good for you!”
David looked to Vegard in mock surprise. “He disagrees! I honestly don’t know how you could have anything against prostitution.”
“What about its effect on women?” Dublin asked.
“What do you mean? Women don’t go to hookers.” David leaned forward for a bottle and shook his head, mumbling to himself and then chuckling. The other two just watched. Finally he looked up. “What?”
Continued in Part 2