In this chapter, Dublin finds himself at a hotel on the beach with the Norwegians.
They are drinking gin with lobsters.
Dublin stopped daydreaming and looked around. Reality wasn’t what it used to be. He couldn’t remember where he was. He felt the wind, cool and salty. Ah, the beach. Vegard was walking up to him with a tray of drinks.
“More fucking gin!” he grinned. Dublin looked down at the glass table and saw seven empty glasses in front of him. Oops. Peering through one of the glasses were two little eyes, on two little stalks, connected to a gray lobster. Dublin and the lobster stared at each other. He rubbed his eyes, and when he looked down again, there was just a tail reclining in butter. Lobster and gin; where the hell was he?
Vegard had started on his drink. Ice cubes melted away into the gin. The ocean lay out in front of him like a big blue long-sleeved shirt. Peace.
Dublin picked up his glass, and he felt the ice bump into his half-numb lips. Wow. This was a whole new kind of drunk. He looked up again and saw David walking up in swim trunks, looking red and sweaty.
“God, I need a fucking drink.” He grabbed Vegard’s glass and sucked the rest of it down in three seconds. Vegard was lying on his arms, which were splayed out in front of him. “There aren’t any whores worth a damn out here. I thought this was a classy hotel.” He tried the glass again, but it was empty.
All around them, airy palms danced a few yards apart from each other. There were quite a few people on the beach, but no one else joined them on the bar patio. Mercifully, no soukous music blasted into the air from ancient speakers, no high-strung guitar riffs speeding their way into Dublin’s ears.
“Where are we?” Dublin asked David.
“Sarakawa. Supposed to be the best fucking hotel on Lomé beach. But no good women. And these drinks are expensive. I’m going to panic.” Vegard moaned a little into his nest of arms. Suddenly Dublin noticed they were sitting on a revolving patio.
“Wait. That’s silly,” he said out loud.
“What?” David asked him.
“What?” Dublin said.
“I said what you say friend.”
“Oh.” He thought about it. “I don’t remember.”
“What about you?” David asked him.
“What? What about me?”
“How come you have no girl? You need a girl.”
Dublin tapped out one of his beloved Royals. “Oh, I don’t know. There’s not a lot around. In its time, I suppose. In its time.”
“That’s bullshit. You’re a beautiful boy, Landlord.” Dublin lit his cigarette.
“Well, they say when you stop looking, she comes to you. She shows up.”
“Nope. You have to go get her. A woman is not like a comet. You don’t get married by looking up and saying, ‘Oh, there’s a fucking comet. Now I have a wife.’ You need to go up to her and say she’s pretty, and take her home, and then if she likes you, you get married after. That’s how you do it.”
“Well, how do you go up to a girl, then? What do you say?”
“Come to Norway and I’ll show you. I know what to say. I tell you right now, Landlord, if you say this line to any woman in Norway she will go with you to hotel.”
“If you don’t go to bed with me, I will steal a submarine from Italy and fire a missile from it into France. Do you want to know how to say it in Norwegian?”
David and Dublin walked down to the beach and left Vegard to dry out a bit. The beach at the Sarakawa resort was clear of tar, soccer fields and excrement, refreshingly. But it was dirty in another way. Several men on the beach were tourists from Europe, German men and Scandinavian men, rich men. Old men, with old heads patched with old hair and sun spots. They wore thick gold rings on their fingers and large brown sunglasses. Some of them stretched plum-colored bikinis around their chubby hips and buttocks. Seated next to them were black women with large, extravagant hairstyles. The men smiled at the women, and the women smiled back at them. Their smiles were built from tar and soccer fields and excrement, barely there.
Dublin didn’t think too highly of David and Vegard when they went whoring, but there was something different with these tourists. For one, they were physically disgusting examples of mankind. But mostly, it was a matter of attitude, for the two Norwegians made no bones about being drunks and tricks. They were quite content in their deviancy, though forever exhausted. Our bodies tell us everything we need to know, and the mind makes up the rest. That was how it was with the European sugar daddies; they were liars, keepers of pretense. They were kings without crowns or courts. In whatever way the mind recognizes such things, there were clues that they worked against whatever it is that humanity is pressing for. After all, Dublin had an ear pressed to the floor of the universe. And it sang to him in whispers: “Don’t worry. Keep humble and act when I show you it’s time.” And, he guessed, “don’t keep with prostitutes.” Why else do some people campaign for cultural changes that bear no direct benefit to them? Why do men sometimes march with women for equal rights? Because it’s not really taking anything away from them, and they know it. Benevolence to some equals benevolence to all, unless you’re talking economics. It’s the trickle-down theory of spirituality. I hope it works.
Dublin’s meaning of life had something to do with physics, he remembered that much. Perhaps it was related to one of Newton’s laws: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. By giving away our most precious emotional possessions, we make room for the entwining spirit’s most precious wisdoms. Dublin was thinking that very thought, when a dreaded man walked by with a little mono radio playing a Bob Marley song. The walking man was singing along: “There is one mystery I just can’t express. How can you give your more to receive your less?” Dublin put two and two together, the song and his meditation, and he got very excited.
“Do you have any paper, David?”
“Any paper. Do you have any paper, and a pen?”
“Jesus fucking no! I’m wearing a Speedo! Wait, maybe I left my paper in the ocean. Let me check.” He got up and ran headlong into great crashing waves and got lost in them for several moments. Dublin sat there for a minute, looking at him. Then he got up and headed back to the patio bar. Vegard was alert, upright, and talking to two young Togolese girls.
“Hey, look at these girls. They live here. Isn’t that nice?” Vegard said to Dublin as he walked by. Clink! went his gin and ice cubes.
Dublin mumbled bonjour to them and walked into the main bar to look for things to write with. The bartender wore a red vest and glasses and looked very sharp. There were glass bowls filled with ice cubes and fruits de la mer. He was somewhat afraid of the man in the red vest, that he would say something to him about not belonging here. He looked over at the desk; there didn’t seem to be any paper or pens. Glancing back at the red vest man, he turned around and walked back out to the patio without saying anything.