Long Pants Under a Hot Sun

A novel about Africa, drinking and the meaning of life

Archive for the month “March, 2012”

Gin

In this chapter, Dublin finds himself at a hotel on the beach with the Norwegians.

They are drinking gin with lobsters.

Gin

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.”

“What line?”

“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?”

“Maybe later.”

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?”

“What?”

“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.

 

Landlord (part 2)

In this chapter, the Norwegians continue their conversation at Dublin’s house over vodka.

 

Landlord (part 2)

“David, haven’t you ever wanted to come home to a beautiful woman you love deeply and hold her close to you as you watch the moon pass with a glass of wine in your hand?”

“Are you one of those homosexuals? That sounds like something nice men-loving architects do. Women are only good for a few moments. Keep them around, and they either lie to you or nag at you. It’s not worth the screwing.”

“So you’ve never seen a movie or read a book about true love and thought you might want something like that? A woman who loves you and you see it in her eyes? Doesn’t sound appealing?”

“Doesn’t sound possible. That’s why them make movies about it, to show you what it would be like. These men who make the movies have trouble at home and fantasize on the screen to escape the hell of their own lives.”

“And there it is,” Vegard said.

Dublin peered at David. “Pour me a drink,” he said after a moment.

“That I can do.” David shook the bottle in front of him, but only a few lonely drops danced at the bottom. He mourned its passing for a moment. With the other open bottle, he poured a drink for Dublin that could have knocked him out for surgery. Dublin took a small sip, and his eyes watered.

“I understand what you mean, Dublin.” Vegard leaned back in his chair. “I was in love once, and it was everything I ever wanted. It was just like the movies. We met and our eyes told each other our wedding vows in that first instant. It was a wonderful feeling. David has never experienced it, and he may never, but it exists, nonetheless.”

“See! You should listen to your brother, David.”

“He’s not my brother. If he was, he’d be fat and bald and terrible with money.”

“Maybe that’s why you’ve never had true love.”

“I’m already sick of talking about it.”

“Vegard, whatever happened with that girl?”

“Life stepped in like it always does. We fought a little bit, but not much. She kept in contact with an old boyfriend, and left me for him finally.”

“Wow. Just because you fought some?”

“I thought about that. We fought, but we always made up. I was good at it. A little present, good communication. All couples fight, so it wasn’t that that led her away from me. She never stopped telling me we would someday be married, but made plans with another man all the time. When she finally told me about him, I tried to understand and listen to her and talk to her about it without becoming too emotional. I thought she had changed her mind, but one day she left and never came back. It’s not my fault, but I should’ve been a little harder on her maybe.”

“You should have punched her in the mouth,” David said and belched. “Show her what happens to liars and thieves. I knew this woman, Dublin. She was beautiful, and everyone who saw these two together wanted to be them. Except me, of course. We were so sure of how real she was, and we thought they were the perfect couple. Then she destroyed his heart. I never understood it, but if I ever see her, I’ll be sure to beat the truth out of her.” Vegard shook his head, but smiled.

“So what do you think of marriage now?” Dublin asked Vegard.

“It’s OK. Maybe it can happen someday. Unlike David, I don’t really believe in rules. When I met her, I was surprised at how wonderful it was. I thought it could never happen. When she left, I was surprised. I never thought that could happen either. So, how can anyone know what’s next? I will marry a girl, I think. In the meantime, I don’t give a shit about it. If she finds me, fine. We will do it. I won’t waste any time dreaming about love like I used to.”

“Well, I know I’m going to get married someday. I’ve always known. Beautiful and independent, completely in love with me, unwilling to put up with any of my bullshit. She must be elegant and irreverent. As sexy in sweat pants as an evening gown. You know, puts out the fine crystal for company and farts in bed after they leave. We giggle about it.” The stars swung far above Dublin’s head, which spun with them. “You know? It’ll happen.”

David started to say something, but Vegard interrupted. “Dublin. You need to think about yourself. You need to make yourself happy first.” He stood up. “If someone else makes you happy, too, that’s great.” He sat back down. “But maybe it won’t happen. Think about it. You are, really, sincerely, all you’ve got.”

David’s head dropped to the table, shaking the glasses.

“Yeah, but…”

“There’s nothing else to add. That’s it. You. So, have a drink. Save the world. Fuck your wife. Write a book. But always write the dedication to yourself.” He leaned back and looked up. They sat without talking for a few minutes. Dublin held his glass in his hand, cold and covered in condensation. His neighbors turned on their television.

Vegard looked over at David. “Let’s put him to bed. We’ve got a busy day tomorrow.”

“Yeah, I’ve got my first day of school tomorrow. I have to get up at five. What are you guys doing?”

“Taking you out for lobster.”

 

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