Long Pants Under a Hot Sun

A novel about Africa, drinking and the meaning of life

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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